Friday, May 30, 2008

Dried Up

Where are all my creative juices? I just don't seemm capable of witty repartee' these days. No zingy one-liners, no funny stories.

Just another boring work-related blog.

One of the reasons I started this thig in the first place was as a journal, and I guess that is just where my life is right now. Work consumed.

I DID put aside some money towards a Strike Fund yesterday. Our union contract expires in December, and the Union (SPEEA) is making noises like it wants to put the fear of God into the Company, so I am hedging my bets. I'd like to have enough of a nest egg built up so we can survive without a paycheck for a couple of months. I figure about five grand will keep the roof over our head and groceries in the bin.

Then if there is no strike, we can take a trip. I am leaning towards a trip to China. One of my life goals is to walk on the Great Walll, and see The Forbidden City. I better get started, because you never know what might happen down the road.

Or maybe a cruise up the inland passage to Alaska.

Or Hawaii....

Or Costa Rica....

Or down to visit my Uncle Ben in Mexico.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursdays suck

Now that I am back in the thick of the fray, it is like I never left. Days of the week don't matter much when you are working seven days a week. Sometimes I have to stop and ask Mrs A. what day of the week it is.

Thursdays are a little harder than the average, because I don't get to see Mrs A at all. She is gone when I get up, then she does volunteer work ar Group Health. She doesn't get home until after I am at work. It is no huge deal, just makes for a harder day.

On the other hand, today is payday. It makes for a healthy paycheck with all the overtime.

There are six weeks left until the first P8-A rolls out of the factory. July 3rd is the rollout, so between now and then it will just get more crazy as it gets closer to the doors. Every new problem becomes a crisis, as there is no time to react.

Look at it this way. You have a five pound bag. Eack day produces a pound of crap. On a good day you can also process a pound of crap. But not all days are good days, so some times you only process a half a pound. Sometimes there are days when you only get in a half a pound and process a pound, and make up some time. But you are always counting on having more light days to catch up.

Right about now you realize that there is just no way you are going to get everything done by the time the thing rolls out. Your five pound bag is full, you don't have any more bags, and the crap still rolls in. There are no extra resources.

So you slog away at the stuff that needs to be done, keep focused on the goal, and for God's sake don't let it get to you. Peoples tempers are getting short, because they are worn out, and the pace doesn't slow down.

Anybody got a spare five pound bag they aren't using?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle again

One day back, and it seems like I never left.

The Malignancy is bad mouthing everyone.

The guys in my crew are struggling, and don't get a lot of work done. I have to spend a lot of time coaching them. This is not supposed to be my job. It's not the fault of the guys that they weren't properly trained to do their job. But I am the only one available.

They ran my ass ragged last night.

At least it kept me busyenough that the evening went by VERY quickly.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Still Tired, but it's a GOOD tired

We left on Saturday and went down to my cousin Ginger's place for a little family reunion. Ginger is one of my favorite people on the face of the Earth. When we get together, it is always a lot of fun. She and her husband Pat have a beautiful home in the little town of Coburg, Oregon, which is just outside Eugene.

I should mention that their home is featured in the Summer 2008 issue of Creative Home magazine. The lead-in article. If you have the opportunity to see it, please note that I have swilled beer, told stories, and spilled guacamole in the featured breakfast nook.

What a blast to spend time to people that you love and have no pretenses with. We traded witty reparte' and reminisced.

My Uncle came up from Mexico, and it was great to see him. He travelled with Adrianna, and his Godson, Diego. Diego is a quite tallented Cello player, and he gave us a little concert after dinner each night. And no, it wasn't one of those "I think my teeth hurt" moments. The kid is genuinely tallented. Adrianna is a lovely genuine person who is easy to be around, delightful to look at, and curious about everything. Being around a whole house full of my family can be a little challenging at times, but she moved easily with the changes, picked up the backbeat, and came in on the chorus.

It was wonderful to see my Uncle Ben, who is a respected historian in Morelia Mexico. He brought with him a half hour DVD produced by the College extolling his accomplishments. I have enough Spanish that it was not totally incomprehensible, but it was obvious how much respect they hold him in.

Restful weekend? Yes and No. I did get in about ten hours of good solid sleep Saturday Night.

But it was always a hotbed of activity, and I loved every minute of it. Whenever we get together with Ginger and Pat, it's like we have to cram a couple of years worth of activity into a couple of days.

Maybe we should visit more often.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting worn out

I am struggling right now. I am tired and cranky. Things that normally wouldn't bother me get under my skin.

The senior lead in our section is a malignancy. Mind you he is very technically competent and has a ton of experience. But no one is good enough for him. He constantly berates everyone around him.

