Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

We have the house to ourselves.
The Utah bunch are with the other side of the family, and V. has gone over to his dads for a couple of days. Mrs A never did get out of her robe today, and took a four hour nap this afternoon while I vegged.
Yesterday I went down and got a ton of pellets for the pellet stove.
Tonight I doubt if we make it until midnight.
A thrill a minute.
Just the way I want it right now.
Hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Are The Hollidays Over YET?

Someone save me!
I am being drowned in Family!
They have taken me down and I can't get back up.
The Gang of Five arrived a week ago from Utah, and spent three days with us before going over to the other side (the dark side?) to stay for a while. They went with us over to my brother's place for Christmas Eve and had a great time, then went over to R & R's dads place for Christmas Day. They came back over here yesterday.
Christmas Eve, after I just got home, I got a three alarm rescue call from Rose. She and the sperm donor had gotten in a big fight and she got out and took "i" with her. Unfortunately they were in the middle of nowhere and it was snowing like crazy. I needed to go rescue her. So I fired up the car and took off to go find her. Fortunately she had been rescued by passers-by and dropped off at Jack-in-the-box. It was pretty easy for her to get a ride. I mean, Christmas Eve, a single woman with an infant walking in a snowstorm. What mean hearted person could leave them out there?
So she spent Christmas eve and Christmas Day, and a couple of more with us. "i" is recovering from a cold, so he was cranky and not sleeping well. He woke me up several times each night, so I was running short on sleep. The night he left, I couldn't sleep at all, and then the Utah bunch came back the next day.
We took them out for a late lunch and a movie. Man was it crazy out. Every person in Latteland was at the mall, and the traffic was horrendous. Hours spent getting nowhere. But lunch was good, and then we took them to see "The Day the Earth Stood Still" in IMAX. I wasn't impressed with the movie. In fact I fell asleep during part of it. But I was so tired from lost sleep that I was walking around in a daze all day.
Luckily, I got a decent night's sleep last night, so I am only semi-comatose today.
The snow is finally gone, so Mrs A can get around on her own again. She was relieved to be able to go to work today.
When everyone got situated today after Mrs A got home from work the women went down to spend the afternoon at the mall. The two teenage boys are up taking over the world on WOW, and I have the house pretty much to myself.
A few moments to catch my breath.
I hear the couch calling.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowed In

We live most of the way up a hill, at about 400 feet in elevation on a six hundred foot high hill. The consequence is that we have limited choices of how to get around. The safest way is to go the rest of the way up the hill to the main street, and then go down.
It's that whole getting up to go down thing that doesn't work so well. I have a route that goes around to a gentle slope to get most of the way. Unfortunately it is on back streets, and we have about a foot of snow, and I don't think I have enough ground clearance in the HHR. The street at the end of the block is plowed, but steep. I do not have chains or studded tires. But front wheel drive with new tires is almost as good, and we do fine if we can just make it to the main road.
We managed to make it in to town on Saturday to get groceries.
Just like every other living soul in the area. It was a madhouse. It took us about four hours to make three stops, most of it standing in checkout lines.
Unfortunately I have run out of smokes and beer.
Oh well, now is as good a time as any to quit.
Both local tire stores have sold out of studded snow tires. I figured I would slide down off the hill today and get some tires, but that idea didn't work out so well.
The snow is supposed to stick around for another week or so.
Mrs A is getting cabin fever already. Our son drove up from Utah, and she worried the whole time he was on the road. He is on his way over here, and will be staying with us for a couple of days, through Christmas. Then will be going over to help his dad with some kind of project.
Three day cooped up with him and his wife and three kids will be quite enough thank you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Weenies

No, no, not constructions of snow that look like weenies.
People that go into stupidity at the first sign of snow. Mrs A is a snow weenie. After two snowflakes, she crawls under the bed and hides. She will not go any further than to let the dog out to pee.
Me, not so much. I always have the snow day plan.
Yesterday it snowed all day. I think we had about five inches. Then the temperature this morning was 25. When I went to work yesterday morning, the streets were just fine. When I got off of work, not so great. I don't have any trouble getting around, all by myself. It's the snow weenies that don't understand how to drive in the snow that cause me grief. I live up on the side of a hill, so getting home can be a challenge. Yesterday the truck didn't make it all the way home.
Going up the hill, first I had a Chrysler 300C do a 360 right in front of me, and steering around him depleted a quite a bit of my momentum.
Then there were a group of kids at the crosswalk halfway up the hill pushing the walk button so the light changed and caught people coming up the hill. Then lastly, as I got to the last hundred yards, there were about a dozen cars scattered all over the road and no way through. I just turned around and went back down the hill, and headed North. The next street up the hill was partly blocked with stalled out cars and very steep, covered with a sheet of ice. So much for plan B.
Plan C is the one that is guaranteed to work. At the bottom of the hill below our house is a playfield with a small parking lot. Leave the truck down there. It is about a quarter mile uphill to the house. Then the truck is on the level for the next morning, so I can just walk down the hill, jump in the truck and hit the road.
When I get off of work today I will be home until the 5th of January. I just hope I can get the truck home today. Then I will not HAVE to leave home any time soon. I hope the roads are good enough to do a little running around. We are running short on milk and bread, and I'd like to get to the booze emporium to pick up a couple of bottles. We don't keep liquor around much, but it is nice to have around the Holidays.
It is one of my traditions to get a bottle of Harveys Bristol Creme Sherry for the Holidays. And Hot Buttered Rums are a given on Christmas Eve.
Think of it as Antifreeze.
SKOAL!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Isaiah


This is the current wallpaper on my laptop. It always brings a smile to my face every time I turn on the computer. Since I didn't have anything much to blog about today, I thought I'd share it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cool It

I was thinking the other day.
A dangerous proposition at best, for me. No telling where it may lead.
I was thinking about evolution.
Various creatures evolve different physical characteristics to deal with the environment. Thick fur for a cold environment, blubber for the same. Long legs for wading birds. Long necks for giraffes. The list goes on and on.
If you study the animals from North Africa, they have also evolved some traits that help them deal with their environment. For instance, the elephant has these huge ears. What is their purpose? Cooling. They are large and thin and mobile. The elephant flaps them around to dissipate heat.
According to prevalent theory, man evolved in that same environment. So what unique characteristics did we evolve to better help us deal with out environment? We are not large, not quick, not ferocious, have no fangs or claws.
We do have a disproportionately large head. And a disproportionally large brain to go in it. What function does this organ perform?
Cooling.
It is a big radiator for the body. You lose more body heat from your head than any other area of your body. That's what it does.
Nature, evolution, or God gave us this organ as a cooling tower.
It is merely an accident that, having this large organ to hang our hats on, it developed intelligence. Since it took a lot of gray matter to cool our blood, it accidental turned out that it could serve a dual purpose.
Cooling was it's initial purpose.
Intelligence was merely a by-product.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lighting Up The Town

No, no, no. Not like that.
The Christmas village that goes on the mantle over the fireplace. I finally got off of my butt and dug it all out of the boxes and put it up this weekend. Getting it all set up requires a real Rube Goldberg of wires daisy-chained, since there are eight buildings. Unfortunately, when I turned on the third building, I blew a circuit breaker.
The town is on the same circuit as the TV and surround system. I have never had a problem before. Maybe there is a short in the wiring. I'll have to experiment when I get home tonight.
The village has a book shop, a newspaper, a couple of taverns, a church. A couple of homes. A bunch of figurines. A guy and his wife in a one-horse sleigh, a guy carrying firewood, kids making a snowman, a boy throwing a snowball, and yes, a dog peeing on a pile of trash.
Oh, and I also put up the tree, although Mrs A did the decoration.
It is butt-freezing cold up here right now, or what passes for it here in Latteland. A lot of people wouldn't think much of 21 degrees, but for around here it is unusual. It snowed a little Saturday night, like maybe an inch. Of course V. was at a debate. so he didn't get home until after 9:00. It had just started snowing when I left to pick him up, and the street was white by the time I got home.
The streets are pretty much bare and dry around here, but as you get out towards the foothills, the streets are not as good. Lots of spinouts and fender benders. The cold is supposed to stay around for the next couple of weeks. The long term forecast even predicts possible snow on Christmas Eve.
We very seldom have a white Christmas here, so it would be nice from that perspective. Even if I do have a pretty long drive on Christmas Eve, out to my brothers place.
Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Friday, December 12, 2008

