Rusty Guns

Rusty Guns Copyright Sandy Long

One of my favorite word pictures of any pro-gun ad is the one that says, “A gun can lie on a table until it rusts and will not harm anyone until someone picks it up and pulls the trigger.” Powerful word imagery that tells the whole story of gun crimes in a nutshell is it not. Anti gun lobbyists fuel their fight to increase laws that ban guns from citizen’s hands with junk science.

Laws have been passed recently to try to control the buying and selling of guns at gun shows and shops while ignoring the huge black market that exists where criminals can buy guns. The black market grows with every new law restricting gun ownership.

From the NRA: “The black market is responsible for the estimated 1 to 2 million guns illegally possessed by 8 million New York City residents, even after a century of punishing Sullivan Law licensing regulations.”

There has been a larger push to control supply-side support of the black market through pro-active police action and stricter licensing laws, citing some control in the short term in the black market sales of firearms in high crime areas of Chicago slums. Economist R. T. Naylor explained, “Never in history has there been a black market defeated from the supply side . . . .”

Supply-side controls, like the Sullivan Law’s handgun licensing requirement, merely serve to increase availability of, and profits from, the illegal item or service. Phillip J. Cook, an anti gun criminologist, wrote an article titled “Underground Gun Markets.” After publication, Cook and his researchers stated that their findings “stand in contrast to conventional wisdom in the sociology and criminology literatures . . . . There may remain some question whether our data are misleading.”

Cook, along with co-author Jens Ludwig wrote a book “Gun Violence: The Real Costs” In the book, they came up with supposedly accurate statistics about how much gun crime costs, $100 billion per year. Paul Gallant and Joann Eisen, authors of the book, “Post Heller Junk Science” explain how Cook and Ludwig came up with this figure. “To come up with this figure, they conducting a survey of 1,204 adults, they asked respondents if they would pay $50, or $100, or $200 in increased taxes in order to reduce firearm-related crime by 30 percent. They then extrapolated their figure to arrive at what the total number of households in the U.S. would be willing to pay to eliminate firearm-related violence by 100 percent. Adding in jury costs and other estimated costs; they came up with their huge cost of gun crimes.” Cook and Ludwig did admit that by coming up with that figure “they hoped that they would “provide some leverage in moving the policy debate ….”

New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) April 3, 2008, published an article by Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an M.D. with a master’s in public health, entitled “Guns, Fear, the Constitution and the Public’s Health.” In the article, Wintemute used the statistic that, in 2005, 30,694 people “died from gunshot wounds.” Dr. Wintemute got this figure from the CDC. In the CDC’s June 28, 2006, National Vital Statistics Report: Preliminary Data for 2004 listed firearm-related homicides in the U.S. at 11,250 and firearm-related suicides at 16,603 (which is not about method, but motivation). By using the combined number, Wintemute maximizes the perceived danger firearms pose to society.

In an Oct. 7, 1993, NEJM article entitled “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” Dr. Arthur Kellermann and his co-authors stated, “keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide. A gun kept in the home is far more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than it is to be used to kill in self-defense. In light of these observations and our present findings, people should be strongly discouraged from keeping guns in their homes.”

If one takes the time to read the complete study, one finds that approximately two-thirds of the offenders lived apart from the victims and more than likely brought the firearm to the scene of the crime. To slant their findings further, the authors counted both criminals and their prey as victims, even those “killed by police in the line of duty.” They even labeled four police officers as “offenders.”

Following the money trail behind why reputable scientists would slant findings like this, Kellermann received over $3 million in taxpayer money for numerous papers of this nature. Dr. Wintemute again got into the act over private gun ownership used in defense of the gun owner by disputing Gary Kleck’s 1995 research with Marc Gertz on the self-defensive use of guns. From the NRA: “ Wintemute claimed that Kleck’s figure of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) was “too high by a factor of 10,” citing as the sole basis for his claim a research paper authored by anti-gun researcher Dr. David Hemenway, “Survey Research and Self-Defensive Gun Use: An Explanation of Extreme Overestimates.”