He lays off of me, because we have a history, and he knows he won't win. I am one of the few people he treats straight forward. Last night he was bad mouthing the workers on second shift. They are incompetent and nonproductive. The truth is they are brand new and untrained. Of course his remarks got back to my crew and they were a little steamed. I let them know that I think they are doing a fine job, given their lack of training and experience. I told them I would handle it.

I sent a nastygram to our mutual boss, basically to say that I thought it was inappropriate for the senior lead to make remarks where other people could hear. He is entitled to his opinion, but that's all it is, and it would serve the group better if he were to confine his remarks to private conversation.

I know I am tired and grumpy, so I am going to have to watch myself tonight, ot I might uncork the genie.

I SOOOOOO need some time off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fit Check

I put everything together today. I wanted to make dure that everything aligned properly. The throttle linkage for the back carb matches up perfectly.

Now I just have to make some linkage to sync the two together.

Looks pretty nice. Now I have to tear it all apart and fix all the things I know are wrong, create some pieces to tie it all together.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Day Off

I had Sunday off, but when you only get one day off, once in a while, two things are true.

1) The things you NEED to do become more iportant than the things you WANT to do. Since we are taking out the Airstream this coming weekend, it was more important that I work on it than swill beer watch baseball.

2) Your spouse will need a lot of attention. Because of me being on second shift, there are days when we don't even see each other. Mrs A. will constantly interrupt whatever I am doing to get me to come help her with whatever SHE is working on. Usually she can do it herself, she just wants me to pay attention to her.

We did get a lot accomplished. I even got a little while to work on Jenny the Jensen Healey. Convertible weather is apon us, and I sill have her torn apart. I will consider myself fortunate indeed if I get the car together and running before Summer is over. Things will slow down in July when the first P8-A rolls out of the factory, but I still have a lot of work to do.

The one project I have been mulling over is carb linkage. The Dellorto's will need me to design a piece of linkage to sync the carbs. It will need to be pretty robust to take all the abuse I plan on giving it, but also carefully crafted so it functions perfectly. I have a design beginning to take shape in my head, but will need a couple of days to refine it before I attempt to make and install it. And of course nothing works perfectly the first time. Strange that way. They always work so perfectly when they are in my head.......

Thursday, May 15, 2008


This is a lot better picture of Isaiah, who shall henceforth and forever after be known by the bloggername of "i" (little i, how clever).
For all you filthy pervert dudes out there, that is not a boob in the background, it is an arm.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lap Monkey

Here is some strange homeless guy holding his lap monkey.

I think the reason the lap monkey is making the strange faces is because he is creating a biological weapon of mass destruction.

I seem to inspire that in lap monkeys.

Monday, May 12, 2008

At Last

I was perusing e-bay, checked for all things Jensen Healey, and there was the intake manifold to match up my Dellorto carbs with the Lotus 907 engine!

I jumped all over that like ugly on an ape.

I had a standing order in with the Jensen Healey Preservation Society, but they didn't have any in stock, and were maybe getting one out of New Zeeland at some vague date in the future.

The one on order, which I had already paid for was $400. The one on e-bay was $250.

JHPS sent me my money back. Now when I get the new intake I can assemble all the bits and pieces and put my fancy carbs on, thus adding 20HP to my sports car.

OOHHHH Horsepower. Monkey man LIKE horsepower.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Breaking and Entering

I was eating my breakfast of toaster strudel and contemplating my collection of navel lint when the phone rang.

It was this bigshot attorney from downtown. (Mr brothter Larry). He needed my help on a big case. A promoninent socialite (my mother) had locked herself out, and the help was all away on leave. At one time the broad had given me a key to her place. Did I still have said key?

"I got a drawer full of keys, mouthpiece, what's it to you. You got a whole drawer full yourself."

"Allright, all right, mouthpiece, I'll see what I can do."

So I rounded up the keys, dusted off the Blue Bomb and hit the road for the better part of town. They were waiting in the mouthpieces fancy smancy wheels when I creaked and groaned to a stop outside the spacious residence.

"You got the keys?" the mouthpiece smarmed with an oily grin.

"Try these on for size" I replied.

They didn't work. The mouthpiece shot me a disgusted look, as if to say "Well what good are you anyway?"

I turned to the attorney and growled "You ever 'loid a lock, mouthpiece?"

He looked at me like I had spoken Swahili. I took that to be a no.

Going through my wallet, I decided that the gift card for Bahama Breeze was the right combination of rigidty and slipperiness.

I inserted it between the door jamb and the door, moved it in behind the latch, bumped the door, and voila' we were in.

This is a true story, more or less. The facts are true, if somewhat embellished for poetic reasons. It happened this morning. My mom locked herself out of the house, and I went down to help her and my brother out. Or in, as the case may be. And yes, I 'loided the door.

It was worth it all to see their faces when that door popped open. My moom was of course curious where I had acquired this skill.

