Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Oklahoma City National Memorial - Reflections, Resilience and Hope

By Keith Birmingham

It was 08:45 when I climbed into my truck, eased away from the fuel island and onto the access road. The morning commute was almost over. So, I was hoping for no problems going from the north side of Oklahoma City through downtown and south to Dallas. Clear blue skies, pleasant mid-spring temperatures and no traffic should have made for a perfect day of trucking.

My clock showed 09:02 as I approached the N. E. 10th  street exit. I was reaching up to turn my radio on when I caught a glimpse of black smoke just before the road dipped into a valley. As I headed up the next small hill in front of me an Oklahoma State Trooper blew past me in the hammer lane. When I topped the hill again I had a longer look at the giant cloud of smoke that seemed to be billowing out of  the north end of downtown Oklahoma City. The black and white state trooper’s car had already disappeared through the I-40/I-35 interchange. I figured he was headed to where the black smoke was coming from. By the time I went through the interchange, hitting I-40 and then splitting off to go south again on I -35 I had been passed by two more police cars. These were Oklahoma City Police vehicles, and they too were headed for the area consumed in black smoke. And, by now, the AM radio was talking about a large explosion, unsure about the cause.

The thought hit me that I should turn around. I figured somebody was going to be needing a lot of help. But, I was driving 80,000 pounds of steel and frozen meat down the highway.  It would be better, I thought, to keep my truck moving, and stay out of the way.

It has been more than 15 years since that nightmare unfolded in Oklahoma City. And, I think about that day, and September 11, 2001 almost every single day. And, yes - I still weep for those who lost their lives, and those who lost their loved ones. And, it often occurs to me that, most likely, somewhere between the truck stop and downtown Oklahoma City, I may have been within a hundred feet of Timothy McVeigh, the man who was convicted of, and the man who died for this crime. As he drove north out of town we may have met on I-35.

I have visited the outdoor part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial half-a-dozen times since it opened. I have been there three times now with camera in hand. All of my visits were short due to time constraints. And, each time I leave I know that I will be returning as soon as possible.

I usually enter the memorial from the west side, which faces Harvey Avenue. Harvey is a one way street going north. Along this street is a tribute fence, where visitors have placed mementos, letters, photographs, hand written prayers, and other tributes to those who died that day. Sixth Street runs east and west on the north end of the memorial complex. Fourth Street runs east and west on the south end of the memorial. Robinson Avenue is a one way street running south on the east side of the complex. The new federal building in on 6th Street, and on the west side of Harvey Avenue, facing south.  On the southeast corner of 5th and Harvey there is a statue of a “Weeping Jesus”.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum occupies the west end of the former Journal Records Building. The museum houses a memorial selling special gifts and keepsakes. The museum gives you a self-guided tour of the story behind April 19, 1995, giving you a background on terrorism in America, an audio of the actual explosion, the chaos that followed the aftermath of the explosion,

Visiting this memorial helps me sort things out, and puts life into perspective for me. It is where I go to renew promises to myself of living a life of meaning. It is where I go to thank God that I was born and raised among and by the people who died here. Each day I marvel at the resilience of the people of Oklahoma to go through April 19, 1995 and come out stronger than ever. I am 61 years old, and a veteran of the Vietnam War. I believe that if the events of April 19 and September 11 had not happened I would have gone to my grave not knowing the value of the time I am spending here. I can now look back on my life and honestly say I have been blessed to have a good one. But, each time I leave OCNM (the Oklahoma City National Memorial) I leave with the belief that I can do better. I think of this quote that has been said in many ways: “Your life will come down to this: you can wait for things to happen. You can wonder what or why things happened or did not happen. Or, you can make things happen!” And, I resolve to make things happen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Outlaws Out of Date

In litttle more than a month I will be returning to Oklahoma to live. That is, my apartment should be open and ready for me to move in by November 1st. Once I am settled into my new home I hope my schedule will allow me spend more time on this blog. There are things that I do here in Las Vegas than I will not be doing in Oklahoma.

