Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Distribution...

As in walks of life, no activity survives for any appreciable length of time unless the product or service offered reaches the intended user in a timely fashion...Journalism is no exception...Printed-on-paper services have suffered reduced numbers of readers with the advent of first radio broadcasts, then televised news, and finally internet-based news services...

Each has its advantages over others, just as each presents its own challenges...The one advantage newspapers have over the others is passive time-shifting, in which the consumer can merely choose a time to read a daily slice of news without setting a video recorder for a scheduled broadcast, or searching the internet for newsworthy events happening at an earlier point...But even this advantage disappears when a newspaper fails to appear at its allotted and expected time, whether in the driveway or at the local newsstand...

I have been a continuous subscriber to the local newspaper here for 15 years, even though I prefer the internet for news sources on a state, national and global basis...I can get local news, letters to the editor, obituaries, legal notices and my favorite comic strips (Alley Oop and Monty still crack me up) all in one convenient source...But the convenience disappears when the product is no longer on the driveway at the expected time...

At the beginning of my subscription, and right up until just over a year ago, I could walk outside anytime after 5AM and find my paper waiting for me, wrapped against the weather...Only once did it fail to materialize, and a call to the distribution office brought my carrier promptly to my front door with my paper, and an unasked for apology...For this level of service, a generous tip was included with each annual check...

Alas, after so many years he decided to retire from his route, and included a "thank you" letter with his final delivery...A succession of carriers afterward produced mixed results until those in charge of hiring settled on one carrier...If I were to be generous in my assessment of the latest contractor's performance, I would characterize it as "sporadic"..."Consistently late, if at all" might be more accurate...

The hapless soul left to apologize on the phone for such poor service has explained in the past that the latest hire is a single mom with other demands on her time...As much as I sympathize with her allotment in life, it is still the responsibility of the business to provide the service on time...Lately, the complaint desk doesn't even bother to call me back with the excuses, they merely send someone out with my paper...

Those wishing to argue that the carrier's woes are legitimate reasons for the ever-lessening level of performance, will find I am already familiar with the newspaper distribution business, having been involved in it for several years following my first divorce...At a time when I already worked a six-day-a-week full time job, and operated my own business at night, I took on the added responsibility of a paper route for the now defunct Houston Post...

After a short period of learning the route and adjusting my sleep patterns, I delivered approximately 325 papers daily and 350 on weekends with the lowest complaint level of any carrier in the division...Having the pickup point a block from my home helped, and I often found I could pick up extra money running a second route when another carrier failed to show up for work...After about four years, my post-divorce debt level decreased to the point where I could resign, allowing me to sleep in to 6AM instead of 2:30AM as in the past...

Needless to say, I am familiar with the issues faced by my current carrier, as I know of the problems of working sick, having transportation problems, family emergencies and all the other excuses offered for her by the complaint desk lady...Unfortunately, none of this helps as I take my puppies outside for their early morning rituals, and find I have no newspaper to carry back inside...

The Conroe Courier will now have to make do without my annual offering to their budget, and the carrier will enjoy one less expected complaint as I will not be renewing my subscription...There are many more reliable sources for the products I use...

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Monday, January 30, 2017

History moves a little closer...

One of my favorite aircraft, one with a history unique unto itself, is moving a little closer to home turf for Truckman...Well, not just for me, but you know what I mean..."Texas Raiders" was the name applied to this particular B-17G after its acquisition by CAF, the Commemorative Air Force (formerly known as the Confederate Air Force)...Of the more than 12,000 B-17's sent to battle during WWII, only eleven survive as flightworthy today, and "Texas Raiders" was among the first to be chosen for restoration nearly fifty years ago...

One of the last to be constructed during its manufacturing period, built by Douglas Aircraft Company under license by its designer, Boeing, it was assigned to the US Navy as a PB-1W...Its history can be read here...Its military duty, which included service as the very first AWACS airframe, and subsequent retirement was followed by a civilian career in photographic mapping of the Alaskan wilderness...

Its golden years in retirement now find it providing enjoyment, thrills and nostalgia for new generations of airshow attendees and history buffs who get to hear the roar of the mighty Pratt & Whitney radial engines, and see it become airborne again...I count myself lucky to have seen three of the remaining flying museums, and perhaps the day will come when I can hitch a ride on one...As this one (and don't tell the others, but it's my favorite) moves a little closer to home, maybe I'll get to visit it more often...

Incidentally, when CAF made its formal name change several years ago, many people became upset...I was not one of them, as I saw the change in its true light...It was done to reduce divisiveness, and attract more positive attention to the preservation of history...I put it in the same category as MLK Jr. Day which coincides with Confederate Heroes Day which happen to fall on the same day in Texas...People are welcome to celebrate either as history never changes, only its interpretation, or misinterpretation...

