Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Looking death in the eye

Mrs A. And I have been through more than our share of crisis in the short time we have been together. I don't really want to go into all the details, but it has been a whole lot more crap than most newlyweds go through. Whenever something goes wrong I am usually the solid one. The other day she asked me "Honey, how can you remain so calm when all this stuff is going on around you?" My reply was that is have been in situations where I was in real or perceived danger of losing my life violently. There are a couple of ways that can effect you. One is that you spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop, the other is that it puts all of the other stuff in perspective. When you have looked down the barrel of a gun pointed at you, it puts things in perspective. So I thought I'd put some of them out there, mostly because I like telling stories, but I'm not sure whether to put them here, or on my other blog, which I have been using to publish short stories.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Egg Roll Recipe

So here is my recipe for Egg Rolls. It wasn't written down completely, that is, I had the original recipe, but it has evolved a lot since then.

Clear Noodles (Rice Vermicelli or bean thread) 500 gr.
Oyster Sauce 6 oz.
Eggs 6
Onion (sweet yellow if possible) 1 large
Carrots (large) 3
Meat 3 lbs
Black pepper Dusting
Salt Palm
Sugar 2 tsp
Garlic 2 tblsp
Cabbage Small head
wrappers 100.

The type of meat is up to you. We usually use ground pork & chicken, but you can use whatever spins your beanie. Occasionally I add tiny shrimp to the mixture.
Dice all the veggies up pretty fine, since you are going to put them in a wrapper. Speaking of wrappers, use the frozen very fine spring roll wrappers The brand we usually use is O'Tasty (Funky Chinese name, huh?)
The Oyster sauce is critical. I use Lee Kum Kee, but I have experimented with other brands.I occasionally like to use spicy oyster sauce.
Use the smallest diameter Bean thread or Rice vermicelli you can find, soak it in hot water and cut it into 3 inch pieces. Mix everything in a VERY large bowl, except retain the white from one egg to seal the wrappers. Don't open the packages of wrappers until you are ready to use then, as they dry out pretty quickly.
Lay out the wrapper with a point facing you. Using a large dinner fork place a 3" long wad of filling about 2" into the wrapper. Fold wrapper over filling, and pull it slightly back towards you, making it firm. Roll about half way up the wrapper, and fold the ends towards the middle. Continue rolling to the end. Dip finger in the egg white you have retained, and use it to seal the flap.
Put the uncooked egg rolls in one gallon freezer storage bags, one layer deep. Depending on how consistent you have been rolling the egg rolls, you should get 14 to 18 per bag. Freeze them uncooked.
When you want to cook them up, just take them out of the freezer and deep fry them in oil until they are crisp.
Serve them with dipping sauces. The one that seems to go over the best is Thai sweet Chili sauce, which is a lot like sweet and sour, but with just a little kick.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Egg Roll Saturday

Before I met Mrs A., I was having a fling with a very pretty Laotian woman. It was quite an experience. I once told her "There are two women living in your head. One of them is this traditional Min Lao Buddhist. The other is an independent American home owning working single mom. The two of them are at war, and some day you are going to have to make a choice". She couldn't give up her status in the Lao community and we ended up splitting up. Before she gave up on us, I asked her to teach me how to make egg rolls, because she made the best egg rolls I have ever tasted.

I still keep egg rolls on hand all the time. The recipe is for 100 egg rolls, so it takes some time to make them. What could be a chore we have turned into a fun activity.

We go to the Chinese Market and get the ingredients, one of which is a large bottle of Japanese Plum wine. (The wine doesn't go in the egg rolls, but the egg rollers). Next stop Blockbuster Video where we rent whatever latest DVD for whatever catches our eye. I make up the "Stuff" for the eggrolls, then we put up the card table in front of the big screen, slap in a movie and make egg rolls and sip wine. What could otherwise be a chore becomes something fun to do.