I did not start this blog so that I would have a place to whine about how harsh my employer, the industry and the world was treating me. And, it will not turn into a pillow to cry on. The articles and posts that are placed on this blog come from facts that I know to be true because I have been there and done that. I don't need a damned pencil pusher in Washington, D.C. to pass judgments on me and my brothers and sisters of the road. They can write all of the rules and regulations they want, but until the idiots are off of the road and true professionals are hauling the freight none of their rules and regulations are worth a tinker's damn.

What I will say about my breed of trucker is that we are outdated. Outlaw trucking has long since been replaced by panty-waisted little boys and girls that don't have a clue as to what it is like to put in a full week of work in 3.5 days. I'm still laughing at that would be trucker that was bragging on his blog about a 653 mile day that was the longest mileage day in his 3 year career. I don't know why. Maybe he had to stop half-a-dozen times for diaper changes. Little Boy, you may have ran a legal load, but did you get the job done?

Again, I realize that my way of trucking is outdated. And that is, in essence, why I am no longer on the road. But, this nation and this industry, was not built by a bunch of whiney little brats worried about running legal logs. We got the job done. And, then we made our logs "look" legal. We did not hold a threat of lawsuits over our employers for expecting us to act like grown-ups.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Songs I Almost Know

My Song List

I have recently purchased my guitar after 14 years without one. Although I still knew a few chords my fingers would not go where I told them to go. So, I am basically starting from scratch at learning to play again. I do spend a lot of time just practicing finding my way around the neck of my Fender CD140. My fingers won't cooperate with the lead riffs that I played back in high school, but I think I know more now about what I was doing than I knew when I was doing it. (I hope I said that right.) I like this Fender more every day, but I sure wish I had my dad's Martin D29. Also, I have returned to Guitar Center and picked around a little on a Fender Strat. I had a Strat for about 3 years back in the mid-1990's. I hope to have another one soon. And, a Tele. And, another Gibson Les Paul. I do think I get more out of an electric. However, it might just be that I am making a lot more noise with them.

The songs listed here are the ones I am working on the most. However, for the past two evenings I have been adding songs that I was playing back in the mid-'90's. This list (for now) does not include the songs that I started adding two evenings ago. As I add songs to this list I am actually adding stories to the book of my life. I might add that the songs I have been adding over the past two nights are some of the most important songs (to me) of my life. I am country. I am rock. The songs are listed as "Songs I Almost Know". Although I can get completely through several of them I am far from satisfied with the sound and the technique. That is going to take a long, long time. But I am having fun, and it is the most relaxing thing I have done for such a long time.

Songs I Almost Know: (the list is not complete)

The Hurt - Johnny Cash

Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac

Rhiannon - Fleetwood Mac

So Far Away - Dire Straits

Imagine - John Lennon

More Than I Can Say - Leo Sayer

Young Love - Sonny James

Young Love - The Judds

Neon Moon - Brooks and Dunn

Your Gonna Miss Me - B & D

My Maria - B & D

Seminole Wind - John Anderson

Small Town - John Anderson

Amanda - Waylon Jennings

Just To Satisfy You - Waylon Jennings

This Time  - Waylon Jennings

Pancho & Lefty - Willie Nelson

City of New Orleans - Willie Nelson

Five Hundred Miles - Hedy West

Where Were You - Allen Jackson

Play With Fire - Rolling Stones

Ooh la la - Faces

Seven Turns - Allman Brothers Band

Simple Man - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Midnight Rider - Allman Brothers Band

On My Own - Keith

Thirty-Five Years - Keith

Water in a Stream - Keith

The songs that I will soon add to this list are the one's that I started looking for two nights ago. They are the songs I was playing back in the '90's.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mariel Hemingway

Have you ever wondered what happened to Mariel Hemingway. Well, she's on Twitter @Marielhemingway, and you can get all the information you need for gossip parties via Google.  So, all I will say is that I still like seeing her, and I think she is a very interesting person. She is a "health nut", which I also like. And, here is a poem she wrote:

