Friday, December 11, 2009

Letter from a Marine

In the spirit of our Truckers for Troops campaign, I can’t resist again sharing this much-circulated letter from a soldier to the folks home on the farm. A trucker e-mailed it to me and had no idea of the origin. I googled around for a source, and I see that it’s been posted on a number of sites. Although the name and military branch seems to change, the letter is basically the same. Suffice to say, it’s been around the Internet a while and we still find it a delightful read.

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell brother Walt and brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled. I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m., but am getting so I like to sleep late.

Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth up your cot and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing. Men got to shave but it is not so bad; there’s warm water.

Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food. But tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the city boys that just about live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you till noon when you get fed again. It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much.

We go on “route” marches, which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A route march is about as far as out to our mailbox. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. This country is nice, but awful flat.

The sergeant is like a schoolteacher. He nags some. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don’t bother you none. This next one will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don’t know why. The bull’s-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and it don’t move. And it ain’t shooting at you. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don’t even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful, though; they break real easy. It ain’t like fighting with that ol’ bull at home. I’m about the best they got in this except for Tug Jordan from over in Silver Creek. He joined up the same time as me. But I’m only 5’6” and 130 pounds, and if you remember he’s 6’8’ and weighs near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,

Emily

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What’s $6-$10 billion among friends?

For the last week, the California Air Resources Board has taken several very public shots, some by its own board members.

It seems CARB’s researcher for its Truck and Bus Regulation, aka the retrofit rule, faked having a doctorate and lied to his own employers while trying to cover up his lack of a Ph.D. The Truck and Bus Rule will begin to be officially enforced in 2012, though most small-business owner-operators won’t have to replace trucks until 2014.

CARB’s own estimates have placed the rule’s cost impact on the transportation industry at between $6 billion and $10 billion.

Hien Tran is still employed by CARB as a researcher, even after it was proven that his Ph.D. came through the mail.

At least two CARB board members have come out and criticized CARB Chairman Mary Nichols for not revealing the matter to most of the board, although some of the board was informed before it voted to approve the regulation in December 2008.

For Land Line’s account, click here.

Nichols has argued that Tran’s transgressions don’t change the science supporting CARB’s rules.

It’s the research, however, that some are discrediting more than Tran himself.

Lois Henry, a columnist with the Bakersfield Californian, points out in a recent column that Tran’s “slap dashery” may conceal a weak link between particulate matter and deaths attributed to diesel exhaust – the linch pin behind many of CARB’s diesel truck emissions rules.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston has asked CARB to suspend its pending enforcement emissions regulations for port drayage trucks and reefer units. A complete account of that story is available here.

The controversy has even sparked an apparent feud between two major California newspapers, as evidenced here.

In the California Assembly, there is a reported third effort to suspend the 2006 law California Assembly Bill 32 – which gave CARB authority to regulate greenhouse gases and form regs such as the port drayage rule.

In November, former California Gov. and current Attorney General Jerry Brown told Legal Newsline that over-regulation is threatening California, particularly as it relates to environmental and workplace laws and regulations.

“The whole framework of law is crucial for the operations of business enterprises,” Brown said. “But when over prescriptive, it creates a huge and growing amount of overhead, and it does seem that we’re reaching the point of counter-productivity.”

On Wednesday, CARB is scheduled to hold its monthly meeting. An agency spokesman told Land Line Now’s Reed Black last week that CARB will likely revisit its Truck and Bus rule, and may delay or alter the rule as it stands today.

The agency also will likely approve doling out about $10 million in research project funding – the kind of research that CARB will use to justify regulations and millions in enforcement fines over the next several years.

Time will tell if Tran’s name will be associated with any of the research, or if peer review of evidence reported will be conducted properly and differing opinions will be seriously considered.