New York, N’ooo Yoyk!

Bouncing out of Nashville we set about attempting a 2am ETA in NYC and made it!

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Strangely, after all that people had said about driving in the Apple and it being a city that never sleeps, there was hardly a thing on the road and it was a straight forward navigation to our downtown 6th Ave hotel, where they promptly stole the Snot Rocket (our car) for safe keeping.6th Ave

However, the New Jersey (N’ooo Joyzeee) Turnpike is NOT for the faint hearted or for anyone with a shred of logical commonsense due to the clarity of the signage, or indeed no signage. Thankfully, other than a few other lost souls, all was good.

The following day was a mad rush and full on with Gabsatrucker heading out early to chase her own butt up 20 blocks and pound out the rest of her 7 mile run around Central Park.

I jumped in a cab and headed to Chelsea and the new global headquarters of Rocketboom.com!rocketboom gold

Set in tasteful surroundings and interrupted from beavering away I sat down and had a great chat with Andrew Baron about how the future for Rocketboom and how other enterprises were rapidly shaping up to be far larger and indeed a permanent existence in the day on day “must watch” web media  listings :-)

The evolution of Rocketboom has been long and its consistency in what I call intelligent humour – ie Witt, sarcasm and irony mixed in with a variable amount of new or leading tech, entertainment and global web cultural insight is well established and is still leading in this field.

Andrew’s exceptional ability to seek out great talent for presenting Rocketboom is second to none and the present anchor of the show Keghan Hurst is a perfect example of this.

Andrew Baron’s great strength is not just that he is one of the first true instigators of what we term web media, but it lays at the door of not just knowing what he wants to achieve, but also in listening to so many others without being derailed from his overall aim. In this he has achieved a greater understanding than most within this field and in the creativity stakes there are few to rival what he has achieved.

In the evening Gabsatrucker and I headed over to meet Andrew, his stunning and glowingly pregnant wife Rima and their friend Eli for what Andrew termed Korean BBQ which was a fantastic evening with a lot of laughter.

While we were invited to stay for another evening, our plans were forever changing and we were sadly unable to. As we walked back to our hotel leaving great people and company behind us we came upon Times Square which was very much alive and bouncing.

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Grabbing pictures and a bit of t’shirt swag we called it a night.

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Naked CowGirl

Day 2:

Waking early and packing up our gear, we headed out to catch a few sights before leaving this unrelenting island city.

A fast walk up the street our hotel was on (that sounds like they moved it) and you hit the likes of Radio City and the not so liked News Corp headquarters.

NewsCorp

Radio City

Onto the subway and Grand Central Station for crepes (of course)

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Then South to the 911 Memorial.. BUT, remember all the trouble I had getting into the Hoover Dam? Well this time, I’m wearing a Leatherman tool and all manner of sharp objects as we headed into security.

The X-ray operator sees the Leatherman and asks to look at it, calls another guard over and then “Sir, where did you get this?”

Me: “Ebay, why?”

Reply: “I’ve been looking for the same model” before handing it back to me…

Now that is commonsense security!! They acknowledge the item, make you aware they have and then carry on as normal – and where? Where this whole terror thing for this country started!! Well-done 911 Memorial Security with their reasoned, professional and very logical approach to what they do.

I can’t really add much more, this place and most definitely this memorial leaves you silent as it stands for so much more now than the day it all happened, and to a far higher loss than ever before.

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With that, we left the fair city of New York and headed back south, Philadelphia, DC, and on to Virginia – or ENGLAND as I like to call it.

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Stuff :-)

Firstly, hurricane Sandy…. Wow!!

Hope most people are ok, I guess NYC will be building some new infrastructure over the coming weeks and months to minimise this kind of thing again. Web buddy and owner of Rocketboom.com Andrew Baron managed to get out and about and take some pics of the aftermath. Click on the image to go and see

All things “Sandy” aside, it was Halloween and a quick look at this site called TMZ made me realise that at least 90% of the so-called celebs they talk about, I’ve not in fact heard of lol. Most of which didn’t come close to @gabsatrucker’s Halloween cozzy which was based on a pirate wench – less sword, belt and hat. But in all of this, something strange appeared. [***Segue***] I’ve been looking into “E-Cigarettes” and so far I have found that many rave about the “Apollo” brand for being so like the real thing – yet DONT smell, DONT kill you and DONT affect the people around you… But who knew that come all things Halloween you can “Mod” them and make them look Kewl?! This pic is care of @gypsyhooker or better known as Shannon to the good ladies of the US trucking fraternity.

But… I’m about to embark on a trial of these e-cigs and see if they work where on 4 occasions everything else (patches, a punch in the mouth etc) have failed. But while doing my research I have come across some disturbing things.

1. There is no enforced safety standard or Govt. Regulation

2. There is no guidance regarding public places and mass transit.

3. If these things work, then they are in everyone’s interest to allow and to help stop smoking widely

4. The cost of these things are targeted at the price of a pack of cigarettes – whereas most people in the UK at least, hand-roll – so moving to e-cigs is a far more expensive consideration than the cost to remain smoking…

5 What I do disagree with is that they are made to look like real cigarettes! As such there have been instances on flights where one person has seen someone smoking an e-ciggy and just assumed it was ok to smoke – and lit up a real one… So, they should ban the use of Red or Orange LED’s in them and the outer colour should not be white.

Talking of planes though…

Air New Zealand have brought out a new flight safety video… Think Hobbits!! It’s great lol

In other news

As I mention in an earlier post, this blog’s and my buddy Sue Black was raising pledges for a BOOK publication… Well not only did she raise them, she far exceeded them and in doing so she halved the record time it takes to raise them!! Great work Sue and everyone who pledged – rocking, just rocking!!

More news…

Dell, who class themselves not as a manufacturer but as a Solutions provider have been making steps forward into the digital home. Work, office, media, study, play, photography, design, interact; you name it, dell has drawn it all together for the home in a realistic way and far beyond any other company to date. The new Tech Inspiration site is now up and running with tons of know-how, and cool stuff HERE or click the pic.

SXSW 2013 Austin, Texas… Yer know…. as far as music and film goes – SXSW still has it, but the “Interactive” part? I think 2012 was its death knell… You see, the Interactive part was a meeting place of ideas, conceptual minds to share and conceive of next-tech etc. Now it’s basically a highly sponsored group of events to flog the attendee something.

Even Toby Daniels the CEO of Crowdcentric and the Founder and Executive Director of Social Media Week said the format is old and stale. But the worse parts of SXSW are:

The Ticket Prices!! For an event so highly sponsored they’re unreasonable, unrealistic in the present climate and just money grabbing!

Transport!! Austin really needs to address its transport for such major events. Especially from the Airport – which for the most part you can’t fly internationally to from any country other than Mexico… But would desperately benefit from direct flights to London, Tokyo, Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney and Shanghai.

Yet Austin feels it has a place on the world stage – I happen to agree, but it will soon be looked over due to the inability to get people to the city and around it in a reliable and at a reasonable rate… The Taxi’s are just too expensive.

And Finally: Accommodation… Often booked up, too many tickets than hotel rooms available and of course – the premium prices for the accommodation…

The only thing killing SXSW is – SXSW and Austin itself and it pains me to say that. But Austin will learn this the hard way if F1 finds fault with transport and accommodation that is for sure.

Personally, I like Austin!! In fact I believe Austin has a massive opportunity to make itself one of the best City’s in not only the USA, but culturally and in a cosmopolitan sense – one of the finest in the World!! But there is much to do, and little time to waste.

