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October 2010

Travel Centers of America/Petro and Missing Rip Griffin's

The American truckstop is a vital part of our nation's infrastructure. It is the first place a trucker runs to in times of crisis. If a national emergency arises, then you find trucker's gathering around televisions quietly listening, then later discussing. And while many of us are not that verbally sophisticated, we are generally a pretty smart and hard working class of people. Because truckers understand the importance of our language, many of us were dismayed and puzzled when large truckstop chains began calling themselves "stopping centers, travel plazas, and so forth." At that time Flying J was rising to power, and the management was after tourist dollars. Drivers started waiting in long lines to make large fuel purchases behind regular travelers purchasing pop and chips. We all resented this move toward tourism, and we longed for the old time truckstop where tourists were welcome with limitations, and truckers were held in high esteem. Cashiers would remark that "they" made more money from tourists buying pop and chips, than "they" made from big fuel purchases. I was always quick to point out that each little fuel truck was a mini fortune on wheels, and it certainly didn't rise up from the ashes of pop and chips.

When Travel Centers of America bought out some of Rip Griffin, truckers were very unhappy. We predicted a drop in the quality of food and service; this did not occur at most locations. Now that TA has bought Petro, many of us drivers out here for 20 years or more are rather paranoid as this merging plays itself out.

However, I am a bit ashamed of my blog post condemning my recent experience at the TA in Las Cruces. It is true, I did have a hair on my egg. In the large scheme of things, and over the history of our time together, maybe a hair is not such a big deal. I know that if I have trouble in Las Cruces, that my TA is going to be right there to help me out. I have confidence in the power of the trucker dollar. I am sure the management of TA/Petro is willing to listen to our suggestions and complaints. The divide between drivers and truckstop operators has sadly become quite wide; we all need to work on positive dialogue instead of quickly writing a truckstop off our list.

Truckstop operations has plenty to complain about when it comes to driver behavior. Some of us throw trash, drive like idiots in the parking lot, and mistreat staff. I feel like some of these problems are a result of the diminished importance of the truck in the "travel center" community. Many drivers feel marginalized by the emphasis on tourism...this is more pronounced at TA than Petro. However, I blame Flying J primarily for this departure from truck to tourist. Because words really count, I wrote TA completely off for quite some time because of their "ROAD KING" points card. I started driving in 1981, and I was the first woman behind the wheel that many people had ever seen. I was offended by what I considered a sexist attitude coming from TA upper management. However, I am extremely happy with the new Ultra card, it really is a wonderful deal for all of us.

My long history with truckstops includes some very hair raising experiences, but I know the upper management of TA/Petro is capable of listening to our ideas. I am hoping the next time I stop in Cruces I get a great egg. We should expect high quality service and clean facilities, while giving management time to grow.

I stopped a few times recently at the TA in Ogalla, Nebraska. I do recommend this stop to anyone traveling corridor 80. Breakfast was fast and hot, really tasty, and the staff was considerate and professional. I bought fuel at a competitive price, and had no issues with the cashiers, they were efficient and the store was clean. The coffee was hot and fresh. The showers were wonderful, newly decorated, excellent water pressure, and super clean. I look forward to stopping in Ogalla again.                                              

For my readers who see a connection between the case of the missing federal official and Stephen Wayne Sudduth, please google the name, James Hogan, scroll to the bottom under the author information, and click the James Hogan/Curacao link. I tried to copy and paste this to my blog, but I had technical problems.

Please feel free to comment on this interesting theory.

Stephen Wayne Sudduth Federal Trial Information

The Houston area, including Austin County, is covered by the United States Court at 515 Rusk Avenue, Houston, Texas.

This is the location of the United States vs Stephen Wayne Sudduth federal trial.

He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on November 15th, 2010, at 9:00 am.

Jury selection is to begin November 29th, 2010.

He has not vanished into the mist as many of us were led to believe. He is scheduled to face justice. According to the Attorney General's Office, once the Federal Court has finished prosecuting Sudduth, he will be returned to Austin County to face charges. "Nothing is written in stone," but this is the current plan of action.

Hopefully, someone from the Sealy News will be available to cover this important event.

Of course, I am using sarcasm, something I should avoid!

Supporting Documents: Are you just a sheep living in Westview?

The media wants all of us to believe Obama was born in Hawaii even though no one has ever actually seen his birth certificate. He probably was, but why can't we see the proof? We are supposed to trust our politicians and government with our tax money even though we have no way of knowing how it's really spent. We pay highway use taxes that never so much as fill a pothole, and we give thousands in charity trusting the money is spent for a cause we believe in.