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

New service for readers...

It has been brought to Truckman's attention that there are still some internet challenged students struggling to learn of the causes and effects of our way of living in these modern times...Those readers with disobedient eyeballs that strain at tiny print were heartened to learn of the large print version of the World Wide Web (CTRL key + mouse wheel) thereby opening a whole new vista of wonderment to an information-starved cyber-public...

However, there are always some holdouts in every era who refuse to take the steps necessary to enter a new century...Some, like Truckman's Mom, feel more comfortable safely tucked away in a previous millenium where new things stay out of reach, and therefore can't snicker at her when she steps toward a new learning curve...But these people are also depriving themselves of the benefits of the knowledge Truckman is willing to impart to the masses...

For those students teetering on the brink between centuries, Truckman Publishing (a wholly owned subsidiary of Truckman Worldwide Enterprises) announces a breakthrough in education as the first in a planned series of old-fashioned, printed-on-paper and stuck-between-hardcovers books are now rolling off the presses, ready to jump onto your bookshelves where you keep bronzed baby shoes and framed photos of family members no one will recognize in a hundred years because you didn't write any information on the back...Truckman, recognizing his duty to pass down his wisdom to future generations, offers this service as a parergon to his other available blogs and video channel...

It is to be noted that information configured for the internet does not transfer easily from your computer screen to a piece of paper...The handy clickable links found in these blogs just won't work on the printed page no matter how hard you tap them...Truckman was obliged to spend many hours re-writing his articles into a form which translates easily from paper to brain...As in all high quality textbooks, this volume also contains a glossary of terms plus an index located at the back of the book...

For those wondering whether an e-book version will be offered, there are no plans for it as you can easily read the blogs instead at no charge...A proof copy of this collectors quality first edition is on its way to Truckman's doorstep for inspection and approval by our Quality Assurance Division...This article will be updated at that time, and eager buyers may order dozens of copies as Christmas presents for their families, or convenient doorstops and paperweights...

Please be advised that this library-quality volume of priceless prose, does carry a small nominal fee to offset the costs of publication, and to finance the lavish lifestyle to which Truckman would like to become accustomed...Those cheapskates and economically disadvantaged students who wish to continue using Truckman's invaluable web-based information services are invited to do so...

You're welcome...


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Letter...

No, we're not talking about a letter from the IRS, or any ex-girlfriend's lawyer...Today's topic concerns the letter "H"...In doing my periodic inventory of articles I've written (I have to make sure none of them escaped), I find quite a few topics centered around the letter "H"...Naturally Herr Hitler figures prominently considering my interest in WWII...

History in general is a common topic here...Health gets a few write-ups too, although I can't point to my own as exemplary...Even my admittedly odd sense of Humor figures into a few of my topics...Add to these Handguns, Honor, Heredity, High courts, etc.; well, you see where I'm going with this...

I also discuss Heart to some extent, and not only in a Healthwise fashion...Heart also describes a combination of courage and decision, the kind that we never know we possess until the moment comes when it defines us...Few of us even know whether we have it in quantity or quality until the time arrives to show our cards...

My congressman, Kevin Brady, who represents me and his other constituents in Washington DC, had his moment a few years ago during an occasion which brought back memories of my own earlier days...Those who know me know that I do not attempt to hide my abuse of alcohol when I was a much younger man...Many of us bear this cross to varying extents, and willingly or not, we accept its consequences...

When I read of Congressman Brady's moment of truth, I took particular interest remembering my own reactions when faced with the same encounter...My own experiences with lawmen who found my condition behind the wheel to be unsafe ended as I knew they must...Inevitably, the law comes out on top, and, knowing this, I complied with whatever was required of me by the law's representatives, accepting the consequences of my actions...

My own experiences ended long before DUI became the seriously taken subject which it rightly has...Congressman Brady's dilemma on the other hand, was compounded not only by increased public awareness of the problem of impaired driving, but also the attending publicity he must have known would result from media coverage of an elected official...

In following the story in the news, I found that Congressman Brady at no time attempted to shirk his responsibility by hiding behind his office, or claiming any special privileges as I have seen many other public figures do in similar situations...From the moment he faced a lawman at the side of the road, he complied fully with what was expected of him, later stating he would accept the decision of any court which heard his case, even if the result was detrimental to his career...

Other high-profile officials might have, and have in many cases, tried every trick available to avoid responsibility...To his great credit, and the credit of those whom he represents, my congressman stood in the harsh light of reality, accepting the court's decisions, then returned to the job for which we hired him...Those who know me, also know of my belief in limiting the terms of those we elect to office...But when a shining example of everyday heroism steps forth, an exception is made in my mind...