No More Depressing Crap

Sorry about the depressing crap this week. My head was stuck in a depressing place, and I just needed to work my way through it.
I went out and bought some St. John's Wort last night. It helps me during the long dark days this time of year. Interesting stuff. It increases your sensitivity to light. They way they found this out was that cows who ate it got sunburned. Who ever thought of a cow getting sunburned.
For some people, it increases your sensitivity to light so that your body is more sensitive to what sunlight you DO get. It isn't effective for everyone, but IT works for me. Even if the effect is all in my head, it doesn't matter, because it's my head that has the problem.
This weekend I will put up the tree and decorations. My favorite is putting together the Christmas village. It had about eight lighted buildings and a bunch of figurines. It goes on the mantle above the fireplace and is about five feet long.
Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Uncle Steve

About 50 years ago, my Uncle Steve, right before Christmas, took down his 30.06 hunting rifle, put the cold blued steel barrel in his mouth, and blew his brains out, all over the ceiling and back wall of the apartment in which he was living with his wife and six kids.
It made quite a mess. Every once in a while I hear my Uncle Gil talk about how much trouble it was to clean up. It seems to me that it will never be really cleaned up.
Nobody really knows why he did this.
We all want to make sense of things. Life without reason descends to chaos.
He had been shot in WWII. The shot through his jaw had taken out a big piece of his jaw, and part of his tongue. He always spoke with a thick sound to his speech because of the missing part of his tongue.
He was a very intelligent man, and never had a problem finding a job. But he never could stay with one thing. As soon as anything confrontational happened, he confronted it face forward and straight up. Usually it meant he got fired. His statement was usually “You can’t push us Smiths around.”
But I always felt a lot of it was because he felt less because of his injuries. They went a lot deeper than his thick speech.
As my cousins grew up, they moved from town to town. I remember visiting them in California, Oregon and Washington. I remember my cousin Kelly, in responding to a survey asking what was his hometown “Every city on the West Coast.”
Uncle Steve was a casualty of WWII the same as anyone who was killed at Normandy or Iwo Jima. It just took a little longer for the bullet to reach his brain.
We understand a lot more now about post-traumatic stress syndrome. Given what we know now, could it have been prevented?
No one can answer that question. Change can only be worked if a person is willing, and I am pretty sure he would have refused any help.
Still I wonder what went through his mind in those last seconds when he curled his big toe around the trigger and pushed.
He left a widow and six kids.
The damage of that instant of selfish behavior goes on and on.
I loved my Aunt Anne. I spent a lot of time at her house. She had two sons about my age, Steve and Kelly. I never got along with Steve, but Kelly and I became as close as brothers. We both had a bent towards art and humor. We went together a lot of places and had a great time together.
I was working at a hospital as an orderly when they admitted Aunt Anne into emergency with a heart attack. I knew which room she was in, so I passed in the hallway every once in a while just to hear the heart monitor beep.
Late on my shift, I went by the room, and there was no beep. I went to the front desk to ask why, and found out that she had passed away.
I had to call home to tell my mom that her sister had passed away. Not the easiest thing I have had to do, but a hard thing for a 16 year old.
Six orphans.
We tried to spread them around the family. Kelly became my brother. Various other family members took the other kids. It just didn’t work.
A man and his wife came forward and offered to adopt all of them, but only as a group. Only if they all agreed to it. The killer was that they could have no contact with our family.
I lost contact with all of them for about ten years, when Kelly and I got back together. For the next several years, we were as close as we had ever been. But things happen in life, and we are not in touch.
Kelly is one of the best scrimshaw artists in the world. He has won many awards for his work. He has supported himself with his art his whole life. His work is incredibly beautiful. And I miss his sense of humor and unique perspective.
A bullet on Normany.
A bullet in Seattle.
A tile tips, and strikes a tile, which strikes a tile.
Does it ever end?

Bah Humbug

I am having a real hard time getting in the Holiday Spirit this year.
We don't have any lights or decorations up. I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet.
Two people I knew slightly at work died last week. Not good buddies or anything, but people I had worked with a little here or there. Both were in their forties and had wives and kids. Kinda puts the damper on any celebrating.
I have been battling with arthritis in my neck. It hurts all the time. I have been to the doctor multiple times about it. Their answer in "Yes, you have arthritis in your neck. Take two percocet and call me in the morning." I will not take Percocet at work, because I wouldn't be worth a happy crappy if I did. I also don't like to drive if I take it. I also will not take more than one at a time unless I absolutely have to. During the day, I usually take 600 mg of ibuprofen , but it really doesn't do a very good job. When I do take it, I never get anything done. I haven't done anything on Frankenhealey in a couple of months now.
Oh well, enough whining and complaining.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Damn Kids Anyway

Not that anyone but me really cares, but I have been working on a book for several years. Parts of what I have written please me, parts do not.
There is a link to it over there on the side bar. It is titled "STAR". I have not added anything to it for several months. I have it on a portable drive. I have been working on a couple of new chapters, and was about ready to add them to the blog.
My little red memory stick that I had the book on disappeared.
We're talking hundreds of hours of work here.
Disappeared.
V. borrowed it without my permission.
I bought him his own portable memory so he could transport his school projects around, but he lost that, so therefore it was OK to borrow and lose mine, too.
I suppose it is partly my fault for not backing up the memory stick, for not storing it on my hard drive, for leaving the memory stick laying around.
But still, he should know better.
I will have to go into the blog and chapter by chapter copy it out of the blog and load it on to a new memory stick, reformat it, make corrections. The unpublished stuff is just lost.
Damn Kids Anyway

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Finally!

Things are back to normal.
It has been Hell for me the last several months. There is nothing I hate more than sitting around with nothing to do. Or doing things that have no significance. It makes for a very long day.
I can usually rummage around and come up with something to do, but it is usually a medium to long tern project, the kind I usually keep on the back burner to fill in time. The chaos and fire that I feed on just isn't there. It makes it hard to get up in the morning and come to work.
Now things are at last returning to where I can get up in the morning and look forward to having enough to do most every day.
This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view. The fact that I am reacting to emergent production problems means that something went wrong. That's not a good thing. Except to me. As long as it isn't disastrously bad, I enjoy problem solving, and having a continuous stream of solvable problems present themselves is where I live. I dance on the thin ice, skirt the edges of the fire. I stick my neck out and pull it back just in time.
Now things have returned to their normal state, and things are back in their proper places, and I am as busy as I want to be.
I go home at night tired from having worked, not tired from sitting around all day. I sleep better at night.
My neck, which was driving me crazy with arthritis has calmed down, too.
I guess to me stress from not working is worse than stress from working.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How Do You Spell Relief?

R-A-T-I-F-Y
The SPEEA Union Members have ratified the new four year contract offer.
The prospects of being on strike during the Holidays has been lurking in the background of my consciousness for months now, so resolution of the negotiations is a big relief.
It's not like it occupied my every waking moment, because I'm just not built that way. I'm not a particularly gifted worry-wart. I made my plans and put things in place so I averted any possibility of going into panic mode. But I didn't forget about it.
Now that things have been finally resolved for sure, it is a relief. I felt like I had been kinda holding my breath waiting for things to resolve themselves.
Whew!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas News

Mrs A is in Christmas heaven right now.
Her son, Rick and family are flying up from Utah for two weeks at Christmas. We don't see nearly ehough of them. They are a stable, enjoyable bunch, and consequently don't receive enough attention from us. The ones that are unstable, in crisis, hurting and in chaos get all the attention. Because they are stable and reliable, we don't expend as much energy on them as on the others. We have always felt a little guilty that we don't pay them more attention.
They will spend most of their time here, so we need to make some plans, figure out how to house them, figure out menus and entertainment.
I will enjoy the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the grandkids. I almost always get along well with children. Mrs A will tell you that this is most likely because I am just a big kid myself. I don't deny this, because I think it is a good thing to have a sense of wonder like a child. Sometimes this is not a good thing. Like when I think "I wonder what would happen if...?" Bad things can happen after that.
Just yesterday I was wondering.
I have this paint additive that makes the Z turn from emerald green to cobalt blue depending on the direction of the light. It is a powder of very fine crystals. I was wondering what would happen if you put some of the powder in the microwave. Now that I had this thought, I wonder if I can resist the urge to find out.
If I am going to do this, it should be done before the guests arrive.
But then, maybe there are some questions that don't need to be answered.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bad Blogger

