Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

As the old year leaves and the new one arrives I am looking forward instead of backward.  Back there is work and all the trials and tribulations that are attached to the daily grind.  Ahead is a life change to retirement and all the issues that go with not having a reason to get up and head off each day.

Travel will be a part of the new lifestyle and I was considering going to the local gun shop to purchase one of these.
But after research I have come to the conclusion that may not be such a good idea.  First of all, you need to be willing to shoot someone.  I am not so sure I am.  For that reason alone, this probably isn't a good solution for us.  They sell a product in Canada (and the U.S.) that I think would be more beneficial for us as we boondock our way across the country.

Apparently this stuff has a range of 30 feet.  I think this is the safer option.  At least I won't accidentally shoot my foot off.

I hope everyone has a great New Year.  We are certainly looking forward to ours.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gone After 63 Years

Debuting in 1950 the Volkswagen Type 2 was called many things but none of them was fast.  The first of the mini vans had a 4 cylinder, 40hp air cooled engine attached directly to the four speed transaxle with rear wheel drive via solid axle shafts.  It wasn't fast but it was an icon throughout the 60's.  The first version of the Transporter was produced until 1967 and replaced with a bigger more modern version in 1968.  The second version ran until 1979 but was never as popular as the original.  The Type  2 was replaced with the Vanagon due to U.S. Safety Regulations in 1979 however the original was still built in Brazil.  The Vanagon was replaced by the Eurovan which ended production for the U.S. market in 2003.  Last Friday the last Type 2 rolled down the assembly line.
Sad day for VW enthusiasts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It Is Coming

Unless I can't count January 5th will be the century mark to retirement and the real countdown will begin.  There was a time when I never thought this day would arrive.  And I guess I really shouldn't call it retirement because it is more like a life style change.  Retirement used to mean the end of a meaningful life.  No more work so many became depressed and just gave up.  Not so much anymore.  Retirement means less income but it also means less work.  No more getting up early to be on time.

Then there are the advantages that include such things as hobbies, projects and meaningful help around the neighborhood.  There is traveling.  Our first trip is already mapped out and will include our grandson as we previously promised.  We will leave Federal Way and travel south to Baker City, Oregon.  From there we travel to Hells Half Acre and then on to Yellowstone.  We'll wrap up the trip by visiting Glacier National Park and Spokane and then back to park the trailer at Gold Bar.  Almost 1900 hundred miles.

My two wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado will get a work out on this trip.  I have been looking at new trucks with all the fancy equipment and mirrors for trailer towing but while it is nice to drool there is no plans to replace our current truck.  We need to get new tires for the truck and the trailer and I would like to find some nice seat covers.  Other than that I don't see any need to spend anymore to hit the road.

We have made a decision to give a young fellow we hired a little over a year ago, the opportunity to take my place as I travel off into the sunset.  As of January 2nd I will step down as the parts manager, putting him in the hot seat and acting as consultant, advisor and parts counterperson.  While I will technically still be in charge I am changing my hours to 4/40 working Wednesday thru Saturday.  It will give me a little more time off and I will experience what some folks call normal working hours.  He has a great attitude and wants to learn so I think he will succeed.

There are some that don't like the idea that I am leaving and others who can hardly wait.  The business has changed so much in the past few years and I frankly see many more changes down the road that will effect how many dealers are around.  Our business relies a lot on the profits developed by the parts and service business.  Sales has long ago changed their business model.  Manufacturers now attach incentives to volume sales which causes dealers to become cutthroat.  Some sell at or below their cost in hopes of meeting the volume bonus mark and that causes other dealers to do the same thing in order to compete.  Dealerships do everything they can to keep customers coming back for service and parts to cover the overhead expense of operating the dealership.

A good percentage of the parts business comes from selling to mechanical and body shops that repair vehicles.  Collision repair parts account for a good percentage of the dollar volumes in this business.  As the vehicles become more sophisticated I can see them (the vehicles) protecting us against ourselves with all kinds of crash avoidance systems.  If we don't have crashes, we don't sell crash parts.