He (Wintemute) did not report that anti-gun criminologist Marvin E. Wolfgang wrote, in an article entitled “A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed,” “The methodological soundness of the current Kleck and Gertz study is clear. I cannot further debate it.”

“Guns do not kill people, people kill people” is another one of my favorite pro gun word pictures. It evokes the true picture of responsible gun owner ship and the role that guns play in criminal behavior. Anti gun lobbyists may win in the end but that will not keep guns out of criminal’s hands. Even if it did, when the common citizen no longer has the right to own a gun legally, the criminal can use a knife to commit his crimes, who is going to stop him, the victim with a rolled up newspaper?

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achronististic Icons

Anachronistic Icons

Copyright Sandy Long

 

The definition of anachronism is: a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place; especially: one from a former age that is incongruous in the present. Old hand drivers like me are becoming the anachronism of trucking; we no longer fit the industry.

The image of the old time driver; that of being strongly independent, able to make decisions on their own, able to work without constant supervision was true and necessary to the way trucking used to be. Truckers had to be independent and able to make decisions and work without supervision because there was no technology around to do this for them.

We were the captains of our own ships and had no one to hold our hand except for the occasional call to dispatch or to the shop if we broke down and could not fix the problem ourselves. That occasional call was not from a cell phone or satellite communication device either; to find a phone, one often had to hitch hike or walk then stand in line for an available pay phone.

What made us icons that were featured in movies and glorified us and the trucking industry is now our down fall. No longer is what made the old time driver special or unique now wanted or necessary; we old hands have to adapt now or leave trucking itself.

Where once individual independence was looked for in a driver, now drivers who can fit into a business model of cookie cutter drivers who all drive the same, use the same technology and who can fit into a mold are wanted. Today’s generation of drivers are trained to use satellite systems that tell them where to load, fuel, and stop to sleep and where and when to deliver the load. The only individuality that is overlooked is that of what a driver wears or how they look. Companies no longer care much about those things as they once did except now if one is too fat or has a too high BMI, some will not hire the driver.

Today’s drivers at most companies cannot talk to a dispatcher and develop a relationship with them. Dispatch is just the fingers on the keys of the computer and the driver is just the person in the seat. If there is a problem serious enough for a driver to have to call in on a landline or cell phone, there is no personal touch anymore. Lord help the driver that tries to stand up for what is right and tries to speak to the higher ups in the company about it. They are automatically DAC’d or worse as ‘not complying with company policy’ or some other such black mark.

Instead of taking a real look at the driver in a personal way; the personnel office looks at a DAC report and decides whether to hire the driver or not. Get too many bad reports on DAC and you do not work for the company; no one asks what your side of the story is as they did in the past. Computer reports cannot lie or be wrong can they?

Back in the day, a long time driver was looked for and one that had longevity at a company was offered top dollar to come to work for another company. This year, a friend of mine with 20 years at one company and a clean record was told by 5 other companies when he was looking for a new company to work for, “you are too set in your ways to learn ours’ and was not even considered for a job.

Within the next year or so, black boxes will likely become standard equipment on trucks. These boxes will include electronic logging features. Drivers will become even more scrutinized than ever before with every stop questioned and recorded and they will be told where and when to do everything by an impersonal computer run by someone that doesn‘t know the driver.

In no way do I think that today’s and the future’s drivers are or will be bad; just different than we old hands are. That may or may not be a good thing; it depends on who or what a person is and thinks. Today’s drivers will perhaps have an easier time than we did in the past driving trucks with all the bells and whistles of modern technology. I sure hope so for their sakes.

I am not adverse to change if done for good reasons, but the changes go deeper in the near future of trucking. The changes coming go into who and what I am and how I am made as they do other old hand drivers still driving after years of service to the trucking industry. We could not have survived the early days of our careers as truckers by being other than what we are and how we are made. I wonder if we old hands will be able to survive and adapt to the new world of trucking as it comes or if we will be anachronistic icons only remembered in old movies as the strongly independent, unique individuals we are with the look of far horizons in our eyes. It remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is a “Driver”?