I haven't been around much lately. First because I was busy with Thanksgiving, then because I was just plain lazy.
We had Thanksgiving at our house for a small group. R and "i" and the sperm donor, and his two other kids.
My grand daughter A and her guy and baby. And of course the three of us.
Turkey and dressing and riced potatoes. Cranberries and R's pasta salad. Wine, beer and run for those so inclined. Apple pie and cheesecake for dessert.
A very mellow day of family and conversation.
Mrs A and I work well together in the kitchen. We don't get in each other's way, need very little conversation to get things done. I love the way we work together in the kitchen.
Friday was officially declared a "lazy day", and other than finishing up cleaning up the kitchen, we didn't do much. Watched TV, read, talked and just relaxed. Neither one of us has any desire to participate in the monument to greed that follows Thanksgiving.
People trampled to death, gunfire, fistfights, near riots.
For what?
A bunch of meaningless crap that will be broken, used up and forgotten in five years. What a monument to materialistic mindless superficial values. Are we reduced to a pack of snarling dogs fighting over the largest bone? Thanksgiving reduced to a cult of "I got mine"?
I cannot change the world. All I can do is resolve to keep the spirit of the Holidays in my heart.
Peace on Earth.
Good will to man.
I understand that we are in difficult times. Banking collapse (another monument to greed). Foreclosures. Unemployment. War. Our own government violating human rights. Terrorism.
Difficult times bring out both the best and worst in us.
All we can do, is each one of us make a personal decision to be the best person we know how to be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grazing Day

Also known as our group potluck. A day dedicated to eating all day long. No telling what may show up.
I am currently dining on Deer Dip. And yes, for you citified squeamish types, it is made with real deer. Venison hamburger with beans and mushrooms in a cheese sauce, served with tortilla chips. Good stuff.
I brought in my usual egg rolls. By 9:00 I was told that I needed to go home and make more.
There is smoked Atlantic Salmon. There is home made chili, and cheese and meats and crackers and several types of pie and cake and sweet rolls.
And to top it off, Ezell's chicken. For those of you who don't know about Ezell's, when Oprah is in town, she has her cast party catered by Ezell's. She has gone on TV and told everyone that if they are in Latteland, make sure and stop in at Ezell's. It is good chicken, but I wouldn't go THAT far. Of course I live a couple of blocks from it and we have it a couple of times a week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkeys

Nowadays you have a lot of choices when you get a turkey for turkey day. It used to be that you could just go to the store and get a turkey. There were two kinds, the frozen ones and the unfrozen ones. They were pretty easy to tell apart.
Now things are not so clear cut.
Organic turkey? As opposed to what? Inorganic turkey? Inorganic turkey would be crafted of never-living matter. Not particularly appetizing, at least to me. Seems to me, all turkeys are organic by default.
Free range turkey? What does that mean? I'll guarantee you it is not what the image seems to represent. Turkeys are not allowed to range free on large parcels of land. The regulations are vague and there isn't really any enforcement of the vague rules.
I believe I saw some no-hormone added turkey. I have no idea what this means.
Wild Turkey. Now there's something I understand.
Comes by the fifth. Picture of a turkey on the front. Will make you stand up and gobble.
Pass the Turkey, please.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drama

The drama continues.......but at least I am one step removed from it.
My grand daughter and daughter were living together in Tacoma. R just had a baby, and A just delivered. Because of just having a baby, A had been short on a couple of house payments, so she decided to rent out the spare bedroom.
This is when my daughter decided to move out, because it is a small house and it would be just too much closeness.
She called yesterday to tell me that my grand daughter had caught the new room mates smoking crack in their bedroom. They were completely unapologetic, saying "We rented the room, we can do what we want". Grand daughter called the police, who told them that since the couple had paid rent on the room, they couldn't just be chucked out in the street.
Grand daughter was beside herself. I was pretty upset having crackheads in the room next to my great grandson. I have to help R move the last of her stuff, and was planning to make life very uncomfortable for the room mates when I went down to help her recover the last of her stuff. I was sitting contemplating my choice of weapons. I needed something I could legitimately carry to use while moving, but would effectively eliminate any resistance. I had figured I had ample reason to have a come-along for securing the load, It has a nice big turnbuckle on the end of a strap that might cause someone to rethink their stand.
I called R back to get the latest, and to me GREAT relief I found out that the grand daughter had gone to visit a sympathetic judge, and gotten a restraining order. Said crackheads cannot come within 100 yards of the house without a Police escort, and then only to retrieve their possessions.
I am proud of my grand daughter. She is only 19, but she handled things in the best was possible.
She did the right thing, the right way.
I wouldn't have been so mature.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snip n' Slip

I went in yesterday and had the stitches removed in my mouth. Since I have had a life-long morbid fear of dentists, any trip to the jawbreaker is fraught with peril. When I go to the dentist, bad things can happen.
They quite ofter cause me pain and trauma. AND I PAY THEM TO DO THIS.
So of course when I let them know I was going in, one of my co-workers said "So I hear you're going in to have your stitches ripped out".
Bad image, that.
I replied "I wouldn't choose to put it that way. Let's say I am going in for a little snip and slip and leave it at that".
Much easier to face.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Still looking

I paid half of the strike fund out to pay down the new engine for the truck.
Next I need to start looking at vacations. I will have to delay the vacation until mid-April. There is a pause in the production schedule then, so I will have a couple of weeks when I can lay back and catch up with myself. Plus, with the anticipated overtime between now and then, I can add a good bit to the budget.
We haven't decided where to go, just some place sunny.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Decisions, decisions

Now that the possibility of a strike has pretty much passed, that suddenly puts me in a position I have seldom experienced. Having been fiscally responsible, I prepared for a strike by stuffing money in a strike fund. It isn't huge or anything. Just enough to pay a couple of months house and car payments.
This money is now available for other things.
But which things?
My first impulse is to pay off then engine I just bought for the truck. This would be the adult, responsible thing to do. Therefore it is unlikely I will do this.
The fun thing to do would be to take the money and go on a trip, vacation to some sunny place, which I am inclined to do. Fun, but not very responsible.
So I think we are going to compromise. Go 50/50. Half to pay bills, half to play.
I need to start figuring out how to get the most bang for my buck.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Union Contract

SPEEA and Boeing have come to a tentative agreement for a new contract. The Union is recommending that the Membership accept the offer. Very seldom does the membership trump the leadership, so I am expecting the contract to easily pass.
I have to compliment both sides for negotiating the best possible deal given the circumstances. After all of the early posturing and bombast, they did an effective job of representing their interests.
Is it an outstanding contract? No.
Is it a crappy contract? No.
Is it fair and reasonable? Absolutely.
I am relieved. As I mentioned before, I had already started a strike contingency fund, and had saved up enough for a couple of months. I was dreading the whole on-strike-and-picketing thing.
Of course I haven't seen the entire offer yet, but I seriously doubt that there are any hidden bombs in the text. Mind you, I will read the entire thing just to make sure.
Trust your fellow man, but count your change.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Glowing Plastic

I got my truck back yesterday.
I think I heard my credit card scream in pain when I paid for it.
Besides a complete remanufactured engine, as long as they had it out, I had them replace the clutch, pressure plate, flywheel, hoses and belts and radiator. The final bill was around $5,500.00. In my opinion it is money well spent, because I now am under warranty for three years. Sure I could have purchased a different vehicle for less that that, but whatever vehicle I got would come with the old 30/30 warranty. Thirty feet or thirty seconds, whichever comes first.
So now I have a three year 100,000 mile warranty.
But I think my Visa card glows in the dark.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Different Kind of Christmas

Things are going to be a little different for the Warren Family this Christmas.
We normally have a gift exchange among the adults. Everyone puts their name in a hat, and you withdraw a name. There is a minimum amount you can spend. It keeps shopping to a minimum, and instead of everyone buying for everyone, you only have to buy one gift. I am all in favor of less complicated, and you get one nice gift instead of a bunch of smaller gifts. You can put in as a couple or as individuals.
This year there will be no gift exchange.
Instead, each person is going to make a cash donation, and the funds will be donated to the food bank. With the economy in shambles and a lot of people doing without basic necessities, there is a lot of pressure on the available resources. Fewer people are giving, and more people are in need.
There is no minimum, just give what you can afford.
I believe it was my older brother's idea, and it has been enthusiastically embraced by the whole family.
It makes me proud to be a member of my family.
Of course the kids will still get presents, but it's all about the kids anyway.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whole Lotta Nothin'

Goin' on.
They might be done with the truck tomorrow, late. Even if they are, I don't know if I'll be in any shape to go get it, because I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow. Dental surgery to remove a dead root of a tooth. Not going to be any fun.
So even if they get the truck done, I will probably be on pain killers and in no shape to drive. Just what I woulld need. Spend thousands of dollars on the truck and then crash it. I think I'll pass and wait until Thursday.
The new engine comes with a three year 100,000 mile warrantee, so I will be set for at least three years, which is worth the investment to me. With the upgrades to the suspension, new wheels and tires, I will now have to think about upgrading the stereo.
Things at home are fine, no major problems.
It's about time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Concert Critique

What can I say?
What an incredible show!
The light show alone was worth the price of admission. Last year the light show was good, but they have all new fixtures this year, and as an Engineering type, and roadie, the whole thing left me in awe. And new pyrotechnics.
Oh yeah, and there was music, too.
Incredible screaming guitar, battling keyboard, orchestra rock and roll opera music.
Words can in no way really describe it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG3Fvi1pJh4&eurl=http://privacyofthemind.com/

Friday, November 07, 2008

TSO!!!

