Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was OK but not the best I have ever had. It rained here in Alville most of the weekend.
The mission for the weekend was pretty simple. Get the Mercedes running well, and do a little work on the Z. Actually N. got the Mercedes running, and I just adjusted the timing and the fuel mixture.
N. had no mechanical skills whatsoever, so I have been teaching him the basics as we go along. I had stopped with the timing half done, and intended to finish up the other night. When I got home from work I went upstairs to change and I heard the starter going UH-UH-UH-UH, then stop, then start again. After a while I heard the engine pop, and about the time I got outside, it fired and started to run. N. came running up the walk pumping both arms and yelling "A win for the home team". I have never seen him so jazzed. I was actually proud of him. Maybe it will give him something to build from. At any rate, after we finished with the car, it was running pretty good despite the fact it has a regular screw filling the hole for one of the needle valves. They had no problems with it all weekend, and they drove the heck out of it.
The Z needed to have the differential tightened up. No big deal, but I spent most of the weekend waiting for a window in the weather to get out and do it.
So basically we spent the weekend laying around watching movies or puttering around the house.
Mrs A. is having foot surgery tomorrow, so I have to take the day off to drive her around. She is scheduled to check in the Hospital at 5:20 AM, so I guess we will be getting up at zero dark thirty (sigh). Take a day off work, and I don't get to sleep in.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I have lived in the same house for 19 years. I like my house, it is a lot like me, a little run down but very comfortable and utlitarian. I have never before had a problem with rats. Until this week.

When I came home on Tuesday, as I pulled in the driveway, I saw a brown rat sitting on top of the garbage can. I hate rats. So I went and got the BB gun and made a nice neat little hole in his head. Crude but effective. I thought he was a loner, but I was wrong.

When I came home on Wednesday there were three more in the garbage. The kids are throwing stuff in the garbage, and not puting the lid back on, attracting the disease carrying vermin.

After chewing the kids out for attracting the rats, I set about to dispose of the vermin. I went and got the BB gun and waited in ambush. The had created a burrow in the rockery, so I sat out of sight waiting for one of the foolhardy to stick his or her disese carrying heads out. After I disposed of one. the others got the idea that it might not be a good idea to come out, and I got tired of waiting.

What to do now?

I was coming back down the stairs when I noticed a can of THRUST. For those of you not familiar with the product, THRUST is starting fluid for your car. Ifthe car is a little reluctand to start becuse you haven't run it for a while, spray some THRUST in the carb and it will probably start. It is basically ether in a spray can. HMMMM. Ether is also an anesthetic.

Spray the THRUST in the burrow. Wait for a couple of minutes, then drop a match. Whoomp!

I haven't seen a rat since.

BWAAHAAAHHAAA (evil laugh)!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Creepy Crawlies

I was talking about centipides and why the give me the creeps. I also mentioned earwigs. They give me the willies.

I think this is because of a Twilight Zone episode I saw way back when (in black and white). There was a guy who was in South America for whatever reason. I don't remember that part of the plot. What I do remember is someone dropped an earwig in his right ear as he was sleeping. Then they did something to drive it in. The guy ended up in the hospital, where they mornitored what was happening. The earwig was eating its was through his brain in an effort to find a way out.
The last scene is one of those good news/bad news scenes:

"The good news is that the earwig has come out the other side and you seem to be doing fine.
The bad news is it was female, and laid eggs."

It totally freaked me out. I was probably about 8 or 9 at the time, and that has stuck with me all this time.

I still can't stand earwigs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


  • STAR Chapter VI is now available. PQ if you stop by you should read chapter V, as you make a cameo appearance as the young STAR.
  • And the Survey Says......

