Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pass me a grape Nehi …

Truck writers are a nutty bunch. I got an e-mail today from Rufus Sideswipe, the gearjammin’ imaginary pal of Land Line columnist Bill Hudgins. This e-mail was a copy of a note sent to another Land Line columnist, Dave Sweetman.

Rufus, it seems, read Sweetman’s column in the October Land Line and liked it a lot. If you haven’t read it, it’s called “Blue Highways,” and I agree it’s one of Sweetman’s best. Good enough to bring a fictional character like Rufus “to life,” I guess.

Allow me to share this exchange. The fictional Rufus writes to Dave:

That was one fine journey back down the backroads in Land Line. That other writer fella, Bill Hudgins, what quotes me all the time – he says he read “Blue Highways” and “Travels With Charley” and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and did some roaming, too. But then he got sidetracked and stuck in one place with that Wilma of his. Thanks for the trip! – RS

Now considering that Bill wrote this in the guise of Rufus, I really like the “Wilma” touch – seeing as how Bill’s wife is WILDA, not Wilma.

In fact, I couldn’t resist shooting off a totally fictitious note to Rufus myself, claiming to have run into Hudge back before we were truck editors. I said I thought I saw him once, standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ.

I copied Sweetman, who was quick with a reply to Rufus, copying me back, of course.

Awww, shucks! To get a word or three of kind encouragement from the well traveled Rufus, is plum flatterin’ alright. Guess that means I have nine readers now, including my dear old Mom.

And I always did like that Hudge feller’s writing. Met him a time or two, but not in Winslow, or Show Low or Tupelo. We talked once about sharing a couple pulls on some Lem Motlow, till we found out it costs more than the GNP of BearWhizBeckistan. When the subject of who was buying came about, the subject pert near changed fast as greased lightnin’. A bottle of grape Nehi was affordable and had the same effect.

Again, many thanks for the kind words and for being a Land Line reader.

That Dave feller

This Rufus Sideswipe stuff is all in fun, of course. Hudge says he invented the character years ago. Did you know that many readers actually DO think he is real?

OOIDA Member Bob “Cowpoke” Martin of Lafayette, IN, is one guy who doesn’t buy it, though. In fact, Hudgins’ literary leaping back and forth in and out of the Rufus character once prompted CP to e-mail me with the question “does Land Line have a random drug testing policy in place?”

Monday, November 2, 2009

SCR comes to cars in ‘Oz’

With all the hammering the diesel engine industry – which in the U.S. means trucking – has taken over emissions, it’s nice to see that attention is turning toward four-wheeled emitters. At least, it is in Australia (aka Oztralia or Oz), where Mazda is testing a car that uses SCR to reduce greenhouse gases in exhaust.

Selective catalyst reduction – SCR – is emerging as a popular choice for diesel engine makers to meet 2010 EPA emission requirements. Being Australian, The Age web site naturally reports on this with tongue in cheek (I’m surprised they didn't make some kind of pun about it running on pee-trol), but the intent is serious.

Trucks have taken the blame for being “the cause” of pollution too long.

It’s time for the rest of the driving population to shoulder some of the burden. Who knows – that might inspire better systems that don’t rob power or reduce fuel efficiency. Dare I say that the solution could come from some Wizard in Oz?