Stuff, some odd, some kewl…

Ok, over in the USA presently is this blogs buddy, cohort, founder of The <goto> Foundation, lady saving Bletchley Park and rocking friend of both myself and this other blogs torment ;)  (Gabsatrucker) – Dr Sue Black….

Sue has been on a whirlwind tech tour of Brazil, Mexico and is presently on the Orange Blog Bus travelling and tweeting her way from San Francisco to who knows where. While I’d be the first to rib her and say wherever she goes she’s no more than a stones throw from a beach or pool, I have to give credit to her perpetual long distance travels and all the hassle that they bring – recently; appalling food poisoning!

But with visits to just about every company in Silicon Valley and the entire San Francisco Bay area under her belt, I can’t help but think she’s found her true home and calling.

In other news

There is a load of frankly crap going on in the UK news about a senior minister giving a Police officer grief – which he in turn realised the error of his ways and apologised.. however! This has not stopped the police federation and other political parties demanding the resignation of the minister.

Well my point of view is (bearing in mind the police officers read this blog and are my friends) that he’s apologised – so if the day ever comes when you don’t get an attitude or even passive threat from a cop – then fine, have him resign… but until then “pot & kettle” (pun intended) . It’s certainly not something I accuse all officers of, but in certain forces it happens a lot.

Which brings me to more Policing news…

We often see videos on the news or You Tube of officers stepping over the mark… But what about a cop with an exemplary record and not one complaint?  Well look no further than a CBS News report in to L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Elton Simmons… Over 20 years in the job and over 25,000 traffic stops – not one single complaint! This… is how policing should be, but… alas there are different types of policing by the nature of crime itself, but this guy is a great place to start. Click the pic to go to CBS News and watch the vid.

Finally:

I was pottering about the Land Rover Dallas website (because the Little Rock one isn’t very good) while searching for a vehicle for 3 months use and noticed their website page header. To be honest the company is also based in Austin and Frisco but nevertheless it made me smile and some way I concur… see what you think.

Running for Joplin

It was year ago next Tuesday the 22nd May, that the small town of Joplin, Missouri hit TV screens around the world, and almost instantly the un-edited videos appeared on YouTube displaying the true nature of what had occurred as fights for survival were still happening.

It wasn’t a case of the magnitude of what happened in Japan or in many other places. But for the most part it was proportionately the same. A town was almost wiped from the map with over 160 dead and over 900 seriously injured. Identification was sometimes near impossible due the frankly horrific nature of what happened that day. This was of course a mile wide Tornado with winds in excess of 200 mph – a rare EL5… Stories of heroism abounded, stories of survival against all the odds and videos of both still litter YouTube.

It’s times like these that only selfless acts can or will save lives and those whose job it is to help, have to risk their own lives in order to save others – if you want to know what life is about, what true success is, then you just read it. Here is a video by CBS News that says it all – Joplin; a year on…

This Saturday I’m proud to say that Gabby, better known as Gabsatrucker is running in and for Joplin. Yes it’s a Half Marathon that raises money for the town – but it also tells a people that others still care deeply enough to help and to be there to help rebuild lives in whatever small way they can.

Published in: on 18 May, 2012 at 15:50  Comments (1)  
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March : In like a Lion and out like a Lamb

Or so they say…

Today I decided to sign up to Adobe’s Pre-launch software program in the vain of Photoshop CS6. You see, pre-launch software is vital and works for 12 months. As you can see on and around this blog, shop etc I use Photoshop CS2 a lot. I have tried trail software, but feel it rarely lasts long enough to be able to achieve enough of an understanding to commit to purchasing. At the same time Adobe, the number 1 graphics, audio, publishing and movie software company needs to get a real feel of how user friendly new things are and if there is anything wrong anywhere. I hope I’m accepted and of course if I am, there will be much Adobe talk in the future :-)
I must add that this in no way will improve my artwork on the grounds that my mind is apparently a dangerous thing, or place ;-)

This months and of course this week sees the beginning or South By South West (SXSW) over in Austin, Texas and I certainly wanted to be there this year.
The reason I’m not is the shear cost of the tickets!!
Austin makes a lot of money from SXSW, in fact it’s becoming the major source of income for the city, after of course, companies like Dell etc.
SXSW is the only event of it’s type in the world covering Tech through what it calls “Interactive”, and since its integration with the music and film, parts of sxsw it has been a place of real action, it was after all where Twitter got its hold on the world.

There are many that say the event is now losing it’s brilliance, innovation and energy to advertisers and end user tourism “CES with entertainment” was one quote.
I can’t comment personally because I haven’t been to it and with new knowledge that next year Sue Black and Gabsatrucker will be going together in 2013, it will leave sxsw uncharted territory (albeit, so help Austin ;-) )
There is more on this and the ever evolving sxsw on a post by Rocketboom’s Andrew Baron HERE
If you’re at or going to SXSW this year, I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts on all of the above. I feel it would be a great shame if it has become too commercialised and would love to know if there are ways to prevent it from becoming so.

Buddy Kevin down in Devon sent me an eBay link to something a little unusual.. a 6×6 Discovery – yep, they did make them and here it is.

[UPDATED] Next week will see the repatriation of 5 members of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment family (3Yorks) and a member of The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment (1 Lancs) to the UK after their sad loss in Afghanistan – a war that needs now to drawing to a close.
For those interested  Tuesday 20th March 2012 The plane will land at approx 1:30pm and the cortege will pass by the Memorial Garden at between 4:30pm and 5:00pm, reaching the John Radcliffe Hospital at around 6:00pm

I recently watched a fantastic interview with CBS Correspondent and native S.African Lara Logan at the Washington DC Press Club.
Lara has been in the press a lot over the last year due to her being attacked and almost killed in Cairo in 2011.
She has been in every major hotspot around the world for more than 10yrs and it becomes very apparent that she has a real insight, knowledge and a firm grip on the pulse of what is going on in the world, especially with regards Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.
I respect this journalist very much and kinda wish she had her own “no holds barred” tv news channel that shows just how bad things really are in places. As for her personal life, the media seem to have taken a great interest in this – yet private lives are always kinda awkward and I certainly have no interest in that.
She is a very serious person, I certainly doubt she’d ever come by this blog, but if she did – I’d give anything to sit down and have a conversation with her.
Here is the interview/talk.

Whoooaaa!!

I know, it’s a catchy post title, but that was the point ;-)
So, in a week that brought us my buddy Dr Sue Black asking her other half to marry her on Facebook, the sad news that Davy Jones of the Monkees has died, Gabsatrucker looking on in disbelief as a locksmith offered to unlock her friends car with a lump hammer, Angelina Jolie proved that she has finer legs than any table and I made my own cup of Tea for the first time in years – yer gotta ask “what’s next?”

Well I’m getting drawn more into Adobe art things and think I’d like to qualify properly in it at some point, so much so I bought a Wacom drawing tablet, and for those whom know me – me actually spending anything is kinda rare (especially on myself). So it was to the finest market in the world (eBay) to acquire said item for 1/3 its RRP. :-)
This my friends also means you’re gonna have to put up with more of my crazy artwork at some point :D

Now… The Argies..
On my birthday, it will be the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War… I remember this war well, a few friends of mine fought in it, most notably in South Georgia,  Goose Green, and the other, after establishing the Beach Head at San Carlos, walked 70+ miles to battle.
The reason I mention this isn’t because I have some benign rhetoric on this issue – just that simply, the UK isn’t shouting about this, there is no dispute here. Argentina on the other hand is running around screaming blue murder everywhere and even getting famous folk like Sean Penn and now Roger Waters of Pink Floyd harping on about it…
JUST SO WE’RE CLEAR… The Falkland Islands are NOT under UK control, they no longer belong to the UK – they belong to the people of the Falkland Islands…
WE on that basis (and that they wish to remain British) will defend their right to do so…
Basically the freedom of the people of the Falklands is our priority… as it should be for any free and fair society on earth.
The military strength on the Falklands is simply at a level to repel another illegal invasion of the islands and incarceration of its people. People failing to understand this have a serious flaw in their over all ability to be intelligent – I should know, I’ve met a few flawed folks in my time (and you should see me when I’m drunk).

