Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I hate Christmas shopping.
I hate crowds.
I hate the hype and commercialism.
On Saturday I went Christmas shopping with R and 'i'. I am still pissed at R. This is the first time I have seen her in a year and a half. I had set up a day to take her to lunch for her birthday last month but she stood me up and never called.
So I set it up to take her to buy some new shoes and a teddy bear for "i". Of course she was three hours late. By the time she called me from the bus stop, I was so pissed I almost told her where to go. But if I did that I couldn't tell her what I wanted to say, so I went and picked them up at the bus stop, and we went shopping.
After I got done chewing her out, We went to The Landing. We went to Ross to get a pair of shoes. The last time I saw "i" he was not talking. Now he jabbers constantly. I can't understand what he is saying half of the time, but he has his own unique way of putting things.
While R was looking at shoes, "i" and I went to the toys, and he was having a great time looking over the toys. When I tole him we had to go back to the shoe section he told me "No, I'm too happy". He also referred to Mrs A as "Lady Grampa". On the way over to The Landing he kept telling me I was going the wrong way. Must get that from "Lady Grampa".
He was a little hard to handle, hyperactive and not responding well. At one point I was thinking "What the heck have I gotten myself into?"
Since Ross had no stuffed animals, we went down the block to Target. While R and "i" were looking around I snuck over and picked out a teddy bear. Big and soft.
When he saw the Teddy Bear, his face lit up like a Christmas Ornament, and he gave it a big hug and a couple of kisses.
Suddenly all the frustration and anger and impatience went away, and the whole day was worth it.
The smile of a grandchild is the food for the soul of a grandparent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turkey Separation Anxiety

Yesterday Mrs A cleaned up the turkey carcass and put the left over meat in the freezer. No more turkey sandwiches. Sigh. Next weekend I will pull one of the packages out along with a quart of turkey stock and make a batch of turkey and sausage Jambalaya, so the turkey goodness is not quite over with.
When they changed the dressing on my finger last week, I got my first post-op look at the incision site. Looks pretty ugly. There must be a dozen stitches. Tomorrow I get the stitches out, but I will still be in a splint for at least another month.
My right ring finger is my enter key finger, so I have had to adjust my typing. It's not too bad. What is really frustrating is that when I rest my hand on my mouse, the splint makes contact with the right enter button on the mouse. I will be navigating away, and all the sudden the screen starts jumping around doing things I didn't want. It always takes me a minute to realize what is happening.
And of course I can't play guitar, since I use my right hand for forming the cords.
We got our Christmas present for each other yesterday. A Nikon D camera with a zoom lens. I went ahead and assembled it and started in on the instruction manual. Had to charge the battery. The camera did not come with a memory card, so I will need to get one before We can do much of anything with it. I will probably do that this weekend. The goal is to be moderately competent with it before Christmas. It has been a few years since I have had a decent camera, and the new ones have so much automatic function that it will take a while to figure out things like how to set aperture and shutter speed.
On the other hand, one of my co-workers, Melody is playing Christmas music all day. I enjoy most Christmas music as well as anyone else, but I am at the mercy of commercial DJ's. Please for the love of God, do NOT play "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer". It was not cute the first time, it was lame and it does not improve with age. And please have mercy, no "Holly Jolly Christmas"! it was a monument to mediocrity when it came out. No Mitch Miller, no Spike Jones and No damn two front teeth.
Bah Humbug

Monday, November 19, 2012

it's just for the drugs

When I went to the Hand Surgeon on Wednesday, he did a two hour surgery to reattach the tendon on the back of the last digit on my right ring finger. It will be in a splint for six to twelve weeks.
The good news is, I can't do the dishes. "Sorry dear, I'd really like to help you, but I can't get my hand wet."
Then on Friday, I went to the Dental clinic and had four teeth pulled and inserts installed.
All this just to get my hands on some drugs.
Seriously though, I hate Percocet. It makes me fuzzy headed if I take one and barely coherent if I take two. I also can't sleep if I take two. I wish there was something I could take that just made the pain go away.
Tomorrow I go in to get the dressing changed, so I will get a look at how the incision looks. The following week I get the stitches out.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Giving you the finger

The news, that is.
Went to the Hand Surgeon today. He looked at my finger and told me to come back next week.
I have an appointment next Wednesday to check it out.
The thinking is that by then, if  the tendon is going to reattach itself it should have started by then. If not, then operate and reattach it.
I bet you can guess which one I vote for.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Finger Poppin'

