It’s not all chrome and cotton candy:

| 3/27/2008

The trade show has begun. Land Line Magazine and “Land Line Now” staffers are on the ground at MATS and are writing their impressions of the sights and events. Below are excerpts from a few of their entries in “The Pork Chop Diaries” blog.

Click on the headline above and bookmark the Web site so you can go to the blog any time you get a hankerin’ for the show floor. Click on the individual bloggers’ names below to read some of what they have to say. And don’t forget to check back often.

Sandi Soendker, managing editor
“It’s not all popcorn, chrome and cotton candy down here. In fact, it’s an amazing place to get a really big picture of the trucking economy. There are troops of truckers, journalists, small businesses, giant global corporations and more. There are truckers who want to know how the industry is going to cope with the cost of fuel, soft economy, shaky dollar and more. There are manufacturers who are busting their butts to determine the same thing.

“This morning, a trucker told me it was his toughest in 15 years as an owner-operator. Bendix prez and CEO Joe McAleese told reporters at a press conference this morning that 2007 was the hardest year in their 75-year history.”

Jami Jones, senior editor
“Engineering a new truck, especially one that doesn’t need $4 a gallon diesel, doesn’t happen overnight.

“But immediate relief for truckers can happen. I can’t believe I’m actually going to type this, but you need to thank the EPA. Yep, the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Charlie Morasch, staff writer
“Wednesday, the Biodiesel Board faced a skeptical crowd of trucking journalists who wanted responses to criticisms that biofuels are helping drive up the cost of food.

“Blaming biodiesel production for rising food costs is ‘a bit of a stretch,’ Tom Verry said, especially when soy farmers are producing record surpluses of the beans.”

Mark Reddig, host “Land Line Now”
“One of the things you find out at MATS is to expect the unexpected. Such as, for example, a 20- to 30-foot-tall car-eating dinosaur colored vaguely like a giraffe.

“It may be a tough year, but it helps you get through it if you have a few things to laugh about.”

Bill Hudgins, Land Line columnist
“With so much at stake, for truck and engine builders as well as their customers – and for all of us who plan to keep breathing – the rival emissions over rival emissions technologies will continue for some time.

“Like the rivalry between VHS and Beta, between BluRay and HiDef, it may take years to determine which was the right road to take. Or maybe some kind of synthesis will emerge, offering still a third path.”

Suzanne Stempinski, field editor
“Saw a really cool truck parked in front of the South Wing. It’s the Back on the Road ride, donated by the folks at Arrow Trucks – a dressed up Volvo VN660 – and it will be given to a fortunate recipient whose been down on his luck. Among the generous sponsors, OOIDA is donating a year's insurance and HeartLand Express is giving the driver a lease – and the opportunity to get back on his feet.”