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TRUCKSTOP - By Rich Tatarka

I think everyone should have a good hobby. Or maybe a few hobbies with varying degrees of expensive-ness. I’ve got Ham Radio as my expensive hobby and carving Wooden Gnomes (pronounced Ga-Nomes…)  as the other. I got into the Ham Radio hobby a couple of years ago when I finally got my Radio Operators License. I’ve been pursuing the license since I was about 14 years old, but life and a whole lot of logs to haul got in the way. Since I got my license and acquired not quite a bazillion dollars’ worth of radios and antennas, I’ve been able to make contact with people all over the world. Way kool, I think. But I now need to think about some other hobbies to keep me occupied. I have several boxes full of model railroading stuff in the crawlspace that I could get back into again, but I need some sort of an outside the house style of hobby. One that gets you up and moving about. Gardening doesn’t count as the gardening we do here I think counts too much as working, not hobby-ing. It’s a full-time job for us trying to stay ahead of the weeds in our organic as possible little corner of the valley… I thought about Worm Farming, with the end result being utilized in the boat catching a few walleye for the freezer, and actually did try Worm Farming once. I built big worm boxes, filled them with worm dirt and worms and waited patiently to collect my “Worm Crop” so I could go fishing. My first attempt was not very productive as my worm box design didn’t have an appropriate worm lid and most of the herd managed to escape. My second (and last) attempt was even worse than my first try. Turns out worms need cool temperatures to thrive and the spot I put their boxes was a bit warm evidently. So instead of a big juicy herd of worms, I ended up with handfuls of smelly worm-based fertilizer.

     I guess hanging out in the shop sorta counts as a hobby, and there are a few different levels of participation you can set the hobby level to. When I go out to the shop to “Putter” that counts as light duty activity, and usually starts with clearing the bench of the remnants of recent “Putterings” and putting a few left out tools away. Sometimes the whole day’s Puttering amounts to just clearing the bench off to enable even more Puttering. You know when it’s time to clean off the bench when most of your tools aren’t in the box where they’re supposed to be… Fixing a chainsaw or changing oil in the lawn mower falls into the “Puttering” category. Anything more involved switches your mode from “Puttering” to “Pounding Around”. I once worked at a truck shop as a mechanic and there was a driver who would come in with an issue of some sort on his truck quite frequently. One time he came in with a poorly running engine and asked me if I could pop the hood and grab a hammer and “Pound Around” to see if I could make it run right. “Pounding Around” involves a more physical level of hobbying. Things considered for this level include woodworking or welding something, and general shop cleaning. One needs to be careful here because there’s a chance your “Pounding Around” could easily turn into an even higher level of hobbying called the “Dump Run”.  This used to be easy, and like clockwork every Mid-March or so one would hook up the trailer with the ability to raise, the one you use for unloading preferably without having to shovel… Simply back up said trailer to shop door and commence to loading a winter’s worth of worthless junk. Parts boxes, old parts that aren’t going to scrap yard, old filters, and usually a deer or elk carcass left outside and forgotten about under several inches of snow. Like I said, the “Dump Run” used to be easy. Mosey to Belgrade, get on the Interstate and Mosey to Logan… Now what used to be an hour-long chore now takes at least two. A bit of traffic to contend with, and then a line waiting to get into the Logan Landfill that at times is quite lengthy… Add to that the fact that the fully loaded Dump Trailer sat outside the shop for a week or two of snow, rain and cold temps, and you find out when you get to the landfill, you discover your load has become a big junk-sickle and you end up chipping and shoveling after all…

That said, I actually have a bit of trucking news to share! I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. The tons of emails, texts and letters I’m sure you’re getting piles of regarding USDOT Numbers in jeopardy, and Bi-Annual MCS-150 forms that haven’t been filed even though you have, are junky scams and need to be added to your next “Dump Run” … All they want is your money, and they want it for paperwork you can easily do yourself. (Ignore the guy wanting to send you millions from undeveloped Africa. He’s not real. The Cannibals ate him….)

And now I shall close as I am writing this after staring at a computer screen for several days putting this Herbie Thing together for the MLA’s annual meeting, and Frankly, I’m getting reely buggy-eyed.

Until Next Time,

Keep Haulin’ and That is All.

Rich Tee.   

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