Time to Step Up and Help Some Fellow Truckers

May 17, 2012

An unhappy Lou

Ever been in need and wished someone could help you out? Well that’s where a couple of our fellow truckers are right now. They need our help so it’s time to step up, folks.

The people in question are Lou Obadal and Heather Pontruff. So what’s going on? Well, Lou has had back pain for months, but being the macho trucker (like we all think we are) and needing the money, he toughed it out and kept driving until it totally took him down. I’m no doctor, but it has something to do with a couple of herniated discs. That just sounds painful.

So we’re looking at a case of bad timing here folks. No insurance, no workman’s comp, and to take the proverbial knee to the junk, the company they worked for cancelled their contract after Lou got injured. Ahhhhh, yes. There’s nothing quite like an employer who sees you through the hard times. For the full story, check out Heather’s article clevery titled, Your Back Doesn’t Always Have Your Back. If you’re a super-generous person and you’ve already decided to donate to the cause, well God bless you. If you need convincing as to why you should help Lou and Heather out, the price you pay is having to read on. Actually, I hope you do.

So why should we help Lou and Heather? Well, because there’s that whole “Do Unto Others” thing to consider. There’s also the fact that they’re fellow truckers and if we can’t take care of our own, then who will? Well, wait a second here. Actually, Lou is the “official” trucker. But anyone who knows Heather knows she’s really a trucker too. She may not do the actual driving but she rides along with Lou, takes care of most of the business stuff and still manages to do lots of good in this world. What kind of good? Well I’m glad you asked.

First of all, let me say that Lou and Heather had absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to say. Knowing them, they’ll probably be shocked and humbled by it. All they asked of me was that I help spread the word by retweeting the link to their fundraising site. While I’m doing that whenever I get a chance, I think these two truckers deserved a whole blog post. And let me tell you why:

  1. Because Lou and Heather are funny. Just check out Heather’s YouTube Channel for verification of that. My personal favorite is the one where Heather is tormenting a totally wasted Lou. Funny stuff.
  2. Because they’re nice folks. For instance, Heather can have a completely opposite viewpoint from you and still carry on a civilized conversation that doesn’t turn into name-calling. Case in point; we both think each other’s spiritual beliefs are nuts, but we can have heated debates about it and still walk away friends. Not being a meanie is always a plus in my book.
  3. Because Heather speaks out for truckers. I especially appreciate the fact that she writes in-depth, well researched articles about today’s trucking issues. And that means yours truly doesn’t have to do any research. I can just wait until she posts an article on her Web site, Trucker’s Voice, and then retweet it with the words “yeah, what she said” tacked onto the end of it.
  4. Because they’re our Twitter buds. I know Heather’s active on Facebook and other social Web sites too (check out Trucker’s Voice for all the places you can find her).  While Heather does most of the tweeting, Lou pops in every now and then. What is it with husbands and boyfriends that don’t tweet? Perhaps Heather and @raysunshine77 could explain this phenomenon to us. I’d ask @ChrisandCasey (cancelled Twitter account) too, but Casey seems to have dropped off the face of the planet. I’m hoping the boys at the space station will snag her with one of those cool robotic arm doohickeys before she slips past them.
  5. Because they are two of the most generous people I know. In 2010, they started an organization called Trucking Santas to help provide a decent Christmas for families who weren’t going to have one. As part of this program, they also adopted three facilities within the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland. They tweeted some heartwarming pictures of their visits to these facilities last Christmas season. Now how many of us can say we’ve done that? Don’t expect me to raise my hand. I’m busy twiddling my thumbs, looking around non-chalantly, and whistling.

So what do you think? Are Lou and Heather worth dipping into your checkbook? I sure think so. You don’t have to give a lot, but I’m sure there won’t be any complaints if you do. 😀 I’m sure anything will be appreciated. You can be a proud sponsor when you donate or do it anonymously. You can even hide the amount you give. Better hurry though. The fundraiser ends on May 27! Quite frankly, if I’d realized it ended that soon, I’d have done this earlier. My bad. But please don’t let my procrastination issues keep you from helping to reach their goal. They’re just over halfway there! Donate now! And please pass the word along to whatever social networks you belong to. Let’s get this puppy moving!

TV Casting Call for A New Show about Truckers

May 3, 2012

In my 15 years of watching truck drivers interact with waitresses, cashiers, shipping clerks, forklift drivers, mechanics, and heck, even other truckers, I’ve discovered that 99% of truckers think they’re in some way either, funny, amusing, interesting, unique, extremely handsome, or most likely, all of the above. Sadly, a big chunk of us aren’t any of those things. If you need proof of that, I’ve got over 80 blog posts you’re welcome to peruse. 😀

But that doesn’t mean that all of us are as annoying as a truck-trapped fly equipped with a bullhorn and a teeny-tiny jetpack. I’m sure there are some drivers out there who actually are funny, amusing, interesting, or unique, and possibly even too sexy for their shirt. Well here’s your chance to prove it.

The Speed Channel is looking for drivers who are interested in being on a new show about truckers.

It’s called Payload, and it’s being called an “adventure race.” While they’re naturally keeping the details of the race locked up at CIA headquarters, I can tell you that there will be four drivers competing for a whopping $70,000! There will be seven legs of the race (each worth $10,000) and all four drivers will do all seven legs. So if you’re the super-trucker that you think you are, you could win all seven legs and be $70,000 richer! Just remember that I’m your friend if that happens. I’ve had my eye on a decked out 13″ MacBook Air. 😉

I’d say from the looks of the Payload video that this show looks like it’s got a heck of a lot of potential for making truckers look good for a change of pace. Check it out for yourself. And if my server is slower than a Prime truck at full throttle, you can also see the video at www.payloadcasting.com.

Let me clarify something that was in the text at the end of the video. When I watched this video for the first time, I thought, “Oh great. Since it mentioned showing off your skills in YOUR rig, they must only be looking for owner/operators.” Well, I’ve got good news for you company drivers. I contacted Marc Levine (one of the casting directors for the show) and found out that casting is open to ALL truck drivers, both owner/operators and company drivers!

Marc said that finding the right drivers was first and foremost. And if that means that some of the “right” drivers wind up being company drivers, they’d supply a truck for him/her to drive. Cool, huh? You know, now that I think about it, Marc actually said they were looking for the right “characters.” I’m not sure how he meant that, but I know some of you fit that category for sure. 😀 Or maybe you know someone who’d be perfect for the show?

Well here’s the thing. If you or a buddy wants to be a part of this show, you’d better kick it into Georgia Overdrive and get your video and application in quick. The deadline is May 18 and they don’t want you waiting around until the last minute. So don’t screw around and mess up your chances. Pretend like you’re hauling an expedited load and get it to them ASAP.

If you’re interested in putting your name in the hat, go to www.payloadcasting.com for more details or you can contact Marc Levine or Heather May directly at PayloadCasting@gmail.com. Be sure to include a brief description of yourself, a history of your trucking experience, two recent photos of you and your truck, and a phone number to reach you. A brief video would also help them get a good idea of your camera mojo.