    I aced my assessment yesterday, so I can continue to fool around in the computing system, creating havoc wherever I go. I hate the pressure, because if you don't pass the test, they take your security away and you can't do part of the job. No pressure or anything!
    When I got back from the test, there was an e-mail from Mes A. telling me that the Mercedes had blown up in the parking lot where she works. Since none of them are mechanically competent, I didn't know what to expect. I figured it must have thrown a rod or something terrible.
    So when I got off work, I went down with N. to look at the car. Much to my relief, there was no large puddle of fluids under the car. Furthermore, when I grabbed the fan belt and reefed on it I could turn the engine over by hand, so it wasn't frozen or anything. N. got in the car and turned the key and nothing happened, so I started tracing wires, and it turned out that the hot wire from the key had fallen against the exhaust manifold and the insulation melted off, causing a dead short. They had also somehow lost the needle valve out of the carburetor so it was leaking gas. When they turned the key over, gas + spark= exposion.
    So I did a quick fix on the wire, scrounged a screw, put it back together, and we drive it home. Took less than an hour. Unfortunately it is not driveable until I can scrounge up a needle valve for the carburetor, Or mabe barely driveable. I tried to get it running and retime it last night, but with the needle valve missing, I cant keep it running long enough to get the timing light on it.
    Geuss I know what I'll be doing after work tonight.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006


    I have a yearly assessment I need to take today to maintain my security level for working in one of the computer systems. It is a giant pain in the ass. I have not worked in that system in over two years, but I am due to rotate out of my present position the first of July, so it would be a good idea to have all the tools in my tool box.
    I have enjoyed working as a Pit Boss for the last year and a half, but they are rotating this slot to second shift as of the first of July, so I told them to go ahead and rotate the hell out if it, but since I was a volunteer, they could rotate it without me. With all the extra people at home right now it would not be right to go to second shift and leave everything on Mrs A. Personally, it would be a way to get out of a lot of the crap, but it just wouldn't be fair.
    So it's off to the dungeon for the red hot pinchers and thumb screws for the rest of the day.

    Monday, May 22, 2006


    Just thought I'd get my whine out of the way first. I have a little trouble getting started on Monday. A 20 oz. Diet Coke with lime usually jump starts the day. What did people do before caffeine?

    This weekend I moved my library from the basement to upstairs. Five bookcases and about 1,000 books. It took me all day Saturday to sort them and get them in the shelves. I surplused 3 bags of surplus books.

    Mrs A. and I got into it yesterday over the Mercedes. It has a few minor problems. It needs a little TLC, but I bought the car, that doesn't mean I am going to buy all of the parts and provide all of the labor to work on it. Yesterday the muffler came loose, so it sounded like a tank coming into the driveway. She came screaming out of the bedroom yelling "DO YOU HEAR THAT CAR? IT SOUNDS LIKE CRAP!"
    So naturally I yelled right back at her "IF YOU DON"T LIKE IT I WILL TAKE IT BACK AND YOU CAN BUY THEM A FUC%$#@ CAR YOURSELF!" Sometimes it seems that God lets no good deed go unpunished.
    So the muffler came loose. big ripping deal. It will cost under $5.00 to fix and take maybe an hour. Trouble is Mrs A. knows nothing about cars, so everything is a disaster. The car dies because the idle is too low, and it is imminent disaster. It takes all of 30 seconds to turn up the idle screw. The timing is a little to far advanced, so It pops back up the carb. I haven't had time to adjust it yet, but the only thing that it could hurt had already happened before we got the car. It blew off the air cleaner and put a dimple in the hood. I'll get to it when I can.
    So by bedtime cooler heads prevailed and everything was better, but I sure get tired of everyone checking under my sweatshirt to see if there is a big red "S" on my teeshirt.

    Friday, May 19, 2006


    In my post yesterday one of the words I was talking about was Demons. You know, the things that live in the closet in the back of your head. The ones that you really have no control over. I have seen otherwise controlled and rational people lose control over something like a bee, or a spider. I really don't have that many. As I mentioned I have a fear of going blind, but that is not usually on that sets me off, except if you knock my glasses off. I will flat kick you ass for that. It all has to do with feeling vulnerable.

