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.
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.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


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


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


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!

Sunday, October 05, 2008


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.