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!


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!


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.


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...


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'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!


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!


Saturday, October 13, 2007


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...


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!



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!


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!


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!


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!