Friday, April 17, 2009

Now this is worrisome

The comments have been rolling in regarding that crazy fatigue checklist used by DOT in Minnesota and Indiana. OOIDA member Bob “Cowpoke” Martin had a couple of interesting thoughts.

The “intention” behind the so-called fatigue checklist is to provide clues as to whether truckers are actually sleeping when they are supposed to be sleeping. If they are not, then of course they are fatigued and should be placed out of service. After rolling the goofy checklist around in his head, it’s made Bob apprehensive on behalf of a few trucking friends, fellow OOIDA member and Land Line columnist Diesel Dave being one of them.

What if Dave Sweetman rolled into one of these scales and got nailed for a “voluntary” survey?

Bob’s getting nervous. He imagines the DOT asking Dave if he is drinking coffee? Cowpoke knows Sweetman’s response might be, “no, but if you would like to come in I’ll fire up the cappuccino machine and make us a half-caff latte with a sprinkle of nutmeg and extra foam.” I have to agree with Bob here. A cappuccino machine could appear to be contrary to good sleep habits.

You know, the more I think about it, Dave does have even more habits that are bound to be suspicious behavior in any DOT officer’s eyes. It makes you wonder how much sleep the guy does get. He writes a column for Land Line and, well, when does he do that? I hope it’s not when he’s supposed to be sleeping.

Bob’s anxious over how Dave would explain away a 42-inch plasma TV, bookcase full of DVDs and VHS tapes – and, yes, some are likely not PG-13. What about those Rolling Stone magazines and those Land Lines? And what about that open laptop? I’ll wager Dave’s computer is frequently open and if he’s not writing columns, you KNOW he’s online.

There’s more. Bob’s concerned that Dave’s four-slice toaster might not pass the fatigue checklist.

“Expecting company, boy?”

And Bob is particularly apprehensive about the truck cops finding out about Dave’s rubber ducks in the shower.

This could get ugly.

But Dave does have the full wastebasket question covered. No checkmark there. There’s no trash in his truck. Dave has a trash compactor. Then again, Bob says someone better look up trash compactors in the FMSCA rule book. Might be contraband.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Can really tall stacks save the world?

It sounds like something from News of the Weird or Snopes.com, but an adviser to President Obama says they’ve discussed shooting pollution particles into the atmosphere to offset global warming – which supposedly is fostered by ... pollution particles in the atmosphere.

Frankly, this sounds like an idea out of a Michael Crichton novel like “Jurassic Park,” where the scientists know just enough to be really, really dangerous. But let’s assume they have thought of everything.

We are apparently talking two different kinds of particles, as near as I can determine, though the article didn’t specify what would be “good” pollution particles. And to be effective they’d have to be injected higher up than say the Eisenhower Pass.

News like this is sure to make the folks at CARB choke with apoplexy, but I think it’s a terrific opportunity for the trucking industry to address several pressing issues.

First, we tell CARB and EPA we are not going to limit our emissions anymore (everyone sing, to the tune of “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More” ... “ain’t gonna limit smoke no more, ain’t gonna limit smoke no more ...”). It has now become our patriotic duty – nay, our obligation to humanity and the Earth – to smoke ’em if we got ’em.

Next, we get the tallest stacks we can find and still miss overpasses. I figure every inch toward heaven will help our emissions get up high and start fighting solar rays.

Alternatively, instead of retro-fitting old engines, we could park them and run the engines to fill up weather balloons. As the hot gas finishes inflating each balloon, a gizmo would seal it and release it from the stack.

At the appropriate altitude, another gizmo would release the gas. A built-in-GPS would help us track and retrieve the balloons for reuse. The balloons could carry advertising to cover the cost of diesel and recovery. No charge to taxpayers!

And to take care of another trucking problem, a similar approach could be used to capture emissions from idling trucks. We could call that fleet something like, oh, the Idle Air Force.