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1:57 am EDT        68°F (20°C) in Dearborn, MI

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Contrary to popular opinion, no, I’m not dead — I’ve just had so much shit to do in the last twelve days that I have ended up taking my longest updating hiatus in 21½ months. (The last time I went this long without an update was September 28 to October 10, 2004.) Whaddaya say we try to catch up?

From Indiana on July 7, I started by running a load down to the Atlanta, GA area; that one delivered on the 9th. One more load got me home; I went back to Murfreesboro, TN to pick up on the 11th, and delivered that one in Kalamazoo, MI the next day. That was the load during which I really started noticing the truck handling strangely and seeming to lean to the right; I’m honestly not sure the Freightliner dealer in Ypsilanti, about 20 miles west of here, corrected that (based on what their invoice said), but I guess I’ll find out later on today when I head back to the road.

There were a couple highlights of the last handful of days on the road before I came home. Somewhere in Kentucky on the way down to Georgia, I drove my 400,000th mile (or, if you’re of the metric persuasion, my 643,738th kilometer) as a truck driver; another year or thereabouts should get me to the half-million mark. Additionally, I managed to get myself into an editing war on Wikipedia that, as far as I’m concerned, has probably killed my willingness to make any kind of useful contributions to that project — I shall explain.

As many of you no doubt know, I maintain a whole section of this site pertaining to highways. I would say I’m not quite half done with it at this point, but I do have a fair number of the individual Interstate pages done. While sitting around last Tuesday in Tennessee, waiting to get loaded, I added links to my individual highway pages to the “external links” sections of the respective pages on Wikipedia. This shouldn’t be a problem when the linked pages are informational, valid, relevant, and within Wikipedia’s standards of verifiability and “neutral point of view,” right?

Wrong. I came this close to being handed a 24-hour editing ban by a couple of smart-ass Wikipedia administrators hell-bent on calling my work “advertising” and “link spam,” as though I were cheapening the Wikipedia entries by offering additional relevant external pages. One of them didn’t even bother to check several other edits I had made to totally unrelated pages that same day — he just reverted them, calling every one “link spam”! I really was trying to do my part to improve Wikipedia entries, to make them more complete and/or informative, but if this is how I’m going to be treated, fuck Wikipedia. The lack of any procedure to vet (or request vetting of) external links for relevance and topicality — in other words, the assumption that anybody adding links to his/her own relevant, topical external pages is just spamming Wikipedia — is a grievous, glaring oversight that must be corrected.

They claim to have over a million users on the English-language Wikipedia. What seems to be going on is that there is an elite group of administrators and sysops, numbering perhaps 10,000 or so, who decide what they like, and simply revert the rest. I’m just one guy trying to do my part to improve the project; I was really quite shocked by not only the numbers of these elites (several) who almost immediately started breathing down my throat, but also the near-immediate threats to ban me from editing! Some of these people clearly have no life whatsoever outside of pissing the whole day away on Wikipedia; unlike them, I have a real life and plenty of shit to do. It’s just far too easy for somebody else to ruin the hard work you’ve done to improve an entry, and users of Wikipedia should always have this truth in the back of their minds.

Moving on to when I got home, I dropped the truck at the aforementioned Freightliner dealer in Ypsilanti last Thursday, and on Friday, my mother and I took off to New York for a reunion of the descendants of one of my great-great-grandfathers. After a trip of roughly six hours, about five of which were actually spent in motion, we checked into the hotel, did dinner, and went to visit various family-related sites throughout northern Chautauqua County. These included the Sheridan Cemetery, located at Center Road and U.S. Route 20, where God-only-knows how many of my more distant relatives are buried; a farmhouse along New York Route 39 where one set of my great-grandparents lived until my great-grandmother died in 1995; and the new home of one of my great-aunts, just off Route 39 further east.

The actual reunion was held on Saturday at the American Legion hall in the village of Forestville. I found out upon arriving there that I have not only one, but two, hot second cousins from Kentucky — you know what they say down there in the Bluegrass State, keep it in the family if you can’t keep it in your pants. wink All Kentucky incest jokes aside, unfortunately, I think they were both straight — and one was only 15, so I have no illusions that anything would ever even come close to happening there. (Then again, in Kentucky, I would probably get away with that — gay underage incest. wink) In addition to meeting hot second cousins, I ate some of the crapload of food that everybody had brought, and I organized a Texas Hold’em tournament in which I would go on to place last because of a dumb bluff. (Note to self: in the future, when your big bets on ace-8 suited are getting cold-called with zero deliberation, the opponent probably has a big pocket pair, queens or better.)

We drove back on Sunday, and since then, I’ve mostly been catching up on tasks around here. Monday night, I went out to play some more poker with Marc, using my proposed tournament setup and my new chip set for the first time; that didn’t help, as I still got my ass kicked. (I swear to God that Marc is what I call a “river rat” — when he puts himself in situations where he’s at a disadvantage, he always lands exactly what he needs to win, often on the river.) Yesterday, I got a whole shitload of bills together and paid them; my medical bills from back in May had shown up since my last time at home, and it was painful, but the $1,700 to cover the hospital, the doctors, the anesthesiologists, and the ambulance is now in the mail.

I’ve also done a couple things to my car recently. I was reading a few nights ago on the USENET newsgroup that one of the biggest causes of oil burning in older four-cylinder Saturn engines is a stuck-open PCV valve; what happens is that the oil pumped up to the valve train gets sucked right through the PCV into the intake manifold, and is then burned in the cylinders. That part cost me a mere $4, so it was a no-brainer fix. Additionally, the hot weather here lately has caused my clutch linkage to start making its recurring, very annoying high-pitched squeaking noise again; some grease I applied to it has hopefully taken care of that. (It squeaks where the metal linkage rod passes through some sort of plastic grommet in the firewall; it doesn’t have any effect on the actual working of the clutch, but the noise is annoying nonetheless.)

As mentioned above, I am headed back to the road later today. It looks like I will next be home for a meeting of my fellow road/highway enthusiasts that will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, in the second weekend of August.