Thursday, December 27, 2007

Surviving Christmas...

is always a neat trick, but so far (knock on my wooden head) this year has been easier than some I remember!

We still ended up wrapping until 2AM, then since we were going to John and Noel's around noon for Christmas with them and the grandkids, we exchanged gifts when we were done wrapping everyone else's. She finally got her "Heroes: Season 1" set, and was delighted as it also has the "pilot" movie they never ran in it...

I on the other hand, was shocked!

I had told her a couple of times that I had thought of buying a Playstation 2 game to take to the family New Year's party next week, or the family Christmas party this Saturday. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money, though...

So imagine my shock when she hands me this big box...that rattles...

We've had some problems this year with things that rattle, whether it was the "Babylon 5" set I gave her for our anniversary, or the "Stargate: Atlantis" set she got for her birthday last month. That one took two returns to get one that didn't have a scratched disc in it!

As I pulled the paper off the box though, and opened it, the wireless guitar for "Guitar Hero" was just fine...as was the game. We spent 'til 4AM playing with it. The first two rounds she actually beat my score using the hand control...I went 0 for 360 in the first full song I tried! Seems that, not having read the instructions, I plugged the wireless reader into the "hand control 2" slot, so when she picked up the hand control, she started beating my first few efforts.

I took it to John's house yesterday; Bill and Laura came as well (having them both manage to get off work was a treat) and Bill, John and I took turns, then each grandchild took one turn. After that we 3 "boys" played for about 3 hours...

I was told to bring it to my sister's on Saturday for the family party. So it seems all the stories are true, it's quite the party game!

Today I finally gave up and backed my old Gateway up then updated it to SP2 and IE7. It took 12 hours of starts and restarts, but all seems well now. When Dottie got off work, she and I had to return 2 pair of Talia's jeans, and when we found the ones we needed, we found enough clothes to finish off her birthday shopping as well (coming up later next month). By the time we finished that and got home it was 10 when she got in the shower and I started dinner; we ate and finally caught up with "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" from a few weeks ago. Good movie, great series!

Tomorrow she works again, I have to wrap the gifts for the party on Saturday (along with tracking down one last one), and then Friday we are hoping the weather cooperates and we can slip off to a movie or two for the first time in a month, starting my birthday a day early as the family Christmas party is on Saturday, the actual day of my 52nd. If we survive that, we're planning to try to keep the grandkids Saturday night and Sunday so John and Noel can have a date night, then on Monday we'll have the November, December and January birthdays celebration at my sister's (there are 5 of us between Thanksgiving and the middle of January), along with New Years Eve.

I'm sorry to be slipping behind with all of your blogs this last week; the whirlwind shows no signs of slowing yet, but it will and I will catch up soon! You are all in my thoughts, and sometimes I swear I can hear a chuckle or two from some of you! In the meantime, I very much hope the week is being kind and that you all have wonderful and very Happy New Years!

alan

Monday, December 24, 2007

There's No Place Like Home...

for the holidays, and we are!

Stopped on I-70 by a 30 car wreck on Saturday, after we lost the hour and a half for the detour that turned thousands of us around, we headed north into Nebraska and then across I-80; we came home the same way. All safe, all sound...

May your Christmases all be as bright as mine seems this moment!

alan

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What fools these mortals be!

I've spent my little bits of free time this week gathering things for the road trip this weekend. Log chain, tow strap, come-a-long, 12V electric impact, space blankets, extra gloves...

The zipper in Dad's snowmobile suit disintigrated last winter, and I'm back in that size range again, so while Christmas shopping last week I found one that fit at Sears for almost half off. I dug out my "long underwear" and a couple pair of heavy socks, along with my old "felt pack" boots I've taped back together several times through the years, and once again taped them up.

Conversation with youngest son, my co-driver this weekend.

"I have a snowmobile suit that will fit you, and a double layer knit hat, but no boots. My last pair was $18 at Wal-Mart."

"I've got my sneakers, Dad. I'm sure my feet will be just fine. They might get a little cold, but I'll be OK."

Spoken by someone who has never seen his feet bluish purple as I have!

So I slipped out to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon; no $18 boots, but a set for $34 that are rated to -40F. I also packed most of the things mentioned in the beginning behind the seat, cleaned all the glass inside and out and Rain-X'd it as it's supposed to be rain/snow all the way to the Colorado line on Saturday. Friday and early on Saturday they are supposed to get 1-2 feet of snow, so hopefully by the time I'm climbing out of Denver heading north at midnight on Saturday they will have cleared everything!

Many years ago now I made the mistake of baking brownies to take in to each of the groups of people I stock for. The last time I did it it was 14 pans. Last year I took vacation, and had not planned to start doing this again.

A few months ago a guy who had been around back then actually transferred to one of the teams I stock for now, saying "Christmas is coming and I am really looking forward to some of those brownies"!

So last night I came home at 4AM and made 3 pans; right now three more are in the oven. When I come home tonight I have one more round, and that's it! I know someone's feelings are going to be hurt, but I just can't give up any more sleep and survive this weekend!

Tomorrow Dottie is off, Saturday I leave for Laramie; I'll hopefully be back early Monday morning. Dottie is working Christmas Eve so if everything works out I'll try to leave a short post on Monday just to say I'm home and everything is OK...

May Friday be kind; may this last shopping weekend find you with all the gifts you need and time to wrap them!

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you; I love you all very much!

alan

Friday, December 14, 2007

31 years ago today...

We had had the license for several weeks, but this was the only day she and her cousin, the Navy Chief Petty Officer who introduced us, were both going to have off before Christmas. (Opposite duty sections and his ship was "in and out" at that time, doing shakedown cruises.)

So we met at a San Diego judge's home in Chula Vista after he got home from work that evening. With a couple of the guys I shared a house with, her cousin, and the judge's mother looking on, we got married. I in jeans and a t-shirt, she in jeans and a blouse.

I'd have never dreamed she'd put up with me for this long!

Though she has to work today, I've taken the last of my vacation days for the year; she was off Tuesday and I started them then. When she comes home tonight the shopping will be done, and there will be shrimp, steak and fried mushrooms ready when she gets out of the shower.

Tomorrow we are taking Noel (my younger son's wife) antiquing for part of her birthday, which was Wednesday. When we get back we'll be fixing her "birthday dinner" of "porcupine meatballs".

Sunday will be back to Christmas shopping and trying to tally the lists and "even things out" if that's ever possible, lol!

Monday- back to my 10 hour days (Cracker Lilo sent me a link to a song I need to go check out when Dottie's not sleeping), then next Saturday (the 22nd) I leave to pick up Jordan's car in Laramie and to try and get home before Christmas, safely! My younger son John is making that run with me as Dottie has to work. I've bought chains and set aside some other things, and am planning to be "vewy vewy caweful"! (With my receding hairline past the point of receding anymore, I'm starting to look a bit like old Elmer Fudd!)

So I'll be in and out, but don't know how much bloghopping I'll get done!

So, in this ramp up to the holidays...

May your days be merry, and bright!

alan

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Christmas Story...

Once upon a time, there was a little boy...

He was born at the beginning of the last century, a poor little boy from a very poor family. His father abandoned them; at some point his Mom gave he and a sister to his grandparents to raise.

The little boy grew and, as little boys do, managed to end up the wrong place at the wrong time, and being the wrong color as well, in the South, early in the last century, was sent to a children's home. There he learned a craft, and mastering it like no one had before him, rapidly gained fame.

His fame took him north, and continued to grow. His amazing talent saw him raise his status in life beyond the wildest dreams he could have hoped for. It also cost him his first 3 marriages...

Constantly traveling, giving much of himself to those who came to see him, he married again in his early 40's. By this time he was known all over the world. They said there wasn't a country you could visit where the mention of him didn't bring a smile!

After the 2nd World War ended, they traveled together, and she decided that though they were constantly on the move, she would surprise him with a Christmas tree. When he came back to their hotel room, he was indeed surprised!

As was she! Because this grown man cried like a child! She watched him sob and sob and finally got him to explain why he was crying so...

He had never, ever, had a Christmas tree before! Not one that was "his"! In his entire life!