Little did I expect yesterday when I went to work that I would end up in the Hospital Emergency Room.
I have two desks out on the factory floor, and I alternate between the two. I have a laptop, so the idea is that I am supposed to be able to roll my file drawer and take my laptop and be ready to go in about ten minutes. It usually works fine.
But on Tuesday when I went to move, someone had stolen my docking station, keyboard, power brick and mouse.
So I had to scrounge some new equipment, and get it set up. I was underneath the desk, plugging in equipment. When I backed out, I raised up too soon and hit my head on the keyboard tray, knocking it loose and  it fell down and landed right on my ring finger, right below the end knuckle. It hurt like hell and bled pretty good.
I started feeling woozy, and started going into shock, so I put my head between my knees. At this point, people decided they needed to call in the fire department. I really wish they had just let me tough it out.
So the fire department medical unit showed up and checked me out. My blood pressure was a little low, but not alarmingly so. I told them I was fine, but they felt I needed to go to Boeing Medical, also known as the Death Clinic.
My boss walked me over. I figured I was going to get a couple of stitches and go back to work. I should have known better.
The Medical Tech was getting ready to clean and suture my finger when he took the end of my finger and pushed down on it to open up the cut to clean it. When he did, he popped the extensor tendon on the back of my finger.
AT that point they sent me to the Emergency Room at Valley General Hospital. They have this brand new fancy multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facility. I was impressed with the facility. Not so much the service. But then a cut finger wouldn't rate real high on the list of emergencies..
Several hours later I was released with a couple of stitches, a dressing and splint and a referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon.
If people had left me alone I would have superglued it, put an bandaid on it and went on my way.
So I am restricted in my work assignment to "Light typing or writing".
What the heck is "Light typing"
I have an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon on the 15th.
The things some people will do to get  a day away from work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Political punits
In too much abundance
will surely lead you astray
a little reflection
and B.S. detection
will probably show you the way

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bring it on

Lately I have been on a run of bad luck.
Some times stuff just happens.
The washing machine gave out this week. Rather than attempt to fix it myself (which is what I would normally do ) I had Mrs A call a Repair Service. They wanted $529.00 to repair the old machine.
So of course we bought a new one, which was $679.00.
Saturday, we were supposed to go to our grandson's sixth birthday party, but when I woke up from my nap, there was doggy diarrhea and vomited blood in the music room. Monk was hiding and looking mighty ashamed of himself.
So instead of going to a birthday we spent the afternoon and early evening in the veterinary emergency room.they never did figure out what was going on, except that the x-rays didn't show anything unusual. so for $300.00 we learned nothing.
So it goes.
So if you go with the superstition that bad luck comes in threes, I should be in the clear.
Kitchen sink
washing machine
Doggy vomit

Thursday, October 11, 2012


God. I hate plumbing.
The kitchen sink was dripping, so I needed to get to work on it.
Just a simple job of replacing the washer, right? Right? Right?
I replaced the 00 washer, but instead of it dripping from the faucet, it started dripping underneath the sink. No Fair! I didn't even touch anything under the sink except to turn the water supply to the hot water tap off.
The kitchen sink fixture is a cheap one with plastic handles, and I had a different one with brass handles in the basement that someone gave me, so I decided to swap out the fixtures at the same time. I figured I would need to fix the brass fixture, because nobody would give away a solid brass fixture unless there was something wrong with it.
This was shortly after I started to pass a kidney stone. I had to rebuild the fixture, put it on, try it out, take it back apart and fix something else, put it back on. Every time I did this it irritated the kidney stone and I had to stop. After two weeks of working on it off and on, it still leaks, The compression seal at the bottom of the tap fixture for the cold water tap won't seal properly.
Well, I was going to swap out the sink anyway, so as soon as I get a day off, I am going to swap the old beat-up porcelain sink for a stainless steel sink.
While I'm at it I will go down and buy a good washerless fixture.
Meanwhile, I have tools and materials scattered all over the kitchen, the cleaning supplies  usually under the sink are scattered all over the kitchen, and a mixing bowl is under the sink catching the drip. It drips one drip every hour or so, but Mrs A. is getting impatient. For some reason, after working a ten hour day, I don't have the energy to tackle anything that isn't an emergency.
That and the fact that I won't go down and pick out a fixture without taking her along. So far it looks like I might get Sunday off, so I know what I will be doing.
God, I hate plumbing.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


No, not the rolling Stones, although they could be called the moving stones.
Stones as in Kidney stones.
When I was working on the Westie, I got up from laying on my back, walked around doing something (I don't remember what) and it felt like somebody walked up and stuck an ice pick in my right kidney. This was a familiar feeling, as my body manufactures and disposes of kidney stones on a regular regimen. After I got done with the OH SH*T< OH SH*T< OH SHIT, I went back to work on the car. Since the pains did not completely go away, I called the consulting nurse and told her I was pretty sure I was passing a kidney stone, should I bother to come in?
She said it would be good to get a real diagnosis. Although she didn't say it, I got the distinct impression she thought that any one who does self diagnosis has a fool for a doctor.
So I went in and they x-rayed and I have three stones. Two on the left. one on the right. They are small and non-obstructing, so they sent me home with the instruction to take more drugs and come back if nothing changes. I declined a prescription for more Percocet 'cause I just don't like the stuff because it leaves me too foggy headed. (No remarks from the peanut gallery please)
Well, it has been two weeks, and I am still having occasional problems. Most of the time I am fine, but every once in a while someone runs up behind me and ice picks my kidney.
I have been working on the kitchen sink, putting in a new fixture and lines, so I have been laying on my back working at arms length. It has never bothered me when I am working, but after I get up and walk around it will kick in. Especially at night when I go to lay down.
I e-mailed the doc and told him it was maybe a pulled muscle, but he sticks with his original diagnosis.
Guess I'll just stick it out.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Naga Bhut Jolokia

