Follow by Email

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's Time to Think About Hourly Pay
The following commentary thanks to Deborah Lockridge, Editor-In-Chief of Links provided:

Nov, 2017  When Charles “Shorty” Whittington was chairman of the American Trucking Associations a decade ago, the founder of Grammar Industries called for the industry to look at paying drivers by the hour, he recalled last month during a panel discussion at the ATA’s annual Management Conference & Exhibition. “And I was about tarred and feathered.” Trucking companies told him to do so would be “business suicide.”

But things are changing.
Seriously evaluating how we pay drivers is something trucking needs to do as the industry faces its worst shortage of drivers since ATA first started keeping numbers. The shortage is projected to hit 50,000 by the end of the year. One Northeast fleet manager I talked to said he’s 15-18% short of where he needs to be on drivers.
Grammer Industries is one of a number of fleets ­— many in the tanker and bulk business ­— who have been quietly experimenting with hourly pay. Some of Whittington’s friends in the industry who have done so, he says, have seen their driver turnover drop to 20%.
Admitting that getting customers to accept the rates they’ll need to pay in order to make that happen is just one challenge in making this transition, he said, “but I think this industry has done a terrible job in communicating with the shippers.”
With the upcoming electronic logging device mandate, however, many in the industry have agreed that this kind of communication is going to be vital. And it also could mean that moving to hourly pay would make sense, at least in some situations.
It’s understandable how the mileage rate became the standard and accepted pay structure for the industry. With drivers out on the road for days and even weeks at a time, with no way to know much of anything about what they were doing other than the miles you could be reasonably sure they were traveling from origin to destination, mileage was the one number you could use to make calculations.
But with ELDs, that’s all changed. Used properly, you’ll know how many hours they’re driving, how many hours they’re sitting at the dock waiting to load or unload, and how many hours they’re off duty.
And for drivers who are leery of electronic logs, wouldn’t that be a lot easier to swallow if it meant they were actually going to get paid for every hour they worked?
Whittington said his company enjoys low turnover and spends very little on advertising for drivers. While he said the company culture values drivers, and that’s part of it, the hourly pay is a definite draw.
Louisiana-based Dupre Logistics has been paying drivers by the hour for years, and notes that it positively affects driver safety — when drivers are paid based on mileage or a percentage, it can push them to work when tired.
Not that such a move is easy. As Whittington said, “it puts a lot of strain on dispatch when you start down that path.” During the recent hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, “we paid out over $200,000 to truck drivers who didn’t move during those storms,” he said. “Was that tough? It was damn tough. But we’ve got people coming to work for us because we treat them right.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The trucker behind (Derek) Trucks
Story thanks to Neil Abt and Links provided:

It’s just after 10:30 on Friday evening and truck driver Rick Keiner waits patiently outside the sold out Keller Auditorium in Portland, OR.
As a cool breeze blows through his long beard, Keiner notices me peeking around his 2016 Kenworth T680.
“Can I help you?” he asks.
One moment earlier, I was one of 3,000 people enjoying an evening of soulful blues music with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, featuring the husband-wife guitar team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.
Now I’m face-to-face with one of the most important pieces of band: the driver with Janco LTD responsible for transporting the gear for the 12-piece ensemble.

The rock 'n' roll trucker has long been of interest to me. I’ve had mixed success engaging them in conversation over the years. I often think they expect me to ask for a backstage pass.

On this night, however, Keiner is willing to chat. The U.S. Navy veteran calls South Carolina home, but the majority of the last quarter-century has been devoted to the music business.
“Work at night, sleep during the day,” he said in explaining one reason why he enjoys his job.
It takes some prodding, but Keiner confesses he spent about 14 years on the road with the Allman Brothers Band.
That isn’t a huge surprise, as Derek’s uncle is Butch Trucks, a founding member of the Allman Brothers. Derek joined them in 1999 at the age of 19, and remained until the band’s retirement in 2014.
Derek and Susan formed their current band in 2010, and have been touring extensively in recent years. Keiner has been with them just about every step of the way.
That means months away from home at a time, including the current stint that has kept him on the road almost continuously since August, he said.
On this night, he estimates it will take about 90 minutes once the concert concludes to get every piece of equipment packed up. That will be followed by a drive on Interstate 5 to Seattle, meaning an arrival around 4 a.m.
While the bus drivers who transport the band stay in a hotel each night, Rick says he is happy to get his rest in his sleeper. He suggests the two-night run in Seattle means he will be provided a room the following night. I get the sense he feels more at home inside his truck.
Though I have countless music questions, I ask about the electronic logging mandate after seeing an ELD in his truck.
He believes it will hurt many across the industry, but places much of the blame on time wasted by shippers being unprepared to receive deliveries. Keiner volunteers he still uses paper logs, but says that will change by Dec. 18, when the mandate kicks in. He adds the way tours are structured, running out of hours is not usually a concern.
Before ending the conversation, I ask about the reaction he gets from people. He speaks fondly of most musicians, saying they understand the large number of workers it takes to pull off a successful concert tour.
Count me as those with an even greater appreciation of those roles after spending a few minutes with Keiner.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