Moving on:
I was grimacing about some fashiony type things while being shown a website on Skype the other day, this led to Gabsatrucker falling about laughing and suggesting I should create a fashion blog or website with my point blank point of view (i.e. as rude as hell). This I could see strangely working because my opinion is often very straight, blunt and clear – when you look like sh*te, I’ll tell yer. This is based of course on a lifetime’s practice of looking this way, which I believe (as do others) puts me squarely in the ballpark of being ever correct and on the ball… But it will of course be funny, very rude and probably get me sued :D

This blog’s very own culinary expert in all things of where is best to eat wherever you are in the world (Dom Joly) [ok, I say "this blog's", but I simply tweet him and he tells me where to go] is drawing his epic global monster hunting expedition to a close as he looks for real life source material for his book due to be released later this year.
As I write this, Dom is in Tibet and due to return to Blighty tomorrow. As such he has been filling the columns of The Independent newspaper and you can read about his exploits HERE and check out some of his pics HERE. If you want a fun read though, Dom’s other great book “The Dark Tourist”, and you can find it at Amazon by simply clicking this book cover.

Finally…
Now I know I mentioned the new life brought into this world by Gabriela and of course Dad; Alex Elwood… but how can I go without posting a pic?
Ladies and Gentlemen from whatever country you reside, whatever language, faith, creed or other things you hold dear, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to:

Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and better known to you as

Benjamin Elwood

Busy weekend for many

The news of this weekend is about all the  things others seem to be doing – and this kicked off with @jamescraven28 informing me that it is one of those very rare occasions – raining in Saudi!! He then went on to try to recruit me to the eastern region. This I’m not against, but working in the east comes with a possible benefit – living in Bahrain and commuting to work.

The day also brought this blogs hindrance and help Gabsatrucker, out running a steady 10 miler before breakfast with her running crew and then Twitter buddy @amanjo was doing a run up a sky scraper in aid of “Fight For Air Climb”. She did however making one major mistake – she mentioned she’d be on Fox 9 tv station… a few clicks of the mouse and live streaming commenced as you can see ;-)

Now… it only seems like yesterday that we welcomed this blogs anarchist and accomplished song writer and pianist Alex Elwood and his better half Gabriela brought their first-born into to the world. That was March 2010 and today I can happily also state that Elwood 2.0 has arrived albeit a week and a half late… I shall resist a comment on that – but here is what Alex posted on Facebook.

Congratulations to everyone today, but a heartfelt one goes especially to Alex and Gabriela.

Published in: on 25 February, 2012 at 20:08  Leave a Comment  
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A Busy Few Days

This last week has been a hive of activity in the TWBrit bunker… Much of this has been around doing various amounts of artwork for a Café Press shop which is still very basic. The thing that kills me about Café Press and all of these online print shops is while for a one-off item things are “ok” in pricing – they’re unique etc… But the mark up on the basic items is practically daylight robbery!!  Items like mugs cost in excess or $10 before you even put a logo on – which after a quick scout around Chinese suppliers online turn up to cost little more than 0.35c !! But then there is what will and will not work as artwork.. I did this for a fun if not crazy mug print (click to make it bigger), it looks great as a hi-def image, on the site – it looks dire… So the weekend is here and I’ll take a break from it. As and when it’s ready there will be a shop link over in the right hand column –>

Also this week, Bill Gates… Now here is a guy I have a little time for… no, not because he has more money than several countries put together (he earned it, he deserves it!!) but he did a couple of things this week; firstly he said on BBC News  – he should pay more tax… Tax should feel to have the same impact on me as it does on the rest of society – it’s only fair… Well that I can respect… in another interview he told of how they had all but eradicated Polio in India – Polio (thanks to the Gates Foundation) is a heartbeat from being the 2nd ever disease to be entirely eradicated – Rockin!! Then at a south London school, students looked on with jaws hanging open as the guest speaker stepped up to talk to them – yep, the very  same Bill Gates!! The guy is a friggin rock star!

I have been enjoying a blog recently, I started getting hits from somewhere in California and then some WordPress “Likes” tags…. So I went to look at Lesley Carter’s blog…   and apart from a bit of baby talk, she runs a truly great blog about her travels and adventures – it’s really is enough to take your mind off the daily grind and well worth a read. I should re-do all my Blog Roll listings and include hers.

On the subject of blogs – @Ritchhh has decided to give the blogasphere a hefty kick with his new blog. Now, it’s early days and there is a little “feet finding” going on… but he’ll be kicking it real soon enough…

Big talks this week about going to SXSW… if so – when? And then how long for? And so on… It all started when Sue Black of the infamous “Mustang Sue’s Wreckin Crew” asked if and when we’re going… Well the real question is can I survive a Mustang Sue’s hard-assed partying, the other is sheer cost – we’ll see ;)

Fenny this week sounds like she has fought on the battlefields of apprenticeships and employment… well my answer to this is – you’re only here once… kill’em all ;)

The blogs help and hindrance @Gabsatrucker has not only chalked up some good fitness mileage of late but has also started her road in tech know-how and professionally qualified genius status – and good for her…

In other news, we had a solar storm! A large one, but not a monster thankfully, but they’re still expecting a huge one at some point. As yet, the total damage is unknown, but we’ll know soon enough… if you don’t know about solar storms – HERE is a post I did in 2009 that has been referenced by many including the media.

And last but not least – Monty Python :) Yep the boys are coming back to do a CGI Sci-Fi movie and I for one can’t wait!! No doubt it’ll cause offence to the weak of mind…. But who needs them anyway ;)

Austin… the saving grace of Texas

Now I could go into the history of this City, the capital of Texas – but that is what Wikipedia is for… so go there to read it ;-)

I on the other hand will write of my brief experience of this Oasis of a city and one I’d like to return to. Beyond the complaints of the I-35, a little known parking lot that runs the entire length of Austin. As you approach Austin at night it looks like an oasis of high-tech and modern living. Indeed, Andrew Baron of Rocketboom even called this city “The saving grace of Texas” and for the most part I can see why.

Oh, it is an oasis… but furthermore it’s also a city of culture and has a “cosmopolitan feel” if you like. Like all modern cities though, the concept of skyscrapers in the centre have not escaped Austin, crushing much of it’s history into oblivion. Yet down there in the heart of it is the famed and acclaimed 6th Street and if you add in 4th, 5th and Congress Avenue… then there is more than a heart beat or pulse of this city’s history and entertainment right there.

These days, the area of South Austin seems to have a greater vibe, open parks, restaurants, leafy suburbs and a greater “wellbeing” feel. Something I found very attractive and yes from what I could see, it’s obvious the town planners have long term goals for making the city greener and healthier than most.

Austin like any large city has its good and bad, the first day we walked down 6th Street (2nd Jan) around 2pm and a full on brawl broke out in front of us. Two guys punching the living daylights out of each other without a care in the world of who they bounced into, or where in the world they were from.. No police presence, and while I sidestepped them as they flew past – this blogs buddy @Gabsatrucker got fully barged out of the way by them, just before skulls met the concrete sidewalk. This was certainly, how should I say… interesting… We went to Starbucks and I said “soooo, this is Austin huh?” Gabby on the other hand was really not happy either… This was on the back of the news that on New Years morning 3 people had been shot, one to death and someone was killed trying to cross the I-35… Kinda leaves you with a cheery feel… That and the fact that Austin has oh so many people begging on street corners in the 4th,5th and 6th street areas at night.

