18 September, 2008

Hide and seek with the brown shirts, pets and woodworking

I have an addiction that I cannot control. Luckily, the things I have to purchase to feed this addiction are cheap and easy to find. Books. I cannot stop reading and order books on a regular basis from Amazon.com since I can find just about anything I want on that website. I'll order three to four books at a time and it'll only cost me $25 to $30 dollars when I buy used books, which is almost every time. Shipping costs cause my totals to increase of course and I'll usually pick the "standard" shipping option to save a few bucks. This time, however, I selected second day air for two of the three books because I wanted to get them quickly. Like most people, I follow the package's progress via the UPS tracking web page. As long as I've been getting my books online, not once have I had a problem with the shipper. That changed today. The brown shirts usually drop by before I go to work in the afternoon so I'll be able to put whatever it is I receive in the house before work. Being small, books are usually left between the doors to keep them out of the weather. The brown shirts have even left things in my recycling bin to keep them off the ground. But today the package was still "out for delivery" as I left for work. I came home around 19:30 for lunch and rechecked the status. The status for the two packages was "delivered" around 17:30. Checked the mailbox, not there. Checked between the front doors, not there. Checked my back porch, not there. Checked between the back doors, not there. I started getting a little angry, but continued looking. The garage, behind the bushes in the front yard, all sides of the house, patio door... Either the brown shirt hid the books so well that I can't find them, or somebody stole them. There's a possibility that the driver changed his mind about leaving the package unattended and will try again tomorrow so we'll see. I just want my books, I didn't think I'd have to play hide and seek with UPS to get them. *grumbles*

The latest woodworking project that I've completed has been interesting and a little sad. I built an urn for a dog's ashes. Well, technically it's a box to store an urn that contains a dog's ashes. The Golden Retriever of a close friend died recently and she asked me if I would build a box to put Scout's ashes in. Of course I said "yes." I used to date this friend of mine a long time ago, so I knew Scout for long time and he was as good a dog and companion as a person could hope for. I'm honored that I could build the final resting place for her best friend. I miss you Scooter.

12 September, 2008

Bad day for truckers

Today just wasn't a good day for truckers. Our shop has been pretty slow lately but today the shit hit the fan. Trucks were breaking down left and right and we were hoppin' all day. I had a service call out on the side of the interstate for an unlucky fella. This guy was driving a car hauling rig and the wheels on the right side ,rear drive axle of his truck detached themselves. He was lucky that the detached wheels didn't hurt anyone. He found one wheel and when I got there, we went looking for the other one and couldn't find it. I'm guessing it's somewhere in the corn field which is next to the highway. Normally I hate car haulers because the damn things are so low to the ground, but it turned out to be a good thing this time. The fifth wheel (the big plate that connects the trailer to the tractor) on a car hauler is mounted to the very back of the tractor and is only inches from the road. When the tractor's wheels came off, the tractor was resting on the fifth wheel. This saved the hub, brake drum and brake shoes from severe damage. If this had happened to a normal tractor the hub, bearings, brake drum and brakes shoes would have to be replaced since they would get ground up by dragging on the pavement. The driver had a local tire shop come out with two new wheels and tires so all I had to do was replace the wheel studs and wheel nuts. It was a tough job, but it could've been a lot worse. I got it done pretty quick too. The total time from leaving the shop until my return to the shop was four hours and thirty minutes. That includes a parts run.

When I returned to the shop there was a white Freightliner in one of the service bays. I asked the service writer what it was in for and he said the turbo had failed and the air to air cooler ( a.k.a "intercooler") had a crack in it. The truck's owner/operator purchased the truck four days prior to it coming to our shop. The poor guy is almost broke from the truck purchase (it's an used truck btw) and then the turbo fails. The crankcase was overfilled by about two gallons, so I'm thinking that whoever sold this truck knew the turbo was failing. He couldn't get money to pay his bill tonight, so we'll see what happens in the morning. It's a "catch 22" for truckers. They need their trucks to make money, but if they break down and money's tight, they still have to get their trucks fixed or they can't make money.

To top the day off, the trucking company just down the road from our shop had a breakdown in their own parking lot. The truck was idling fine one minute and then *splash*, the coolant resevoir cracks open and the majority of the coolant spills out. It was an easy fix, but it required a two hour drive to aquire the necessary part. It's been a busy day and I'm dog tired, but it's not over yet. I've been the guy on call for the past week and I've been fairly busy. Right now it's 05:16 in the morning and my turn "on the hook" ends in one hour and forty five minutes. That's when the morning shift arrives at the shop and transfers the phones back to the shop. I would normally have gone to bed an hour ago, but when I'm on call there's not much point in going to bed until 06:30 at the earliest. If the phone rings I'll just have to get out of bed anyway. Might as well stay awake until I know I won't be interrupted. *yawn* I might crawl into bed after I post this. Even a short nap would be good right about now.