Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary --- 3 Years And Counting

Today marks my third anniversary with Matt who adopted me from the SPCA in Easton, PA. Now it's called The Center For Animal Health And Welfare, and is still a NO KILL shelter. I am grateful to them for providing me a home from December of '04 until September 30, 2005 when Matt rescued me. But I would never wish to return. I had enough to eat and all that, but I had to spend most of my time in a cage with no one to pet me or throw me toys to play with. And some of the other cats were quite scary...you know, mental and stuff. Matt compares it to the island of lost toys...or something called Cuckoos Nest or something.

I never figured on being adopted by a trucker. It's a nonstop life of bouncing around, turning sharp, stopping abruptly, cramped quarters, and changing views. Though many of the views look like many others we've seen. We go home to an apartment nowadays. Used to be hotels. That was always interesting. But now I get to go home to the same place each time with a crow's nest to climb up into and huge windows to look out of.

Mixed Review On New Truck Offering

Matt and I had a look at the new trucks the company is buying. The reviews are mixed. The new truck is called Cascadia by Freightliner and has a new look, but not that new.

First the good bits.

1) Better insulation! The walls are thicker and better sealed, which means fewer ear drops for me when it gets cold. The Century we have now lets an arctic breeze in through the window crank and the door handle. Our current truck has to start up and shut off very frequently while we sleep in order to blow hot or cold air to maintain a comfortable temperature. No longer an issue.

2) Bunk furnace! Now we don't have to run the truck at all during the winter months. We can leave it shut off at night and sleep with no disturbing vibrations or shaking, thanks to a separate heating unit in the sleeper compartment where Matt and I snooze.

3) Better fuel economy! I don't really understand this one, but Matt says it means the company is less likely to go belly-up with lower fuel costs.

4) Comfy seats! Good for Matt. I lay on the dashboard.

5) Closet doors on closets! No more mesh nets that allow junk to spill out onto my tender little brain-cover. My noggin will be happier for it.

And now the not so good bits...

1) A/C not separate! We still have to idle the stupid truck in the Summer months just to stay cool. If Matt leaves the top sleeper windows open and the bottom vents open and the front windows open a little I won't die from suffocation. Also helps if he leaves the blower on low (so as not to drain the battery) to keep some sort of air circulation.

2) Power windows on both sides! Personally I have no problem with this. All I need to do is stomp on the buttons located on the inside door panels and the windows open up...FOR ME! I can get out and run around and get lost in joyful abandon. Matt says I will wind up in the kitchen of a Korean restaurant if this happens, even though I assure him I would return...eventually.

3) Power door locks on both sides! This means I can step on the buttons to allow strangers in the truck to pet me and give me treats while Matt is away...or asleep in the bunk. I get so lonely when he's gone. Again, no problem for me. And I don't see too many Koreans in truckstops.

4) Brake-seize-up-thingy! There is this thing that causes the brakes to seize up if you get too close to another truck or 4-wheel thingy, all for the sake of safety. I really don't know much about this except that the trucker we spoke to yesterday swore a lot about it...and loudly. I learned lots of new words yesterday, but cannot yet manipulate my mouth or tongue to speak them. Matt won't allow me to type them.

5) No place for the XM Radio antenna! In fact Matt says there is no where to attach anything at all on these new Cascadias. No flags, no banners, no CB antennas except a mount for small antennas only.

6) Limited storage! No more big open storage space above the windshield for me to jump up into (that makes Matt so angry!). Matt will miss it, too.

Matt says progress is two steps forward but one step backwards. I fail to see the logic there as lessons are usually painful to learn. Why take the one step back? Do humans forget the pain involved in learning? Go figure. Anyway we will probably be getting a new truck in March or so when the old one gets turned in. The old one should have 500,000 miles on it by then, maybe more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feast Of St. Francis

We're back on the road and driving lots of miles, about 3,600 in the first week, to be exact. Now we're out of hours and taking a day off to make them reset. Thirty-four hours of peace and quiet and Matt yelling and throwing stuff at me when I try to eat food off his plate. Aaaahhh. This is heaven. So relaxing.

Matt says we're in East Lexington, VA, but all I see is a parking lot with a lot of other trucks facing us. Two of them have dogs that keep barking at me, even though it's 2:30 in the friggin' AM. Looks like we're gonna miss the blessing of the pets at the local Lutheran church on October 4th. Yeah, something to do with St. Francis of Assisi or something. Guess he liked blessing animals to make them go to Heaven. Wonder if I could go there. Guess Matt doesn't want me to join him in the afterlife, or he'd get me blessed with all the other animals. Doesn't seem fair to me, no not at all. Doesn't seem fair that he eats in front of me, either. He eats some great smelling stuff, yes he does. Sometimes I forget myself and lunge toward him to grab it before it gets inside his mouth. He doesn't like that and yells at me.

MATT: You know, I shouldn't have to cut in so much to correct you. But I should mention that the blessing doesn't mean you go to Heaven when you die. It simply means you are blessed. Maybe you'll be healed of your ailments, or perhaps you'll be happier. But true salvation comes from accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior.

BUSTER: Anything in the Bible about pets doing that?

MATT: What? Accepting Christ?


MATT: Not sure, really... Animals are kinda dumb in the Bible,...and elsewhere.

BUSTER: Think He'd make an exception?

MATT: Hmmm... Depends upon where your heart is. (pause) Hey, I've got the St. Francis prayer for pets...if you want ME to bless you...

BUSTER: Sure, why not?

MATT: Okay, bow your head.

BUSTER: Okay (bowing head)

MATT: Blessed are You, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask that you bless Buster Kitty. By the power of Your love, enable him to live according to Your plan. May we always praise You for all Your beauty in creation. Blessed are You, Lord our God, in all Your creatures! Amen.

BUSTER: I liked the part about the fish and birds. Wish He'd call forth some of them right now for me. Well, thanks Matt. I feel better all ready.

MATT: Hold on! Gotta sprinkle you with Holy Water.

BUSTER: Hey, is that the time? Gotta be going, I'd say.

MATT: It's 3am and we're out of hours, remember? Now hold still. (sprinkles water from plastic bottle).

BUSTER: Yeeeaaaaaccchhhhh!!!! (shakes violently) That's not Holy! That's Dasani!!!

MATT: I had to improvise. And there was no time for me to get ordained.

BUSTER: Oh great.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Matt's Pilgrimage To Ground Zero

BUSTER: Okay, so are you gonna tell me why you got up so early on Thursday? And why you got back so late? And why you didn't go to bed until Friday morning? Were you...were you out there...feeding some other cat????

MATT: No! Don't worry. You're the only cat for me, Buster.

BUSTER: Then would yah feed me NOW, please? The big hand and little hand say I'm hungry!

MATT: Sure, but let me answer your questions first.

BUSTER: *sigh*

MATT: You know about 9-11, right?

BUSTER: Yeah, even I know about that. Very sad, yes. And that's why you blog, right?

MATT: Yes. And do you remember me telling you I was on vacation at the time? And that by the mere flip of a coin I flew out west instead of NYC?

BUSTER: Yes, and you would have visited the WTC, too. You just don't know which day it would have been. Yes...you told me all that. But you flew back home on the 10th, right?

MATT: Yeah, because Priceline.com could only get me a flight back home then. I was trying for the 11th or 12th. It was the last time I flew on a plane.

BUSTER: Okay, so what?

MATT: So I dodged a bullet, that's what. But most of all, my country was attacked! So 9-11 is a big deal to me. And that's where I was.

BUSTER: Where? NYC? WTC? You're nuts!

MATT: They got it cleaned up. And they're starting to rebuild...but it's very slow going.

BUSTER: So what happened there?

MATT: Well, I drove up to Carteret and parked the car. Then I hopped the Jersey Transit Bus into Midtown Manhattan and caught the E train down to Ground Zero. But when I got there no one could get in to see the commemoration except dignitaries, victims' family members, or the press.

BUSTER: Couldn't you claw your way up a tree or the side of one of them tall buildings I saw on TV? That's what I would have done.

MATT: Then I should've taken you with me.

BUSTER: So what did you do?