But nevertheless… there is a vibe to the city as a whole you can’t quite put your finger on, the south is awesome and the club names like Antone’s, reverberate through the music scene globally. In fact one night in Antone’s made up for a lot of the misgivings we had earlier.

Yes Austin does have it’s many sides, but it’s this mix that probably makes it so intriguing and apart from having to change hotels due to rather unpleasant smell at the first one – it is a city I will definitely spend more time to explore.

Austin also has quite a few interesting slogans “Keep Austin Weird” is something you’ll see just about everywhere and then the “Austin, Live Music Capitol of the World” and it’s fair to say they’re not wrong! It’s a city of modern culture, hi-tech industries, fitness and fresh air – heck they even name the flight between Silicon Valley and Austin the “Nerd Bird”… It also has to be right up there with as one of the biggest conference venues in the world along side cities like Dubai and with it being home to South by South West (SXSW) there are hotels galore – some better than others, but the closer you get to downtown the prices go from reasonable to extortionate.

This is one of the major centres of entrepreneurship in the US and certainly with regards to technology, but it’s frankly stunning that Dell computers does not seem to have anything for the public, nerds and geeks to visit or see… In fact I was seriously surprised there was little in the way of Dell’s visibility at all – certainly an opportunity lost on Dell’s part. A “Dell Technology Showcase” or “Experience” is seriously needed.

With so much going on I think the city will grow, continue cleaning its image. But if you want to enjoy a fitness lifestyle, then look no further than this awesome city with the Lance Armstrong cycle way, large parks and running areas and even a park on the water front with a special area to allow dogs to run freely.

Yes, it’s right to keep Austin weird, but it’s also right to redesign and build for future tourism, future-tech transportation systems and greener more hi-tech lifestyle and I really think Austin will…. Because if it doesn’t, it’ll just grow more monolithic buildings and increase its number of tourist t-shirt shops that will be more about a “has-been” city than the heart and soul of the great state of Texas… I some how doubt that will happen though :-)

Austin is (with insight from; Andrew Baron, Gabsatrucker and Mary Hennig and adored by Dr Sue Black )

100% TWBrit Highly recommended

I guess I should make an actual TWBrit approved logo now then lol…

For some, the Fat Lady is about to sing

I’m not online much this week, but I just popped by briefly to send an email and thought to write this..

Folks who pop by this blog know of this blogs hindrance and help Gabsatrucker.
If you’ve followed any of her exploits on her BLOG or even followed her on Twitter then you won’t be surprised at the news that she’s hanging up her keys.

If you didn’t know, Gabby (all 2ft  1 inch of her), someone I often berate on twitter as a ”Fk’in Leprechaun” ;-) is both a full and half marathon runner, mountain biker, a total geek, a discerning footwear addict and Big Rig trucker..
But for two years solid, she’s been through the ringer with her company, no – nothing she’s done. Basically it’s down to company operations.

She has been hit persistently with mechanical breakdowns, stranded for days in the middle of nowhere, endured temps over 105 f for days on end without a working AC unit, had her personal life totally screwed up, been diverted from her normal dedicated route and sent all over the USA without time to return home for anything and then, besides the grosse daily barrage of sexism, sexual harassment, innuendo and sometimes even fear for her own safety - she was hit with a 20% pay cut…
Yet throughout all this, she has remained professional, courteous and has taken pride in getting her job done and on time. Often to be left on the Mexican border for days waiting for a return load with nothing to do but be left sitting a sauna of a truck and her only security – her small dog Elsie.
Now just to explain to our Brit drivers; as you know, by law we are paid by the hour – a rule that came in with the Tachograph and now Digital Tachograph. The reason being is that to pay someone by the mile increases the likelihood of speeding and rule breaking. Well over in the US, they haven’t quite worked that out yet as they bring in what is widely termed as “E-Logs”.
As such, if you ain’t rolling – you ain’t getting paid…
Yeah, I know – that would cause out right rebellion here… but it’s the way they do things at the moment and that’s that.
So, while suffering the southern Texas heat with a persistently broken, repaired, broken air conditioning and having to simply sit in a truck and wait – it’s not rocket science that this has been detrimental to both her will, health and her stress level (not what you want truckers suffering really). Furthermore, it’s a situation that has been getting much, much worse.
New Dispatchers have made things worse too, trying to talk her out of medical appointments, races, time off – all to get their little (I go home at 5) work done.
Then add the loss of her father and various other personal actions these last few months and you get the picture.

Finally, she found the straw that would break the camels back, and instead of her much needed weekend at home last week, she found herself in sub-zero temps, in snow storms in Rochdale, NY… on the Canadian border – where they have a “No Idle” law… so she wasn’t allowed to heat her truck up to stay warm.

When given the job down in the Laredo, she finally handed in her notice… They still sent her on the run and as this is written, Gabby is sitting on the Mexican border with a return load to home – but has to sit there one final time for 35 hours… as her working hours have run out.

After over 10 years loyal service to her company… this is their final note

It is however fair to say, that most trucking companies (no matter which country you’re in) are backward in standards that are seen as normal in any other industry – this is especially in treatment, support and duty of care to staff and Drivers… They most certainly never realise the people who make them look good.

As for Gabby’s future? Well, retraining and study in Business Management or E-Commerce Consultancy are well and truly on the cards. Whether she takes the certification route or a MBA degree route is to be seen… But she tells me she’d like to study this in the UK, failing this Austin or Toronto are high on the list.
Living proof that most drivers (contrary to popular belief) are a fairly bright bunch. Heck, with friends like Dr. Sue Black who is listed as the 5th most influential woman in the world of technology… I think she’ll do just fine. That said, the support for her actions across the net has been staggering, as too, the huge amount of people who follow her on twitter – whom by all accounts are a rock solid bunch of people!!

So in three days time, the Fat Lady, will most certainly be singing :-)

I would have contemplated a trip over to have a pint down the pub with my newly labelled “bloody lay-about” buddy – but I don’t think they have pubs :-(  Yer see, shoulda stayed British :p

Published in: on 14 November, 2011 at 17:45  Comments (2)  
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The Eagle City and watching the generation of Pain

(do click on pics to expand – most pics taken with a Motorola Atrix 2 phone)

So… after my face finally tried to explode then got better, I jumped on a 747 for DC, thanks to finally having a decent Dentist and his assistant. Into Dulles and transport into DC was straight forward: for the exact fare of $6 (no change given) the 5A bus on the far right of the upper level gets you to the Rosslyn Metro Station… for the Blue and Orange Metro lines..In my case, I was heading to Foggy Bottom and where my first frustration of DC took place. My sense of direction is good in the very worse case… so how did I end up outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy? :(

Well DC Metro could better their “You are here” directional maps and maybe even put a North, East, South, West mosaic on the pavement outside the stations – because it seemed every one was getting lost lol….

Kit dumped, and off in search of food, beer and delights that this city had in… which yielded results in the form of Marshalls Bar and Grill – wonder why I chose that place lol.
The Following day, sunshine was gone and in its place sleet and snow and the presence of the one I’d come to trip up – @gabsatrucker on the 36th USMC Marathon… Then on to apparently pick up what they call “The Packet” in Marathon circles – aka sign in, get your t-shirt and loads of freebies. This took place right across the other side of town at the Stadium Armory.