He was so enraptured by the tree she had set up for him that he insisted they take it with them, and she later said that for 6 months after, every time they moved, she set that Christmas tree up for him in their new hotel room!

The little boy's name?

Louis Armstrong!

I read that in the liner notes of the Louis Armstrong "Memorial Album" that RCA issued after his death; each year and with every tree I see, I think of it and him.

And I am grateful!



Thank you, Pops!

alan

Monday, December 03, 2007

Letters, I get letters...

I received this from my Senator last Friday. I had signed a petition that went to both of them, but the other one, the one who was running for President doesn't usually bother with my correspondence.

Perhaps I should content myself with the idea that they will allot some money (that will probably never be signed over, like so many other programs) and do some studies. I'm sorry, I'm not!

His letter:


"Dear...,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding federal hate crimes. I appreciate your insight into this complex legal issue.



In April, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 1105, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This legislation imposes criminal penalties for willful bodily harm motived by race, religion, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It also authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to provide assistance to state and local governments for the prosecution of crimes motivated by race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. S. 1105 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaits consideration.



Recently, the Senate passed H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act. During consideration of this bill, Senator Kennedy introduced an amendment similar to S. 1105. I voted against the amendment. However, it was approved by the Senate. I had several concerns with this amendment. We must be cautious in giving preferential treatment to select classes of victims. Every American is entitled to equal justice regardless of personal characteristics.



However, I voted for an amendment offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to authorize $5 million in funding to assist states and local governments in prosecuting hate crimes. The amendment also requires a federal study of the prevalence of hate crimes. At this point the Senate bill will be referred to a conference committee where conferees will resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions of the Defense Authorization Act.



Again thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at http://roberts.senate.gov. You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter that will provide additional updates on my work for Kansas.



With every best wish,



Sincerely,





Pat Roberts"


My reply:


"Sir,

I am in my early 50's and have seen a bit of life. I am a Vietnam Era Navy veteran, and was aboard the USS Kittyhawk on the WestPac cruise after several sailors were murdered on board her during race riots. I grew up with my Dad using words that I shan't repeat here to describe people of other races and of other origins because he had grown up in southern Oklahoma and thought that he could and that no one had a right to tell him not to. This included his son, who had his teeth put through his lip for his trouble.

I remember the race riots here in Kansas City and being terrified that my Dad could be killed because one of the Milgram stores he was a supervisor over was in the affected neighborhood. I also remember pondering the irony of that possibility and the language he used to describe the people of that neighborhood!

I remember his Wallace campaign button from those years...

My point, Sir, is that had it not been for the Civil Rights Acts of the mid 1960's, a whole group of citizens would have continued to be treated as they had been for a hundred years before that. It took Federal law, not state or local, to make their abuse stop!

Two years ago, in Lawrence, Kansas on a KU football weekend two students walking down Mass. Avenue were beaten by some Nebraska fans because they thought they were gay. Because they thought they could do that, because they thought they "had the right". Had it happened in other cities in this state, I'm not sure it would have been pursued with the same vigor it was in Lawrence.

Recently, in Montana, a girl was followed and beaten in the same manner. It took letters to the editor of the local newspaper to get an investigation begun there.

There is no excuse for this in this day and time! Until there is a Federal law on the books that says "if you don't deal with this, we will" it will continue just like the crimes we look at as hideous from earlier days in our history!

This is the time, Sir!

Please re-think your position on this?

The child you save could be my grandchild! Or yours!

Sincerely,"



There were many other things I would love to have thrown in, but feared that were it any longer it wouldn't be read at all. As it is, I haven't heard anything back from his office, and usually I get an acknowledgement of receipt.

The last letter that arrived at my home from my other Senator, the one who usually doesn't bother, was addressed to "Ms." and my first name. Guess we know what the former presidential candidate feels about me!

I had planned to post this tonight, but have some shopping I need to slip out and do early tomorrow, so plan on coming home and getting to bed "early" tonight as I possibly can. I have a 40% off coupon for Borders that expires tomorrow, and there is a "Heroes" box set that has Dottie's name written on it if I can get there before work...

alan

What a ride!

Mercifully, we only did 8 hours on Saturday night. I got home just before 2, instead of 4...

Dottie was still up, having let her hours slip closer to mine; now she's paying the price as she's trying to go to sleep at almost 2:30AM and she has to get up at 8. I always try to talk her out of it; sometimes I win, but usually I don't.

I slept 'til noon today, then after some coffee and muffins and re-writing some lists, we headed out to load Santa's sleigh. First was Lowe's though, as 4 of my sand tubes from last year had rotted so they're now in a barrel on the corner of the patio to sand my driveway and the street in front of the house on the bad nights, and 4 new ones replaced them along with the 3 I saved from last year in the bed of my truck, as they're talking about a major rain/snow/ice storm on Thursday night into Friday.

Then it was an electronic store for the first major round. We got all but one game on our list there, filled my truck on the way home and traded it for her car, then set out again. Picked up the other game we needed, hit a bookstore I had some coupons for, then off to clothes shop for the grandkids. In a bit over 5 hours we took care of almost everything.

Now Dottie will spend the next few evenings logging it all, adding it all up to try and make sure things are even between all the kids and grandkids, then there will be some juggling things as there are some birthdays coming early in the year if she's over, or picking up a few odds and ends to even things out. Hopefully (finger and toes crossed) there are only a few more forays into the holiday throng before it's all done!

Which is good because I'm scheduled for 6 days again this next week, and she has Friday off and then works the weekend.

I got a letter back from one of my state Senators about his views on the "Matthew Shepard Act" (Senate Bill S-1105). He didn't please me at all with it, and I had planned to post it tonight along with my reply, but that was when I thought my wife would be asleep 3 hours ago...I am going to write my reply tonight and will try and get it posted in the next few days.

Forgive my scarcity of late, life's been a bit of a whirl!

May the week be kind to each of you!

alan

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bumpy...

these first few days back...trying to let my hours slip and keep all the other balls in the air, so to speak!

I figured out the other night that I have about 3 hours a day to have a life on these hours:

I try to get out the door to leave for work about 4:30 in the afternoon; if I'm lucky I'm back in front of the dresser at 4AM. There went 11.5 hours.

If (conservatively) I allot an hour a day to cooking, eating, packing my cooler and taking a shower, and a half hour to the other things that have to be done around the house each day I'm up to 13.

I try to get 8 hours sleep each night. Some nights that's harder than others (last night I woke up about once an hour for some reason...aches, pains...trips to the little boy's room...). If I don't, then I start screwing things up (like Monday night when I set a rack of "wrong" stock on the line). Now we're up to 21...

So that leaves 3...

I had planned to write something last night but I was cross-eyed. I'm not much better tonight, but I needed bibs for work tomorrow so they are in the wash right now. In a minute I'm going to slip off and watch one episode of "Ghost in the Shell"; that will be the first thing I've watched since Sunday.

All this fun and I get to do it for 6 days this week as well...hmmmmmm!

Lou Costello used to say "I must have been a baaaaaaaaaaaaad boy"!

Sometimes it feels that way!

Hopefully tomorrow night I will slip around and check in with some of you...right now I just want to lie down 'til the washing machine stops!

Thinking of you each...may the rest of your weeks be kind!

alan

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Vacation winding down...

and as it does, I wonder how I find time to go to work!

Thanksgiving went well. I managed to distract Dottie while she was making pies Wednesday evening and she forgot to turn down the oven on one of the apples; that one ended up broken up into a corningware dish in our fridge so she could re-use the ceramic pie pan to make another...she thought for once that she would be done in time to get a "good night's sleep" and instead she ended up going to bed around 2. I was forgiven, though!

Yesterday we (Dottie, younger son, his wife, the 3 grandkids, his brother-in-law who lives with them now along with my sister and her family) all went to see "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium". I had read a piece in the USA Today about it 6 months or so ago, and knew I would be going to see it if no one else wanted to. 26 thumbs up...I will own that one when it comes out!

