Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Down but not out.

I''ve been down with the crud for the last three days.

Woke up Sunday with a temperature of 101, a sore throat, dizzy and aching all over. Spent the next couple of days in bed. Today the fever was still up there in the morning, but has come down over the course of the day. Guess I'll be back to work tomorrow.

Maybe I should quit working so many days in a row.

Friday we are going to the ocean for a couple of days, to celebrate Mrs A's birthday, which is Saturday. Then next week is our anniversary.

I sure hope she doesn't catch the crud from me. "Happy birthday dear, here's a case of the crud!"

Last year we went out of town for her birthday and she got sick. It would really suck if we had a repeat.

Since I had a sore throat and wasn't going out, I ran out of cigarettes on Saturday night, so I decided now was as good a time as any to quit. A couple of years ago I quit for a year. but living with a smoker makes it difficult. Mrs A is trying to quit. She went out and bought herself this fake cigarette. It has a heating element that vaporized nicotine and you cut down on the dosage over time. So maybe if she quits, I can give it up again.

Three days and counting.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting Better

Things at work have been crazy busy the last couple of days.

The closer the aircraft gets to the door, the higher the anxiety, because there is less time to fix things. I've had a couple of real battles in the last couple of days, but for the most part have come up on top.

The first thing is that there are no unimportant parts on an aircraft. One rivet not installed properly could cause a loss of cabin pressure, one wire not terminated properly could cause the failure of a critical electronic system at a critical point. Everything has to be taken seriously.

We aren't building Toyotas here. If something goes wrong, you can't pull it over to the curb and call AAA. This isn't building toasters. If something goes wrong, you end up with burned people, not burned toast. I take the whole thing very seriously.

So I am passionate about what I do. I hope that everyone else takes it as seriously as I do. When I fly, I do so with confidence, and I am in a position to understand the incredibly complex piece of machinery to which we trust our lives.

I love what I do, and am proud to be a part of producing the safest, most reliable transportation on the face of and above the Earth.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Bitch Of a Day

Things started out bad and got worse.

One of the shop people came up to me with a question about how to install a certain electrical connector. I was not familiar with this particular type of connector, so my partner and I spent some time looking up the drawings and assembly specs. She wanted to know if they needed to install a washer between the connector and structure. I said no, but told them they had better check with an expert.
Said "Expert" came down to the shop floor and proceeded to read me the riot act and basically told everyone I didn't know what the hell I was talking about. She brandished a page out of a document and said "See, it shows right here a washer is required."
After she left, I went to the spec and looked it up. I was sure I had checked thoroughly. Sure enough, the page she was using was for a totally different type of connector. So I went to beard the lioness in her lair.
After pointing out to her that she was on the totally wrong page of the spec, I showed her the right page, which doesn't require a washer. I did it very diplomatically, and ended with, "But I am not the expert. We will ask the Spec Engineer to make the call."
He came out and off the cuff said that the washer was required. I just said, fine, show me the requirement, and the part number so we can order them. He wanted me to revise the planning to call out a washer, and I refused, saying that we do not call out parts in the bill of material that are provided by a process spec. The parts Guru was standing right there, and he agreed with me, so once again I asked the Engineer to provide me with a part number, and a specific spec. He left and went to dig out the information.
He came back about a half an hour later, kinda red faced and said "A washer is not required" and walked off.
Maybe next time they will think twice before challenging my technical expertise.
But it was still a very trying day. I did not indulge in the impulse to lay a big "I told you so" on them.
But I was really worked up, and I thought "I think I'll stop by the Booze Emporium on the way home, I could use a good stiff drink."
The truck wouldn't start, so I was out in the drizzle trying to figure out what was going on. Same problem as before. I had put the battery on the charger last night, so I know it wasn't the battery. I futzed around with the connections with no luck. A guy I know came by and offered a jump, but it didn't do anything. A couple of guys came by and gave me a push. Since it is a stick shift, it will start right up if you give it a little push.
It started right up, but there would be no stopping on the way home.
Maybe it was a good thing, given the mood I was in, I might have overindulged.
Tomorrow will be a better day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grandma Heaven

Mrs A is in Grandma heaven.

We are taking care of Neeko. He is about six months now, so he's not old enough to be much trouble, and he is a sweet baby. Doesn't fuss much, laughs easily and smiles a lot.

I think women love things when they are small and helpless. Once you pass the small and helpless stage, they merely tollerate you. By the time you learn the word no, it becomes a battle, usually pretty one sided. A five foot two mother can bring a six foot five man to his knees with a single searing look.