And what a Marathon…. 30,000 people willing to suffer, including a load of guys from 3 Rifles and 16 Air Assualt..
The 16 Air Assault guys were staying at the same hotel and the locals were bemused to see 12 guys getting ready to run 26 miles with beers and cigarettes… I pointed out that it was just the way things are in the British Army, if you can’t run a marathon drunk – where’s the fun of running a marathon at all  ;)

Washington DC is a bland city in many respects, there aren’t shops obviously located, Malls are so hidden, you walk right by. If it wasn’t for the amazing monuments and its historical and political heart, I fear it’d be boring…

But amongst the bland grey limestone, DC is incredibly colourful… with autumn kicking in fast, the sun rising and illuminating the features of a city known throughout the world… it was a majestic sight and a place of real presence.

The Marathon was getting underway, and the sheer numbers were impressive if not retarding by the sheer mass. In fact I would say that because of it, no one could seriously consider making a good time. The amount of people out cheering was stunning and the support, totally outstanding.

I headed from Arlington Cemetery across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial…


Cheering crowds behind me I started to come across memorials which for some reason I thought were elsewhere.

First was the Korean War memorial… the statues here tell their own story, and while fantastic to see in this light, I kinda wish there had been a ground mist or mild fog to enhance the atmosphere of it… Awesome…

So I walked on and came across the one memorial you can’t not have heard of… The Vietnam War Memorial.
With so few people around I took my time, looking at the simplicity of this slit in the ground, bearing witness to a hard fought fight for what many believe was a bullshit war… So much so, the veterans had to fight tooth and nail for this memorial and the fact that this place exists at all. It is witness to the determination of those whom witnessed this war first hand and knew it must not be forgotten.

Here the names mean nothing to me at all… (other than the names of the 7th Cavalry) here, a monument that had nothing to do with my own nation and a war that has seen the inside of Hollywood and the butt of much sarcasm… but I can’t help but say that when I drew close to the centre of this place, I became choked…

It’s powerful to stand in the shadow of monolithic black slabs bearing the names that few truly care about.
It’s a message as well as a remembrance… and one we today are so ready to ignore…

The Nam memorial to me – was indeed a moving experience and something a nation should be and is proud of… for every name, there is deep suffering, and you start to feel it standing there. As many of my regular readers may have noted, I have immense respect for the retired Lt General Hal Moore… It is through his experiences and the testimony of his men that I have come to learn so much more about this war and what it was truly about. Yet I cannot, not even for one minute, imagine what these men went through, or how the living must feel when standing here.

On then… and walking east I noticed that in the sun it was warm and in the shade – bloody freezing.. And if I stayed in the sun in any one place too long, I suddenly got cold again… the reason was this…

I never really thought about how big this sucker was – but it’s Bloody HUGE!!!!!

Also with the help of a park ranger we managed to hold my new phone steady enough to zoom in half a mile to grab a pic of the White House – so I didn’t have to walk the mile there and back to get it ;-)

Back to the Marathon and noticing that the USMC really like to fly their helicopters low – at tree top level (especially when it’s a Huey)…
The stream of colour and encouragement that was the marathon, was broken intermittently by the hard punching sound of rock in the form of live bands and on this occasion – the School of Rock itself.. In other areas, there was Blue Grass and just about every style of music being performed live!

Another pic I only just got was of two marines running, one was blind and being chaperoned by his buddy – that to me is dedication and the force of will to carry on, be a part of society and something I just felt moved by.

Gabby stopped by for a photo opportunity (show off) and I headed towards the Metro…
Seriously… The DC Metro, dark, dingy and VERY badly sign posted and probably the worse ticket machines on the planet – lol… If you go, here’s the trick – shove your cash in first ;-)

Off to the finish line where I met loads of amazing people, most looking salty and crusty… I spoke to one guy who was trying to stretch his muscles out. He had come in from Nashville for the race and the night before had proposed to his GF, who also came over – now having a “Just Engaged” label covering her back… Of course as a guy I do know to ask to see her ring ;-) and frankly I can honestly say I really don’t think I’ve seen a rock that large that wasn’t fitted to a royal crown… I can only assume that guy owns a carrot farm ;-)

With @Gabsatrucker finishing I couldn’t help notice the sheer number of US Marines limping…. But being fair, they were accompanied by 30,000 others whom all seemed to have learned the same dance – this is apparently called the MCM Shuffle :-)

One thing I will also add, the Medal for this Marathon was stunning!! Seriously!! even the little blue globe thing spins around – other marathon organisers should take note!!

Well the numbers were large, the organisation was good, the long walk around the Pentagon to the start line yielded some things of interest… a couple of Osprey’s flew over and everyone took pics. It was all very Sci-Fi really with a thought of – that’s the future of modern policing right there..
Another thing was, they apparently don’t like you taking pictures of the Pentagon.. except from the memorial side… But the thing is, no one went past that side and we were far enough from the building to honestly state that all sides look exactly the same – but apparently it’s ok to to take pics of the prime area of where terrorists prefer to attack…
Basically, in Washington I became all too aware (as did some of the 16 Air Assault guys) that they are paranoid about security and frankly know fk-all about it… I would elaborate, but that would be just wrong.

But in no way is this a whinge, DC is great… the people are fantastic and true to fine American hospitality at its very best; Gabsatrucker got booted and suited after the Marathon and took me to dinner and showed me around and got me to see and do all I wanted.

A great weekend, good to catch up with Gabby again (after all, she bought the food – yet…. no cake) and the one thing i’ll remember is DC is a city of bright colours :-)

Back to Dulles for me, sit staring at the BA 777 until such time to board… It turned out we had a helluva following wind and hit London in 5.5hrs!! doing 760 mph only to sit in a stack for what seemed like an eternity…

I was brought to the attention of this when I heard someone state “but a 777 can’t go this fast”  We soon reduced speed – but it left me wondering what the structural limit of the 777 truly is.

Hey ho, life’s like that lol…

Especially after Gabby posted this picture of me looking bewildered around Rosslyn when I really try to stay anonymous ;-)

The Visit of Gabsatrucker…

Yep, it’s true… our colonial friend finally made her way back to the UK…
And somehow I got to be tour guide extraordinaire :-(
She came, she saw and I made sure she didn’t get the t’shirt…
Her last visit was apparently very short lived in the UK so I made sure she’d be seeing a lot in a very short space of time indeed..
First up Bladon (pron. Blay-don) and the grave of Sir Winston Churchill (there will be a theme here) then on to the stunning village of Shilton and even went past the Mini factory…
Next up – Hathersage and the grave of Little John… Yes!! Robin (of Loxley) Hood was a real dude and John Little was his Lieutenant… It is here, between Sheffield and the Hope Valley of the Derbyshire Peak District you’ll find their old stomping ground – or in this case; Gabby’s new one…
Bashed on to Stonehenge, Avebury, missed out the grave of Pocahontas.
Most of the tour guiding was very high speed and I’m guessing a bit of a blurr… so I’ll refer you to her blog to see what she writes about her visit…
I know she got to see a few Twitter friends and it was great to see her…
Was a little sad she didn’t get to see some of the people she’d reserved time to see and in some cases got no reply from tweets or anything… But some people are just like that I guess…

So do go to : http://www.gabsatrucker.com/

A lot has happened in the past year…

So yup… a lot has…
Just over a year ago I attended the Riphay Scuffle, it was an enlightening experience too, even after just under 4 hrs sleep (boy did I look rough lol)… A truly fun event! I met wonderful people too and yet went on my way. I was certainly thinking about running in this years event but for two things – the ladies on this blog would undoubtedly have removed me from the vehicle and taken it over completely!!
And yes, I did indeed move away completely too, as such I have relied on this blogs very own White Knuckle Driver a.k.a WKD to keep me up to speed on events.
Now WKD, like Gabsatrucker is a trucker… and they have a disturbing amount in common – trucks, both are women, cycling, being jolly and very, VERY sharp witted!! Thankfully they both are used to the fact that when I ‘think’ I’m saying something in a particular way – it *never* comes out the way I think it does and therefore sound callous and arrogant… oh wait……. So when I try to sound callous and – nevermind ;-)
WKD informed me that the event did happen but wasn’t anywhere near as good as the last few years on account they were not allowed a beer tent.. This is because last year two young lads decided to drive home totally pissed and died in the process…
This is where the whole thing fell down badly… and I must thank someone whom I often refer to as Lady K and/or Kate McAndersen (neither are her real name)for bringing this event to my attention when she did – I saw it for real and it’ll never be the same again now sadly.