It’s Time to Figure Out What’s Going on at Tesla Motors
Do you own any Tesla stock? The following article thanks to Matt Posky and Links provided:

Oct 31,2017  Lately, we’ve been guilty of the same behavior as a lot of other well-rounded and objective automotive publications — bashing Tesla Motors. It hasn’t been done maliciously, but we’d be lying if we said the divisive hype and hate surrounding the company didn’t bother us. However, since the summer launch of the Model 3, a slew of happenings at Tesla have have raised unanswered questions.
The biggest question surrounds the cause of the company’s rather severe production delays. Tesla also fired hundreds of employees this month, without any clear answer as to why, and seems to have shelved a cross-country trip aimed at highlighting the progress made with its Autopilot driver assistance platform.
None of this would be quite so noteworthy if its stock valuation wasn’t still stratospherically high and CEO Elon Musk hadn’t publicly promised so much — but that isn’t the reality we’re living in. Now, with the company reporting its third quarter earnings on Wednesday evening, we’re hoping to get some clarity on what exactly is happening in Fremont, California. 
Earlier this month Tesla reported that it had only built 260 Model 3 sedans in the third quarter, despite forecasting 1,500 units in the same timeframe. Citing “production bottlenecks” as the reason, the automaker hasn’t given any additional explanations for the assembly delay. Bloomberg, also keen for answers in this weeks earnings report, said Musk was “camping” on top of the company’s Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nevada, and speculated that the problem could be a battery supply issue.
Taking a step back and looking at Tesla’s production goals in comparison to well-established manufacturers doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, even under idyllic circumstances. The company is trying to explode into high-volume production at a pace that is difficult to comprehend, and without a clearly outlined path to get there. With delays ongoing, shareholders need more answers and less self-promotion.
One such solution could stem from adding a production facility in China. In June, Tesla said it’s “working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market.” That deal was expected to have solidified into something tangible by the end of the year, but we’ve yet to hear anything.
We also haven’t heard much regarding the company’s staffing issues. The firm has lost essential members of its Autopilot team, potentially stalling autonomous development plans and explaining why we haven’t heard anything about enhanced features in a while. But it also reportedly fired a large hunk of its production team in California this month. While Tesla remains somewhat tight-lipped on the reasoning behind it, the United Auto Workers has filed a federal complaint claiming the layoffs were a result of Fremont-based employees supporting efforts to organize.
When questioned as to the validity of the UAW’s claims, Tesla eventually stated that the terminations were part of a performance review process. “At Tesla, we strive to be a fair and just company, the only kind worth being,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Performance reviews result in promotions and occasionally in employee departures. No one at Tesla has ever or will ever have any action taken against them based on their feelings on unionization.”
Still, the layoffs came as a bit of a surprise from a company striving to bolster volume and maximize production hours. However, if these employees were dead weight, losing them wouldn’t necessarily be a crushing blow.
Perhaps the biggest conundrum is that of the company’s financing. While we know Tesla had around $3 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter, we also knew that the Model 3 was going to be a six-month money pit. There was no way it couldn’t be. But, with individual delivery wait times stretching to the end of next year and no word yet on how the company plans to solve its production problem, we don’t know how long this cash burn is going to last.
Hopefully, Tesla can provide the public with some clear answers in tomorrow’s report, because we really could use them at this point.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Holiday Shopping at the Truck Stop
Article thanks to Links provided:
Holiday shopping is a hassle for drivers.

