Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Computer

Our main present to each other this Christmas is a new computer. It is a Gateway laptop. Top of the line 17" screen dual core P8700 with INVIDIA Geforce GTX 2600M video card with 4gb DDR3 Memory. Good enough graphics for gaming, Extended life battery (6 hours), built in web cam with Windows 7.

It has taken me most of a day to set it up and get it running. It will take a while to get used to Windows 7. Just when you get used to one way of doing things, they change it.

The Old laptop is now more or less dedicated to being an Audio Studio. I have started converting my old vinyl to MP3. Then they need to be edited and stuff. Some of the really old stuff has so much hiss and pop that the software can't tell where one song stops and the next one starts, so I have to go in later and divide the tracks up and title them.

We went and saw Avatar today. Quite the Movie. Incredible Computer Generated Imaging. I've
seen some great stuff in games, but it is pretty much static background with a figure moving through it. Three dimensional continuous CGI. I can't imagine how much computer time went into making the movie. I give it four starts on a one to five star ranking.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I Hope everyone's Holidays are going well.

It was our turn to host the Christmas Eve. So we had a whole house full of Warrens telling lies and solving the world's problems. Everyone brought wonderful food, and we ate and drank until we couldn't eat any more. What I love about Christmas Eve is that there is never a sit down meal, just all buffet all night.

Little quiches, eggrolls, my home made salsa (killer!) with crab eat and cream cheese or shrimp and creme cheese. Chili cheese dip. Chinese sweet and sour meat balls. Deviled eggs. Crab dip. Chicken wings. Wild huckleberry cobbler.

Crown Royal, Tanqueray of Pyrat Rum. Fat Tire Amber Ale. Horneby's Hard Cider. for those who drank. Knudsens sparkling Cider for those who didn't.

We don't do a gift exchange any more, we just give a collection for the poor. We did have a $20 gift exchange, complete with stealing and all that.

Our two daughters and the kids spent the night, so we did have the Christmas Morning present opening and madness.

Mrs A got me a Sony Turntable that converts old vinyl LPs to PM3 files, so I may next surface in a couple of weeks, as I have around 400 old albums to convert to digital files. The turntable comes with a pretty complicated suite of software, so I have to figure out how to run everything, how to run the editing software, set the titles and separate the tracks. Then convert it over to itunes so I can load it on my ipod.

We still plan to get a new laptop after the Holidays, but no rush.

On a sad note, my Aunt Mary Rose passed away at 11:00 in the morning on Christmas eve day. She was my favorite aunt. In fact my daughter, Rose is named after her. She had been failing for a couple of years, and her passing comes as no great shock. My mind is ready to accept her passing, but my heart is not yet ready to let her go.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

787 First Flight

Everything went quiet in the factory here in Renton, starting at about 10:00. All the big screen monitors were tuned in to the same site:
The live broadcast of the 787 Dreamliner, set to take off on it's first flight.

There had to be a lot of sweaty palms and tightened sphincters around Boeing. This had been a long and difficult birthing. It had already caused several careers to flame out. It had cost a huge pile of money and resources. It had tried the patience of stockholders, corporate officers, and the work force. It had cost the image of The Boeing Company to take several hits to it's credibility.

Things had started out so spectacularly. The competition didn't have a ready answer to a light, versatile, fuel efficient people mover. Sales went through the roof, anticipation built, the stock went up and up and up.

It didn't take too long to show the near fatal flaws in the business model. No one had tried to put together an aircraft in quite this way. State of the art all composit construction divided among several stake holders, to be assembled somewhere else. Admittedly, the bottom line looked like an Ebebezer Scrooge wet dream, but was built on such a happy path plan, that it couls not succeed as planned. A product of this complexity could not be initiated by multiple stakeholders in multiple countries and assembled. The basic rules of Chaos Theory warn us that complex systems accumulate error probabilities in a way that makes first try success impossible.

As the assembly completion and first flight dates slid further and further to the right, it became all too clear that the business plan was flawed. Boeing's reputation has always been that if they promised something, they delivered. It now became a minefield of delays and excuses. The stock fell, Heads rolled, the stock fell.

But today, for one all too brief moment, all of that became past history. All of the false starts and disappointments became part of the past. It flies.

Oh, it's not done with yet. There are still lots of things to iron out in the assembly process, the supplire chain, and the final design. But the first major milestone has been passed.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Still Freezzing

Since Sunday, the temperature has not gotten above freezing. In places today, it got down into the single digits. It set all sorts of records for low temperatures.

But tomorrow starts the beginning of a warming trend. They predict the high will get up to maybe even 34 degrees. We may get a chance to remove at least one layer of clothing. Don't worry, that won't expose any skin. By Friday it may warm up enough for it to rain, or maybe the "S" word.

Right now it is too cold for even frost, except for frost stars on the windshield in the morning. This morning the frost stars were about a half inch in diameter. They really looked nice. they weren't heavy enough to have to scrape the window, just there enough to refract some of the light from the street lights.

Of course I turned on the defroster as the car warmed up. After a few minutes suddenly the windshield cleared. It was as if someone suddenly scraped the windshield clear all at once. One minute, frost stars, next minute none.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Baby I't's COLD Outside

The temperature was in the low 20's this morning. It is supposed to maybe get UP to freezing this morning.
I know there are people that think this is nothing to complain about. Having spent most of my adult life here in Latteland, I have to admit I have never seen it get below Zero.
But we Lattelanders are poorly adapted for the cold. Admitted, a percentage of us have a fatty layer of insulation that would seem to insulate us from the cold, but I think if you gave it some study you would find that the fatty layer is not evenly distributed, and therefore of little value.
At home, our domiciles are poorly insulated, and out pipes tend to freeze often and with disasterous results. I have attempted to oversome this by redirecting a heat vent down into the basement. After all, you don't need a great deal of heat to keep the pipes from freezing.
The next several days will follow the pattern of frigid nights and freezing days, with no sign of respite until maybe Friday.
At least the sun is shining.
But all that does is lull you into a false sense of security so you will go outdoors, where the wind and chill will freeze your face off.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Way Too Much Crap

On Sunday, a career criminal went into a coffee shop in Lakewood, South of Tacoma frequented by Police, pulled out a gun, and murdered four Police Officers. One of the officers managed to get his weapon out and return fire. This is the single worst attack on Police in the history of the State of Washington.

The gunman hopped into a waiting car and sped away. All four of the Officers had family: husbands, wives, kids, brothers, sisters, parents. All were respected members of the Lakewood Police Force. They were not known to the gunman. The cowardly viscous unprovoked attack seems to have been entirely random.

Maurice Clemmons was out on bail from charges of child rape and assault. He had had a lengthy prison sentence commuted by Gov. Huckabee in Arkansas, where he was in prison for multiple counts of burglary and one for assault on a police officer.

At 2:45 this morning, he was shot and killed in South Seattle, a short distance from where I live. Having murdered four Police Officers, there was little hope he would be apprehended alive. My personal opinion is that the human gene pool has been improved by his removal from it.

There is no way that this scumbag should have been walking the streets. With his extensive record and the pending charges against him, he should have still been in jail.

It was quite evident that he had been helped by several people to evade police. He had been woulded in the abdomen by the one officer that managed to get off a shot before being murdered. The wound had been dressed and treated by someone. He was driven away from the crime scene by an accomplice (who can be charged with accessory to Myrder of the four officers) he was hidden, and moved from place to place. Conspiracy to aid a fugitive, aiding and abbetting a fugitive and other charges are being filed. I believe they currently have four people in custody on a variety of charges. I hope they all get apropriate sentences, if found guilty.

This comes a couple of weeks after two Seattle Police Officers were murdered in their patrol car.

Way too much tragedy, murder, violence and death.

A tragedy of major proportions. No one wins and there is NO happy ending.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Too Close for Comfort

Friday, I was taking R and "i" home after babysitting "i" overnight. We were in a not-so-nice part of town when R said "OMG Dad, look out the window"
I did, and ther was a cop in full SWAT gear running down the sidewalk with an M-16 in the "Ready" position. Other people were running all over the place.
As we wnt a little North we came upon the RiteAide Parking lot, and there was a guy on the ground in a pool of blood.
We were stuck in traffic at a light with cars in front of us. All I wanted was to get the hell out of there. We were stuck, as three police cars with lights and sirens came roaring down the wrong side of the road.Even though the light had turned green, we were stuck there for a while.
I was relieved to finally get through the intersection and head away from the scene, but we had to pull over three more times so two more cop cars and two ambulances could access our side of the street.
I never did find out exactly what happened.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Three Beer Job

First of all, I hope everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was fine. The food was great, the conversation was scintillating, and all was well, other than the fact that we were short a few family members this year.