Last night I thawed our turkey and will be putting it in the oven shortly. A small one just for us, as Bill and Laura are both working this weekend so we won't be getting to have our own family after-dinner like we've done the past few years. By the time Dottie comes home all will be done except for making the gravy. My grandmother taught her, and it's one of the few things I just can't quite get right. Someday!

Meanwhile, I'm running laundry and watching the thermometer because if it breaks 40 there are some things outside I'd like to try and get done. Yesterday the caulk I had worked on Tuesday hadn't set up yet...have some wood it would be nice to get in prime tomorrow, as it's supposed to make it to 50 again. We'll see!

Monday I go back to work after my 10 days off; the feeling of dread has already tried to settle in. Back to the "rat race"...hopefully with others doing my job they've decided it really is too much for one person and taken something off!

(Not holding my breath on that! By way of explanation, they used to expect us to deliver 8 things per hours; as they put the radio monitors on our forklifts that has gone up but there are still only so many things you can do in one hour. Most anything takes at least 3 minutes by the time you deal with the empty container, the full container, and opening one or closing the other. Some take 4 or 5; some you have to take 2 containers and that puts you up to around 8 minutes. The last night I worked I delivered 12 in the first half hour. All things that would shut the line down if I didn't deliver them, the ones that weren't I skipped over. Partly because dayshift doesn't like to order, partly because too many of my parts come in 20 to 36 part containers. My team leader came and picked up 3 more off my screen, and I delivered 8 more after that...)

So, for the next few weeks, I'm back on ten hour days; the first two weeks of December are 6 day weeks as well; they want every Malibu we can build before the Christmas shut-down week. Dealers are still begging to get more than one or two; a good sign with it being the holidays because normally car sales "die" right now and stay "dead" until people start getting their tax checks. A good time of the year for it, with all the kids and grandkids to shop for, but backbreaking none the less.

Now my sights turn towards that Christmas shut-down week. I work on Friday night; Saturday morning I have to get up and head for Wyoming again to pick up the Galaxie that we trailered up there several months ago. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we'll be back late Sunday in time to rest up for the holiday! Dottie can't go this time, so my younger son is supposed to ride shotgun...I don't really want to try it by myself that time of year!

It's Dottie's lunchtime now, and time for me to go find my cellphone! I need to move laundry as well...then after she calls I'll start preparing dinner.

May the rest of the weekend be kind to you all!

alan

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

If this doesn't...

make your foot tap and bring you a smile, you're dead!

Happy Thanksgiving to those who will be partaking tomorrow; may the week be kind to the rest of you!

Enjoy!



Anita O'Day and Roy Eldridge (one of the most underated men to ever pick up a horn) with Gene Krupa's band...


alan

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Guilty pleasures...

Before I get to those...

I had a few questions asked about my using Melatonin to go to sleep when I come home.

If you can imagine getting off work from a physical job and trying to go to sleep an hour after you get home, that's what going to bed at 5AM is like for me. It's the equivalent of going to bed at 6 or 6:30 for someone on a "normal" schedule.

Melatonin seems to work well for me and isn't "habit forming" like the other things I keep reading about. I don't take it, though, if I have less than 6 or 7 hours ahead of me to sleep and if I get less than 8 I wake up a bit "slow"; if I can get 8 or 9 hours, I'm just fine. I always try to get 8 when I'm working for fear of running someone over with a 16,000 pound forklift when they walk out in front of me oblivious to their surroundings.

I first read about melatonin in an "Alaska" magazine as one of the recommendations for dealing with the sun/lack of sun issues at certain times of the year. For me, it comes in especially handy when I try and flip my hours as I did last night, going to bed at midnight instead of 5AM and getting up at 8. Dottie refuses to take anything she doesn't "have" to, and if she lets her hours slip to mine she can't go to sleep the night before she has to go back to work. Plus right now, I need the daylight hours to try and finish my outside projects as the weather is due in Tuesday evening...freezing rain, etc..

It was also mentioned in some other things I've read. There's a lot of information on the net as well, if you are interested in it.

On to the promised "Guilty Pleasures"!

I mentioned something the other day in a comment about watching "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader". Whether it's realizing how much I've forgotten, being shocked at how much earlier things are learned now than they were "in my day" or pleasantly surprising myself with some of the questions I get right, each week that's one hour the two of us enjoy. Of course, many of the answers I get right, I didn't learn in school...

Of the new shows on TV, "Big Bang Theory" has been a treat as well! Well written, funny, and well cast! I will miss it when they run out of episodes due to the writer's strike. "Samantha Who" has been pretty good as well. There are some others we've recorded that we have yet to find time together to watch, so I know what we'll be doing when the new episodes of other things run out!

The "Big Band" channel on my Music Choice on our cable has been on way too much lately, and caused countless searches of the "Solid" database and Amazon and caused my Amazon list to grow by a few pages...

For a treat when the weather finally closes in I picked up the 2nd series of "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex". I got hooked on the first series several years ago, have seen all the movies, and bought the mangas as well. Something about the human/cyber connection intrigues me.

Last but not least, with all the time I've been spending outside these last few weeks, watching our 11-going-on-12 year old dog act more like a pup since her arthritis pain is being eased by the MSM/Glucosamine/Chondroitin combination our vet found has been a treat. Though she can't outrun Bill anymore, she can run my legs off if she wants to, and refuses to stay in the house if I'm outside doing anything. It's quite a change from a few months ago when she couldn't hardly use one leg, and had great difficulty getting up off the floor if she laid there too long! (Boy do I know that feeling!)

Speaking of outside, time to go check some wood putty and get back to work...

May the weekend be lovely and kind to you all!

alan

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Day in the Life...

like that old song title!

3:30AM- Off work!

3:48- Home; pull her car out, my truck in, her car back in.

3:56- Quietly slip through our bedroom to go to basement and swap the stuff in my pockets for the clean bibs I'll wear today and put two pair in the wash so I have enough to get through the rest of the week.

4:05- Back through the bedroom, try to convince dog to stay there and lay on the nice soft carpet instead of following me in hopes of getting a Milk Bone.

4:08- Take a melatonin to try and make sure I can go to sleep ASAP.

4:10- Turn on converter box to try to figure out what's on tonight so I can set up VCR's.

4:20- Wiggle mouse to turn off SETI and start browser then go start dishwasher and close door so it doesn't wake Dottie.

(at various times through this I'm also trying to convince cat to quit "erwauling" so he doesn't wake Dottie up. If the door to our bedroom is closed he yowls; last night if it was open he did as well...)

4:25- Sit down here with 2 slices of raisin bread to go through e-mail, news and a few blogs...

4:45- Print "For Better or for Worse" for Dottie to read this morning.

5:05- Turn SETI back on, put bibs in dryer, brush teeth, go to bed.

Noon- Clock goes off so I can turn on cell for when Dottie calls at lunch. Reset clock for 1PM.

12:10- House phone rings; it's Dottie- I slept through the cell ringing.

1:00- Clock goes off, pop caffeine tab and reset it for 1:30.

1:30- Clock goes off, turn on kettle and reset for 1:42.

1:42- Make latte; discover furnace pilot has blown out, relight, wiggle mouse and settle in here for a bit

2:15- Done with post, time to go out and work on garage 'til between 3:30 and 4, then get ready for work.

Tomorrow is my last work day this week. Several contracts ago we got Veteran's Day off, but they let GM decide which day we actually get to be off...this year it's the 16th. I have 3 vacation days next week as Dottie's birthday is Tuesday; I'll be off even though she has to work as she gave up her Monday and Tuesday to go with me when we went to Wyoming to take Jordan's car up on the flatbed. She is off on Wednesday so she can make the pies for Thanksgiving dinner.

Looking forward to 10 days off work! I'll be in and out, but can't promise anything regular...please be well and may life be kind!

alan

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another 6...

Tagged by "jlb" at "...here it begins..." last Friday I had promised to get this up during the week, but with the weather being so warm and me trying to get things done, plus being back on the 10 hour days, I didn't get it done. Since she is gone to a writer's conference this weekend (hooray) this is going to be up 'til probably Wednesday, as Dottie is off on Tuesday.