I do have to say that as we get to the last off the egg rolls and the bottle of wine that the quality control on the rolling process suffers some, but what the heck, they still taste the same.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Let the noise begin!

Somewhere in my travels, I picked up this old, beat up electric guitar. It was in pretty sad shape, and the first time I plugged it in, there were sparks and smoke involved. The nut (yes guitars have nuts!) was broken, and the bass string would not stay in place. It was being kept in place by a bent up safety pin. The bridge height was all wrong, the wiring was bad. So I did the best thing: I gave it to my son.

Unfortunately, when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday last summer, he asked me to restore the guitar. Dang, just when I thought I'd escaped.

So I scrounged around and located a piece of mammoth Ivory I had been saving for just such a project. I had to but a diamond wheel for my Dremel tool and carved a new nut and installed it, cleaned up the electrical stuff and resoldered the connections, put it all back together, and last night I plugged it in. It works just fine now, and since I cleaned everything up it looks pretty good too. It has what they call a "sunburst" finish, which is yellow in the middle and darkens as you go out.

I have no idea what brand the guitar is. Any identifying marks have been removed. It is an arch-top, f-hole acoustic/electric with dual pickups and a tailpiece, a three way switch and four knobs. I have a tremolo bar on backorder for it, but it is essentially done.

I should probably include a picture and maybe someone could tell me what they think it is.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rule of thumb

I got up this morning in this Kick-Ass-and-don't-bother-to-take-names mood. I had a couple of problems at work where paperwork was not up to my standards, and I was going to see that it got changed or else. I have a can of Whoop Ass and a four pound dead blow hammer on my desk and I use them as a learning tool.

When I get here all set for a good knuckle and skull session, everyone has been all nice all day. Maybe they could sense the mood I am in. Anyway, when I was laying out my expectations, I used the phrase "as a rule of thumb" which means to act to a loose set of standards, and I wondered where it had come from.

Prepare yourself for MORE USELESS INFORMATION!

IN Medieval times, society was not so civilized as it is now, but there were some standards. IN this case, a man was allowed to beat his wife. I mean it was not a crime or anything. However there were limitations. He could only use a branch "no bigger than his thumb". Hence "Rule of thumb.

I don't think it would be wise to try this on Mrs A. I mean, I do have to sleep sometime.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

All Roads lead to Rome.

Some time ago I worked with an Engineer who was looking for a way to transport rocket boosters from Utah to the Space Center in Florida. The contract for the boosters for the Space Shuttle was open for bids, and we had the facility and technology to build them, but could we deliver them?

We spent months figuring out how to get them across country, including figuring out how to get them around overpasses, including letting most of the air out of the tires to get them under, and going off and then back on. We could not use the railroad tunnels because they were not big enough. The question came up, why are our vehicles, railroads and roads set to the standards they are? I had to admit it was something I had never thought about. Prepare your self for more USELESS INFORMATION!

When the Industrial revolution created the ability to mass produce goods, first Trains and later cars needed to be of common dimensions, after all the rails don't change in distance between the rails, so all locomotives and cars had to have the same wheel track. The early locomotive and car manufacturers used the same dimensions that had been used to standardize wagons, In fact early automobiles, if you let some of the air out of the tires could be driven on the tracks. Well, where did that dimension come from?

The wagons were standardized so that they would run in the ruts that existed all over Europe, and were created by the Romans in their efforts to control the entire world. The reason these ruts are the same distance apart all over Europe is that the Romans had standardize their chariots and wagons so they would run in the same tracks.

Well, what decided that standard?

If you took two horses and put them side by side and left a little room that became the distance between the two wheels for the chariot. In other words, the wheel aligned with the horses asses.

