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Saturday, December 3, 2016

SiriusXM is Doomed
The following, thanks to Eric Peters and National Motorists Association blog. Links provided:
Nov, 2016  When Howard Stern finally retires, so will SiriusXM. It will go the way of the CD — and the tape deck — before it.
Because if you take Howard out of the programming equation, what are you left with?
Howard’s is the only channel that’s not either superfluous or so lousy with commercials you pine for terrestrial radio — which at least had the upside of being free.
SiriusXM has become — as far as content — terrestrial radio you have to pay to listen to.
Including the ads.
Which are relentless — and endless.
Try listening to any of the talk channels (Howard excepted) and you’ll hear more about get-rich quick real estate flim-flam “opportunities,” snore-suppressors, bankruptcy/credit card debt relief and other such than you will whatever the show you were trying to listen to was supposed to be about.
Call 1-800…now!
If you are like me and despise ads — especially today’s ads, which are voiced-over either by a hyper-enthusiastic overly chirpy bimbo or a just as too-enthusiastic metrosexual male whose pushy/exuberant hawkings are equally as annoying — you will in short order feel a strong urge to put your fist through the LCD display.
Or at least, change the channel to another — hopefully without a squawking pitch going on.
Which is no easy feat.
It is not possible to listen to pretty much any talk channel except Howard for more than about 10 minutes without enduring the commercial juggernaut.
Say what you will about him, Howard — uniquely — doesn’t “break” for “messages” every handful of minutes (for several minutes at a time). He will continue without interruption for 30 minutes, 45 minutes — an hour or more.
He is the only talk host who does not constantly interrupt the talk with jabber.
I think he has a special rider in his contract — which it’s rumored he insisted on as part of the deal.
The rest should have followed his example.
Instead, they follow the terrestrial radio example.
Which begs the question… why bother?
If SiriusXM were free — like terrestrial radio — then the ubiquity of the commercials would be acceptable. It’s how they pay for the stuff you’re getting to listen to for free. But the thing with SiriusXM is you have to pay to listen to it. You are paying to listen to commercials.
Lots of commercials.
This will not endure. The business model makes no sense.
Excepting Howard — who is worth listening to, worth paying to listen to (his interviews in particular are exceptional) everything else is either not worth paying to listen to, or is available elsewhere.
On terrestrial radio, for one.
For free.
This goes for the talk channels, primarily. The right wing and left wing blowhards are available on FM/AM as well as via podcasts (the latter Howard has made fun of as a venue for no-talents without an audience, but I suspect he is a victim of his age — just as I am — and doesn’t see the semi bearing down on the industry).
The music channels make even less sense. There is after all, Pandora. And other forms of music streaming, which pipe music into your car (or wherever) via Bluetooth over your phone or iPod.
No subscription necessary.
And Pandora tailors the music to suit your tastes — not the tastes of a programmer at SiriusXM.
Your iPod (or phone play list) meanwhile, does not cut out for minutes’ long blocks of dead air — as SiriusXM maddeningly does, if you live in a mountainous or heavily treed area (like I do).
This usually happens right in the middle of something you were actually interested in listening to and when the signal returns, it’s just in time for Buy Gold Now!
There is a cool fix for this — which the latest SiriusXM receivers in new cars have: It’s a record/playback feature. Basically, the head unit has a hard drive and downloads the programming as you drive, storing the most recent 20-30 minutes or so — kind of like an airplane’s black box recorder. If you hit a dead spot, you can hit rewind/playback and not miss what you were listening to.
Still, the commercials, the duplicative (and redundant) channel offerings combined with the fact that they expect you to pay for it all…
And that’s literally what they demand.
Like cable TeeVee, which demands you buy a “package” of crap you don’t want in order to get the one or two things you do want. I have no interest in subsidizing all the right and left wing jabberfests or Dr. Laura or music channels I don’t listen to because I have Pandora. I’d like to subscribe to Howard, maybe Raw Dog comedy… and that’s it.
A la carte.
They — SiriusXM — won’t allow it.
It’s not hard to divine the future.
And satellite radio — like CDs and tape decks — is already the past.
Once Howard’s gone — along with his millions of fans — expect SiriusXM to go, too.
And so the wheel turns.
Baba-booey to y’all.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How To Stay Fit While On The Road

The following is a guest post thanks to Jason Dasher at

It is not always easy to stay in great shape when you have a job that keeps you busy on-the-go, and on the road. This is particularly true when that job is trucking. Truckers often have irregular hours that require the to sit for long hours on end. As such, they can sometimes find it difficult to maintain any sort of routine, in particular, a fitness routine. Still, difficult, is not impossible. With the right resources and tips, maintaining a fitness regime is doable, even when you have a career in trucking. Below are some tips on how you can balance it all.