The malls are jammed and there’s no room to park a rig, anyway. Online shopping is convenient, but what if you’re not at home to get the package? It could get stolen off the porch or fall into the hands of the intended recipient.

Truck stops are an overlooked solution for holiday shopping. You’re going to stop at one anyway, so it doesn’t require a special trip. And they’re open 24 hours so you can avoid the mall crowds and shop on your schedule. There’s plenty of parking, too. And, since most truck stop chains offer some sort of rewards program, you can earn points for your generosity.

No, we’re not suggesting you buy diesel fuel additive or wiper blades for your significant other. There ae plenty of other choices that the people on your list will be delighted to get. Here’s a quick gift guide:

Entertainment – Whether their tastes run to DVDs of old TV shows and movies, the latest bestsellers on audiobook or country and pop CDs, truck stops carry enough games, movies, music and books to satisfy everyone on your list.

Electronics – DVD players, cameras, phones, headphones, chargers, TV sets and GPS navigation systems – your average truck stop stacks up pretty well against Best Buy and without the long lines.

Toys – You can find something for any young child or grandchild at a truck stop: stuffed animals, games, drones, remote control helicopters and cars, dolls and action figures and, of course, toy trucks.

Food – Got a jerky fan on your list? Nothing beats a truck stop for jerky selection.

Tools – Have you ever given someone a ratchet set as a present? Then you are a practical gifter, someone disinclined to waste money on the frivolous and unnecessary. You’re OK with your presents not being loved, so long as they’re used. Consider jumper cables, heavy-duty ice scrapers or coolers.

Clothing – Nothing designer label here, but plenty of insulated hoodies, graphic tees, hats, socks and gloves. Most truck stops also sell discount jewelry.

Stocking Stuffers – Sometimes the little gifts are harder to pick than the big ones. You don’t want to waste too much time thinking about them or too much money buying them. Luckily, truck stops are full of inexpensive knickknacks; just grab a handful of whatever is at the counter.

Gift Competitions – Got one of those families where relatives compete to find the most unusual gifts? You’re in luck because truck stops are the place to find them. We’ve even seen full-sized Viking helmets (no, not the NFL team).

So let everyone else fight for parking and elbow room at the mall or big box store. Find a truck stop and do your holiday shopping the smart way.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ryder Adds DriveCam to 4,400 Trucks

Image courtesy of Ryder and Lytx
Article thanks to Links provided:

Oct, 2017  Ryder System, Inc., a provider of commercial fleet management, dedicated transportation, and supply chain solutions, announced its partnership with Lytx and the implementation of DriveCam into 4,400 Ryder vehicles supporting its Supply Chain Solutions (SCS) and Dedicated Transportation Solutions (DTS) business divisions.

The DriveCam program addresses safety by combining data and video analytics with real-time driver feedback and coaching, resulting in reductions in injuries and collisions. The Company made the decision to incorporate DriveCam’s solution as part of its operational initiatives after a six-month DriveCam pilot at various Ryder locations.
“As an industry leader in safety and security, we recognize the importance of investing in technologies like DriveCam that enable us and our professional drivers to make continuous improvements around safe practices and driving behaviors,” said Sandy Hodes, Ryder’s SVP and Deputy General Counsel. “Our partnership with Lytx reinforces our commitment to our drivers and our core value of safety in the communities we serve.”  
In the past 12 months, the DriveCam program has allowed Ryder to identify and target the top behaviors contributing to fleet risk. This has enabled Ryder’s professional drivers to significantly improve their results, reducing well over half the number of near collisions while increasing both following distance and response time. The program has also enhanced the quality of communications between Ryder and its professional drivers, and in turn, has encouraged the Company’s drivers to embrace continuous improvement and best practices adoption.
“While the DriveCam program does the heavy lifting to pinpoint risk in fleets, it’s up to the Ryder team to take action on the insights DriveCam delivers,” said Lytx Executive Vice President and Chief Client Officer David Riordan. “The extent to which Ryder has improved driver behavior is a testament to the quality of its drivers, engagement of its frontline managers, and highly effective coaching.”
DriveCam’s model identifies behavioral improvement opportunities for increased safety through a patented, iterative process of scoring, prioritizing, and tracking the results of driving behaviors. In-cab video captures driving behavior, which is objectively reviewed and scored, and then passed on to the fleet for use in coaching drivers. Fleets manage the DriveCam program through a Web-based online portal.
Ryder continually monitors emerging fleet technologies and works closely with leading technology providers and equipment manufacturers to provide feedback around functionality, usability, and adaptability. The Company has a long track record of consistently improving the performance, safety, and reliability of commercial vehicles. Technologies, such as DriveCam, aim to get drivers home safely and reduce the possibility of vehicle crashes, while also providing a cost benefit to Ryder customers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

