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


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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brake brake's over, so back on your heads!

My two day excursion into the automotive world ended up so-so. I figure the score is al 2, car 1 right now.

I got the two calipers rebuilt and back on the car. The water pump is still on. The one bolt that I stripped the corners off of........well, I put my old beat up pair of locking pliers on the head, and proceeded to twist the head right off of the bolt. But I can't get the housing to come loose. I can move the housing back an forth a little, but only a fraction of an inch. But it won't move forward. It should but it won't. I ground down the housing and bolt a little to make sure there wasn't a lip left from the head of the bolt, but it still won't budge.

I sprayed some WD40 on the area and am letting it sit. Will probably spray it again tonight. I may stop and buy a propane torch tonight and heat the housing to see if I can free it up. I went to do that yesterday, and I can't find my torch. I think someone "borrowed" it.

On a different note, R. went out and got shitfaced on Saturday night. When she got home she just left "i" in his car seat in the living room. He awoke around midnight, and she didn't get up. Her cousin had to go wake her up, and it took about 15 minutes to arouse her enough to take care of the baby. All sorts of alarm bells are going off in my head. Let's hope it was an isolated thing. When her cousin went to talk to her, she got pissy and stomped off to her room. That has always been her defense when she screws up. Yell at whoever questions her, and storm off, even when she is clearly in the wrong.

Storm warnings ahead.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brake Break

The first day of my two day brake break is coming to a close. All in all it was a success.

I have rebuilt and reinstalled the Calipers. As expected, it was a giant pain in the ass. The pistons were frozen in place. I had to break down the calipers and put them in the vise. With the pistons clamped in the vise, I hammered the body of the caliper back an forth a bazillionth of an inch back and forth. Add WD40, repeat for hours. The first one took over four hours to tear apart, clean up, hone the cylinder, reassemble, and reinstall.

Luckily, the second only took a couple of hours. So I have accomplished step one of the plan. Tomorrow I bleed the brakes, and see if I can do the water pump.

The only complication I see is that I am hurtin' tonight. A couple of muscles have staged a rebellion, and are threatening to revolt. A couple of beers ought to shut them the hell up, but I don't know how they will be in the morning.

It willl probably take me a while to limber up, but I do plan to get back at it.

Maybe you wonder why the hell I do this. First of all, machinery doesn't lie. It is straighforward, it does what it is designed for. It may be a challenge to understand what the heck it is supposed to do, but once you figure it out it is completely predictable. I love the figuring out part. To me, a project like Frankenhealey is a big three dimension puzzle. Before I got the car, I knew nothing about the car. I had seen a couple on the road, but knew nothing about the Marque. To me, it has been a lot of fun, figuring out what makes it tick, fixing some things, improving some. If I just paid someone else to do the work, it wouldn't be the same.

When I am done, there will be a sense of ownership and pride. The car will be uniquely mine. I will take it to shows, drive it on nice days, and have a great feeling of accomplishment.

Friday, September 12, 2008

And I'd like a big heap of Confusion with that Please!

Of course everything is confused up here in my little corner of Latteland. Especially at work.

Yesterday the boss came around with a list of what we were to do and not do during the strike. It left everyone wondering WTF?. I came in this morning without a clue as to what I would be doing. For the most part I work well with no structure. I look around and figure out what needs to be done, and I go do it. I don't require any supervision or structure.

Where I get into trouble is when people try to impose structure on me when the STRUCTURE IS STUPID. Mainly because I will tell them I think it is stupid and explain to them WHY it is stupid and what could be done to eliminate the STUPIDITY.

t 'any rate, I came in this morning without a clue as to what I would be doing today.

The first instruction I heard: "Ignore everything you heard yesterday, and continue on as if the conversation never took place". Kinda like being told "Don't think about elephants". Or one on my favorites "The Jury will disregard the previous testimony"
Like that is gonna happen.
Or is possible.