Also known as the Ghost Pepper.
I like moderately hot stuff. A little burn is good for the digestion. Jalapenos are not particularly hot, Chilis Torredos are warm, but anything hotter and you begin to lose the flavor of what they are in and get into the territory of just macho.
I admit it. Sometimes I do stupid stuff just for the macho.
So when one of the guys at work brought around the Ghost Chili beef jerky, I took a piece.
In case you don't know, the Ghost Pepper was recognised by Guinness world records as the hottest pepper in the world, with over on million scoville units. It will eat it's way through latex gloves. It can cause blisters.
Your face will turn bright red, tears will run down, your nose will run, and it will be difficult to breathe.
And that's not talking about what it will do to your digestive system.
Let's just say burn twice and leave it at that.
Oh, and by the way, be sure to wash your hands before you rub your nose, or wipe your eyes or any other delicate skin.
Don't ask how I know

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

And God Laughed

We were going to spend the weekend at Scatter Creek Campground at the south end of Lake Taqualpa, an incredible beautiful setting this time of year. The wild rice growing in the shallow parts of the lake is brilliant green, the channel blue, reflecting the sky. The far shore is the dark green of pine and fir, and above them the mountains rise abruptly with their blacks and grays.
I have been there many times, but never to photograph it. That was my goal.
The dirt road is ten miles of incredibly bad road, with chuckholes and rocks the whole way.
I had just mentioned to MRS A "I really like the fact that the Westfalia has such Good ground clearance, I really don't have to worry about hitting a rock and putting a hole in the pan".
When will I ever learn?
God snickered and threw a particularly nasty rock in my path.
Shortly thereafter the oil light came on.
I stopped and went to the back to check the oil. None showed on the dip stick. I climbed under the Van, and there was a hole the size of your fist in the pan.
Of course there was no cell service. Ten miles to the nearest pavement, twenty to the nearest town.
Luckily a Game Warden came by right after that and stopped.
I asked him to call me a tow truck.
An hour later the tow truck showed up. Two and a half hours and $810 later we were home.
I went to change out the pan, and tweaked a muscle in my back, so I had to send it to the shop. It will be $425.00 to put in a new pan. A steel pan this time, not cast aluminum.
With a skid plate made out of 1/4" plate steel.
But I'm not going to brag about how I don't have to worry about rocks.
And I'll probably slow down some when I'm off the pavement.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Bad Mojo

What is more powerful than a father's love?
What is more powerful than a mother's devotion?
What is more powerful than Maternal instinct?
What is more powerful than love of self?
After more than a year of absolutely no contact with my daughter, R, I got a call from my ex yesterday. The minute I heard her voice, the bottom of my stomach went down a couple of feet. This could not be good.
Was R. dead? My first thought.
In the hospital, O.D, in jail?
Not yet.
Had a fight with the a-hole she lives with, and he got physical with her and is in jail supposedly. (I have seen her when she is coming down and she is meaner than a snake in the blind.)
Did she call me?
She knows that as long as she is choosing drugs over caring for her son, I want nothing to do with her. So she tries to get her mother to do her dirty work for her.
I have bought into this so many times that I should have it down by now.
Will I drive up to Everett and get her? NO. No Christmas call, no father's day call, no birthday card or call. Nothing.
A relationship is supposed to go both ways. I need to get something out of it other than pain.
I decline to participate in her self mutilation. I will net be an enabler.
But it still makes me feel like shit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Not that I think Politics has become divisive or anything, but if President Obama wants to be reelected, I think all he has to do is write an official memo stating that it his position that he is strongly in favor of breathing.
The Republicans would therefore have to come out strongly against breathing, thereby eliminating all opposition.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Home again