Like a lot of things in life, we are today living to a set of rules established thousands of years ago by a couple of horses asses.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I am not the worlds biggest sports fan. I mean, my mother watches more sports than I do, but I do follow the local teams some. My older brother, L. will watch anything. I mean, he would watch "Underwater Bowling for Furniture" if that was the only thing he could find. I would rather go work on my 1977 Datsun 280Z, or read a good book, but this year I have been following the Seahawks. Yesterday, they won the NFC championship. We have been waiting for 30 years for them to go to the Superbowl, and this is the year. Yesterday, Mrs A. had to retreat to the upstairs bedroom to escape the testosterone. stepdaughter called Saturday, and their car crapped out again. They wanted me to come down and fix it. I missed last weeks playoff game working on the car for them, so I declined the opportunity to go down and subsequently miss the NFC championship game.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New Years resolutions

Every year, I make the same New Years Resolution. I resolve to not make a New years Resolution, thereby making my new Years Resolution, and breaking if simultaneously. Talk about efficient. It's not that I have no issues, it is just that I believe it is bad,bad mojo to make resolutions unless you are of the proper frame of mind to actually stick with them. Last year, after smoking all my life (really, I got caught smoking the first time when I was 6), I quit. Picked a day, made a plan and just did it. I still smoke an occasional cigarette, but not regularly. I think the reason I was successful was that I went on second shift, so all my habit markers were gone. Since I got up at a different time, ate at different times, went to bed at a different time, I was able to break the behavior.

I am still a little too fond of alcohol, but not disastrously so. I suppose it would be best if I picked a date and made a plan, but I really have no incentive to do so. I have told Mrs. A. That if it ever bothers her in any way, I would give it up. One of my favorite quotes is from Benjamin Franklin: "Beer is proof that God Loves us".

On that note, I depart. Just remember, "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese".

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Useless information

The other day I was talking to V. and told him he'd better "mind his Ps and Qs". he asked where that expression came from, and here was a bit of useless information I did not posess. In my quest for an answer I came across a whole bunc of uselee information, which I am sharing here. A person can never have too much useless information.

In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are "limbs," therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg."
As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October)! Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term "big wig." Today we often use the term "here comes the Big Wig" because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.
In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the "chair man." Today in business, we use the expression or title "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board."
Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, "mind your own bee's wax." Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term "crack a smile." In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt. . Therefore, the expression "losing face."
Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in "straight laced". . . wore a tightly tied lace.
Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the "Ace of Spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't "playing with a full deck."
Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. "You go sip here" and "You go sip there." The two words "go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term "gossip."
At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in "pints" and who was drinking in "quarts," hence the term "minding your "P's and Q's."
One more: bet you didn't know this!In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem...how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)


Monday, January 16, 2006

The light! It burns!

So our quest for the record for rainfall fell short of the record. The all time record for consecutive days of rain was 34 and we stopped at 27. In otherwords, yesterday, this enormously bright object appeared in the sky and it stayed there FOR HOURS AT A TIME!!! I felt rather like a mole emerging from it's burrow into daylight.

I have a theory why the sun broke out yesterday. The Seahawks won their playoff game (the first time in like 22 years). I believe that the alcohol fumes from all of the celebrating burned off the atmospheric water. This has a semi-scientific reasoning behind it. When you have a car that has been sitting around during the winter, water condenses in the gas tank, and causes it to run really badly. The cure is to add alcohol to your gas tank. The alcohol combines with the water and voila! the car runs better. Must be a similar process.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Lazy B

Boeing around here has been known as The Lazy B for a long time. People have always assumed that that was an indicator of how hard people worked here. Well, I figure someone has to set people straight, and that someone might as well be me. The figure at the left was taken out of a brand alphabet list. Seeing as we are way out west here, things like cattle brands were at one time common knowledge. The "B" at the left is leaning to the right, thereby making it a "Lazy B". In the Boeing logo, the first letter leans to the right, thereby making it a lazy b. 'Nuff said

Toilet Cleaning Instructions

I was sent this in an e-mail. I've seen it before, but couldn't resist posting it. There were pictures, but I couldn't get them to upload.