So what are you waiting for? You could either sit around here and wait another month for me to put up another blog post, or you could get yourself on Payload, earn some extra dough, buy me a 13″ MacBook Air, and finally convince everyone that you’re as cool as you’ve been telling everyone for years. And let’s face it. About the only way that will ever happen is for everyone to see your ugly mug on the Speed Channel.

A Trucker Visits Carhenge

March 5, 2012

As a trucker for nearly 15 years, I’ve traveled all across the United States and parts of Canada. Along the way I’ve had the opportunity to explore many things. Yet, for the most part, I haven’t. Why not? Well, it basically comes down to one thing: I can be a lazy tightwad when I put my mind to it.

You see, I drive a truck to earn a living, not to have fun. Every time I’ve tried to go exploring, it ended up costing me a fortune. Like that time The Evil Overlord (the wife and ex-codriver) and I went into Portland, Oregon when our company couldn’t find us a load. The cab fare to and from downtown was almost $40. The meal we had at Jake’s Famous Crawfish was unbelievably awesome, but it set us back over $100. By the way, The Evil Overlord and I both highly recommend the Halibut stuffed with Brie.

Another time, we were stuck in Salt Lake City for five days due to the combination of a broken air conditioner, a holiday weekend, and a bonehead who ordered a wrong part. Long story there. There’s another venue for that. Again, The Evil Overlord wanted to go sight-seeing. Another expensive meal or two (not so great this time), a car rental, and a trip to the zoo, aquarium, and lots of other places I have no recollection of, and we spent nearly as much as we would have made if we’d have been driving all week. Had The Evil Overlord not been there, I’d have ordered a couple of pizzas and glued the remote control to my hand. That’s just how I roll.

Again, my point is that I spend 2-4 weeks on the road to make money, not spend it. And that’s what I choose to do. If you choose otherwise, you could see a lot of cool junk as a truck driver. You’ve just got to be motivated enough to do it and be willing to spend the dough. Your call.

Now having said all that, sometimes an opportunity just presents itself. That’s what happened when I found myself out in the middle of freakin’ nowhere in Nebraska. As if Nebraska itself isn’t in the middle of freakin’ nowhere. Anyway, I saw the signs for Carhenge long before I got there. Somewhere in the back of my amoeba-sized brain, I recalled the name and remembered reading about it somewhere. So what to do? Should I stop or not? For a change of pace, I had plenty of time on the load. Hmmmm. . .

Ultimately, I decided that I wasn’t going to go out of my way to see it. Yea, I know; surprise, surprise. If it wasn’t within viewing distance of the road, or it was, but the parking looked tight, I’d drive right on by. In other words, if I had to put any effort whatsoever into this little endeavor, I was going to pass. As fate would have it, the parking lot was empty and it was right on the main thoroughfare.

I ended up being there for 45 minutes. Not because the place was so interesting, but because I thought I’d finally reach into the depths of my soul and explore my artsy-fartsy side. This is something that @darkstaff, @alanqbristol, and @DriverChrisMc have been trying to get me to do for a long time. I don’t really have an eye for that sort of thing, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s what I came up with.

The video was shot with a Flip Mino HD and all the pictures were taken with my iPhone 3GS (the one with the older, crappier camera). The pictures were all taken and edited using the Camera+ app, which totally rocks, by the way.

The music is a song called “Segue Jazz” from the band Walking On Einstein. You can find it on the “Commoners Among The Masses” album. They are from the Joplin, MO area and I went to high school with the drummer and bass player. Although the band is no longer playing, I love ’em and still listen to their stuff all the time. Let me know what you think.

Are All These Changes Good for the Trucking Industry?

January 26, 2012

Photo by johanohrling via Flickr

The new Hours-of-Service rules, texting and cell phone laws, the CSA, and my personal nemesis and eternal torturer of my soul, Electronic Logbooks, all claim to make the trucking industry safer. But do they? Let’s take a look at that. We’ll discuss the issues first, then sum it all up at the end. May as well tackle these puppies in order. And yes, tackling puppies is perfectly okay if they’re barking for no reason.

So about these new Hours-of-Service rules. Well, truck accidents are at a 60-year low, so naturally, it’s time to change the rules. Oh boy. Where to start? I guess we really only need to focus on a few of the rules that will affect the majority of drivers. For a complete list of the Hours-of-Service changes, click here.

The 11-hour rule: Well, for once we lucked out. The powers who know whats best for us had wanted to reduce our daily driving sessions to 10 hours. They lost. For now. Don’t expect this to go away though. They’ve already said they’re going after it again. Yay.

The current 34-hour restart rule: The old rule said that if you took an uninterrupted 34-hour break, you got to reset your 70-hour work week. Why was this rule important to drivers? Because if you reset your 70 hours, you could squeeze in 82 hours of working within that week. Thanks to @TameraGeorge1 for pointing me to an article on this.

The new 34-hour restart rule: Used to be, you could take your 34-hour break any time you wanted. Now it has to include two periods between 1:00 AM – 5:00 AM, home terminal time. Granted, they wanted the hours to be from 1:00 AM – 6:00 AM, but they relented. Bless their hearts. But why did they want specific times at all? Well, the divine rulers of all things sacred and righteous said that they wanted us to be sure to get two periods of “overnight” rest. How thoughtful of them. In reality though, these people know trucking about as well as I know the commodity market. They’re pretty sure that we need to sleep sometime and I’m pretty sure that you can sell a pig. That’s about the extend of our knowledge. The difference is, I’m not trying to tell them how to run the commodities game.

So what’s the problem with the new rule? Let me sum it up for you. The new 34-hour rule is as worthless as a drunk Harley rider in a motocross race. Why? Because we truckers don’t sleep when normal folks sleep. Sure, 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM might be prime sleeping time on one day, but two days later it’s the middle of your driving shift. They just can’t comprehend that not everyone has a 9 to 5 day job and not everyone sleeps at night. The concept truly is beyond them.

Now let’s be honest here. The current 34-hour rule is hard enough to do as is. The trucking industry simply moves to quick. The last thing anyone wants is to leave a driver sitting for 34 hours. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten 30-32 hours into a 34-hour break, only to have to cut it short to pick up a load by a certain time. In other words, freight has to be really freakin’ slow to sit still for 34 hours. Kinda like right now. I’m writing this in the midst of what is looking to be a 42 hour shutdown. Still, that doesn’t happen all that often. Especially this marathon sit-a-thon I’m tolerating today.

So now we’ve got a time restriction on top of all that. It’s not all that often that I get shut down for 34 hours. But now it has to be 34 hours starting and ending at a particular time. I’m sorry, but I really don’t see the shippers staying in touch with my dispatcher to find out if their shipping schedule works with my 34-hour restart.

You can only do one 34-restart per week: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Although it really doesn’t matter, since we’ll be hard pressed to get even one restart per week. If you have enough time to get a second restart within a week, you’ve got bigger problems than it not being legal.