So bring me a big ol' heap of confusion with a side order of chaos, and throw a little give-a-shit on that, would you?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I admit it.
I have been hoarding work.
Since the IAM is on strike, productive work is hard to come by. Not so much for me, because I always have an extensive list of improvements that can be made. I have my own plan and schedule, which I don't really share except with the boss.
My plans are separated into three levels. Stuff that needs to be done short term, like the daily work load. Medium term, stuff to be done in the next couple of months. And Long term, stuff that I would like to get to in the next year or so.
Since the IAM is on strike, there is very little incoming work. No problem for me. I just shift gears and go to the next level. But since there is very little day-to-day work, management has asked what else we could be doin that would be PRODUCTIVE work. So I had to share my medium term project with the rest of the group.
I have to create work paackages for them, which will keep me busy for today and tomorrow, and I have kept the most complicated package for myself.
But my plan for the next two months has been blown all to hell.
Time to go to plan B.

There is no plan B

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Break for Brakes

The last of the parts came in for my brake rebuild for Frankenhealey.

So I am taking a brake break next week. I am taking off Monday and Tuesday to rebuild the calipers, and replace the water pump. If these two projects are accomplished, I will be able to drive the car, although it does not currently idle. I guess I should take care of that before I take it out for more than a test run.

That in no way implies that I am done. I still need to finish putting together the front sheet metal, clean up and install the headlight surrounds, finish installing the new convertible top and do some body cleanup to get it ready for paint.

But if you hear a nasty mechanical snarl in the distance and see women and small children running for their lives, you will know that


Monday, September 08, 2008


I got none.

The Mechanics are on strike, so nothing is going on in the shop. It is eerie to walk through the shop. The assembly building is huge. It will hold seven 737s end to end with plenty of space in between them. If you go out there right now, you may see someone off in the distance, but where there is normally the sound and bustle of activity, there is nothing.

Since I work in Shipside support, dealing with emergent production problems, our inbound activity is nonexistent. We have a couple of things to do, and I have some long term projects to work on, but that will only last a short time.

As a close observer, it is interresting to view the two sides. According to the Union, they are the knight in shining armor saving the peasants in distress from the Evil Dragon. According to the Company, they are a benevolent parent, giving everything to an ungrateful spoiled bunch of peasants who obviously have no idea what is good for them.

It would be amusing if it wasn't for the fact that it puts thousands of people in distress. At this point I don't think either side truely gives a shit about the little guys. It is just a pissing contest between a couple of power hungry conglomerated entities. And the Union members They are the pee-ons.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The dates are up and the pre-sale tickets went on sale for TSO's annual concert. They are in Seattle on Novemmber 8th.

I went on line and bought five tickets for the evening show. Last year I bought seven tickets, but I am cutting back a little.

The concert was amazing.

I took my 82 year old mother. She had never been to any kind of rock show before. She loved it. The have a fantastic multi-media extravaganza. Pyrotechnics! Light show! Fantastic music! Unbelievably tallented musicians!

Go here: http://trans-siberianexpress.com/

On Strike...No Wait a Minute

The IAM voted to turn down the Company's offer and sanctioned a strike. However, they also agreed to put off any strike for a couple of days to see if they can't come to an agreement. So the IAM has agreed to extend the current contract up until midnight on Friday. At midnight the srike will start if an new agreement can't be made.

I my career, I have been in Management, been a mechanic, an engineer, and an independent contributor. I can understand everyone's viewpoint. It would be fiscally irresponsible of the Company to give the workers any more than they have to. Likewise it would not be ethical of the Union to agree to work for less than they should. So it becomes a poker game. They both sit straight faced at the negotiating table and lie their asses off. You can never tell whether the other side is telling the truth ot not.

Is this truely the best and final offer? Will they really go on strike?

The Union felt it needed to call the Company's hand. The Company now knows that 80% of the mechanics have sanctioned a strike. Pretty telling numbers.

They have called in the Governor and the Federal Mediators to figure out who has the biggest balls. My bet's on the Union.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Jambalaya II

There are several ways to make Jambalaya. After all it was created as a basic comfort food by poor people who used whatever was available. A lot of the popular foods we now enjoy came from a basic need to feed a family for a small amount of money.

But the methods and spices are pretty much the same.


I am going to describe Seafood and Sausage Jambalaya, so we start with a good seafood stock. Buy about three pounds of shrimp with the heads on.. Dehead the shrimp and retain the heads and shells. Do not clean the shells. Throw them in a stock pot with about three quarts of water.
Throw in a sweet onion, peeled and quartered, a couple of cloves of garlic and a couple of of sticks of celery. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for at least four hours. Strain the results and refrigerate until ready to use. It should result in a beautiful golden liquid. You coulld add crab shells and other seafood scraps. I like to add some clam juice.

3 Bay leaves
2 Teaspoons of salt
2 Teapoons of ground red pepper
2 Teaspoons of Oregano
1 1/2 Teaspoons of white pepper
1 Teaspoon of balck pepper
1 Teaspoon of thyme
2 lb of chicken
1 Large sweet onion
2 diced sticks of celery
2 Lbs of Good sausage (andouille if you can get it, Polish sausage if yoou can't)
1 Large diced green pepper
2 Tablespoons of diced garlic
The shrimp you cleaned earlier
A dozen or so oysters (you can skip the oysters if you are squemish)
A couple of cups of white rice.
5 cups of stock

Put it all in a big pot and simmer until the rice is cooked, and let it sit.

It's a quite a bit of work, but well worth it.


The lovely and creative doo dah asked for my recipe for jambalaya. I have more that one. There is the easy one, and the hard one.
The hard one involves making stock and roux and doing everything from scratch. The easy one is a lot, well, easier. I will post here the easy one. If you want the hard one, I will have to swear you to secrecy and sign blood oaths and make you learn the secrete handshake and promise not to just give it away to any unworthy.
I know it is cheating, but I don't care. Go buy a couple of boxes of Zatarain's boxed mix. it is cheap and easy, but only the starting point. They have gotten the spice mix just about right. The have the regular stuff and they have Jambalaya with cheese. My family likes the stuff with cheese, but I don't. The cheese is dried powdered orange stuff. I don't count that as cheese. I'm not sure what it is, but I know what it ISN'T, and it isn't cheese.
According to the directions, just add meat, and voila' you have Jambalaya.
Not so.
Instead of adding water like the directions say, use stock. If you are making chicken and sausage Jambalaya, use chicken stock. If you are making seafood Jambalaya, use clam juice..
I always make a double batch, because I love me some leftovers.
The box says add a pound of meat for a box of mix. Since when did you follow directions?
The more meat you add the better. For a double batch, about four pounds of meat is about right.
Add a big green pepper and a big sweet onion, diced in fairly large pieces. And don't forget the garlic. I like things in chunks so you can taste the individual elements.
I like it a little spicy, so I always add some of my special ground chili's to give it s little sweat, and a little white pepper to give it a little hot pucker power.
Throw it in a big pot, bring it to a boil, and then turn down to simmer.
Cook it until the rice turns soft.
I know purists are turning over in their grave if dead, turning and saying my name and spitting if they are alive, but it is an hour as opposed to one long day, or two shorter days the long way.
Although I like doing it the long way, I work, so it has to be a REAL special time to get me to drag out the stock pots.
The family doesn't seem to mind.
I guess they just don't know any better.
To me it is paint-by-the-numbers as opposed to the real thing.
But sometimes you gotta compromise.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What day is it anyway?

Looks like Monday. Feels like Monday. Smells like Monday. But it isn't.

Too much confusion for this early in the morning.

I made a big pot of Jumbalaya yesterday. Ate too much, drank too much beer, smoked too many cigarettes, stayed up too late. And I think I am coming down with a cold. The Jumbalaya and beer had certain digestive by-products which might have had me banished to the couch if Mrs A was not experiencing the same side effect. Lets just say that we slept with the windows open.

You'll find me under my desk with a do not disturb sign.