Toilet Cleaning Instructions:
1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.
2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid.
4. The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.
5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "powe! r-wash" and rinse".
6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.

The Dog

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

^&*!@% Rain

Well, fellow bloggers, it has rained in Seattle for 24 consecutive days, and the nine day forecast shows rain for each and every day in the future. I do vaguely remember seeing this big yellow thing in the sky a couple of days after Christmas, but only briefly. This is the time of the year when you way in the back of your head start hearing a little voice talking about the rope or the pills or the gun. With me it never goes any farther than that, but traditionally between now and the end of February are pretty bleak times here in Latteland. Dark when you go to work, dark when you get home and rain in between.

Molly, the Shi-Tzu is back at the Vets today. She stopped drinking and peeing, and she looked so miserable. Sure hope she is OK. Mrs A was in tears when I went to work. She dropped Molly off at the vet on her way to work. She was worried about paying the Vet, but I told her that we have a bunch of money we had been saving for a trip, so I told her to go ahead and tap in to that. I hate to give up out trip to China, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Down Day

By down day, I don't mean that I am depressed or anything, it means that there is no airplane in my flow day on the 737 line. It is planned that way. It is a chance to get caught up on projects, for the mechanics to renew their certifications, do maintenance on the tools, etc. It is usually a slow day, which we can use. Shipside support is like working on your car when it is doing 60 MPH down the freeway.

So I came in expecting a laid-back kind of day. WRONG!!! Plenty of problems left over from yesterdays bird, and some new items. For instance, the customer saw walking through the factory, and glanced up at the winglets, and there was a logo on the outer surface of the winglet. The winglet is supposed to be painted blue on the outer surface, logo on the inside.

Since the problem was discovered in my flow day, I have to work it. We don't have anything to do with winglets. So I have to run the traplines to figure out where to send the Customer Pick-up. Oh well, it will keep me out of trouble, I guess.

Our shi-tzu, Molly is still not well. She has been vomiting up bile for the last week. We took her to the Vet, and they ran tests and couldn't find anything conclusive. Mrs Alstuff is reaching the end of her tether and about to go into full mama grizzly bear, I don't give a damn what excuses you have, just fix it mode.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pearl Django

So this weekend I took Mrs. Alstuff's sister out to dinner and a show at Jazz Alley. Pearl Django was playing (http://www.pearldjango.com/). If you like Gypsy Jazz, it was great. Since it is pretty much all guitars, and I play guitar, I was in FingerPicking Heaven. The Mrs and her sister, while they recognized the level of skill required, were not as enthused as I was. Oh well, different strokes, and all that.

We got a progress report for V., as he is failing language Arts, which is inexcusable since he is in the 8th grade and reads at a college level. So once again I am forced to curtail his computer usage, all because the little #$%^ doesn't turn in his homework. He is going to be on restriction until he raises his grade. No more going off with his dad for the weekend or anything. I hate being a hardass, but if that's what it takes........

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year

As usual, I am a bit late getting to this, but I've been busy. For New Years Eve, we went with the band (Morning Light) to Bremerton for a show. There were five bands of differing talent, but none stank, and the last band was really good. Of course Morning Light rocked the house, but The Listening was this Pink Floyd style band . Sounded like them, played like early Pink Floyd (Dark side of the Moon), and had a computer controlled light show complete with strobes. I felt like I should have smoked something, although that would be a little out of bounds at a Christian Rock festival. It was a lot of fun.

We got to babysit Kaiden for the first time on Monday. It was the first time he had been away from mom, so the first half an hour was pretty rough. He just stood there in the middle of the floor and cries, so we let him. After a little while he realized no one was paying attention, so he stopped, and things went pretty good after that. He finally crashed for a while, and he was pretty good until Mrs Alstuff had to go down to get the clothes out of the dryer. When he realized he was alone with Grampa, he let out a shriek and wouldn't stop until Mrs Alstuff came back. Kinda humiliating.