    One of the things that gives me the willies is centipedes. When I was overseas, I was sitting on an ancient coral wall at Nagagusuku castle, when something bit me in the ass. I rose to the occasion and saw a centipede about a foot long and as big around as your little finger come out of a hole in the wall. I did an inspired tap dance on his little forehead.

    About 20 minutes later I turned white as a sheet, began sweating profusely and shivering. Since we all were medical personnel, they all knew what to do, but no one would suck the poison out, so they rushed me to the hospital, where they gave me a shot of epinephrin and benedryl (I think). I was in the hospital for a couple of days. The doctors said that the poison from that variety of centipede is about as venomous as rattlesnake venom. So centipedes give me the creepy crawlies.

    And don't get me started on Earwigs.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Stuff and Nonsense

    I declined the opportunity to go to work yesterday. I hadn't slept well in several days, and just got so tired I couldn't get up. I just rolled over and went back to sleep. Got up long enough to call in, and turned around and went back to bed. I didn't get out of the sack until 11:15. It was wonderful.

    After I got up, the day was pretty hectic. The kids wanted to move from their present room an the top floor to a bigger room in the basement. The only problem was that the room in the basement was crammed full of stuff, mostly Ls stuff, but a little of mine and some of Mrs A.s. My main thing was that I had five book cases stuffed to overflowing with books, and so was the room they were moving out of. So with a log jam at both ends, where do you begin?

    With the dump, of course. That and Goodwill. Mission mostly accomplished. I still have to make a trip to the dump, but stuff moved out of the way. Next empty the book cases. I must have about 1,000 books, so it is no small task. Plus one of the book cases is too big to fit around the corner going up the circular staircase, so we had to bring it up with ropes over the balcony off of out bedroom. We got all of the books upstairs and moved the book cases out of the way, then we had to move the stuff downstairs. The box springs was to big to go around the corner of the circular staircase, so over the balcony it goes. It's a whole lot easier getting things down than up, gravity doing most of the work.

    The kids should finish it up today.

    Now for the nonsense. L. is on welfare (Actually she is on ADC, but it amounts to the same thing). DSHS sent her a letter telling her that they were cutting off her benefits because they couldn't locate her. Now wait just a minute. If they couldn't find her, how did they know where to send the letter, and why do they call her and talk to her on the phone? Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing!

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    "D" is for.........

    I was over at daphnewood and she was doing this thing where you take a letter of the alphabet and write 10 words down that start with the letter and explain what each on means to you. So she gave me the letter "D".

    1) Delight: We should all never lose our sense of delight in the world. There is a whole universe of delight in a single flower. All we have to do is see it.

    2) Destiny: A word that always sends me off on a mental trip. Are we determinate creatures? Do we have free will, or are we destined to a certain end?

    3) Determination: One of my better character traits. Pure talent without determination gets you nowhere. Intelligence without determination gets you in the door, but no more.

    4) Definistrate: Just because I like the word. It means to commit a political act of assisination by throwing someone out of a window. Another of my cache of useless information.

    5) Demons: We all have them. Those things that live in the back closet of your head, and only come out at night. I have a great fear of going blind. Part of this is because I have terrible eyesight and part of it is because both my dad and grandfather went blind from Macular degeneration, so I think it is probably enevitable. If I can't read I'll go nuts.

    6) Deck: I need to put a new deck on the house this summer. The old one is pretty rotten, and if I don't someone is going to fall through. This is the last major project I have left on the house. After this it will be in good enough shape to sell. But I have lived there 18 years, raised my kids there. I hate to let it go.

    7) Dugout: AAHHH the days of summer when I played on baseball teams. I was always borderline first string. When I was hot I played a quite a bit, when I was cold I spent considerable amount of time in the dugout. I normally played second base, but I occasionally pitched. Lots of fond memories.