Flowing - A poem

Awaken to the stream knowing that it must flow to the river
And the river to an ocean
A mix of salt and fresh water merge
And the river is no longer
And the stream begins again

The earth makes tribute to the sun
We bow to the rise and pay homage to the descent as though that is what happens
The sun is forever
The sun shines for all of us

We are guided by the breeze, heat, strength, and frost of nature
It stands alone and works in concert with everything
Observe nature in its Knowingness
Like the kingdom of God… Nature sleeps for no one
And loves unconditionally

Being true is brave… seeing truth is consciousness
No one sets our course
Nature is a map to simplicity, power and authenticity
In stillness live the smells of autumn and the truth of winter

In a garden we harness energy
It gives us life
To continue our partnership in health
In our heart we harness love
Love is given and grows in more love

Tears come easily in awe of day
Tears in seeing
That the stream begins again….
That the sun shines for all of us
And that one true breath holds freedom…

- Mariel Hemingway

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chocolate Milk vs Condoms

Milk gets trashed. Not good for kids. Huh? Well, do the condoms fit?

Florida School Bans Chocolate Milk

Training and the Military Fitness Center

It is my opinion that anyone can follow the information contained on this site to achieve top level fitness. In the military fitness is a lifestyle. From the moment you get off of the bus at boot camp you are programed to reach the highest level of physical fitness. And, this is why this has to be one of my top picks for web sites containing information on physical fitness. To top it off, the information in this site will surely be your cheapest way of reaching your highest level of physical fitness.

Military Fitness Center

Your Guide to Contacting Lawmakers

The best advise I can give you is to use the information that lobbyist use. Browse the governments web sites a bit. It really doesn't require that much time. The good thing about it is that with a little bit of mental work you can get some important information.
A Guide to Contacting Lawmakers

More Trucks Equal More Truck Stops

After rapping up some other projects I have going I will dig further into Jason's Law. As always, with government, this law will move slowly. I don't like that fact either. But, history shows that I am right. Anyway, until I can read the law to know whether or not I can support it, I want to say that I have pushed for additional and safer parking since I entered the industry in 1974. But, now that I am retired, maybe I can position myself to do a better job of fighting for changes in the trucking industry.

Quiet simply, here is my major proposal for resolving the parking problem the trucking industry is facing:
There should be no more building permits authorized for convenience truck stops that do not provide more than adequate parking for trucks. This would include truck stops located outside of city limits, and in rural areas. Also, as new truck stops with larger parking areas are built the free market will close the smaller truck stops. These truck stops should remain closed unless adequate parking is added to the property.

This problem will not be solve without cost. These cost will be passed on to the consumer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jason's Law - OOIDA Call to Action

The following material is correspondence between myself and Angel Burnell from OOIDA regarding a "Call to Action" in regards to Jason's Law:

The original correspondence:

--- On Mon, 9/13/10, OOIDA   wrote:

Subject: OOIDA National Call to Action Alert - Jason's Law
Date: Monday, September 13, 2010, 2:57 PM

Dear Member,

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, you, your family and your friends are urged to pick up the phone and ask your U.S. senators and representative to support two “Jason’s Law” bills – HR2156 and S971. The bills would allocate $120 million over six years for safety improvements to be made at rest areas and truck stops across the country.

Many of you are familiar with the story of Jason Rivenburg, the Schoharie County, NY, truck driver who was murdered 16 months ago at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. He was forced to park there because he arrived too early to deliver his load. His receiver didn’t allow overnight truck parking until his appointment time the next morning.

The Rivenburg family has made several trips to visit lawmakers in DC, urging their support for these critical Jason’s Law bills. While HR2156 has more than 40 co-sponsors, the Senate version – S971 – has one co-sponsor. Both bills have been referred to congressional committees and have yet to receive congressional action.

More lawmakers must get on board to pass the legislation.