The 8-hour break rule: Basically, you can’t drive more than 8 hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Personally, I can’t wait until I have to refuse a load because the delivery is 9 hours away and a 30-minute break would make me late. Honestly though, for the vast majority of drivers this will have little effect, as most stop at some point in their day to eat. It probably will affect me as I typically eat my mid-shift meal on the run. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Speaking of distracted driving. . .

Distracted driving laws: No texting for truckers. No cell phones for truckers. What’s next? No iPods for truckers? No CD players for truckers? No GPS for truckers? No CB’s for truckers? Okay. I admit. I’d be all right with that last one. But hey, why not get rid of the  gauges on my dashboard? I do look down at them ever now and then. Better get rid of all the billboards too. And while you’re at it, Corvettes are no longer allowed on the roadway. And that beautiful river? Better dam it up. I can’t be caught looking away from the road. And of course, my e-log unit needs to go. All that beeping is waaaaay too distracting.
The CSA, or Comprehensive Safety Analysis: This fairly new system is the FMCSA’s attempt to get rid of bad drivers and bad carriers by assigning points for naughty behavior. If a driver gets too many points, they’re a hiring risk. And since those points transfer to the trucking company, they want to get rid of bad drivers. Problem is, you can be cited for all kinds of things that are out of your control. For instance, I recently got a warning for speeding (I actually wasn’t). Even though I didn’t get a ticket, I still got points on my CSA. Here’s that story and my complete thoughts on the CSA. Also, if a tail light burns out in mid trip, that’s considered unsafe and I get points. But the last time I checked, my eyeballs were restricted to my head. Now if I could just take them out and hang them 70 feet out my window I could’ve seen that burned out light. Oh wait. Can’t do that. That would be distracted driving.
The cursed E-logs, or Electronic Logs: I have so many musing on e-logs that I’m not even going to link to them all here. Just go up to the handy-dandy search bar, type “e-logs,” and mark off a day-and-a-half on your calendar. Okay. It’s not that bad, but I have written extensively about them. My hatred is known far and wide. I’m pretty sure that even that rice farmer in rural China has heard about it by now.
Okay. So back to the question: Are all these changes good for the trucking industry?
Well I guess that all depends on which part of the trucking industry you’re talking about. In short, I think the changes will be good for the safety aspect, so-so for the trucking companies, and downright awful for the driver and their bank account. Gee. There’s a surprise.
First, I think when it comes to safety (which this is supposedly all about), adding time restraints to the 34-hour rule change won’t have near the effect that the trucking godheads believe it will, mainly because I don’t think drivers are going to get it very often, if ever. But this is not good news for the carriers and the drivers. You see, the whole point of the 34-hour rule is to reset your 70-hour work week, enabling you to work more hours, which in turn puts more money in yours and the carriers’ pockets. But if they’ve now limited the work week to 70 hours, what’s the point in having the rule at all? Is it just me, or am I totally missing something here? I guess it will make doing your paper logs easier with a reset, but other than that this rule is as pointless as a lead life jacket.
As for the 8-hour rule, I suppose the more breaks you take in a day, the more alert you’ll be. And if you have to be down for 30 minutes, maybe so many drivers won’t be eating while they’re driving. So I guess you can mark that as a plus for the safety side. As for the carriers, they may experience a few more late deliveries, but that probably won’t happen very often either. As for the drivers, maybe being forced to stop will allow them to quit eating so much fast food. Maybe. Okay, that’s a Mr. Fantastic-sized stretch.
Now for distracted driving laws. This one is probably good for safety. . . as long as they don’t take it too far. Although they may have already crossed that bridge. As bad as I hate to admit it though, distractions do cause us to take our eyes off the road for a brief moment. I think if we were all honest with ourselves, we’d admit this. How many times have you done something while talking on the phone or fiddling with your CB that you never would’ve done if you weren’t? I mean, that’s never happened to me, but maybe it has to you. But where does it all end? With nothing to listen to and nobody to talk to, how long will you be driving before your eyelids come crashing to the ground? Sorry, but the surrounding traffic is better off with me texting (not that I’m advising that) than me asleep behind the wheel. Hey, that’d be a good name for a band. Oh wait. . .
Next we tackle the puppies. I mean the CSA. We’ve already tackled the puppies. As bad I hate to admit it, I believe that the CSA is going to be good for safety. They’re trying to weed out the bad drivers and the carriers who turn a blind eye to safety issues that their drivers are pointing out. Unfortunately, some good drivers with bad luck, a bad day, or even bad timing are going to get caught up in this mess. One bad thing could screw up an otherwise excellent career. Still, I know from my own experience that the CSA has caused me to do some things I haven’t done in the past. That license plate light that’s burned out? Yea, I fixed that. That missing mudflap? Yep. Went to the shop for that too. Watching my speed more closely? Yep. So blame the CSA when you get behind me and I’m doing the speed limit. Yes. I’m now that annoying guy.
As for those hell-spawned e-logs, well, I’d really rather eat a turd casserole than admit what I’m about to say, but here goes. I think that e-logs are good for safety. Gosh, I feel like banging my head against a dresser drawer like Dobby for saying that. The fact is, there’s absolutely no way to cheat. I’ve heard drivers say they can cheat with e-logs, but I think they’re probably so used to lying on the CB that it’s spilled over into their e-logs. I’m sure most carriers love them because they don’t see as many log violations. But is this good for the driver? Well, it keeps them from cheating and it makes them run legal logs, but I stand by it when I say there needs to be more flexibility. Add more flexibility to the Hours-of-Service rules and e-logs won’t be such an issue. I won’t be holding my breath on that one though.
So where does that leave us drivers? Well, I don’t really care. The new Hours-of-Service rules don’t kick in until July 1, 2013 and I’ll be off the road and out of the trucking industry for good by then. Yea. Like I haven’t been saying that since 1997.
*What do you think about all these changes? Let us all hear your thoughts by leaving a comment. And please give this post a rating and force it onto all your unsuspecting online friends. Thanks*

Videos: How To Do a Full-Body Workout Inside the Cab of a Semi

January 5, 2012

Okay people. It’s the beginning of a new year. We’ve all spent the holidays stuffing ourselves with turkey, pumpkin pie, fruitcake, and roast beast. Then many of you drank enough to drown a hippo on New Year’s Eve. Then in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, you promptly puked every last calorie of your holiday gluttony into the floorboard of your best friend’s car. Better make that your EX best friend’s car. So what’s next?

Why, it’s New Year’s resolution time, of course! Personally, I don’t make resolutions. I’ve pretty much mastered the art of disappointing myself enough without the added pressure of a bunch of resolutions that I know I’ll never keep. But I know some of you are gluttons for punishment, so this post may help you out.

Undoubtedly, at least one of you out there have decided that this will be the year you’re going to get in shape. Well, I’ve got something that can help you out. It’s really designed to help truckers, but it can be used by anyone. It all started when I decided to start working out and being the whiner that I am, I started tweeting about it. That’s when I got the question:

“How do you do a workout inside your truck?”