Tomorrow is the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert at Key Arena.
I have tickets on the floor this year. Five of us are going . I can't wait. Pyrotechnic light show screaming guitar Christmas Extravaganza!
By the time I get home tomorrow night I will be walking in a daze.
Can't wait.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Books: The Eleventh Man by Ivan Doig

I read a lot.
I probably have 1,000 books in my library, which I go through and purge occasionally when I run out of shelf space. I have six book cases. Currently they are stuffed to the gills. I will probably go through them sometime soon and get rid of the stuff I no longer want. The decision gate is "Will I ever read this again?"
My reading material covers the spectrum. Except for trashy romance novels. They just don't do anything for me. Fantasy, science fiction, history, westerns, murder mysteries, even some humor. Include Shakespeare and the Bible.
If I didn't have a book I would be reduced to reading cereal boxes and soup can labels.
I just finished a new book by one of my favorite authors, Ivan Doig. I'm not sure how to describe his books. I think they fall into "Modern Literature". He has some serious Cred. Most of his stories are set in Montana on the eastern slope of the Rockies, and evoke such a sense of time and place that they could almost be history if they weren't novels.
I love the way Doig makes the words get up and dance around on the page. He doesn't just tell a story, although that is his primary task. They way he puts his words together is such a joy to observe. Even without a plot, it would be worthwhile just to get into the ebb and flow of a master craftsman at the peak of his craft.
"The Eleventh Man" is a display of wordsmanship at it's best. It was a book that I intentionally read slowly, like sipping a fine wine so I could enjoy the individual each glassful of words, roll them over on the tongue of my mind before going to the next mouthful of words.
I didn't want the book to end. I will go back and reread it many times in the future, which is the true test for me.
It is not a book for everyone, but if you have an appreciation of the English Language and craftsmanship with words, it is beautiful example of the writers art.
On another note, I am reading "Brisingr" by Christopher Paolini. It is a fun and entertaining fantasy by a relatively young writer of fantasy. Not the deepest nor best, but entertaining, and well enough crafted that it all fits together and flows nicely. If you like Fantasy and dragons, it is a fun and entertaining read. I should warn you though, that it is the third book in a series, so you really should read the earlier two first "Eragon" and "Eldest". They will keep you entertained for a long good while when the weather turns cold and the rain is coming sideways.
So For those Fall/Winter evenings when you want to snuggle up to a book with a fire in the fireplace and maybe a glass of wine, you now have a couple of suggestions for reading material.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

History

Even though I don't usually use my blog to voice my political opinions, I couldn't help but take a moment to reflect on the election.
This is truly an historic occasion. Obama has been given a mandate by the American People. A strong message has been sent that we expect change. I would not have his job for all the gold in China. Nor power or prestige. I wish him the very best in a difficult situation. Clearly changes need to be made in the direction our country is travelling. The populace has felt for some time that the Government is not listening. Why get involved when all they are going to do is tell you to sit down and shut up, and any other option is not patriotic.
I believe you will see a wave of people volunteering to help out, because they sense that there is something good doing on here and they want to be a part of it.
Clearly, people felt strongly enough that they have already joined. Voter turnouts were high. We all participated in the process. I believe this is not just an election, but a turning point in the path of The United States. Maybe the world.
If asked, I would not have bet that we would see a multi-racial man in the White House. It is a measure of how far we have come as a nation when the mandate of this great nation is handed to a multi-racial individual. Obama is truly a man of the world. I think his election has done more to improve the image of the country than any event in the last eight years.
My thoughts and prayers will be with him as he tries to find the best path through our present difficulties. I pray he finds the strength to keep his eye on the goals and not be discouraged by the inevitable nay-sayers, that he has the support and advice he needs to make the most informed decisions. That his party and cabinet supply him with the best information, and that he listens to the right people.
I am proud of our country and our people.

And now we return you to our normally scheduled sarcasm.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Just Relax and Think of England

That's what a famous English Lady 's opinion of sex was. I sure feel sorry for her. I am much more of the fireworks and earthquake opinion.
But right now I guess I'll just relax and make the best of it, because the verdict came in on the truck, and it needs a new engine. The engine will cost more than the truck is worth, but I will have to spend the same amount of money whether I put in the engine, or go get another used truck. If I get another used truck, there is no guarantee that the engine won't blow up in six months, but if I get the new engine at least it will be warranteed. The truck should be good for another 100,000 miles.
So I'm getting screwed no matter what I do.

Chaos

Big day today.
Of course there is the Minor matter of the election, who will lead the country through the next four years of challenges. I don't use this venue for dispensing my political point of view, so I won't get into the whole election thing. I will just be glad that it is over and we can get on with the business of it.
My truck went into the shop last night. I am almost completely sure it has a blown head gasket, but anxiously await the diagnostics from the shop. To me it is a minimum $1200.00. If the head itself is cracked, it will push the cost up to the point of wondering whether it is worth it, or do I just write it off? I just put a grand into wheels and tires and another four hundred into suspension. At what point do I give up on it?
The negotiations are under full steam between SPEEA and the Company. At this point I have not heard anything much, good or bad. I expect the company to try to lowball everything. They have to at least test the mood of the members. If they attempt to lowball us, I am quite sure the membership is ready to vote for a strike. There are plenty of opportunities on the table. Once again, outsourcing is front and center. Given the disaster that resulted from the 787 outsourcing plan, it would not be unreasonable to hope that Boeing has learned a lesson about the quality of outside design resources. They have admitted that the outsource plan was a failure, and a change in strategy would be appropriate for any future work. Wages, COLA, Insurance, Offloading, Retirement, Time off Overtime compensation. Every issue you can think of is on the table.
And last but not least, today is my Mom's Birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! I'll see you after work.

Monday, November 03, 2008

This is Normal?

Things are back to normal, or at least a version of normal.
The IAM is back from strike, so everyone is running around in circles trying to figure out where they are,
When in trouble
When in doubt
Run in circles
Scream and shout.
So I don't expect anything to get accomplished today, or maybe this week.
At least there are a lot more people to talk to.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Car Wars

If it ain't one thing it's another.
My work vehicle is a 1996 Chev S10 pickup. Bare bones, four cylinder stick shift. Gets good gas mileage, and will cary a ton.
Last night it blew a head gasket. First on Wednesday the temperature started cycling wildly, so I put in some more coolant. Then yesterday, the temperature suddenly went up to the red zone. Only for a couple of seconds. I stopped and put in almost a gallon of coolant. When I started it up, I was surrounded by a big white cloud. Blown head gasket.
So today I made an appointment with the Chev dealership to fix it. The tab will be about $1200.00.
I could do it myself, but I just don't feel up to it. The work area under the deck is currently occupied by Frankenhealey. Seeing as I have the engine torn partially apart, it won't move, so I would be working out in the rain. I have spent enough of my life under the hood of a car out in the rain that I no longer have any desire to do it any more.
Wouldn't you know, I just paid off my Visa.
Oh well, that's what plastic is for.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote for Sale

Anyone want my vote?
I figure with all the money floating around for slash and burn campaign tactics, trash ads and such, the only thing left and lower than the current political campaignes is outright buying of votes.
So pony up, cheapskates, and get in line for my vote, but you better bring a bundle of cash. I figure we should have a sliding scale. Minimum $1,000.00 for president. $500 for Senator and Governor, and so on.
I bet I could get enough for a couple of tanks of gas at least.
Small bills, unmarked, non-consecutive numbers only.
Sarah, maybe we could make other arrangements.
Have I offended everyone yet?
It's all a joke people, a joke.
Hey, put down that rope.
Can't we just be friends?
I was KIDDING>>>>>>>>>>
................................

