Thursday, November 29, 2007


I will be out of touch for a couple of days. I am in a workshop, but I can't tell you much about it.

Suffice it to say that we are basically sequestered in a rom, work on a situation, and hopefully come out with a solution.

This is what I do best. I have been challenged to help create a new way of doing businness, which if it works (and I will make it work) will provide a business template for a whole bunnch of future business.

If somebody gave you a semi-free balckboard to create a new way to do your business, would you step up, or lay low and see what happens.

I am the guy that has stepped forward and defined the new way we need to do this. It is a challenge, but one I enjoy. I will have the opportunity to either prove out what I believe is the right way to do business, or fail. And I will be the guy on the floor making it happen.

I love a challenge, and I will either succeed ot go out in flames.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crooked car mechanics

I sold my 1997 Blazer 4 X 4 to my grand daughter for considerabe under the market value. I had just had the transmission replaced and a door rehung, so she was just paying for the repairs, and I gave her the car.

When I sold it to her, she asked if there was anything else wrong with the car. I told her "Yeah, the heater doesn't work. It doesn't hurt anything, but when winter rolls around you are going to want to get the heater core replaced. It will cost you around $500. When you take it in they will tell you that the intake manifold gaskets need to be replaced, the water pump is bad and the radiator is bad. This is a lie. The coolant used by GM is called Dexcool. It breaks down over time and turns into two components, and acidic liquid which eats the gaskets out of the intake manifold, and a second substance that is like mud that plugs the heater core and radiator. I have had the radiator power flushed and it is fine. The gaskets are still fine, but the heater core is still plugged."

Late last week, she called me from a repair shop "Grandpa, they say I need to spend $1200 to replace the manifold gaskets and replace the water pump. What should I do?"

"Go to Schmucks and buy a gallon of antifreeze and put it in the radiator. Then go find an honest shop. Tell them you want to have the heater core power flushed. It won't fix the problem completely, but it should give you some heat."

Her foster mom knew someone who was a mechanic and just opening a new shop, so she went there.

They power flushed the radiator for free.

She now has heat, and it didn't cost her a dime.

They did tell her she will need to replace the heater core, and it would cost her about $500.

When she left the crooked shop, her "Service engine soon" light had come on and she was in a big panic, The mechanic at the crooked shop had gone in and disconnected the CO2 sensor so that the lght would come on.

The new shop told her there was nothing wrong, and reconnected the sensor, and voila' the light went off.

It really burns me up that places will see a young woman coming in for something done on her car and see dollar signs on her forehead. And charge her for a bunch of work that doesn't need to be done.

The reason I know all of this is because the local Chev dealership tried to pull it on me.

The Repair guy told me I had real problems with the car (this same Blazer). He told me I needed a head gasket, but pointed to the intake.

I asked to see the manager. I told the manager "Your guy told me I needed a head gasket, and then pointed to the intake manifold. Either he doesn't know the difference, and is incompetent, or believes I don't know the difference, and he is a crook. This reflects very poorly on your dealership. I am going to let this slide, but if you ever try to screw me again, you will be hearing from my attorney."

After that they have treated me real nice.

But I wonder how many other people they have screwed?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I got home last night, and the kids had moved out. It is great to have our house back.

I don't mean that it was a burden having them there. Everything went just fine. But having three extra people in the house makes you adjust everything you do. Be extra careful not to close the door too hard, the kid is down for a nap or still sleeping or just went to bed.

If you buy a special treat at the store and are hoarding it, it will now still be there when you go to get it. A gallon of milk will last longer than a day.

I am looking forward to playing hookie one day soon and having the house all to myself. It's been since early August that I could have a day all for myself.

I now can take a nap on the couch and not be disturbed. I love a good nap.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ho Hum

I'm back to work, but I'm not real enthused about the idea. No doubt a lot of others feel the same. I have my 20 oz diet coke with lime and my beef jerky, so I'm sitting here waiting for the caffiene to kick in.

Yesterday Mrs A. and I went for a drive just to get out of the house and away. We headed East and took the road to Snoqualmie falls. It was a beautiful if a little nippy fall day. Blue sky and a light breeze.

After going to the falls, we just wandered. We stopped at the Fall City Cafe for lunch. The burger I had was really good. It was a two-hander. The kind that you have to roll up your sleeves to eat, because the juices are gonna run clear down to your elbows. It has been a long time since I have had a burger that good. Thick sliced bacon, real cheddar, sautee'd onions, and mushrooms.

