Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New days, new deals...

Off to the Union Hall in a few minutes to listen to the details of the "new" concession contract...less than 1/4 of the way into the 4 year concession contract we approved last year. I'm hoping to glean some details about what happens to the retirees; there aren't enough of us to outvote the active workforce anyway!

Still stuck in my "craw" is the "Prop H8te" decision that came down yesterday; now that the "majority" has managed to take away the rights of other citizens to marriage, what's next? Since I'm not a Bible thumping church-going God fearer, do I lose my right to vote? A fair trial? Which inequality will they decide to force on someone next?

I realize the court could only rule on the the questions presented and there will be appeals; I hope this travesty is overturned in one of them. If not, then someone needs to draft a new ballot measure, one written to withstand the inevitable challenges, and then not only make sure that everyone with a vested interest is registered to vote but actually gets there! The vote was too close to stand if everyone who knows someone disenfranchised by this casts a ballot!

Dottie seems to be doing OK, though there's some "taking it easy" going on that isn't her usual forte. We made it to "Angels and Demons" yesterday and both enjoyed it. She's very enamored of the books and had made a point of finishing that one last Thursday night before our planned viewing last Friday, before we woke up and found that hernia.

The liberties that Ron Howard took with the book she was very happy with; I won't spoil anything for anyone with details.

Lots of good previews for things coming out this summer; hoping that our gift cards hold out for the best of them!

Now, to go stand under that sword of Damacles...

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


Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day...

Dottie is at work and as I catch up with Monaco and Indy from yesterday I can't help but think of the generations past. My Dad and his enlistment at 17 during WW2; his 2 older brothers, one in the Navy, the other in the Army Air Corps, shot down and hidden by a Belgian farmer to keep him from capture. My Mom's Dad enlisting in the SeaBees because the Navy said he was too old; her Mom's 3 brothers enlisting, one to never come home again, one to die of cancer when I was 2, the 3rd captured and held as a POW in Germany, starved from 180 down to 80 pounds and never in good health again. Grandma and her sisters building B-25 Mitchells in the plant I would later hire into after GM bought it from North American.

Dottie's Dad, unable to enlist because he'd had "yellow jaundice" and you coudln't enlist if you couldn't give blood, giving up the Green Mountains of Vermont to go to Boston and work in the shipyards building sub-chasers and mine-sweepers. Her Mom, Marion, a mechanical engineer hired by Pratt and Whitney to lay out assembly lines and staff them for their various plants.

Marion's Dad, a mechanical engineer as well, enlisting during WW1 and serving in France; I have an aircraft identification book of his from during the "Great War". My Dad's Dad, fresh out of telegraphy school for the railroad, enlisted and sent to join the Signal Corps as a telegrapher in the trenches where he was "gassed". He had heart and lung problems that plagued him for the next 46 years 'til they finally claimed him. His brother, Jesse who served in the Navy during WW1- I have a letter he wrote Grandpa from a VA home in 1962 telling him whatever he did he didn't want to end up there, that the screams at night were horrific. Some of their older siblings were in the Spanish-American War, though our family history gets a bit hazy as it spreads out.

Their grandfather, Hiram, dead of measles contracted during the "War Between the States" in Tennessee in 1864. In the Confederate Army...I know from my Mom's Dad that he had family on the other side of the lines then, though I don't have names to put with it.

On the wall in the house Dottie grew up in in Vermont is the Union Army discharge certificate for her Dad's namesake, his grandfather.

I'm sure for each I know of there are others...I am sure many of you have just as many in your families who have served; some forever!

Please, collect the stories you can, where you can and pass them on to those who will be here when we aren't?

From a Vietnam era sailor married to another Vietnam era sailor; the names, the stories, the sacrifices are too important to let fall away; we can't let this become just another holiday!

May this week be kind to each of you!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Never count your chickens..."

could pretty well apply to the last couple of days!