Vacation was wonderful.
Two weeks of wandering the back roads, mainly in Idaho.
We started out at Lake Easton State Park, just over the top of Snoqualmie Pass. We spent a couple of days camping there with friends. A good time was had by all. We went into Roslyn to The Brick for hte Macho Nachos and a couple of beers, played cards, told stories, and took a couple of hikes. Not to mention eating huckleberries right off of the bush.
On to southern Idaho. We spent the night in Emmett and went out to Sage Hen Reservoir to one of the campgrounds. Not a bad Park, but there were no showers and the outhouse was less than sanitary, so we only stayed for one night.
Then on to Peninsula State Park outside McCall Idaho. Beautiful little town and a very nice campground with nice modern facilities. We stayed a couple of days.
The trip up The North Fork of the Payette river was really beautiful. We stopped several times to just watch the water. Over the top and down the other side to follow the Clearwater. We crossed over the River at Ororins and went way back in the woods to Dent Acres Campground. We had only intended to stay one night, but the weather forcast was for 106 Degrees, and we didn't want to travel in that heat. So we hunkered down and hooked up the Air Conditioner and hung around the Westfalia all day. I spent the day under a tree whittlin' and reading, Managed to pick up a pretty good sunburn on my upper arms.
Then on to Sandpoint. We spent two nights in a Howard Johnson's.
I had promised Uncle Fred I would fish Deep Creek for him while I was up there, so Mrs a and I did. She Had never stream fished before, so I took a while when we first started out to show her how it was done and why a particular strategy worked. She caught the first fish, a little rainbow trout. We had a good time walking down the middle of the stream, talking and fishing. I caught the only two fish worth keeping ( a couple of rainbow trout about 8 and 10 inches). We went back to the Hotel, and she took a nap while I went back out to fish Sand Creek, where I picked up a couple of 8 inch Brookies to add to the take.
We got together with the family and went out to the Western Pleasures Ranch for a catered dinner. A beautiful lodge out in the woods. Hay ride before dinner, good home cooking.
Larry Glahe and his lovely wife, Jackie hosted the reunion. We went back to their house for nightcaps.
Saturday we were supposed to go out on the lake in their houseboat the Alibi, but muskrats had chewed holes in the gas line and after replacing the line, the engine never would run right. Rather than run the risk of breaking down in the middle of the lake we just partied on right there on the dock.
Prime rib dinner home made cherry and huckleberry pies for dessert. Much beer and other beverage was consumed, tall tales were told, and most of the world's problems were solved. My face hurt from  mso much laughter and smiling.
Then back home on Sunday.
My blood sugar was great the whole time, I actually lost five pounds, and I felt great.
I have come to the conclusion That for me health, I need more vacations.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wandering off

Sunday we set off on a two week wander. We only have two firm dates. We are meeting friends at Lake Easton State Park for a couple of days at this end, and are meeting family at Sandpoint Idaho at the other end. In between we are wandering around in Idaho, starting at Emmett to see our daughter,SIL and grandkid, then going up Hiway 95 N all the way to Sandpoint camping and fishing our way up the spine of Idaho.
Two weeks in the Westfalia. We will probably stop at a motel here and there depending on the facilities along the way. We can go two days without a shower, but three is a little much. I can do it, but Mrs A. couldn't without being very uncomfortable.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I love the Westie, but there are a couple of things I want to improve yet.
I had talked about doing a syncro conversion, but the bill is around ten grand. Not really justifiable in my book if I want to retire any time soon.
The rear gearing in the vanagon automatic is way low, so at freeway speed (70 MPH) you are doing about 4ooo RPM. It is not approaching the redline of the engine, but is still higher that I would like. It affects both the gas mileage and the wear and tear on the engine and transmission.
I currently get around 17 mpg with the Subaru engine transplant, Not terrible for a camper/SUV, but not all that great.
While surfing the net last week, I found a site where they just completed a couple of years of experimenting and testing to put together a higher gear ratio set for the Vanagon automatic. The gears are 3.27 as opposed to the stock 4.05 gears. According to them this translates into much better gas mileage (21 as opposed to 17 MPG) and lower RPMs at speed (3500 versus 4100 RPM). The downside is of course the cost. The ring and pinon set is $1200, and figure another $1500 to put it in.
With the price of gas where it is, it will pay for itself in the long run.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Uncles and Cousins and such

Spent the weekend in Coberg,  Oregon. My cousin Ginger lives there. We were close when we were growing up, but their family moved away about when we hit our teens, and I lost contact with her for about 35 years. When we finally got back together, it was like we had never lost contact.
Going to see her was enough of a reason to drive the five hours, but there were a couple of other reasons for making the trip. My Uncle Ben and his wife Vicki were visiting from Morelia Mexico. They don't get up this way very often, so it was great seeing them. He had just received an award that made him "Generalissimo de Morelia" the highest award a foreigner can receive from the city/county. He has already received the highest award a foreigner can receive from the Government of Mexico.
The reason he was up this way, is because his Brother, my Uncle Fred was in the hospital, and in addition to being diabetic and having one foot amputated, has been diagnosed with bone cancer, so his future is very uncertain.
My Uncle Fred and I were fishing buddies for years. Over on the farm, on Sunday, after milking and after church, we pretty much always went fishing. Stream fishing for trout. That area of Idaho had some of the best trout fishing water anywhere.
When we went to see him in the hospital, when he saw me he started out with "Remember the time you and I went up Deep Creek? The limit was 15 fish and we brought home 30 trout and one whitefish." That is indeed one of my favorite fishing memories. the biggest fish was 18", several around 15", not a one under 10". I have never seen a finer stringer of fish.
 Long gone are the days of 15 fish limits.
We traded fishing stories and other matters of great importance.
He knows that we are having a family reunion in Sandpoint in August. When I was about to leave, He stopped me and said "Allen, I want you to do me a favor. When you go to the reunion, I want you to go fish Deep Creek for me."
Of course I will, but it won't be easy. So many memories are tied up in the stretch of creek between the two bridges.
I hope it rains so no one can see the tears in my eyes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So damn slow