"In a book, mom, in a book. I've always wanted to try doing it, just never had the opportunity."

My brother was still looking a little askance at me when he left, muttering about notifying the Locals of my newfound skill.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

First the good:

R. delivered a new life into the world this morning at 1:09.

Isaiah is 7lbs, 14oz and 20" long. Holding a brand new human in your arms makes for a good day. Afterwards Mrs A and I went into the International District for lunch and a little wandering around before I went to work. A great morning

except for

The BAD. I was down by the hospital looking for a parking spot, and this asshat behind me kept honking his horn, and I don't mean once or twice, after about the fiftieth time, I stopped the car, and he pushed down on the horn and kept it there.
I put the car in neutral and was getting ready to get out when he backed up and buzzed around me, giving me a sign that he felt I was number one.

The Ugly

I had mde up my mind that I was going to go back and beat the crap out of this asshole. I had it all planned out. My hand was on the door handle. I was going to go back there and motion for him to get out of the car. When one foot hit the ground, I was going to cross body block the door shut on his leg. It it didn't break it would definitely be hurting. Then I was going to drag him out of the car and pound the crap out of him. There was no thought of consequences, no remorse. I would gleefully kick him in the ribs when he was down.

This scares the heck out of me. It is something that is lurking way down below the surface that I forget it is there until something like this happens.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England.

In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico,which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York.

This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico.But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York.The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise,and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss.

Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.


Sorry about that. I know this is a repeat, but I just couldn't help myself.

A really bad joke bears repeating.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


My job is not an easy job. It requires the ability to very quickly change directions in handling complex Engineering situations. When things are busy, you will have three or four things going at once, and you need to be ablle to remember exactly where you were on each one and seamlessly flow back and forth between them.

It takes a particular mind set. Not everyone is suited to this work style, in fact it seems to be very rare.

I was reminded of this recently. The reason I am now on second shift is that my counterpart on second shift came unravelled. It took about ten days to break him, but he has gone over the edge.

I have known this guy for about ten years. He is a meticulous worker, very thorough, with exceptional attention to detail. And a nice guy.

He is a former pilot who has flown a lot of different aircraft, from single engine bush planes in Alasks to 747 cargo planes. But during a stress test, he had a heart murmur show up. Can't have pillots with heart conditions, so they grounded him.

Every thing in his life trained him towards being very thorough and meticulous. If you forget something on the checklist, the bird can come flaming out of the sky. There isn't any room for errors.

This job, however is more about juggling than organization. More barnstorming than test pilot. As he was expected to cover more and more stuff, he was not capable of doing anything at all, because he couldn't decide what to do first. His actions became more and more bizarre, and after just ten days on the job, they yanked him out of the socond shift position, and I replaced him.

Everyone thought that once he was back on familiar ground he would pull himself back together, but like Humpty Dumpty, they haven't been able to put him back together.

I like this guy. Mrs A. and I have gone out to Jazz Alley with him and his wife, and had a good time. We like him and We like his wife.

I haven't seen him since they pulled him back. I have talked to him a couple of times. His health had taken a turn for the worse. His diabetes was out of control, and his blood pressure was alarmingly high. My only advice to him was that he had to be able to go home at night and leave this place behind. He said he didn't know how to do that. I told him it wasn't a matter of choice, it was a necessity.

One of my co-workers told me today that the guy had split up with his wife, and had called him at home asking to borrow a couple of grand. His wife had stripped the bank accounts. Probably not the best idea to give him access to a bunch of money in his present state of mind.

You never know what will set someone off, trip them up, send them spiraling out of control. I thought this guy had things under control. We had similar problems with our kids, understood each other.

I find it terribly sad that he has come apart the way he has.

And frightening.

It illustrates how fragile we are, and how one fork in the path can lead to disaster.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More OT

Once again this weekend I will be working both days. With Mrs A semi-retired, we definitely are missing her salary. She has a small pension, and works some at Curves, so she still works some, the difference being that she likes what she does, and she also does some volunteer work.

I want to get all of the bills paid off while I have the chance to work the OT. I have the Visa bill down to $600.00, and my line of credit paid off, but Mrs A still has about four grand on her line of credit, and we have a couple of small loans to pay off, but I see no reason we can't be pretty much in the clear by the end of the year.

We have Labor negotiations this December. The SPEEA contract with Boeing expires in December, and I want to have enough set aside to be able to weather a couple of months in case we go on strike.

The P8-A was moved into position outside our office window yesterday, and they have started puting the wings on. We were moderately busy yesterday, but things have gone much better that I has anticipated.

They have to keep me busy. If they don't I start looking on e-bay, and I can always find a car part or tool I just HAVE to have. Last night it was Velocity Stacks for the Dellorto Carbs. No I don't NEED them, but they look so cool......

You don't understand a single word I just said, do you?