Obviously others share my estimation of Congressman Brady, as he has continued his career in Washington, now chairing the House Ways and Means Committee, directing the budgetary requirements of our nation...He also is known as a champion of the welfare of veterans, seeing to it that our needs are addressed even in an ever-increasing workload of those medical professionals attending to those of us in need...

Yes, Heroism is one of those "H" words, just as Heart is...Congressman Brady, by his actions and demeanor, has earned my trust, and continues to have my support at the polls regardless of my stance on term limits...Hardiness is another trait of which he must be in possession; otherwise, 20 years of service as my Congressman in the meatgrinder of Washington politics might have reduced a stack of tough cordwood into sawdust...I'll see him again at fundraisers and ceremonies, and no doubt he won't recognize my face, but may see in my eyes that glint of recognition from one who has been there with him...

"H" also stands for Height, and having stood in close proximity to him at various local fundraisers and swearing-in ceremonies, I suspect, at my height of 6'4", I may have a slight advantage over him in a game of basketball, but considering the amount of Heart he displays in everyday life, he stands tall in my estimation...Like many other Texans of whom we native born folks know and approve, Kevin Brady wasn't born in Texas, but he got here as quick as he could...

We expect he'll stick around for a while...We need his kind...


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Century...

As a way of marking my 100th article for this blog, I decided to note a few of the changes and continuations I have witnessed in this 21st century...Being resistant to change as usual, I have finally become accustomed to referencing the correct numbering when marking the date on checks and other documents...Being a relative newcomer to the computing world, I prepared for the Y2K event as best as possible, and was relieved to find it a non-event after all...

Booting from office a President who concentrated more on prurient rather than presidential interests, was an inspiring way to begin another hundred, but unfortunately the even worse spectre of his avaricious wife as President haunted the political world for some time...Fortunately for America and the world, that evil genie may be back in the bottle for good...Many (but not this writer) may have forgotten her attempt to commandeer a seventh of the US economy by her mysterious "plan" to which she would not allow details to be released...

One thing positive may be said for the above mentioned pair; they were two of the best gun salespersons in history, and were partly the reason I left a 35 year career in auto repair for the firearms industry, first as a part-time business, then full time co-owning our county's largest gun store and first indoor shooting range...The fear they put in the minds of the public, some of whom had never even considered owning guns, drove firearms sales to record heights...

Their successor ushered in a new and brighter era to the gun industry by indicating he would not sign an extension of the onerous, and curiously mis-named, federal "assault weapon" ban allowing it to die in unpitied agony thanks to the almost unknown sunset provision written into the law by Congress...This spurred new sales as ten round magazines were reduced to paperweights and doorstops, while standard capacity magazines and accessories such as folding stocks and flash hiders boomed...Naturally, those who had invested heavily in "pre-ban" guns and magazines were crestfallen to watch the value of such items plummet...

On a less cheerful note, I allowed my trusting and generous nature to be taken advantage of by a corrupt and malevolent spirit who, while my attention was centered on my new business, steered me through a marriage and subsequent divorce, thereby reducing the chances of fulfilling many retirement plans...During this time I was lulled by false promises into giving up two vehicles and a comfortable home, to be replaced by mountainous debt and a lasting regret...

But all ended on a positive note, as a lesson was learned, although a costly one...Recently I donated some clothing to one of my favorite charities, and told the nice lady writing the receipt that the coat I was donating had a curse on it...She stopped writing and looked up, but I explained to her the coat was one I had worn at my wedding, however the curse had been lifted in divorce court...

Other lessons were learned admittedly late concerning business, and whom to trust as well as whom to avoid...It is doubtful whether I will break retirement to begin any new commercial ventures, but if so, I can only pray that memory won't let me down...

I have learned that lamenting past mistakes is non-productive, and the only sensible direction in life is forward...It is hoped that the lessons learned so far in this century will be of benefit in whatever time I am allotted towards the next...


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hatcher's Notebook...

I just finished my umpteenth re-reading of this timeless classic and as usual there were new bits of info I've either forgotten or overlooked...Even the first edition, published in 1947, contained research and tables that are timely to any shooter or gun enthusiast at any level...My copy is the second printing of the third edition, which includes all his thoughts and revisions made before his death in 1963...

Julian S. Hatcher was a pioneer in the establishment of ballistic data gathering methods and forensic firearms research long before forensics came to be a commonly used word...Never a seeker after personal glory, his aim was always the furtherment of his profession, whether in a military sense, or in the civilian applications to which his research took him...

Following his honors commencement from the US Naval Academy (yes, Annapolis), he completed a voluntary move from the Navy to the US Army for assignment to a coastal artillery regiment...His 37 year active-duty military career, culminating in retirement as a Major General, was marked with great success, beginning notably with his establishment of the Army's first machine gun school where countless lives have been saved simply by learning the proper purpose and techniques in the deployment of automatic weapons...