I got home at 4 this morning and tried to bloghop through my roll and visit you all, but at around 5 my eyes crossed and I couldn't go any further...I'm very sorry, and will be around as I get a chance. As I write this I've been up not quite an hour, it's 60 outside, and I have 5 hours of daylight left to get something done; please forgive me?

This list is called:

Six Random Facts/Habits About Myself That I Haven’t Already Posted

I've been mulling through things now, and don't know if I have six...we'll see! I'm putting some out this time I would never have dared to before. None my sons don't know about, but their wives and my sister don't...hopefully this slips under the radar...

1) I have a great fear of posting pictures of myself like I did below. In a world with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Clive Owen, I fear making people retch! (For all of you that said kind words below, thank you!)

2) In reading a few other lists that people posted it seems many of their misadventures were alcohol fueled. While I have had a few of those, most of them ended with my body functioning and my mind not, therefore it was never my favorite painkiller. "Better living through chemistry" did have a high place on that list however, "back in the day". "Microdot", "windowpane" and "blotter" were all consumed through the years and led to some very strange adventures. Attending "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein in 3D" was one. Riding my motorcycle there and back should probably count for two...bowling the highest score of my life when the other end of the alley was a twisted, writhing mosaic of color...

3) The very last time I ever did the above Dottie and I hadn't been together too long. I went to a party with some biker friends and decided it was time for me to leave. Wisely, on foot. However on the way home, as I walked down the sidewalk minding my own business I watched a fire hydrant jump out and attack my leg!

4) Now, at my advanced age, everytime I can't remember something I wonder "if I had back a few of those brain cells" would this be happening. In my heart I know it probably would, but there is always that nagging doubt!

5) When I decided to sign my organ donor card the above worried me so badly I asked 2 MD's if there was a possibility of my organs or skin or something causing some poor innocent who received them a "flashback". Both were amused by the question and said that no, as long as I wasn't having any problems, the recipients wouldn't either.

6) After I had given up the above, my last foray into psychedelics involved mushrooms and varnish. At the rental house I walked home to above, the living room floor was wood and had had motorcycles torn apart on it by the previous tenant. The landlord had agreed that whatever we spent to refinish it we could deduct from the rent, so we stripped it. The afternoon I started to varnish it I had bought some very good polyurethane spar varnish, but only had enough money left for some cheap paint brushes. As I opened the can, a friend stopped by...not long after I was very very stoned, tripping on mushrooms, high on paint fumes, and trying to pick the brush bristles out of the varnish as the brush was shedding one about every 4 inches...

A "freebie":

When he was in college my oldest blew his ACL in a martial arts class. When he had it repaired he "came to" in the hospital the physics major honor student was absolutely convinced that the anesthesia had ruined his mind because he couldn't do some of the complex math things he normally could in his head. This is about 15 minutes after he "woke up". I kept trying to convince him he was fine, that it was just the anesthetic and that when the rest of it wore off he would be OK. He was absolutely paranoid, so I started telling some of the above stories.

The guy in the next bed was a bit older than Bill, but not my age. I thought he was unconcious; he had had disc surgery and was "out" except for hitting the button on his pain pump everytime he stirred.

When checkout time for Bill came (23 hours after he went in) I went to go get the car, and while he waited the guy told him to thank me for the stories, he really enjoyed them!

May the weekend be kind!

alan

P.S. Hopefully none of you are offended by the above stories; it was a different time and a different world...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cover up your mirrors...

and maybe your eyes as well!

My idea for an alternative title was "My Halloween Mask"



I needed a current photo for something "Zilla" cooked up and figured if I could send it to her, I could put it here as well!

I used to buy Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer stamps, but when postage went up a couple of years ago they quit making the Prostate Cancer ones. I'll put them on anything I mail; my wife doesn't think they are appropriate for some things...

I don't think cancer is appropriate for anyone!

It's been a few years since I heard numbers, but they used to say that one in 9 women would get breast cancer, 1 in 10 men would get prostate cancer; but that 1 in 15 men will get breast cancer as well!

I think for what we've spent in Iraq we could probably cure cancer; have health care for most if not all of us; have a real education system that paid teachers what they are worth; pay for college for anyone that qualifies and most likely have some money left over!

Instead, we've been propping up the next dictator we'll have to lock up and execute because he didn't do what we wanted...

Speaking of government policy...

Remember when W. said that global warming was just junk science?



We had more and later rain than usual this year, but that doesn't explain that on the 4th of November my tree that is usually bare by the 2nd week of October is still in full leaf and just starting to turn, or the lush green lawn that is in desperate need of mowing! Normally my mower gets used to mulch leaves one last time just before or after Halloween and that's it 'til around March.

Not this year!

Junk science my ass!

Forgive my language...please?

alan

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Terrifying...

is how grown up a little girl can look at 6...



Her little brother wore a handmade costume...



and the oldest grandson was dressed from the surplus store!



Sorry I haven't been around much these last few days...I've been scraping, caulking and painting just as fast as I can go!

(Seems like this was all much easier 20 years ago!)

alan

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Halloween Treat!

Last night as I "chased the whirlwind" at work, trying to get and then stay caught up, my teamleader came and told me to report to our department superintendent's office. Since he was smiling, I didn't worry like I do at times...

When I got there Sue told me she had gotten to draw someone from our department to drive a new Malibu home, and I was the first name she drew!

I was a bit shocked; I haven't driven a test car since 1984, and usually decline offer when they do because I really don't want to be responible for something with that big a price tag!

But I accepted, and brought home a 2008 Malibu LS with the same engine as Dottie's 2006. Nothing else is the same except for the feeling of driving an awesome car that I am very proud to be a part of building!



Dottie got up in the middle of her night's sleep when I came home and we took it out on the roads we are most familiar with; the ones we drive every week on our shopping rounds. The ones where we know every tar strip, piece of ribbed concrete, etc..



The engine is the same 4 cylinder that's in Dottie's '06; the same one that averages 28 around town and we've gotten over 37 mpg on the highway from. It has enough power to startle you when you really "hit it"; I can't imagine what the V-6 must be like!

The redesign of the interior has added some subdued lighting that is very nice, extra cupholders (2 for the driver and 2 for the passenger) and cubbyholes that I'd have never thought of, plus a two layer console so you can put things 2 different places to keep them easier to find! We were also impressed with being able to place our sodas or whatever in the ones in the console and then cover them!
















The cornering is even better than Dottie's '06, and when a fox decided to come out of the median at 3AM running towards the left front fender the 4 wheel discs did a nice job of shutting it down as I swung the nose to the right to avoid him. I hadn't planned on practicing avoidance maneuvers, but she handled it well!

We both enjoyed playing with the XM Satellite radio; I've never decided that I could deal with another subscription fee, but can understand how it would be easy to fall in love with! The car has anti-lock brakes, traction control, and On-Star as well. Apparently all standard in that model!

In Dottie's '06 there is a display in the dash that gives you your current fuel range, current mileage, average mileage, and how long you have until you need an oil change.

In this one that is controlled by a button in the steering wheel inlaid along with the cruise control buttons, and comes up under the speedometer so you don't have to look away from the road. Besides all of the above, it also gives you the current pressure in all 4 tires individually, fronts left and right and rears left and right!

When we got back we took turns sitting in the rear seat and moving the front seat around. I have ridden a lot in the back seat of ours as we take Mom places; always comfortable and enough room for a not so svelte old man, the new one has even more leg room!



The rear of the console has a cubbyhole and a 12V outlet added to it along with the cupholders that were in Dottie's '06. As much time as my grandkids spend with Gameboys and Leapsters, that's a bonus!



The back of the seats has a net to keep things gathered up as well!




The back of the rear seats folds down individually from the inside, unlike Dottie's where the latch is in the trunk and you have to fold down one before the other. A nice change!







Quite a Halloween treat for me! The only thing I noticed throughout the test drive is that the Uniroyal tires had a bit more road noise than the Bridgestones on Dottie's '06. Since we put 4 or 5 different kinds on them, I might opt for one of the others were I ordering one.