The other side of the coin will hit in the service drive where your friendly advisor writes up and suggest repairs or maintenance that maybe required for the safe operation of your vehicle.  They give you car 16 or 20 point inspections each time you come in and make recommendations (upsell) you on services that might need to be done.  Sooner than later the connected car will arrive and consumers will only buy those services recommended by the vehicle via the manufacturer.  Chevrolet has this with the On Star system.  The system monitors your vehicle and sends emails regarding needed services or issues with things like the tire monitor system.

All of these changes will cut into dealership profits.   In case you are wondering the vast majority of new car dealers work with a pretax net profit of 2.2% of sales dollars.   A dealership selling a total of $2,500,000 will have a pretax profit of $5,500 if everything is run correctly and expenses are closely monitored.  That is not a lot of money when you consider the amount of money a dealer has invested in property, buildings, and inventory.  A dealer could take their dollars and invest them in many other ways that would pay as much or more with less headaches.

But these changes are still a ways away and I expect the whole business model will change at some point, long after I am gone.

I am off until the beginning of the New Year and other than a doctors appointment today, I have nothing planned.  Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I don't have much to say today.  I hope everyone is having Happy Holidays.  I will be spending the afternoon with my family and working one more day, tomorrow, and then I am off until after the New Year.
I will fill in the developments towards retirement in the next couple of days.
Have a great Holiday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Continuing Stuff

After a short nap and a half of football along with a mushy Hallmark Christmas movie the crud still has a hold on me.  I think I might have the suspect.
Just before Thanksgiving last year in the throngs of moving our parts department and the mess that went with it I had an incident that caused me to visit the doctor and be diagnosed with anxiety and depression.  At that time I was given meds to help me deal with the pressure I was feeling.  That pill was Citalopram.  It is a good drug.  You still care but you don't get all wound up.  Thing is you're not supposed to quit it cold turkey as in when you run out and due to mail delivery and mistakes on the refill website you end up going without it.  I suspect that my not taking in steadily for the last two weeks may be causing my current issues.  At least I hope so.  I have an appointment with my doctor after the holidays so if not I'll bring it up during that visit.

At some point I need to ween myself off this stuff.  Maybe 114 days from now.


Finally got a weekend off and we drove to Mt. Vernon to visit with my stepmom and her friend.  It has been some time since we made the trip up and either we are getting old or it was just the way I felt yesterday but it seems like a chore to make the trip up there and back.  We had a great visit and but I suffered through it with a headache and weird feeling that just got worse as the day progressed.  By the time we got home I ate some thing and went to bed.

I got up this morning and felt better but the longer I am up moving around the more I feel like crud.  It is hard to explain but I just don't feel right.  Kind of messed up in the head.  No headache but some issues with my balance.  Kind of gray and messed up like the day outside.

We went to the store this morning.  My Mr Coffee decided to stop processing water so I decided to look at the Keurig machines.  I bought one and had a cup of coffee when we got home.  I think I will definitely like this machine and very likely drink less coffee because it produces a strong, rich cup of coffee.

I have more, but I think I'll lay down for a bit.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What A Fun Week

I sometimes have trouble understanding our manufacturers point of view.  One of the companies we represent requires its dealers to certify employees through on line and instructor lead classes.  I have no issue with the certification requirements and I have been certified for as long as I can remember.  This year I was done with the required on line classes about half way thru the year and attempted to get a pass on the instructor led class since the only one left at the time was a trip to Ontario, California.  With my retirement next year I didn't see the point of our company paying the expense fly, board and feed me in Ontario land of warehouses.  In the final decision I was voted down and told I would need to attend.  Failure to be certified would effect the dealerships chances for bonus money and contest for the coming year so off to Ontario I went Tuesday - Thursday.  Turned out to be a good opportunity for me to say goodbye to the many folks I have come to know over the years that work for their organization.

When I got back I worked Friday and Saturday because we are short handed again and I really do enjoy working on Saturday, especially with the guys I worked with this weekend.  We work well together, compliment each other and enjoy bantering with our customers.  After work I came home and caved.