Man, I’ve been asked this question at least a million times (give or take 999,996). In the past I’ve always said, “One of these days, I’ll make a video and show you.” Today is that day.

I’ve made two videos, each of them a little under 15 minutes long. In typical fashion, I’ve tried to spruce them up a bit with a little bad humor. I’ll let you decide whether I succeeded or if I earned a spot on the FAIL Blog. Doing these videos has taught me one thing for sure. Video is hard. As long as it takes for me to write a blog post, it’s much quicker than doing videos. So don’t be expecting this to turn into a video blog anytime soon.

As a matter of fact, let me give you a bit of a disclaimer here. The audio and video quality isn’t exactly what I’d call stellar. In fact, it kinda sucks. I tried using both of my good video cameras, but neither of them had a wide enough lens to get the shots I needed in such a cramped space. That left me with the built-in camera and microphone on my computer. And sometimes they just weren’t up to the task as you’ll easily see by some poorly framed shots. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those fancy pants new MacBooks with the high-definition camera. I’ve got the older, “it sucks but it’s better than nothing” camera.

The lighting made it worse. I tried to shoot during the daylight, but the contrast between the sunlight and the interior of the truck made it virtually unwatchable. So I shot it at night, using only the interior cab lights in my truck. I did the best I could, so don’t be too mean when you leave a comment. You were planning to leave a comment, weren’t you?

So what have we got for you today? Well, Video #1 is the Introduction and the abs workout. Video #2 is the dumbbell workout. Perhaps another disclaimer is in order here. I am NOT a professional trainer. Never have been. Never will be. So do all these exercises at your own risk. Start out easy and work your way up. I’d tell you to see a physician before you start any exercise program, but you and I both know that you’re not going to give a doctor any dough for something as trivial as that. I guess there really isn’t a lot more to say, so for once, I won’t. Here you go. Let me know what you think by leaving that comment we discussed earlier.

One last thing. This is a G-rated video. I’m wearing a short-sleeve shirt and shorts. Trust me. You really don’t want to see my Austin Powers chest hair. Enjoy!

Here’s a couple of links that might help:

The Men’s Health Abs Diet Workout

Proper techniques for dumbbell exercises

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Trucker Style

December 19, 2011

Well, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is here and you and your brother have finally settled out of court over that ugly turkey drumstick incident. The house is filled with holiday cheer. Everyone is happy to be together while they snort chocolate shavings, smoke cookie dough, and mainline eggnog.

But what about those truckers who didn’t make it home on Christmas Day? Well, I’ve written a poem in their honor. I hope it puts you in a Christmasy kinda mood. Here goes nothing. Pick your poison. You can listen to me or read it yourself. Enjoy!

Click here to listen

‘Twas the night before Christmas: Trucker style

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the truck,

the only thing stirring was a case of bad luck.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

but thanks to my job, I wasn’t there.

The nephews were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Modern Warfare 3 danced in their heads.

With The Evil Overlord at home in her teddy (hey, it’s my poem) and I on the road,

We had both settled down to take off a load.

When outside my truck there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bunk to see what was the matter.

I reached for my clothes, knowing I was certain,

Prepared for the worst, I opened the curtain.

The moon in the sky gave off such a great glow

It made the parking lot look like it was covered with snow.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a flatbed loaded with big green John Deeres.

With the driver outside looking at my truck,

I knew right away I had more bad luck.

As I jumped outside to check out my bumper,

Something flew over my head and then took big dumper.

My luck continued as I took it in the eye,

It was such a huge load it almost made me cry.

As I looked to the sky I swore I heard a jingle,

I took cover and prayed it didn’t need to tinkle.

Alas, I did not see what dumped on my head,

But I thought I glimpsed something that might have been red.

I thought, “Could that have been good old St. Nick?”

Nah, couldn’t be. My eyes had just played a trick.

So back to my problem, the wreck, not the poop.

I called my Nazi safety department to give them the scoop.

We exchanged information and he went on his way,

I guess he was too embarrassed to back in and stay.

Next thing you know I was getting a call,

The Evil Overlord sounded like she was about to bawl.

It seems that some fat guy had squeezed down through our roof

He didn’t seem too happy that he burned his caboose.

He was all dressed in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all covered with ashes and soot.

She said, “Why would a man be wearing so much fur?”

“I bet he’s one of those drag queens, Do I call him sir?”

“His eyes-how they twinkle! His dimples how merry!”

“This dude must be wasted, I’m guessing it’s cooking Sherry.”

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the Sherry had stained his beard, like a dead deer in the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And she said, “Holy cow, I think that’s weed!”

He had a broad face and a big ol’ gut,

Every bit of him was fat, yes, even his butt.

He was chunky and plump, a right jolly old guy,

She said, “I’d be jolly too if I was that high!”

A wink of his eye and a shake of his head,

“Are you kidding me, perv, not even if I were dead!”

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings with Doritos and beef jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh and they lurched into flight,

As she leveled the shotgun, she had him in sight.

As he started to exclaim, she squeezed off a shot,

“That’ll teach you to let your reindeer poop in my husband’s eye!”

The End.

Merry Christmas

*If you enjoyed this little ditty, please give this post a good rating and tell all your friends to check it out. If you didn’t enjoy it, keep your rating to yourself and your trap shut.*

Getting Sideways: A New Book by Lisa Nowak

December 11, 2011

Okay kiddos. We’ve got something a bit different in store for you today. I was just on the verge of starting a new blog post when I found out a friend of mine was releasing a new book today. So now she’s an even better friend because she got me out of writing a blog post. Say hello to my new best friend, Lisa Nowak.

I met Lisa by freak chance. She was doing some research for a character in a book she was working on. That character just so happened to be a trucker. Well, apparently Google’s algorithms were screwed up that day because she somehow landed on my blog. We struck up an email conversation and I quickly discovered Lisa’s great sense of humor. And because of that, I bought the first book in this series, Running Wide Open.

But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s let Lisa tell you what these two books are about and then I’ll come back and give you my thoughts.

Getting Sideways: Book 2 in the Full Throttle Series

Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Cody’s making every effort to get his life back on track—writing for the school paper, searching for the perfect girlfriend, and counting the days until he gets his drivers’ license—but there’s no escaping the nightmares that haunt him.

A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction. Until Cody realizes he’ll have to live up to Race’s legendary status. But that’s the least of his worries, considering he doesn’t have his dad’s permission. All he has to do is the impossible: keep Race from discovering his lie until he can convince his dad that racing’s safe.

Yeah, sure. That’ll be easy.

Haven’t read the first book? Running Wide Open is on sale now for 99 cents.

Running Wide Open: Book 1 in the Full Throttle Series

Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it’s landed him at his uncle’s trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?

What Cody doesn’t expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he’s been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he’s come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he’s ever dared to trust.