Thursday, having saved some old window sashes for their glass when I replaced the ones in the house, I spent some time chipping out a broken one in the garage, having re-puttied all the ones that didn't need glass, then even longer carefully chipping a 24x36 out of it's sash to make a 24x24. Never having had luck cutting my own, I eschewed Dottie's Dad's cutter along with my Dad's and used a brand new one. Nicely scribed line; supported the "keep" side the length of the cut, tapped it...I had about 10" of straight line then it angled away from the cut. Tapped it again to try and "clean it up" and blew up the entire edge.

As I was sitting on the tailgate of my truck hearing all those "sailor words" in my vocabulary "in my head", smiling because they weren't out loud, I decided I was buying glass for that one and the other two.

Friday morning, up a few minutes before Dottie I started the kettle for coffee and slipped in here to check e-mail and check in with some of you. Put a note on Facebook to explain our plans and that I wouldn't be playing WordScraper, then I heard Dottie call me.

She started to get up and it hurt, not badly, but just a "something's not right". Lying on her back everything was fine, but the minute she stood up there was an obvious knot on one side of her lower abdomen, normally symmetrical. About the diameter of my fist, as thick as my hand.

We are assuming at this point it's a hernia.

7 years ago she had a kidney and her gall bladder taken out; they split her from almost her sternum to a handwidth below her naval. The surgeon left a resident to staple her up; he overlapped the layers and gave her a wicked scar that has caused problems ever since. When I saw her postop she looked like she had a zipper...

Phone call to our doctor; he's busy, leave a message, wait for the phone call back; if there are any of a number of other symptoms, go to the ER, otherwise, call the surgeon. Call the surgeon, no openings 'til June 4th...if there are any other symptoms go to the ER...

So now it's noon; we should be coming home from the movie and I have one sash in the garage with no glass in it. I went and got the 3 pieces I needed cut, came home and got the one in in case the rain started early. Then it was time to pick up her paycheck and run a few other errands.

She told her boss she wouldn't be doing any transfers (moving patients who can't move themselves; she's not supposed to have been doing them since her joint replacements) or moving tables and chairs 'til we know what is going on and was told "Good" because her boss thinks some of the others leave things they don't feel like doing because they know she will.

Meanwhile, knowing that most likely GM will file bankruptcy on the 1st, I wonder if I'll even have insurance...I "know" somehow that I will, but that nagging fear is still there.

Dottie works tomorrow and then is off on Sunday for my nephew's high school graduation. I'll be watching Indy off tape for the first time in many years; I usually time shift Monaco, but watch Indy beginning to end.

Go Danica!

May each of your weekends be kind!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My last...

was much more about the rest of the world than my own little corner...wishing I could deliver hugs and chicken soup and some car repairs for those who could use a bit of help. I am after all, someone who always tries to "fix" everything and despairs when he can't!

Though somehow a nice Italian dinner sounds much more "the ticket" than chicken soup right now...


Monday, May 18, 2009

If I weren't bald...

there are times I'd rip my hair out, I swear!

Having been forbidden from blogging before I ever began (by several years), this haunt has been a secret for many years now. It's not that my sons, my sister and my nephews don't know; I even shared the URL with a trusted few from work what seems like ages ago now. I don't think any of them have been here in sister let something slip about my Facebook page a while back and I expected to hear more about it, but there was a grimace and far...

Keeping secrets from the one who knows you best is frustrating! Trying to keep a lid on the emotions when someone you care for is going through something, no matter whether it's small or life-threatening; when you know that were it a different life you'd be "there" at the drop of a hat (or a plane ticket).

So when asked what's wrong you say "nothing"...or cite something else.

Wish it weren't that way, but I'm not about to pull the plug on this or my friendships or my heart. So, I'll deal somehow...the double edged sword of regret flaying me the whole time...

Not what I was planning to write today; forgive me!

May the week be kind to each of you!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Nice guys...

the first words that popped into your mind are exactly where we're going, sadly...

A few months ago my older nephew moved to western Kansas for what he thought was going to be his dream job. It fell through, though he immediately found another. He's had a "gift" for mechanical things and his education at WyoTech has stood him well; he can troubleshoot things on the fly, fabricate, whatever he needs to do.

Raised well by my sister and her husband, he's always been one to help anyone he can, no matter what it took. An Eagle Scout, in every sense of the word and as nice a guy as you could ever hope to meet, let alone be related to!