Patience is not one of my better virtues. I admit it. Everything just takes about five times as long as it should to accomplish.
I had decided to get rid of my Jensen Healey parts car, so I advertised it on Craigslist. I know I could have made a quite a bit of money parting it out, but just didn't want to go through the hassle of tearing it apart, listing the parts on E-bay and arranging shipping and all that. So I advertised it for $200.00 as a parts car.
I received a couple of inquiries, and then a guy operating a parts yard offered my $150. Hey, I got it for free, and took the stuff I wanted, so anything I got for it was just gravy.
It took the guy a week to come and get it. But it is now gone.
The Westie is in the shop. They replaced the skylight. I asked them to figure out what was draining the battery, and they are still working on it. I delivered it to them last Friday. I need it by this Friday. I don't feel so bad about not being able to figure out where the drain on the battery was coming from since the experts can't figure it out either.
We are supposed to head out Saturday morning for Oregon, and I am starting to get a little antsy. There are things I want to check on and get packed up for the trip. I hate waiting until the last minute.
Some times you have to slow down and let things happen at their own pace.
But I don't have to like it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Movin' along

The Westfalia is in the shop getting a new skylight installed. The old one cracked and will leak under torrential downpour conditions. Just bad enough to bug me. Also the battery is not holding a charge. If I charge it in the evening, it is dead by morning. I figure the alternator is shot. If the diodes are gone, it will charge while the engine is running, but when it shuts off, it drains the battery because the diodes are blown. Diodes are these handy little "gates" that only allow electricity to flow in one direction. If they are blown, they deplete the battery.
I need to get the Westy ready for next weekend, because we are heading South to Oregon for a family thing. My Uncle Ben Is coming up with his wife from Mexico, so we are heading down next Saturday. Back home on Monday.
This coming Monday I have made arrangements for the Pull-Apart yard guy to come and get my 73 Jensen Healey parts car. I have pulled misc. parts off of it for the car I am restoring, but I think I have everything I need, so I want the room in the carport. It is not easy for me to turn loose of it. I always get that "I just know I'm going to need something" feeling.
Take a deep breath Al. and just let go.
Not long ago, I discovered my fishing tackle was all missing. Really pisses me off. I have had some of that stuff for forty years. It is not cheap to replace. People have gun safes, I wonder if anyone has a Fishing Pole safe? At any rate I have bee gathering stuff up, have about $500 invested so far, still don't have a reel. I need to get all of the lures and tackle yet. Oh well. Father's day is coming, and a little bird told me there is a gift certificate for Dicks Sporting goods coming my way.
Right now I am imagining my self thigh deep in a high country trout stream laying out a perfect dry fly. There is a rise!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Logistical 180

The last time I posted, I was pretty sure I was going to go ahead and do the four wheel drive conversion to the Westie. Since then I have changed my mind.
This may have been precipitated by the fact that the lovely Mrs A has retired. She semi-retired several years ago, just working part time. Now she is a stay-at-home housewife.So far it seems to agree with her.
The fact of her retirement got me to seriously looking at my own retirement. If I do the conversion to the Westie, it means I work for an additional year to pay it off. That's a pretty steep price to pay for what I get out of it.
I was looking around the house cleaning up misc. crap, and came across several US Savings Bonds. I also am going to get rid of my Jensen Healey parts car, and put the title to the HHR in the Safe Deposit Box. I also had a stack of US Savings Bonds in the box. I got to thinking about them sitting there doing nothing, so I decided to take them all and cash them in and pay down the mortgage. So I did. I added a bunch of my "car money" to the kitty, and Paid off $15K of the mortgage. That brings the total down to around $38K. Within sight.
The plan has always been to pay off the mortgage, get to Social Security age, sell the house and move to the country somewhere it doesn't rain 200 days a year. I need to complete my Dental work (implants coming in November).
It is beginning to look more like a plan and less like a fantasy all the time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Decisions, decisions

When we were in Idaho, we were the recipients of a real gully-washer of a rain storm. It proved to be a good leak tester for the Westy.. Water started dripping from around the skylight. A close inspection showed a small crack in one corner, so when we got back I called North Westy to order a new skylight.
At the same time there were a couple of things I wanted to talk about.
I would like to see about installing an on-board compressor. Since I want to go camping off the pavement, flat tires become a little more critical when you are fifty miles from a service station. Prices are all over the place depending on exactly what you want. From $20 for a little compressor that you plug into the cigarette lighter to $350 for a good on-board compressor.
Also, I would like to change to final drive gear ration for the differential. Usually not a daunting task, but the Westie is an automatic, making it a much more difficult task. The Westie guy told me he had recently seen someone offering a different ring gear conversion, and said he would chase down the info. The problem is that with the automatic, the engine runs at over 4000 rpm at freeway (75mph) speeds. The motor doesn't seem to mind, but I would like to bring the RPMs down to around 3500 at speed, Better gas mileage and less wear on the engine.
But all that may be moot. One of the things North Westy does is Combi refits. That is, turns a rear wheel drive Westy into a four wheel drive Westy. I want to do this. It is expensive, around ten grand, but it would create the ultimate Westie. The problem has always been getting the lovely Mrs A to agree to the expense.
I think I have come up with the argument that will tip the scales.
While we were in Emmet, she kept bringing me real estate brochures. She has this plan that when I retire, we will move to Emmett. She is deathly afraid of driving in the snow. So the argument is that if we are going to move to Emmett, we will need a four wheel drive vehicle. Rather than buy a separate vehicle, we can update the Westie and further the utility of what we already have. I proposed this the other night and she didn't object too loudly. So, Kyle will be putting together a quote for me.
Maybe after we get back from our camping trip in August, I will give them the OK to go ahead with the conversion.