Praise for Running Wide Open:

“It doesn’t matter if you are a racing fan or not, Running Wide Open will captivate you and capture your heart.” – Cari J, Amazon reviewer

“The roar of engines practically explodes off the page in this compelling, heart-thumping debut. Cody Everett is a straight-shooter with attitude, smarts, and whip-cracking wit; he doesn’t pull any punches, and neither does author Lisa Nowak. The collision of Cody and the world of stock car racing makes for a great story, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Running Wide Open is a book not to be missed.” – Christine Fletcher, author of Tallulah Falls and Ten Cents a Dance

“The racing is easy to understand and does not get in the way of a rattling good story. I still couldn’t put it down on a re-read.” – Elisabeth Miles, Amazon reviewer

“We race stock cars during the summer and even though this is a recommended read for Young Adults, we are seniors and enjoyed every page. We can hardly wait for the sequel to come out. MUST READING!” – Maxci Jermann, Barnes and Noble reviewer

“I say read this book, it’s fun, it’s beautiful, it’s a very cool read that will give you a feel-good state of mind. Awesome read.” – L.E.Olteano, Butterfly-o-meter Books

Author Bio:

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.

Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.

Connect with Lisa online:

Thanks Lisa. Now first, you peeps need to understand that I’m not much on Fiction. That’s The Evil Overlord’s department. I enjoy listening to Fictional audiobooks sometimes, but by and large, I stick to Non-Fiction. I figure if I’m going to take the time to read a book, I may as well be learning something while I’m doing it. Still, Lisa’s witty emails had caused me a few gut laughs, so I figured, what the heck; I’ll give it a shot. Me being a tightwad and all, it helped that the e-book version of Running Wide Open was only 99¢.

Well, I have to tell you. I don’t regret my massive outlay of cash one little bit. I was amused throughout and always looked forward to the next time I could get back to the book. This being a YA (Young Adult) book, I wasn’t expecting subject matter that made me ponder the meaning of life. Stuff like that hurts my brain too much anyway. What I got was a book with interesting characters, great dialogue, and a lot of laughs.

I have to admit that Cody got on my nerves a few times. So much so that I found myself wanting to reach into the book to wring his scrawny little neck. Then again, he’s a teenager so I guess that’s natural, right? I mean, who hasn’t wanted to strangle a teenager at least once in their life? Just the fact that I had that strong of an emotion about a fictional character is a testament to Lisa’s writing. Cody wasn’t always choke-worthy though. His quick wit and smart aleck attitude earned him some brownie points in my book. Another thing I loved about Cody’s character was his choice of shirts. He was always wearing a tee-shirt with some funny little saying on it. They never failed to get a chuckle out of me.

Cody’s uncle, Race is probably the second coolest uncle in the world. Sorry Lisa, but I’m claiming the top spot in that category, despite what my nephews say. Race is the kind of guy you want to have as a best friend. As I turned the pages, I almost had to concede that he was a cooler uncle than me, but in the end my delusion held up. I still win. But only by a bumper.

What really made Running Wide Open a fun read was the banter that goes on between all the characters. Cody, Race, and some of the characters that hang out at the race track are as snarky as can be. And y’all know I love me some snark.

Perhaps the best praise I can give to Lisa Nowak’s writing is that I care about the characters enough that I’ve already bought Getting Sideways. And it was more than 99¢. Looks like Running Wide Open is still 99¢ too. So why don’t you good folks give it a shot and support an indie author. If you like it as much as I did, you can move right into Getting Sideways. If not, well, you’ve only wasted 99¢. And heck, even I wouldn’t whine for more than a week or two for losing 99¢.

A Trucker’s Thanksgiving

November 21, 2011

Gobble, Gobble

Photo by r_gnuce via Flickr

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s time to slap-fight your siblings for the drumstick and have spoon duels over the last dollop of Cool Whip, because we all know pumpkin pie just ain’t right until you can’t see the plate beneath the pie.

More importantly though, it’s time to look around us and give thanks for everything we have. For being blessed with an annoying brother who called dibs on the drumstick before you. For your superior health, which enables you to punch him hard enough to leave a giant bruise. For the job that you hate. You know, the job that put that turkey on the table. The job that paid your bills all year. The job that the dude in the unemployment line would kill for. Yes, I know I’m among the guiltiest in this regard. Thanks for pointing that out. Now shut your face.

So that’s what I’m here to do today: count my blessings. And since I’m such a ooey-gooey, touchy-feely, sentimental kinda guy, I’ll do so in my typical fashion. Here are the things that this trucker is thankful for. As expected, let’s start out with:

  • Thanks to the inventors of electronic logs for wasting my valuable time. As if my trips to the mall with The Evil Overlord weren’t enough torture for one man.
  • Thanks to the driver who insists on going the speed limit in the fast lane. I hadn’t realized it was your job to police me. Thanks for keeping me in line.
  • Thanks to all those drivers who slow down when you see a cop, even when you’re not speeding. I hear that if a cop sees you do this, he’ll pull you over and give you an ice cream cone.
  • Thanks to all you good folks who overspend your budgets. Your greed = my freight.
  • Thanks to all the credit card companies who promote this overspending. May your consciences be clear as you sleep on your $800 pillow lined with kitten fur.
  • Thank you to the medical profession for extending life expectancy. It’s going to take every last second of life to pay off these stinkin’ credit cards. Dang. My balance just went up again. Who knew there was such thing as a badmouthing fee?
  • Thanks to all the rubberneckers who bring traffic to a near standstill, even though whatever is happening is on the opposite side of the highway.
  • Thanks to that police officer who issues me a ticket for having a light out. You know, one of those three tiny, but extremely crucial clearance lights that are above my trailer doors. Whew! Did you see that? That airplane almost rear-ended me!
  • Thanks to all the drivers who try to close the gap when I flip my turn signal on to switch lanes. No worries. It’s not like I can’t take the spot after you pass. Aw crap. The next guy punched it too. And the next… And the next…
  • Thanks to all the truckers who tailgate 4-wheelers. Nothing says “professional” quite like a rear-view mirror full of grille.
  • Thanks to the woman who puts on her makeup in 65 mph rush hour traffic. We all know how important it is to look pretty when there’s an open casket.
  • Thanks to all those 4-wheelers who like to hang out in a trucker’s blind spots. Oh well. Out of sight, out of mind. Never you mind that pesky turn signal light that’s making the side of your face glow.
  • Thanks to the driver who locks up his brakes in front of me because he missed his turn. I’ve really been needing to check the integrity of my brakes. Too bad they work.
  • Thanks to the DOT, the FMCSA, the CSA, and all the other organizations who love truckers enough to regulate them. It’s nice to know that you can make me log it if it takes more than 7 minutes to pee, but you can’t make a receiver unload me in less than 3 hours.
  • Thanks to the trucker who parks in front of the fuel islands for extended periods of time. Yes, I know you had fuel card problems. I saw your fuel receipt through the Subway bag with toilet paper stuck to it.
  • Thanks to all the drivers who figure out where the gas pedal is after I start to pass you.
  • Thanks to all the 4-wheelers who go 5 mph under the speed limit on 2-lane highways. It’s a good thing I’m not driving this truck to make money or anything.
  • Thanks to the driver who writes SHOW YOUR HOOTERS in the dust on the back of the trailer. Public opinion: 1 Trucker’s reputation: 0
  • Thanks to the truck who parks crookeder than a homemade TV antenna. I hope you weren’t emotionally attached to that side-view mirror.
  • Thanks to the state of California for making us truckers stay in the far right lanes. It’s not like that’s where all the other vehicles are trying to enter the roadway or anything.
  • I’d also like to thank California for making trucks go 55 mph. We all know how dangerous those tumbleweeds can be.
  • Thanks to the driver who pulls out in front of me from a side street. I’ve been meaning to work on my slalom skills.
  • Thanks to my company for banning all cooking devices from my truck. There’s nothing quite like a cold bowl of Captain Crunch on a blustery winter’s night.
  • Thanks to the inattentive or unyielding trucker who won’t back out of it for two seconds so a slightly faster truck can get around him quicker. I’m sure all those drivers stuck behind you will be talking about the nice trucker when they get to work.
  • Thanks to the DOT for their hours-of-service rules. How would I know when I’m tired without your infinite wisdom?
  • Thanks to the drivers who feel the need to go 25 mph in a 45 mph construction zone. Good thing you’re clairvoyant. Those construction workers are always putting up the wrong speed limit signs.
  • Thanks to all the businesses who put up NO TRUCK PARKING signs. I nearly forgot that my money is less valuable than everyone else’s.
  • Thanks to all the worthless pile of dung truckers who use these parking lots as trash bins and toilets. I’m sure that has absolutely nothing to do with those NO TRUCK PARKING signs.
  • Thanks to all you 4-wheelers who are so kind as to allow me to hang out in the fast lane after I’ve scooted over to help you merge onto the highway. Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were on the phone.
  • Speaking of on-ramps and phones, thanks to the driver who can’t be bothered to put away his cell phone as he’s barreling down the on-ramp. I guess the two cars to the left of me forgot to use their X-ray vision to see you trying to push me over. I know, right? What a waste of super powers.
  • And yet again, thanks to all those wishy-washy 4-wheelers who can’t make a decision when they get to the end of the on-ramp. Yes, I know being 3 car-lengths ahead of me will make it an impossibly tight fit, but why don’t you try anyway.
  • Thanks to the Christians who write Bible verses on the bathroom walls. Nothing says “Jesus loves you” quite like vandalizing someone’s property.
  • Thanks to all the shippers and receivers who value my time so much. Everyone deserves a 5-hour nap in the middle of their workday. Right?
  • Thanks to the soccer mom who cuts across three lanes in front of me to get to her exit ramp. My doctor has been saying I need to increase my heart rate more often.
  • Thanks to the person who flips me the bird for riding out in the left-hand lane. Clearly I misread that sign that read, TRUCKS LEFT LANE ONLY. My bad.
  • Thanks to all the good citizens who vote for anti-idling laws for trucks. While you may not die from harmful gas inhalation, you’ve dramatically increased your shot at getting run over by a trucker who was unsuccessfully trying to sleep in a pool of his own sweat.
  • And finally, thanks to the truck stop owners who wants $37 for a small bottle of Pepto-Bismol. When you’re looking for your place of torment in hell, just follow the signs that say, EXPLOITED A DIARRHEA SUFFERER.
Well, there you have it; a list of things to be thankful for. Yes, I know. Heartfelt is my middle name. That’s just me.
So, what are you thankful for this Turkey Day? As soon as you get done clobbering your brother with that drumstick you stole, why don’t you pop on over to the comments section and leave your thoughts. I’d appreciate it if you’d wash your hands first. I don’t want you touching my comments sections with those greasy turkey fingers. I swear. We can’t have anything nice in this house.

Arguing E-logs

October 28, 2011

Unless something unprecedented happens in the near future (my company changes a policy for the better), this should be the last in a long series about e-logs. Now I know that you’re probably already in the midst of doing a happy little jig about this wonderful news, but let me explain why this should be the last. I can do so in one sentence. Nearly every argument I make against e-logs is comparing it to the illegal ways I can manipulate paper log books.

I’ve had questions about electronic logs before I even got them. Check out Fear and loathing of electronic logs for my initial thoughts. Turns out, most of my fears were warranted. For example, let’s take a brief look at my first run that I took while sneering at my shiny new e-log unit.

Basically, I was pissed because I figured my time wrong (a rookie mistake) and therefore delivered my load late (details in E-logs: My first impression). If I’d have still been on paper logs, I undoubtedly would have taken off a bit earlier because I knew I could fudge the log book a little bit. But the unrelenting clock on the e-log system doesn’t allow that.

Now, would I be hurting anyone if I left an hour or two early so I could avoid being in a rush and possibly have a chance at delivering early? I don’t think so. I’d had plenty of sleep. I’d been off-duty way longer than my mandatory 10-hour break required. This all makes sense to a truck driver, but try arguing this point to the authorities and you’re talking to the wind. That’s because leaving early and marking your log book after you get somewhere is illegal.

Here’s another example. One of the things that most makes me want to hand my e-log unit to my youngest nephew (that kid can destroy anything with the slightest touch) happens when I’m trying to find a parking spot late at night (find a perfect scenario in E-logs: Do they really increase driving time?).

With e-logs you have to start looking for a parking spot earlier than most drivers would like because you have to be parked when the e-log clock clicks down to zero. That means I have to start looking for a place to park at about the 10-hour mark. But on paper logs, I can utilize more of my drive time by pulling into a truck stop when my 11 hours of driving is up. If I can’t find a spot there, I just show stopping there for the night and I drive on to the next available parking. If it took me another 30 minutes to find parking, I’d just leave 30 minutes later the next day. Again, this is illegal according to the folks who supposedly know what’s best for us truck drivers.

What about how e-logs keep on counting down your time when you’re in rush hour traffic? I really hate that because when I was on paper logs I could just show that I stopped at a truck stop to wait out rush hour. I mean, what’s the difference? Either I’m creeping along in rush hour or I’m sitting in a truck stop for an hour. But again, logging yourself at a truck stop while you’re sitting in traffic is illegal.

So there’s my point. I’m trying to convince everyone that e-logs suck because I can’t run illegal like I used to do. Regardless of the fact that these illegal acts don’t really hurt anyone. That’s really what it boils down to and ultimately why all arguments against e-logs will fail worse than a 98-pound sumo wrestler.

Now here’s another side of the coin. Sometimes I’ve wanted to prove a point about e-logs, but I can’t because doing so would backfire like Elmer Fudd’s shotgun when Bugs sticks his finger in the barrel. Usually it winds up being a case of “logging it as you do it.”