This "other job" he took was partly as a mechanic and partly maintaining the equipment for an assembly line. A month or so ago the 2nd shift manager asked for a key to his toolboxes because when he goes home they had no access to tools; he was promised no one else would be in his tools.

It didn't take long before he found things lying out when he came in to work, but didn't complain about it. He didn't complain when things weren't brought back for a day or two...then suddenly the keys went missing.

Still trusting, he left them unlocked, trying to do the right thing, to help keep "the line" running. (Something I remember all too well!)

Last Friday they laid him off. He went through his boxes and told them that about $400 in tools were missing and asked for the tools or the money. He was told it wasn't their fault if he couldn't keep track of his tools and that he had no way of proving he hadn't lost them instead of the company!

We talked on the phone when he called to wish Dillon a "Happy Birthday" at the party on Saturday and I got him to tell me what he really needed that was missing; they had taken every wrench he had from 3/4" up and most of his screwdrivers. The other things that were missing he had duplicates of and still had his sockets and impact wrenches.

He was going to the unemployment office on Monday (today) and to try to start job hunting on Tuesday. I talked to Dottie and went through ads and the online sales and figured out how to replace his wrenches and screwdrivers and call them early Christmas and birthday presents and since he'll be here for his brother's graduation next week he can take them home with him instead of me shipping them. I even managed to buy Craftsman through the sale ads and the "Craftsman Club" ad, so he'll get the warranty.

It's really sad to have him treated that way, though an open toolbox is always a magnet. I was lucky because when I hit my squadron in the Navy your box was issued, every tool was marked not only by engraving but by reflective tape in color codes as well. If they found one of your tools in a jet intake, on the flight deck, or anywhere except in your toolbox you were up for "captain's mast" (non-judicial punishment)!

So you didn't loan anything to anyone unless you really trusted them or you stood right there with them to get it back when they were finished!

At GM things were so bad that just using the locks built into the boxes didn't work, so they would have extra brackets welded onto the boxes for long locking rods and padlocks. It wasn't that there weren't ways to open them still, but it took so much effort they were usually left alone. When we shut down the plant and contractors were working inside, they would load them all into trailers and have them taken away from the plant 'til we came back to work!

I grew up at the end of the days where you could leave your windows open, or a car unlocked and not worry about what you'd find when you returned. When a handshake meant something; when if it wasn't yours you didn't take it; when if you borrowed it you returned it in the same shape or better than you got it!

There are many ways in which I love "now", but there are some that truly sadden me!

For my nephew a lesson learned, hopefully; yet sadly, a bit of trust extinguished.

May the week be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

For lack of a nail...

I've let a week slip away since my last missive; I've started to write something more than once, but thought better of it.

I still have enough standing water behind the garage that I could plant rice, but it's too wet to try and grade it to make it drain and more rain is inbound. In a bit I'm going out with a hoe and try to trench it just a bit. After 5 days since the last heavy rain, it's finally quit draining down the hill and across my driveway. I mowed, except for the swamp next to and immediately behind the garage; as I finished the landlord up the hill sank his tractor in the center of that yard on his first swath through it. We pulled his Cub Cadet out and he decided he'll pay his grandsons to mow it by hand this weekend...I don't envy them!

Dillon's 10th birthday party is on Saturday, a joint affair with his best friend Andrew. Perspective has me thinking lots about him turning a year older than I was when I lost Dad's Dad and 5 years older than my oldest was when he and his brother lost my Dad; anytime I start to get depressed, that is enough to make me know I'm lucky!

Having watched a minority share of bondholders throw Chrysler into bankruptcy, I don't have much hope for GM avoiding it. I'm not sure that killing Pontiac will leave GMC and Buick viable on their own, though perhaps if they bring them in under the Cadillac dealerships they can pull that part off. When they say that 42% of their dealerships are going to close through this whether they go through bankruptcy or not, it sure doesn't bode well for a lot of jobs...let alone the factory and supplier jobs!

I look at the railyards each time I head south; the largest switchyard in the midwest, knowing it used to bustling, almost all the rails full, seeing it half empty kind of tells you where the economy is, along with all the empty billboards around town!

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