5 Ways Truckers Can Enjoy Holidays on the Road
Article thanks to Links provided:
No one likes to spend the holidays at work, let alone on the road, far from family and friends. But that’s the fate of many truckers. It’s hard, no doubt about it, but there are things drivers can do to make these mobile holidays easier on themselves and their families.   
Be flexible
You don’t always control your own schedule, so plan accordingly. Don’t overschedule holiday activities if you don’t know for sure that work will allow you to attend. It’s better to have to schedule something at the last minute than to make big plans and be forced to cancel. Allow some flexibility as to where and when the activities will take place.
Don’t be bound by the calendar
Yes, the calendar tells us that Christmas is always Dec. 25, New Year’s Eve is Dec. 31 and Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November, but since when have truckers played by the rules?
If your schedule doesn’t allow you to be home on the holiday calendar dates, reschedule them. Holidays are about getting together with family and friends and if that means Christmas comes on Dec. 26 or Thanksgiving is on the fourth Tuesday, that’s OK. Not being home on a certain date doesn’t mean you have to skip the holiday altogether.
Take advantage of technology
You don’t have to settle for a phone call. Social media and technology make it possible to do everything but smell the turkey. Many drivers use Skype, Facebook, Instagram and other means to participate vicariously in holiday celebrations they can’t attend. Streaming video and Snapchat can put you right at the table.
Find some company
You’re not the only driver on the road or at the truck stop. Get out of your cab and share a meal or a talk with a fellow driver. Wish happy holidays to the truck stop employees who also would rather be home with their families. Show each other pictures of your kids and spouses. Take the time to make everyone a little less lonely.  Try to park at one of the many truck stops that go out of their way to make drivers feel welcome during the holidays.
Bring the holidays on the road
Play Christmas carols on your radio. Hang a wreath on your grill. Spray gingerbread air freshener in the cab. Pack a candy cane in your lunch. Do whatever you need to bring a little holiday cheer into your life on the road. And don’t hesitate to give yourself a gift, maybe a meal in a nice restaurant or a stay in a hotel.

The cab of a Kenworth is never going to be the same as being home for the holidays, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made more enjoyable for the holidays.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Trucker’s Surprise – Mobile Inspection Sites Explained

The following from the blog posted Nov. 7, 2017. They have a bypass service that integrates with electronic logs like Peoplenet eliminating the need for a separate transponder in the vehicle. Links provided:

The sheer volume of commercial transportation and the associated use of public infrastructure make regular truck inspections a fact of life for truck drivers and trucking fleets. Commercial vehicle inspections play an important role in keeping the motoring public (including other truck drivers) safe. These vehicle inspections must be performed by certified Level I, Level IV or Level VI inspectors, meaning that they have passed Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) approved training programs.