Yes I moved away a few months ago and there are things I miss and things I seriously don’t – but above all in Devon, I miss the people… and the odd pint of old Otter… Hell, Honiton even has a Costa Coffee now :-/ But I will say my time there was somewhat of a rejuvenation of my spirit and while I’m still a bit of a beast in the eyes of most, everyone I met added another layer to this onion I call my life.

In this past 12 months twitter star and crazy friend @CareyLouisa actually went through the whole torturous process of buying her first home and while I know she had support from a most excellent person in the field, she did come through the process quite triumphantly I must say – and very good for her (even if she did start breeding pigeons in the process). In fact I’d go as far to say that Carey is a changed person since then and has her feet firmly planted on the ground.

Gabsatrucker came to the UK and promptly left again – straight to Malta!! Malta is of course a small island in the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Libya – and guess what – as she arrived war broke out! Then after kicking the life out of the Land Rover Maltese Marathon, she promptly legged it back to Arkansas after a total of 10 flights!!

Further more, this blog and my friend Sue Black aka Mustang Sue, went off to South by South West in Austin, Texas… and we managed to get her hooked up with Gabsatrucker who gave her a ride around Austin in her big-rig aka Lola… along with Elsie the dog.

My mother had a lung out and they removed the right one ;-)

Buddy Kev took his first ever flight and spent his time making the other passengers nervous through his perpetual knowledge of air crashes etc – rocking ! :-)

I caught up with six of the best guys in the form of Hammy, Dean, Charlie, Squeezy, Gary and Ray. Then there was bumping in to old buddy Alan Shearer by total accident… A story I should tell when I eventually get around to writing up the Google Garden Party post.

Basically there is a hell of a lot more to write here and I seriously could turn this into a very long post – but needless to say the year has been short but very interesting indeed!
For those I offended when I wasn’t joking, tough – to those I offended when I was joking, chin up :-) oh… and tough also :D

So… what enlightening thing should I leave you all with…. Hmmmm tough one this…
I know, an informative video on looking after and maintaining your guitar by Taylor Guitars
No, I’m not kidding :p

General Stuff (pt 467-ish)

It’s been a strange old few days…

This blogs resident mountain biking expert Eric McWhirter has finally left hospital and making a good recovery after a spot of lung and blood bother… Keep going Eric (you don’t have permission to die) ;-)
Gabsatrucker has had a workout from hell after sitting around on the US/Mexico border for days…
This blogs resident pianist Alex Elwood got stung by a wasp and whinged about it on Facebook (buy wasp-eze mate). :-D
Wooton Bassett became Royal Wooton Basset in honour of welcoming home our war dead.
The RAF has flown £1 Billion in cash to Libya – if you said that to me a year ago I would have slapped you for being stupid…. Strange old world..

Land Rover have announced they’re redesigning the Defender 90, 110 and 130 from scratch to be ready for production in 2015… Really not sure how I feel about that, but something has been needing to be done for a long time – but it’s vital it’s designed as a giant Meccano kit!!
This in it’s self is a tough call… the vehicle must be able to be maintained in the middle of nowhere – places you can’t find a garage or main dealer!
Guy’s talk to Peter Troop, need to be able to pop any kind of winch on – front and rear!!

The AMAZING Tony Sale has died…
Tony rebuilt the Colossus computer with little more than old Strowger telephone exchange parts…
It’s a truly stunning accomplishment as Colossus was the worlds first programmable digital computer and was used to help decipher the German Enigma code during WW2.
The very same Colossus can be found up, running and working at the place Tony started – The National Museum of Computing based at Bletchley Park.

The National Museum of Computing relies purely on donations to keep it going!! It gets nothing from the ticket value of entering Bletchley Park and even has to pay rent to the park for people to see what made Bletchley so vital and ultimately successful during the war…
If you get chance to go – do!! The people there are amazing, knowledgeable and friendly! And they have just about every known computer you’ve heard of – all up and running and you can play with them too!!

WARNING : Boys toys alert!!!

Friend, buddy, property mogul and keeper of slush funds over in Sioux Falls aka BigDog aka Dave has been shopping and I’m a little jealous…

He has acquired a Daniel Defense M4 Carbine, v1!!
Yes, just as the M4 hints at – it is a M16 variant with lots of goodies

Oh course I immediately fired off saying  he needs 8 x 30 rd magazines and throw in a 100 rds mag for good measure…
Then the weapon length… well I’d be tempted (as I told him) to stick a bipod on the front for distance shooting.. However, here lays a problem…
Doing that means you want a good scope, the M4 is a great close quarter weapon and for up close and personal – you want a red dot sight… but what about the middle distance? While a fan of the SUSAT sight, there is one inherent problem… You see the susat is designed to rest on the eyebrow and this cuts down the peripheral vision. As such there has been a NATO wide hunt for a new scope, one that works in close quarters and out to the main battle range – and this comes in the form of the ELCAN LDS (Specter)… This sight sits further away from the eye, a long way! And has advanced reticle and a secondary feature – it’s also a red dot sight for close up work! However, I think it’d cost more that the rifle lol

This blogs friend/torment aka Gabsatrucker has moved on in the web world…
With a newly acquired url of Gabsatrucker.com… things are changing quickly as with her web presence.
Along with new url’s and email accounts Gabby has also taken the opportunity to sort out and revitalise her twitter presence too.

Twitter account @gabsatrucker is newly born and an open and unlocked presence, but the old account is presently still running as @Dueforachange instead…
Some may get a little confused at first and will think she’s blocked and un-followed people, but of course this isn’t true.
Gabby tells me she plans to kill the original and renamed “@dueforachange” around the morning of 20th Sept.

 

General things

I have been writing something that’s not of this blog (shock!) though it will take the name sake and hopefully be the first of many things in that vein, it is designed to be an easy read, with typical TWBrit humour etc and typically stuff with out the fluff…

This Blog’s (and her own blog) Gabsatrucker has given up on iPhone and opted for the Motorola Atrix… A dual core processed phone with a kicking 1 gig of ram and fully Flash enabled. Now while this 4G super phone is pretty smart and cool, it totally leaves iPhone back in the dark ages AND has a replaceable battery, memory and other commonsense things the iPhone (as all Apple products) will NOT let the owner tamper with – I say owner very loosely when referring to Apple…. This all causes many problems when trying to get your information out of an iPhone because technically you no longer own it. Nevertheless, with the aid of Google Apps (of which some are astounding) she was able to finally suck her information from the iPhone in part and get up and running again.  Oh and the best part… she left the WiFi, Flash video and GPS switched on and 12 hrs later the phone still had life!!!  On top of all this is the complete Webtop…. if you’re wanting to do some everyday computing, this little sucker is all you need!! It’s a complete desktop if you want it to be…. No I’m not saying you’re going to be playing high-end games and making a 14 foot Photoshop image, but it’s all here in this package and it’s a damn fine bundle if I say so myself!

