Thursday, July 23, 2015

Peterbilt royalty

Editor’s note: It’s “Throwback Thursday” and we’re diving back into Land Line’s digital archive to bring you a June 2011 piece from former columnist Bob Martin, aka “Cowpoke.” Longtime readers of the magazine may recall his standing column “Spitballin’ with Cowpoke.” He passed away from cancer later that year. As you can see, he was a huge fan of Peterbilt trucks.

Peterbilt royalty? Who me? Hardly. But I did try to start a rumor once that I was T.A. “Al” Peterman’s grandson. Peterman was a successful logger who bought out Fageol Trucks in 1938 and founded Peterbilt Motors in 1939.

I often feel like Peterbilt “royalty.” That’s probably because of the various honors and the recognition awarded to my truck and us by Peterbilt.

My wife Geri and I were featured in their magazine First Class in 1996. Some 12 years later we were featured in the “379: End of an Era” special edition with the same truck. With all those team efforts and well-heeled big rides out there we got the spotlight. I’m not kidding myself, we were just a pair of “oval-heads” in the right spot at the right time.

Some of the twists and turns that got us there are worth rambling about.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blago still making license plates, for the time being

A federal appeals court overturned five of the 18 convictions levied against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but the court’s ruling isn’t likely to spring him from his prison cell anytime soon.

As you may recall, Blagojevich, the Democrats’ answer to Donald Trump’s hair, was sentenced to 14 years in prison back in 2011. He was convicted of the aforementioned 18 counts of corruption relating to separate schemes to solicit campaign contributions in exchange for toll road contracts and for auctioning off President Obamas former seat in the U.S. Senate.

The five overturned convictions all stem from Blago’s pay-to-play schemes for the vacant Senate seat, something the then-governor defended as just some old-fashioned, backroom politickin’. He’s been in a Colorado prison since March 2012.

The appeals court ruling on Tuesday basically comes down to an improper instruction to the jury, requiring them to treat “all proposals alike” when it came to Blagojevich’s schemes. That means prosecutors can either retry the case completely or, more likely, agree to let the charges drop, which would necessitate a resentencing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to stay safe when the heat’s got you beat

(Editor’s Note: Researchers in England have released a new study that suggests even mild dehydration while driving has the same effects as drunk driving.  Land Line staff writer Tyson Fisher has the details here.)

It’s the dog days of summer, and you find yourself stuck in place where you can’t idle. Maybe it’s a loading dock where you’re waiting for a hazmat load, or maybe a high-security facility where visitors aren’t allowed to leave their cabs. Temperatures outside are pushing triple-digits, but behind all that glass in the cab the air temperature is getting even hotter. How long can you just sit there sweating before an inconvenience becomes a serious risk to your health?

The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories throughout the southern and eastern U.S., with heat index values as high as 100 to 110 degrees. Health experts agree that heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke should not be taken lightly. As the temperatures rise, the amount of exposure you can take to extreme heat lessens. Susceptibility to heat-related illness can also be increased by factors such as age, obesity and certain medications.

If the above scenario sounds a little far-fetched, consider the recent plight of a tanker truck driver who suffered a heatstroke and had to be hospitalized for days. He had parked his rig at a loading area of a chemical plant in Virginia, where the temperatures outside were 98 degrees. The customer has a strict “no-idle” policy, due to the hazardous materials that were being loaded into the tanker. The driver said he spent over two hours in the cab of his truck, where temperatures soared to 140 degrees. Some plant workers noticed the driver slumped over his steering wheel, pulled him out of the cab and called 911. Paramedics took him to a local hospital.

Land Line spoke to the driver, who asked not to be quoted or identified in this story, and confirmed details of his account with representatives of Arkema Inc., who acknowledged a trucker suffered at heat illness at their Courtland, Va., facility on June 18.