Semi truck drivers get arrogant once in a while and think that if you do not drive a semi, you are not a trucker or in the transportation industry.  So who is exactly a trucker or commercial driver and what are all the kinds of drivers involved in transportation?

Who is a commercial driver and who is in the transportation industry as drivers are  fairly easy questions to answer; anyone who gets paid to drive and holds a commercial driving license to do so and/or hauls any type of goods, live or not.  It does not matter what type of vehicle they drive, it could be a taxi cab, bus, shuttle van, armored car, delivery van, straight truck, dump truck, pick-up truck, grain truck, drive away operators…you get the picture.

Who is a trucker is almost as easy to answer; anyone who drives any sort of truck to deliver a payload is a trucker.  What type of truck you might ask?  Anything from pickup trucks up to semis.  Simple wasn’t it?

Yet, we hear many who denigrate people who use pick up trucks to deliver trailers, pull hot shot trailers, boat trailers, or cargo trailers as not being ‘real’ truckers.  I have never understood that.  Those people carry cdl licenses and get paid to deliver freight and use a truck to do so, they have to either have their own authority or run under someone elses and pay road use tax…if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it most likely is a duck isn’t it?

Back in the day, I knew an old hand driver that went by Cowdog on the cb.  I used to run into him occasionally running produce out of California.  He was an owner operator and had a nice truck with a unique security system.  He had rattle snakes in his truck; somehow defanging them.  He would turn them loose in the truck when he got out of it.  No one messed with his truck!

I was going through St Louis several years ago and was talking on the cb, suddenly this old scratchy voice came across the air waves hollering at me, “Hey Lady Godiva, where the hell are ya old girl?”

I replied and asked who it was hollering at me…the scratchy voice said, “look down out yer winder it is Cowdog.”

I looked straight out my window and didn’t see a semi, I looked down and there was an old duelly pick up truck pulling a new pull trailer setting next to me with a very old, craggy faced man leaning over looking up at me waving like a mad man!  I recognized him right off though he was 25 years older than the last time I had seen him; sure enough it was Cowdog.

We rolled along in the back up and caught up on the cb.  He said his wife had died and his health got to where he couldn’t drive the big rigs anymore so he bought that pick up truck and delivered trailers to dealers.  He proudly said he was 78 years old and still working hauling freight!  When I asked if he still carried rattle snakes as a security system he replied, “naw, I quit that.  Missed picking up one snake one time and it was loose in the truck.  Got stopped by DOT and when the DOT man climbed up in the truck, he got the shit scared out of him by that old rattler sitting on the floor behind the seat rattling at him.  Gave me a big old ticket so I took them out to the woods and let ’em loose.”

Was Cowdog still a trucker?  As he would proudly say, “Damn straight!”

One of the main reasons truckers do not stick together is the thoughts of diversification many have.  Each part of the industry thinks they are better or different from the other when in reality, we are all the same; we get paid to drive a vehicle hauling something or someone.

Ya’ll be safe!

 

The Three Bears

The Three Bears

By Sandy Long

Watching for wild life is one of the necessities in a driver’s life. We watch for deer and dogs along the shoulders because they can cause great damage if we hit one, and it makes us feel bad when we hit a dog. We watch for skunks for obvious reasons. Snakes are always a problem in the Southwest in rest areas and along roadways if we have to get out of the truck or in some cases if we come back to the truck from inside and some rattler decided that the shade under our truck is a nice place to nap.

Back in the early 80’s running out across NM on I 40 one bright morning, I passed a rest area filled with police cars and a fire truck surrounding a pickup camper parked among the rocks. Several trucks were pulled over so I hollered on the radio to see what was going on. Some poor guy in the pickup camper had pulled in, parked among the rocks and went back into the camper to sleep. He awoke and found his pickup surrounded by rattle snakes taking advantage of the warm rocks. Anyways, that was what I was told by the driver who replied.