    8) Dairy: My family ran a dairy in Northern Idaho. It is no longer in the family, but I have lots and lots of wonderful memories of the Farm. I have blogged some about them, and you can rest assured there will be more.

    9) Dark: A lot of people are afraid of the dark, but I actually enjoy it. It is peaceful and quiet, and in general you aren't disturbed a lot. I like to sit out on the deck after dark and think.

    10) Dog: Just because daphnewood said cat. I like dogs, but I also like cats, fish, birds, reptiles. At one time or another I have had a lot of different kinds of pets. Right now we only have one: Molly the shi-tzu. She is mainly Mrs A's baby, but I love her too.

    So there we have my version of the letter "D".

    If you want to use the concept, have at it, or leave a comment and if you ask nice, I will give you your very own letter of the alphabet.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Chapter V

    Chapter V of
  • STAR is now available.
  • Monday: BLAH

    I almost played hookey today, but I knew we had a Southwest airplane in our day today, and we have done so many of them that pretty much all of the bugs have been worked out. But I might take off Friday, since it is a down day.

    I hope all you Mothers out there had a wonderful day yesterday. I dropped off a basket of begonias at my moms, and spent the rest of the day with Mrs A. I cooked a Pork Loin for her (her choice). Baked in the oven with a cranberry chutney glaze. It came out absolutely perfect. It all disappeared in very short order.

    So Green Jean is home now. The car is so butt ugly it is cute. So far it hasn't had any problems, other than the fact it has a mechanical choke, and L. had never even SEEN a mechanical choke before, the result of which is she has flooded the car a couple of times, and I had to go out and get it started. The kids were driving it around all weekend. They tell me it is a real head turner. I kinda hate giving it up.

    Well, grit your teeth, gird your loins and put your shoulder to the wheel...............

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    The Mercedes

    So here is a picture of the 1972 Mercedes I went and looked at last night. Not a very good picture. I didn't take enough money with me to pay for it last night, so I have to go back tonight to complete the deal.
    The good stuff: The body is almost perfect, only one small crease in the passengers side rear door. No rust. It appears that it had 76,000 original miles on it. It starts and runs, does not smoke. It is all there, and most things work. It has collector car plates, so you don't have to pay for tabs ever. It is old enough that it is exempt from emissions regulations.
    The not so good stuff: The speedometer is broken. It has a very distinct vibration starting at about 40 miles an hour. It isn't real bad, but it is noticeable. It is missing one hubcap. The dash is absolute crap, and will need to have something done immediately. The glove box only works with the key, the latch being broken. The headliner is beginning to sag, the trim in the back seat is bad. And face it, these cars a butt ugly in a cute sort of way.
    I think I will call her Green Jean.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Car Quest.

    I spent a good bit of time yesterday perusing craiglist looking at cars. L & N cannot do much of anything without a car, and they have been borrowing one of mine to run errands and stuff. Since L got her drivers license, they are legal, but they have no car insurance. My Insurance will cover if it is an emergency. It would cost me around $250.00 a month to add them to my insurance. All indicators are that they will be with us for three or four months, so it would cost me $750 to $1000 to cover their insurance. Much better to take that money and go buy them a car that will get them around.

    So, I am supposed to go look at a car tonight. It is a 1972 Mercedes 280 with a stick shift. There isn't supposed to have anything wrong with it. Don't think I'll believe that is true. It is $650, so if it is not at deaths door, it should do just fine. Those old Mercedes' are good for a lot of miles, as long as maintenance is taken care of. I'll have to take a real close look at it.

    Mrs A. is going in to the doctors for a pre-op check with the Podiatrist, so I may be going alone.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Not just another Hump Day

    It is a sad day in Alville today.

    L. is going in to have her pregnancy terminated today. She has had three miscarriages and one stillborn, and this pregnancy is threatening her life. She has been into the emergency room several times. She gets so sick she can't hold anything down, even water. So she gets dehydrated and her blood pressure goes through the roof, and she ends up in the Emergency Room on an IV until they can get her stabilized.