First up is how we drivers log at customers (shippers and receivers). Every company I’ve worked for has crammed the phrase “log it as you do it” down my throat. Yet without fail these same companies have told me to log 15 minutes of On-Duty time (mandatory by most carriers) as soon as I get there or just before I leave. Why then? Because not doing so could totally screw up a 10-hour break and make me as inefficient as scraping your windshield with a nickel. Let me explain.

Say I pull into a receiver at 2 AM and I log myself in the Sleeper Berth. My appointment is at 8 AM. So if I’m “logging it as I do it” I should put myself on the On-Duty line for 15 minutes at 8 AM while I check in to the office and back into the dock. Then I’d put myself back in the bunk. But that would interrupt the “continuous” 10-hour break that the law requires. That means I’d have to start my break over again. So by “logging it as I’m doing it” I’d have to be shut down for 16 hours instead of 10; that’s 6 hours before I checked in and 10 hours after.

The company doesn’t want this and neither does any trucker. So in this case, I don’t want to go in and call the company’s scruples into question by saying, “Hey, Mr. By-The-Book! How come I have to log it as Driving while sitting in a traffic jam, but I don’t have to log it as On-Duty when I bump a dock in the middle of my 10-hour break?” Talk about shooting myself in the foot with an elephant gun! What if they thought about it real hard and decided I was right? Which policy do you think they’d change? Yea. That’s what I thought too.

How about the fact that the company only requires me to log 15 minutes to do my pre-trip inspection? What if it takes 30 minutes? Or 45? Well, I don’t want to waste my valuable On-Duty time, so I’m not going to “log it as I do it” in this case either. The company may say that they want you to log it correctly, but they don’t really want you eating up your hours either. Fine by me.

There is, however, one thing I won’t give up on. There is absolutely no reasonable excuse for not making e-logs editable by the driver. Most carriers realize this and have given their drivers a big ol’ pink electronic eraser. Not mine. They’ve set them up according to the DOT “suggested guidelines.” I have no words for how stupid this is.

On paper logs, we could make changes and initial them if we screwed up. With my company e-logs, changes can only be made by a member of the safety department. If no one is there to make the changes until the next morning, I’m still required to “electronically” sign my logs as “accurate” at the end of the day. Since the only button available is to “okay” it, if I choose not to sign, I choose not to move. Even if I’m fully aware I’m signing a log that I know the safety department will change in the morning. And yes, I’ve brought this fact up to the safety director. All I can say is he’d make a good politician. I still don’t have a satisfactory answer.

Am I nitpicking? Yes I am. But a driver’s log book is a legal document that can and will be used to protect or defend us in a court of law. What happens if I have an accident causing a fatality before the safety department changes my log? Yes, the chances are slim, but it is a possibility. The fact is, I shouldn’t even be put in this position. Yet I am. Okay. Now that my blood pressure is testing the integrity of my veins, I’ll just suck it up and accept the fact that my company are boneheads when it comes to e-logs. If it weren’t for the money. . .

Now let’s close this sucker up. You can now see why I’m bringing my unhealthy obsession with e-logs to a close. I just can’t win. Most truckers would agree with everything I said, but throw the argument against e-logs at the lawmakers and I’d end up looking dumber than. . . well, dumber than I actually am. And quite frankly, that’s pretty freakin’ hard to do.

*What do you think about e-logs? Have I missed something? Please leave your comments and give this post a rating while you’re at it. Thanks.*

The Spitting “Christian” Zealot

October 12, 2011

Advance warning here. Other than the fact that a “conversation” I had with a fellow company driver brought it on, this post has very little to do with trucking. It does have to do with the intolerant and sometimes violent reputation that Christians are getting nowadays. Please don’t tune me out yet. This isn’t a preaching lecture. I’m not qualified for that. I’d just like to explain to you how the Bible says Christians are supposed to act in today’s world. These are just my views from what I’ve learned. Take them or leave them out by the street with all the dirty diapers and empty pizza boxes.

Real Christians don’t picket military funerals and shout at funeral processions. Real Christians don’t scream about damnation to tornado victims. Real Christians don’t yell that gay people are going to hell. Real Christians don’t verbally abuse women coming out of an abortion clinic. And real Christians don’t spit on you when they talk. And that brings me to the driver I spoke with the other day. Let’s call him Bruiser. Just because he looked like his momma might’a named him that.

In all fairness, Bruiser never actually spit on me. But trust me, that was only because there was elevation and a truck door between us. At first, Bruiser seemed like a normal trucker. He was big fella. Probably 6’3″ and 260 pounds. He had a bald head and was wearing a U.S. Army baseball cap and a big ol’ salt and pepper goatee. I made a mental note to thank him for his military service before we parted, but I didn’t much feel like it by the time it was all over.

The conversation started out normal. He asked what the sign in my passenger side window was. He was happy to learn that the Colorado scales wouldn’t pull you over every time if you put the last 8 digits of your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the passenger side of the truck (there’s my trucking info quota). But the conversation changed when my hatred for e-logs came up. That’s when he started talking about the government wanting to control everything. You can imagine the Obama rant that followed.

Now I’m not a fan of big government, so I was actually agreeing with some of what Bruiser was saying. But then he started to get excited and the spittle started to show itself. He started to get a lot louder too.

Turns out he was a Christian. Or so he said. Within about 15 minutes, he said, “I’m not a racist, but…” about 5 times. I figure that means he’s probably a racist. He basically said that the black communities in America were suffering the highest rates of violent crimes because they also have the highest rates of abortion and children out-of-wedlock.

He went on to say that as a Christian he was called to “rebuke” the wicked. His word, not mine. He said that if a Christian politician had the gonads to stand up and boldly “rebuke” all the homosexuality, abortion, and black people’s sin, that he or she would easily be elected the next President. That’s when things started to get out of hand. I told him I was a Christian too, but that I didn’t agree with him.

I told him that anyone who spoke out like that wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected. Politicians have a hard enough time getting the opposing party’s votes as is. Start getting radical like that and everyone would back away from him, even their own party. I also told him he’d never win any non-believers to Christ by yelling at them. It was immediately apparent that this guy was not the kind of guy that liked opposing views.

Well, I’ve gotta tell you that Bruiser lost it. I mean, he went bonkers. Spit literally started to fly out of his mouth. He started talking about nations saying “yea or nay,” and he’d pause at the end of a tirade and say, “Praise the Lord!” Now I may not be the brightest LED in the tail light, but I’m not a total imbecile either. But I can honestly say that from that point on I had no earthly idea what he was talking about. Especially with that whole “yea or nay” thing. I’m certain he understood himself, but I was at a total loss. After a couple more heartfelt “Praise the Lord’s,” he went about hooking up his trailer. I couldn’t help but notice he was breathing hard from his verbal workout.

It was too bad that I had to be at my shipper in 30 minutes. I had so many things to say to him, although I realize it wouldn’t have done a lick of good. You really can’t talk reasonably to zealots, especially spitting ones. So instead, I’ll tell you what I was going to tell him.