A dream to drive! To see how far the American auto industry has come in the 29 years I've been working in it is quite amazing! The changes inside the plants are staggering; the technologies I never dreamt of, etc.. Having the end result in my driveway every day for my wife to drive and get to know it throughly; knowing that the people I stock for every night are the ones that put the parts on it and their hearts and futures in it makes it a very personal thing.

Driving the successor, and probably the last "platform" I will be involved with building before I retire was a joy and gives me great hope for the future of both my plant and Chevrolet!

Not something I would have dared to say 20 years ago!

Happy Halloween!

alan

Saturday, October 27, 2007

7 things...

about me. Hmmmmmmm...guess some of you may have to forgive me if I reuse some from earliers memes...I hope you do anyway! "Clandestine" tagged me earlier in the week, so here goes!

First she said I have to post the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random and some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of post and list their names.
4. Let them know they were tagged by a comment on their blog.


1) I have no toenail on the big toe of either foot. Both were damaged at different times by my uncoordinated self dropping things on them. At various times and various stages of only being half attached, they got infected and had to be removed, permanently.

2) Speaking of being uncoordinated, if there's a way to whack my head I'll find it. There is a 4 inch cast iron sewer line in my basement that has been there my whole life. When Dad dug the basement in 1959-60 it wasn't a problem; now it's forehead high. Either I duck under it and grab something and raise up into it, or go to back up with something, but at least once a week I catch it a bit; at least once a month it's enough that George Carlin's 7 words have nothing on me!

I've also walked into the bottom of cars on the assembly line at work through the years; I've whacked my head on hoods and deck lids (bonnets and boots to those who use them).

So far (knock on my wooden head) no stitches!

3) Speaking of which, at 51 and soon hopefully 52, I've never had a broken bone or stitch. I did have to have some butterfly tapes on my head once from the bottom of a car at work, though...I was spraying underbody, the line stopped but I didn't...

4) I was reading music by the time I was in kindergarten, and playing accordion. When I was in the 4th grade I found a fingering chart and picked up my Dad's trumpet and started playing it; to get me to leave his 1927 Conn alone, he bought me my own. I was in every school band there was from then all the way through high school. Between them and practicing, playing 5 or 6 hours a day was normal.

5) Which leads to my taste in music; while I will will listen to most anything, if I'm putting something on for myself, most likely it will be jazz of some vintage. When other kids were buying "The Beatles" or "The Stones" or "The Dead" I was buying Louis Armstrong, Bunny Berigan, Bix Beiderbecke and Chet Baker albums to wear out as I practiced..."Music Choice" around here is usually on the "big band" channel!

6) If the hair in my ears needed trimmed no more often than the top of my head, I'd be a happy man!

7) Which leads me to my finale; the very first place I put sunscreen, before anywhere else, is the top of my bald bald head! If you've never had a sunburnt scalp, you've never had the ultimate most painful sunburn! And a mesh ball cap is not going to prevent it! Waterproof, tear-free formula SPF-50, please! I'm so grateful for it because all the others run into my eyes and sting almost as badly as the burn I'm trying to save myself from!

So now that you've all figured out how strange I really am, and that you now know yo have nothing to worry about, should any of you feel the urge to do this, I'll enjoy reading your 7! Knowing how busy you all are, I won't tag anyone directly, but please, should you decide to share, please let me know?

May you each have a lovely weekend!

Mine will be spent with a paint brush in hand...though for a treat on Sunday I have some sirloins in the fridge and 2.5 pounds of sliced mushrooms!

alan

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A bit of Sunday...

If you ever wanted to see a happy kid...and at the time we were waiting for a few more people to buy their tickets! The gentleman with the pony tail was telling me about being a new volunteer and what a wonderful time he was having working at the museum.



Dottie and I took turns riding and taking pictures...




Then I put the wide angle on the Nikon and tried shooting some movies with it. Sadly, I've spent an hour now trying to upload them and it seems YouTube doesn't like them...I was hoping that though the quality of the movie isn't great, that you would enjoy hearing the original Wurlitzer "Band Organ" that was restored and donated by a Leavenworth native you might have heard of: Melissa Etheridge! I will try and figure out why that won't post over the weekend...

I bought 24 tickets that afternoon; we were given 4 more with the tour. We came home with 2 left over for next time.

:o)

Time to put my laundry in the dryer and get myself to bed; tomorrow I need to get some primer on the garage before I go to work...

Dottie is off on Friday, so I'll be around on Saturday and Sunday...

alan

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Double teamed!



My nephew Jordan. Owner of the Galaxy you met not so many posts ago. 16, played JV last year and was starting varsity before the year was out; a sophomore this year he's starting both again. Playing offense and defense!

A week ago Friday he had a fumble recovery in his varsity game; this last Friday he had a sack. The photo is from the JV game on Saturday; they shut out their cross town rival. He was double teamed most of the game. It was the first of his football games I've made it to; I'm hoping to make it to more of them next year!

I told my sister that between his grades (straight A's) and his athletic talents (he also wrestles and throws javelin) that perhaps she won't have to pay for his college.

We ended up with both grandsons Friday and Saturday nights. They went to the game and my brother-in-law's birthday party with us (Jordan's Dad, Mitch). Sunday we took them to the carousel museum; I didn't get all the photos uploaded yet as it was storming last night and when I got up today I went through the photos of Jordan's game to see what I had, then it was time for work. I'll try and post something Wednesday or so...

Tonight though every forecast I heard said that the low would be 40 Dottie heard someone say that it might frost (it's 4AM and it's 40 outside right now) so she brought her plants in for the winter. When I got home I had to dig up the timer and the plant lights...it's late now and I'm going to set up VCR's for tomorrow night and find my way to bed!

I was tagged by Clandestine so I'll try and answer by the weekend...too many hours, too many projects and too little time! Hoping to visit you all in the next day or so...

May the week be kind!

alan

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday off!

I took another vacation day today; Dottie was off after working her weekend and Monday. I got to bed at 4:30 this morning, a bit over 2 hours after I got home from work; I was up at 10:30 (with a lot of help from some caffeine).

At 11:30 we were seated in the theater for "Michael Clayton". I had read some very good things about it and seen a few previews. I try not to read too much as I don't like spoilers; Dottie had only heard me say I wanted to see it.

Stunningly good movie. Perhaps good enough to make it into my top 10, which is doing something since my own list starts in 1916...we'll see after I watch it again. "Box office and business" on the IMDB aren't updated, but I hope this breaks even for everyone involved!

We slipped out to Applebees for lunch, then back to the theater for "Resident Evil: Extincion". Dottie was so "into" seeing this that we rewatched the first two on Sunday night. I remember "1" almost frame for frame, but had forgotten more than I'd like to admit of "2". The movie was very good; they close the storyline enough that if there isn't a 4th you're content, but there is room for a 4th if the box office carries it. A nice addition to the series.

A turn signal bulb on her Malibu had burnt out on Sunday, so we stopped on the way home from the movie and I picked up a pair of bulbs, then hit the driveway to change her oil and filter, fix the bulb, and change wiper blades, along with resetting tire pressures now it's starting to cool down. I'll hit them about every two weeks until we settle into the 30's come December, as there can be 6-8 pounds difference if you drop 30 degrees air temp...(trying to get you each to do the same, forgive me!)

My niece graduated from the fashion program at Lasell College this last spring; her Mom and Dad sent us a DVD of their spring fashion show in which Melissa had designed, sewn and fitted a clothing line; each student then had to put together the music and show for their own line. It was really quite something to watch!

Now it's almost 4, Dottie went to bed almost 2 hours ago (very late for someone who has to be up at 8) and I'm headed off to bed shortly. This weekend is my brother-in-law's birthday party; delayed from the weekend we took my nephew back to school in Wyoming. Saturday night after Mitch's party we're hoping to keep Dillon overnight and revisit the Carousel Museum with him on Sunday.

I could use another afternoon of childhood right now!

Thank you all for the kind words below. I hope you forgive my asking your words of support for another blogger. I used to fear fighting that same monster when my sons were small, having lost my Dad and so many of my family members to it. I still fear that I may have passed something on to them that has yet to be discovered. I have had a hard time dealing with some of that this past few days, especially since last week was the 24th anniversary of Dad's losing his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Someone was once putting together a book I read about in "Films in Review" (a now defunct cineophile's magazine) that asked Hollywood stars what one word they thought the most powerful in the English language. They only printed a few, of course, to save the rest for sales; they printed Hedy Lamarr's, though.