Four Ways To Stay Fit While On The Road

1. Use available technology One of the best things about today's technological advancements is the kind of access that it brings. No longer do we have to be in a given location to access resources and stay connected. This is true even in the world of exercise and fitness. Thanks to technology, no longer do exercise and fitness lie solely in the domain of the local gym. Instead of going to the gym, one can take the gym to you, or with you. All you need is a simple smart device (such as a tablet, smartphone, or smart watch) and either data service or Wi-Fi connection, and you will have all you need. There is a host of free fitness videos for all levels of fitness and kinds of preferred activities on social networking sites like YouTube. These are free to access and are available at your convenience. Similarly, there are lots of 7-minute and 10-minute workout apps that can be downloaded to your phone and are available without an Internet connection thereafter. This is a perfect solution in instances where Wi-Fi or data service access may be an issue. There are simply no excuses. These workouts are short, effective, and be done more than once in a 24-hour period. In the world of on-the-go fitness, a little bit goes a long way. 2. Travel with portable fitness equipment Portability and effective exercises and workout routines are the name of the game for those in the trucking industry hoping in to stay fit while on the road. As such, truckers can invest in equipment like workout mate, jump ropes, exercise bands, and free weights to take with them while on the road. These equipment are not too difficult to travel with, and make for an effective addition to any workout. Jump rope help you get in some quick cardio, while free weights can help you stay strong and sculpted. 3. Do body weighted exercises a part of pit stops Even the most dedicated drivers in the trucking industry stop to take a break all the time. Body weighted exercises such as push-ups, squats, and jumping jacks during pit stops can help to keep one's resting metabolic rate high while improving circulation. Improved circulation is great considering a trucker is likely to have been seated for an extended period of time. 4. Travel with healthy snacks and water Nutrition is as important as exercising. As such, truckers can opt to travel with healthy snacks that can keep them satiated while on the road (remember, smaller more frequent meals does the body better than a few large ones) so they do not gorge themselves with unhealthy food at the next diner.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

'Cheater' changes mind, changes company

ELD lessons: Switching revealed impact of false logs on rates, driver pay, safety

Article thanks to Kevin Jones and Links provided:

Steve Rush admits it: “I was a cheater.” He cheated on his logs as a driver and, after founding New Jersey-based Carbon Express, he allowed it in his company.
Rush told his story as part of an educational session on how carriers have transitioned to electronic logs, presented this week at the 2016 American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference and Exhibition.
But then around 2008, as Rush explained, his safety director was next in line to be chairman of an industry safety  committee—but said he couldn’t take the position because “it would be a lie.”
And that prompted a reevaluation, both of Rush's own time as a driver and his responsibilities as a fleet owner.
“I gave him my word: From this day forward, we would run legal,” Rush recalled.
He made it clear to the company’s drivers that hours of service compliance was to be taken seriously, but about six months in Rush wasn’t satisfied. Frustrated that the drivers weren’t fully committed, he asked the safety director about e-logs.
The safety director immediately advised him that the company should expect to lose at least half of its drivers—if not all of them.
“And he was probably right,” Rush said. “So we went for almost two years before we finally put them in.”
Then Carbon Express began installing e-logs in 2010, and ran them “side by side” with paper logs for about six months.
“It was the single best thing I’ve ever done for the company, and for myself,” he said. “Do not fear electronic logs. They are good for your people. They are good for you. They are good for the industry and they are good for highway safety.”
Only one driver left—and he came back, Rush added.
The visibility into how the fleet truly operated provided immediate benefits.
“We weren’t charging enough for what we were doing, because we had been cheating,” he said. “And we weren’t paying our drivers enough money, because they, too, were cheating. So that all changed.”
On the customer side, Rush recounted a delivery in which the driver ran out of hours just 50 miles from the receiver. The customer called Rush and told him to send the driver in, and Rush said he couldn’t do it—even if that meant losing his largest account. Simply, he asked if that delivery would be worth someone's dying in a crash.
“I still that have that customer today,” Rush said. “Your customers want you to do this. We also found out that customers who recognize you do this become very loyal. When the mandate hits, and people start to struggle to move freight, you’ll see it.”
More broadly, the use of e-logs has shown how disruptive changing a driver’s schedule can be. Carbon Express runs irregular routes, coast to coast, with the drivers generally starting in the early morning, Monday through Friday. But it became clear that the occasional late-night or weekend load, for which a driver would have to be held back, proved burdensome—and, clearly, the company wasn’t charging enough for those loads. More importantly, driver sleep patterns are disrupted.
“It’s really opened our eyes,” Rush said. “The old guys, they’d start any time, day or night. We now say ‘no’ to freight like that.”
Indeed, the key to a successful transition to e-logs—for both customers and drivers—depends on being able to do a better job of planning deliveries. And a simple but effective change for Carbon Express was to program the system give the driver an earlier alert that his hours were running out.
“An electronic log is not the end-all, do-all, but it’s the first thing we’ve ever had that polices rogue drivers and rogue owners,” Rush said.
“It works all the way around. Drivers are happier and drivers are safer. We run 5 million miles a year, and we’ve had one FMCSA reportable accident in the last four years, and I really attribute it to those electronic logs and speed limiters.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Winterizing Your Truck
Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:
There are some lucky OTR truckers whose tires will never touch snow or ice this winter, but for most drivers this is the time of year to get their trucks ready for cold weather.
(And even the drivers who stay down South shouldn’t get too cocky. In recent years, snow and ice storms have hit Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and even Georgia.) Better to prepare for the worst – and do it now before the cold weather hits.
Here’s how to make sure your truck can handle whatever winter puts in its path:
Battery: Cold weather drains batteries fast. Check the age and strength of your battery.
Fuel additives: Every driver knows that diesel fuel can gel in extreme cold, but not everyone knows why. It’s due to paraffin, a hydrocarbon found in diesel. Paraffin crystallizes in freezing temperatures, allowing any water in the fuel to emulsify and turn the diesel to slush. The solution is to use winter blend fuel with a high cetane rating and add anti-gel additives at each fill-up.
Cooling systems: Yes, you have to worry about cooling systems in cold weather. A comprehensive winterization check should include inspections of the radiator, belts and hoses for potential failures. Also, check the coolant to see if it’s at the optimum freeze point.
Fuel filter and water separator: Monitor the truck’s water separator daily and drain it when full to avoid contamination. Replacing old fuel filters also protects the engine.
Air dryer: The air dryer prevents water from entering the brake lines where it can freeze. Make sure it works and change the filter if needed.
Engine block heater: Since diesel engines require a higher cylinder temperature than gasoline vehicles, they are harder to start in the winter. Drivers who travel a lot through the coldest parts of the country should consider an electric engine block heater to use when the truck is parked for long periods of time.
Tire pressure: Cold weather can cause underinflated tires, which wear faster and hurt fuel mileage. Adjust the inflation accordingly.    
Emergency supplies: Breakdowns in the summer are inconvenient; breakdowns in the winter can be dangerous. In addition to the usual emergency supplies, make sure to have cold-weather clothing and footwear, a shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, first aid kit, flares, radio, anti-gel fuel additive and food and water.
Of course, along with the equipment checks comes a reminder to drive safely in winter conditions.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Review - The AeroPress Coffee Maker
A while back I received an email from Constance Adler of Aerobie, Inc. asking if I would be willing to try out their Aeopress Coffee Maker and write a review about it after sending me one. I agreed to give it a try and get back to her. The following is my review:

A few days later I received one in the mail and read through the instructions. It’s basically a manual filtered press, that you can make one to three cups of coffee in about a minute or so. Since I only drink one or maybe two cups of coffee in the morning it’s great for me.

Additionally, the unit comes apart quickly, easily cleans up with a rinse of water and is very portable. It even comes with a tote bag that you can travel with, making it very convenient for people on the go, especially truck drivers.

The first time I used it, the cup of coffee was OK, but a bit weak for my taste. After experimenting with a couple different grinds and measurements of coffee I was able to refine it to my taste and I can now make a cup quickly and easily that tastes the same from one to the next. Every week I put enough regular grind coffee (I’ve been using 8 O’clock medium roast) to last about a week into a grinder and turn it on for just a couple seconds. If you don’t have a grinder, you can use an Espresso grind coffee. I then store in a small tin for the week. I prefer one heaping scoop per cup with the spoon that’s included.

Easy to use, just put a filter in the cap, put cap on the chamber, put in coffee, add water, stir 10 seconds. Insert plunger and push through gently for 20 to 60 seconds into your cup. Everything you need is included, even the measuring scoop and stirrer. All you need is the cup and after it is full, take the press apart, dump the grounds and rinse with water.

The only issue I had was having a source of hot water. You really need to have water between 175 to 185 degrees for a good cup. Tap water is not hot enough for this, so unless you have instant hot water in your kitchen, you can experiment with the microwave or heat water on the stove.

My solution? I use my old 4 cup coffee maker and just run water through it without coffee. It only takes a minute or two while you get the other stuff ready. Only heating enough for a cup or two, I then have a small pot of hot water that I can easily pour into the chamber, works great.

For truck drivers, it travels well in a tote and if you can source hot enough water, you’ll know you will get a great cup of coffee every time. How often have you gotten coffee at a truck stop that was old, burnt and tasted horrible? And, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying it by the cup!

I like this product, once you get the formula down, you’re good to go. Thanks Constance!