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Short Vacation

Lisa and Dan have been giving us the neener-neener-neener crap about how great their weather has been for the last month or so. So we took a week and drove over to Emmett Idaho to visit them. They told us to bring warm weather gear. I told Mrs A to pack jeans and sweatshirts.
It's a good thing I did. We were there six days, and we had ONE decent day. It rained just about every day. On the other hand we did manage to get a couple of drives in.. Headed up into the Boise National Forrest. Got up high enough that the road was covered in snow here and there. Went up to the Sage Hen Reservoir. Nice drive, about half off of the pavement. I really like the way the Westie handles on the gravel.
The trip in both directions was just fine. I did occasionally do the speed limit.
Dan got hired on as a plumber while we were there. I know Dan was excited and relieved to go back to work. He had been out of work for a quite a while with a hernia. He has been on L & I, but it is always good to go back to work. He had done a couple of jobs for a local independent plumber, and the word got around that he worked quickly and did top quality work, so next thing you know this company he never even applied to was calling him up and offering him a job.
I got the other top ball joint replaced on the truck.. once again it took about three hours, mostly with a air hammer and chisel.
Also replaced the three outside access boxes on the Westy.(curb water, electrical,and potable water).
Since today is my last day of vacation, we went ad took in a movie and then dinner at a Thai joint. We went and saw The Hunger Games. Good movie, lots of action and several plot twists. I didn't care for the way it ended. It just kinda.....ended. Oh well, I know it is the first of three books, so I figure the next movie will pick up where this one left off.
Back to the grind tomorrow, and since I have had the last two weekends off, I will have to work both days this coming weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Nice weekend

The stars and moon aligned and and all the conditioned were right
!) I had the weekend off
2) the weather was nice
3) we had no other commitments

This is the first time this has happened this year. The first time this has happened this year.
We made egg rolls in the morning (they are very yummy).
So that in the afternoon I could go twist a wrench. I have SOOOO wanted to get out and get to work on the cars. First I needed to charge the battery to the Z and get it running. While it was charging I got it up in the air and bled the brakes. Got it running and the brakes working.
Then came Frankenhealey. I had previously sold the prior Dellorto set-up with the velocity stacks to a guy at work for a grand, So I had purchased another set. Straight out of the box, they do not fit. The mounting holes are just a little to far apart, so you have to file them a little to get them to fit.
I wasn't going to run the velocity stacks without air cleaners of some kind, and I found some on line that look alot like the covering on a microphone, very fine steel mesh. They will keep miscellaneous small parts, rocks and insects from being ingested into the engine. The original engines demise was brought about by the ingestion of a small washer.
The are all fitted up nice.
Man do I feel stupid!
I replaced the ball joint assembly on the drives side of the truck, and drove it to work all week. All of the sudden on Saturday it started making a thump-thump-thump noise from the driver's side front, so I rearranged the cars so I could get it partly under cover and on the cement so I could look it over. When I got out of the truck, I noticed one of the lug nuts looked like it was a little loose. I fact, they all were loose. The noise was the wheel rattling around on the hub. Tightened the lug nuts up, and everything was fine.
But I sure felt stupid.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back on Second Shift

The title says it all.
When I took this job, I agreed to fill in when the second shift guy went on Vacation.
Little did I know that he was taking three weeks off in April.
Considering that I spent nine of the last 12 months I was in ECAT on second shift, three weeks is OK. Don't like it, but I agreed to it, So I guess I have no kick. The other thing is that I have to work every other weekend while he is gone. The way the schedule works out that means two out of the three weekends I get to work both days.
I just have to remind myself that it means another grand in the savings towards our tenth anniversary trip.
Friday is Mrs A's last day of employment outside the home. I have told her since we first got together that she could quit any time she wanted. She has always had mixed feelings about not working.
I might be a little envious.

Saturday, April 07, 2012


News Flash!

The Easter Bunny has been found alongside Main Street, the victim of an apparent hit and run.

