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9:47 pm EDT 72°F (22°C) in Breezewood, PA
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What an insane four days it has been since my last update. At the time of that update, I had parked for the night in northwestern Ohio on my way to Pennsylvania; I was supposed to make Bedford, PA by 6:00 pm EDT Saturday night, but I was unable to pull that off for numerous reasons. The biggest of these reasons was a huge backup due to an accident on Interstate 80/94 in northwest Indiana; basically all of the east-west roads in the area, including my chosen detour of U.S. Route 30, were little better than parking lots. Since the receiving customer was a Wal-Mart warehouse (Wal-Mart locations have a policy stating that drivers cannot arrive more than one hour early nor more than one hour late, without rescheduling), being a few hours late meant that the original Saturday evening delivery appointment had to be moved to yesterday afternoon — and I got to sit with the load that whole time.
Just as I thought I was going to get moving again today, my air conditioning decided to (more or less) quit on me on a 90°F (32°C) day. Though I don't want to unnecessarily cast aspersions here, I feel as though dispatch (in general) hasn't really been doing its job; they could have tried a little harder to find another truck in the wee hours of Saturday morning to keep the Wal-Mart load moving, and I wish my daytime dispatcher hadn't been so dismissive of my idea to re-power my current load when I was at their yard near Harrisburg earlier today. In any case, the evening dispatchers have told me to wait on another truck here at Breezewood, and then I'll head back to Harrisburg to get it fixed. Once that's done, it appears that I'll be off to Kentucky.
The A/C problem appears to be with the compressor clutch. Ordinarily, A/C systems cycle their compressors on and off so as to keep the "high-pressure side" refrigerant at a temperature just barely above the freezing point of the refrigerant. The more the compressor runs, the colder the refrigerant gets; but you have just as much trouble if the refrigerant freezes in the pipes — a constant flow of refrigerant through the system is required to keep the air cool.
(The idea is that freshly pressurized liquid refrigerant passes through an "evaporator" coil across which air is blown; heat is taken out of the air — making the air cold — and is transferred to the refrigerant, which becomes gaseous and then must flow to a "condenser" coil outside. A fan (in stationary systems) or "ram air" from a vehicle's forward motion causes air to flow across the condenser, and the outside air takes the heat out of the gaseous refrigerant, which then flows back to the compressor to restart the cycle.)
Anyway, this cycling of vehicle A/C compressors is accomplished by means of an electronic clutch. The pulley that drives the A/C compressor is engine-driven via a belt, and therefore must turn whenever the engine is running; therefore, this electronic clutch engages and disengages as necessary. A fresh compressor clutch has roughly 0.1" (2.5 mm) of frictional material that grabs on to the spinning pulley, thereby turning the compressor; even when disengaged, the "air gap" between the clutch and the pulley is a mere 0.2 mm or so. My compressor clutch, on the other hand, has next to no friction material left, and the air gap in the disengaged position is pretty close to 2 mm. What is happening is that my clutch is making incomplete contact (if any at all — at times, it just blows hot air) with the pulley, and the compressor's innards are being spun far more slowly than they should be (if at all).
As you may recall, back in April, I bought a Sirius™ Satellite Radio and subscribed to the service. As I mentioned back then, half of my reason for doing this was the fact that Sirius carried Air America Radio, the progressive talk network that features Al Franken, Jerry Springer, Janeane Garofalo, and Randi Rhodes, among others. I am quite pissed off at Sirius now, even though the thing that pissed me off wasn't directly the fault of Sirius; as of this past Monday, Air America is long gone on Sirius. I should probably be more pissed off at those bastards over at XM who negotiated a deal to be the "exclusive" satellite provider for Air America, although I'm very displeased with how Sirius handled the loss for its loyal Air America listeners — no announcement in Sirius' own commercials on its Air America channel (144), no mention in the monthly e-mail newsletter sent to subscribers, nothing at all. For the time being, Sirius' own progressive talk channel, "Sirius Left," is being simulcast on channel 144 in addition to its native broadcast on channel 143.
This leaves me in a real quandary about what to do with my on-the-road entertainment options. On the one hand, I'm pissed enough at Sirius to just say "fuck you" and cancel — the Randi Rhodes program and "The Majority Report" (Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder) are, in my opinion, the two best programs in all of talk radio, and I'm not pleased at suddenly being left without my daily dose of those two shows. On the other, Sirius redeems itself by carrying the "OutQ" gay news and talk channel, which features two of my other favorite talk hosts in Michelangelo Signorile and John McMullen, and carrying a far greater selection of live sports than XM: NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR (coming in 2006, I believe), and some NCAA football, vs. Major League Baseball and not much else on XM. A third consideration is whether it would be worth it to subscribe to both XM and Sirius to add Air America to all of the stuff I like on Sirius, but considering that XM has sort of half-assed its implementation of Air America (XM's Air America channel only carries half of Randi Rhodes' show and tape-delays Mike Malloy), I doubt that would be a good use of another $12.95 per month. Thanks for nothing, XM, and fuck you very much.
Anyhow, I need to move on to other things at this point; I'm going to get something to eat before this truck stop's fast-food joints close, and after that, I hope this other driver will arrive here. Once he gets here and we switch trailers, I'll be off to — hopefully — get this bitch fixed. (Can't you tell there's no love lost between me and this pile-of-shit truck? )