I have been waiting for a convergence of sorts. The first was a break in the weather. Latteland is known for it's gray skies and precipitation, but usually it is a gentle bath. I grew up with drizzle and mist and accept that as normal. However that has not been the course of things lately. It has been back to back downpours with high winds for the last three weeks. When The Summer That Would Not Die finally passed, Mother Nature went in for the full weeping and gnashing of teeth. She rended her clothes and threw herself prostrate.

My truck developed a vacuum leak in the Brake Power Boost unit. It was fine as long as I didn't use the brakes. Then there would be this loud hissing noise, and the RPMs would drop. Occasionally the engine would die if it was idling. Not a good thing. When you have power brakes and power steering, the car objects adamantly to stopping or turning once the engine is not running.

Friday was sunny and dry, if a bit chilly. We were babysitting "i", so I didn't think I would be able to work on the truck, but Mrs A was kind enough to take over babysitting chores so I could . For some reason she was unsettled by the whole thing with the truck dying and having no brakes or steering, Go figure.

List Price for a new unit is $460.00. Thank God for junkyards ($45.00). I have never heard of a Power Boost unit going out before, so I was reasonable confident in purchasing one from a formerly living truck. I have also never replaced one before, so I had to slip into my library when no one was looking and read up on how one went about replacing it. It was much easier than I had anticipated, at least on paper. But we all know nothing is as easy as it looks on paper.

Removing the clip from the brake pedal was a piece of cake. Except that the brake light switch is attached and when I worked it out of the way it came apart, the guts flew out. Removing the Master cylinder was easy. However removing the four bolts holding the unit to the firewall proved to be a real challenge. It was one of those times when you could SEE all four nuts, but only two of then were accessible. As a matter of fact each one of them required a different lash up of ratchet, extension and socket. I was required to go down to the Auto Parts place and buy a special deep 15mm socket to get out the last nut.

It was easier putting it back together than it was taking it apart, except for one thing. When I hooked it all up, the brake lights would not go out. Remember the brake light switch I mentioned? Well I hadn't found all of the guts when I put it back together. I finally found a small spring on the floor, and being a master of deductive reasoning, I tore the switch back apart, inserted the spring and viola', the brake lights worked.

A Three Beer job. Not real simple, not real difficult. Only one run to the auto parts store.
Between three an four hours total, most of it upside down under the dash immitating a contortionist.

I have a few muscles that are telling me that i failed to loosen up before strenuous exercise. I'm pretty sure that means I am supposed to finish off the rest of the six pack.

Tonight we go to Jazz Alley to see Taj Mahal. Should be a very entertaining eventing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Last night was the annual TSO concert.

Of course it was an awesome heavy metal screaming guitar pyrotechnic laser light show Christmas music and performance extravaganza. Hard to describe, but it should be experienced at least once.

After the Christmas part of the show they do other stuff. In this case, they did selections from their new release "Night Castle". It inspired me to go on-line this morning and purchase the download MP3 version.

The only bad part was the drive. It took almost two hours to get there. The trip normally takes about a half an hour. I allowed an hour, or double the normal travel time. So we missed almost an hour of the three hour show. But better to remember the incredible two hours we did see.


On the home front........

I had these brass swing arm wall lamps in the bedroom. The one on my side of the bed broke, and I couldn't fix it ( a rarity ). I went on the Internet to see if I could find a replacement. I came across these gorgeous Tiffany swing arm wall lamps. I could envision them in out bedroom, so I went ahead and purchased them. They came in on Thursday, so instead of working on the toilet, instead I assembled and installed the wall lamps. I have to say they look incredible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grazing Day

Today is grazing day at work.We have next Thursday and Friday off, and a lot of people take off next Mon-Wed so thay have a total of nine days without a wake-up.

This means that we have to have our potluck's today. There are a LOT of groups having their potlucks today. I call it grazing day, because a people wander around eating a little here and a little there all day long.

I brought egg rolls. But we have a lot of real good food. Chinese style pork with hot mustard and sesame seeds. Deer dip (kinda like chili cheese stuff with Vennison) Sweet Potato suoffle', main course of chicken. Cheese trays, vegetable trays, meat trays. Spinach dip in the hollowed out bread. And don't forget the cookies, donuts, and pie. And sodas.

I declare today a guilt-free, calorie-free day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Hate Plumbing, and it hates me

The house lies in wait for moments of weakness. Nay, it veritable LURKS. Things always go wrong in bunches. I sense a sinister glee in the piling on of disagreeable tasks.
I accept that as a homeowner, I will need to do maintenance and repair, or be prepared to pay someone else to do it.
I prefer to do it myself, but some things are better than others. I will remodel a bedroom, lay new flooring, rebuild cabinets, rewire rooms and I actually enjoy it.
But I hate plumbing.
Oh, I can do about anything that needs to be done, but would prefer not to have to do it at all. And some of it is nastier than other parts. Few things make me shudder more than remembering the time when I pulled the cleanout plug out of the line going fron the disposal to the downtube and had it all blow back all over me. Multiple showers were not adequate to wipe the stain from my psyche.
So of course I Have been faced with multiple plumbing related repairs.
It started out innocently enough. I should have suspected that the house was setting me up for the one-two-three.
The knob on the Kitchen sink came loose. As a matter of fact the serrations inside the knob had worn off, SO I had to do some creative repairs to get it to work again.
As I went down into the basement to fetch a tool. I noticed water on the staris. It was dripping from the upstairs bathroom.
As soon as I was through with the kitchen I went upstairs, and there was water all over the floor of the bathroom. How does it happen that the cold water line all the sudden comes loose and leaks. It has been working just fine for a long time. There has been no earthquake or disturbance.
Although annoying, it is not a major problem. I took everything apart, cleaned it and reassembled it. Seems to work fine.
When I was going back to the basement to put away the tools, I heard water dripping.
The downstairs toilet is leaking.
The house is getting the upper hand. Somebody needs to call fifteen yards for piling on.
I think it is the wax ring has developed a leak, which means I have to pull the toilet. We have now passed from annoying to nasty.
I have purchased a new wax ring, and it is waiting for me tonight.
I think I may need to fortify myself with a couple of beers before I undertake this chore.
It is kinda EEWWWWW.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I have been a bad blogger lately. Practically a non-existent blogger.I guess I just ran out of juice.
We went this weekend to see "2012". I hate end-of-the-world thrillers that are based on bad science.The last one I was coaxed to go see was "Day After Tomorrow" which I hated with a passion.
Mrs A needed a little pampering and a reward for being such a good sport with my mom. She insisted on going to go see "2012", so we went. Yes the science stinks. Yes a lot of the special effects are physically impossible. Yes the story line is ridiculous. But I went in having told I would not alow rationality to interfere with the movie. Every time that little voice started to say "Hey, wait a minute", I ruthlessly squished it. That made the movie tollerable. It held my interest for the entire show.
I'd give it a six on the sliding one to ten scale. The science would get a D at best.
For dinner we went to The Olive Garden. Love that place, except the wait to get seated on Saturday night is about 45 minutes. But the food was worth the wait. And a couple of Tanqueray and Tonics didn't hurt the mood.
All in all a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am not out to look for pity, because I am not one to blame things on other people. Pretty much, I believe that we are where we are because we have made choices that put us here. Things daisy-chain off of one choice to another to another. Sometimes it feels like life has painted us into a corner, but it isn't life or chance, it is our own decisions.

I see a lot of people try to blame their circumstances on others. It is mostly BS. I suppose there are people that have totally been screwed, but 99.9% of them are acctually where they are because of their own choices.

Sometimes I get down, like everyone does, because life seems to be kicking the shit out of me. But if I take the time to look at the situation, I ALWAYS find that I am the creator of my own situation.

My recent troubles with my teeth are a result of genetics, certainly. But only my decisions made them what they are. Seven years ago, I knew my teeth were going bad. At that time I made the decision to fight losing my teeth. I could have opted for dentures, but said "Hell no, I will fight every step of the way"
So if I lose a battle, the war is still of my choice.
There has been a lot of turmoil at home recently.. V. is a pretty good kid. He isn't into drugs or running with a bad crowd, or in trouble with the law. I know a lot of people would wish for a kid like him.
He is also an arrogant, insensitive, disrespectful, selfish spoiled rotten asshole.
There are times I really wish I could take hime out behind the woodshed and teach him how it REALLY is. But I am not willing to spend time in jail to prove the point.
He does not get along with Mrs A. He is disrespectful. Talks back. If he talked to me like he does to her, he would apollogize, or I would beat the crap out of him.
V is my grandson, now adopted, and legally my son. I don't need to go into all of the very painful circumstances that brought this about. But I accepted the responsibilty to provide him with a stable and safe environment.