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Missed Opportunity

I will never be rich.
Oh, I realize that in certain parts of the world I would already be considered wealthy. I have a house that is 2580 square feet and not in any danger of falling down. I have all the amenities, and a quite a few toys. I could go out and buy just about anything I needed without too much worry or planning.
But I still owe some money on the house and one of the cars. We have to budget a little to fit in a weekend at The Lake Quinault Lodge or somewhere similar.
But I will never be independently wealthy, mainly because I am too conservative with my money to gamble.
I have been going around telling everyone that NOW was the time to buy Boeing stock, because it was in the toilet, but wouldn't remain there. On Monday the stock price was hanging around $42 a share. But with the IAM and Boeing locked in a room with the Federal labor negotiator, you could pretty safely predict a break in the deadlock, and a subsequent upswing in the stock price. I could have borrowed a bunch of money and plunked it down on stock and felt fairly comfortable that I could make some short term money.
Since then they have announced a tentative agreement in the labor difficulties, and the stock has jumped up about 17%. So I could have tapped my home equity line of credit for a hundred grand, bought stock, turned around and sold the stock, paid off the line of credit and still hauled in about 12 grand in three days.
I am just too damn conservative for my own good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lookin' Up

The IAM and Boeing have reached a tentative agreement, which the union is recommending the membership accept. I am sure the membership is ready to come back, so I expect to see things return to crazy next week.
This also meant putting off the SPEEA negotiations for a day.
The IAM offer looks pretty good. I haven't seen the exact details, but what they are letting out seems like they have reached a reasonable accommodation.
I hope SPEEA and Boeing can come to a similar reasonable agreement without the strike. The Company had sure better not try to lowball us, because I believe that the membership is ready to walk. Our contract runs out in December, with a one month cooling off period if we reject the offer. Unless the offer is comparable to what the IAM got, I think we have the solidarity to support a strike.
But I sure as hell don't want to be walking the line in January.
If we vote to strike, Christmas will most likely consist of IOUs redeemable when things get back to normal.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Red Shirt Wednesday

Occurs on Tuesday this week.
Confused yet?
Main table negotiations start on Tuesday for the SPEEA contract. The negotiators need all of the support they can get. And Boeing needs to know that the membership is not complacent.
Yeah, I got all pissy on Friday and basically said to hell with everyone, but that was more because I felt like crap than I believed that bitching would do any good.
If we all took on that "I'm going to hold my breath until my face turns blue" attitude, nothing would ever get anywhere.
Hey, we ain't building toasters here, nor are we building Toyotas. We are building some of the most complex pieces of machinery on the face of the earth. We DESERVE to get premium wages. And benefits. How would the public feel about placing their lives in the hands of a bunch of pissed off Engineers and Technical people? Not a scenario that inspires a great deal of confidence. We make the best and most reliable aircraft in the world. a fact that I am very proud of.
Because there has been a great amount of turmoil in the leadership of SPEEA over the last couple of years, we need to show the Company that we are bargaining from a position of strength. So everyone wear the red shirt tomorrow.
Anyone not wearing the shirt has to buy donuts.

What a Doofus

I may have mentioned before that I am not the most coherent person first thing in the morning. Especially right now, As I am still fighting the crud, and take a double pump of Nyquill before retiring. That stuff really knocks me down and puts me out.
This morning I had gotten ready, put together a lunch, located my cell phones, got on my coat and went to put on my badge.
No badge.
I always put it in a little wicker basket on the telephone table. It wasn't there. If it isn't there, I usually have left it in my coat pocket. Check coat. No badge.
Sometimes I leave it on the little table next to the recliner.
No badge.
Maybe I left it on the nightstand.
No badge.
I run frantically around the house looking every logical, and some not so logical places.
I finally give up and decide to stop in and get a temporary badge.
I do this.
When I get to my desk, I take off my coat and am trying to figure out where to hang my badge, but this stupid lanyard is in the way.
Lanyard?
Oh, yeah, the one WITH MY BADGE ON IT.
I was wearing it the whole time.
What a doofus.
I have absolutely no memory of ever putting it on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Union Stuff

Much of the talk around the water cooler this morning is about the IAM Union Negotiations. No one knows anything for sure, but people want to have something to say, so they just make stuff up.
"I know a guy that talked to someone who knew someone that said...."
I have really mixed feelings about Unions.
First of all, I do not trust Corporate America has my best interests at heart. As we have had repeatedly had demonstrated to us, Corporate America is driven by the profit motive. The bean counters rule, and greed is good. As in most irresponsible thinking, things are not tied to fundamentally sound practices. A policy that is built upon speculation based on the concept that things will continue to improve forever is inevitably going to fail. A lot of the financial despair has been caused by financial institutions and big business, having seen how far they can push things inevitable taking one more step.
Business needs to be driven by more than mere profit. Some underlying principles need to be the operational basis for the whole enterprise. Corporations as well as individuals need to be held accountable for their actions. Our society cannot function otherwise. Corporate and individual fiscal irresponsibility have fueled our current economic discomfort.
I have done a lot of different things in my life, so I can appreciate a lot of different points of view. It puts me in a rather unique position to appreciate both sides of the current labor difficulties. Mind you this is strictly my personal opinion.
We have two negotiating teams that are both trying to make their bones on this contract. If they can do a good job of representing their side, their reputation will be made for life.
So first of all, they have a personal stake in the negotiations. Neither of these things is of any concern to me, so right out of the box, I don't feel that either of them have my best interests at heart.
Secondly, they have their own corporate interests at heart. The Company wants to give as little as possible to the workers so they can fatten up the bottom line. Every dollar they give me comes straight out of possible profits, so the Company does not have my best interests at heart. On the other side of the coin, the Union's first line of business is to make sure the Union continues to exist. They put their own survival at the top of the list, and they will do whatever is necessary to survival. Even before profitability, the primary concern of any entity is it's own survival. Neither of those entities has MY best interest as the heart of it's existence.
So they meet behind closed doors, and refuse to communicate with anyone outside. I for one would like to have access to the negotiations. How can I do a good job evaluating how well the teams are doing, if they REFUSE to let me know what is going on.
So the Company will declare it's "Best and Final Offer". Who do they think they are kidding? It's the best and final offer right up until the next and final offer. And as far as the Union goes, they can refuse things in my name without even asking my opinion. We are supposed to trust them. I say televise the whole thing end to end. It wouldn't be all that expensive. What do they actually sit around and discuss all day long?
I say we employees band together and buy out the company and fire them BOTH and elect our representatives. Put someone in charge that actually gives a shit about the business of building aircraft, and gives a shit about the employees.

At Last

At Last It's Friday. This week has been a struggle. The Crud thingy has really gotten me draggin' ass.
But I woke up this morning feeling great. Oh I still have a stuffy head and a little bit of a cough, but I FEEL 100% improved. Not only am I going to live, but it is a good thing. Part of it was taking the day off yesterday.
I had to go down and pick up R and "i" at the train station yesterday at 10:00 AM. Good enough excuse for me to take the day off.
R had contracted food poisoning the night before, so her trip back was pretty unpleasant. Instead of taking her down to Tacoma, We just went as far as our house. I knew that Mrs A. would love to have a real live baby to cuddle and coo, and R is still my daughter and I love her and want to make sure she is OK. So she is going to park it at our place until Saturday.
After she and "i" went down for an afternoon nap. Mrs A and I took off wandering. It was such a beautiful Fall afternoon. The leaves turning, blue skies and sunshine, temperatures in the upper 50s.
Our big local Mall had just undergone a major renovation, so we went down to see what the hubub was all about. Mall exploring is not one of my favorite activities, but Mrs A wanted to pay her Penny's bill, and I wanted to get a couple of books that just came out. So we spent a couple of hours wandering in and out of shops. It was really great that we both felt up to being out and about.
I fried up egg rolls for dinner, watched some tube, played with my grandson.
How could you not feel better after a day like that.
I didn't even hate it when the alarm went off this morning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Union Stuff

There was an interesting article in the paper last night (Yes I still get and read a newspaper) on the SPEEA and Boeing labor negotiations.
The article was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
First, Mike Denton came right out and admitted the company had screwed up in the manner they offloaded the 787 major subassembly work. It's one of those things that was immediately obvious to everyone in the whole damn world, but the corporate moguls have been in denial so long they didn't want to recognize their own incompetence. IT becomes difficult to deny there is an elephant in the living room when you are knee deep in elephant poo.
The problem is that the company is being held hostage by bean counters. Just like the 787, a plan will be put forward that looks on paper like they will make tons of money, but the people putting The plan together really don't understand the intricacies of the assembly and integration process. The failure of the 787 plan was not just likely, it was inevitable.
Secondly, the statement was made that the SPEEA membership seems complacent, happy even. Where the Hell has he been. If he had been in my area, Today is "Red Shirt" Wednesday. The majority of the people are wearing their union tee shirts today, And the talk isn't exactly happy.
Just as they did with the IAM, management seems to have this attitude that we will take whatever they deign in their generosity to offer us. I'm afraid that if they don't alter their course, they will push everyone to the edge and beyond.
I guess we'll find out when we see what the actual offer is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Still Hangin'

Hangin' in there that is. The other thing too.
I went home last night and surrounded a double shot of Nyquill, was in bed asleep by 7:30. Slept all night.
Woke up this morning semi-comatose. Stumbled in to work.
Tully's Grande' cafe' mocha.
ZOOOOOM.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Persistent

Although I am still struggling with mother Natures attempt to take all the fun out of life, I have proved that I am more persistent than machinery. Some might be tempted to use the term stubborn, but that implies that machinery had a will. It just is what it is. And it is designed to be persistent, that is, continue to do the thing it is designed to do.