Her word was "Empathy".

I have found much of that among you. I am so very grateful to you for sharing it, both with myself and others!

I wish, somehow, it could expand exponentially and slay the other monsters of this world!

alan

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Please?

None of the drivel I might have posted here today seems important at the moment...

If you have time, please visit Miverva at "A Woman Of Many Parts". A single mother of 3, she is facing her 3rd battle with breast cancer. In two years...

alan

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Something I'm looking forward to...



since I saw the first preview is "The Golden Compass". Though it's still several months away, when I ran across this at someone's LiveJournal, I couldn't resist.

Makes me wish I had time to read the books first...alas, time is at a premium these days!

I finally got half the lawn trimmed and mowed yesterday, and as soon as I finish this latte am off to do the back half before work. Between the trip to Wyoming and volunteering to work last Saturday, then spending Sunday becoming a child again (see below) it had somehow gotten quite ragged!

:o)

alan

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wild Horses...

Talia spent Friday and Saturday night with us. I worked some overtime on Saturday, but it was non-production, so we started at noon and I left at 8:30 though they were offering more; I wanted to get home in time to watch a movie with her before she wen to bed. She let me pick, and I chose "Buddy" with Rene Russo and Robbie Coltrane. She loved it, and perhaps learned a bit.

Earlier in the week I had read of a museum in Leavenworth, KS I thought she might enjoy, and since Dillon and Caleb had both gotten to do some special things of late, I asked for Talia to share it with her first.

I had never realized that carousels had been manufactured locally, so when I read of the C. W. Parker Carousel Museum having opened in 2005 with not only a restored ridable Parker carousel, but also the oldest operable carousel in the world, I was intrigued! Since it is open from 1-5 on Sundays, the half hour drive seemed worth it. I never dreamed we were in for such a treat!

That oldest operable carousel was made between 1850 and 1860, and though operable they don't let anyone ride it at this point, for good reason!



This is just one pair of the beautiful restored horses I photographed...




They said that Parker was the only one to ever include these in his "menagerie"!



Before Grandpa actually put down the camera and rode one of those jackrabbits, he tried to catch a girl awhirl...



Before the afternoon was over, we had the makings of a real cowgirl!



Besides the little souvenirs that Talia wanted, and a t-shirt for her, Grandpa came home with a miniature carousel horse of his own...Grandma thinks he's a bit crazy...

It was a great afternoon! There is a beautiful riverfront park across the street, and Talia got to play there awhile along with waving to the engineers of several trains as they rolled through.

I told Dottie as we left that I would be happy having my birthday party there...of course, the last week of December it may be hard to get everyone there. We'll see!

alan

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Photos and more!

Since room was at a premium (our suitcase and coats were behind the seats of my single cab, along with tools, etc.) I only took the little Fuji digicam I bought last spring.

I shot a video of Brett loading the Galaxy up on the trailer. Brett had been home for a week and worked on the carburetor along with the exhaust, lol.



Left to right; Brett, his younger brother Jordan (proud owner of the Galaxy), my brother-in-law Mitch, and my "little" sister Cindy



A longer shot...



Dottie shot a lot of photos out the window as we left, trying to catch some of the scenery, the mountains, etc.. We saw a lot of antelope, but she wasn't quick enough or really close enough to get a good photo of them. The deer, on the other hand, were everywhere!



Dottie was very impressed with the snow fences we saw miles of; being a Vermont girl with the Green Mountains to do the job they don't need these!



I'll post some other things from the trip later.

I was told late tonight at work that my local approved the contract 61% to 39%.

One of my big fears, and one of many rumors was that we would lose our 30 and out retirement and end up with 401k plans instead. That is what new hires will get from this point forward; for them that's probably a good idea. For me, I don't think they could put enough money into one to cover what I will draw, or even what Dottie will draw if I were to die (they cut it in half...that irks me, too!). So that was why I said I will get out before the next contract, just in case they do decide to go that way next time!

Anyway, it's 5:30 and I'm going to call it a night!

alan

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Contracts and such...

I finally got a copy of "the highlights" of our new agreement Monday night at work. It looks better than I thought it would; better than the rumors that were going around had it. I feel sorry for those hiring in after this, as they aren't going to be making nearly as much; I also think that GM will have trouble keeping new hires with what they would like to offer as there are other places that will pay as well that won't destroy you physically like building cars can.

The VEBA fund for retiree health didn't worry me as much as it does many; since our health care money isn't "guaranteed" like pension money (not that those "guarantees" mean much anymore), GM would have tried to wriggle out of it somewhere down the road and we would have nothing; we may still end up with nothing, but if it's properly managed there is a chance it will succeed.

I was already in "traditional" Blue Cross anyway, since they closed out my "paid provider" program; since Dottie had all her surgeries we like being able to have her return to the doctors that did them for her check ups. Those that have been in the HMO programs aren't happy about the prospect of office visits; this is somewhere I will actually gain because instead of paying 100% on all of them, we each get 5 a year at $25.

The monthly retirement amounts were actually improved a few dollars. There are other odds and ends that either held or improved slightly; I held out no hope for them "holding the line" on anything.

The one loss is that "sanitation" will now be contracted; the guys that are there now, most of them over 30 years, will have the choice of taking retirement or finding a job in a different department by 2009.

In return for the things that they gave up, the plants that are building vehicles now are guaranteed product through the life of the contract. My plant is guaranteed vehicles through 2012. No one expected that!

I will get out under this contract, as I will have "my time" in about 16 months, and while I might not go out the door right then, I will get out before this one expires "just in case". I will take my pension and my medical and, though I won't be able to sit back on "take things easy" like I dreamed of in my youth (due entirely to my own mistakes through the years) I will go somewhere else and have the option if I don't like it of walking out the door...
_____________________________________________

Meanwhile, while I have been selfishly sweating this out and worrying about my own little world and my troubles, our peerless leader has told Congress he needs another 195 billion dollars to fund Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile he threatens to veto the $35 billion to fund health care for children...

Sometimes I wonder if that silver spoon he grew up with was lead!

_____________________________________________

I had a vacation day today; originally it was supposed to be a day off to go fishing, but since it was raining this morning, we slept in trying to make up for what we lost this last week and recover a bit. After we did get up and eat, the rain quit so we went and picked up the car hauler trailer we used for the trip from my sister's and returned it to my nephew's former shop teacher who lent it to us. We shopped on the way home and filled my truck for the first time since Nebraska late Sunday evening, then came home and paid bills, ran laundry, and watched some TV... I'm going to try to get to bed earlier than normal tonight (the line would not be stopped yet were I at work) so I can get up and go vote and miss the crowds tomorrow.

I'm going to upload the photos from our trip in a few minutes, and hopefully find something worth sharing (room was at a premium, so I only took the little camera). If so, I'll try to get them up in the next few days, and make the rounds to catch up with you all. I hope life has been treating you all well, and that you forgive me for being a bit "caught up in the whirl" this last week!

alan

Monday, October 01, 2007

1500 miles, 26 hours...

with 12 hours in Laramie. Left at 2pm on Saturday, in at 4 something this morning. Dottie dozed a bit the last few hours coming home, slept 3 hours and went to work. I slept 9 and have to go get ready for work.

Drug 5 tons of metal up grades to 7700 feet with just under 2 tons of pickup; it survived but I wouldn't want to do it with a V-6 every day!

More later- thank you all for the thoughts and well wishes!

alan

Friday, September 28, 2007

Westbound and down!

This is the weekend my truck goes on it's first real road trip. Pulling a 3,000 pound metal flatbed with a '67 Galaxy on it from Lawrence, KS. to Laramie, WY.. I've had "her" a year, and she barely turned over 8,000 miles this last week...

No real news at work; they are taking the "higher ups" in all the locals to Memphis this weekend to explain the contract to them, so they can come back and explain it to us this next week so we can vote sometime late in the week or on the weekend. I was told we won't see anything on paper 'til around Wednesday. Rumors abound...