As usual with idealistic undertakings, it has led me down paths I never anticipated or wanted. You have to understand that he has no other spokesman. No one who has been willing to stand up in his behalf and take his defence.

I have the legal and moral responsibility to be his patron. He is a senior this year, and will be 18 on July 1st next summer. In a way I look forward to the point when I have no legal responsibility and can tell him that I no longer am required to put up with his BS.

I don't know what he thinks will happen when he graduates. The world is not waiting out there, wanting to meet his desires and needs, has no legal requirement to give him anything. The world basically doesn't give a shit if he lives or dies. OR YOU, OR ME.

The conflict between V and Mrs A is dificult for me. I need to take care of V, but in a lot of ways I would really like to just kick the crap out of him. Mrs A is much more of a controller than I am, but she is not wrong in expecting to be treated with respect. On one hand I have a legal responsibilty. On the other hand I have my heart, because I love Mrs A more than anything in this world.

Which lands me right in the middle of a situation I can in no way control.

As I told Mrs A the other day "No matter what I do, I'm F&(*ed".

Sunday, November 08, 2009


On Thursday while I was having my stitches pulled, Mrs A took The Matriarch in for her semi-annual poking and prodding. Earlier in the week, she had a spell when she got dizzy and kinda passed out for a short time. The doc checked her out and decided there was something a little "off" on her cardiograph, so he sent her to the Emergency Room.
Mrs A called me to let me know they were on their way to the hospital, so I jumped in the truck and met them there. We spent the next four hours with them running every test they could think of. First they were going to check her in for observation, then send her home, then check her in, then not.
After four hours they couldn't find anything wrong, so they sent her home.
We are taking care of "i" this weekend. He is a really enjoyable kid. With just enough mischief to make things interesting. It was R's birthday, and she wanted an evening out. Can't say I blame her. She has had to handle a lot over the last several months.
She got an early birthday present from the government. A $9,000.00 grant for education. She took some nursing courses earlier this year and had a 3.85 GPA. The grant is for her to continue and get her LPN. It's good to see her on a positive path.
Saturday was our other grandson's birthday, which they held at a bowling alley. I don't bowl, but it was "i"s chance to see some of his cousins. hate kiddie birthday parties, but at least there was a lounge. A double Tanqueray and Tonic took the edge off.
I believe we have an uncimmitted weekend next weekend. I owe Mrs A for being suck a good sport the last week or so, so I think a good dinner at The Olive Garden is in order.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In Stitches

I get my stitches out of my mouth tomorrow. They have been driving me nuts. I know, short trip.
In fact I had one hanging down in my mouth that was especially bothersome. So when I got home I got out the cuticle scissors and took it out. The doctor will probably give me hell, but I don't care.
Monday they had to perform an emergency root canal, and put in a pin, then clean up the bridge and reinstall it.
Today is my Mom's83rd birthday. Happy birthday, mom. She now holds the record for the longest lived of her family line. Just think, every day is a new record. Here's too a long string of new records.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Post Halloween Decompression

I am not a big Halloween Fan. Not a Hallow-hater, not a Hallow-lover. I appreciate that it is a lot of fun for it's fans, and any chance for kids to let off a little steam and race around celebrating their childhood is fine with me. I don't get dressed up and party or anything.
R and "i" came over last night so I could see him in his first costume. She dressed him up as a little duck. Hardly what I would have chosen, but he really didn't care. They went around the block and got some candy, had a good time.
Because it was late when they got back, they spent the night, so we had a chance to visit today.
Nothing I like better than to have a grandkid around for a day. He ran around until he wore himself out, and crashed in the middle of the living room floor. We just threw a blanket over him and let him be. R had a chance to take a nap, something she seldom does. Normally when he goes down, it means she can go do things she has put off.
All in all, a very nice weekend.
Of course there is the other part.
We made egg rolls this weekend.
Before we started, we went out for lunch. During lunch, the permanent bridge on the upper left side of my mouth broke off. Nothing quite as disconcerting as having your teeth fall off during lunch. I am not a person that panics over any upset, so I just had them box up the rest of my lunch, and we went home and made the egg rolls. I put the bridge back in. but any time I tried to chew anything, it just fell back off.
I called my dentist at home, and we made an appointment for Monday morning first thing.
Sometimes I wish for a life where everything just goes along and your teeth don't fall out over lunch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reality Bites

Reality jumped up and bit me in the ass today.
I am taking my mom on a trip to the doctors tomorrow, and during the conversation setting it up the conversation drifted around to "Whose turn is it for Thanksgiving this year?" I knew it wasn't ours, but as it tuens out, it is our turn for Christmas Eve.
Today was just drifting around in my head, looking at the next couple of months, when I thought "Holy Crap! We are going to have to make egg rolls!"
For Thanksgiving.
Let's see. We are going to go see Trans Siberian Orchestra the weekend before, so that is out.
Weekend before that we will be babysitting "i", so that is out.
We have something going on the weekend before that.
That leaves..........this weekend.
Guess I know what we will be doing Saturday.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Whenever you have any kind of procedure, they always give you a whole list of "possible" side effects, right before you sign the waiver. The list is always long and bewildering. Having a hangnail removed? Possible side effects: infection, amputation, paralysis, the end of civilization as we know it.
We all just blow by all of this because of course they don't apply to US.
Well, right now the right side of my face is all swollen up, and I am sporting my very first ever black eye. It is a thing of beauty.
I need to sit down and construct a story Worthy of the black eye.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Under the Knife

In an effort to help my Periodontist upgrade his car from a Porche to a Ferrarri, I am having oral surgery tomorrow.
I had three teeth extracted a couple of months ago. I am having new implants put in. These are top back teeth. The bone structure there is weak, so before they can do the inserts, they have to build up the bone.
They do this by inplanting a piece of vacated bovine bone matrix, which will actually integrate itself with the existing bone. It takes several months for it to become contiguous with the existing bone.
as in cow.
Now when someone calls me bull headed, they will be partially correct.
SO if I am not around, it is because I am loaded up on percocet and drooling on the couch.
The lengths some people will go to to get their hands on some drugs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Our neighborhood is a very diverse neighborhood. We have blacks, mexicans, asians, anglos and racially mixed couples. It is mostly a quiet urban neighbohood.
It has a lot of kids.
I get along well with the kids in the neighborhood. When I pass them I always stop and say hello, ask them how they are doing. when I pass by they always wave. I love the way they think and how they look at the world with fresh eyes.
Tonight there was a rap on the door. There on the stoop were a couple of little angels, age about six. One white, one black.
Their hands were full of flowers, which I suspecct had been purloined from neighborhood flower gardens. They were for me.
Little angels spreading joy on a blustery fall day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Quiet

This weekend reminds me so strongly of something I carry around with me that most other people seem to not have, or not value. As I said in my last blog, when I go into the woods, the quiet seeps into me until I become a part of it.
When I go into the woods I want to go to a point where I can no longer hear any evidence of people, and stop and sit. It takes a while of sitting silently for you to become a part of the environment. Slowly you become aware of things around you. After a while you become aware of the sound of a small bird in the bushes or a squirrel in the firs.
But for me, I become mostly aware of the quiet in between the noises. Quiet is the steady state that lies underneath the sounds, contrasting them.
When you become aware of this, you become a part of it. And it becomes a part of you.
Back at work I carry it with me. It is there in the back of my consciousness. Like the tail on a kite, it keeps me pointed in the right direction.
But like a battery it needs to be recharged at intervals.
A little piece of me is still up in the Olympic mountains, sitting on a log.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lake Quinault

We took off after work on Friday and headed out to the Lake Quinault Lodge, which is one of my favorite places. It is about a three and a half hour drive, but worth every minute of it.
Peace and quiet.
No cell phone service.
No television.
No phones in the rooms.
Miles of trails through the rain forest.
Since this is the off season, room rates are lower. Not cheap, mind you, but lower than at peak.
We always stay in The Boathouse, because the rooms there are critter friendly.
The attached restaurant is very good. On Friday we had the Cedar Plank salmon with braised vegetables. It was one of the best meals I have eaten this year. Enhanced by the Marionberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Despite the fact that the Lodge is in the rain forest, it did not rain while we were there. Saturday after breakfast (Eggs Benedict) we drove to the end of the road up the south fork of the Quinault river to the end of the road, and hiked until we got tired. We found a small batch of Chantrelle mushrooms, which I will be cooking up with butter and a little bit of salt shortly.
During the entire hike, which lasted over three hours, we never saw another human being. The quiet seeps into you like water into a sponge. leaving little room for stress and worry. Those things belong to a different existence.
It was with great reluctance we returned home today.
Mrs A starts her new job tomorrow, and we figured it might make a bad impression if she didn't show up on her first day.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Losing It

Sometimes you start down the path, take a misstep, and the next thing you know you are nekkid in the cornfield. (it's just a saying. fer heaven's sake)
Every Friday, I stop over at my Mom's and see if she needs anything, stop and visit and get all the news of the family. When I was there, my badge fell out of my pocket. She called me later to tell me she had found it. No big deal, I would drop by and pick it up sometime over the weekend.
Well, I forgot.
Monday when I was getting ready for work I was going through the checklist (beeper,badge,bug,wallet,watch,cell phones)
Badge. Oh crap I forgot to go get my badge. It is way to early to go by my Mom's to pick it up, so I will have to stop at the Badge Office and get a Temporary Badge, which includes a Security Token so I can get into our work area.
After work I stopped by my Mom's and picked up my badge. As I was walking out to the truck, my work cell phone rings, and the guy I share a desk with is on the phone. I did not undock my laptop and secure it. What did I want him to do with it? We made an agreement.
This morning when I got to work and went to wand myself into the work area, it would not let me in. I had forgotten to turn in my temporary badge and Security Token.
I had to go out to the Badge office to tell them I had forgotten to turn in the temporary badge and Security Token, could they please reset my badge?
Today when I went to leave work, there in the pocket on the door, was the temporary badge and token. I sure as hell didn't put it there. I will have to remember to turn it in tomorrow.
Who knows what adventures await me tomorrow.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lost weekend

So where the heck did the weekend go?
I had a great weekend, only there is never enough of it. How is it that a day at work lasts FOREVER and a day off flashes by on fast forward?
Saturday we slept in and did a little work around the house. Then we went to Jazz Alley for dinner and to see Average White Band. What a pleasant evening. The food was good, the music was good, and we shared the table with a very nice couple.
Sunday I barbecued a buffalo roast, we did some work in the yard, and I worked on Frankenhealey, adjusting the timing and the carbs. (without burning myself) It is running much better, but I am still having a problem with the linkage for the gas pedal. On the other hand it runs great and accelerates well enough to be a little scary. Just the way I like it.
Now if I can get the lights working, the wipers and turn signals going, I could actually drive it around.
And then the weekend was all the sudden over with.
Gone like it was never there.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


In my further efforts to drive Mrs A out of her pea-picking mind, I did something last night to push her one step closer to the edge.

Friday was her last day at work, so she is feeling a little off ballance this week. She has been working everyday for the last thirty five or so years, has never been on unemployment. She feels like we are on the brink of financial disaster. But truth is that I make enough money that we don't NEED her salary. But she is still in this OMG WE'RE GONNA CRASH place.

I was perusing e-Bay last night. I have bids in on a couple of engine parts for Frankenhealey. One of them is listed under Lotus, so when I went to check out my bid status, there was this absolutely gorgeous tribute Lotus 11 that the bid was about to close on. The car was worth well over $50,000 and the bid was at $17,000. So I decided to throw in a couple of bids. The car had a reserve, and I'm sure it was nowhere near the reserve, so I put in a Max Bid of $20,000. Mrs A saw me do this and about went breserk. Where are we going to get $20,000?!?!?!?!?.
I can just put it on my Visa.
The car is in California, how would you get it home?
Buy a cheap plane ticket down there and drive it back.
It is not licensed.
Trip permit.
It doesn't have a top!
I'll buy a helmet.
My high bid was almost immediately overbid, and the reserve was never met.
I had no intention of buying the car.
Oh, if I could have gotten it for the price I bid, I certainly would have bought it and had it shipped up here. I could have made some money on it.
But it was an opportunity to tweak Mrs A.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


There are some lessons we have to learn more than once, or at least some of us do.

I guess I am one of those.

I learned a long time ago that when you are working on a car, you take off your jewelry. I have been pretty faithful about his. There are lots of things that can go wrong if you wear jewelry while you are wonking on the car, and absolutely no benefits.

I was working on Frankenhealey the other night, and because I was just replacing the carbs with the newly rebuilt cars, I didn't bother to take off my watch. Since I was not running the engine or dealing with moving parts, it should be OK, right?


While tightening the bottom rear carb bolt, I got my watch band between the two terminals of the starter solenoid, causing a direct short. It instantly heated the watch band red hot. Thereby melting the skin under the watch band.

I was dancing around, saying impolite things while trying to get the watch off.

That smell of cooking pork? That was me. When I got the watch band free, the skin sluffed off. I now have a very nasty looking spot on my left wrist.

It is going to leave a scar, which will be around for a long time to remind me of a lesson I supposedly learned a long time ago.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It was a long day on Saturday, going with the band. I guess it was about a 20 hour day, all told. So Sunday we just took it easy.
I am still sore from humping around 300 pound speakers, loading and unloading the truck, setting up the stage. Mrs A is getting to the stage where she is about ready to give up job of crewing for the band. I'd still like to do it now and then. Oh well, we'll see what happens.
Mrs A got offered another job today, and I think she is going to take it.
One of the women that she has become friends with is a partner in a local law firm. They want to hire her to work in the office. Part time at first, but with the option of maybe going to full time eventually. She told her friend she would have to think about it, and she did.......for all of five minutes.
I have met the lady a couple of times, and we got along just fine.
It should pay a lot better than Curves, and more important, I think Mrs A will be happy there.
I just hope she doesn't overdo.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Road Trip

Tomorrow we are off with the band ML3 to do a gig in Cenralia, at Maple Lane, a Youth Facility. It will be the first time we have done a road trip for a while, with me working seven days a week. We have sure missed everyone.
In case you are new around here, ML3 is a Christian Rock band we crew for. They have a semi and 20,000 lbs of gear. Full sound system and light show. It takes around six hours to unload the truck and set up the stage. A couple of hours for sound check. two one hour shows, break it all back down and load it back in the truck. We will get home around midnight, exhausted and felling like we have done something worthwhile.
The message from the band is directed more towards "You can have a whole lot of fun without drugs and alcohol" than an altar call. Since we are dealing with incarcerated youth, and about 80% of them are in for drug and alcohol related offences, I really believe it is the right message to the right audience at the right time.
We feel strongly enough about this that we have been road crew for the band for over six years now.
So, tomorrow night we will come dragging home tired, sore and fulfilled.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Time of Change

Mrs A works part time at the Curves in Renton. She goes in and opens the place up at 6:00 in the morning, and works until 10:00. She likes doing this for a couple of reasons. One it provides her with a little extra money, plus she gets to work out every day.
I make enough money that we could get along just fine without her working. I have told her she can quit and be a stay-at-home mom any time she wants. She has always worked and supported her family, almost always as the single source of income, struggling to make it day to day.
She feels a little guilty about not working full time, feels she is not pulling her weight. Nothing I tell her seems to make a lot of difference. Her attitude as a working mom is so ingrained into her behavior that she doesn't know any other way to be.
Well, she will soon get to experience staying at home.
The Curves in Renton is closing on September 25th. I have told her she should take some time off and just take it easy for a little while. Collect unemployment for a couple of months. She has a job lined up at another Curves, but I think she ought to just wait and see what shakes out of the tree.
At any rate, it will be a time of change for her. I just have to remember to keep telling her that no matter what she chooses to do, she has my support.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Steps Back

None of my bright ideas to remove the broken jet from Frankenhealey worked worth a damn.
First I tried using an easy-out to try to lift the jet out. That didn't work at all.
Then I tried tapping threads into the bushing and pulling. That didn't work. Then I tried drilling it out. That removed most of the jet, but there is still a little at the bottom of the hole that will have to be removed before the new jet will fit in. In order to do that I will have to remove the carb fron the engine.

I have a spare set of carbs, so I spent most of the day yesterday tearing down the spare carbs and cleaning everything up and checking them out. Everything looks very good, so I will try swapping the carbs. Then I can work on the screwed up carb at my leisure.

I am crossing my fingers that the car will start when I put the spare carbs on. No reason why is should not start. That doesn't mean it will.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Yeah, I see that glazed-over look in your eyes. There goes Al Again on that stupid car.

It's true.

Yesterday I went out to work on the carbs and tweak the timing. One of the things I need to do is charge out the accelerator jets. This should be a simple drop-in. Unfortunately I broke off the first one I tried to remove, and the second one also seems to be stuck. I am sitting here trying to figure out how to get it out without destroying the carb. I may have to drill it out, which would be a very delicate operation.

Oh well, I will figure out something.

R came by with "i" yesterday. It was sure great to see them. I hadn't seen "i" in a couple of months. and they change so quickly. when he last by he was pulling up on things and taking a step or two. Now he is toddling around everywhere. He's not quite talking yet, but jabbers a lot. It makes sense to him, we just can't understand what he's saying.


Maybe if I drill a small hole in the jet and use an easy-out I can loosen it up. Or Maybe tap some threads and use a screw as a puller.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It's Just A Shot Away

Just to be the antithesis of The Stones, who on Give me Shelter screamed "War, children, it's just a shot away" I give you:

Peace, Children, It's just a Shot Away.

A shot of Tanqueray, that is. After some negotiation, we settled on an apollogy and a bottle of Tanqueray. More expensive than your average bunch of flowers, but less than dinner.

Negotiation hell, she just called me up and said "Instead of Flowers, I want a bottle of Tanqueray". I was not in a position to negotiate.

So all is peaceful in Latteland.

Tonight I am signing the contract to put new siding on the South side of the house. Mind you that side of the house is 40 feet by 40 feet, and covered with 10" lapped cedar siding. Decent tight knot 10" cedar siding is getting mighty hard to find, and when you CAN find it, it is expensive as hell.

I wanted to do the work myself, but Mrs A has a conniption fit if I get anywhere near a ladder. Last time I got up on a ladder to repair a downspout, I had to give her three drinks before I could go up on the ladder.

I haven't seen the breakdown, but the estimate is $3800.00, which seems about right to me. I still don't like paying someone to do something I could do myself, but what the hell.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Trouble

I'm in trouble with Mrs A today.
I didn't do anything wrong, mind you, it's something I DIDN'T do.
I didn't give her a good-bye kiss when I left this morning.
She called me on the cell phone before I even got to work, in tears. "Seven years together, and this is what it has come to!"
No way out, no amount of fancy talk is going to change it. Guilty as charged. Sure I have a (to me) legitimate excuse, but the facts is the facts. The question now becomes "How much is this going to cost me?" Flowers at the very least. I don't think this is a flowers and dinner offense.
First of all there is the fact that I do not wake up well in the morning. I stumble, I grunt, I bump into things. I get by by ritual. Things are always done in a certain order. Anything that breaks the ritual or order is likely to end up with the whole morning in chaos.
First of all. V has a zero hour class, so for the time being, I am giving him a ride to school, something I have never done before.
This morning when I came down from upstairs there was a whole pile of papers on the seat of my chair. Papers that needed to be signed and dated. School stuff, field trip, science class, legal release. Stuff that I would like to at lease peruse before I sign it, but no time to read. Glance at it, sign and date.
V. forgets something at the last minute, so I am running late. Rush out the door.
Halfway to work, the cell phone rings and it is Mrs A.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


For the last several years, one of the things I have done for Christmas is take Mrs A and Vinnie and my cousin Lynn to see TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra to you Troglodytes).
Tickets went on sale yesterday at 10:00 A.M. A pre-sale for fan club members only.
Unfortunately I had to be at a meeting at 10:00. I really couldn't blow the meeting off, since I was to receive an award at said meeting.
I left as soon as possible and ran back to my desk, got on line to order tickets.
Floor tickets, eleven rows back from the stage, center of the floor.
Oh yeah!
Screaming electric guitar pyrotechnic light show laser extravaganza Christmas music!
Ho, Ho, HO!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lost weekend

Or maybe Blogging on Percocet.

I had three teeth pulled on Friday. I'm only in it for the drugs.

I have been fighting bad teeth for about ten years now. One of the past conversations with the periodontist, and dentist concluded that I had about a 75% chance of losing those particular teeth. We tried to save them, but it was a losing battle. Everything we tried failed.
So the last resort was to have them pulled and have inserts put in, a long, painful and expensive process, which includes a bone graft using vacated bovine bone matrix. Yeah, you saw that correctly. Bull Bone. I will truly be part animal when this is over. Jokes could be made about being full of bull, but in reality I will be only a very small part full of bull.

I have been alternately napping on the couch, trying to read and watching the boob tube. I have accomplished exactly nothing, and this short post will be about as ambitious as I will get.

Time to go take another Percocet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Under pressure

After we got home from the ocean, I figured it was time to break in my birthday present, the pressure washer.
It's a manly tool. Gasoline powered 2500 PSI three pages of warnings and dangers, may result in serious injury or death. Oh yeah!
I pressure washed 420 sq ft of deck. The pressure washer did a great job.
That still leaves the patio and the driveway.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Vacation? What Vacation?

We spent most of a week at the ocean. It will not go down in our personal history as one of the best vacations ever.
Where to start?
I guess I should start by saying that the number one objective was to quit smoking. I have a round of oral surgery coming up, and I need to quit smoking to increase the odds of success. I really don't smoke a lot, usually three or four cigarettes a day, so you would think it would be easy to quit. You would be wrong.
Mrs A also smokes, so if we are going to quit, we need to do it together.
Two people in a small room, both quitting smoking. Yep.
Throw in the fact that the matress on the bed was made out of bricks wound in barb wire, so neither one of us was getting much sleep.
Plus, one of the reasons we chose the Chateau Westport was that in April we spent a weekend there and the complimentary breakfase was exceptional. Fresh waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, juice, toast.
Gone. All gone.
Instead of fresh waffles, previously frozen pancakes.
Instead of scrambled, something that might have at some time approximated an egg, except harder and tasteless. Kinda sunny side petrified.
No biscuits and gravy.
We came home early.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oregon Trip

We packed up ourselves, the dog, and my mom on Saturday and set off for Coberg Oregon, Population 996. My cousin Ginger and her husband Pat live there.
The occasion was a family reunion of sorts. My Uncle Ben and his new bride Virginia were up here on their honeymoon from Morelia Mexico. The special occasion has reeled in a couple of my cousins that I had not seen for over 40 years.
It was a wonderful time. Lots of food and remembering and storytelling. And food. And storytelling. And food. Not just any food. Grilled beef, fresh salad, Uncle Ben's special guacamole (secret ingredient: top drawer tequila) home made huckleberry pie, berries from Idaho. Marionberry pie, home made pickles. I provided egg rolls and Jambalaya. Microbrews, special wine, and a few shots the Mexican firewater.
The new addition to the family is a vivacious, outgoing, intelligent woman who we are more that happy to welcome to the family. She doesn't speak a lot of English, but we managed to communicate with our little Spanish, and her little English.
What a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Car Show

My car goal for this year was to get Frankenhealey to the annual Boeing Employees car show. I have talked to boring lengths for a year and a half about my journey of restoration to anyone who looked remotely interested.
I promised people that it would be there for the show.
Sunday, I rebuilt the brake system. The first time I have had brakes that actually worked, except for the emergency brake.
Monday I got the car running. To the point that it would start and continue running. I was having problems with the throttle linkage sticking. Worked until dark
Tuesday, got the plates on the car and took it for a drive. The timing is off and the carbs are not synced. The throttle linkage would stick. It would stick at 3000 rpm and you would have to blip the gas pedal to get it to go back to idle. But some times it would stick at 6000. This is the farthest I have driven it since I bought it. I finally figured out that the cable was binding because the mounting bracket had been bent, causing the cable to bind up. Worked until dark
Wednesday, installed the hood holding rod and latch mechanisms, the top closeout cover, the badges and cleaned up some areas. Worked until dark.
Today, started it up and drove it to work for the car show. It is still not running right. The carbs have not been synchronized, the timing is still off, the wipers don't work, I have no turn signals, the marker lights are not installed, the interior is a shambles, and only one headlight.
But I won a trophy for third place.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Jensen Healey Pictures

Here are some pictures of Frankenhealey, reassembled, and looking good.

I still have lots to do, but it is now running and licensed. I drove it around a little yesterday, but was having problems with the throttle linkage sticking. It would rev up to about 3,000 RPM and stick there. I'd have to blip the pedal to get it to return, and a couple of times, it revved up to 6,000 RPM and stuck there. Very nnerving, but I sorted it out by the end of the evening. The timing is still off and the carbs are not in sync yet, but it is driveable.

The wipers don't work, and it has only one headlight, no turn signals. But it is good enough to take to the car show tomorrow. It is entered as a "work in progress".

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Seconf Step

Frankenhealey runs!

Well, it starts and continues to run after it starts. It idles real rough, but will spool up to 5,000 RPM real good. I will have to get it on the road to see how it does under a load. But indications are positive.

Tonight I need to install the bumpers so that I have a place to hang the license plates. Then I can actually drive it. Sure, I have driven it around the block, but never on the road. If I want to take it to the car show on Thursday, I will need to get the windshield wipers working, as there is the possibility of rain, and need to get the top checked out, both do-able.

I am starting to get excited about the possibility of having it on the road, and a bit anxious. There are still a thousand things that can go wrong.

Soon. Soon.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One Step Forward

Frankenheakey has brakes!

It took me all day and a series of setbacks, but I was determined to get the brakes done today. The weather was fine, except it did get up to 89, a little warm for manual labor. One of the wheel cylinders I cleaned and reinstalled proved faulty. It leaked hydraulic fluid like crazy, so I had to salvage a part off of the parts car and clean it up and install it.

But it works.

Mrs A spent most of the day Friday, and all day Saturday down at her sisters, taking care of her. She is getting better rapidly, but they still don't have the results from the tests, so we won't really know her prognosis.

Rs significant other is still in the hospital. He will require extensive face reconstruction surgery once things settle down enough they can do something. I don't have any idea when that will be. He is young and healthy and will most likely recover fully. Meanwhile I will remember him in my prayers.

Next weekend we are going down to Coberg, Oregon to see my Uncle Ben and his new wife. I will get to see a bunch of my cousins I haven't seen in many years. I am really looking forward to the trip, and to getting away for a couple of days.

Then the following Friday, we will be leaving for a week at the ocean.. I REALLY, REALLY need to get away and recharge my batteries.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Little Relief

Wednesday, the temperature on my deck in the shade was 105, Thursday 99, tonight 83.

I can live with 83. Because I had a heat pump installed a couple of weeks ago, the temperature inside was a mild 74 degrees. I don't want to think of what the electric bill will look like for the month, but no matter what it is IT WAS WORTH IT!

The down side is that I accomplished nothing on Frankenhealey. I had hoped to have the weekend to work on it, but I have to work Saturday, and it just doesn't leave me enough time to get the braking system rebuilt. That is, unless everything goes perfectly. It is to laugh. Nothing ever goes perfectly, especially with a 36 year old British sports car. If you own a vintage British sports car, you are at some level a masochist.

R's significant other had a bad accident on Wednesday. They were at a lake, and he was using a slide to go out in the water, when it tipped and threw him off. He fell face first on a piling, and shattered all of the bones surrounding his eye. When they pried everything apart, he still had vision in the eye (thank God), but will require reconstructive surgery to rebuild the eye socket.
Sure hope everything turns out all right.

Mrs A's sister had surgery on Wednesday for uterine cancer. They released her from the hospital yesterday, and Mrs A is spending the day with her today, watching after her. I really don't know what her treatment plan is. Guess I'll find out when Mrs A gets home tonight. Mrs A has been real upset by this, as both of her parents died in their 60s, and her sis is 59. Mrs A has always felt that her life span will be limited because of the family history, but I think she is being fatalistic. They were both very heavy and didn't take care of themselves, while she works out every day and takes good care of herself.

I am having a hard time dealing with all of this. I am a normal guy. When things go wrong, I want to fix them. And there isn't a damn thing I can do about most of this. The motor is racing, I am on the line and ready to get'er done, but there isn't anything I can do. Except turn it over to the big guy upstairs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too Stinkin' Hot

I am not going out and working on the car tonight or tomorrow.

It is 95 degrees today, humidity 77%. Tomorrow is supposed to be over 100 degrees. I have a bunch of work to do on the brakes, but it isn't worth risking heat stroke to do the work. I have lost 9 pounds in the last three days while working on the car. Enough is enough.

I really want to take the car to the annual Boeing Employees car show, and I am goal oriented person, and I have told people I would bring it, and I keep my word. I will work on it this weekend when the temperature drops back into the 80's. If I get it done, I get it done. If not, I will take the Z to the car show.

But I will be disappointed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Them's the Brakes

No I did not spell it wrong. We're talking car brakes here.

I went to bleed the brakes yesterday. You always start at the furthest wheel from the master cylinder, that usually being the passenger's side rear.
I got a small chunk of hose, a beer bottle (previously emptied) which I partially filled with water, and an 11mm wrench. Crack the bleeder valve open, get inside and pump the pedal a couple of times, check out the bottle. If there is evidence of brake fluid in the water, close the valve, check the pedal and move on.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times I pumped the brake pedal, no fluid ever appeared.
This is not a good thing. There are a couple of possible reasons, and neither of them is good. Either the master cylinder of the wheel cylinder is bad.
I started out by replacing the master cylinder, stealing the one out of the parts car. WHen I put the new/used master cylinder in, I could pump up the brakes, a positive sign. However, I still couldn't get the rear wheel cylinder to bleed.
So I had to tear the whole thing down to the backing plate. I must say that this is the strangest braking system I have ever seen.
When I got the wheel cylinder out, it was packed with this greyish/greenish deposit. The hole from the brake line into the wheel cylinder was packed so full, I had to use a small diameter drill to clear the line.
The actual parts seem to be in very good order, so I think I can just clean things up and put it back together.
Then on to the other rear wheel.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Frankenhealey is home, and the car is beautiful. White with some really nice pearlescent effects. I particularly like the purple pearl.
Nonetheless, it would be a lot prettier if the damn car would start. I drove the car over to Gabriel's, but they had to push it back home. I tried to start it this morning, and it just won't fire. Today I installed new spark plug wires, the best you can buy. Still nothing.
I gave up and spent the rest of the afternoon making a piece for the gas pedal linkage, and it seems to be working. I had to shorten the cable by a couple of inches, and swage a new end on. It seems to be working just fine, but I won't know until I get it to run.
Next I will sort out the brakes. I have never had off the back wheels, so I don't know what kind of shape things are in back there. I know there is a lot of slop in the pedal, and it may be that the back shoes are out of adjustment. At any rate, I need to take off the wheels and check things out. Lord knows what disaster lurks unseen.
I will be back at it again tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Winding Down

This coming weekend, I will be off for the SECOND WEEKEND IN A ROW!

All I can say it it is about time. I have pretty much been doing a nineteen days on two days off schedule since the first of the year. It doesn't leave much time for a social life, or time to take care of business outside of work.

Frankenhealey is still in paint. Every day I hope it will be done, but so far, no. It is being done RIGHT, so I really can't complain. I just need to get it back so I can fix a few things.

The annual Boeing Employees Car Show is on August 6th, and I am going to bring it to the show. I need to work on the brakes, the gas pedal linkage, and sync the carbs. Not a whole bunch, but I will feel a whole lot better when I can get it done. The weather is supposed to be in the 90's this weekend, so to me that is a little too hot to work on cars. But I have to get it done. It it gets too hot to work on the car, I can always fire up the pressure washer.

Things will slow down soon at work, so I can look forward to having a normal life for several months. Lots of projects to get done.

And a vacation to take.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good Weekend, Great Gumbo

I have been wanting to make some Shrimp Gumbo for some time. Trouble is, in order to do it right, you need whole shrimp. Heads and all. None of the local stores offer whole shrimp. Plus with working all the time, I just haven't had the time to do it right.

I love to cook, but doing it right takes time, and I just haven't had the time.

For my birthday, we went up to Deception Pass, and took a nice long hike. On the way back, we stopped a a fresh seafood place. I mean, fresh off the boat, caught that day. I bought five pounds, of shrimp which we immediately put on ice.

After a long day, I didn't feel like starting on the gumbo that night, so I waited until this morning to get at it. The key to a good gumbo is the soup base. So first thing this morning I headed and shelled five pounds of shrimp, which took an hour and a half. Then you take the heads and shells, put them in a big pot with a quarter on an onion, a stalk of celery and garlic. Simmer for at least four hours.

Then make the gumbo. Sure, it takes all day, but the results are to die for. Definitely worth the work and bother.

I've had two bowls, and I get the feeling that I will be back for more before the evening is over.

There will be plenty of leftovers to eat for the next couple of days, and some to put in the freezer for later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frankenhealey Update

Pictures soon.

Gabriel will be finishing up the painting tomorrow. I'm not going to go into the physics of why the paint is the way it is, but it is turning out as I had hoped. The car is being painted white, with a color shifting additive added to the clear coat after the paint. I have never seen this done before, so I have been a little apprehensive about how it would turn out.

If the additive is put in the clear coat over black, it makes for a very dramatic emerald green to cobalt blue color shift. That is what I did on the Z.

If you put it over white, it would be very different. I have been hoping for white with an effect similar to a blue-to-green color shifting pearl effect. Gabriel did the doors today, and I went over to view the results. It is just as I had hoped it would be. The color shift on the pearl is pretty subtle, but very noticeable. I won't know how it looks overall until the whole car is painted, and will have to view it under different lighting conditions, but I think it will be beautiful.

Guess I will find out tomorrow when they paint the rest of the car and put it all back together. I am getting excited. I now have worked on the car for a year and a half, and I still need to do some additional work on it to make it roadable.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Toy

Mrs A bought me a new toy for my birthday.

A pressure washer.

I have mixed feeling bout this. In a way it is the same as if I bought her a new vacuum cleaner for her birthday, a definite no-no. On the other hand, I have several projects lined up already.

The front deck. The patio off of the kitchen. The driveway. The engine compartment of Frankenhealey. But it all sounds a lot like work.

I'm not sure what I want to do for my birthday, Saturday. On one hand, the Band is playing on Vashon for the hundreth anniversary Strawberry Festival, and we are invited to hang out with them and camp out for a couple of days. I have an Aunt and Uncle that live over there and it would be a chance to go visit them.

On the other hand, they are opening the new light rail link to downtown, and it would be nice to use it to go downtown without all the hassle of driving and parking. We love to wander the waterfront and the Pike Place Market. Then we could catch dinner.

On another hand, I would like to go up to Deception Pass and spend the day hiking and exploring, then stop off in Annacortes for dinner. Stop on the way back and get some frexh seafood (and I do mean fresh).

On the last hand, I could just stay home and putter around the place, do some pressure washing, maybe turn a wrench or make the linkage piece for Frnkenhealey, then BBQ a mess of ribs.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heat Pump Finis

I took the day off so the guys from the heating service could get in and out of the house.

And so I could watch of course.

It is a genuine pleasure to watch true professionals go about their work. They worked quickly and with great skill. At one time I considered doing it myself. I am SOOOOO glad I didn't. It is worth the extra overtime I worked to get he money together to have the pros do it. I watched them, just because I love knowing how things are done. It gave me a real appreciation of what they do.

The only setback was that the electrician had to replace a bunch of wiring, an expense I hadn't anticipated. The original heat pump had been put in about 25 years ago, and the code has changed. The original wiring was aluminum. Code no longer allows aluminum wiring to be used for heat sources like furnaces and heat pumps.

Add $600.00 to the bill.

Still, it needed to be done, and now it is. I have the money set aside.


Oh, and by the way, my sis, Lori in Minnesota suggested Huckleberry preserves as a wedding gift. They definitely can't get that in Mexico.

It just so happens that a good friend of Mrs A. makes gourmet preserves, and markets them. We keep a constant supply on hand, as she makes the best sugar free jams and jellies I have ever had. Funny we never thought of it.

At any rate we are having her put together a special batch. I know Uncle Ben will love them. I hope his bride will as well.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wedding Gift

So, what do you get as a wedding gift for your 78 year old Uncle and his bride for a wedding gift?

It has to be small, so it can fit in their luggage on the trip back to Mexico. It has to be nice, but not breakable. It should have a personal or at least regional touch. Class without pretention.

Mrs A and I have wracked our brains, talked it over, and gotten nowhere.

At his point we don't have a clue.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Heat Pump

I have needed to replace the existing heat pump for the last couple of years. The emergency heat part of it has worked, but is expensive to run, so we have elected to use the pellet stove for heat, which is a lot cheaper.

With all of the overtime I have been working this year, I have the money saved up to pay cash for a new heat pump. Last year I got several estimates, so the time has come to just get 'er done. So I called and placed the order today. The guy came out and confirmed everything. I upgraded one step from what I was looking at last year, and it qualifies for Federal Tax credit to the tune of about $1500.00. It in the long run actually will cost me LESS. The upgrade is about $800.00.

They are coming next Monday to install the new heat pump. I will have to take a day off work, a sacrifice I am willing to make. Right now I am pretty burned out. After all, the schedule has pretty much been 19 days of work and two days off since the beginning of the year.

My sinuses have been killing me the last couple of days, so I took the day off today. I figured as long as I had the day off, I might as well take care of business.

Next will come the siding on the south side of the house.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Next Move

I had a plan. Honest I did. No, really.

But then the real world got in the way. I won't go into the whole convoluted sequence of events, but let's just say that things that were supposed to happen, didn't. Things beyond my control.

So the time has come to abandon the plan and go with PLAN B.

After work I am going to call the heating company and tell them I am ready to buy the new heat pump. This is a lie, but I need to just let go of PLAN A and move on, or nothing will every get done.

Nonetheless, I will commit to spending several thousand dollars on a new heating/air conditioning system.

This will make Mrs A happy, since it means she will not have to carry bags of pellets up or clean the pellet stove again.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Waiting for The weekend

I am actually getting a three day weekend. Way cool!

Tomorrow is L's birthday, so we will be going down to spend the afternoon with her and the kids.

My cousin has requested we bring eggrolls for the family reunion on Oregon in August, so tomorrow morning I will get up and go get the ingredients. Mrs A has to work, and when she gets home we will go to visit L. Maybe in the evening we will make the egg rolls.

The Z failed me this morning. When I went to start it, something went "clunk" in the engine compartment. At the same time the amp gauge pegged out at below zero, so I suspect that the starter has gone bad. I hope to get some time to check it out.

Frankenhealey is proceeding well. When I checked it out yesterday, the fenders and doors were cleaned, primed, and painted and fitted. It is maybe a week from done.

We are still in the middle of arrangements for going down to Oregon for a Family reunion in August. My cousins Tom and Rick will be there, and I haven't seen them in like 40 years. It will be great to reconnect. And of course meet Uncle Ben's new special lady.

Then off to the ocean for a week.

August will be a busy month.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


The Boeing facility here in Renton is built on the shores of Lake Washington. It is always nice to take a break when the weather is nice and go for a stroll along the lake shore.

There is a bulkhead along the shoreline, and when the weather isn't too windy, you can see quite deep in the lake.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a medium sized fish hanging around one of the flat areas by the bulkhead. After observing it for a while, I figured out that it was a bluegill. It would swim here and there around the flat area, but never left for more than a few seconds. I figured that this was probably a Momma Fish tending a batch of eggs. I went on line to check, and indeed Bluegills are nest tenders.

At another flat spot a little bit deeper, there was a second fish, acting in the same way.

Every day for the next couple of weeks, I took a break at some time in the day and wandered down to the lake to check on the fish. The two Momma Fish faithfully tended their nests.

I went out there this morning, and the Momma Fish were both gone. But they were replaced by a couple of hundred baby fish. In observing their early lives, I had become involved. They were somehow MY baby fish.

I sure hope they don't expect to get allowances. Or move in.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Musings

Last night was the get-together to celebrate my nephew Alex's college graduation. He has a degree in Business Marketing or some such. He already had a job as an intern with a firm, so he is now permanent. While it doesn't pay a whole lot to start, in this economy, having a job right out of college is a definite plus.

It was great to see my sibs, the food was excellent, and the booze was free. Since I had to get up and go to work today at 5:00, and was driving the Z to boot, I only had one beer, but it was a good beer, Fat Tire Amber Ale, one of my favorites.

And I managed to embarrass the hell out of V., always a plus.

I happened to mention that he had gotten home late, and immediately went and took a shower. He and water, while not enemies, are only nodding acquaintances. I wondered what activity he had been engaged in that made him feel he had to go take a shower immediately after coming home. Everyone chuckled, and when I turned and took a look at him, his face had turned bright red. I don't remember ever seeing him blush like that. He immediately dissembled and stammered, much to the amusement of everyone. Score one for Grandpa.

My Uncle Ben in Mexico is getting remarried. I think he is 78 now. At any rate, he has met a special lady, and they are tying the knot. I couldn't be happier for him. We can't make it to Mexico for the wedding, but he is coming up here for a meet and greet in Oregon at my cousin's place in August. I can't wait to meet her. She must be something special. I am currently trying to arrange for the trip from here by a contingent of Warrens from Latteland. Should be a lot of fun.

I have arranged for a week at the ocean for Mrs A and I the following week at Chateau Westport. I am really looking forward to a week at the beach away from everything and everyone.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday? Already?

Where the heck has the week gone?

Al the sudden, here it is Friday. But since I am working bothe days this weekend, it doesn't make a big difference. But next weekend I am taking off all three days. The latest schedule is that the shop will be completely shut down on Friday, but work Saturday and Sunday.

I have told them I really don't want to work, but if sombody absolutely has to be here, it will fall on me. Since it would be double time both days I guess I can always lay back and think of England.

But I would really rather have the time off.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Purloined Picture

Saturday we went to the Museum Of Glass in Tacoma. We spent a quite a bit of time at the Hot Shop, where they were working on a current project by a local glass artist. While I wasn't impressed by the project itself, it was fascinating to watch the process. I had no idea how much physical work by a bunch of people was required.

We toured the exhibits, which I found kinda paltry. Included is the one photo I managed to get before the Glass Gestapo informed my photography wasn't allowed. At least they didn't demand my memory card or confiscate my camera.
I mean WTF I just paid monet to get in. It's not like they were rare acheological ancient artifacts. I don't get how taking a photo would in any way endanger the display.
Oh well, enjoy the illegal purloied image of a beautiful object.
We stopped at a seafood place and bought a smoked trout, some crab dip, and some Gumbo base. The crab dip disappeared in short order, and most of the smoked trout evaporated in short order. The gumbo base will wait until I assenble the rest of the components. All in all, a very enjoyable day.
Father's Day was nice. Quiet. Both of my kids called to wish me a happy Father's Day. I watched the Seattle Mariners go over 50% in their record by beating the Diamondbacks, I BBQ'd a couple of excellent T-bones with fresh asparagus. Slurped down a couple of beers, and took a nice nap.
I told them at work that I have no intention of working as much as I have. I want to take every other weekend off. This weekend reminded me how much there is out there to enjoy, and I want to go and do a lot more with the lovely Mrs A.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just another week

Nothing much going on at Chateau Warren.

I'm getting worn out by the constant work. Today makes eighteen days without a day off, and although it is only eight hours a day this time around, it is wearing me down. Mrs A is getting cabin fever, because we haven't gone anywhere lately.

I will have this weekend off, so we are planning to get out and about. We have both been wanting to get down to Tacoma to see the Museum of Glass. Unless it is a torrential downpour or something we will probably go. It is supposed to be fabulous, and I love glass artwork. Promises to be interesting.

Sunday we will probably stay home. Mrs A has purchased a couple of primo t-bones and I will fire up the grill. I do love a prime steak done just so on the grill.

R called to apologize to me for cussing me out on the phone the other day. I think this is a first, her apologizing for her bad behavior. She really needs to learn to curb her temper. Mrs A still is pissed at her, and currently wants nothing to do with her. Can't say as I blame her. It presents some problems for Father's Day, but we will get through it.

We are currently discussing spending a week someplace in August. Still haven't decided where or when. So far we are leaning towaards Chateau Westport, but I will still have to call them and see what is available.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the Laboratory

After spending a year and a half getting Frankenhealey in one piece and running, I turned it over to Gabriel for paint. He of course tore it all apart. So here it is, in pieces.


Women are complicated creatures.

Mrs A wants to get out of Dodge this weekend. Doesn't have a destination in mind. Just hit the road and go anywhere that isn't here. I am of course supposed to come up with THE PLAN. If it was just me, the plan would be to throw a change of clothes in a gym bag, a sleeping bag in the back of the truck and hit the road. Throw a female into the works and it becomes "complicated".
Fourteen pairs of shoes. Twelve changes of clothes. A whole suitcase of mysterious fluids and creams. A fancy cress "just in case". If we are going overnight, it must involve a shower and clean bathrooms. Roughing it means no room service.

Men on the other hand are simple creatures. (Hey, I heard that snicker, hold it down, you don't want me to come back there!)

I would just wander, sleep in the back of the truck. The extra clothes are only in case I fall in something or get caught in a torrential downpour. The world is a guys bathroom. A shower can wait until you get home, but a handy dip in a stream or lake will do in a pinch. No soap required. Fire is your friend, and smoke is almost as good as deodorant. Sometimes better.

And don't get me started on the dog.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Friday......So What?

Which translates that I am working both days again this weekend.
The weather, for Latteland has been outstanding lately. I think we are working on our fourth week withour rain, which is pushing the record.
I think the weather on the weekends has been good because I am working. On the other hand, I am taking off next weekend, which pretty much guarantees it will rain. After all, next weekend is Father's Day weekend. I really don't expect my kids to do anything for me. R is not talking to me, which is fine with me right now. Mrs A and I were filling out our wills the other day, I seriously considered cutting her out of my will.
But then I remembered how I promised myself that I would never be the kind of person that uses that as a way to punish/reward my offspring. Then again, her mom has told her she isn't even mine.
So have a beer or glass of wine for me this weekend, because I'll be here at the gulag.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Here is Frankenhealey. Most of the paint stripped off, running and moving, and of course a picture of the engine compartment.

Hopefully, pictures of it after paint will follow soon.

Monday, June 08, 2009


One foot in front of the other. You can't take more than one step at a time.
Frankenhealey is running. You can actually get in it and turn the key, and it starts. It runs like crap, and the idle is way too high, but it will continue running until the key is turned off. It does not appear to be leaking any fluids. If I wanted to, I could drive it around, except that it has no brakes.
Brakes are overrated anyway.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

GM Bankrupcy

When the production of an Icon is taken out of the hands of the visionaries and given over to the accountants, it becomes doomed. No passion in, no passion out.

Just as true for aircraft as it is for automobiles.


An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal today.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Nothing Much

Things have been thankfully quiet around chateau Warren the last couple of days. It has been a little warm for my tastes, but I really don't want to complain. It was up in the mid eighties today. A little too warm for me too want to get out and twist a wrench on Frankenhealey, but just right for sitting around vegging.

We went to a lawyer today to get wills drawn up. I have seen what family can do when there is money involved, and it seems to bring out the worst in everyone. We just want everything nice and cut and dried. I die and she gets everything, she dies I get everything, we both die and everything gets divided evenly among the kids. Living will, power of attorney if one of us is incapacitated.

I will probably be working both days this weekend and next. I'd really like to have some time off to get Frankenhealey running, but I took it on as a long term project, so there is no tearing hurry. I still want to get it running good enough to take it to the employee car show this summer, but that is several weeks away. If I don't make it, I can still take the Z with it's new body kit on. I still need to take some pictures to post.

R has called and everything is back to normal. She is working and going to school as well as raising a couple of kids, so her plate is more than full.

My nephew is graduating from Seattle U with a business degree in marketing. He is an outstanding kid with a bright future. I am sure he will do well.

A nice quiet week is just what I was looking for.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On Track

Nothing is ever easy for me. There is the plan, there are contingencies, and then there is reality.

I did the timing, and installed the new carb setup. Hooked up the lines, and got in and turned the key. One cylinder was firing, but the car wouldn't even come close to running. I decided that I knew nothing about the condition of the carbs on the new intake, so I replaced them with the other set of carbs that I had already rebuilt and rejetted.

I sprayed some starting fluid in the throat of the carbs, and voila' after a couple of trys the car fired up and ran. I still need to adjust the idle, and put on the water pump and radiator and hoses, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The guy across the street is still in the middle of stripping the car down to bare metal for the paint job, but is making good progress. I think now that my goal of having it ready for the Boeing Car Show this summer is absolutely possible. That would be sssooooooo cool. I have about six weeks. It all comes down to how much overtime I have to work between now and then, and what other things I need to take care of.

I need to figure out why the lawn mower won't start so I can mow the back 40. I need to get someone to repair the siding on the South side of the house, and I need to get a new heat pump installed.

Oh well, I guess I won't get bored any time soon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Two Down

Now the Truck is all complete and runs like a top.

The Z has the ground effects kit installed and painted.

Two down.

The third is underway.

The guy across the street started doing the body work on Frankenhealey last night. I worked on the timing. Problem: Timing lights only work when the car is running. I have to time the car so it WILL run. There is an easy way to do this with a light bulb and breaker points, but I have replaced the points with a magnetic trigger system. After messing around for a while I decided that the way to get around this was using an ancient circuit tester I had laying around.

This is the really old type that is a bullet shaped plastic thingie with a gas bulb inside, and two leads with straight probes on the end. It was made for testing wall outlets. Put one probe in each slot of a wall outlet, if the bulb lights, you have power.

So, if you turn the engine over until the timing mark lights up, and pull number one plug wire, and loosen the distributor, if you rotate the distributor until the bulb lights, the timing will be right on.

So I did that, and finished up setting up one carburettor and intake setup and installed them. Tonight I will hook ou all the hoses and the gas line. I might even see if it will fire up.