Mia and I got up early this morning and went to downtown Seattle for the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk.  We had a special interest this year.  As I told you before our daughter (a long time couch potato) got up earlier this year and began to run.  A couple of months ago she announced she intended to run her first 5k today and our son told her he would run with her.  We arrived at the start time but we didn't see them because they had left before we got to the start gate.  I went up past the finish line to wait to see them come by.  My hands frozen (it was 18 degrees when it started) I stood waiting, camera in hand, taking photos of some of the costumes and managed to see my son in the sea of people and got his picture as he went by.  My grandson texted me that his mom was coming and while I was reading the text she came and went with no picture.  Kind of upset with myself for that one but it might not have been that great anyway.

Someone took this picture of them before they left for the run….very proud dad.
Came home and watched the Seahawks try to beat the 49er's.  So many penalties that it looked like flag football.  A lot of them cost the Seahawks dearly.

Working all week with the exception of Wednesday.  Looking forward to two a couple of long 10 hour days on Friday and Saturday due to being short handed.

Hope everyone is doing well because I am.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Music And The Lives We Live

In 1989 a musician release his first album and became a huge success in country music.  I enjoyed his music from the start.  Garth Brooks became a huge entertainer that was able to sell out huge venues in a few minutes.  I had the opportunity to see him when he and his band came to Seattle once earlier in his career.  He put on an unbelievable show.  Moving across the stage as he belted out hit after hit.  Connecting with his fans and he told stories about his background.

He has been in Vegas for sometime now putting on a show, "Blame It On My Roots".  The other night he was on TV and he did a portion of the show.  I did not get to see it because I had something a little better.

My daughter purchased the box set at Walmart on Wednesday evening and sent me the DVD of the final show that he did at Wynns in Vegas.  I watch Garth Brooks run through the history of his music by telling us which musicians had influenced his music over the years.

When you think about the entertainers you enjoy perhaps you should look at their roots and see what crosses their path as well as yours.  Turns out I know exactly why I like this entertainer.  He was influenced by the very same artist that I have always enjoyed.

Funny now that I research some of my other favorites to find the same thread.

Warnings Are Up

Our area of the country is being warned of an impending arctic winter storm bearing down on the region from the north.  It is kind of deja vu.

November 27, 2006 the Green Bay Packers came to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Monday night football.  I'll never forget that night since I left work just before the storm hit the Pacific Basin.  It snowed on the game and even though Green Bay comes from snow country, Seattle evaded defeat.

I remember getting up the following morning, warming up the car as I cleaned the windows and listening to the radio and hearing about the traffic issues caused by the storm that blew in the night before.  It was icy as I pulled away from the curb.  The snow was deep for this area and I made tracks for work.  As I have said before, I tend to get up early and it was early, 2:30 am.  As I entered the freeway I saw vehicles spun out, flex buses sitting stuck and jackknifed in the middle of the lanes and the whole southbound lanes tied up with vehicles that didn't seem to be moving.  It turned out that most of those folks sitting over there were trying to get home from the Seahawk game.  Some would not arrive home until later in the morning.  Others left their cars were they ran out of gas and walked away adding further to the congestion.

We can only hope that we are better prepared if the storm arrives.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day And More Ramblings

Let me start off by wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.  A day that most Americans eat way more than they should, regret and tomorrow start looking forward to next year but wait, there's leftovers.  There will be lots of them in my house and I suspect I will be eating the left overs until sometime middle of next week.  Leftovers are the best.  I look forward to a nice turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce on Saturday.  Haven't had one of those since last year.

The inventory is over and I will get to keep my job for the next 138 days.  I was truly surprised at how close we were after two years with no physical inventory and two major moves of the entire parts department.  They say preparation is 90% of any good job so perhaps all the hours I spent counting and working in the inventory the past two months paid off.  We have a surprisingly clean inventory for a store with over $800,000 on the shelf and sales in the $600,000 range every month.

Unfortunately I did loose a good counterperson yesterday.  My assistant left our organization and has left a void that I need to fill pretty quickly.  I have a young man that I believe is capable of taking my position when I leave and this will be a good time to find out what he is made of.  I suspect that I won't see 100% retirement for a while as the family will want me to participate with getting him up to speed.  I fully expect to step down from management of the department and move to the counter for the remainder of my career.  While I will still technically be in charge I will put the pressure on to see if we have made a solid choice.  I think this change will come about on January 2nd.  I am excited and looking forward to some shorter work days and less stress.

