Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's Only a Flesh Wound

So maybe I didn't dodge the whole bullet. Right now it's hard to tell.

The dealership called this morning and gave me the old good news/bad news routine. The repairs to the truck are complete, and it is running just fine, but......

There's always a "BUT"

I have had both good and bad dealings with the dealership. Way back when, they tried to get there hooks into me for about a grand of unneeded work. I had a brief but very intense conversation with them. The words "Incompetence" "Fraud" and "Criminal" came up. Since then they have treated me with kid gloves. But I still don't trust them any further than I could throw them.

They tried to hit me up with a head gasket replacement before, when it wasn't needed. This is one of their highest profit jobs. The gasket costs less than $100, but the bill is around $1500.00.

So guess what they tried to hit me with this time?

A head gasket replacement. I told them to go fish, told them I didn't think it needed a head gasket, implied that they were trying to rip me off, and told them if it became necessary, I would do it myself. I have replaced lots of head gaskets in my time. For $1400.00 I can definitely take off a Saturday and do it myself.

I have driven this truck for six months. It has never overheated, and it leaves no drips, so I don't believe it needs anything.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bullet Dodge

I woke up early this morning, worried and bothered by the situation with the S10. That's the one I snapped off a spark plug on, on Saturday. I couldn't drive the truck because there was an open hole where part of the spark plug used to be. Consequently when the piston rose on the compression stroke, it would spray atomized gasoline into the engine compartment, where the distributor would send a powerful electrical charge down #2 spark plug wire, which would find the shortest path to ground, thereby causing an explosion. Repeat a couple of thousand times a minute.

This is to be avoided. The list of cautions and warnings would go on for several volumes, and is against several laws.

Not to mention the possible termination of my corporeal manifestation.

So the truck had to be towed to the Chevy Dealer. There were lots of possible outcomes, most of which were expensive. The best of all possible conditions was that they might be able to extract the remains of the plug. The worst was that they would mess up the threads so bad they had to replace the head.

They actually were able to extract the remains of the plug. I would have never bet on this outcome. The least expensive. The easy one. Things just don't happen this way to me.

But they did, so I am having a bunch of other work done on the truck that it needed anyway. But at least I am getting something for my money.

I felt so uplifted. The sun came out from behind the clouds. My money was not all going down the toilet.

I had dodged the bullet.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Time off

I really can't say how good it feels to have a couple of days off. In a ROW.

I put together my new lawnmower yesterday, and it was a beautiful Spring day. The temperature got up to the high 60's, the sky was blue, and the Tibetan Magnolia is in full bloom.

A near perfect day.

Our back yard is more a swamp than a yard. It has barely dried up enough to walk on. This time of year it is a two or three day job to mow it, and exhausting. That is why I took some of my overtime money and bought a DR Trimmer/Mower. I wish I had done this years ago. I made one pass around the outside, and it is PHENOMONAL. Cut through berry canes, saplings, and 8 inch tall grass with no problem, and because it has like 12" back wheels it is easy to push over en-even ground.

After the first pass, I found a new attachment: Mrs A. She askd if she ccould try it, and she wouldn't give it back. She said it gave her such a sense of POWER. She finally gave it back to me when the lawn was two thirds done. Mainly so she could rake.

What used to take at least two days took about an hour and a half.

On the bad side, I went out to check out the truck, and when I went to take out #2 spark plug, it broke off. The socket side and center electrode came out. The threads and the rest are still in the head. I just don't have the time or energy to deal with it. What I DO have is money from overtime, so the truck goes in the shop on Monday. It will cost aroud six hundred dollars to pull the head and get out the remains of the plug. And as long as they are at it, they might as well do the tune-up and change the oil. If I escape for less than a grand, I will be lucky, and lucky is one thing I am not.

That isn't the way I had planned on using the money, but you have to look at it the other way. What if I had to have the work done, and I didn't have the money? I have been there many times before, so you just pick yourself up and keep on. The words "extra" and "money" just don't belong in the same sentence. At least they never have in my experience.

Sunday has been great. Slept in, had a bacon/avocodo/tomato sandwich, and went back to bed. No details of went on in the bedroom. A little more relaxation, and up again. I am still worn out from work, so we are just taking it easy, watching the tube and talking. It sure is nice.