My favorite animal to see are bald eagles. I remember when I was a kid growing up along the Mississippi River in WI, just north of the town where I lived was one of the few refuges for the then endangered birds. These days I often see the eagles flying along a creek bottom a few miles from where I live in N MO. I saw one sitting mantled over road kill right on the shoulder in PA back in December. What a glorious sight to see one so closely!

Moose, though majestic animals are just plain ugly, no doubt about it. Going along I 90 up in WA state one time, I went around a curve right about daylight and there were three moose cows almost in the left lane grazing on the grass along the left shoulder. A tanker truck had to lock it down as he was trying to pass me. Scared both him and I, but didn’t bother the moose at all, they didn’t even look up. By the way, never blow your air horn at a moose, they will charge the truck.

Last fall, again running I 40 though through AZ this time, I finally got to see an animal I had heard about but hadn’t ever spotted, wild boar, or if you are from AR, razorbacks. They were eating something down in the right side bar ditch, a momma and a smaller one. Black, bristly hair and sharply defined backbone with high shoulders identified them for me. What a thrill to add an animal to my sighting list!

My ex husband refused to run OH, so when we were traveling west along I 70, he would wake me up going through Washington PA so I could be awake to take over at Claysville. So one day, he woke me up. I got dressed and jumped into the jump seat, lit a cigarette and watched the scenery go by trying to wake up. As I looked down a hill on the right side of the interstate, I noticed a little open glade with three black bear in it. I shouted about seeing the momma bear with two baby bears walking in the glade. I was so excited to see my first bear!!! I told everyone for a couple of weeks about seeing them.

Then a couple of weeks later, we had another load going west through PA. Jerry woke me again as we got to Washington PA. Same scenario. As I sat there waking up, I watched to see if I could see anymore bear. Sure enough, got to the glade and there were the very same bears, momma with her two babies, in exactly the same spot. Someone had made plywood cutouts of those bears, painted them black and put them in the glade that was their backyard! Felt pretty stupid.

About two months later, we had taken a load to Wilmington NC and had to cross Camp Lejune to get to our next load. At the time we were driving a big shiny black freightliner classic xl condo. I was driving. Ahead I again saw a black bear along the side of the road. I didn’t get excited, figured it was more of those silly plywood cutout bears. All of a sudden that bear stood up and looked at the truck! That one was real! Guess he was curious about that big black truck comin’ at him. Maybe he thought it was the biggest black bear he had ever seen?

Driving truck gives us many opportunities to see things that other people in other professions only read about. The sun coming up over the Rockies. Sunsets over the ocean. The beauty and danger of sheet lightening filled thunderstorms on the plains. And of course, black bear both real and plywood.

Ya’ll be safe out there!

 

Have been off track

639319ddf9b9015aThis summer threw me completely off of track; two deaths of beloved family members in 3 months, my health going to crap, too many so-called friends deciding not to talk to me anymore, being dumped by a guy who had come into my life, slow freight and too much time off; all of this happened in three months;  put my reasoning abilities in neutral for a while.  I became obsessed with stupid people who I allowed myself to focus on to the detriment of myself and my reputation.  Why did I do this…I had to think why I had and finally have it  figured out with a little help from some friends.

My mind could not deal with all the personal pain in too little time so totally focused on a small group of silly people to be angry with so I would not have to feel the losses suffered thru the summer.  I did not knowingly do this, it was my mind protecting me.  This is not to say that I was not aware of my anger, of course I was,  but I did not realize that it was out of proportion to the small group’s actions.  I got off the track of my usual life.

What finally brought this being off track home to me was a comment from the media director of an organization I belong to who had contacted me about something unrelated.  I have the utmost respect for this person and what she said and my reply brought me up short after the conversation ended.  Who had I become, an angry defensive woman obsessed over bullshit?