Suspects in the incident are his darker relatives, the Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


We spent a couple of days at the Lake Quinault Lodge over the weekend. I got there depressed, exhausted and surly. After a couple of days I left recharged, revitalized and ready to go. What a great place for recharging your batteries.
Checkout time on Monday was 11:00 and we headed right out. We were home by 2:30. It was a beautiful day, so I quickly unloaded the HHR, changed clothes and started to work on the truck. I was sure glad I bought the air hammer and cold chisel. Even with power tools, it was a three and a half hour job. including the half a hour when I had to run to the automotive parts place to by a pickle fork (also known as a ball joint separator). The top mounting plate is hot riveted to the A-arm, so the majority of the time was spent getting the rivets out. I chose to air hammer and cold chisel the rivet heads off, partially drill out the rivets and pry it all apart with the air hammer. Time consuming but not too bad with a power tool.
So I got to beat on my truck with a power tool for a couple of hours, and in the end the truck was back on the road.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If I had a Hammer.....

Oh, that's right, I do.
After considering all the alternatives, I went to Lowes after work to price out the cost of an air hammer. Turns out they are really cheap, like $20, so I am now the proud owner of a Kobalt Air hammer and chisels.
Now I just need the time to get out there and chisel the hell out of the upper ball joint retention plate rivets. Nothing like beating on your truck with a hammer to make you feel better.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A new Joint

No, no, not that kind of joint.
Upper ball joint.
That's what broke on the truck.
What was once an assembly now is a disassembly.
So I bought new ball joints for both sides last night. Not too expensive, like seventy five bucks. The big hassle is that the old ones, the top plate is riveted in. You have to drill out the rivets. I am inclined to go get a pneumatic hammer and a cold chisel bit, It should be a lot easier than either drilling them out or hand chiseling the heads off.
I bought both sides. Chances are if one side is worn out completely, the other can't be far behind.
I have to work both days this weekend, then on Monday I have two doctor's appointments, so it isn't going to get done then. The next weekend we are going to the Lake Quinault Lodge for three days, so it won't get done then, so it looks like I will have to schedule it in for the weekend of April 7th. That weekend is also Mrs A's birthday, so I will have to set aside one day for her. I know she has a CAT scan scheduled for the 9th so that takes away Monday. That leaves only the 8th.
Doable as long as nothing goes awry.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Free Wheelin'

But not in a good way.
When the light changed and I went on to Renton Ave. this morning, after I had straightened out, the driver's side front wheel and tire came loose from the car.
The didn't depart the vehicle. They were still hanging around the wheel well, they just weren't ATTACHED to anything.
I called home and asked Mrs A to call a tow truck. So we got it home on a flatbed and into the driveway, I switched vehicles to the Westfalia and I got in to work two hours late.
I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what the heck happened.
The lugnuts are all still on the wheel.
The rotor is still in place on the vehicle, but the wheel is not attached to anything.
Oh well, I guess I'll find out when I get it up on jackstands.
Not a good way to start the day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Mystery Jag

The block drain petcock on my buddy J.B.s 1948 Ford had developed a crack and needed to be replaced. Needless to say, this part was not available through the Auto Parts store, so we called around to see if there was one available in a junkyard.
We ended up at Corde's Towing at 6th and Spokane St. in South Seattle. Removing the part took only a couple of minutes.
I love junkyards, always have to wander around and see what there is. Close by where we were, there was this Jag Mark X. It seemed to be in perfect shape. I checked it out. No damage to the body, no broken glass, the gears shifted nice and crisp, the tires were all like new and holding air. everything inside was pristine. It looked like a brand new car. I would not have been surprised to see it in an upper end car lot.
As we left I had to ask "How much for the JAG?"
"Don't have the title, can't sell it."
"How about if you sell it as parts"
Can't let it leave here in one piece"
How about it you sell me the body and sell my friend here the chassis, and it all just happens to leave at the same time?"
"Can't do that either."
Well, how about if you sell me the body, and I take it off of the chassis and take it home, and my buddy here comes in and buys the chassis and we take them out separately.?"
"No can do."
"How about...."
"Go away kid. At this point I wouldn't sell you a lug nut off the car"
So we left, and went home and fixed the Ford.
The Jag stuck in my mind, though, and every once in a while I would stop by the Wrecking Yard and ask if it was for sale. Eventually I gave up.
About 15 years later I went to work for a place called Northwest Container services, which was a storage and repair yard for ocean going cargo containers. It happened to be located where Corde's Towing used to be. Old Man Corde happened to be our landlord.
He happened to come in one day to talk to the boss, and I asked him "Hey, what was the story on that Jag?"
He scrutinized me and said "I thought I recognized you. You're that kid that kept trying to but it, aren't you?"
"Yeah, that would be me. I was in love with that car."
"So here's the story. At that time we had the towing contract with the city of Seattle. The car showed up abandoned downtown, and we towed it. Figured we would be getting a frantic call from some guy wanting to rescue his baby. Nothing."
"Eventually they ran the numbers on it to trace ownership. Funny thing. It wasn't registered anywhere. The plates were stolen. Ran the vin, and it never showed as entering the US. In fact it never showed as leaving England. We never could find a legal owner for it."
"We were granted salvage rights to the car as payment for storage, but under the stipulation that the car could not be sold as a car, in fact could not be sold in any way that would allow it to be reassembled as a car."
"What ever happened to it?"
"We parted it out over several years, and the hulk went to the crusher."
Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Just trying to plan a fabuloso trip for next year.
Next April will be our tenth Anniversary, so I want to do something extra special.
After some careful consideration, I have proposed at least a week in Bora Bora.
Stay in one of the bungalows that are built out in the bay over the water, with glass floors.
Mrs A has given the go-ahead, so I am looking on the Internet at various accommodations. It will be pricey, but the way I look at it is that some day way too soon we won't be able to go for fiscal or physical reasons, and I want that memory stored away to retreat to when life gets to close and cold.
I can't imagine growing old and saying "Gee, I sure wish I had stayed home more and done nothing worth remembering."
So, the Productivity Bonus I just received, and the Income Tax return go in the kitty, and some of my overtime money. I want to have enough set aside that we don't have to worry about the expense.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Small Miracles