Sorta reminds me what it is REALLY all about.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 19

I have tomorrow and Sunday off. Round 1 is about over, and I anticipate the bell at the end of shift tonight.

On Monday starts round two. There are two things coming up that I have to make sure to make time for. On June 21st, Karrin Allyson is coming to Jazz Alley. Mrs A and I went on our first date to see her at Jazz Alley. It always makes for a good date and some wonderful memmories.

Memorial Day weekend we are going to Oregon for a family reunion. THREE DAYS IN A ROW OFF! It's gonna be a hoot.

Then in early July, the first P8-A rolls out of the factory, and I will have a couple of months of skating until late September, when the third bird hits the fan (Nice visual on that, huh?)

Today I went up and confiscated the power cord to V's computer He is not doing his chores, is flunking math, and in general being a 15 year old. I need him to man up right now, and take care of his responsibilities without Mrs A having to wear herself ragged trying to get him to do his chores. I am going to have a talk with him tomorrow.

I said in my last post that I had no time for wickedness. Well I went right past wickedness and right straight to evil. Like stealing the power cord from Vs computer and hiding it.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day 17

Without a day off.

I'm getting a little frayed arounnd the edges. I can still respond to the really hot emergent problems, but am having a little trouble concentrating on the smaller stuff.

Two more days, and I will have a couple of days off. I intend to take Mrs A out to a good restaraunt. We haven't decided which one yet. She is leaning towards The Lobster Shop, but is considering Todai's, an all-you-can-eat sushi house. When I met her she thought sushi was a swear word, now it has become a favorite. I have corrupted her.

I kinda hit the wall last night. After about eight o'clock I couldn't get a damn thing accomplished.

Sobe No Fear has become my drink of choice. One can with dinner gets me through the rest of the evening. Nothing like about 70mg of caffiene to get your attention. I go for the Super Supplement Sugar Free variety, even if there is a skull on the can.

Of course days off does not equal nothing to do. The cars need attention, the yard needs attention, and Mrs A needs attention.

No rest for the wicked.........

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I was tagged by HRH The Peanut Queen.

I don't have times for tags, and I don't think I have the energy to tag anyone else, but I liked the concept as long as I don't have to do the other stuff. Like usual, I play by my own rules.

Here are the rules, most of which I am breaking:

1) Write your own six word memoir;
2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like;
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere;
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links; and
5) Don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

My six word memoire:

Lightning Strikes
Tastes Like Chicken.

So what does that mean? Cryptic, huh?

Eagle: I set my sights high, am determined, and set a course that often is difficult to attain.

Lightning Strikes: As usual, in life, shit happens, and the dreams end up getting blasted out of the sky and back to reality. Usually not even your fault, just shit happens.

Tastes Like Chicken: Not ever eating crow. Make the best out of what remains. Convince yourself that what remains is OK. Oh, and ignore that smell of burnt feathers. It's not how many times life knocks you down, it's how many times you get up.

And of course, it is funny. Funny is good.

Anyone who wants to play is hereby invited. Let me know you got it here, I'm always curious how other people take on a challenge.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Topsy Turvey

Things are in a real state of flux right now.

Not only does the house sense when I am stretched to the limit, but that extends to the cars, too.

They were installing new storm drains on our street this week, so we had to move all of the vehicles across the street to give them access.

The good part was that Mrs A. went out to the work crew and asked if they couldn't drop an extra ccouple of yards of crushed rock in our parking strip, which gets pretty swampy. They said no problem, did she want then to grade it, too? Of course she did, and in exchange for some sodas and chips, they dumped and graded the entire parking strip. Gotta love that Mrs A.

When I went to start the truck, it groaned once, and then just clicked. Crap. I was tired and didn't want to deal with it, so I jumped in the RV, and it didn't even click. I was bone tired and just fely like bawling, but I girded my loins and broke out the battery charger. Even after a half an hour on fast charge, the truck would still not even turn over. I cleaned the little window on the battery, and it was green, which means it was charged. One of the side terminals had a quite a bit of corrosion, so I deccided to take it apart, clean evverything, and put it back together. When I put a wrench on it, the entire side post came off. It was broken inside the battery. How the hell that happened, I have no idea, but it meant that evven though it was a functional battery, it had to be replaced.