I suppose I could go on but I do some of my best work in the early morning so I think I will work on our planned trip once our grandson graduates.

Take care and enjoy your day where ever you are.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Time has arrived

In a couple of hours the peace and quiet will be interruped by the inventory crew that is scheduled to take our first physical inventory in two years.  Today we will find out how two major moves and two years without a physical has done to the inventory dollars.  I am hopeful that we are close when we are done and finally compare the physical dollar value to the financial dollar value.  We will know the answer before we leave for the day.
The only other news is President Obama arrives in our city this morning and I really don't care.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Boeing, Boeing

Many years ago there was a very funny movie starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis about a news paper reporter who juggle the schedules of three different stewardesses that worked for different airline companies.  As the story proceeded the schedules got more and more complicated as the airlines purchased newer, faster aircraft.

A couple of months ago Boeing came to the Northwest with plans to build their newest plane in the Everett plant.  They obviously saw the benefit of the a well organized, highly trained group of machinist that live in this area.  They are the same folks that help Boeing repair the damaged cause to the 787 project by outsourcing to vendors around the world to build different components of the plane for final assembly in Everett.  The machinist outcry over the out sourcing of the work was huge, ugly and pretty personal.  When it failed the machinist got to say I told you so and went to work to try and resolve the issues.  It took time but they succeeded.

Boeing wanted to get some concessions so they could hold their costs down over the next few years.   They were looking to make certain they didn't have to deal with any strikes by machinists, loss of the pension plan replaced by a 401k program, increased share of medical premiums and a longer period for new hires to reach the highest levels of pay for their position.  On the other hand, Boeing was willing to give a higher company match for the retirement savings program, a $10,000 signing bonus, and a 1% pay increase every other year on top of their cost of living increases.

The machinist turned the contract revision down with a resounding NO and sent Boeing looking for another place to build this new plane.

I can see both sides of this dispute.  I see the machinist who don't want to give up benefits they have struggle to gain.  But, I see Boeing trying to compete in a global marketplace with competition arriving from new manufacturers.  Then there is the economy of the Northwest while not completely reliant on Boeing there was a future that came with the contract.

Not only would we get the assembly of the 777X but Boeing was going to build a new plant to build the newly designed carbon wing that will lift this new plane and Boeing into the future.  The carbon plant would have put the Northwest on the forefront of this technology.  It would have ensured the future of Boeing in the Northwest.  As it is, predictions indicate we will loose half the people working at the Everett plant to unemployment in the not to distant future.

Nobody won.

November 22, 1963

In September of 1963 I was a sophomore entering a newly opened High School in north Seattle.  I had spent my first year of high school at Ingraham also in north Seattle but much further from my house.   The new school, Nathan Hale High School, was in walking distance from my home and we were very optimistic about the future as the new school started.  In fact, the whole country was in a country was in a state of optimism.

Our country had a new, young President.  The first Catholic and the youngest elected president in the history of the country.  A war hero.  He had a vision.  He had a young family.  A very young and beautiful wife, Jackie, became one of the most popular presidential wives in history even though she was a private person and held her family close.  Everything was perfect.  A man with vision to direct the country into a future that all Americans were seeking.

In a flash in November of 1963 everything changed.  The country was shocked by the assignation of John F Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald.  The country stopped to mourn the loss of a man with a vision of how America should move into the last part of the 20th century  Were it not for his sudden death we may very well have become a different country but cynicism replaced optimism and we are living with the results of it 50 years later.

J.F.K. and his family have been the subject of many studies, reports, books and memoirs.  One has to wonder what would have happened had he lived.

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country?"

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bad Time For Parts Managers

It is the annual physical inventory time for just about every auto dealership in the country.  It can be a real pain in the ass as the weeks wind down to the day when the actual count takes place.  Paperwork must be meticulous during this final month (should be all the time).  An outside firm comes in and takes our physical.  I used to do it myself years ago in much smaller stores but with the size of the inventory that we have it just make sense to have someone from outside do it.  In addition, it keeps everyone honest.  Parts Managers handle a lot of money with very few questions asked by owners.  The owners give a blank check to the Parts Manager at the beginning of each year looking for a return on the monies they have invested.  A good Parts Manager looks at himself as a money manager and takes the appropriate steps to invest wisely.