Well, I am more persistent than machinery. In other words, despite felling like refried crap, I went out and removed the broken off bolt from the engine of Frankenhealey. This is not an easy task.

First you have to drill a hole lengthwise down the shaft of the bolt. Getting it started is a pain. By the fact that it was broken off, the end will not be flat, so starting a drill hole is a challenge. I used a cutoff disc to create a small depression in the center of the bolt to start the drill bit. It is essential that the hole be real close to the center of the bolt, because otherwise you will mess up the threads, which you want to avoid at all costs.

Once you have the hole drilled, you use an easy-out to remove the remains of the bolt. If this works, all is well. If it doesn't, you have a bigger problem. I won't go into the consequences. The easy-out is like a drill bit but has spiraling teeth to grip the insides of the hole, The spiraling teeth are spiraled in the opposite direction of the bolt, so that it tightens when you turn it in the direction that normally loosens a bolt. You have to be real careful when turning it, because it is made of very hard tool steel, which also is brittle, so if you twist it too much, it will break off.

I did manage to get the bolt out. I resisted the urge to throw it on the ground and stomp on it while screaming "Did, die, die, die with festering boils, die." it being an inanimate object and all.
But that used up all of my energy for the day.

And besides, "Wayne's World" was calling.

Friday, October 17, 2008

TGIF

This has been a tough week, with fighting a cold all week. Stumble through the day, collapse as soon as I get home. Nyquill, lots of liquids and early to bed.
Except last night I had to take R and "i" down to the train station in Seattle last night.
I really don't like driving downtown. I'm not as bad as Mrs A. She needs to be issued a gag and blindfold before going into downtown in a car.
At any rate, although I was dragging ass, I delivered them to the train station, and helped them get their tickets. I did not stick around to see them off. All I wanted was to get home.
I will go pick them up some time next week. R will call and we can work out the details. It might even be nice to drive over and pick her up just to take a fall drive and see the colors and such.
Mt plans this weekend consist of a kiddie birthday party on Sunday for my grandson E. I hate kiddie birthday parties. Al least there will be food.
Tomorrow I will try to get out and remove the broken bolt from the engine of Frankenhealey. I have been putting it off, because if this doesn't work the consequences will be a giant pain in the butt.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I didn't go to work yesterday. The cold was really hammering me, so I just rolled over and turned off the alarm. I slept most of the day, was feeling pretty good by the afternoon.
Good enough to roll out and go get R and "i". They take off on the train today for Yakima for a week.
"i" is such a cute baby. So calm and happy. She is SOOOOO lucky to have a happy baby. R is excited about taking the train for the first time.
So I am more or less just occupying space here at work today. The only real remaining symptom 0f my cold is a stuffy nose and a floaty head. Not bad enough to stay home.
I need to deliver R and "i" to the train station by 4:00. I get off at 2:30 so there should be no problem there.
If anyone needs me, you can find me curled up under my desk........

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blech

I only stayed at work for a couple of hours, then went back home. I git the crud that Mrs A had last week. Mainly, I have just been so tired I can't stay awake. And they do rather frown on people sleeping on the job. So after two hours, I went home, and hit the couch for about three hours.
Tomorrow after work I need to go down to Tacoma to pick up R and "i". They are going to Yakima for a week to stay with a friend. It will be a pleasant change They are taking the train, and R. is all excited about the trtip, as she has never bee on a train before.
Then next week I am taking a day ff so I can go down and pick her up from the train and ferry her back to Tacoma.
For now, I am going to go back to the couch.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So-So weekend





I've had better weekends.


Mrs A. wasn't feeling well, and about the only time she left the unit was to go eat. Friday night we went to the restaurant at the Lodge, and the cooking was, well, uninspired. I had seafood linguine', and it was pretty tasteless. I added a pat of butter and some salt and pepper to make it a little more palatable.

I got up Saturday morning with a stuffy head and sore throat. I went on a short hike (three Miles) along the lake shore and up Willaby Creek. It was a beautiful morning. The picture is along the Willaby Creek Trail.

Since neither of us was feeling well, we just hung out at the unit. We went across the road to the Quinault Merchantile for dinner. They have always served a great hamburger and an oustanding shake. The place had changed hands since the last time we were there, and not for the better.

No mushrooms, no nice long hikes, just a very quiet weekend. The weather was outstanding, but we really didn't care to get out into it.

At least there weren't any owls...........

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Small Break


This is where we will be this weekend. It is a small adjunct to the Lake Quinault Lodge called The Boat House. It is critter friendly, so Mrs A, can take Molly along.
No phone, no television and no cell phone reception. Just peace and quiet and trails to hike. The weather is supposed to cooperate, something you really can't count on this time of year.
It should be an ideal time for gathering Chantrelle mushrooms, and probably a couple of cauliflower mushrooms. If you know where to look. I'd tell you where, but then I'd have to swear you to secrecy, and you know you can't keep a secret.
I will be taking off tomorrow, we will leave around One, get there around Four to check in.
The only hitch in the works is that Mrs A. has a cold. We will be going any way, since I have already paid, but a lot of the activites I was looking forward to (who'se that snickering there in the back?) probably won't happen.
A couple of days in the clean fresh air will probably be good for her.
The Union and Boeing have agreed to go back to the negotiating table. Hopefully a new offer will be on the table by the middle of next week, they will vote on it by the end of next week and be back at work by a week from Monday.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Beer = Civilization

There have been a lot of theories expounded about that critical time in Human development when we transitioned from a nomadic group of hunter/gatherers to a settled agrarian society, the basis for our society. Generally it is believed that we settled to farm. I say why we first settled was beer.
Think about it. Evidence in some of the oldest villages turned up vessels that were designed and used to ferment grains. If there were vessels designed specifically to brew in, the act of brewing must have existed for some time, and may even predate the settling. So how did this come to be?
When we were a society of hunter/gatherers, we would have had vessels to transport whatever foodstuffs we could find in quantity, so probably there were clay or wooden vessels for transporting grain. Inevitable these vessels got water in them. Rainwater or water from fording a body of water. It got wet. When it got wet, it was left out in the sun to dry. When this happened it started fermenting. Which produces a great deal of bubbling and foaming. The resulting liquid is a sort of primitive beer. Someone drank this fluid, and declared it good. This was obviously the result of some kind of powerful magic.
Whenever the grains became available, they were soaked down and then left in the sun to ferment. This led to the manufacture of vessels specifically for fermenting. Over time, we found that we could plant the seeds of part of the harvest to guarantee a harvest the next year. These planted fields became the home turf for the group, which would still roam around, but would be tied to a central area.
Eventually they settled down and built permanent housing, started specializing, set up rules for behavior within this new context. In other words civilization.
In the words of the great scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin "Beer is proof that God Loves us and wants us to be happy".
And who am I to fly in the face of this great patriot?
So refusing to drink beer is like spitting in the face of civilization!
SKOAL!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Stuff


Busy weekend.


We went with the band for a show at Maple Lane in Centralia. It took about eight hours to set up for the two one hour shows, another couple of hours to break down and pack up.


Mrs A. and I got a room for the night instead of driving all the way back home when we were exhausted. Last time I kinda drifted off when I was driving back, and it scared the crap out of both of us. Better to just spend the night there and come back the next morning. So we slept in, had a leisurely breakfast at Kit Carson's. What the hell does a restaurant it Chehalis Washington have to do with Kit Carson? I guess I'll never know.