Neeko will be gone by the time I get home. I held him for a while last night so Mrs A could get on a load of laundry and fold some clothes.

He immediately fell asleep. Kids tend to do that when I hold them. I like to think it is because I am stress free and comfortable and safe. But then again, maybe I am just boring.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two Strikes, and You're OUT

My stint at Jury Duty was cut short.

After not being picked for a jury in the first two days, those of us that weren't chosen were told we don't have report tomorrow.

Oh well, back to the grind tomorrow. It was nice having a couple of days with no pressure, just sitting around reading and listening to my i-pod.

We had two hours for lunch today, so I wandered around. Took in an art galery, had a pretty good Rueben Sandwich.

This makes four times I have been on Jury Duty, and I still have never been chosen to actually sit on a jury.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jury Duty

I have Jury Duty Today, tomorrow, and Thursday.

To me, it is usually a three day vacation. My job is one of almost constant crisis of one kind ot another This plug won't mate with that piece of equipment? Where is this connector located in the aircraft, and what job installs it? I am supposed to hook up to this piece of equipment, but it is not there. When does it get installed?

Stuff that needs an immediate answer to a production problem in real time. No "I'll get back to you on that later." Later is five minutes from now. Some things cannot be answered immediately, and need to be forwarded to Engineering or Planning. But they still need to be monitored. When can we expect this to be resolved?

To me, Jury Duty is like a vacation. Instead of being there at 6:00, I reported at 8:30 today, 9:00 tomorrow, so I get to sleep in. Bring a book, sit in a nice warm building, plug in my i-pod and zone out.

So far I have not been chosen to serve on a jury. I was empanelled once, but I was juror number 16 in a trial that required six jurors. Numbers one through six sat in the box, and the rest of us were replacements for them if they were challenged by the Prosecution or Defense, so the likelihood of my serving were slim to none. Sent home early.

An hour and a half for lunch. Right across the street is the Columbia Tower, which has an atrium with about 20 different shops serving food. Any one of them is probably better than the offerings of the food service at work. Industrial swill VS takeout.

I was in the mood for Thai, so it was Thai Chicken with Basil, with sides of Phad Thai and sticky rice. Not the best I've ever had, but OK. Enough time left over for a leisurely stroll through downtown.

Jury Duty pays a whopping $10 a day, but I get payed my regular salary anyway. Parking is about $20 a day, so I lose $10 a day.

But to me, that's a pretty cheap vacation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


It was slow at work today, so I had a little time to think.

When I get a little time to think, there is no telling where my head will take me.

I ended up on God.

Not the concept. I have gone through the whole philosophical/religious train of philosophy, explored it thoroughly, and come to the conclusion that God exists, however unknowable such an entity must be.

It was the word itself that caught my interest.


What an ugly word. I mean, if you choose to make the leap of faith that accepts the existence of a being that in an act of will, caused the cosmos into existence, there ought to be a word, an identity that reflects the power and Majesty of that being.

What do we commonly use?


A guttural short, disagreeable sounding word. I mean, it should sing, it should reflect power and song and beauty and unfathomable mystery.

I went and searched the etymology of the word, and found it descended through German, tracing it's roots through Proto-Indeo-European history.

I still don't like it.

It doesn't sing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Manhattan Transfer and other stuff

This week was so hectic, I forgot to report on the Manhattan Transfer show last weekend.

It was great. Not for everyone, but just what we wanted. Swing jazz vocals, Route 66, Tuxedo Junction, Birdland. I would glance over at Mrs A, ans she would be over there tapping a toe with a big grin on her face. Music that makes you feel good and puts a smile on your face. A good fun evening.

On the other end of the spectrum, L & L called and said that they were being evicted and wanted to move in with us. The same ones that just stiffed me for a $200.00 loan, and $150.00 for a used big screen TV. The ones that screamed obscenities at Mrs A over the phone. The ones that have repeatedly disrespected us for the last five years.

Mrs A called me at work so I could be the bastard. I had no problem saying "Hell NO!!!"

So right now I am probably being burned in effigy, tried an convicted EN Absentia and generally reviled. Such is the price of having standards.

I get to work both days this weekend. And next weekend, and next........

I made reservations for Tower of Power on May the 2nd, and Karrin Allyson on the 23rd. A couple of things to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On The Road Again

The truck is back on the road again.

Yesterday when I got home, the sun was shining and the skies were blue. Sure, the temperature was only 42, but I figure I wasn't likely to get anything better in the near future, so I donned my old jeans and sweatshiry and down vest and went out to brave the elements.