    I am basically pro-life. If you don't want the child, give it up for adoption. There are thousands of caring loving people out there who for whatever reasons, can't have kids of there own. They would give just about anything to adopt a healthy baby. In this case, With L.s life at risk, I think it is justified, but it is still a sad day.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    The ants are coming!, The ants are coming.!

    L is such a little drama queen. She is about 23 years old, but a lot of the time she acts like she is about 12.
    The other day she was going into the closet to get out some shoes and she started screeching that there was a Carpenter Ant "Nest" in the closet> Took everything out of the closet and found one ant wandering around looking confused. I put an ant poison bait in the closet just in case. I have a reason for disliking carpenter Ants.

    When my son was small we lived in a house that was originally built for the supervisors of the Renton Coal mine. The house predated electricity and running water, so all of the amenities were add-on. Some of the work was pretty bad. When we first found this house, it was condemned because of the septic system. I dug a new drain field for the septic system, and the department of health declared it fit for Human habitation.

    It had Two bedrooms upstairs and one down. We decided to take the upstairs, and gave N. the downstairs.

    One morning I was jerked out of a sound sleep by N. Bellowing "The carpet's moving, the carpets moving!!!!"

    I ran downstairs turned on the light, and sure as shit the carpet WAS moving. A section about 18" square was pulsing up and down. I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew of nothing that could make the carpet pulse up and down like that.

    With my heart in my throat and my hands trembling I eased over to the corner of the carpet and flipped it back.

    There was a mass of Carpenter Ants several inches thick under the carpet, and they seemed to be trying to move the carpet out of their way. It was really creepy.

    At any rate I flipped the carpet back over and did an inspired flamenco on the carpet. After several minutes I ran out of energy and stopped, and pulled back the carpet. The ants were dead or stunned or injured. I quick ran down to the lawn and garden store and bought some ant killer and spread it around. Trouble was I never knew where they had come from.

    WHen I bought our current house, there was the stump of an old cherry tree on the property line with the house next door. It has a carpenter ant nest in it. I didn't notice it at first, but R. Pointed it out to me. I went out and she showed me a trail of ants heading towards my house. I told her I would give her a penny a piece for all the ants she could kill. She made a couple of dollars by the time I got the stump pulled and the infestation taken care of. I still see an occasional Carpenter Ant,, but I can't find where they are coming from.

    In the back of my head I am still hearing my son screaming "The carpet's moving, the carpets moving!!!!!!"

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Cinco de Mayo

    Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England.
    In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico,
    which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York. This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico.
    But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York.
    The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost. The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise,
    and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss.
    Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day. The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course,
    Sinko de Mayo.


    Sorry about that. I know this is a repeat, but I just couldn't help myself. A really bad joke bears repeating.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006


    Mrs A. is going to have to have to have foot surgery at the end of the month. We just had this confirmed on Monday. Like a lot of women, she has tortured her feet for years by wearing shoes that are ergonomic disasters. I have never understood women and their obsession with shoes.
    I understand that you can't wear the same pair of shoes to church that you use to work in the garden, and probably need a different pair for fishing, and maybe one other pair for running, but the point of each of these is utility. They have to be comfortable and perform the function for which they are used.
    Women can never have enough shoes. The closet may be stuffed with shoes, but when the adds come with the Sunday newspaper, ZZZIIIPPP they are all over the shoe adds. "Kicky little strap back open toed semisandals" in pastel colors nonetheless! Oh rapture.
    I just don't get it.
    Here Mrs A. is going in to have surgery, and all she is worried about is her shoes.. She is going around muttering "$%%^&&* sensible shoes", or ^%&*^%*&% orthopedic shoes".
    Oh well, I guess that is one of the reasons women will always be mysteries to us male types.

