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1:54 am EDT        78°F (26°C) in Franklin, KY

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Take a look at that time and temperature, and then tell me how you can possibly still agree with the Bushies and all the “astroturf” groups who deny global warming … (More on the heat in a bit.)

Well, the anniversary of America’s independence has rolled around again. Many a jingoistic simpleton will no doubt set off fireworks in the back yard, but for those of us who actually put the brains God gave us to use, this is almost more of a day to mourn what was. Our Constitution lies in tatters, shredded by a megalomaniacal monarch who simply ignores the orders issued by co-equal branches of government. At the same time, religious terrorists calling themselves “Christian” defile the very symbols of freedom the world has looked to for decades — and the rest of the world’s opinion of America couldn’t be any further into the sewers because of all of it.

People used to have at least some reverence for the symbols of America’s freedom, but apparently this is no longer true. A “fundamentalist ‘Christian’” mega-church in Memphis, TN, is unveiling a 72-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty with two twists today: her torch has been replaced by a cross, and the tablet bearing the inscription “Give me your tired, your poor …” has been replaced by tablets representing the Ten Commandments. Instead of putting the statue’s $260,000 cost to use following Christ’s commands to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and give to the poor, the church’s anti-Christian hypocrite pastor, “Apostle” Alton R. Williams, has truly stolen the money from Christ for this especially sickening act of idolatry!

Williams is in clear violation of either the Second or Third Commandment (depending on your favorite version of the Commandments): “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4). He, and by extension the 12,000 members of his church, are not at all right with God, and God will punish them for this. As to the secular ramifications of this statue, this is yet another shining example of the Christofascist plot to make America a theocracy — by defiling and desecrating the real Lady Liberty in this manner, they are firing one of the heaviest psychological volleys to date in their war on American freedom. When are we going to wake up and put a stop to this Christofascist terrorism?

This defiling and dishonoring of America by the Christofascists and other Reich-wing ideologues is clearly having a huge negative effect on the worldwide perception of the United States. A survey was recently taken in the United Kingdom, a country that has been our strongest ally for decades, and some of the results are downright shocking. Only 23% of Britons believe that America is “a beacon of hope for the world,” and even more shocking, only 12% trust Americans to act wisely on the global stage — twice as many Britons trusted us post-Watergate, for Christ’s sake! A massive 83% said that America doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks, and more than two-thirds called us “an imperial power seeking world domination.”

Let’s remember, this poll was taken in a country where we have historically enjoyed the highest levels of respect and admiration of any foreign country’s citizens. The effect that five and a half years of our current criminal Christofascist cabal has had on this country is truly staggering. Frankly, if this is how we’re seen in the UK, I shudder to think what people in the Middle East think of us — it’s no wonder they roadside-bomb our troops to smithereens on a daily basis, because they are beyond fucking pissed off!

The environmental policies of said criminal cabal have had much to do with the extreme heat I’ve been suffering through lately. On yet another 95°F (35°C) day in the deep South, I come to find out that one of the primary reasons for my suffering is highly ineffective air conditioning in my truck; while laying around in a cab whose interior temperature hovered around 80°F (27°C) even with the A/C on full blast, I did some experimenting. I have a small probe-type thermometer, and I put it into the A/C vents in both the dash and the sleeper to test the system; at its absolute best, it was discharging 53°F (12°C) air up front and about 61°F (16°C) air in back — nowhere even close to acceptable, as vent discharge air temperatures should be around 40°F (4°C).

The end result of all of this was that I had to stop at a TravelCenters of America (TA) location in Tennessee to get the system looked at. When the mechanic went to recover the R-134a refrigerant from the system, he remarked, “I’m surprised your A/C even ran” — it had barely a third of the 3½-pound (1.6 kg) charge the system should have! The full charge he put in is a drastic improvement over the previous situation.

Upon arriving at the truck stop at which I am now parked, I was met with yet another shining example of why I need to get the fuck out of this industry as soon as my finances will permit. There are way too many idiots out here who are more than willing to get out of their trucks and instigate fistfights (or worse — drivers have been shot and killed over parking spaces before) over the dumbest, most nonsensical things. Tonight’s single-digit IQ subject was a driver for Swift Transportation, a large fleet which is routinely derided in the industry for having the slowest trucks on the road (62 mph or 100 km/h speed governors) and hiring some of the most idiotic people on earth.

This Swift driver appeared to have illegally parked next to the weigh scale, because the brake lights on the rear of the trailer were not lit; I started to go around to his left, heading toward the back row of the parking lot, when I saw a third truck attempting a backing maneuver and temporarily blocking said back row. Obviously, I wasn’t going to get in the way of this third driver, and I stopped to wait for him. While I was stopped, the Swift truck suddenly moved to my right, attempting the same left turn that I was about to make; however, for him to successfully make the turn, he would have needed me to back up from where I had stopped. I wasn’t about to do that, because I had perfectly legitimate reasons for being in the spot I was in, and I pulled forward a bit — I was going to have to complete the turn first anyway by that time, unless both the Swift driver and I wanted a parking-lot collision.

At this point, I heard the Swift driver set his parking brakes, and the next thing I saw, he opened his driver’s door and hopped out! Jesus fucking Christ, it’s absolutely amazing — and really quite sad — that the Swift driver was angling for a fight over who got to make a turn first. Fortunately, by this time, the third truck was far enough out of the way, into its parking space, that I could start moving forward before the Swift driver even got anywhere near my truck; I proceeded down the back row to park, and once I had set my parking brakes, I quickly escaped into the restaurant of this Flying J before he was even done parking. (This prevented a confrontation he no doubt was looking to start after he got himself parked.)

This comes on the heels of an April 19 incident in Stanton, TN, with a driver from Knight Transportation. (In an interesting coincidence, both Knight and Swift are based in Phoenix, AZ.) None of the driveways into and out of the Pilot located there at I-40 exit 41 are marked as entries or exits; I was only looking for parking and nothing else, so I attempted to enter the lot using the driveway at the opposite end from the fuel island. I waited on two trucks using the same driveway to exit, and then began my right turn into the lot. At the same moment, the Knight driver, who had to have seen me making the turn, pulled up directly in my way, blocking me from completing the turn.

I had already waited my turn to use the driveway, so I just sat there — and so did he. I set my parking brakes as if to say, I’m not moving any direction but forward. I got on the CB and politely pointed out that (a) I was there first, (b) he could simply back straight up half a truck length to let me finish my turn and then go off on his merry way, and (c) I couldn’t back up safely, because it would have required me to blind-side (back toward the right-hand side of the rig). At this point, a fat-fuck black guy who easily had to weigh 450 lbs. (204 kg) jumped out of the Knight truck and menaced his way to my door; knowing better than to give much opening, I rolled down my window about an inch. “Why don’t you get out, and we’ll settle this right here!” he shouted, making threatening moves toward the truck.

At this point, realizing that I was risking physical damage to the truck, I very slowly blind-sided back out into the street. I made damn sure to get his truck number and Knight’s phone number (which was on the back of the trailer) as he left, and I called Knight and reported his stupid ass. The Knight dispatcher with whom I spoke kept apologizing, saying things like “that’s not the kind of integrity we try to keep at Knight,” and was making definite indications that this driver would be fired — I sure as hell hope he did lose his job for that kind of moronic stupidity. There is an additional lesson in this: don’t fuck with Larry, because Larry will fuck you back a hundred times harder with subterfuge.

I’m tired of ranting, so I’m going to stop at merely mentioning the brain-dead, probably inbred (it is Kentucky, after all wink) waitress here at the Flying J at which I have parked tonight.