Spent a lot of time recently delving into my roots.  New information becomes available and I sit down and sift through it on Ancesty.com.  At times it seems overwhelming.  You start with a couple of hints about an individual and end up with 79 more after you determine the information is right and add it to your family tree.  My tree has grown considerably over the past two days.  Among my records are Sons of the American Revolution and Loyalist but, so far, no one famous.  I now know that my ancestry leads back to England with some German mixed in.  Quite a few of my relatives lived in Canada at one time.

Well that is all I have at the moment.  Inventory is looming on the horizon as I said and I need to enjoy my last full day off for the next couple of weeks.  Hope everyone is having fun out there.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Was Young And Now I Am Not

It was the late fifties and I was eleven or twelve years old.  Mom was suffering with severe back pain and many times she was completely incapacitated.   Much of my summer vacation was spent with family friends and grandparents.  I especially remember spending time at my dad’s mom and dad’s during this period.

They lived in a small home next to a wooded corner lot nearly at the top of Magnolia Bluff in Seattle.  They had a large long lot that went down hill away from the street and overlooked the train yards.  The house was one story but because it was built on a side hill it was at street level in the front and really high off the ground in the back.  There was a dark, unfinished, dirt floor area under the back of the house where grandpa stored his tools and other stuff.

Each time I was there I looked at books that they had in their possession.  I honestly cannot remember the titles of the books but I do recall looking at some very dark and scary illustrations.  I looked online for examples but couldn’t find any that I remembered or recognized.  I loved books at a young age.  They took me away from the reality that was my childhood with a sick mom and a dad who drove long haul overnight.

The one bright spot in all of this was the Saturday Evening Post.  I loved to be there when it came in the mail.  I looked forward to seeing the cover illustration for the first time.  Many times it was by an artist that I was already familiar with, Norman Rockwell.  I was introduced to his work in Boys Life and didn’t really put the two together until later in life.  Mr. Rockwell illustrated middle America using childhood friends and some elements of his own childhood. 

Looking back I can see how these surroundings and props affected me in ways I haven’t thought about in a long, long time.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rambling On and On

The morning opens with the results of an overnight storm and a promise of much more to come this weekend.  I had hoped to winterize the trailer and put the cover on it this weekend but our Seattle area weather has other ideas.  We experienced heavy rains last night that will be followed today by showers and a high wind alert.  We are expecting some nasty gusts to hit this weekend.

As with any Saturday off there are things that need to get done including, but not limited to a trip to Costco.  I have a door hinge to fix and I really should do something about cleaning up the garage and my work area.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to get a Kindle 7" HD Fire.  After having it for a while I soon discovered that I wasn't going to have much time with my new technology.  Mia loved it and used it to replace an old lap top that had a near death experience and was sent to Hard Drive Heaven.  Ken didn't get much personal time with his new Kindle.  In fact, way back in the beginning of Kindle time, my family purchased one of the original Kindle readers for me.

Now this Kindle has been a good unit and it served the intended purpose.  Getting me to read books.  I have spent many evenings laying in bed reading using this wonderful device.  It lacks several things including a background light, good internet access, the ability to view web pages just to name a few.
The Kindle Fire HD 7" changed all of that by providing all of the above plus apps and games and total access.  Typing is a bit of a strain but for looking things up or using keywords it works really well.  I was really looking forward to using the heck out of it.

I finally got tired of having but not using the HD so I started to look for an alternative for me.  I found the Kindle Fire HDX 7" with a few more features and better resolution.  Being the cheap SOB that I am I chose to order it on Mia's Amazon account because she signed up for PRIME and gets free shipping.  What I didn't do was mark the item as intended as a gift.  The HDX arrived on Thursday and when I opened it up and turned it on, guess whose name appeared on the unit.  Yep, Mia's Kindle.  Rather than go to all the work of deregistering and reregistering, I gave Mia the HDX and I now have the HD.

