Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just a Nice Day

So far this has been a hunker down kind of winter.
About the time I took off for Christmas, the weather turned to crap. Unusually cold temperatures, snow that came and stayed, torrential rains and flooding. Hell, Latteland was cut off by road from the rest of the world for like a week.
Just stay home and take care of the house and family. Very little chance to enjoy anything. Just hunker down and take care of stuff.
Today was just a nice day.
No temperatures in the sixties or anything, but sunshine and temps in the 50's. But good enough that I could get out and change the oil in the truck.
This might be a nasty chore to some, but to me it is a positive affirmation. I could go out and do something I don't mind doing. No freezing fingers, no rain in the face, just a chance to do something that needed to be done. I just loved the chance to lay under a car on a piece of cardboard, working on a car.
A feeling of accomplishment that helped a lot to get rid of the "hunker down" mentality.
Now if it would just hang around long enough that I could accomplish something on Frankenhealey, I would be, if not happy exactly, satisfied in a simple elemental way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Five Hour Energy

I have tried several of the energy drinks. Red Bull, Sobe No Fear, Amp. First of all, being diabetic, there aren't a lot of choices. Most of them have massive amounts of sugar which rules them out.
I don't care for them because they are also based on a lot of caffeine, and I don't particularly like the wired feeling. Yeah, they will keep you awake, but I don't like the jumpy way they make you feel. Or the crash afterwards.
So far Five Hour Energy seems to work pretty well. But I only use a half of the little bottle at a time. It picks me up without making me feel wired. But I don't care what they say about no crash, there is always a debt to be payed. It is not a drool-in-the-keyboard crash, more a slower let down.
I find that if I take a half a bottle at lunch, it gets me through the afternoon,, but when I get home, I can still take a nap.

Monday, January 26, 2009

First Place!

A Regional Debate Tournament was held at The Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma last weekend.
V. took first place.
I am so proud of him! It only goes to show what he can do if he puts his mind to it.
Now if we could just get him to transfer some of that focus to the rest of his studies.
He is due to go to Stanford for a tournament in two weeks. All the details are mighty sparse, except the part where I pay for airfare and food. We have to book the flight. There are a couple of impediments. First of all, his ability to participate hinges on his Final in one of his subjects. The teacher just got married and is on his honeymoon, so we won't know if he is eligible until later this week. Then the whole trip is still under budgetary review, and we won't know for sure that the funds have been approved until the 29th.
All of this translates into our not being able to book a flight until the last minute. Which, of course, translates into more expense.
It's not the money. It just should have all been thought out and planned well in advance.
I guess it shows that I am not a real impulsive person.
I love a well thought out plan.
I just very seldom see one.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Sunday?!?!?

I am down here at work on Sunday.
And will probably be here seven days a week for a quite a while. like until April. While it sucks to be working on the weekend, it does have it's positive side.
Time and a half Saturday, double time Sunday.
I'm not in it just for the money, however. I genuinely love what I do. The weekends are good, because there aren't a lot of managers around, so there is less feeling of someone looking over your shoulder. And there are a couple of managers that get off on doing things like timing people's potty breaks. Fortunately I don't work for any of them. I can kinda tell them to go stuff it if they get in my face. And have.
Once this week, one of them snuck up behind me when I was at lunch and made a remark that if I was going to play solitaire, they could just send me back to the office. After looking him in the eye, I pointed to the time on the computer screen. See the time? It is 11:35. I have a 40 minute lunch break, which begins at 11:00..
Hey, I was just giving you shit!
And I'm giving it right back! And by the way, I get an extra three minutes on my lunch break, since you disturbed me during lunch.
It was all done in humor, but does remind me that they have their eye on me.
So today I am here, wearing about a half a dozen different hats, weaving back and forth between jobs, and pretty much enjoying myself.
And earning a little money towards a vacation when the current bird leaves the factory.
I stopped and bought myself some 5 Hour Energy last night. I'm OK at the moment, but if I hit the wall this afternoon, I'll try it out. It is mainly Vitamin B12. Maybe I should go on line and see what massive doses of B12 will do for (or t0) you.
Time to get back at it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Internet at last

The Cable guy came out today, and I think we finally have things fixed.

For once, the system actually went down while the tech was here. After checking every connection from the drop to the TVs and modem, he went outside and replaced the cable from the phone pole to the house, and Viola! everything works just fine.

They never suspected it might be the cable, but then it never screwed up when they were here before.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I read a book back in the 70's called "The Territorial Imperative" I believe it was by Robert Aubrery, but am not sure the name is exactly right. The point of the book is that territorial behavior is an instinctive drive that powers a lot of behavior in the animal kingdom. We all have heard of and understand a lot of this drive. If you have ever owned a pet, you know how they are driven to define their territory by marking it's boundary.
The book goes on to suggest that a lot of human behavior is driven from this very basic instinctual drive.
I remember an incident on the farm in Idaho. A developer had bought up a piece of property to the north of us, and was planning to subdivide it into five acre "ranchettes". One day we noticed someone in our pasture setting a line of stakes. We went out to inquire what they were doing. They said that they had surveyed the property, and the fenceline was some twenty feet too far to the north, and they were reclaiming the property.
The fenceline had been in place and was the accepted boundary between the two pieces of property for over fifty years. We pointed out to them that the laws of adverse possession stated that if the boundary had been accepted and observed for a certain period of time it was legally the boundary between the two pieces of property.
We also let them know that we would defend the boundary be all legal means. They were trespassing on our property and needed to leave. We also let the know that we would defend the boundary by means of our negotiators, misters Smith and Wesson, and if necessary, Remington and Winchester. They left and the matter was settled.
I had a similar dispute with one of my neighbors, settled the same way.
How much of this was driven by a basic instinctual need, and how much by rationality?
Last night at work, one of the shop people (a known asshat) told my second shift counterpart that the chair he was sitting on belonged to the shop, and was reserved for their use ONLY. Rather than cause a fight, he gave up the chair and went back to the office. He sent me an e-mail, so I needed to act on it this morning. Admitted, we had borrowed the chair, but there were six chairs in the area, and very seldom were all six in use. I forwarded the e-mail to the factory manager along with the comment that we need to work together.
He in turn sent out an e-mail to all of his managers that they needed to do their best to accommodate us.
This is a new situation for the shop and us. We have never had a presence on the factory floor, so everyone needs to learn how all the new relationships work, why we are there, and what we can offer. One of the first possible reactions is to just shut us out. I am doing a fairly good job on first shift, because I have a lot of connections with the shop. They still don't understand why I am there and what I am doing, but because they see me accepted by people they respect, they accept my presence.
Unfortunately, my second shift counterpart does not have the history with the shop that I do. So the shop people are defending their territory.
First we need to establish our right to be there, then we need to work with them to show our worth, and show the that we are trustworthy, and then develop relationships.
Admittedly a long process, but first we have to establish our right to be there.
When I first went out to connect up our equipment, someone had spread drawings and equipment over our area. I asked them to move so that I could hook up equipment. I pointed out the signs that said it was my area. They were less than pleased an remarked that they just might disconnect my equipment. I suggested that it might not be a good move, moved them out and hook up my equipment. The next day, they had occupied part of the area, and I moved them over to the unoccupied area, and actually helped them solve their problem. I haven't had a problem since. I have actually had a couple of shop people come by and thank me for helping them with their problems.
Like I said, it is a process of establishing out right to be there, and our right to the territory.
And did I mention that this is something I believe in and love to do?
A long term plan of mine is coming to fruition, but still needs lots of work.
It's what I do.

Monday, January 19, 2009

F$%^ing Internet

I have been fighting with my Internet connection for months.
Literally months.
Multiple calls to Comcast. A couple of service calls.
I called and bitched yesterday, and told them that if the couldn't fix their problem, I would go find another service provider. They credited me with a month's service, and the Tech came out today. He replaced every splice and connection between where the cable comes to my house and the modem, as well as all the terminations for the TV.
Twenty minutes after he left, we lost service. The tech said if we had another problem, it had to be at the pole, which has to be accessed from the next street over.
Not my problem.
As soon as the service went out, I called Comcast and let them know. They will be sending out a service tech again on Wednesday.
As soon as I got off the phone, service came back.
Everything will probably be fine when the service tech shows up on Wednesday.
Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sending Monkeys to Stanford

V. is a Debate Team rising star. He is expected to go to Nationals, But he flirts with Academic suspension. He could have gone to State last year, except that his grades kept him out of participation. He would have been the first from his High School to ever go to State.
Now he has been asked to go to Stanford for a regional event.
No one doubts his qualifications, except once again he is flirting with Academic Suspension. Because of the tough economic times, we are expected to come up with the airfare and food money, which will probably run between two and three hundred bucks. It's not like I can't afford it, it's just his slacker attitude that gets to me. He will stay up until three in the morning playing WOW, but he can't seem to spare an hour to do homework.
His teachers all say the same things, he is super bright, has sooo much ability. One even went as far as saying that you only meet a student with a mind of his quality once maybe every fifteen years. I countered with "You can have a car with a thousand horsepower, but if you can't get it to the street, it is use less."
At any rate, they are going to send the monkey to Stanford.
I just have to shell out the bananas.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holy Dingleberries, Batman, It's Raining Fire!

I was sitting here, minding my own business, working away, when I caught a small flash out of the corner of my eye. By the time I turned my head, it was gone.
I swear I was not hallucinating at the time.
Then it happened again.
It was raining red, molten metal through the ceiling.
Right over one of the engineers. For some real reason he got real excitable.
They are doing some construction work on the roof of out office area which involves cutting and welding. When you are welding, little balls of molted metal fly and drip all over the place. They were rolling under a support beam and burning through the ceiling, and raining down into the office below.
Nothing like it raining fire in your office to generate a little excitement.
Yesterday, it was the GREAT POWER OUTAGE.
Around noon, all the power in our area suddenly went out. Since we all work on computers, this also became known as the great nap time. No lights, no power, no way to work even if you wanted to.
Ah, the smell of raining dingleberries in the morning!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lock Picking

Once before, I explained about "Loiding" a lock, or using a credit card to gain entry to a locked door.
Here at work I have an additional skill. I can pull lock tumblers. Say you are moving into a new desk, and the key has disappeared for the new desk. You can go back to your old desk and pull all the tumblers out of the old desk, and install them in the new desk.
One of the standard tools available in the tool room is a rivet gauge. You use this to find the depth of a hole through layers of sheet metal so you know what grip length to use on a rivet. The end of it has a hook. It turns out this tool works very well as a tumbler remover for some locks.
A little beyond where the Key goes in the lock, there is a spring tensioned retaining lug. It is like a tumbler, but can't be engaged by the key.
If you insert the rivet gauge as far as it will go with the hook in the same direction as the teeth of the key and push up, it will depress the retainer, and the tumbler will come out.
Reverse the process to insert the tumbler into the other lock.
Amaze your family and friends with this newfound skill. Be cautious where and how you practice this skill, as it is frowned upon by some people.
As a side note, the tumbler design and depth must be exactly the same on both locks for this to work. It takes a little practice to get it down.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Last Moving (for now)

I put the canopy back on the truck, evicting a couple of pallets, and we went off to move the last of R's stuff from Tacoma. Everything went smoothly, and we were back home and unloaded in about three hours.
Mrs A. had a great time playing with "i". In the last couple of weeks he has gotten the whole crawling and pulling himself up and standing by himself thing down pat. They had a great time playing fetch with the dog.
At work today, I managed to scrounge up enough equipment to get the two work stations working out on the floor. Now if we would just get a couple of chairs. I have alreaady committed to work Saturday. And so it begins. From here on out through the middle of April, it will probably be seven days a week, with maybe every third Sunday off.
While I am excited to get back to the chaos and pressure, I feel like I am waiting and holding my breath, knowing the storm will come.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Moving

I am helping R move the last of her stuff today from Tacoma. It is going in out basement for now. This of course means I get to move it at least one more time after this.
This is the result of owning a pickup truck. I wanted a truck to haul things to the dump, and go get pellets for the pellet stove. I forgot that it also means that everyone you know will have a moment when they remember "Hey, Al has a pickup!"
They also usually do not have Insurance. I am a generous, caring supportive person, but when it comes to loaning my truck to an uninsured person, I have to draw the line. There is just too much at risk.
So this morning I have to go out and put the canopy back on the truck, since it is raining out and most of the stuff we will be moving is in cardboard boxes. Then the drive down to Tacoma, and unloading.
Mrs A will have babysitting duties, so we need to make this a quick trip. Last time, "i" figured out that mom was gone after about two hours, and he really pitched a fit. Hope Mrs A. doesn't have to go through that again.
The water is finally receding. There was no way out of Latteland except for airplane for a bout a week. No way over the mountains, no way south. Lots f rivers here recorded historical high levels. Landslides and avalanches. No one in my family was in any immediate danger, and I don't know of any crisis, so we weathered the last month well, if not entirely pleasantly.
The last month has certainly been interesting and entertaining, if not entirely pleasant.

Friday, January 09, 2009

On the Move

Today I am moved back out to the P8-A line. Temporarily I am squatting in an upstairs area. I am supposed to be out on the floor, but currently have no chair or phone, and the cumputer drop is too far away from my work area to connect to. I also need a router or splitter which has not been provided.
I have been running around all morning hooking things up and scrounging equipment. You think that when the Company moves you into a different area, you should be able to walk in, drop your laptop in the docking station and go to work.
You would be wrong.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Do Gooder Seminar

I hate it when Manageent gets a wild hair up their ass and decides we need to go to some "Educational" seminar.
Today was an all day seminar called "Working at the speed of trust". The main point is that distrust has a very real economic penalty in the business world.
If you can trust others, you don't have to spend as much time double checking everything. Like this is rocket science or something. Give me a big "DUH!"
Mind you, I work for a company that majored in obfuscation. If our upper management makes a statement, the first thing you always have to do is ask yourself "What is the real agenda here?"
It is not an open environment. Underneath everything is an attitude of controlling the flow of information.
I do understand that some things, like the P8-A are sensitive, and subject to ITAR restrictions, but a lot of what we do is just commercial. I have been told that I cannot talk to my own wife about things that are common knowledge at work. Hey, it's not like I was giving out sensitive information to the press.
So, here we are attending an all day task that is supposed to teach us how great it is to talk straight and build an atmosphere of trust, while our management eats, sleeps and breathes obfuscation.
A mixed message at best.
And a total waste of one day of my life.
At least I got paid for it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back To Work

I took off the two weeks at the end of December, and the second of January. When I originally did this, it was with the idea that I could spend some time just by myself. While it is a good thing that I took the time off, the whole time by myself thing didn't work out so well.
I had a total of four hours by myself.
I had to come back to work to rest up from the Holidays.
Take yesterday fr'instance. R and "i" and the sperm donor came by for a visit. It was good having them over, and it was a nice visit. Twenty minutes after they left the phone rings. They are in downtown Renton with a flat. No jack, no spare. It is pouring down snow, and the roads are treacherous. Dad to the rescue.
Go dig out a universal jack and a star wrench. Go dig out the HHR and hit the road. Jack up car, remove flat tire. Leave R and "i" with the car, go in search of gas station. Found one with an air station. Air up tire, and discover that there is a hole in the tire. The hole is at a location that already has a plug in it. Sperm donor bought the tires at a used tire place. They appear to be in practically new condition, except for the minor matter of a bad previous repair. A can of Fix-z-Flat, go back and install the repaired tire. Sperm donor offers me a snort off a bottle of brandy. I did not say "Hey, maybe instead of the bottle of brandy you should have bought a #$%^&*( jack." But the thought did cross my mind. I just told them that they needed to take care of business and go straight home, no screwing around, because I didn't know how long the temporary fix would last.
Did I mention that the roads were nasty? I travelled maybe three miles total, during which I saw multiple abandoned vehicles, a spun out bus, a spun out aid car, a spun out cop car, and an ambulance that was having a very difficult time getting up a mild slope.
Did I also mention that I do not have studded tires or four wheel drive?
By this morning the weather had warmed and the roads were mostly show free. At least snow free enough that I could not justify another day of vacation.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years

First of all, I make the same New Year's resolution every year.
I resolve to make no New Year's resolution. I make it and therefore break it at the same time.
I get up and have a cigarette and a beer for breakfast, kick the dog, yell at Mrs A, and watch football. Get all that stuff out of the way, and then the year can be normal.
USC kicked Nebraska's butt in the Rose Bowl.
In fact PAC 10 teams are undefeated in bowl play.
HAH! Take that!
The West Coast gets dissed in sports most of the time. So seeing them go undefeated in Bowl play has to make the Sports Cognoscenti sit up and take notice.
Granddaughter and great grandson stopped by today. He is such a happy baby. Lots of grins and giggles. Nothing like a happy baby to make all things right with the world.
What a great way to start out the New Year!