While in London last Tuesday to deal with things regarding the old St.George’s and Finborough School saga, I was walking along and after having a smoke thought to have one of those extra strong mint things. I don’t know quite what possessed me to do it, but I crunched it up…. And as I did so I thought – hmmm, interesting crunch…. As two large chunks of tooth fell from my mouth… bugger!!

Funny thing about anything to do with the school, I felt blank before I went, strange during and knocked sideways after…

Anyway, I met and had lunch with the ever smiling and great buddy Sue Black (the now known name sake of Mustang Sue’s Wreckin Crew) at a place called Planet Organic… who knew that growing things that way would be so popular!!

In other news and leading straight on from Sue is that HM the Queen visited Bletchley Park yesterday. She came to offer her thanks to the Code Breakers themselves, to unveil a plaque and said the following:

The papers and hacking scandal has gone as far as Mr Murdoch wants it to as Rebekah Brooks finally leaves his side… You see, Murdock wanted to capitalise on this and refused her resignation twice… Now with share prices plummeting and as much money from it all he could muster… Rebekah leaves and Mr Murdoch starts giving out “sincere” apologies… the obvious concept is that the news machine with then move on… Not So as the FBI start investigating the hacking of 911 victims families..
It’s possibly going to end in the downfall of the worlds largest media operation and if these accusations do hold true, then what questions of integrity will land on the shoulders of people in these News Corp companies.. The plot thickens :-)

Fenny aka Hooloovoo42 heads out stateside this coming week, so at last I can rest from all the loud music, wild parties and general ruckus that she doesn’t make, though I maybe taking her to Heathrow on Tuesday.

Managed to spend a good while talking the guys in the Asia Pacific region this week which was great! Emailed with Gary up on Nth Island NZ and Skyped for a good few hours with both Hammy and Dean, respectively Sth Island NZ and of course Dean in Australia… who is due to send me a photo of something (hint) so I can sort him a web logo and icon/avatar like most other people. That said, I’m at a loss what to do for some of them, but i’m sure imagination will eventually come up with something…

Finally, this Monday….  I’m getting my eyes checked, I have squinted long enough and it’s time to go four-eyed… so we’ll see how this sucker pans out. It wont improve my looks, but may in turn help to mask them.

lately

So….. what’s new?
Well it’s fair to say I’m starting to settle a little, things are starting improve somewhat.
The place I’m renting is sufficient to say the very least and the landlady asked if I could pop a new electric shower in, no problem…. Except the stud wall supporting it wasn’t in the best of shapes. So after ripping that out, along with the entire bathroom, tiles and everything else, it’s in and the finishing touches are being applied… I also gave it my own special touch about half way through…

Work wise, things are a little slow but getting there for sure.
It’s been great to go down to Bletchley Park, very weird from how I remember it, but feel I have done or said all I can about it – especially after being interrogated as to why I wasn’t wearing a sticker… strange but true…

Had the odd call from old Devonian friends which has been good, even WKD is out and about and in none other than Edinburgh this weekend painting the town red – and good for her…


Over in New Zealand, Hammy came face to face with a 4 inch thick file of his military records which read more like an encyclopedic reference manual of the damned… no surprise there then.
Actually had a really good chat with him the other day and yes I did complete a write-up for him in the Who’s Who.
Dean has been a little quiet since moving to his new coastal mansion and Charlie is keeping the streets safe (or so he claims) Steve – just complains I spell his name wrong – which I do (on purpose – shhhh!) :-)

Talking of  the Who’s Who section, giving it a bit of an overhaul at the moment, some names going, new ones appearing, but this is taking longer than I wished – Sue Black has gained a write-up too and just click on the logo for the page to open in a new window.

Today it is six months since I last drove a 44 ton truck… and hope it’s the first of many more. Which brings me finally to the trials and tribulations of my buddy and this blogs 2iC Gabsatrucker over this last 14 days…
I’m not kidding, if it could go wrong, it has gone wrong;
Two blowouts, nail damage to drive tyres requiring their replacement, AC failures, truck going into limp home mode, more electrical faults than a city full of Christmas Tree lights, queue jumpers and ALL this is way before – the weirdo’s…
I don’t know what constitutes Sexual Harassment in the USA, but when a woman cannot go about her basic work without getting drivers following them, calling out their truck numbers on the CB, offering to actually kidnap them, and even try to pull off on to an off-ramp when they’ve effectively past to follow her is not just insane but down right scary….
To be touched without permission because she has tattoos on her arms by people she doesn’t know, and then have people walk up and just open her truck door even when they can see she’s on the phone…
Well before one person says “It’s a male industry” – wind your necks right in… A woman has no less rights than anybody in ANY work place… and who said trucking was a guy’s job?!
No….it’s wrong, in most places 100% illegal and a complete and total violation of an individual’s human rights to be able not to only work, but to feel safe and secure in their place of work… NOT to have to get up and move their truck to a place miles away to feel safe after they’ve already parked up for the night in a truck park… Not all US male truckers are like this at all, in fact, most show a level of professionalism to rival any white-collar professional, but it’s about time they either brought these idiots  to book and at the very least police officers and trucking companies should not only know what is going on (and they do) but start getting to grips with doing their jobs properly too… Protect their employees and a whole segment of working America…

Published in: on 24 June, 2011 at 21:14  Comments (4)  
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Sadness for a friend

The other day I was heading to bed when the letters appeared in the Direct Message column of TweetDeck “Mike just died”…
It took less that 120 minutes from the time of his death for that news to flash around the entire globe, Europe, Asia, America, Canada and more…

I don’t know or never knew and will obviously now never know Mike… but I understood the impact these words had…

I’m not gonna start getting all soppy here, but I will say what needs to be said;

Life is a passage of experiences, often brought about by needs or moreover – wants…
We lose all normal thought when a heart becomes involved and as such, we humans are and always will be flawed.
We all deal with the downside of our experiences differently; I simply laugh a lot of mine away. But this in no way states I feel any less than the next person – how others interpret that is up to them.
As too, when older we understand our mistakes, we become too long in the tooth and as we get older, we may lose some of our ‘fight and fire’ but it’s only tempered my how inappropriately we my have used it in the past.

Mike was a dad; he had two amazing daughters who are also amazingly different people.
He wasn’t around for many years but had over more recent years and months come home, rebuilt the bridges, started on the long and lost road of his heart to make amends….
Not in an “oh I’m sorry way”, but in a way that meant something.
You see in his absence others took his place and they were not good people… Mike as a man had come to realise his absence had been the catalyst for many things untold and in this it sapped his spirit of life right from him…

Today, those children are fully grown… They too had found it hard slowly rebuilding the bridges… Yet at the same time they also witnessed what time and suffering had done to a man…

They thought there’d be years to get it all sorted, they wanted to finally cut through the BS, pain, hurt and one day find their true peace with him as he so desperately wanted to do with them.
In every moment he was with them, his self misguidance tortured him, his soul seemly extracted from his heart… Yet he came, he made himself a better man every day by doing so and in this he changed just that little bit more each time.

But, it was lost last week and to the children of this man the sadness of not being able to conclude this road is indeed a painful one.
There will always remain the questions/statements: I should’ve, but why didn’t I? and so on…

Well it’s like this:
Life is not about the petty, it is not about what your preacher says… It is not about the horizon you can see, it’s not about your boss, mortgage or the job you have – it is about those around you, those whom you may not see – it’s about what IS beyond your horizon… It’s not about what you may be or want to be – but the people you touch on your journey and how they in turn touch you.

On the 31st May Mike concluded that journey, he had laid the foundations, he had his contact and he knew that his daughters had both finally found their right paths…
The work was done, thought, imagination and heart would do the rest and his time to leave this life came to him.