K. and her boyfriend and kids are supposed to move out by the end of the month. Mind you, I don't mind having them around most of the time. We set a time limit of three months when she moved in and the time is up.As we apply more pressure to her to find other accommodations, she does less and less around the house. Mrs A. is getting anxious and a little pissed. She got on L's case Saturday night, and they all walked out and had not returned as of this morning. Like that is going to punish us or something.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.

The caffiene is starting to kick in, so I had better get to work.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Everything went just great on Thanksgiving, although there were a couple of "No shows". One out of town, one sick, one we never could get ahold of. My son N. and his wife were hosting their own dinner at their house.

So of course that meant filling the gaps. R. brought a couple of friends, and Mrs A invited a couple, so there was no lack of guests. I counted around 20.

I had been somewhat apprehensive about R. and Mrs A. being in the same house together, but for at least this one day they got along just fine. R. didn't stay too long, as she was invited to a couple other celebrations. At least they kept their claws sheathed and tongues curbed.

Mrs A. had to work today, so she turned in early. That left me to do clean-up. I was at until 11:00, washing dishes and putting things away. There is not enough room in the fridge for all the leftovers. Currently there are three pies, some dressing, nuts and Pub Mix sitting out calling to me.

Which is better for breakfast, cherry pie, pumpkin pie or peach pie?

Don't look at me like that, you know you've done it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I hope everyone out there in Bloggersville is having a wonderful Thanksgiving day.

I have so much to be thankful for. For my health, for my skills and tallents, for my family. Mrs A. I drive reliable vehicles,

I own my own home, five cars and more clothes than I can wear. I have enough money that I can buy just about anything, if I want it bad enough. I love and get along with my family.

I am well paid at work, and the work I do is challenging. It gives me a lot of opportunity to use my intelligence and creativity. I have enough projects at home to keep me busy, but not so many that they overwhelm me.

In a couple of hours I will have a house full of loud opinionated intelligrent loveable people, family and friends, swilling beer, telling tall tales, solving the worlds problems, and stuffing themselves with food.

And I will be their leader, just for today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Mrs A. took the day off today to get ready for Turkey Day. I thought about taking the day off to help, but figured I was way safer going to work today. When she gets wound up, she is a dynamo of work, and she expects you to be, too.

I explained many times that my family lived on a farm, and while things were always sanitary maybe not a lot of attention was paid to details. When you have that many people sharing space, it is impossible to keep things absolutely in order. Our house always looked "lived in".

But it was always a warm and inviting place. I don't know of anyone ever feeling uncomfortable. No one was afraid to sit on the sofa. And on the other hand there was no garbage scattered around, and you didn't have to move things out of the way to sit down.

Comfortable and inviting.

My house I like to keep in "Two Hour" shape.

Keep in good enough shape that if you got a call that someone who was going to come over, it would take no mare than two hours to get the house in condition to receive guests.

Of course Mrs A and I disagree about where that boundary is.

So good luck to all of you preparing for a Family Thanksgiving. Those of you not hosting, give the people running the show a break. Volunteer to wash or dry dishes or clear the table.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

T-DAY Minus Two

We are having our Potluck at work today. There is enough food for a small Army.

Here it is at 9:30 and we have been snacking for a couple of hours. There are several meat and cheese trays, a couple of cheesecakes, and my egg rolls already being scarfed down. As per usual, the egg rolls are going fast. I expect they will be gone by 10:00.

One of the guys brought in a small rotisserie oven and we have a roast going. It smells wonderful in here.

Culture changes over the years. When I first started here, someone would have brought in a mobile home which would be set up as an unofficial open bar. People would disappear to "Go out and coordinate with the shop" and come back a little less stable than they went out.

Over time they tightened up the attitude. Now they have gotten to the point of zero tolerance. Go out to lunch and have a beer, and your job is in jeopardy. I like an occasional beer, but it's certainly not worth risking my job over. That's not too say there aren't an ample number of people that have a beer or six with their lunch. The rule isn't strictly enforced, but if they wanted an excuse too walk you out, that would be one they could use.

I know it is the best thing for the Company, because it eliminates the possibility of lawsuits, mostly.

But I remember a time when we were a family, not so long ago.

When McDonald Douglas took over Boeing, they brought something other that low morals and corruption with them. They told us we were no longer a family, we were a team, and in a team if you don't perform you get cut.

That combined with Lean Manufacturing has made the place more of a business, and it is reflected in faster turn times, lower inventory costs, less waste. And higher stock prices, although they are not doing that well at this moment.

But I really miss the congenial atmosphere, especially around the Holidays.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Second Place!

V. came home with a trophy from the debate tournament. He came in second. He is still in the Novice category, but since he has been consistently kicking ass, he is going to get bumped up to Juniors when this topic is done in one more tournament.

As he put it to me "If I don't occasionally get my ass handed to me, I'm not learning and not being challenged." His debate coach agrees, so after this next tournament it will be a new topic and a new level.

Go V!

Around the house, we are working on getting things ready for turkey day. We bought the bird and the trimmings and stuffung and sodas.

Mrs A bought some paint to touch up the kitchen. I need to do some work on the kitchen floor (there's a gap that has developed between a couple of pieces.) None of it is a big deal, it just needs to get done.

I am taking a few hours off. Watching The Seahawks vs Da Bears. Last two minutes of the third quarter and the Hawks are up by seven.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


V. is at another debate tournament this weekend. That means I had to stay up late last night to go get him, and then get up early too deliver him back at school.

He got home at a little after 11 and had to be back at school at 6:15, so I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I went back to bed and caught up, but since he is in the tournament today, it will be another late night.

I really don't like giving up my Friday and Saturday ninghts, but you do what you have to do to support your kids.

When I got up, I went to the big Chinese Market, The Great Wall and bought the ingredients for egg rolls. The original recipe I had made 100, but I have expanded on it, and it now yields around 120. We make egg rolls and watch TV and have a little Adult Beverage.

The quality control falls off a little towards the end of the batch, but it becomes a fun activity instead of a chore.

L's boyfriend says he keeps trying to find egg rolls better than mine, but so far nobody comes close.

We just finished eating our sample batch, and they are very good. I have never made a bad batch, but some are better than others. This batch is above average.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I had a haf day long meeting today, and an all day long meeting tomorrow, so I won't be around much.

Today was one of those Northwest specials. Dark, pouring rain, windy and just plain miserable.

So of course I had to run around all over the placec after work. Nothing like a couple of hours fighting traffic in the pouring rain and dark.

V. needed a suit for Debate. I didn't want to buy a real good suit, because he is 15 and will probably outgrow it before next year. So it wasn't all that easy to find something in a 38 short. After the fourth store we finallt found a real nice suit. Black suit, red dress shirt and striped red and black tie. He really looks sharp.

He can't wait to get to school tomorrow so he can show it off. Oh to be 15 and strutting your stuff.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Liberal Identity

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Philosophy of Enevitability

I was reading in the news about the interest in an archaeological site in Peru, called Caral. It seems that the people there were building pyramids at about the same time as the Egyptians.

Pyramids are found all over the world. Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America. Some people use this as suppport of greater commerce between the continents. Others say it supports the idea of alien contacts. All sorts of theories abound.

Mine is the theory of enevitbility.

Given certain precursors, certain things are inevitable. Take the doorway. The proportions of a doorway are pretty much the same, a little over twice as high as it is wide. This proportion is extended to all sorts of architectural constructs. Why these particular proportions?

Of course they have to do with the size and proportions of the human body and the resonable size and proportions of an entryway. The system of measure and math used to define a pleasing hallway or entryway would be different of we were six times as tall as we are wide, or as big around as we are tall.

In any society complexity is a logical chain of development. One thing leads to the other in a realatively predictable sequence of events. Just as the standard hallway is an extension of the doorway, which is an extension of human parameters, the pyramid is a natural extension of things in nature.

The pyramid is an extension of the cone, the mountains and all manner of piled objects. It is a logical nature driven shape, and relatively easy to design. All you need is eight sticks of equal length and some string and you get this magically proportioned object that BEGS mystical implications.

When people reach a certain level of sophistification, they will come across this shape, and to me it seems inevitable that they use it for ceremonial buildings.

This same principle applies to all sorts of things.

Such as extra-terrestrial life.

Given the size of the universe and variety of conditions, given a finite series of building blocks (atoms) every possible ccombination of compounds must exist in many places in the universe.

The combination that results in life is inevitable.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Random Day

Things are going to get more and more busy at work, so I think I have to start getting used to the idea of blogging more from home. I just feel out of sync with reality (as if the blogosphere has anything to do with reality).

When I got a few moments at work today, I did a post and made a few comments, but everything was so Random.

Stop here and leave an incoherent or barely coherent comment, move on and do it again.......and rhyme, no reason. a little flash of this, a little shake of that.

I live by my focus. I can follow a chain of logic. I can take a plate full of data and make into a sensible meal, edible by Management.

I take chaos and turn it into something resembling order.

But oh what fun to just submit to the randomness of the world and do things that do not in any way lay claim to logic.

On one hand today was a day that challenged the rules of order. I FORCED logic into chaos and triumphed.

My victory dance was into randomness.


Queue music from JAWS.

Thanksgiving looms on the horizon.

I have every expectation that it will be pleasant. However there are a few sharks circling that could turn it into a bloodbath.

Mrs A has done the growed-up thing and told the DIL it is time to let things go, and included a personal invitation to T-Day. I blogged about that the other day. DIL has never responded. I have let everyone know that Mrs A did this, so that there can be no confusion about where things are. If they come, fine, if they don't, they will miss out on some good food and conversation.

I have also asked Mrs A. to bury the hatchet with R. for the day, and much to my surprise, she agreed.

On one hand things are looking good. Everyone will be there, and it will be good to see them. On the other hand, it will make for a tense day with me doing my best to keep the combatants separated.

If they get into it, I am pretty sure Mrs A can kick both their asses.

And if she can't, I know I can.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


V. joined the debate team last year as a freshman. He did well as a rookie, got his first academic points and a couple of letters. But it was as a part of congress, which is a team event rather than an individual event.
Nonetheless, he ended up going to State, one of three from his high school. He got there more by persistencec than anything else.
This year he is a sophomore, and is entered in indivdual events. It's sort of like going from the JV to the Varsity.
This weekend he went to his first tournament.
And kicked ass.
He had six individual debates. At the end of the event he knew he had one four out of the first five, but the results were not in on the sixth. Since he and the coach didn't figure he would be in the finals, they left before the medal presentation. He called his coach this morning to find out how he did in the final event.
Much to his surprise she told him that he had won a medal in the event. I guess this is a school first for an individual. They will have an announcement over the PA at school and a medal presentation. I am so proud, I want to stop people in the street and tell them.
Way to go V!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday at Last.

Maybe it is because we turned the clocks back or something but I have been dragging ass all week. Every day it was a little harder to get out of bed.

Instead of lunch today, I am going to take a nap. This is one skill I acquired in the Army, which has stood me well over the years. I can curl up and fall asleep quickly under almost any conditions. It takes me about five minutes, and I am good for about a half an hour, then wake up. Most of the time when I wake up I am rested and alert.

This weekend will be dedicated to cleaning up the house and yard for Thanksgiving. I will be making a couple of trips to the dump, raking up leaves, trimming shrubs and other exciting stuff.

By the way, there is a new chapter of STAR:

Thursday, November 08, 2007


When I said yesterday that the turkeys are coming, I wasn't talking about my family. At least that wasn't the intent. It was a parody of Paul Revere, intending to convey a sense of impending doom.

I find that by the time I work a full day, I have little or no energy left when I get home. I get up with the best of intentions, but by the time I crawl in the front door after work, all I want is my chair, my paper, and my laptop.

There are a lot of things that need to be done in preparation for Turkey Day, and I just don't have the energy to do them.

I have off a bunch of time at Christmas, and I am SO looking forward to not getting up to the alarm clock.

I always line up some project to work on around the house. This year I need to put the molding in the kitchen. Something that will not be too difficult but requires some time and attention.

I just have to hang on unti Dec 21st.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Turkeys are coming, The Turkeys are coming!

I had to look up something on the calendar this morning, and all the sudden my eyes drifted down a couple of lines and I realized Thanksgiving was TWO WEEKS FROM TOMORROW.

Holy crap! I have so much to do.

We are having my family over on turkey day. That means somewhere between twenty and thirty people. Mrs A. will obsess that the house is a mess.

I need to take a couple of trips to the dump, move things around so I can free up a couple of parking places. We haven't even discussed the menu yet.

