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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of November 30, 1998

Like the old saying goes "it ain't over 'til it's over". . . Well, the streak is finally over; Seventy-five consecutive graveyard shifts. And it wasn't exhaustion (mental or physical) that did me in, simply a local fast-food emporium version of breakfast. Namely a BAAAAAD "sausage-n-egger" on Sunday morning. Just like the two-dollar part that fails and destroys the whole engine, a $2.79 breakfast brought me to my knees . . . literally. So I've spent most of the past 36 hours making lots of "calls on the porcelain telephone" "technicolour yawns" etc.

In fact, I've been so ill that this is the first time in nearly two days that I've even fired up the computer. Anyone wondering why I haven't responded to e-mails, updated this page, etc. can wonder no longer. I should recover within the next day or so, but I'll be taking the entire week off from my "real" job for rest and recuperation. Then it's back to the grind for another string of "burn it to the ground" shifts at Centennial Pier. I'm not sure if I've mentioned what my job is, but for those who don't know already, I'm the Senior Yard Planner at a deep-sea shipping container terminal.

In plain English, what that entails is being responsible for every container on the terminal. All 2,000 or 3,000 of them. I have to decide exactly where every one is placed upon arrival, keep them sorted by destination, size, commodity and weight for the ships (four each week) and deal with the ongoing problems that such an operation generates. After nearly 12 years on the job, it's become almost automatic to me, but still presents new challenges on a daily basis.

For instance, the last three months have seen the entire container "yard" turned upside down with a major repaving project and preparation for a fifth container crane scheduled to arrive early in the new year. Added to that is the doubling of the volume of containers shipped by our largest customer, Evergreen Marine Corporation and the consequent change to a four-high stacking system for the containers. It's never, ever "same old, same old" but instead, a constantly shifting work environment. In contrast to many people's jobs, it's actually something I look forward to doing each day. Really, it's just like a grown-up (?) version of playing with children's building blocks. A little more sophisticated of course, with an office full of computers, fax machines, laser printers, photocopiers, mobile data terminals and an 8-channel two-way radio system to control it all.

Sometimes I have to pause and think how far its come (and I've come) in the 24 years I've been on the waterfront. Back in 1974, I started working in the hold of the ships, hand-stowing sacks of grain and coffee, crates of frozen fish and bales of rubber. The container business was still in its infancy and computers were room-sized mechanical monsters that were not in the least "user-friendly." Fast forward to 1998 and it all seems so "state of the art" comparatively and now the work has gone from manual labour to mental labour. Thanks goodness I've been able to grow with it and am not still stuck "down the hatch" and doing hard physical work.

So, what's been happening in NORTHERN THUNDER-land ?? Well, the Press Clippings index has seen a few more articles from the past added. Read about our good friend Brad Hadman (the world's best dragster chassis builder), the Chi-Town Hustler, Australia's Jim Read and the story of Dave Benjamin's "Hotter Hemi Heads." Also, the Aussie Drag Babes and North American Drag Babes photo galleries have been reworked and expanded. Be sure to check 'em out. The BACKFIRE! page has been updated too.

That's about it for now, so bear with us while we get "back up to speed" and get busy with some of the new projects we're planning and the finishing of the many "under construction" pages on the site. And as usual, all the latest drag racing news, almost as it happens.

Black Bar
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