MATT: Well, I drove all that way after getting up at 2:30am to report on the events for my blog. I felt I had to do...something. So I went to the desk where they gave out press passes and asked for one. After all, I am a blogger who reports news along with commentary, and I was there to cover the event. So why not?

BUSTER: And they gave you one??? Just like that? No strip search?

MATT: Yep! Of course they asked for credentials, first.

BUSTER: But you don't have any!

MATT: My blog is my credential. Fortunately one of them was armed with a Blackberry and visited St. Blogustine. Since my name and picture matched the ones on my blog, they let me in. Oh, and my not being a crackpot helped a lot.

BUSTER: Yeah (laughing), but do they know about THIS blog?

MATT: You mean my blog about a cat who talks? No, I didn't think it was a good time to mention that.

BUSTER: Smart move.

MATT: So they gave me a press pass to wear around my neck and I was escorted inside.

BUSTER: Inside?

MATT: Past the barriers. Past the obstructing trees that hid the events from the masses. All the way to the grandstand in the rear where the press was herded. We were not allowed to venture forth, though some did. But I got several good pictures during the event. I expected McCain and Obama to say a few words or even get on stage, but they never appeared.

BUSTER: Where were they?

MATT: Down in the pit meeting with other victims' family members. There were quite a lot of them.

BUSTER: So how was it?

MATT: Very depressing, very emotionally draining. Lots of crying, even after 7 years. Something was taken from all of us, but none more than from the family members. It was hard to watch at times.

BUSTER: So what did you do after that?

MATT: After taps was played I walked out the way I came in and followed the herd.

BUSTER: Ooh. Not a good move. Last time I did that I wound up at a shelter for 11 months!

MATT: I stopped in my tracks when I saw St. Paul's Chapel. Figured I would go inside and check it out. Lots of people there praying, so I joined them. Then they had a service full of politically correct prayers about diversity and other liberal chantings, so I left. Plus, the guy in the balcony with the video camera seemed rather intrusive.

BUSTER: No doubt.

MATT: So I walked around to the rear of the Chapel and found the crackpot, wingnut Bush-haters with their printed tee-shirts and signs making the wildest accusations you could imagine. Also found singing Christians and a prayer station, who by the way seemed much more in tune with God than anyone running that Chapel, IMHO.

BUSTER: So you took more pictures...

MATT: Yes, then I hopped the train back up to Midtown.

BUSTER: Did you see anyone you recognized?

MATT: Well, now that you mention it. While I was waiting to be escorted into the press area, I almost tripped over some lady who was kneeling to take pictures of the singing Mennonites. I was going to say something to her but several people squeezed between us, and then I was ushered out. Turns out that was Urban Infidel, who found plenty of things to photograph on the outside. Also thought I saw Pam from Atlas Shrugs, too. But she didn't look quite the same, so I couldn't be sure enough to walk up to her and say hello.

BUSTER: Too bad. So you hopped the train...

MATT: Yeah, up to Midtown. Wanted to go up to the NewsCorp building to see if I might spot anyone I recognize. Then I saw this painted on a firehouse door on 8th St..


MATT: THEN I took a very crowded, jam-packed, sweaty bus back to my car and drove home.

BUSTER: And you were up til 5:30am fiddling about with downloading, uploading, organizing, posting, etc...?

MATT: Yep. Was up for 27 hours. Haven't done that since college. Still feel like crap.

BUSTER: No doubt.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Roller-Coaster Roads In PA

Matt and I have been very busy...driving. Matt does the driving and I...watch. Not much to report these days.

Yesterday we drove down to Hanover, PA on hwy 94, which is a two-lane road. It has many steep hills which stop abruptly at the top and then slope down rather sharply. Needless to say, Matt hit a couple of them rather fast. Usually when we drive down there he hits the brakes just before the top. But on these two he waited until we crested the point and then he hit the brakes. I almost lost my breakfast all over his log book. According to Matt it was like Carl Mauldin in Streets Of San Francisco! Our wheels didn't even touch the ground on one of those flying leaps. The scenery was nice, though. Lots of fruit trees and orchards and the like, which all looked blurry to me for a bit...

We're going home soon so I can jump in my crow's nest and feel tall...like Matt.