Hope Rivenburg said she doesn’t want other trucking families to go through what she has endured. She is urging all truckers and their families to “flood the phones” of their DC lawmakers on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Let’s show lawmakers how important this issue is to all of us!

To contact your two senators and representative, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, provide the operator with your home ZIP code. The operator will connect you with the offices of your lawmakers.

You can also call the OOIDA Membership Department at 800-444-5791 and they will look up the contact information for you. In addition, iPhone and Android offer applications to get federal lawmakers’ contact information. Look for the “Congress App.”

Here was my response:

From: Keith Birmingham []
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 9:37 PM
To: Angel Burnell
Subject: Re: OOIDA National Call to Action Alert - Jason's Law

I cannot support legislation that authorizes the federal government to establish a security presence on a private property truck stop. That must be left up to the truck stop owner. A security force whose job depends on pleasing the federal government is a security force controlled by the federal government. In my mind that is akin to quartering troops in citizens homes.

And, here is OOIDA's response to my answer to their "Call to Action":

Flag this message
RE: OOIDA National Call to Action Alert - Jason's Law
Monday, September 20, 2010 10:38 AM
"Angel Burnell"
Add sender to Contacts
"'Keith Birmingham'"


This legislation is no way authorizes the federal government to establish a security presence on private property or anywhere else  for that matter. It doesn’t say that or even allude to that. 

Here is the text from the actual bill:


To implement a pilot program to establish truck parking facilities.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Jason's Law'.


(a) Establishment- In cooperation with appropriate State, regional, and local governments, the Secretary of Transportation shall implement a pilot program to address the shortage of long-term parking for commercial motor vehicles on the National Highway System.

(b) Allocation of Funds-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of Transportation shall allocate funds made available to carry out this section among States, metropolitan planning organizations, and local governments.

(2) APPLICATIONS- To be eligible for an allocation under this section, a State (as defined in section 101(a) of title 23, United States Code), metropolitan planning organization, or local government shall submit to the Secretary an application at such time and containing such information as the Secretary may require.

(3) ELIGIBLE PROJECTS- Funds allocated under this subsection shall be used by the recipient for projects described in an application approved by the Secretary. Such projects shall serve the National Highway System and may include the following:

(A) Constructing safety rest areas (as defined in section 120(c) of title 23, United States Code) that include parking for commercial motor vehicles.

(B) Constructing commercial motor vehicle parking facilities adjacent to commercial truck stops and travel plazas.

(C) Opening existing facilities to commercial motor vehicle parking, including inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities.

(D) Promoting the availability of publicly or privately provided commercial motor vehicle parking on the National Highway System using intelligent transportation systems and other means.

(E) Constructing turnouts along the National Highway System for commercial motor vehicles.

(F) Making capital improvements to public commercial motor vehicle parking facilities currently closed on a seasonal basis.

(G) Improving the geometric design of interchanges on the National Highway System to improve access to commercial motor vehicle parking facilities.

(4) PRIORITY- In allocating funds made available to carry out this section, the Secretary shall give priority to applicants that--

(A) demonstrate a severe shortage of commercial motor vehicle parking capacity in the corridor to be addressed;

(B) have consulted with affected State and local governments, community groups, private providers of commercial motor vehicle parking, and motorist and trucking organizations; and

(C) demonstrate that their proposed projects are likely to have positive effects on highway safety, traffic congestion, or air quality.

(c) Report to Congress- Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall submit to Congress a report on the results of the pilot program.

(d) Funding-

(1) IN GENERAL- There is authorized to be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) to carry out this section $20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2015.

(2) CONTRACT AUTHORITY- Funds authorized under this subsection shall be available for obligation in the same manner as if the funds were apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code, except that such funds shall not be transferable and shall remain available until expended, and the Federal share of the cost of a project under this section shall be determined in accordance with sections 120(b) and 120(c) of such title.

(e) Treatment of Projects- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, projects funded under this section shall be treated as projects on a Federal-aid system under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code.

Let me know if you have any other questions, Keith!