On the way back home we stopped in to see My latest, A great grandson, named Neeko. He really isn't a blood relation, but that's OK. V. has a half sister by the same mother but a different dad. She had A. when she was about 15. I guess that makes me the Wicked Step Grandfather. At any rate, A. considers me Grampa, and it costs me nothing to be nice to her and act the part. We have become pretty close over the last couple of years. She is still in the Hospital, recovering.

Neeko is doing just fine. I took care of him while Mrs A. and A. went to the cafeteria to grab a snack. He was perfectly happy being there with just me. We solved most of the worlds philosophical and political problems while the women were gone.


Then they came back and woke us up.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Ths Smell of Success

Smells a lot like Buffalo Stew.

With everything so unsettled right now, financial, political, labor, there's nothing like a good bowl of comfort food. When you walk into the house from outside, the first thing you experience is the smell, which in itself is so warm and comforting. The smell tells you that everything is going to be OK. Not that it is going to solve war, but it will for a moment allow you to set aside the clatter and clang and warning buzzers of life, and simply be a mammalian creature taking comfort from the act of eating.

You begin to salivate in anticipation of good food. You hurry to the cupboard and get a generous bowl. Lift the lid on the stewpot and take a generous sniff. Oh this is going to be good.

Serve yourself a warm portion of goodness and comfort, sit down savor the moment as you take the first spoonful. Pause as the tastes and textures roll around on your tongue and the smell percolates up your nasal passage. Yes indeed, life is a good thing. Not merely tolerable, but good. How marvelous this machine with it's senses that allow us to experience this wholesome goodness.

Later, sated, relaxed and comforted we slide over to the couch.

It's time for a nap.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

O Give me a Home........

Where the buffalo roam.......The stew pot, that is.

I was headed down to my Mom's last night to get her computer functioning correctly when the add came on "On sale now at Fred Meyer. Buffalo."

I think that buffalo makes the best stew around. Oh I love me some beef stew, especially when it is a little nippy out and I want something to warm me up. But Buffalo makes the best stew, so when I left my Mom's I had to detour over to the store to pick up a couple of pounds of Buffalo stew meat.

I have all the ingredients ready and waiting. As soon as I get home it will be time to chop and peel and throw it all in a big pot. Simmer for a couple of hours and voila', culinary heaven.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dust Bunnies

When I was stumbling down the transportation aisle at work on my way to get jump started with a 20 0z. Diet Coke this morning, I was viciously attacked by a commando dust bunny.

I thought he resembled the head of Osama Bin Missing.

Luckily the adrenalin rush keyed up my response and I not only escaped serious injury, I eliminated the threat for the good of my fellow countrymen.

This is not the first time I have withstood attack by forces of unsuspected and misunderstood nature.

When I was not as rational and mature as I am now I was once attacked by a force of nature that was unsuspected.

I love watching cheap horror movies. I don't know what impulse it is that drives me to always look under the rock to see what lurks there, but said impulse is a part of my nature.

Back when I was having one of my "Unassisted by a female presence" periods in my life, I was staying up late watching horror movies. What movie I was watching escapes me, but it was a classic. Perhaps "Atom Man Vs the Mole People", or maybe "Godzilla Vs MechniKong".The house was silent except for the settling noises a house makes at night to get revenge on the owners.

I caught a motion out of the corner of my eye.As I turned my head to look. It was a very large dust bunny coming out from under a chair. It start moving towards me. Neither one of those things was by itself alarming. I mean, dust bunnys breed under every piece of furniture, and occasionally a breeze would inspire wanderlust in one and it would set off in search of a new lair.What was disturbing is that THERE WAS NO BREEZE!

As I watched I saw the mutant dust bunny deliberately move towards me! Yes, It was moving by it's free will. In other words IT WAS ALIVE!!!!!

As my heart beat faster and my palms started sweating, in an act of foolish bravado I got off of the couch and got down on the floor to look more closely, knowing full well that I was exposing my jugular to whatever freak of nature lurked there by the telephone table.

Oh shit, it was trying to cut me off from the phone!Heedless of my danger, I got close enough to inspect it It was mouse gray, and about three inches in diameter. It lunged forward towards my exposed flesh, and I jumped back.Retreating to the kitchen, I got a chopstick, and came back and with trepidation and trembling hands, poked at it.It jumped in a frenzy of activity, trying to make it under the telephone table.Thinking quickly and using my lightning fast reflexes, I got an empty mayonnaise jar and and dropped it over my ferocious invader, and put the lid on.

Holding up the jar I looked at its underside, trying to figure out what manner of predator had invaded my sanctuary.

It had webbed feet and toe pads.A light came on, and I started to laugh. My son had been raising tree frogs in his room. One of them had disappeared a couple of days ago.In an effort to bluff his way out of the house, he had built himself a gillie suit out of volunteer dust bunnies, who readily attached themselves to his slimy sides so they could make a break for it.

It was their unfortunate luck to run into me, standing guard over home and family.

The frog was cleaned and returned to Froggie Bottom Detention Facility, where his sentence was extended to life.The recalcitrant dust bunnies did not fare so well. I destroyed them and their sanctuary.

Ever since, I have been concerned that they were out for revenge.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

F#$%ing CARS

The good news is that I finally got the water pump off of Frankenhealey.

The bad news is that the offending bolt has now snapped off flush with the block, which is a major pain in the ass, leaving only a couple of alternatives. First drill a hole in the remaining bolt and use an easy-out to get out the bolt. Or Drill the remainder out and heli-coil the block to restore the threads. Either one is a giant pain in the ass, but remember you are talking to one of the worlds most stubborn.......(make that persistent) individuals. I will win in the end.

Other than that, the weather is incredible. Blue skies and the temps in the 70s.

Saturday we are going with the band to Maple Lane for a show. It will be great to see everyone. I will survive the industrial swill the feed us, will go home tired and sore.

Then next weekend we are going to the Lake Quinault lodge. We will be staying in the Boat House, a separate small annex, because it is "Critter Friendly". Mrs A. can take Molly along. I hope the weather is halfway OK. I mean it IS a rain forest, so it's probably going to rain. Just so it is a drizzle and not a gully-washer. I want to get in some hiking and mushroom hunting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Laid Back

What a beautiful weekend, weather wise. Sunny, temperature in the seventies, the leaves beginning to turn. A good time to lay back and do nothing.

Initially I had planned to drag Mrs A out into the mountains and go for a nice drive and go looking for edible mushrooms. Any excuse for a good walk in the woods.

But of course things didn't turn out that way. Mrs A got a call from her daughter, and talked to her grand daughter. She hasn't seen Q, her grand daughter in a couple of months, and it has been really eating at her. So our plans got changed, and we went down and kidnapped Q. to go get her a pair of shoes. As long as we were in the area we also kidnapped Mrs As sister and nephew and took them out for a leisurely lunch. I was a lazy laid back wandering kind of day. I picked up the tab for lunch and Mrs A bought the shoes.

Other than that, we didn't do a blessed thing except some laundry, and I went up and put away my summer clothes and got out my winter clothes and reorganized my closet. I got rid of a big sack of stuff I am tired of and don't wear any more.

I went out and looked over the water pump on Frankenhealey, but the rust buster hasn't done much so far. I do need to get back out there and figure out a way to get the damn thing off of the car. Right now that is the major impediment to getting it on the road. It is discouraging when everything you tackle becomes a major undertaking, but I am just stubborn enough to stick with it.

Hope everyone out there had a nice weekend.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Rambling

It's Friday, and I have no plan.
No plan for today, not plan for the weekend, no plan for next week or the week after. The next thing I have planned is a trip to Lake Quinault Lodge the second weekend in October.
Usually I have lots of things planned, but with everything so uncertain right now, I think it is good to just hunker down and ride things out. Not that I am in any immediate financial, physical mental or emotional danger, I just have a feeling.
I suppose part of it is the U.S. financial situation. Our Financial Institutions have flayed fast and loose for so long that they lost all touch with reality. Now we, the taxpayers are supposed to bail them out. There does not seem to be any accountability. I want to see the Suits in a different kind of suit. One with stripes.
A local institution changed hands today. Washington Mutual was bought out. The have been a local rock of the economy here in Latteland forever, but they allowed their real estate division to play fast and loose with the shareholders money. By what I gather, their excuse was "Everyone was doing it". That didn't work with mom when you wanted to get a tattoo when you were thirteen, and it doesn't work now.
Lastly. The leaders here at the Lazy B have become such bean counters that they are responsible for some pretty questionable business decision. The decision to outsource the body sections for the 787 was one of the worst business decisions in the history on aircraft. They obviously didn't learn the business lesson so prominently displayed by Airbus. It looked so good on paper. Their current problems with the 787 are directly attributable to people who do not understand the details of production making decisions based on mathematical models that are not tied to reality.The answer always seems to be "It looked good on paper".
Enough rambling for today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nothin' Much

It was nice having a lazy day yesterday.