I had joked with Mia that after getting the HDX there would come a lonely night when I was having a hard time going to sleep.  I would hit the Mayday button and wait for the young lady to appear and ask her to help me go to sleep.  Mia joked back, "What will you do if Alex comes on the screen?"  Guess if Alex comes on the screen she'll be happy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gas Prices

As I drive to work each day I pass our local Safeway store where Mia and I purchase the majority of our fuel.  I as drove to work yesterday I noticed the neon sign said $3.39 per gallon for regular gasoline just as it has for the past week or so.  Less than twelve hours later on my way home the sign had changed to $3.15 per gallon.  I double checked the sign this morning to make sure it wasn't an error and it still reads as it did yesterday.  I guess I have to wonder how it could drop as much at 24 cents a gallon in one day.  Seems to me that I heard the margins for the retailer of fuel was very, very narrow.  Were they overcharging the day before yesterday?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Its Been A Couple Of Weeks And Things Are Changing

The weather for one has changed dramatically in the past two weeks.  We have seen the arrival of much cooler, windy and rainy weather.  This past week each day has been arriving with dense fog that seems to linger all day.  It is cool and damp.  And the colors are vibrant as the trees change from green to yellow, orange and bright red.  I showed pictures in a previous blog, of our neighborhood trees and yards as they change from summer to fall and winter.  While the rain is an annoyance, this time period is the best time of the year for me.

We finally got the opportunity to move the trailer from Gold Bar to a closer venue in Covington.  I had hoped to have it winterized by now but haven't been able to do to the moist weather we are having.  I really hate to cover the trailer when it is damp.

I will be enjoying another day off today but I will more than make up for it by working Saturday.  I am off the Saturday shift next week.  I may or may not have 174 days left to retirement.  The boss has asked me if I would be willing to stay longer if need be.  I am thinking about it but I will reduce my hours and kind of work part time.  He was concerned about what Mia would think and asked me to discuss it with her.  She is okay with it.  My son and grandson, not so much.  Monday he told me it might not be necessary but he wanted to know our feelings just in case.  I have become friends with him and I suspect if he asks I will stay a while longer.

Speaking of the son and grandsons.  We all went to a rather unimpressive new car show over the past weekend.  If money were no object there were some toys I wouldn't mind having.  Most every vehicle there was the most expensive version of the particular brands vehicle.  Top of the line trucks with every imaginable toy going for nearly $80,000.  Cars with every dodad possible and a sticker price to match.

Last but certainly not least, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  October 13th was National No Bra Day in support of the Breast Cancer Awareness.  I had hoped to see more participation but I have since been told that breast support is really important.

Hope everyone is enjoying the news.  I have shut it off.  I must admit some fear as I get very close to depending on income from a government that can't figure out how to balance their books.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday After Defeat

The Huskies tried.  Oh, how they tried.  Remember my remarks concerning the number of penalties and what it was costing them yards gained.  That they needed to find an answer and fix the issue before they get to playing the powerhouses.  Well, they didn't and it contributed to their first loss of the year to Stanford last night.  We entered this game as the most penalized team in college football and it didn't get any better with eight hankies dropping in the first half alone.  A total of ten penalties for 89 yards.

The out gained Stanford in total yards 489 to 279 and both teams threw an interception.  It was almost a great comeback until the final play of the game when the folks in the booth overturned a ruled catch on the field and the game ended with the Huskies loosing 31/28.

It is obvious that the early hype is right, the Huskies are back.  Once they figure out how to operate their new offense they will be hard to deal with.  In the meantime, it is frustrating for fans and coaches to watch but nothing like it was four years ago.  These guys give you something to believe in and they will get better.

Looming along the sidelines for next week another heavy opponent, the Oregon Ducks.

I was going to go up to Gold Bar and get our trailer today but Mia wants me to move a portion of our bunk beds over to our granddaughters room.  Then we have shopping and I would like to look into building some shelves in the garage for storage of some of the bulkier items that we store.

The Seattle Seahawks play the Colts today in Indianapolis.  Should be a great match up.  I suspect the best defense will win.

It is almost time to watch the Sunday morning political shows and get myself worked up again.  As if reading some of the blogs posted about the state of our country hadn't already made me take extra blood pressure medicine.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Enough Already

I have the day off (not because of a shutdown) because I will be working this coming Saturday and every other Saturday this month.  It is rainy and dismal here in the Pacific Northwest and the outlook around the country is one of dismay.