Pop – Up or Mobile Inspections - Because of the volume of commercial vehicles and the different routes that are driven, it is an outright impossibility for commercial vehicle enforcement to inspect all the trucks on the road, especially when limited by the location of a traditional inspection station.
A solution to this problem, for many transportation authority organizations, is the use of mobile or “pop-up” inspection sites. In its most basic implementation, this is an inspection site temporarily set up at a location where there is no existing station house or static scale. This tactic allows the inspectors to pull in vehicles that may not travel on routes where the fixed stations are located or trucks that may actively avoid these areas.
With advancements in multiple technologies, it is now more common than ever for inspectors to perform these ‘pop-up’ inspections through the use of mobile inspection units which allow for rapid, thorough inspections, at virtually any location. To better understand how mobile inspection sites collect and process information, we take a closer look at the technologies used by the DOT and law enforcement to complete inspections.
There are various ways an officer can get inspection technologies to the temporary location, ranging from trailers to customized vans. These vehicles are typically outfitted with license plate readers, USDOT Number readers, hazmat placard readers, overview cameras, or thermal inspection units. And are typically used to house the following tools that are used to collect and process the information in a timely and efficient manner.
Automatic License Plate Recognition – This tool reads license plates at highway speeds, and allows for rapid identification of vehicles as they approach or are pulled into a mobile site for inspection. The information is processed through a database that allows the officer to access and analyze records before they talk to the driver of the vehicle.
Automated USDOT Number Reader – Another tool that is used to collect and process information in real time, even before the vehicle has arrived at the inspection site. In this case, the camera is reading the USDOT number on a vehicle at highway speeds.
Overview Camera – Provides an image of the vehicle to match it with the information accessed through the license plate and USDOT Number.
Hazmat Placard Identification System –This system is used to read the hazmat placards that are displayed on vehicles as they travel on the roadway.
Thermal Inspection Camera – This technology allows the officer to identify malfunctioning running gear on the vehicle. The camera analyzes heat based images that can indicate non-operational brakes, dragging brakes, or overheated tires.
To drivers or fleets, a mobile inspection may seem like just another opportunity to generate ticket revenue, but these sites play a crucial role in keeping public roadways safe for all.
Drivewyze weigh station bypass can help alleviate some of the associated annoyance that may go along with these types of inspections. The Drivewyze PreClear App Is the only weigh station bypass program to provide bypasses at mobile inspection sites. Similar to fixed sites, the app will notify the driver two-miles ahead of an approaching station. When the driver is 1-mile away from the station, the Drivewyze Preclear system will notify the driver if they are eligible to bypass the mobile inspection site or weigh station allowing them to save time and money by staying on the road.
Drivewyze Inc. is the leader in connected truck services and is on a mission to revolutionize the delivery of highway safety and transportation management through world-class products, systems, and services. Drivewyze serves commercial drivers and fleets with innovative trucking services such as the Drivewyze PreClear bypass service, and the Drivewyze Analytics Weigh Station Loss Reporting service. Drivewyze was recognized by Frost & Sullivan with the North American Weigh Station Bypass Company of the Year Award for 2017, for its best practices and industry leadership.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Why won't diabetic drivers listen to their doctors?
Article thanks to Larry Kahaner and Links provided:

Oct, 2017  Truck drivers suffer from diabetes at a rate almost 50% higher than the rest of Americans because they have more risk factors, physicians note.

A truck driver's life is a recipe for diabetes, and the statistics prove it. In the U.S., about 9.4% of the population has diabetes according to the Centers for Disease Control. For truckers, that number is 14%.

Why do truckers suffer from diabetes at a rate almost 50% higher than the rest of Americans? They have more risk factors, physicians say. Drivers smoke more – about half of truck drivers smoke compared to 19% of other adults – they rarely exercise and their diet is high in calories and fat. Also, almost 70% of truck drivers are obese, which is more than twice the nation average. "See Obesity and other risk factors: the national survey of U.S. long-haul truck driver health and injury."

Physicians like Dr. Albert Osbahr who treat truck drivers among other patients, say they’re taken aback when drivers are surprised when they're disqualified. "They have numbers that are high and wonder why we might give them short cards or might actually, in some cases, disqualify them when their numbers are 450 or 500. They'll look at me in disbelief and say: 'Why would you do that?' I say, 'This is not stable. This is not safe.'"

The American Diabetes Association recommends aiming for a blood sugar level between 70 to 130 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) before meals and less than 180 mg/dl one to two hours after a meal. Fasting before a blood test gives the most accurate reading.

"If we don't find ways to improve this we'll have more guys with eye problems, heart problems, kidney problems, stroke-like symptoms or sensation problems because of diabetes," noted Osbahr, who is the medical director of occupational health services at Spartanburg (SC) Regional Healthcare System and a Board of Trustees Member of the American Medical Association.

"Weight loss is very crucial to diabetes control,” he added. “I've seen dramatic control of diabetes Type 2 when people lose weight. The two key issues in terms of weight – as long as there's not something else in the way like another disease such as thyroid or a medication that is causing extra weight – are exercise and diet."

About 90 to 95% of people with diabetes have Type 2, a condition in which your body doesn't use insulin properly, a malady also known as 'insulin resistance.' Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to produce sugar from carbohydrates in food. This sugar (glucose) gives you energy which is why one of the first signs of diabetes is fatigue. Type 1 diabetes is rarer and usually presents itself in children as the pancreas may be dysfunctional from birth and not produce any insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day, usually by injection. Contrary to what some people believe, Type 2 diabetes cannot become Type 1 diabetes. They are different diseases.