I am many things beyond being a truck driver, but most of all, I am a teacher who works with new and prospective drivers on various sites along with my own yahoo group.  I am also an advocate and activist within the trucking industry to work towards bettering the industry for all of its drivers.  I write about trucking issues and my political take on things…I revel in writing and teaching, yet I had even gotten off of track on doing that.  I had become consumed by anger and focused on negative things instead of the positive work I have been involved in for decades.

Well my friends, the the wrecker crew is on site and I am slowly getting back on the track thanks to my friends who showed me how badly I had crashed.  It is not going to be easy because I miss my brother so desperately and still feel the lack of his anchoring presence to the depth of my soul, but I can do it.

This blog site is one of the first steps back.  Here I can share my thoughts and knowledge and yes, even just my opinions with people who choose to come here.  Perhaps I can make some new friends to discuss life and its issues with, only the Lady knows.  The bottom line is that I will survive as I have always survived; perhaps more battered, dented and with rusty cracks, but isn’t that what survival is all about;  patching one’s self up and keeping on keeping on?

Thanks to the people who helped me see how badly off track I had become, I am working on repairs now and it might take me a little time to get back to where I was, so please bear with me; I will need you to lean on for a little while longer to regain my strength of mind and get that same mind focused on positive things instead of negative things, but I am working on it with your help and the Lady’s.

Sandy Long

 

 

The Face in the Mirror

The Face in the Mirror

Copyright Sandy Long

A while ago, I got lonely while driving and called my brother. His wife took over the phone and started talking about that scam artist that was just arrested for scamming those Wall Street investors.

Her take was that he was an evil man. Though I agreed with her that he was a criminal, I also told her that people had to take some responsibility for losing their money too.

Of course, this led to a heated debate with her giving the phone back to my brother. We are in a terrible financial and personal countrywide mess. Too many of us got houses we could not afford, too expensive of vehicles and lived way beyond our means. While times were good, or seemed to be because everyone was building a house of cards…literally…people became blind to the chipping away of our rights by the government that is supposed to work for us.

Along with this apathy to government, more and more people looked to the government to solve every little ill they had and did not, nor have now, thought to take any responsibility for where they are. People, who invest their whole life savings in something that seems too good to be true, find that most times it is not true and this is exactly what happened with this scammer. Now they are screaming, some even wanting the government to refund their investments beyond what the securities insurance allows. Is it any wonder?

I haul auto parts…the big plants have acres upon acres of cars and light trucks sitting waiting for someone to buy them while car dealerships are glutted and no one can afford new cars…yet, they are still turning out new cars and trucks every few minutes. More of the ‘if we build it, they will buy’ mentality…. I see more and more warehouses being built, while there are hundreds of new warehouses sitting empty with for sale or lease signs on them… The same goes for houses…yes, they are still building some…why I do not know…no one can afford $150,000 houses now, if ever they could…. I see more malls being built while malls that were huge a few years ago are empty.

Why is there such a waste of materials and effort being spent now when we are in a terrible economic mess? Why are our politicians adding billions of dollars of earmarks to a budget that is only money without backing and that puts us further in debt? Why is the US sending money and aid to fight drug cartels in Mexico? Why is the EPA so strong that they are dictating laws? Why is NAFTA not being weakened if not broken? Why are oil companies still not paying royalties for drilling on our soil? Etc, etc, etc.  Who is to blame for all the mess this country is in…look in the mirror.

In the heated debate with my sister in law, she said, “someone should do something.”

 When I told her to sit down and write her congressional representatives and senators and asked did she vote for incumbents or new people, she replied, “Why, it doesn’t do any good.”

It was my disagreeing with her on that, which put her off the phone. We have allowed this country to get into this mess by being apathetic sheep that are following the Judas goat of our government and taking this country off the cliff. We are the ones who got greedy, wanted to live above our means, who concentrated on religion instead of good government, who blindly followed one party or the other without thinking beyond the R or D behind someone’s name. We sat back and let these people in DC get very out of hand and totally away from the Constitution that set the laws in place so that what we have now could not happen. People want now to sit back and wring their hands and look to the government to bail us out…well, DUH!!!…they are the ones that we allowed to get us here in the first place…just like that Madoff or whatever that scammer dude’s name is…they are taking us to the cleaners and we are letting them…now we look to them for solutions????