I have lived in this townhome for almost four years, and I have never seen an official document proving how my fees are spent. Since I have owned a townhome in the past, and several of my relatives are involved in real estate, I have genuine reasons to doubt the competency of the people whom I am trusting with my money.

Last year at the annual meeting, the treasurer could not even tell me how much she was paying for a kilowatt of electricity. She was completely unprepared for any logical question; shamefully, she had no idea. For a solid year we had problems with our hot water heater, (meaning no hot water at all sometimes for days), but no bids were ever made to replace this failing equipment. No search was ever done for a cheaper, and possibly better, plumber. We endured a botched renovation because we never received the decorating or paint that was promised. Instead of something colorful and stylish, we are stuck with dismal and dirty looking buildings. The property looks almost exactly like it did before we put the Hardie board up. The leftover funds were included in the year end statement, but not exclusively. This meant no one understood that the balance for the year included borrowed money until I specifically asked, and Mr. President reluctantly answered. He chose the contractor for this job; he is responsible for the poorly managed restoration.

The year before last we had a fee increase shoved down our throats, (and we were forced to endure a badly composed insulting letter), yet, we have no landscaping, no security, no recreational area, no cable, no wireless, no pool, and no leadership. Fees in Bellaire include all of the above and run right around the two-hundred to three-hundred dollar range. This includes 24/7 maintenance. I do not expect all of that, but I do expect better than this.

In the past the big brains behind Westview Townhomes have suggested we need a metal roof, and that such a roof would require higher fees. First of all a metal roof will mean for those who wish to use a mobile phone inside their unit a signal will not be available. If you don't believe this, then simply visit the Sealy Dental Center and ask them. Not only that, another increase will mean that we are paying even more for less without any viable benefit. Our current president, and his cronies, is convinced that everyone living here should just follow along like sheep. They are not even willing to do any extra work (even though we are now forced to pay them for something that in most townhome communities is done proudly by volunteers) to find ways to better budget the funds they now receive before requesting another increase. Instead they run around with a notepad looking for ways to spend money. They choose their favorite friends and relatives to do the work.

I already know a couple places where spending could be sharply reduced: no more donations to whomever they choose, and no more pay for services that should be proudly voluntary. Better business practices should be instituted: accepting contractor bids, negotiating for services, and including everyone in decisions. You never know what talents people have unless you respect them enough to ask them.

The ability to control the lives of other people has served as a sort of narcotic for three people. They have made the bulk of important decisions with minimal input from other interested parties. They have not encouraged or welcomed other owners and residents into the process. Instead they are contemptuous of their fellow neighbors. We have our meetings at Louise's carport rather than in a neutral place where business can honestly be discussed in a professional manner, and documents viewed for validity and accuracy. Last year I was forced to endure flouncing and petty behavior unbecoming a neighbor, a literal snotty stomping off. I have never witnessed anything that low-classed at a business meeting.

This year we have been forced to accept a property tax increase. People are leaving Austin County in droves, unemployment is very high, and property is currently overvalued. This means nearly nothing will sell in this area, and rental vacancies are a huge problem for landlords. If we allow them to demand and receive another fee increase, then our property will gradually be worth less and less. When a buyer looks at a townhome the first question they ask is "How much for fees, and what do they include?" If they shop here and see the condition of this property, and our fees are any higher than they are now, then no one will want to buy a unit no matter how cheap.

I have never done any official work without substantiating documents. Our Westview Terrace management would like us all to accept only their word accompanied by an unofficial, memo-like printed paper, without proof. I am not a CEO, but even I know business isn't done like that; so do you. I am hoping you will see the folly in the expensive metal roof. I am hoping you will dare to question, just as I have done.

Does Texas have Secret Trials?: Stephen Wayne Sudduth et al.

Since I have been spending most of my time on the road, it has been hard for me to get information about the Stephen Wayne Sudduth accused child porn pervert's upcoming federal trial. A source at the Austin County Court claims he is in federal custody...a highly regarded customer like Sudduth is squeezed away into a "secret" and "safe" location I one will say exactly where he is...I am guessing it is not the "SuperMax!"

As far as an upcoming trial and its location...more vague and confusing details. The information is so meager it is practically nonexistent. He might have something in November, but no one knows where and what it will be...this is ridiculous.