    By the way, chapter IV of STAR is out there is anyone cares to read it.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    The Perkins Perfect Pocket Poultry Punch

    When I dropped out of college, I went to work for Automix Keyboards in Bellevue, Wa. They manufactured information feed keyboards for phototypesetters. They were one of the first in the US to use computer-in-a-chip technology. I ran a flow solder machine and did general machine repair and maintenance for a printed circuit board assembly area. The firm was very high tech for it's time. They had a Dee System 8 flow solder machine that was so advanced it wasn't even on the market yet. They had bought it as a prototype off the floor of a trade fair. It was a very well designed and efficient machine.

    The keyboards were all Reed Switch actuated, and very robust, but pretty expensive. They were combined with the interface machine that allowed a single person to produce a multiple font, multi-color document, like a small newspaper, from a single terminal. Basically you can do the same thing from any computer now, but at the time it was innovative.

    Our product was expensive. The same technology that is included in every computer available for desktop publishing cost about $20,ooo.oo at the time.

    The consoles we made produced tape, Magnetic tape or paper punch tape similar to Telex tape, which was then fed into the actual phototypesetter.

    I was staying late, repairing the pump in a Freon cleaning system that had a bearing go bad, and ran into one of the head Engineers. I asked him what he was doing there so late. He was literally pacing the floor and muttering to himself. "Waiting for the @#$%^&* punches to come in."

    "What punches are those?" I asked.

    "The Perkins Perfect Pocket Poultry Punch" he replied.

    "What the heck do they have to do with Phototypesetters?"

    "You know how the Keyboards and consoles work?"

    "Sure, they use magnetic or paper tape to feed instructions to the Phototypesetters."

    "When you are making a paper tape, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a combination of holes in the tape .Little pins feeding through holes in the paper tape to read the combinations. If you make a mistake, you have to correct the tape by manually punching out the line on the tape, creating a null. When we designed the machine, we had to have a unique size and shape of punch to null out the holes in the paper tape. On of the guys had a punch that he had laying around the garage, so we used that. We started up the business with that one punch, and we found someone to produce additional punches."

    When we went to Patent out system, they found that the punch we were using was already patented. That particular size and shape of punch was patented by the Perkins Perfect Pocket Poultry Punch Co. and we were infringing on their patent."

    The only address for the Perkins Co. was a P.O. box in rural Georgia. No phone, no address. The company sent a representative to Georgia to meet with Mr. Perkins. He lived in a modest shack out in the swamps. The punch was used to make a small hole between the tendon and bone in a chicken's leg so that they could be hung upside down for processing at the chicken processing plant. It had been invented by his dad as a young man, and every chicken processing plant had to have several. Replacement kept him as busy as he wanted to be, and he could work at his own pace. He made punches according to his own whim and time table.

    If he wanted to buy a new pair of shoes, he could make up a couple of punches and mail them out to whoever was on the top of the order list, buy whatever he wanted, and stop until he needed something else.

    Was he willing to sell the patent? Absolutely not, he had regular customers who depended on his product.

    Would he allow us to manufacture the punches and pay him royalties? Absolutely not. He didn't trust us to maintain the quality control he infused in each and every Perkins Perfect Pocket Poultry Punch. What if inferior examples found their way on to the market place? What would people think? How could he trust us to faithfully report how many we produced?

    So we were stuck with Mr Perkins. He produces the Punches at his leisure, and mails them out when he feels like it.

    Here we were, sitting there with 10 completed units sitting on the loading dock, waiting for the punches to come in. We had no way of contacting Mr. Perkins except through his P.O. box, and no way to lean on him to step up his production.

    I have always wanted to invent something like the Perkins Perfect Pocket Poultry Punch that would give me the independence to thumb my nose at the world, live off the grid, and have just enough to meet my needs as long as I didn't need too much.


    I am in a computing class today and tomorrow, so I won't be around to BLOG much, just on breaks or lunch. However, I am working on something for Wednesday, a mildly amusing story about the Perkins Perfect Pocket Poultry Punch.