Of course turkey is the centerpiece, but I think I will do a pork tenderloin roast in Cranberry Chutney. And riced potatoes. That's a start.

I need to call everyone to coordinate who brings what side dish.

And try to whup V. into cleaning up the front yard.

And pick out some wine and beer.

And dig Mrs A.s good dishes out of hiding.

And we need to make egg rolls.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Growin' Up

No, not me. I have found that there are no advantages to growing up.

I was so proud of V. last night.

Anyone who has come around here for a while knows there is an ongoing fued between Mrs A and DIL. They haven't talked in two and a half years. It is much too complicated to go into now, just suffice it to say that it makes things awkward for V.

He is living with us because I adopted him to keep him from being put out for adoption outside the family. But he has at times lived with his dad.

DIL can't handle him. She has no experience being a mom, and had no idea how to handle it when things didn't go smoothly. Anyone who has raised kids knows that is pretty much the norm, not the exception.

Every time things would get off kilter, she would send him back to us.

I finally put my foot down and said he was going to stay with us, that all the moving back and forth was not good for him.

DIL went all drama queen. Mrs A pointed out to her the fact that she was NOT V's mom either legally or biologically. Therein lies the seed of the feud.

I have told both of them that they are being childish and need to just get over it and move on. Poor V is always getting caught in the middle of it. So am I , and my son. It makes it hard during the Hollidays.

Mrs A had been talking with V. in the morning after I went to work, and the conversation got interrupted by the bus, so when V. got home she started up again.

V. explained to her how he had to take the brunt of their feud.

He very politely asked her if she would do something for him. He asked her to e-mail DIL and tell her that it was time to just let it go, and get on with life. He stressed "Please, do it for me."

What a grown-up way to put it.

Mrs A. has agreed, and has sent the e-mail and invited them over for Thanksgiving.

We shall see what we shall see.

Cross your fingers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Hurtin' for Certain

Here, let me ease into my chair.


Much better.

I'm walking around like Frankenstein this morning.

Saturday was another concert day with ML3. They played at Maple Lane in Centralia. We hit the road at 8:00 and got home at 1:15 AM.

They were a little short on crew, so the ones of us that did show up had to work a little extra hard. Plus with the new stage, it left some extra room in the truck, so John had to find something to fill the empty space.

The "something" turned out to be a six foot long, fout foot wide 5oo lb 64 channel sound mixer. It sure works nice. The sound was better than I have ever heard.

They also replaced all of the aluminum scaffolding uprights with steel. The downside is that they weigh a lot more. We are up to about 20,000 lbs of gear now.

We were just starting sound check when they asked us to stop because the kids were in the next room for dinner, and they needed to monitor the conversation. This threw us off by ak hour, so we were still doing sound check when they started bringing the kids in. But after that everything went just fine.

Sunday R. came over and got her stuff out of the basement. She had a couple of guys show up to help, but they sure took a lot of smoke breaks. From the look of their eyes, they had taken a "Smoke Break" before they got there.

Everything went smoothly. No arguments, name calling or confrontation. Mrs A. went grocery shopping. with L. just to make sure nothing happened. It took about an hour to get the truck loaded.

So I have all sorts of muscles telling me I should act my age. Ain't happening baby. I'm not about to retire to my rocking chair quite yet.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Sky Is Falling!

It was widely reported this morning that the sky was falling.

A mysterious crystaline substance appeared on the roofs and hoods of parked cars. It was never seen to fall from the sky, but early indicators lead experts to believe it fell somehow from the sky.

Upon application of heat, this mysterious substance DISAPPEARS! Many believe this is the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it. Religious zealots claim it the first sign of the Apocalypse, comparing it to the "Mana" described in the Bible.

Global warming theorists claim that the mysterious substance is causing an imbalance in the Ozone and will lead to global warming. The mysterious substance seems to generate cold around it, causing people to turn to desparate means to keep warm. The particulates released by these alternate sources of heat are poisonous to humand and animals. If inhaled in relatively minor concentrations, they can cause unconsciousness, and even death.

This intrepid reporter, throwing caution to the winds, and at great personal risk, improvised a substance removal tool. If not removed from the viewing ports this substance is known to cause blindness, and in extreme cases, mortal injury.

Coming next: Fog. Will it really eat your face?