I do not care who is your God, but I do care about seeing the effort in others (no matter how seemingly small) that when it is sincere, it will always carry great weight and impact on the future of others – Mike did this…

To many, he was a shell of his former self  – to me, he was a man who took the responsibility for his actions and did (while it appeared small or even possibly a hindrance) what he had to do to make things right.

And that my friends, is enough to know that whatever happens in life, when you leave this world, make sure you have rebuilt your bridges appropriately.

It is only in death sometimes we understand a persons meaning, for me this has been true many times. It is the way of things, and we learn that looking back is useless – and that’s why Mike wanted to know his girls were settled and they had all they needed – this he did.

Today the ashes of Mike may fall freely through the air… but his impact to so many by the end of his time was and is real.

On the 31st of May Mike, a man I never knew – became a man I respected and to those daughters, his burden in heart was you both –  it is now lifted…
He gave you all he could and while his pride or manner may have hidden much – it was done.

Mike left this world alone….  He knew he was in trouble too, his body had come to the end of it’s time and he left to be alone.
But in his heart and mind (while he would have wished to have done and been so much more) he knew he had done all that was needed – he knew he didn’t need more time – and he knew, finally, he had the love of his daughters…

Michael  “Mike”  H. 
April 1945 – May 2011
A man, a father – who found his way home

Published in: on 8 June, 2011 at 15:21  Comments (2)  
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Could I possibly whinge? …nah!!

It’s just that I guess it’s been a long and somewhat tuff old week. But it’s been a week where I have caught up with old friends around the globe, worked my absolute nuts off and frankly I do feel a little tired…

Well, from an earlier post about boarding school I caught up with old school buddy and now 24yr veteran of the Black Watch regt (not quite the Duke of Wellington’s – but definitely better than the Paras) Hammy, who is living the good life way down in New Zealand. In catching up, we took no time in berating a photo of old school mate’s first gulf war photos. So 30 years on and I think apart from waistlines and age, the only other thing added is that we all learned the same weaponry :)

WKD has had a very trying week indeed after her O/H became injured. Living quite remotely she brilliantly got her act together, sorted things the best she could before transporting O/H nearly 30 miles to the nearest available medical facility that was open in the early hours of the morning.
Frankly, without going into details, it was an outstanding set of actions on her part, the kind of which means you must act, act correctly and feel the fallout later. Bloody well done that woman!

This brings me to the general mindset of people in this part of the world. You see, I like a result, I hate working, but if you’re gonna do something, do it once, do it right and get a job done… then like me, you can loaf about :)
This is a common thing down here in Devon, and this one thing I like about the place.  I’m very pleased to have had so many opportunities in my life but at the end of the day, it’s about that very essence – a great life.
I used to race about all over the globe following great contracts etc, but I was most certainly never happy – then someone does something that can appear so minor and you realise just how good life is :) So get a good job done, but add anticipation of issues or secondary effects from what you do, lose any ‘pass the buck’ attitude and ALWAYS help those struggling in what ever way to get there job done too! And I swear, life will feel good… That said, I have spent nearly the whole week shunting on a night shift, and really – it’s time to do something completely different… feel free to add ideas to the comments section as I’m seriously ready to hang up my licence.

After last weeks Riphay Scuffle, this blogs very own JK caught me (in a sort of way) scouring eBay for used Land Rover Discovery’s to prep for the next scuffle.
I want to create something a little bizarre, or at least give it a ‘different’ paint job… Ideas again are most welcome, otherwise it will be the discovery version of this…

Gabby on the other hand has been getting stranded with her truck in the middle of the Texas nowhere this week after successive attempts to fix her trucks gearbox.. I say successive, but I really mean is that no one actually fixed anything until the gearbox gave up the ghost… It turns out that a truck automatic gearbox has two clutches (who knew?) and in the process of ad hoc and various tinkering by different workshops, they managed to leave her with a whole host of other issues – like no Air con in the Texas heat…..nice!

So finally the gearbox expired leaving Gabby to be rescued by persons with attitude and to be left twiddling her thumbs in a hotel until such time as the gearbox was dismantled, fixed, put back into the truck and made ready to run… Unlike here in the UK where we are paid by the hour (to prevent speeding), in the US they are paid by the mile.. So this week has been about far too much unpaid time sitting around waiting, rather than earning… She is though – finally home.

 

Published in: on 14 August, 2010 at 21:51  Comments (5)  
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Wow… hopefully a new week brings better days

I went back to work the other day and regretted it almost immediately. I was fine until about 10 minutes into the drive of a 15hr day…
The run, while a long day was simple – run down to the Roddas clotted cream factory, load up with cream and then make all haste to Westbury in Wiltshire before returning home.
Well things didn’t go quite according to plan, but I made it home in one piece – almost was surprised after they over charged the tank with steam raising it’s temperature to 120 oC thus cooking the last 400lts into a solid mass. A further screw up on the CIP ended up with having 20000lts of Caustic Soda to get rid of and I can tell you – the moment I opened the rear valve, you’d be shocked how fast truckers can run (myself included).
 
Then of course we had Valentines day….

Valentine’s day has two benefits;
1 you can slightly cross certain lines in the work place.
2 it makes a fortune!!
However, as it was a Sunday, it was lost on most logical people. After all, if you know your heart, you’re hardly going to allow a 3rd party depict how you act, when you and how you feel.
The greatest Valentine gift a guy can give to a woman is this the shopping spree for all the reduced priced chocolate the day after – that’s a result!
 
Vancouver Winter Olympics have started,  but not with out the sad death of one of the participants.
It was funny how everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else about the whys and wherefores of this tragedy… So let the commonsense of TWBrit tell you who’s fault it was…
It is the fault of the design and placement of the support pillars!! They simply should not have been there – just in the same way that any over sport i.e. Formula 1 removes nearly all ‘spin-off’ obstacles.
So basically – they should test for these things over every inch of the track…pure and simple eh?
At least while I watched the horrific collision, I didn’t hear the “Whoooooaaaaaarghhhhhh-SPLAT”
 
Returning to my car for the first time in over a month, I have received a fixed penalty notice for the none displayment of road tax… nice! I was just so able to run about and sort that our over the last four weeks!!
I finally finished my complete paper and sent it off… this time with a basic action plan on the end.
I would like to think something would come of this, but frankly I doubt anything will.
So with the arrival of my HGV1 (truck license) renewal forms and the need to pay for a medical etc, I seriously doubt that I will pursue my present paths.
In this my friends, I’m not happy, but we pick ourselves up and get on with it I guess – Can’t believe I took the test back in 88 and it’s only been renewed once in 94!
Need to take some new pictures this week for my Passport – should be interesting as I’ll be tacking them myself LOL
 
Terry aka Little Trucker has been driving in some tough snow conditions stateside and Gabby has spent the last month keeping me on my toes.
 
WKD is someone I don’t think I’ve now seen since Christmas, but we do communicate.
 
Fenny is busy as ever working away, she also posted an article about the subject of my paper which can be seen HERE. The response on her blog just shows how much feeling there is about this subject – she can also write better than I can lol.
 
I contacted Worthy Farm at Pilton the other day. If you don’t know, I’m talking about the Glastonbury music festival. I asked if I could have some of the official artwork to do an article on the blog rather than nabbing their logo from the web.
I went on to tell them I wished to write about not only the festival and the announced final line for this year, but also that the site is still and will always remain and active dairy farm and an important part of the local community.
the reply was this:


Not quite sure what to make of their response other than, well ok – it’s their logo, choice and lack of write up.
 
So, lets see how this week pans out eh?
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