Small miracles happen. I know because I was just in the middle of one.
I haven't talked about it, but Mrs A has been going through a health crisis.
They were doing an upper GI CAT scan back in November when they noticed a nodule in her lung. They called her back for an additional CAT scan, specific to her lung. Sure enough there was a small mass in her lung. Then they injected her with radioactive sugar to see if the mass was processing the sugar at an accelerated rate compared to the surrounding tissue. It was, but the test ( PET scan) was inconclusive, so we made an appointment with the chest cracker to discuss options.
The most conservative approach was to do a needle biopsy, which we had scheduled for Monday.
It took a couple of hours to get her prepped and queued.
The doctor spent about 20 minutes explaining what the possible complications were. Collapsed lung, internal bleeding, infection, coughing up blood, cancerous growth. The list was pretty scary. By the time he was through he had us pretty much terrified.
Finally, into the operating room, get her situated, give her a sedative. take a scan. Take another scan. Mrs A is scared and asks what is going on, why they haven't numbed her.
The doctor leans over and says "Because we are not going to proceed. They mass is gone."
I went into the day thinking that the very best that could happen was that they would find the mass benign, and there would be no complications.
I got everything I had prayed for, plus.
No one can explain what happened to the mass.
Not a major miracle, as such things go.
Just a small everyday miracle sized just right.

After thanking the Lord, we went out and had Pie. The sun was suddenly brighter, the day warmer, and the pie tasted better.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Be careful what you ask for

Because you just might get it.
We had planned to make a trip over to Idaho for Thanksgiving, and in anticipation of the trip, I went out and paid big bucks for a set of Blizzak snow and ice tire. I have red the evaluation sites, and they almost universally gave them an excellent rating. Right up there with studded tires. I don't like studded tires because of the damage they do to the roads, so these seemed to be the best alternative.
Then we had to cancel our trip because I got a staph infection in my toe. So I was secretly wishing it would snow so I could see how they did in the snow.. Sunday it snowed, just enough so I could go out and test how good the car did with the new tires on. It did great.
On Monday the snow melted, which I was grateful for since I had to take Mrs. A to a medical appointment downtown, and downtown Seattle is no fun in the snow.
So Monday night it snowed again. Enough that Mrs A stayed home and I took the HHR with the snow tires to work. I was glad I did because the streets had a lot of compact snow still on the roads. The car did great.
I guess I must have been secretly wondering how the tires would do on ice, because overnight last night it turned to freezing rain. The car and streets and everything were covered in a sheath of ice this morning. Snow and frozen slush underneath covered in ice on top.
I am happy to say that the new tires perform admirably on ice. There was on spot where I turned the corner and could see that the next block was a solid sheet of compact snow covered in ice. It was very pretty to look at, but not so much if you intended to drive on it. For a little while there, the front end of the car and the back end couldn't agree which direction was optimal, but it did well enough that I was never out of control.
There was very little traffic out on the road this morning. Lots of empty parking spaces in the lot at work.
But enough already. I am no longer wishing for snow or ice or an combination thereof.
Yesterday was a combination of snow and sleet that I like to call (Snow+sleet=)snot.. I have had my quota for this winter. I can now start becoming Spring!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year

It is sometimes good just to take a deep breath, step back, set yourself, and start over.
That's where I am right now. After a couple of years of frustration with my job, I decided to make a change.
This is one of the things I love about working here. There are so many opportunities. If you don't like the path you are on or the job you have, there are lots of opportunities to take a different path. I have done a lot of different things in my career here. And when I find myself frustrated or bored, I just go in a different direction.
I probably would have advanced a lot farther if I had stuck with one path, but that just isn't me. When I have learned most of what there is to know about a particular job, I get the urge to move on.
Since I am rated very high on my technical knowledge, I really don't have a problem finding a new job where I provide value to the organization, and at the same time am learning some new aspect of the business. I really doubt that there are many here who have a broader experience base than me.
So now I am learning a bunch of new stuff, looking at things from a slightly different perspective, back on day shift, out in a shop support role and loving it. I suppose right now it's like having a new girlfriend. I'm loving every minute of it, we're both on our best behavior. I know that some day I will discover all of the not so nice parts oh the job, but for now everything is great.
And besides, I am working four tens with Mondays off, and only work every third weekend.