I never left the house, so I didn't do a lot of the things I thought I might do.

I replaced the in-line connector for the internet cable.

I pulled the radiator and started working on removing the water pump on Frankenhealey. I started drilling a hole in the bolt at a slight angle, so I can get some rust buster on the shaft. I just finished the drilling when it started pouring rain, and although I was working under a deck, a drip was coming down right where I was drilling. Enough excuse for me to quit.

I went back inside after spraying a littl rust buster in the hole I drilled.

Played a computer game (El Dorado). I am on the last level, but you have to complete about eight levels and I cant ever make it past four. Damn game. I wish I would beat it so I can quit playing.

Watched a movie and went to bed early.

Just what the situation called for. I loved having some time to myself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lazy Wednesday

I decided not to go to work today. Instead I slept in, until a little after eight.

It's no fun going to work and not having anything much to do. I work a little at one of my projects, SB, snack, blog, surf the Internet, e-bay, play scrabble blast. Work a little more.

The strike is in the middle of it's third week. There are no talks going on. It will go on like this for a couple more weeks at least. Then when things settle down, it will be seven days a week until things get caught up. About that time, the contract with SPEEA will expire, and if things don't radically improve, SPEEA will go on strike. Then we will be out for at least a month, and I will very quickly be bored. I have plenty of things to do around the house, but am not real excited about any of them. The weather will be crappy, so I won't much want to work on Frankenhealey. It is under the deck, so I wouldn't be in the rain, but it will be hard to work up any enthusiasm to g out and freeze my fingers.

Today I don't plan on doing anything. Go spray some penetrating oil on the stuck bolt on the water pump. Make a run to the Hardware store for a threshold plate, probably run to the bank. work on a jigsaw puzzle. Play a computer game.

Be lazy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Random

No organized thought today. Just random stuff rolling around in my head.

This is the third week of the IAM strike. Nothing is going on. No negotiations or anything. I really don't understand. The company made record profits last year, has a seven year backlog of orders, and a shitload of development work going on. How can they just sit on their asses and not even negotiate? It's like they really don't give a happy crappy about their customers, the workforce or the bottom line.

They are pursuing the same hard line with SPEEA in their negotiations. If they don't present a different strategy, I see a strike in my near future. I have saves up enough for a couple of months of living without my salary. It is a fund I had hoped to never tap, but it is there so I can voice my opinion without wondering if I can eat. The Union really needs to rearrange the Contract dates. If we are going out for a while, I would much rather it be in July and August, not December and January.

The way the Financial Institutions have acted over the last couple of years has me astounded. How can any organization who is charged with the care and feeding of the economy act with such fiscal irresponsibility? And now it is up to me and you to bail their asses out. First they take our money and make bad investments, and then we have to give them more money to play with. If I was king of the world, heads would roll.

There is very little to do at work. Mostly some paperwork cleanup, which we try to spread out as much as possible. I have more projects that most, but mainly because I go and find things that need to be done, then do them, not wait for stuff to come to me.

I have about a month of vacation on the books, so I am thinking of taking a week off just to do nothing. Sort of a practice run on retirement, since we really can't afford to do much. At work when I don't have anything specific to do, I peruse eBay and Craigslist. I can almost always find something I want, but right now I have to avoid buying anything. Frustrating.

I am still fighting with the Internet. The connection comes and goes. I think I have isolated the problem. I have a couple of pieces of coax joined together, and I think it is at those connections that I am losing the signal. I am going to go by Fry's tonight and buy a couple of new connectors. After all that aren't all that expensive.

That's all for now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Egg Roll Weekend

Saturday was a really rotten day weather -wise. It rained just about all day. It was a perfect day for Egg Roll Day.

We went to The Great Wall, an Asian Mall in Kent, and bought the ingredients, wandered around the mall looking at all the neat stuff, had lunch, stopped at the video emporium.

We set up the card table in front of the big screen and watched whttp://foolsgoldmovie.warnerbros.com/ which is a light, entertaining action/adventure/comedy. Just the right fare for rolling egg rolls. Of course the day required the addition of a large bottle of Kinsen Plum Wine to lubricate the machinery of the assembly line. It went well, except that we ran short of wrappers. We have enough stuff left for another eight or ten egg rolls. I'll pick up some more wrappers one of these days.

So Saturday was a pretty busy day, but fun. Sunday we pretty much vegged. Went to church, I watched The Seahawks kick the Rams' butts, and we watched 88 Minutes with DeNiro. I wasn't impressed.

That was pretty much it for the weekend. Y'all do anything interesting?

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Bloom



A couple of years ago I bought Mrs A an exotic plant. Mind you this was no cheap orchid or something. It was an Asian Hibiscus that had been raised with the stalks of three major plants intertwined. It was not cheap, around $80.00. But she wanted it, and I love exotic plants.

The first year it bloomed, and we put it away for the winter. She trimmed it back severely when we brought it in for the winter. It came back well. It had bloom buds when we put it out in June.

Of course it immediately turned cold and poured rain. It almost killed the plant. We wanted so badly for it to be summer. The cold hard rain turned the vegetation a kind of slimy white, and it died back to the point that I worried it would survive. It slowly came back.

Our summer here in Lattelland was cold and rainy, but it struggled on, gaining strength whenever the weather turned warm, slowing when it turned cold. We despaired that it would ever bloom this year.

Finally this week, it produced it's first bloom, the picture of which accompanies this post.

What a beautiful Bloom. What a testament to the perseverance of life.

The weather is supposed to turn a little colder this weekend. We may never see another bloom this year, but there it sits in it's individual testament to the inevitability of life.

If we only celebrated the beauty of every such bloom.

Plant or Human.

Router crash

My wireless router crashed a couple of days ago. It started to go bad about a month ago. We couldn't log on to the Internet during peak hours (4 to 7). Then on Tuesday we couldn't log on at all. Usually if we torn off the modem and the wireless router, everything comes back on line.

Not this time.

I called Comcast and actually talked to a human being. And he spoke English as a first language! Must have been my lucky day.

Anyway, we went through several steps, and came to the conclusion that the wireless router had crashed. I ran down to Fry's (best damn Electronics store, ever). and eighty bucks later I now have a new and improved wireless router. Having a teenager handy, I gave it and the instructions to him to install.

I still have no Internet. What is coming in a world where a teenage electronic computer geek can't install a wireless router? I might have to DO IT MYSELF. Nothing good can come of this.

On a completely different note, Saturday will be Egg Roll Day. We always make a fun event of Egg Roll Day.

The recipe I have makes around 100 eggrolls, and takes a couple of hours. We start by going down to The Great Wall, an Asian Mall to get the ingredients, and look around and usually have lunch at one of the many Asian Restaurants. Buy the ingredients and a big bottle of Japanese Plum wine. Stop at the Video place and rent a new movie.

I mix up the ingredients, we put on the DVD and sit in front of the TV and roll egg rolls, watch the movie, and sip on the wine. It usually takes about the length of the movie to roll the egg rolls, and as the bottle of wine gets close to finished, I have to admit that the quality control on size and appearance falls off some. We save the lumpy and weird ones for ourselves. After all, they all taste the same.

Afterwards, giggling a little, we head off to the bedroom for....a nap, yeah, that's it, a nap.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All's Quiet on the Western Front

I talked to R. the other night just to see how things were going. She confesses that her biggest problem comes when she doesn't have enough to do. She has been using alcohol to fill the time when she doesn't have anything else to do. There are lots of cures for that. Like get off of your ass and go do something.

She was real excited when I talked to her. She wants real bad to go back to work, and "i" will be six months old soon, so she has hooked up with some agency that will help her get a job and day care. She misses having a car, misses having a job. Taking the bus everywhere is a giant pain in the ass, but if she hadn't gotten a DUI she would still be driving.

I am not going to bail her ass out and buy her a used car. She stiffed me for $5,000 last time I bailed her out (for the DUI). She promised me she would make payments. She made payment. As in one payment, and left me to pay off the loan. Last time I cosign anything for anyone.

Frankenhealey still defies me.

I will win in the end.