Down to the Auto Parts Purveyor. $90.00 later, I had a new battery. Try as I might, I could not separate the battery cable from the broken post. I went back to the Auto parts place and got a replacemment battery cable clamp, but by the time I got back, it was dark. Besides, it has been pissing rain all night, and I was cold and soaked, so I gave up on it.

Today I came home and changed into car working clothes and went out and reterminated the battery clamp. The new battery wasn't charged up, so I put the charger on it, and after a half an hour, it started. I was oncerned because they are predicting snow tonight (that's right, I said SNOW) and I don't want to drive Z in the snow.

I pulled the battery out of the RV and put it on trickle charge, so it ought to be ready to go when I get home tomorrow.

I am switching to second shift starting on Sunday. I will work my normal nine to ten hours tomorrow, then report to second shift the next day. That gives me 24 hours between shifts. A chance to recharge MY batteries. By next Friday, I will have worked nineteen days in a row.

I had been planning to take off next weekend, as ML3 had a concert at a women's prison on the 26th. The concert has been called off, so it looks like I will have a whole two days IN A ROW off. It will be nice to recharge, but the reason the concert was called off was that April, the lead singer found a lump, and the biopsy was inconclusive, so they are going to go in and take it out.

So say a little prayer for April McBride, singer extraortinary, composer, and the inspiration that keeps up all going when we want to quit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I swear the house knows when I am vulnerable.

Tha same with most things mechanical. I usually do all house, appliance, yard equipment, and auto repairs. I can repair most anything.

So right now, I have no time to do those things. I am working nine to ten hours a day seven days a week. By the time I get home I want a meal, a couple of hours to relax, and time for bed.

Mind you there was a time when I could do this and still take on the house and stuff, but right now, I am just too worn out to take on much.

So the washing machins broke. I know exactly what is wrong. The timing module is fried, and the part is like $50.00, takes about an hour to replace. I just don't have the time or energy to do it. So we called Sears and had the repair service come out to fix it. The timing module is fried, and it will cost $250.oo to get it fixed.

It frosts my buns to have to pay someone else to do what I can do myself for about a fifth of the price, but I just can't do everything. Oh well, all the money I am making by working overtime will easily pay for anything that goes wrong (Knock on wood).

I might have been able to squeeze one more year of use out of the lawnmower by pulling it apart and rebuilding the carb, but I just don't have the time. So last night I ordered a new lawn mower.

My work truck is getting hard to start and runs rough. I know I need to tune it up. Just when am I supposed to do this? I have been driving Z because I love to drive her, but also because she is the most reliable vehicle after Mrs. A's HHR.

Don't get me wrong. I love what I am doing right now. But I suppose when you are doing something you love, you have to make sacrifices in other areas.

I aslo have to make sure to pay extra attention to Mrs A, becuase she has to take up some of the slack, and I do love the fact that she can and will.

Still crazy busy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What? I have a personality?

Shamelessly stolen from Renratt

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have medium extroversion.

You're not the life of the party, but you do show up for the party.

Sometimes you are full of energy and open to new social experiences.

But you also need to hibernate and enjoy your "down time."


You have medium conscientiousness.

You're generally good at balancing work and play.

When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.

But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have high agreeableness.

You are easy to get along with, and you value harmony highly.

Helpful and generous, you are willing to compromise with almost anyone.

You give people the benefit of the doubt and don't mind giving someone a second chance.


You have low neuroticism.

You are very emotionally stable and mentally together.

Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly.

Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high.

In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas.

You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits.

A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I'm not dead yet

Just crazy busy.

Sarah tagged me with a meme, and since I don't have enought time to be creative, it is the simplest path to go with the flow.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

I had just gotten divorced after 28 tears of marriage, was the Implementation Manager for part of the largest re-ingineering project in the world at Boeing. Let's just sat that it set a watermark for beaurocracy.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?

1) Organize and prioritize the work packages coming into my area.