Take a good look in the mirror…realize that the power to effect change is in your hands. Write a letter or email…hell, write a hundred of them…make phone calls daily to YOUR representatives…tell them to straighten up and start listening to WE THE PEOPLE and take care of us first…or you will fire them come next election…or start a campaign in your state to impeach them…it is our right under the constitution at least for now. Then take another look in the mirror…and accept responsibility for your part in this mess and see the spark of fire in your eye now that you are taking steps to correct your mistakes in judgment.

The faces in all of our mirrors created these problems…the faces in our mirrors can solve them.

Just a Lady Driver: Sandy Long

 My love of trucks appeared as a little girl when, living along a highway in Michigan, I would sit on the front steps of the small white house and pump my arm at passing drivers to hear them blow their air horns and give me a smile and a wave. This love of trucks is still there over 50 years later, though now I have my own air horn to toot at children who pump their arms and I get to smile and wave at them.

Being a trucker never occurred to me as a teenager growing up. Girls just didn’t think of trucking when considering a possible career in the late ‘60‘s and early ‘70‘s, I really wanted to be a commercial artist. That was not meant to be though and instead I ran away from home shortly after high school graduation to travel the country with carnivals.

I got my start as a driver there because I could make a little extra money on a ‘jump’ weekend by driving a ride or concession wagon or two from one show spot to another. I had lived on a farm so could drive tractors, and of course I lied when I was asked if I could drive truck by a show owner needing a driver. I literally learned how to drive truck by the seat of my pants and a little advice from a friend. Still I never thought of being a trucker as a career.

Leaving show business after seven years of being ‘with it’ was a hard choice, but I had gotten tired of the constant moving and working outside all of the time. My mother had moved to Missouri so I returned there and got a regular job. For two years I tended bar but got tired of that too. At the time I was dating a trucker and he suggested I use my experience on the carnivals to get a job driving truck. The adventure began!

In 1982 it wasn’t so easy to get a job as a lady driver though some companies were hiring women. Discrimination was rampant and the equipment was not as female friendly as it is now but definitely better than the carnival trucks. I had to go to a school before anyone would hire me, I did so and went to work for a trucking company out of Arkansas where I drove team for two years then went into the office to handle their personnel department and lease purchase program among other duties.

I remained there for two years. It was a definite crash course about the trucking industry. Returning to driving in ‘86, I had some really bad experiences and went home for ten years. During that time I took a two year course in business accounting and office procedures, learned about computers and started writing poetry some of which was published. I returned to driving in ‘97.

In the years since I returned to my addiction to diesel fumes, I have ridden the highs and lows of the profession and life. For six years I pulled flatbeds both solo and team and loved them, but had to give them up after being in a major wreck when my now ex husband laid the truck over with me asleep in the sleeper. Now I pull dry van solo once again.

Writing became a major part in my life when I was offered a freelance writing job by layover.com in ‘05. Since then I have had articles published at 6 international websites, the Canadian Trucking Magazine and have done some other freelancing. I have expanded my writing articles to include short stories which I hope to have published someday. Those activities take up a lot of my time but I also do crafts, cook, read voraciously and work with the various groups and associations that I am affiliated with such as my yahoo group and website that I own, Trailer Truckin‘ Tech and Satin and Steel Sisterhood.com, OOIDA where I am a lifetime member, and the Women In Trucking Association.

My love affair with trucks is still vibrant and alive. Though like any love affair sometimes there are some rocky places, I still get a thrill when I get back in the truck after home time and smile when I put it in gear. Trucking has been good to me, it hasn’t always been easy, but even with all of my accomplishments, mistakes and hard lessons learned, I am just a lady driver.