First, real Christians aren’t supposed to be racist. Jesus said to love one another (John 13: 34-35). That’s pretty clear. You can’t love someone and hate them at the same time. Heck, Jesus even said to love your enemies (Matthew 5: 43-48). Now to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have called Bruiser out on this. You know, because he’d already stated that he wasn’t a racist… Five times. Still, I thought I’d point that out to any non-believer who thinks Christians are racists. We’re not. Or, we shouldn’t be.

Is there punishment for consequences? You bet. Even a toddler jumping back from the oven screaming a profane-word-he-didn’t-learn-from-you, could tell you that. Pretty much everyone believes in the concept of “what comes around, goes around.” Some people call it Karma, Christians know it as “you reap what you sow.” (Galatians 6: 7)

So, could the black community be suffering from high crime rates because of abortion and the fact that 67% of black children are growing up in single-parent homes? I suppose it could. Could the world be suffering more natural disasters because of some of the biblically immoral choices our society has taken? That just might be the case. Could sexually transmitted diseases be the consequences of a society who commits biblically immoral acts? It sure could. At least according to the Bible it could. The Bible is full of instances where God disciplines his people for their rebellion and their poor choices.

Most non-believers hate the thought of that. They say that God is a vengeful God and that he doesn’t have any right to tell us how we should act. Well, if you’re a Christian, you believe he’s your creator, so he actually does have a say in the matter. I’d also like to point out that God doesn’t punish his children to hurt them. He does it to protect them. Do you discipline your child to protect them from doing stupid things? So does God. Despite what most non-Christians think, God wants what’s best for you. Need some proof? Okay.

First, let me say that I’m not “casting the first stone.” I’m a sinner. I know it and I struggle with it every day. I always will. I was raised in the church, but totally rebelled from my teens until I was almost 40 years old. Why did I rebel? For the same reason I think most non-believers deny God. Because I didn’t want to be held accountable for my actions. No one likes to be told what to do and how to act. But sometimes it’s in our best interest.

For example, if a boy and a girl grew up under the guidance of biblical teaching and remained sexually pure until they married each other, what are the chances of either of  them getting a sexually transmitted disease? Well, unless they’re purposefully rubbing their junk on public toilets seats, the chances are minuscule. And before you nit-pickers can attack, yes, I do realize fetuses can get HIV during pregnancy.

If that same couple got married, what are their chances of divorce? According to studies, it’s in the low single-digit percentage. That’s compared to the almost 50% divorce rate the rest of us suffer from. How much emotional and physical damage do you bring into a marriage if you’ve had other sex partners? I’ll bet everyone reading this has suffered a breakup that would’ve been a heck of a lot easier if sex hadn’t been involved. How about teen pregnancy? Pretty hard to get all preggers if you aren’t doing the deed. You see, God is trying to protect you by showing you what not to do.

How about something like murder? God doesn’t want us to kill because he values life and knows that it will be something you’ll deal with for the rest of your life. Now I know what’s coming next. How can Christians be against abortion, but in favor of capital punishment? To that, the Bible points out that governments were established to maintain justice. Barring some freak anomaly, if a criminal is on death row, they’ve done something to deserve it. A judge and 12 jurors said so. These jurors are citizens just like you and me. The same citizens that elected the judge and decided whether their state will enforce capital punishment or not. If you don’t like that, you’re welcome to move to another state where the death penalty doesn’t exist and like-minded people abound.

But what has that fetus done to deserve death? But wait, you say. Is it a life if it isn’t born yet? Well, it’s heart is beating. Is yours? Are you alive? Yes, I guess it’s true that a fetus doesn’t really know what’s going on, but neither does a person who’s in a coma for 9 months. Should we kill them too? Now if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, well someone has to lose and that’s unfortunate. But are most abortions done because of real physical risks to the mother? No. Other than the fact that she just won’t look right in her new bikini. Actually, the stats show that women who have abortions have greater risks in lots of factors. Check out this article for more on that. Once again, God is looking out for you.

What about something as simple as lying? The 9th Commandment says it’s a sin. This commandment also pertains to lying to accuse someone falsely. Don’t you just hate having to apologize to someone when you’ve been caught in a lie? I do. Do you like it when people spread lies about you? If you do, you’re some kinda weirdo. Again, God is your bud here. He doesn’t want you to go through that.

I’d like to address one more controversial issue: homosexuality. The Bible clearly teaches that it’s a sinful act (1 Timothy 1: 10). I’ve heard many gay people say, “Why would God design me this way if I’m not supposed to be this way?” This is a rough one. From what I’ve learned, it’s because this is a fallen world. In the beginning, man chose to rebel against God. We’ve been paying for it ever since. We come out of the womb with a sinful nature. What? You don’t believe that?

Do you have to teach a toddler to lie? No. Now they’re quite bad at it, but they try none the less. Do you have to teach a child to be selfish? How about disobedient? I gotta tell you, my nephews have been pushing against The Evil Overlord and me since the moment they could crawl towards the poor unsuspecting sleeping cat.

Having said all that, here’s something most people don’t know and quite frankly, I struggle with myself. To God, all sins are equal. He hates a simple little white lie as much as he hates me taking an axe to someone’s face. For one person, their sin might be anger issues. For another it might be homosexuality. Whatever your particular poisons are, we are taught to resist them.

Still, we’re not perfect. That’s why it’s so awesome that he’s a forgiving God to those who believe in him. Do I personally think lying or dude-on-dude action is as bad as an axe to the face or cheating on your spouse? No, I don’t. The thing is, I’m not God. Neither are you, and neither is Bruiser. And that leads us to wrap this puppy up.

Some say Christians are not to judge. Bruiser says we are. Who’s right? I’ll go a happy medium with you. The Bible says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged (Matthew 7: 1-5).” But does that go for both people and actions? Well, in the next verse, it talks about judging others. I mean, if we didn’t judge actions, how would we discern right from wrong? But it God’s job to judge people, so I’ll leave that up to him and you should to.

In close, Christians should try to treat non-believers like Jesus would. He was kind to all sinners, yet firm in his beliefs and standards. I love the story of the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8: 2-11) and was about to be stoned to death. Jesus said, “He without sin cast the first stone.” When no one chucked the first rock at her, he told her, “Go and sin no more.” You see, he wasn’t mean to her because she was being a naughty girl. He didn’t yell at her about sleeping around or cram a Xerox of the 7th Commandment down her throat. Nor did he excuse her sin.

Now pretty much every person in the galaxy (even non-Christians) will acknowledge Jesus as the most moral character in all of history. And if that’s the way he treats people, then that’s how we should do it too. After all, the word Christian does mean Christ-like.

The Bible also tells Christians to teach the truth in love (Ephesians 4: 15), and we all know actions speak louder than words. Therefore, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include yelling at people, being a bigot or racist, slandering someone, or just plain being a mean ol’ jerk. So for Saint Pete’s sake, you psycho-Christians out there, quit yelling and spitting on people.

*I know I probably won’t have to ask for comments on this one, but I will anyway. Let me know what you think and please give this post a rating and pass it on to your friends. Thanks*


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