2) Wish my wife a happy anniversary. Today is our fifth, but we have been through so much in that five years, that each anniverssary is indeed a celebration.

3) Start up the Z to make sure everything is still OK. My 1977 Datsun 280 is my baby, and I have about five years into it at this point.

4) Evict the Starlings from the soffit of the house. The little bastards are trying to build a nest and I HATE STARLINGS.

5) Drink beer.

Snacks I enjoy. Problem here, because I am diabetic. Do I go with what I would LIKE to have or what I CAN have?

I love and can have beef jerky. I can some have and enjoy Twizzlers. I can't have and love donuts and creme puffs.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire.

Go small. Ten million to a charity doen't accomplish shit. There is a foundation that grants small loans to startup businesses in third world countries, Their success rate is phenomonal. Of course I would buy a small island somewhere where I could live with all my bloggerbuddies.

Three of my bad habits.

Only three? I guess I can limit myself. I smoke. Have since I was small. I love my beer. Don't ever try to get between me and my beer. I am an intellectual snob. If we can't talk on at least three levels, forget it.

Places I have lived.

San Francisco, summer of love 1967. I rememmber parts of it. Latteland, also known as Seattle, or the Seattle area. White Center, Burien, Seatac, Renton. Sandpoint Idaho, my other home.

Jobs I have had.

Lots. Social work/psychology specialist. Lead Engineer. Pitt boss. Manufacturing engineer. Chicken Hypnotizer (go see Blatherskite).

Bloggers yadayada yada.

Not enough time or energy

Monday, April 07, 2008

Crazy Busy

So it starts.

60 MPH from the minute I got in today, and the same all day long. I will be doing nine hours a day in the week and a couple of days on the weekend.

So I won't be around much.

If I post or ccomment, it will probably be in the evening, after most of everyone is asleep.

Things have only started to get crazy, it will get worse.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Back from the Rain Forest.

The idea was to escape.

Get away from everything. And get away we did.

We rested, ate a couple of great meals at the Restaraunt, watched a couple of dvd's, talked, read books, took long naps.

We didn't even get out and take a hike. After all, it is the RAIN forest. They call it that for a reason. Not only was it raining, but it was cold, so we pretty much just hung out and relaxed. Recharged our batteries.

It was wonderful.

No phone, no TV, no cell recception. Left the laptop at home.

You can't feel guilty about not mmowing the lawn if the lawn is a couple of hundred miles away.

My body may be homme, but my head is still a couple of hundred miles away.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lake Quinault

Mrs A. and I are going to the Lake Quinault Lodge for the weekend. I can't wait. I have blogged many times about Lake Quinault, as it is one of my favorite places on the face of the Earth.

Peace and quiet, pristine scenery, and an attached restaraunt. No phones, no television, no cell phone signal. Lots of trails through the rain forest.

The boathouse is critter friendly, so Molly gets to go along.

V starts Spring break on Friday, and he is going to Oregon with friends for a week. A whole week of peace and quiet! And what happens in Oregon, stays in Oregon. I gave him his mecical coupon last night, and I still have to write a letter giving his friends mom permission to dump his body on the side of the road if anything happens.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Here at Last

I have been working towards this day for over two years. The first body section for the P8-A arrived in Renton today and was loaded into the assembly tool.

This will be a real time of challenge for me, as I am the Lead for Elecctrical Installations Electrical Corrective Action Team. (ECAT). Since this is a new cocnfiguration and a new business model, I am looking forward to a whole series of challenges in the next couple of months.

It's kinda like tuning up your car when it's doing 60 miles an hour.

Some people want to have everything under control. They want to know what will happen tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Not me.

When the surfaces are all slippery and the excrement hits the ventilation, that's where I want to be, wheelin' and dealin' and making it all work.

Today was the first day, and I got a reasonable amount of challenge, but there was the hour in the afternoon when I moved into my new digs whae I almost got a chance to catch my breath.

I already know of a couple of challenges we face, so tomorrow I begin the effort to forestall a coming disaster. One which this morning, only I knew of. So I went to the Factory Manager and explained to him the situation, and he empowered me to go set up the team to mitigate the problem.

Maybe nobody in the Universe appreciates it, but DAMN I am having fun!