His book (and his many other publications) are invaluable whether the reader is furthering scientific knowledge concerning exterior ballistics; beginning or continuing  an interest in handloading and ammunition production; or the history of military arms and their safe use (or, in some cases, unsafe and disastrous misuse)...My most recent reference to this masterpiece was in refreshing my knowledge of accidents involving firearm and ammunition failure due to excessive pressure...It's worth noting that Hatcher was not only a career soldier, author and investigator, but also a trained engineer...His skills in the latter field are obvious in all his writings...

Also worth noting is the atmosphere Hatcher created for his readers in that those wishing to learn in a scientific manner may do so without finding the political misdirection found in other articles which concern gun safety...His discussions illustrate many events from pre- and post-production of military rifles to munitions storage magazine explosions, with emphasis on their causation, effect and prevention...The photographs and diagrams included in his book are all from his own files, and might have been lost to history otherwise...

He not only knew many of the legendary names of the shooting world, but shared information with each of them...I would love to have been a fly on the wall during his meetings with Townsend Whelen, Melvin Johnson or John Garand (whose surname incidentally is consistently mispronounced even by knowledgeable people)...The expertise and experience passed back and forth during those meetings would be a priceless education for the fortunate observer...

General Hatcher was a meticulous researcher who wanted his findings to represent the absolute truth no matter how trivial the topic...I think I always find something new because every time I pick up my copy, I'm looking for something in particular and then wind up reading about something else that caught my eye...At any rate, I highly recommend it for the bookshelf of anyone who has an interest in shooting, handloading, guns in general or military history...



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Monday, January 16, 2017

A healthy diet...

In the interest of promoting the general health and longevity of my readership here, I thought it might be beneficial to share some of the secrets of how I maintain this physique under the punishing schedule and torturous demands of semi-public life...It is my belief that a healthy diet is the key to successful living, and an explanation of what I permit to be ingested into myself might be of help to others...

I've discussed my doctors in another article, and crediting them with my advancement to my current age, I will share their dietary advice...My doctor who originally diagnosed my diabetes recommended I avoid all obvious sugars, and food which might be prepared with sugar...Since he always followed my advice for maintenance of his vehicles, I adhered to his recommendations also...I switched to sugar-free drinks and foods which led to better glucose numbers at subsequent checkups, although the improvement could not be sustained in later years...I have yet to figure out why sugar-free products carry a higher price tag in the grocery stores when an ingredient is being left out, but I notice now that if I accidentally eat or drink a sugared product, it has a distinctly nasty taste...

Subsequently as I became the patient of new doctors after a move to my current location, I got new advice on healthy eating...My cardiologist said don't eat red meat because it turns into cholesterol, and my endocrinologist advised don't eat white foods such as bread or potatoes because they become sugars...I've never understood color discrimination anyway, but I humored both of them by cooking the red beef and pork until it turns brown, then toasting bread and frying potatoes until golden...I hope they are both satisfied...

Additionally I eat enough bread and potatoes with every meal to absorb any cholesterol that escaped the cooking purification ritual...I've been told also to make sure I get enough greens, and therefore order all my cheeseburgers (nature's perfect food) with pickles and lettuce, insuring a healthy balance...Jalapenos accomplish the same purpose on my pizza...

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, so I start every morning (after my pot of black Folger's coffee) with three large eggs, scrambled with shredded cheddar and a handful of jalapenos in a few drops of canola oil; five thick-sliced pieces of maple-smoked bacon fried crisp; 12 tater tots (baked to a golden brown) and a glass of orange juice...Alternatively, I may substitute a quarter pound of pan fried deer sausage (annual contributions from my nephews' hunting trips) for the bacon...At one time I drank copious amounts of grapefruit juice also until my cardiologist pointed out that it negated the medicines he prescribed; since then I abstained...

Another benefit may be derived from the application of a mild peppersauce on my eggs, burritos and tamales...In my experience, all my Hispanic friends who habitually enjoy spicy food seem to experience fewer stomach troubles...Apparently this preventative medicine works as I have never had a stomach ulcer...

My personal favorite is Trappey's Red Devil, but I generally buy Louisiana Brand instead because of its availability in quart bottles in grocery stores at a considerable savings in price...The only thing similar in restaurants is Tabasco which to my palate has a distinctly unpleasant metallic taste...An exception to that rule is Firehouse Subs which displays a wide variety of hot sauces including my preferences...

As with all medical advice, mine should be taken in moderation if at all...Your mileage may vary...For an inexplicable reason, I've grown hungry now...Time for supper...


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