So I'm going to figure that worrying won't change any of it, and that no matter what they throw at us I will be all right, somehow. My depression of a few days ago (that feeling of being relegated to the scrap heap) has given way to a resolution to survive.

Thank you all for the kind words and kind thoughts; they meant very much during some dark hours!

May your weekends be fantastic!

alan

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here we go...

At 3AM they say they have an agreement. The preliminary things I'm seeing look like GM got most everything they wanted...I'm almost afraid to speculate on exactly what at this point, hoping parts of what I'm reading are guesses instead of fact!

But as it stands, I'll be back to work this evening, for which I'm grateful! From there, we'll see what the "highlights" of the agreement are, which are what they give us to vote on.

Thank you all for the kind words and well wishes through this; they have meant more than you could ever know! My heart has been in my throat for most of these last few days, and the emotional swings have been extreme. You all have been very kind, and I appreciate it so very very much!

alan

Monday, September 24, 2007

When I grow to old to dream...

I might finally be there...

I just finished reading about the 11AM strike deadline the UAW has set. It seems that they've agreed to what GM wanted, but GM doesn't want to listen to what the union wanted in return. So by the time I wake up, I may be on strike for the first time in 29 years.

Though I'm dreading it, if not now, I don't know when. The media keeps printing numbers that are outrageous; they seem to think I make at least 1/3 more an hour than I do, and that my benefits are worth more than twice what the company is telling them I make. I've never known anyone in skilled trades to make an hourly rate like I've seen them printing, let alone a line worker!

I remember a few years ago they told us we needed to pay taxes for our parking lot because parking was a benefit we would have to pay for if we worked somewhere else. We do have to pay taxes on some of our other benefits...

They keep spouting off about the cost of labor; the cost of labor for my car from the time the first piece of metal goes on the line 'til it rolls off is about $600. Even if my benefits are worth as much as they say, that only amounts to $1300 for labor and benefits.

The CEO got a 3 million dollar bonus last year. I don't know what those below him got. I probably don't want to!

Oh well, off to bed and we'll see what "tomorrow" brings!

alan
__________________________________________________

4:00pm

I got up at 1 and found out they had walked; I've been reading the Detroit Free Press and Reuters since, channel checking CNN and now our local news, along with checking my local's homepage. I don't know what to think about all this, other than just hang on and ride it out. I have picket duty Friday morning if it goes that long; if it does go that long I expect them to be out of the car business in the U.S. before the next contract it up no matter what terms they get.

I got a phone call from someone we've had loans with through the years a little while ago; the Beneficial rep just wanted to know if we needed anything. Her Dad retired from GM in '74 and so when she saw the news she thought she would check in on us! I was a bit shocked...

Hope it doesn't come to that!

Thank you all for the kind words and thoughts!

alan

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Weekend Rising!

As I write this, Talia is asleep on the couch and my clock is set for 10:30. That probably means a caffeine tab and up at 11, but that's what happens when you try and shift your hours for the weekend!

Tomorrow's plans include some errands, whatever she wants for dinner and I've been told "Dora the Explorer". I haven't met Dora yet...hopefully she's aDorable!

Meanwhile, I looked up another old friend on YouTube and thought I'd let her knock your socks off. I've seen "Jazz on a Summer's Day" before; Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan...everyone was there! If I had a time machine, Newport in '58 is of the many places I'd visit...(though if I go back much further I'm taking a kit with antibiotics in it, thank you!).

Anita O'Day first rose to fame with Gene Krupa's band, and throughout her life, she never forgot how to swing! She was still active last year, until right before she departed for a kinder place!



May each of your weekends be wonderful!

alan

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vacation day!

Tuesday off! A movie at the theatre early: "Shoot 'Em Up". Definitely better than you might think from the title; I'd of sat through it again immediately. I was one of those rooting for Clive Owen
to be the next Bond. They decided he was too old, and though Daniel Craig was good, I think they might have missed a sure bet!

We beat the rain home, and settled in for a 2nd movie, one Dottie didn't think she had seen until we were a bit into it. "Kelly's Heroes", from 1970. All star cast, led by Clint Eastwood. Dottie decided that might be one of her favorite WW2 movies. I hadn't seen it in years, and on DVD it was a treat.

Along with dinner we watched "Eureka", a Sci-Fi channel series we started watching last year. One we both look forward to each week...

We have a DVD recorder that my oldest and his wife gave us for Christmas and birthdays two years ago, and I two movies I had recorded for her skipped in the same place, so I put in one I had recorded for our 3rd movie of the night. She grumbled a bit when Leo the lion came on in black and white (she says that it reminds her of growing up poor with black and white TVs when everyone else had color). As we eased into "The Americanization of Emily" Paddy Chayefsky's writing along with James Garner and Julie Andrews won her over, and at 12:30 she went off to bed with a smile on her face. (No skips, either.)

I finished the last half our of a 3 hour documentary on Kansas City Jazz I had been working through this last week, recorded from PBS a year or so ago, then put in another movie I had bought last year. I don't know if any of you might remember Veronica Lake, but I fell madly in love with her back in my early teens. She walked away from Hollywood about the time I was born and only did two more movies after that, the last of which is called "Flesh Feast" from 1970. She died a few years after that much too young. Though it would be called a camp horror movie, a "B" or even "C" pic, it's better than you might think from the title and was worth watching just for her. I have a paperback copy of her autobiography I bought last year around here that I will get to at some point; it's so yellowed and the pages are so brittle I don't dare carry it to work, not that I have much reading time there anymore...

Meanwhile, the 5th load of laundry is in and I need to go move it. As I wander off, I ran across something very very special the other day. Many of you know my love of jazz. One of my idols was Gerry Mulligan, and I was fortunate enough to see him here in the early 90's before his untimely death (complications from knee surgery). He was an extraordinary talent; playing, writing and arranging some very fantastic things from the time he was in his teens.

One of the highlights of that concert was when he added singing to that list; though he might not be a Tony Bennett, give him a chance and then wait for him to pick up his horn...please?



May the rest of the week be kind to you each!

alan

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I wish I were an ostrich...

and could just bury my head in the sand!

I've been avoiding writing a post for a couple of days now, hoping that by now our UAW contract would be settled and I could quit fearing a strike. No such luck at this point...rumors abounded all week at work and none of them were good. I remember my Dad telling me that while we got 4 pages of highlights to vote on that corporate lawyers had already vetted every detail in the "book" we won't see for 6 months while they have it printed...he said all that contract really does "is legally define how many ways they can f*** you". At the time I thought him very cynical; now at almost the age he was when I lost him, I know he wasn't...

He was meatcutter for years...I don't think his union even exists anymore!

When I hired in 29 years ago this month I believed that in return for my showing up every night and giving 100% to whatever task befell me that they would live up to their end of the bargain and provide me with the retirement and medical insurance they had promised. Others had walked picket lines and given up raises to get those benefits for us; now it seems that not only do they want to get out from under the obligations they agreed to, but they want to take money back as well. They keep referring to them as "legacy costs" etc..

How many shareholder dividends and executive bonuses did we pay for back when they were supposed to be putting money away for these costs? Had they put Roger B. Smith's "golden parachute" and the money they used to buy Ross Perot out to get him off the board when they didn't want to hear him tell them to "take care of the workers first" would that now cover this legacy? The money they used to buy EDS? The money they used to buy Hughes? The money they squandered on Fiat? (2.4 billion dollars when they bought in in 2000 and another $2 billion when they bought themselves back out last year!)

It's not like our medical is what it used to be, either! I used to have to pay the first few dollars of a prescription, and little else. Now it's all of the office visit, $10 to $15 a prescription, and any tests they don't feel like covering (including my wife's last pap smear)! Yes, I could go to an HMO and avoid some of that...I also would lose control over who I see, so I guess I shouldn't bitch about paying for the privilege of picking my own doctor off their list. That I was lucky enough to have one I trust be on it should be enough.