This "lack of transparency" makes me wonder, "Does Texas have secret trials?" Surely I am living in the United States of America, a place where child molesters are treated like everyone else. Or am I in Russia? No, wait, the Russians would probably make someone like Sudduth disappear, but in a different and less complicated way.

It is possible the Sealy News is as confused as I am. Maybe I have been too hard on our local paper. According to a source in the District Attorney's office, Austin County will not be prosecuting Sudduth, the feds will be doing this job. The logistics are important because of the international aspect to the case.

I still do not understand why the Sealy News isn't using its resources to follow these details and inform the public. When Sudduth has completed his sentence, he will likely move back to the Sealy area. This is a chilling thought when one considers the accusations against him: a preference for little girls, and his "hands on" approach to child pornography.

Proudly, and Inappropriately, Politically Incorrect!

One lonely holiday evening in Ontario, California, I was dining in a popular Mexican Restaurant when I witnessed my first gay encounter. I was all alone, in my early 30's, and feeling out of place. My waiter was so nice and sweet, he almost brought tears to my loneliness. I sat in a dark corner booth watching the families laugh, and couples visit with one another over the dim romantic light. The room was beautifully decorated with sparkling holiday lights, pots of Christmas cactus, and evergreen wreaths.  At a table in the middle of the room sat two attractive men in my age group. One draped his arm around the other's shoulders, and right there in 1991 those two men started to kiss. I could hear tires squealing in my mind, my eyes blinked about thirty times in confusion, I looked at my hands in my lap, and I literally started to bust out in tears. It was absolutely one of the lowest, and loneliest, moments of my life.

Needless to say, I have grown just a little since then, but not really that much. It still really bothers me to see men kissing, and women too. If this makes me a narrow-minded ignorant bigot, then I am very sorry. I have tried to change with the times, I really have.

Not only that, I am so tired of hearing how terrible life is for the gay people. First of all they occupy a special place in society, and they certainly enjoy a very large share of the public media power. If I owned a business, I would hire a gay. If I needed a haircut, I would let a gay person give me a style. I am not ignorant, I work side by side with these people all of the time. I know Cooper Anderson is gay. We share a birthday, and I am one of his biggest fans. I despise Rosie O'Donnel, Elen Degeneres, and I am not in love with Houston's Mayor Annise Parker. These facts do not make me intolerant; I am just really tired of the pushy attitude. I don't see anything wrong with President Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" military policy. I am sick of having "gayness" rammed down my throat day after day.

I would not let my child attend a gay pride event. I would not want him to see a bunch of men kissing, or women holding hands. I don't believe he would understand the art in "Drag Queen." That is not the sort of thing my child is mentally able to process. 

I feel sorry for the gay students who have committed suicide. I hope the behaviors that have led to these acts are severely punished. But we have to remember that students who are not gay are bullied too.

This should make it clear to the legions of men who are confused about why I won't sleep with isn't because I am gay, because I am not gay. I don't even really understand the components of gay.

So, if I am not sleeping with someone, it must be just because I don't want to. 


In The Sealy News Today: Nothing

One would think that after printing up inaccurate information concerning a fascinating local case, (remember our history making alleged kiddie porn pervert, Stephen Wayne Sudduth)  that the Sealy News might take the time to add a correction, or some clarification, to their online edition. Maybe the printed paper has an editorial today with an opinion column, and a correction....but I doubt it. They still want all of us to believe he was in state custody when he was arrested at his home in Sealy...okay...that was in October, not July. He was picked up in July and released. Why wouldn't the news report it then? A potentially dangerous sex offender was charged in July and released back into the population, yet, the Sealy News never even reported this in their arrest records column. Why not? How is he different from everyone else who gets arrested in Austin County?

When he had a bail hearing to reduce his $500,000 bail, no one reported this. When his pretrial hearings were delayed, no one bothered to report these facts. When a Court date was set, no one reported. What in the world are they trying to prove?

The effort is to bury anything slightly negative under the proverbial rug where it should fade away into the oblivion of forgotten trivia. Sorry, but negative social problems buried under the proverbial rug foster an atmosphere of perversity, and serve to shield those who prey on others for profit and sex. In other words, the Sealy elite are just covering their own cushy butts hoping to ride this spectacle out with no brown stain on their own rear end. This is probably not going to happen...too many folks want an explanation. Instead of fading away, their effort is having the opposite affect. Sealy is looking weird!