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November 2010

The Petro Stopping Center in El Paso, Texas

One of the reasons Flying J went bankrupt was because it had the sorriest food in the country. They shipped everything out pre-made and they would leave it sitting on the buffet table for hours.Sometimes I would take pictures of the buffet and send them to Ogden. I got caught doing this at the Flying J on Merced Avenue in Bakersfield, California. The chicken was undercooked and the refried beans had water floating on the top. The spaces between metal pans were covered in spilled food, and the glass over the buffet was filthy. The manager came out and asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was a food photographer for Time Magazine. He didn't think I was very funny; he grabbed the phone and called the sheriff, blaming me for the line of customers refusing to pay their bill. 

When my little boy rode in the truck with me, I would use Flying J food to enforce good behavior. If I threatened him with a Flying J meal, he would shape it up immediately. He liked Petro though, especially the one in El Paso. Here you can order a real chicken fried steak, with homemade mashed potatos, his favorite roadside meal. The salad bar has always been something the El Paso employees stock with pride. This morning it is loaded down with fresh berries, grapes, melons, jello, and raisins.

Sonny, a longtime Petro kitchen employee, is cooking omelettes. You can get fresh jalapeno, mushrooms, ham, and bacon cooked into your eggs, along with many other items. The place is sparkling clean, the staff is very professional, and the mix of Spanish and English conversation is comforting and pleasant.

Most truck drivers do not like to eat pre-made food. Healthy food in a pleasant atmosphere can help some of us live a lot longer. We are all hoping the upper management of Petro/TA preserves the restaurants that do work, and phase out many of the premade restaurant selections. Soup boiled in a bag is radically different than soup cooked from fresh vegetables.

Well I guess that's it for now. This holiday week has dragged on for too long, and I really need to get home. I miss my big computer, my cozy apartment, my huge television. I would like to drive my car for a change, and go someplace nice. I need to go to the Anytime I ever!

Working on the Plane; a lonely, but fun, Thanksgiving

Lots of people are curious about what us truckers do when we work on special holidays. We do the same things we do any other time, except we usually have less traffic, (on the official holiday) and more time to meet our ridiculous schedules. Even though I really miss my little boy every Thanksgiving, I don't mind the fact that he gets to visit his Grandmother in North Texas. Holidays are a time when I can worry about him less and focus on my own work.

Yesterday I spent all morning in a Starbucks in Mecca, California, shopping online, drinking coffee, and reading my friend's blogposts. Later I went to the Spotlight 29 casino and enjoyed their fabulous holiday buffet with about 50 other truckers. After that, I hit the road and cruised on up to Eloy, Arizona, to the Petro. I drank a glass of wine over crackers and hummus finishing a fabulous story written by author/photographer Aggie Villanueva, "Rightfully Mine: God's Equal Rights Amendment." Her book is perfect to read on a Thanksgiving night, a beautiful Christian fiction appropriate for the holiday season.

This morning I took a long hot shower, and then headed over to Nogales to get the rest of my load. I am now in my favorite truckstop, the Triple T in Tucson, Arizona, a real old-fashioned place with everything for the traveler: a classy gift shop, clean and comfortable restaurant, delicious hot food, CB shop, truck shop, convenience store, and safe parking.

 Regular people who have no knowledge of the trucking and transportation industry have no idea the sacrifice made everyday by men and women like myself. I am only granted so many special days before it is time for God to take me home. For example, I may only get another 10 or 20 Thanksgivings, but I have donated another to my employment and the public. Truckers get pretty tired of civilian contempt; we work our rears off out here to deliver safely and on time.

A lot of people feel entitled to their holidays. They even insist, sometimes, that us taxpayers fund their days off. I think many of these people are spoilt and self centered. Very few of them have spent a holiday alone on the road with strangers, and so they have missed out on the true meaning of fellowship and community.

Our veterans are well aware of the emotional maturity one garners from working yet another holiday.

Well it is time for me to go crank up the Cummins and head on down the road. If I fly far enough and hard enough, I can get home tomorrow night. I have missed all the great homemade food, visiting my child, and seeing the people I know; but, I have enjoyed my holiday anyway. I have been part of something bigger than myself, and we strangers have felt a togetherness and kinship on another lonely, but fun, Thanksgiving on the plane.


The Thanksgiving Holiday Load: Writing Perspectives from the Plane

Tonight I am home, and the housekeeper has cleaned, and my trailer is partially loaded with wonderful holiday produce. The dog is underfoot, wanting a walk, and I am tired and wet sitting in a bath towel. The old lady downstairs is blaming me for her heart attack, and another man nearby has played his cards too soon; he has shown his true colors.

