My Perfect Machine

Perfect Machine Volvo Truck
Perfect Machine Volvo Truck

My perfect machine:
Engine purrs like a sprawling cat having her chin rubbed.
Gears glide up and down like fingers slipping through flaxseed.
Chrome flashes, paint job gleams, windows sparkle,
And no dirt or grime finds purchase on her flawless skin.

My perfect machine is a dream.
My perfect machine is a fantasy.
My perfect machine is a lie.
My perfect machine is a diesel.

— Trucker Poet

No Perfect Machine

Volkswagen slew the myth of the clean diesel. The only way those vaunted German engineers could clean up a diesel engine was by cheating. They gamed the system, switched the code, pulled a fast one, hoodwinked everyone, and thought they could get away with it. Emissions looked awesome because they used the most efficient engine settings during that test. For performance, they used settings that made the exhaust dirtier than any other diesel. Miles per gallon was another lie. And for a while, they did get away with it, because no one tested everything all at the same time.

In the real world a few people did notice MPG numbers nowhere near close to the claims. Over time, an EPA test engineer became suspicious and blew the whole scam apart. To be fair, it wasn’t just Volkswagen. The first vehicles proven guilty of the scam were Volkswagen, and the guilt kept spreading. More tests found fraud among cars by Mercedes, Fiat-Chrysler, Jeep, Nissan and Renault. Every company paid a price for that betrayal, for proving there is no perfect machine.

Perfect Motor

Maybe you’ve heard about the self-driving eighteen-wheelers. Don’t hold your breath. Self-driving cars are decades away because they just aren’t safe or reliable enough. No one has a computer with enough power to replace a human driver. Remember Watson on Jeopardy? Sure it beat the champions, but it made a fool of itself on questions kids can answer. Watson is light-years more capable than any computer in a self-driving car. Watson also fills a room, a big room.

But the next most perfect machine is a motor. I expect to own a battery-powered, electric-motor, big rig some day soon. That dream truck will have more torque and power than anything on the road today. It’ll be quiet, have regenerative brakes, and recharge the batteries going downhill. The cab will be lower and more streamlined, with extra room in the back sleeping compartment.

The future is coming. Look for it on the racetrack first. NASCAR will add an electric class. That’s when racing will truly become a motor sport.

Eighteen-Wheeler Scammed

Tempe Junction Arizona Truck Driving Jobs - Eighteen-Wheeler Scammed

Container port duty, life-sucking maelstrom.
Eighteen-hour days, deeper in debt, my eighteen-wheeler is not my own.
Slip the yoke, screw the bloke, hammer-down home!

— Trucker Poet

Walt Whitman Eighteen-Wheeler Scammed

To the ancient Greeks, an eidolon was a spirit-image of a living or dead person. Modern dictionaries define the eidolon as either 1) an idealized person or thing, or 2) a specter or phantom. The 2013 SF video game Warframe declares eidolons to be “simple-minded, spectral fragments of the shattered Sentients that roam the Plains of Eidolon at night.”

However, you define your eidolon, consider how Walt Whitman used the word in this view of life and the universe.


       I met a seer,
  Passing the hues and objects of the world,
  The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,
       To glean eidolons.

       Put in thy chants said he,
  No more the puzzling hour nor day, nor segments, parts, put in,
  Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,
       That of eidolons.

       Ever the dim beginning,
  Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,
  Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)
       Eidolons! eidolons!

       Ever the mutable,
  Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,
  Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,
       Issuing eidolons.

       Lo, I or you,
  Or woman, man, or state, known or unknown,
  We seeming solid wealth, strength, beauty build,
       But really build eidolons.

       The ostent evanescent,
  The substance of an artist's mood or savan's studies long,
  Or warrior's, martyr's, hero's toils,
       To fashion his eidolon.

       Of every human life,
  (The units gather'd, posted, not a thought, emotion, deed, left out,)
  The whole or large or small summ'd, added up,
       In its eidolon.

       The old, old urge,
  Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles,
  From science and the modern still impell'd,
       The old, old urge, eidolons.

       The present now and here,
  America's busy, teeming, intricate whirl,
  Of aggregate and segregate for only thence releasing,
       To-day's eidolons.

       These with the past,
  Of vanish'd lands, of all the reigns of kings across the sea,
  Old conquerors, old campaigns, old sailors' voyages,
       Joining eidolons.

       Densities, growth, facades,
  Strata of mountains, soils, rocks, giant trees,
  Far-born, far-dying, living long, to leave,
       Eidolons everlasting.

       Exalte, rapt, ecstatic,
  The visible but their womb of birth,
  Of orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape,
       The mighty earth-eidolon.

       All space, all time,
  (The stars, the terrible perturbations of the suns,
  Swelling, collapsing, ending, serving their longer, shorter use,)
       Fill'd with eidolons only.

       The noiseless myriads,
  The infinite oceans where the rivers empty,
  The separate countless free identities, like eyesight,
       The true realities, eidolons.

       Not this the world,
  Nor these the universes, they the universes,
  Purport and end, ever the permanent life of life,
       Eidolons, eidolons.

       Beyond thy lectures learn'd professor,
  Beyond thy telescope or spectroscope observer keen, beyond all mathematics,
  Beyond the doctor's surgery, anatomy, beyond the chemist with his chemistry,
       The entities of entities, eidolons.

       Unfix'd yet fix'd,
  Ever shall be, ever have been and are,
  Sweeping the present to the infinite future,
       Eidolons, eidolons, eidolons.

       The prophet and the bard,
  Shall yet maintain themselves, in higher stages yet,
  Shall mediate to the Modern, to Democracy, interpret yet to them,
       God and eidolons.

       And thee my soul,
  Joys, ceaseless exercises, exaltations,
  Thy yearning amply fed at last, prepared to meet,
       Thy mates, eidolons.

       Thy body permanent,
  The body lurking there within thy body,
  The only purport of the form thou art, the real I myself,
       An image, an eidolon.

       Thy very songs not in thy songs,
  No special strains to sing, none for itself,
  But from the whole resulting, rising at last and floating,
       A round full-orb'd eidolon.