My philosophy for working on cars is simple: Always do the easiest thing first. With electrical problems you can end up chasing stuff all over the place, so if you try the easiest thing first. So I took apart all of the connections at the battery, cleaned them all and put it back together. Got in the truck, and it started right up.

I put the battery charger on it for an hour and called it good.

This does not address the ultimate problems.

Why did a brand new battery go dead?

I know the bearings are going out in the alternator, but it is still alternating. Is it time to bite the bullet and get a new one?

It started right up this morning, and everything looks fine. It better start up this afternoon, or I will put a rag in the filler pipe, light it up and push it over a cliff.

You hear that, truck?

I'm not messing around anymore!

Monday, March 09, 2009

When Will it Ever End?

It snowed again today.


Once before I had to drive to work, once right before I had to drive home. The roads weren't bad, which I am thankful for, since I sill have not gotten the truck running.

Tonight it is supposed to get down into the 20's, so the water hanging around from the snow will be turning to ice. It will make for a crappy drive in the morning.

I'm sure getting sick of the winter weather. Just when I think it is going to turn, here comes another blast of cold weather. The cold is expected to stay around for a couple more days.

Bah, Humbug!

Friday, March 06, 2009

It Might Have been a Joke

Mrs A and I are going to Jazz Alley tomorrow to see Manhattan Transfer. A good show, a good meal, and a good night out.

I went to the Jazz Alley home page to check out what was coming up.

There are three shows in May I want to see. I can't get the time off to see all three, so decisions have to be made. Tower of Power is coming and Saturday the 2nd of May would be good. Keiko Matsui is coming, and Saturday the 16th would work out. Karrin Allyson is coming, and Saturday the 23rd would work out.

Thing is, I can't get the time off for all of them. As I have said, I work seven days a week right now with every third weekend off.

Mrs A has been after me to go see a funky Jazz Band, and Tower of Power must have their picture next to the definition of Funky Jazz Band. Keiko Matsui is such a dynamic performer, and a world class keyboardist. Karrin Allyson we went and saw as our first date ever.

Damn. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I was deciding what to do, when it occurred to me that this was a perfect situation to play a joke on Mrs A.


Dear, I want you to sit down, I have somethhing to tell you.

This has not been an easy decision for me, but I want to be honest with you. I really wouldn't want for you to find out from someone else, so I want to be honest with you. Not telling the truth is the same as telling a lie, so I want to be upfront with you.

Then I tell her about the concerts and what my decision was.

But then I decided I would rather live.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dave's Dead

Sometimes things are just inexplicably bad and wrong.

We got the news today that one of our co-workers was in the hospital and will not survive. He contracted Pneumococcal Meningitis. This is seriously bad sh&*. Pneumococcal bacteria get into the spinal fluid. It has a 25% fatality rate if caught in time, but has a whole list of really bad side effects, like hydrocephalism, paralysis and retardation. It has a very short window for treatment without side effects.

I have known Dave for a quite a few years. A friendly outgoing guy with a real positive attitude and lots of things he was interrested in. He was always quick to Join in a conversation on almost any subject and always had a positive spin on things. On the weekends he was one of a group of musicians and musician wannabes who got together to jam..

He had a loving family and leaves a wife and a couple of teenage kids.

I never have heard anyone who had a bad thing to say about Dave.

They kept him on life support long enough to donate his organs, and then pulled the plug.

I hope the people who got his organs appreciate what a great guy Dave was.

I can see him so clearly in my mind, with a big grin and suppotive attitude.

I can think of a whole bunch of people I would rather see leave this planet.

Sometimes there is no good explanation for things.

Monday, March 02, 2009


It was sure nice to have a weekend off. Not that a lot happened. I slept a lot.

I slept eleven hours on Friday night. Woke up and did a little housekeeping. Got together the stuff to do our taxes, and then took a nap. V and DIL came by for a visit and brought along my ex father-in-law. I have always liked and respected him. Probably stayed married to the ex a lot longer than I would have otherwise because I liked her family.

My cousin Lynn came over, and we all had a pleasant evening of conversation and visiting.
Sunday was also real laid back. As ambitious as I got was to go get a haircut. It was just what I needed.

I didn't get around to working on the truck. We didn't take a drive, we just hung around and enjoyed each others company and laid back.

I got a summons for Jury Duty. To me it will be the fourth time have been called up for Jury Duty , but never get empaneled. When they question prospective jurors they always ask if anyone is related to a lawyer, and I tell the my brother is the Renton City Attorney and they kick me off. So I plan on going and being bored out of my skull for three days.