Because of how well medications work on Type 1 diabetes, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed that drivers who use insulin may no longer need a medical waiver to drive but instead can get certified annually by their health care provider that their diabetes is well controlled by insulin.

Osbahr repeats what he says to every trucker with diabetes. "When I see guys in the office and they raise the issue [of how to lose weight] I say, 'Add a little extra to your regular activities. Any little bit of extra exercise, walking, even doing some flexibility calisthenics for 15 minutes while you're getting ready to sleep or getting up in the morning can help. Probably the biggest thing is parking farther away from the truck stop [building], making that walk in and out and do that [extra walking] with any other kind of activity."

The other thing I say is 'you guys have to inspect your trucks. Why don't you make multiple trips around your truck in your inspection, but make it like a walk? You don't need a gym or a running track. You can add some jumping jacks if you can. You can do some knee-ups if you can. You can do some running in place if you want to, but everybody is probably able to at least walk and that does not require any additional equipment.'"

As for diet, Osbahr concedes that truckers have fewer healthy options on the road than most workers. "The foods that are offered on the road are not very good; they're also high caloric. You have to work to find the right ones. And I tell a lot of the guys, 'How many fat vegetarians have you seen?' Most of the guys will laugh and say, 'You're right; there are not too many of them.' I tell them, 'Yeah I've seen a few, but not that often.' There is something [healthier] about eating vegetables and fewer starches, breads and meats, even though I love them. There's something to be said for eating more vegetarian foods. You probably would lose more weight, but we don't always see those options on the road…. In general, the lifestyle of a trucker does not lend itself well to losing weight. There's no question about that."

Dr. Adrian Vella, who studies Type 2 diabetes at the Mayo Clinic and sees patients about 40% of his time, said that if he had to choose one thing for truckers to do that would prevent or handle diabetes it would be diet. "To me, the most important thing is the amount of calories you eat compared to the amount of energy expended during the day. The second most important thing is what those calories consist of. In general, it would be a good idea to avoid high-fat, calorie-dense foods."

"Nine times out of 10 they're [patients] are doing bad things,” he added. “They are not compliant or following recommendations, and I understand that this is difficult for truck drivers. The other issue is what physicians face when they're trying to choose medications for their patients. They want to avoid hypoglycemia at all costs for obvious reasons."

Some diabetes medicines cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar which is deadly for drivers as it can cause blurry vision, poor coordination, tiredness and confusion.

Both Vella and Osbahr say that most doctors would prefer not to prescribe medicines for diabetes if it can be controlled in other ways, but often they have no choice as many patients are non-compliant when it comes to diet and exercise.

Osbahr knows that treating diabetes, especially in truckers, is an uphill battle. "The biggest problem I find is a lot of guys not taking care of themselves… It is hard for us as humans to stay disciplined in a way to take care of ourselves and truckers are no different than the rest of us non-truckers. Motivation seems to come only when bad things happen to our health. Plus, most of the truckers are men and we, as men, do not keep up on our health like we should."

Unfortunately, he sees truck drivers and diabetes as indicative of our nation's future. "We're not talking about just truckers who are a window into what our culture is doing. Our culture has gotten heavier and truckers are at the extreme."

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mom, son Bears fans ran into Aaron Rodgers in Chicago, and that was just the beginning

Packers News/Facebook
Article thanks to Kendra Meinert and Links provided:

Nov 29, 2017  Julia Nicoll still can’t quite believe what happened on that street corner in downtown Chicago on that Saturday night. 
It’s the story of two Chicago Bears fans, one Green Bay Packers quarterback and a sprinkle of department store Christmas magic thrown in for good measure.
 It was the weekend of the Packers-Bears game at Soldier Field on Nov. 12, and Nicoll and her 11-year-old son, Peter, decided spur of the moment to take the 4:30 p.m. train from their home in Mount Prospect, Ill., to check out the early holiday decorations in the city. They were waiting along with other people to cross the street when Peter said to his mom he thought he recognized Aaron Rodgers standing by them.
“I’m whispering to him like (in a doubting tone), ‘Really? I don’t think Aaron Rodgers is standing right next to us on the corner on a Saturday evening.’”
But when Rodgers looked past her to prepare to cross, she checked for herself — and then did something that’s so unlike the mother of three.
“I never in my life can talk to celebrities. If I go to a book signing, I don’t even talk to them, because I don’t want to bother people, but somehow I had it in me to say, ‘Are you ...?’ really quietly. I didn’t even finish the sentence, because I didn’t want the other people at the corner to bug him if he just wanted to be alone, which I totally get, so I kind of stopped myself.
“He looked right at me and said, ‘I am.’”
The next thing she knew, he turned around and introduced himself to Peter with a “Hi, I’m Aaron.” He told them he was out enjoying the energy and lights of the city before his dinner reservations. They talked about how he was feeling after his collarbone surgery. He asked Peter all kinds of sports-related questions. When Peter apologized for being a Bears fan, Rodgers told him no need. He should be. He lives in Chicago.
When a group of passers-by recognized Rodgers, Julia and Peter excused themselves and crossed the street. They had stopped to text a photo of Rodgers with Peter to Julia’s husband when No. 12 caught back up with them.
“He just started talking to us again like we were all neighbors and friends. We walked with him again for the next 15 minutes, 20 minutes to Michigan Avenue,” Julia said. “The thing for me that really stood out as so awesome was he asked us questions. I would say he asked us more questions than I asked him, because I didn’t want to be nosy and because I didn’t want to invade his privacy.”
He asked about the Nicoll family’s Thanksgiving plans and their daughter who will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire next year. 
“He was asking me questions that most people would think, ‘Why would Aaron Rodgers care?’ It was so amazing. It was really something, I have to say. It still is,” Julia said. “I told so many people. We just couldn’t believe it, my son and I.”
The story, however, doesn’t end there.
An hour later, Julia and Peter were in the Christmas shop at Macy’s on State Street when they spotted a woman decked out in Packers gear. Julia’s first thought was the woman was going to “flip out” when she hears what just happened to them. She told her about the encounter and, oddly, the woman didn’t seem as excited as Julia had hoped.
“She kind of patted my arm in a sweet, sweet way and she goes, ‘Oh, my son plays for the Packers.’”
It was Ty Montgomery’s mom.
Peter’s face lit up. He’s a fan of the Packers running back and had told his mom after they parted ways with Rodgers, he wanted to ask the quarterback to say hello to Montgomery for him, but he chickened out. That’s the first time Julia ever heard the words “Ty Montgomery.”
While Julia was still in full “Are you serious?” shock, Montgomery’s mom was loving Peter’s reaction.
“She said, ‘There you go! Did you see his face? That’s right!’”
Julia doesn’t know what it was about her, a middle-aged mom who counts the Bears’ 1986 Super Bowl win as one of her greatest family memories growing up, and Peter, a sports nut who met Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball coach Bill Self at basketball camp last summer, that made Rodgers so gracious with his time and so genuine in his conversation that night.
Maybe it’s because she wasn’t some gaga fan going crazy. “I barely knew certain things,” she admits. (When Rodgers introduced himself, she asked him what he was doing in Chicago, forgetting in all the excitement there was a game the next day.)
Whatever the reason, she knows the flurry of comments the post and photo generated on her Facebook page were on to something. 
“Oh my gosh, people went bananas commenting how nice, how lucky, how special, how refreshing to see someone like that be so kind and normal ...”
“It was just such a treat. It was a treat, because it’s a treat to see a celebrity. It’s certainly a treat to see a sports figure when you live in Chicago, because we’re all such big sports fans,” Julia said. “When I said, ‘Are you ...?’ and I didn’t finish, he could have just kept walking and I would’ve gotten it. I wouldn’t even have been offended. And he didn’t. He was so engaging. Just so nice and refreshing, and really, really great for Peter. All I kept telling him is, ‘Peter, what we’re talking about here is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever just hung out with us.'”
Julia hasn’t been able to stop talking about it. She told the pizza guy later that night when she and Peter went out for dinner. On the flight back from Mexico for Thanksgiving break, she spotted someone in a Rodgers jersey and told him.
“I’ve got to tell everyone I know,” she said.
One thing Julia and Peter were sure to keep to themselves that night: where Rodgers was going for dinner. They wanted to respect his privacy.
It was only after encouragement from a friend from Wisconsin, who told her how much Packers fans would appreciate the off-the-field encounter with their quarterback, that she agreed to share the story publicly.
“I’m not bragging that I met him. That’s just pure luck. I’m sharing with the world what a fabulous human being Aaron Rodgers is,” Julia said. “And if you’re a fan, like when I see a guy in the Aaron Rodgers jersey, he’s obviously a fan, he has to know this stuff. I would love it if someone came up to me about one of my No. 1 people and told me something great. I would just be so happy.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Winterizing Your Truck
Article thanks to Tom Kyrk and Links provided:

It’s that time of year when we could find ourselves in a snowstorm tomorrow. This is one of the few occupations where we can be in the 80's one day and driving in a blizzard the next. Having your truck prepared for winter can make the difference between being comfortable while sitting out the storm or miserable. A few common-sense precautions can make driving in bad weather a bit safer.
One of the most important winter preparedness tips is to know the weather and road conditions. You can do this with apps, such as WeatherBug or Weather Underground, and websites, such as that provide state road reports. A CB radio is useful for checking on road conditions and accidents. The best advice, if you know the roads are going to get nasty, is to stop early to make sure you get a parking spot at a safe and comfortable location.
Here are a few things you can do to your truck to get ready for winter:
  1. Install fresh wiper blades. I prefer blades that have the rubberized boot to help prevent snow and ice buildup. I have also found the beam style blades work best. Pro-tip: DON’T BUY CHEAP BLADES!!! Nothing is worse than having to replace a blade that fell apart in bad weather.
  2. Use MotorKote®. Put some MotorKote® onto a cloth and rub over your door seals and anything that opens or closes to prevent them from freezing shut in the winter. Be sure to let air dry before closing. You can also put a few drops in locks to prevent freezing. Coat your wiper blades with a thin coat and let dry for a few hours then wipe off excess. This will prevent snow and ice from sticking to the blades.
  3. Carry WD-40 or similar spray lubricant. This can defrost frozen locks. I have seen drivers who could not get their padlocks off due to ice buildup fix the problem with a few shots of WD-40.
  4. Lubricate your 5th wheel. Spray lithium grease or silicone to lubricate your 5th wheel when it is too cold for traditional 5th wheel grease to spread easily.
  5. Always have spare fluids on hand. Check your fluids and tire pressure before heading out. It is always a good idea to carry spare fluids and an air hose. Elevation and temperature changes can affect fluid levels and air pressures. Carrying spares and an air hose can mean the difference between getting back on the road and beating a storm or getting stuck in it waiting for road service.
  6. Prevent your fuel from freezing. When the temperatures drop below freezing treat your fuel to prevent gelling or ice build-up in filters and fuel lines. Products such as those found in the FPPF® line, Power Service®, or Howes® are great options to prevent being shut down road side due to gelling or water in your fuel.
  7. Make an emergency kit. Use a duffel bag or backpack (BlackCanyon Outfitters has some good options) and make an emergency kit with items such as a flashlight, battery bank, charging cords, snacks, food, bottles of water, medicine and important documents.

No matter how prepared you try to be, you will be caught someplace without something that you want or need. Many of the items that can be found at travel centers will bail you out in a pinch.
  • Work or winter gloves - Most travel centers have a good selection from BlackCanyon Outfitters or Wild Gear.
  • Coats or jackets -  Many travel centers carry them this time of year and often at competitive prices compared to many major stores. BlackCanyon Outfitters and Wild Gear make some great options.
  • A way to heat water and food on the truck, such as the RoadPro 12-Volt Lunch Box Stove.
  • Oil, coolants, spray lithium grease or silicone and additives from companies like Lucas®, FPPF®, Power Service® or Howes®
  • Zip ties
  • Spare headlights
  • Wiper blades
  • Duct tape
  • WD-40 or MotorKote® spray
  • Snacks, non-perishable food, gallons of water
  • Flashlight
  • Battery bank for charging cellphones, such as the Tough Tested solar charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Blanket(s)

Whether this is your first winter on the road or you’re a seasoned winter driver, it never hurts to listen to conversations at the truck stops and learn what other drivers carry in their trucks. You may get a few good ideas or learn something new. I also suggest carrying more food and water than you think you need. If you get stranded on the road you might have the opportunity to help other stranded travelers so carrying extras is a good thing.