These ideas bring me to once again discuss the power of the written word, and the failures of the spoken. When you listen to gossip and revel in its force, then you are surely a fool. But if you take a document and you write your story, and you intertwine with your feelings, your truth, and the substance of your problem, then not only are you enlightened by the power of your activity, your literacy, but your readers will hear the ring of truth.

I live in a community where ignorance is championed and education is thrust aside. Writing is considered stupid. People are not encouraged to gain knowledge, they are advised to fit in. So groupthink, bullying, and a lack of individuality is highly encouraged. Once again, today, I was told to move. I simply will not move, I like it here. This is a place where change is desperately needed, and the fiefdom is losing its way.

But this is only a speck of a place, with little, or no importance, to the big picture. Whenever I write about writing, metacognitive, I ponder the possibilities of nonfiction. I read some fiction, but not much. I only like the stuff that borders extremely close to historical, or present, reality. For example, if I was to write a fiction, it would have to include some of the characters I have found in Sealy: the flouncer, the old biddies, the women in flip-flops, the local molester, the townhome president, the treasurer, the thirty-something complete failure, and of course the mean old woman who constantly lies about children, and pets, for attention.

My setting would have to be pretty accurate, a severely flawed, rather tacky townhome community with huge social and monetary problems. But something this trivial seems a waste of time. These people, their actions, and their cheap agenda is simply not worthy of the pen. They are not "Tortilla Flat," and they are not "Cannery Row." They are simply narrow characters without depth; they are too shallow to inspire art.

So what does someone like me write about? I am looking for an interesting character, a truth, a philosophy, a way of life beyond the norm, someone who has a message to send. I want to write above me, and not below. I want you to find me.

Stephen Wayne Sudduth Trial Next May

Looks like Sudduth is getting another delay. I don't know if his attorneys asked for this one, or if it was the United States. It doesn't really matter, because for the children involved, justice delayed is truly justice denied. I can't understand why an important media figure doesn't pick this case to follow. If the allegations against Sudduth are true, then he is a dangerous and calculating child predator. The fact that he was a long time Texas educator should be of national importance when you consider the size of his child pornography collection, his desire to share his depravity, and his participation in filming these perversions. Not only that, child pornography is quickly becoming a disgusting epidemic that threatens the very fiber of our civilization. Once we accept predators into our mainstream society, then we have lost our only basis for survival: the protection of our children.

Child predators are constantly attempting to gain acceptance into mainstream society.











Critical Thought can Eradicate Flip Flops and White Out

Paulo Freire, Brazilian born educator, was a leader who helped bring diplomacy, critical thought, and a multicultural focus to the composition classroom. Reading him tonight reminds me of how the public school agenda primarily sustains itself politically. The motivation to focus on children is overshadowed by the more dominant adult goals: career, pay scale, prestige, cronyism, and climbing the administration tower. How can students who are accustomed to this "inequitable structure" even be brought to consciously acknowledge its presence and then reconcile with the injustice?

Providing students with a class focused on the tenants of democracy and social change creates a community of writers willing to explore the boundaries put into place by the traditional power structure. Studying authors of various diverse situations and backgrounds provides a platform of open discussion and free ideas. Enthusiasm for writing is enhanced by the student's critical evaluation of one dominant culture's marginalization of another's place in any open setting: school, politics, public areas, etc.

I frequently encounter people who will ask me what inspires me to write. Injustice is at the root of most great writing. I am only an amateur, but my favorite authors and thinkers were motivated by their anger at the inequities they personally experienced.  My mind is not so open that it is closed. I do have boundaries, and I do not consider myself a Marxist. Instead, I believe those who misuse the power structure are the true socialists in some sense. They have managed the system and shaped it to benefit only those whom they find worthy, their favorites. In many cases their workload and contribution is minimal, they have no reason to succeed, and oversight is canceled by the system they have created. They are not employed in a school district because they want to change and improve the lives of children; they are in the system, and accepting taxpayer's money, to maximize their own security. This is why we have a problem with disenfranchised and uneducated youth. You may think this sounds like capitalism, however, I believe socialism fails once corrupted.

When diversity and outside ideas are not welcome in the school community, then the agenda is suddenly obvious; the public school must sustain itself politically. The structure is created and maintained not for students, but for adults.

Stephen Wayne Sudduth: What the heck is going on?

I know many of you are curious about what is going on with the Stephen Sudduth federal child pornography case. I honestly do not know. Monday I plan on making a call to get an update.

If I was home, and not working 18 hours a day, I would have more accurate and up to date information to share with all of you. i apologize for not keeping this more current. I am proud of all of you who have cared enough to recognize the importance of this particular case. If the allegations against Sudduth are true, then he is indeed a very dangerous and calculating, local, child predator.

Visiting with Sealy women in his age group is interesting. He was the heartthrob of many a girl. However, some of them have said they were becoming more suspicious of his sexual orientations long before this case ever came to light. It is possible that among the local women a holdout or two still exist. For those people, I recommend therapy.

Well that's it for now. My boss is waiting on paperwork from me for work done in California. If I don't get to the fax machine, I may end up with more free time than I really want!

No Acid on My Face


Last night on the CBS News, I watched Kati Couric give a report; she was discussing a small Afghan girl who had tried to walk to school, and had been attacked with acid. So I looked on with shame, thinking of the times people who cared about me had tried to encourage me to stay in school.

I couldn't walk there, it was too far.

O' finally, after years of wandering, I finished college. I worked in a man's world…I was accepted and loved. Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, small girls are denied an education, they are cursed into lives of poverty, they are objects of men's lust, and they are property.

But I am a proud infidel, I don't believe in subjugation…I am free.

The men in my family, they fought for me. Now we have proud soldiers fighting in Afghanistan so little girls can walk to school and learn to read and write.

I don't care if they grow poppies or not, I want the girls to go to school, and I want the men to become men.

How sad, "Are you threatened by a little girl with a book?"

"Why not let a little girl go to school? How can you be so callous and trite you shameful Taliban man?"

Michael Moore, won't you make another controversial film? Show our public school children the truth about the world. Show them the struggle other children face just walking to school. Show them the hunger, poverty, and cruelty children in developing countries confront as they try to learn, pursuing creativity and freedom.

Shame on our little gang bangers…what if they were Afghan children? Our American children go to class with lunch, books, rooms, film, internet, security, and transportation, yet, many of them choose to trash it all. Meanwhile, a world away, a little Afghan girl sneaks down a dusty alleyway to a hidden room to read a book…to learn an equation…to begin a dream.

My face felt hot when I looked on the little Afghan girl. I was reminded of my ungrateful and ignorant worldview. But, there was no acid on my face.


Veteran's Day is Tomorrow

Tonight I am in Wheeler Ridge, California, and I feel tired and dirty. I ordered supper from the Petro, and it wasn't bad, but it didn't taste like Mom's. The sky is cloudy and the night is gloomy; weather that makes me think of my brother, a veteran of Vietnam.

I don't make much money, so I can't donate regularly, but, when I do, I give to the Disabled American Veterans. They use the money wisely, and since we have so many young soldiers struggling this cause makes a lot of sense.

I am hoping you will consider a donation to the DAV. They need and deserve your help. You can donate online, by phone, or through the mail.

You can even text message a donation!


Republican Senator Mitch McConnell: Evil to repeal healthcare reform?

For the last couple of years Mitch McConnell, senator from Kentucky, has made himself a household figure by his constant fussing about healthcare reform. I don't know if he is evil or not, but if I was set to benefit in some way from the new health care reforms, and I was listening to the stuff coming from McConnell's mouth, I would probably think he was Satan incarnate.

It is inexplicable that our fellow Americans would stand up in front of millions and complain because more people are going to receive health care benefits. In fact, it is surreal. Since when have health insurance companies been the good guys? All of a sudden people like McConnell are making it sound like big insurance are the pillars of American society. The truth is they have whole departments that will undoubtably go straight to hell upon death for kicking children, and the chronically ill, off of policies. How these people sleep at night is one of the great mysteries of life. Meanwhile, how can any politician stand up in front of the population and threaten to repeal heathcare reform,  putting it at the top of the agenda, after so many families have suddenly been able to dream or hope again?

Tonight I was all set to watch something on CNN about serial killers, but my mind stayed on McConnell instead. Strange how the brain computes, organizing thoughts with characters.  I wonder what other people around the world think about men and women who begrudge others a chance at life using the mighty dollar as an excuse?

Big insurance has jacked up rates anticipating the reforms. It isn't because anything costs anymore, it is greed. Greed is what is killing this country, and the people in it. McConnell, and other politicians of his ilk, have no interest in serving their constituents or in doing what is best for their country. They are pandering to big money for personal gain. They have intentionally misled the public.

I don't believe the transition into fair and equitable healthcare reform is a path without challenges, however, to repeal the current bill is selfish and unconscienable. How can McConnell, who in my view looks evil, stand in front of the American public and not understand how tacky he sounds?

It is okay for the taxpayers of this great nation to pay for a war we didn't need. It is fine for business to foot the bill for healthcare while paying tons of other taxes. Citizens are tied to jobs they are not inspired by simply because they are desperate for heath insurance coverage. And while all of this is going on, people die in this rich country because they have no insurance. McConnell will say, "Go to the emergency room." He sits their on his rich duff, in his satin slacks, making a judgment against underpriviliged Americans who are paying for his health insurance, while they have none.

Most bankruptcies are tied to exorbitant healthcare costs. In fact, medical bills accounted for the bulk of all bankruptcies leading up to the recent foreclosure crisis.

I think McConnell is probably evil.