I know, it's still better than a lot of insurances, or none...

but somewhere along the way a promise has to mean something, someone's word has to mean something other than "until I can figure a way to get out of it"!
Just because you incorporate shouldn't make it mean less!

Beyond all of that and my little corner of it...

I heard a piece on NPR yesterday about the American Cancer Society changing the focus of it's next ad campaign. It seems that the biggest cause of cancer death is no longer cigarettes; it's a lack of access to medical care! Too many people have no insurance or not enough insurance to cover their illness.

So it's cheaper for them to die...

We claim to be a civilized nation; a caring nation; the "leader of the free world".

But don't get in the way of our profit structure!


Somehow we have to take the shareholders out of healthcare...

_____________________________________________________________

While I've been checking in here constantly to see if things have been settled, I've also been looking up old friends, musicians I admire, etc.. I ran across this clip and though most of you won't know Dizzy Gillespie you'll probably recognize the guy who comes in to join him. Some of you might know the host who comes in at the very end of the clip as well...



alan

Monday, September 10, 2007

My crew...

Caleb spent the night on Friday; Saturday afternoon Dillon and Talia came to spend the afternoon and stay overnight as well. Laura brought Bill's Neon in from Lawrence as I was worried about one of the brake pads that was very thin. While she worked on her homework, my crew changed the brake pads...

(Since they didn't come with clothes that could get really dirty, Dottie dug through the rag barrel to come up with stuff to keep them from ruining their clothes and shoes.)



Talia pulled all but the last lug on the driver's side by herself; Caleb had done 3 on the passenger side with my holding the body of the wrench and him pulling the trigger but Dottie (our photographer for the day) was still putting together clothes for Dillon at that point.



Caleb was off playing with pieces of rope he found in my garage while Dillon and Talia took turns tightening the caliper pins; then they learned about torque wrenches and got to tighten the pins until they felt the wrench click.



They were very proud of their dirty hands. The GoJo dispenser inside the garage door was an even bigger hit! When Talia first rubbed it on her hands she said "This is only good for smearing the dirt around, Grandpa". Then I gave her a rag and when she wiped her hands clean she really grinned. She was so impressed she went back out and picked up on of the old pads and rubbed it all over her hands just so she could use more of it! (I'm glad the pads aren't asbestos anymore!)



Everyone got to take a turn starting lug nuts by hand, learning what to feel for. Then they each got to take a turn spinning them down with a 4-way, learning how to tighten every other one in a star pattern so you don't warp a wheel or a disc rotor. I showed them the big torque wrench for tightening the lugs, but they've got a ways to go before they can generate 100 foot pounds, lol!

Dillon learned how to work the floor jack and he pulled one jack stand and Talia got the other as we let the car back down onto the ramps. (The Neons are so low in the front that my old Hein Warner floor jack won't clear the front of the car without it being up on ramps first.)

Then Dottie wanted everyone to gather in front of the garage for one last picture.



Yesterday was spent building models, watching "Care Bears" and "Stuart Little" and "Tom & Jerry" along with the IRL race. Dinner was leftover tacos and gorditas from Saturday's dinner. Their Mom and Dad came to pick them up as they were finishing, so they ate as well.

I don't think they ever realized yesterday was "Grandparent's Day", lol!

Quite a lovely weekend! I hope each of yours was as well!

Off to play carpenter for a bit before I go to work...

alan

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Corners and curves...

Saturday slipped away without me getting much done. Dinner turned out well, though some of you would think I cheated...

One of my favorite "quick and easy" meals was always Italian Shake and Bake on boneless pork chops. I had been craving it for a while, and finally remembered to buy the Shake and Bake last week when I shopped. Either the Italian flavor has been discontinued or they were out; what I found was two new ones, a Parmesan and a Ranch.

So dinner after Dottie got home and showered was the Parmesan variety on boneless chops with fettucine alfredo and garlic toast; it was great! Dottie like it better than the Italian flavor, and I liked it as much.

She worked Sunday as well, and I rolled out early and rearranged the garage as things had been moved when I worked on John's brakes last week, so it took until noon to rearrange things and get to the carpentry tools and the wood. I had gotten the eave boards back up a few weeks back, and the soffets ripped, but needed to rebuild the ends of the eaves before I could put the soffets up. Of course, I cut the first one with the angle backwards; hopefully it will fit the other side. It took about 2 hours to cut the pieces and fit them to get the first one together. Now that the roof doesn't leak I had my little black and white TV uncovered for the first time in a year or so, and kept checking in on the IRL race, hoping to see Danica Patrick win her first. As it drew to an end I came in to make a glass of iced tea and cool off; the finish wasn't one I cared for, but at least everyone walked away!

Back outside and on to the back corner; of course, the one I cut reversed when I did the front came nowhere near to fitting the back. I measured it out and cut one; I reversed the top angle again...by the time I cut a 2nd one Dottie was backing into the driveway. She came in to shower while I put things together and then put everything away and locked up for the night just as the "vampire" mosquitoes decided I was their fix.

Dinner was leftovers from Saturday and just as good the 2nd day. Bill called as we finished and said his check engine light was on; I asked if the oil or temp lights were on and he said no, then I asked if it rattled or did anything funny. He had been complaining of a miss when he first started it, and I had told him some weekend when he had time he needed to put a set of spark plugs in it. He decided to take a night off work and come do them on Monday.

Dottie and I slipped out to see "Rush Hour 3" on Monday morning early as Bill wasn't going to be here before 2. If you've ever liked Jackie Chan in anything, go see this movie on the big screen! I don't want to give anything away, but it has some of his very best work ever, and the setting is absolutely fantastic!

Bill came about 2:30; I had already looked up part numbers and once we got the diagnostic code and looked it up (when Dottie had her Neon I bought the Dodge shop manual and Bill's is the same car a year newer) it said "number one plug misfiring". They were due at 30,000; he has 54,000 on it. We also changed the air filter, the oil, and rotated the tires. He has a brake pad getting thin, so he's supposed to get it back to me this next weekend for me to change them even though he has to work. I told him if he can get it here on Friday before he goes to work his Mom will take him back to Lawrence and I'll do the pads and return it Saturday evening...I'd rather do that than have him chew up a rotor in the next few weeks, or end up doing them after it starts getting colder outside! I had him headed back home by 5:30 so he could get some sleep before he went to work at 10.

So today it was back to work and if I get my tail in bed in the next half hour maybe I can get up in time to put another one of those corners back together tomorrow before I have to get ready for work. It's supposed to rain off and on the rest of the week, so if I get up and it's raining I'll take my truck in for it's oil change (the dealer is still doing them for free).

I had planned to blog hop tonight, but it's 4:37, so I'm not going to get too far before my eyes cross...hopefully tomorrow night I can "make the rounds".

I hope the week is being kind to each of you!

alan

Saturday, September 01, 2007

3 days off!

This weekend has kind of snuck up on me...I knew it was coming but had my doubts about ever really getting here!

I slept later than I should have today, got up and paid bills and then went out to run errands; in a few minutes I'm going to go start dinner.

I thought of titling this "And Another One Bites the Dust", but don't want to seem to be gloating over someone else's misfortunes. Suffice it to say that were all the hypocrites out of office, DC would be a ghost town!

Tonight, a leisurely dinner and some TV with my wife; tomorrow back to work on the garage and possibly a grandchild to keep us company overnight. Dottie is off on Monday for the holiday (hooray).

I'm really looking forward to this!

On other fronts, I'm officially "old" now; after over a year of my nagging, my wife has consented and I just signed us up for AARP. Later this month I'm towing a car to Laramie, Wyoming for one of my nephews so the older nephew can put an interior in it as his final school project. Hoping that between AARP and AAA I could get a decent room rate, among other things, it seemed like it was time!

This will be a flying trip, though, leaving at noon on Saturday after I work the night before and driving back on Sunday. Dottie gave up two of her vacation days in November (one was her birthday) to co-pilot, for which I'm grateful, since she's the only other one going who's ever towed anything that big!

The fun part is going to be going back to get the car when Brett graduates in December...somehow I'm not sure the weather is going to cooperate! I'm looking at a set of Blizzaks for the back of the truck, just in case!

:o)

alan