Mexico's Press Cowers to Drug Lords

This is a prime example of why Mexico is not disciplined enough to have their own free government. Should it surprise anyone that one of Mexico’s largest newspapers is asking the drug lords to tell them what they do or do not want reported?  Somehow, I just don’t think the Mexican public can expect to read the truth. Illegal immigration into the U.S. will not be stopped until Mexico's system of government is changed, and the drug cartels are obliterated. The U.S. should strongly consider lifting the prohibition of certain drugs, taxing those drugs, and using the tax money to destroy the drug cartels. I do not like the fact that some drugs would be legalized, but we are loosing the drug war we are in today.

Click this link to read the full article from Associated Press:

Mexico daily cuts drug war coverage after slaying

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Achieving Balance in Life

The Daisy Sea

For most of my life I have done everything I could to keep from accomplishing the one task that everyone should be trying to accomplish. In my attempt to become successful in the eyes of others I have done everything I could to please everyone but me. In my attempt to be loved by others I have given everything I have earned to people who either did not deserve my attention, or did not take care of what they possessed. I have put a major emphasis on becoming successful in a career that for 35 years I had a love/hate relationship with. And, to this day, I believe that my major character fault is the fact that I worry more about these same people than I do about myself. And, because of this I have not learned the simple secret to success in life. But, that secret is finally dawning on me.

You can have the biggest house in the world, and still not be happy, You can drive a Lamborghini or a Rolls Royce, and still not be happy. You can sail the seven seas in your own yacht, and still not be happy. You can have the love of everyone around you, and still not be happy. But, you can live in a small house with a healthy and happy family, rent a boat to row down a quiet stream, drive a ten year old car to and from a job you love, and you can feel happy, healthy and content with your life.

A balanced life is the truly successful life. A balanced life will take away the stress in your pursuit of health, wealth and happiness. And, the key to having a balanced life is having "self-worth". Self-worth is having the confidence in your own personal value and worth as an individual person. Self-worth is believing that you are as important to your own happiness as anything or any other person. Self-worth is the belief that taking care of yourself before taking care others is the most important aspect of health, wealth and happiness. Self-worth is, in essence, achieving a balance between your health, wealth and happiness by achieving a balance between yourself and all of the aspects of your world. And, once you begin to feel the positive effects of having a balanced life you will find that you are still able to maintain the relationships that are important to your life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oklahoma or Bust?

My e-mail, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Tumblog, Britesite, blogs, writing, music, photography, and all of the other sites I work with may be put on hold soon, and it may last until around the first of November. Looks like I should be heading back to Oklahoma shortly, or sooner. My apartment should be ready by the first of November. I "may" spend another month out here. But, if my roomie needs me, or gets goofie on me, I may come back as soon as today. Heck, I'm open for it. I just ain't going or staying where the drama is. But, I may have to make a few changes, and I may have to terminate my phone and/or data card for awhile. Sprint, my carrier, is trying to make changes on my account that would force me to sign a contract for another 2 years on 2 phones and a data card. I have been planning to drop the data card when I get to Oklahoma. And, I may get a package deal on my phone, cable t.v. and internet. So, anyway, I just have to see what Sprint wants, and then make up my mind what I want. Unless I start traveling again my pooter equipment should stay on the same table for a long while once I get my apartment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dealing With Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Good advice for anyone dealing with Oppositional Defiance Disorder: You have come to the conclusion that you cannot change him or his situation. You must continue to disassociate yourself from him, otherwise you will be doing yourself a great deal of damage. I know that this is hard for you but through the training I have had on disassociative behavior, he cannot be changed. He is a person who goes through life causing chaos, does not take ownership of anything he does and has absolutely no remorse or feelings for anyone but himself!

I received this statement from a long-lost schoolmate. Unless you have had to deal with ODD you cannot imagine the pain it causes. If you are lucky your child will survive. Your child will be grown and gone, and still be oblivious to the damage they have done. And you will still be a mental basket case. And, you will realize that it will never end. But, you will deal with it.

Need help? Start here: