Saturday, July 29, 2006

We're all Bozos on this bus

Which was the title of a Firesign Theater album (remember albums: big black discs that used a special rotating platter to produce music?)

At any rate, we're all crazy. I'm crazy, you're crazy, and the people next door are for sure crazy. As my mom used to put it "Everyone's crazy except for you and me, and I'm not so sure about you."

Some crazy dude in downtown Seattle went into a Jewish center, yelled that he was pissed at Israel and started shooting women.. Killed one and injured five, a couple of them critically. Boy that sure showed them Israelis.

For the first time in a long time V. is spending the weekend with his dad. His dad's new wife is crazy. She had started telling us how to do things. And I don't mean advice, it was orders. When she started telling us how to raise V. I called her on it, told her that she wasn't Vs mom. That didn't go well, but it is the truth. Besides, the woman has never raised a child so she doesn't know what she is talking about.

At any rate, N. called to double check that everything was OK about him picking up V. I said, sure, no problem, but I could hear her in the background "Since we aren't family he needs to give us a written statement that it is OK for us to have V."

When this was relayed to me my reply was short:

"HORSESHIT!!" and that is a quote. Who the hell does she think she is telling me what to do.

Mrs A. found it highly amusing.

All crazy.

Every one.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday is finally here

This week seems like it was about ten days long. It is hard to believe that one week ago today I was still in Mexico, and all that went on from there.

I didn't write anything in my blog yesterday, because things were just WAY too busy. I had just transitioned to a new job. and since I was no longer directly supporting the shop, had adjusted my start time from 6:00 to 7:00 so I could grab an extra hour in the morning in the sack.

Well the first day that I started my new shift time, as soon as I got to work, my cell phone rings and it is the shop. Could I come out and go back to my old job as pit boss for a couple of weeks?

I said I would be willing, but they had to go through my new management and get an OK, and I would need to "loan in" while I was there.

So an hour later, there I was back at my old job.

Well, they didn't ask for me to come back because everything was going according to plan. So I was busy scrambling to try to figure out what was going on while handling the new stuff coming in.

This was a real win-win situation for me.

I made brownie points with the shop and shipside support for being willing to come out and support them. I made more brownie points with my management because the shop requested me by name to come out and help, and I was willing to do it. I plan to milk this one for all I can get.

Too bad were not up for salary review right now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Downside

Lest all y'all go down the road fat dumb and happy, thinking the Mexico trip was a walk in the park, I need to include the other side of the coin.

One of the things I failed to include in my list of things to be thankful for was PEACE AND QUIET!

Living in a barracks full of teenage boys was a real challenge. The noise level went from a low roar to complete chaos. The trips on the bus to wherever we were going were so loud, I finally begged a set of earplugs from one of the other adults. I believe they saved my sanity. (or did they????)

I got mighty sick of beans and rice. It filled me and kept me going, but the food was just basic fuel for the body.

Mrs. A. had a real problem with the lack of structure. Most of the time it was pretty chaotic, and no one seemed to be in charge. Either no one was, or everyone seemed to be trying to be at the same time. Secretly, I think Mrs A. thought SHE should be in charge. She'd whup 'em into line.

the last day and journey home were a real nightmare. Four of the group came down with the Tijuana-two-step. They all started running off at both ends at about 4:00 in the morning, of the day we were to go home. Mrs A. finally made it back to work today.

One of the guys was seriously ill. We were waiting in 105 degree temperatures for a couple of hours. I was in the women's barracks taking care of Mrs A, and about six people were over by the mens barracks taking care of the kid (I think he was 14 or so). they were cooling him down with wet cloths and making sure he forced fluids.

I heard it when he went into hyperventiliation, and nobody seemed to know what to do, so after five minutes or so, I left Mrs. A, and went over and told them "He is in hyperventilation. You need to get a paper bag, and have him breathe into it." I saw the lights go on in a couple of heads. It was like "Oh, I knew that" but they had never seen the real thing before, and didn't recognize it. It took a quite a while to get things under control. His temperature was 102 when they started to treat the hyperventilation, and it was back down to normal by the time we got to the border (about an hours bus ride). It was pretty scary. Glad I was there to remind them what to do. Mrs. A did not pass a bathroom without examining the facilities up close and personal. She told me she was sitting on the pot, puking on the floor at the bathroom on the border.

That was where I threatened the Border Guard. She was very weak and needed support to walk, so I helped her up to the check station. The Border Guard kinda sneered and told me "One at a time". I told him "This is my wife, and she is very ill. I am helping her up to the counter. If you give me any more $%^&* I will come over this counter and see if I can change your attitude." Probably not the brightest move I have made recently. The other Border guard distracted me, and took me over to the side and very politely got me through. The young guy that was so sick had to be essentially carried through the checkpoint. I think I must have softened up the guards, because they were REAL polite to everyone else.

Same thing at the airport. The check-in clerk was ignoring us and waited on several people who got there after us. When I interrupted her she told me she was the only one on duty, so I could either shut up or get out of the line, I told her that Mrs A. was the only one in line she had skipped over, and also the only one who was likey to barf all over her nice neat counter. All the sudden there were a couple more people specifically to help us through.

The flight home was no joy. Mrs. A. and the three other people that were sick had to take turns rushing to the bathroom.

On of the kids right behind them started making barfing noises, and I turned around and told him "If you don't stop that, I am going to come back there and slap the shit out of you!" I think I stunned a couple of people, but it got the job done.

The first day we were there, I let my blood sugar get so low I almost passed out. I was hot, had been moving dirt, and was thirsty, so I went over and sat down for a second and took a drink of water. When I got up everything went black and I sat down VERY abruptly. I was seeing stars, which happened when my blood sugar gets too low. There was another diabetic there, along with her mom. I knew that they carried hard candy, so I begged a piece from them, and it brought me back. I made sure I always carried hard candy with me after that.

But I was sure asking myself "What have I gotten myself into?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mexico Pictures

So, here are a bunch of images from the trip to Mexico.

Here is the portable theater that we used to present stuff all over the area.

The "Chain gang" digging footings for a new wall. We found scorpions, black widow spiders, and something the locals called "The face of the child" and assured us "Es Mortal!"

One of my favorite images.

Doing crafts with one of the kids

Making comcrete the old way. Sand, cement, rocks and water on the bare ground.

That's me with the white headband.

The crew

Water wars.

The kids absolutely LOVED the personal Mister/sprayer.

Our favorite place. Shaded, and there was always a breeze.

Building walls. The ambient temperature was 105 degrees, but it must have been 120 degrees between the walls.

More images to come!

Back to the grind

I'm back at work today. No pictures of the trip to Mexico yet.

I downloaded the pictures to my computer at home, and burned them onto a CD, but of course I left the CD at home. I will definitely try and get to posting a few pics tonight.

First of all, I just want to say what a humbling experience it was, going on a mission to Mexico to El Rancho de la Sus Ninos. Their water supply is from a well, and limited, so the running water is limited. Showers consist of a bucket and a cup. Electricity is from a generator. No air conditioning. Food is beans and rice and an entree.

The orphanage houses around 100 permanent resident kids, ranging from under 1 yr old, to teens. It is not supported by the state and all services are free. It is solely supported by donations from Christian Organizations. It supports a day care that supports around 100 kids, several outreach churches in the Tijuana area, and a bible college.

All of the facilities have been built with volunteer labor, with donated materials or materials bought with donated money. It has been in existence for 20 years and started out with absolutely nothing. It has teetered on the edge of dissolution several times, but always at the last minute and enexpected donation has come along and pulled them back from the brink.

The mission was physically challenging. I avoid physical labor, and digging ditches and pouring concrete in 105 degree weather was taxing (I lost 10 lbs in 7 days). It was also behaviorally challenging. Canvassing, participating in presentations and skits and Evangelizing is outside my comfort zone, but I always push myself to do things that are a challenge. Riding herd on a bunch of teenage kids was also a challenge.

But I didn't kill a single one of then, although I did threaten to "Come back there and slap the shit out of" a couple of them. Maybe not the best of language, but I guarantee you the message got across.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Blog

I don't normally blog on Sunday, because I am generally too busy on the weekends to take the time to sit down at the computer and write anything.

Today is different for a couple of reasons.

I had to run Mrs. A. in to the Emergency room last night.

She brought home a case of Montezuma's Revenge with her from Mexico. She has had a case of the scoots since the middle of the night on Friday, and is still wearing a path in the carpet from the bedroom to the bathroom. She has been miserable, and the fact that the temperature has been in the high 90's has not helped the situation.

She was so weak and miserable last night that I called the Consulting Nurse for Group Health, and she recommended that I take her in just to double-check and get her rehydrated and get her Electrolites ballanced.

Any thime you have to go to the Emergency room, it is a pain in the ass (and after almost 40 hours of the scoots, that is literal). So they put her on an IV and checked her out. Everything is fine, but she is still doin' the Tiajuana Two-step. Sure hope she will be better soon.

Besides being at the hospital until midnight, I got a call from The Lazy B this morning, and they needed me to come in to work to straighten out some Electrical problems.

The rules are that if they call you in on your day off, they have to pay you for four hours if you are there for more than a half an hour. Sunday is also double time, so basically I got 8 hours pay for a couple of hours work.

Since I only live about ten minutes from the plant and I wasn't up to doing much anyway, I went in to our nice air-condiotioned office and worked for a couple of hours.

Now nobody expects me to do anything because I am tired from the trip, and had to work besides.

I think I need to go rehydrate.

Otra Cervesa Por Favor!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What a trip!

Too much to say, and not a bit of it thought through yet, but the trip to Mexico was... well, it was a trip.

I have about 100 pictures, which I have not even had a chance to download. There was SOOOOO much that happened, and a little more challenge than I was prepared for.

I was laying in my bunk at the orphanage this morning trying to figure out how to go about this, and got........nowhere.

I have only been able to take "Bucket Showers" for the last week, so when I sign off here, I am going to go celebrate the major triumph of Western Civilivation, hot running water right in your house, and stand under the shower for at least 20 minutes, and then go celebrate sleeping in my own bed with Mrs. A at my side.

Deadly insects....heat stroke.......back breaking labor.......beautiful orphan childern...........evangilism............bad food.........wonderful campanionship........

Am I glad to be home?????

Hell yes!!!!

Would I do it again????

In an instant!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Which is a direct quote from our buddy Tigger and means Ta Ta For Now.

It has been a hectic day, getting ready for the trip. I am just about fully packed, just waiting for a pair of shorts and a pair of loose cotton pants to make it through the drier.

Mrs A. went to the Podiatrist this morning to get a final checkout of her foot, and everything is OK, although I imagine it will be invoked to get her dispensation from any physical labor.

After that we had to go find Mrs. A a bigger suitcase, either that or I would be working naked, as she had appropriated most of the storage capacity of my suitcase.

Had to get the bills paid so they didn't reposess Alville while I was gone (Although I am grateful I have the ability to pay the bills, I still hate paying them).

So I will be gone from Blogville for a week. No computer access, no phone service no running water. I will miss everyone in the blogasphere.

When I get back home, after taking a LOOOONNNGGG hot shower and catching up on sleep, I will be loading up some pictures from the trip.

N. is supposed to tear the deck off of the house while we are gone. It will be really strange to pull in the driveway and have the deck gone. Tearing it down will be the easy part. Then I have to build the new one. I'll get to that after we are back.

So wish me luck and if you are the praying sort, say a little prayer for us.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pushin' the Limits

I am not a person that is satisfied to sit in a chair and watch TV and look out at life passing by on the street. So I tend to try and challenge myself to do things that are not easy for me.

Oh, I don't mean jump off of buildings or free climb mountains. I have done those things before, but I am getting a little long in the tooth for those kinds of physical challenge.

I mean other kinds of challenges, like going to Mexico on a mission with the church. For me this is pushing the envelope in a totally different way. Part of it has to do with puting myself under someone elses control, which has always been an issue for me. And getting up in front of a group and doing testimony makes my knees quiver. But I don't let that stop me.

Getting involved with Morning Light and helping with Prison Ministry was a push, but on the other hand there aren't a lot of people willing to take on that job. The right message to the right group at the right time could do more to change peoples lives than anything else I could be involved in.

Life is a journey, and the path is always there if we will just have faith and take the first step. But that first step is always the hardest.

I am taking tomorrow off, to finish packing and take care of last minute business. I went out and got a case of CDs from Morning Light last night to distribute among the young people when we go on our mission.

I pulled a muscle in my shoulder last night helping April unload a keyboard from her car. I keep forgetting that I had surgery on my shoulder last October, and it keeps reminding me that I am not quite ready to use it like I used to. Getting closer all the time.

Lots of stuff to double check before we take off on Friday.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Packin' it in

Friday we are leaving for Mexico.

Not your Cabo-san-pulco-juana. A little villiage in the middle of nowhere, where we are spending a week with a missionary group providing slave labor at an orpanage, pouring comcrete and building walls.

One peice of luggage not weighing more than 50 lbs. One carry-on. Need to bring bedding and water bottles. Doesn't leave a lot of room for anything but the necessities (Like toilet paper, which is NOT provided)

Showers are by bucket.

There isn't a whole lot of room for luxuries. My question to you is: given a limited amount of space and weight, and disallowing expensive electronic devices like mp3 plaayers, what would you just not live without? Limit yourself to a couple of items.

I just got a water spray bottle with a built-in fan, and a wind up flashlight that doesn't require batteries.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mickey Mouse Mechanics

If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, it is late and no parts store is open, I'm the guy that can usually figure out how to get the car home. I drove so many beaters for so many years that I can usually figure out a way to Mickey Mouse things together.

An Example: I was driving a 1938 Graham Supercharger, and got caught in a snowstorm. This car had vacuum operated windshield wipers. When you are going up a hill or accelerating, they don't work very effectively. The snow kept building up on the wipers, so I kept having to stop and clear them.

Under the dash there was a little "ping", and the wipers stopped working. They would go over, but they wouldn't come back.

I pulled over and messed around with them, and found that if you bumped the wiper blades when they were all the way over they would come back.

Scrounging around the car I came up with a half a dozen rubber bands, which I daisy-chained together, attached them to the wiper blade, wound the other end around the wing window handle, started up the car, and drove the rest of the way home.

I performed an emergency repair so Mickey Mouse this weakend, that EVEN I was ashamed. But of course it worked.

Green Jean, the '73 Mercedes, decided to quit working last Thursday. It was over at R's apartment. I suspected the battery had been run dead, but wasn't sure.

Saturday, N. and I went down to grab the battery out and bring it home and charge it. When we got there, I asked N. to see if the car would start. To my surprise, it turned over, but it wouldn't start.

I had adjusted the points recently, so I popped of the distributor cap to see if they had slipped. No, the points were fine.

I happened to glance at the underside of the cap, and the little center button that made the electrical contact with the rotor was MISSING. Something I had never heard of happening before.

No contact, no spark.

There is a little spring up in the body of the cap that pushes the button forward.

I took that spring out, bent the last 1/8 inch 90%, put it back in the distributor cap, put the cap back on the car.

Not only did it start, but we drove it all the way home.

We went and tried to get a new distributor cap. but it was too late, everything was closed. The one place that was open didn't carry anything that old.

This was Saturday night, and I was tired, so I decided to sleep on it.

When I got up Sunday, I went to reconoiter the situation.

I have a parts car for my Z sitting in the driveway. I pulled the distributor cap off of it, and it looked like the little button would fit in the Mercedes.

I pulled on it and it came right out, so I went over and it went right in the Mercedes distributor cap. The car runs like a champ.

Well, they are both 280's.

Friday, July 07, 2006

New digs

I am at a new job and new location starting today. So far I have managed to unpack, hook up the phone, hook up the computer and process one item for the group. Not bad for a couple of hours.

It is downright painful to try to remember how to do some of this stuff. The information eventually works its way to the surface, but it is more like a splinter that has to fester and work its way to the surface than an information retrieval system.

As I put it this morning "The storage system functions perfectly, but the information retrieval system seems to have broken down".

I am leaving at lunch. Mrs A and I are going to see a counselor to get some advice as to what would be the best approach towards our freeloading children.

I know, I know. Kick their ass out.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The other night when things were working on towards dark, on the Fourth, a thunderstorm cell wandered through and put on it's own little fireworks show. Kinda upstaged the later stuff. It also reminded me of this:

a couple of years ago in August, we had a most unusual weather day. Thunderstorm cells moved in one after the other all afternoon and evening. I love storms, so I spent a lot of the day outside where I could watch things.

We were living in a tiny 800 sq. ft house in West Seattle, just my son Nathan and I. At just about dark, I noticed we were just about out of milk, so we walked up to the Safeway a block away. It was a warm windy evening with occasional flashes of lightning and claps of thunder.

We had gotten our milk and were on the way home.

As we passed a side alley a deranged dog came roaring out of the alley at us. His eyes were dilated and there was foam at the corners of his mouth. He was showing his teeth and growling. It was not a small dog, but I believe a Rodesian Ridgeback. I think all the thunder and lightning had unhinged him.

Scared the hell out of me.

As he charged at us, with my right hand, I pushed my son behind me, and turned to face the dog. I pointed at the dog and yelled "Get the hell away from us!".

At the exact moment I pointed and yelled, the entire sky lit up and a lightning bolt hit very, very close by. The Dogs eyes got so big it looked like they would pop out of his head, as he skidded to a stop.

He turned tail and "Yipe, yipe yipe" as he turned tail and ran the other way as fast as he could.

The release of tension and sight of the dog running away was so immediate and so intense that my son and I looked at each other and broke out in laughter. We laughed off and on for the rest of the evening.

Maybe he thought he had tried to bite God.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


There are a lot of people stumbling around with red eyes this morning for various reasons, myself included. Some of the reasons are:

1) Lack of sleep. I know it sounded like a war zone last night, and it didn't taper off until after midnight.

2) consumption of massive amounts of alcohol.

3) close range contact to smoke from various exploding or sparking substances.

4) inhaling illegal herbal substances.

5) all of the above.

I am guilty of numbers one and three. I would like to think I have outgrown numbers two and four, but we are all one moment away from our next Homer moment.

If overindulgence in good food could cause red eyes, I would be guilty of that also. I brought egg rolls, of course. Each time I go to a potluck, I make a few more in the hopes that there will be a couple left over that I can take home. So far I am batting a big zero.

We all made it through with all of our parts intact, although V. was doing a study of the difference between Black Cat and Titanium firecrackers, and to his dismay found the Black Cat fuses burned a a much quicker rate. His fingers are smarting and his ears are ringing, but no permanent damage.

Hope everyone out there had a glorious Fourth and came through it in good shape.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Things always get busy this time of year. This weekend and the upcoming weeks are no exception.

Saturday was V.s fourteenth birthday, so he had some friends over for pizza and sodas, and they played x-box for six solid hours. I got out a book and retired to the music room, where I was far enough away to escape the bubble and boil, but close enough to make sure nothing burned. All in all, it was a successful day.

We also gave L. her birthday present, which was a couple of days early, her b-day being today. They wanted to go camping, and we bought them a full camping set, which included about everything except the reservations. It was a cool set, but of course this being an extended weekend for a lot of people, they couldn't find an open place, everything already being full.

Sunday was Church and grocery shopping, plus I took V down to the Mall to spend his birthday money. While I was there I picked up a computer game (Heroes of Might and Magic V) and a book (Whistling Season by Ivan Doig). We also went to the Asian market to get the ingredients for egg rolls, which we are going to bring to a party on the 4th.

So we need to make the egg rolls tonight for consumption tomorrow. I also need to get in touch with the band and get a case of CDs to take to Mexico, since we are leaving on the 14th.

Thursday is my last day at my present job, and Friday I transition to my new job, which has been pretty poorly defined. Guess I'll find out what it entails when I get there. I guess I'll be writing processes and Procedures for MMA.

I still haven't figured out when I will find the time to tear off the deck and build the new one off of the living room, but hopefully before the summer is over.

And I still haven't had time t get started putting the ground effects kit on the Z.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


After a couple of very frustrating weeks, I have gotten the home computer back to working. It had gotten so bad that I couldn'y get it to do anything, so I did the dreaded RESTORE. which puts it back to the configuration it was when you bought it.

Since I had installed a high speed cable connection after I bought it, it wouldn't recognize the cable modem, and I didn't have the drive disc for it since I had Comcast do that when I had the cable hooked up.

I had wanted to put in a wireless router anyway, so I decided now was a good time to do it.

After I got the wireless router working, I downloaded McAfee anti-virus and did a full virus screening. It came up with 1124 spyware and questionalble programs. It took me all day to run and delete all of the crap, but after I got done it ran. The only problem is that it still takes about 20 minutes to boot it up from off.

I also installed an administrative lock at turn-on. Most of the spyware and stuff was gotten by various kids downloading things from the internet. They have already asked me for the password three times in the last 24 hours. I find excuses.

I think they are beginning to get the idea that I am not going to hand it out.