I started out by blaming the whole Washington establishment for the position we currently find ourselves in but after some comments by my son and some further research I have to put the vast majority of the blame on the GOP/Tea Party Republicans.

They have shut down our government and are threatening the American people with default if they don't get their way.  Obamacare is law.  It passed both the Senate and the House, was signed into law by the President and with stood Supreme Court scrutiny.  How can one party now decide to use it as a pawn to get what they want?  The majority of Americans do not agree with this tactic.

These folks are not helping themselves or their cause.  I suspect most of them will be looking for work come election time.  I just hope we have a country left to vote in.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just A Little Upset And Fall Is Here

I know it is a little later than normal for my rant here in my blog but I have been fighting with myself over a decision whether or not to discuss the current political landscape or just be mad as hell and forget about disturbing others with my rantings.  The old saying about what we Americans don't talk about came up during my argument with myself.  "Don't talk about religion, politics or money".  This statement certainly applies to work, dinner and social outings but what about blogs?  The conservative side of me won and I won't get up and bounce up and down on my soap box over politics today.

On a less depressing issue the Washington State Huskies won their fourth straight football game last night in a 31 - 13 victory over the Arizona Wildcats at Husky stadium.  I know, I said yesterday they were in Arizona.  My bad.  Washington moved up one spot in the AP poll from 16 to 15.  This is the first time since 2001 that the Husky nation has seen a 4 - 0 start.  Next week will be very interesting as the Dawgs will take on Stanford who beat Washington State last night.

Yesterday was ugly in the Pacific Northwest.  Rain fell from buckets in the sky forcing most people to stay indoors.  The temperature was cool and there was some strong wind gusts.  I found the indoors to be very comforting and I basically laid low all day.

Obviously Fall has arrived as we witnessed yesterday but there are other signs as well.  This plant was totally green and the grass surrounding it was parched, brown and dormant last month.  So there are signs of life and death that come with Fall.
Other signs that Fall has arrived.  This a neighbors front years.  Fall is always harvest time.  Fall and Winter are my favorite times of the year.  I  viewed Fall and Winter in the small towns across the east part of the country through the eyes of art and photography.  I dream of viewing it in real life.
As you recall I purchased a Terry Redlin painting depicting the Fall harvest season.  I really enjoy it.
We went to Costco this morning because it is Fall and every year we get pumpkin pie from them.  We love their pumpkin pie.  It is the best we have ever found.

It is back to work tomorrow.  I'll be so busy that I won't worry about anything but work.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Under 200 Days To Go

Time is getting short.  In 199 days I will drive onto this lot for the last time as an employee.  The next time I visit I will be just that, a visitor.  I may end up helping part time in some small way but it won't be as a manager and I won't be working my current 12 - 14 hour days.  In someways I am definitely looking forward to it and in others, not so much.  I truly enjoy my work, frustrating as it can be sometimes.  I haven't had any short timer feelings yet and I really don't expect too.  I have been working for so long that I will just keep doing what I do until the last hour.

Mia will be gone today so it will just be me and Honey on a rainy, fall Saturday.  I have a few things to do about the abode and then I will enjoy the Husky game this evening.  They are visiting the Wildcats in their first Pac12 game of the year in Arizona.  They are 3 - 0 so far this year and have come along way in the past couple of years with at new coach that seems to get it.  Sadly, one of the all time greatest Husky head coaches, Don James, is taking chemo treatments for pancreatic cancer.  Our current head coach, Steve Sarkisian, has dedicated his team to the ideals that coach James developed over his tenure as head coach.
James and Sark.
Of course everyone who enjoys football is wound up about the Seattle Seahawks and their prospects for having an exceptional season.  They head to Texas to take on the Texans tomorrow.  I am not a big professional football fan like a lot of folks I know.  I will watch but I don't get crazy.  My daughter is a rabid Seahawks fan (and WSU, but that is another story).  I thought she had just about everything a Seahawk fan could have and she comes up with this.
It is a cool, wet day outside.  As I sit here typing, I can hear the rain and wind outside ominous even it the darkness.  It sounds like fall is truly here and winter isn't too far away.

I see that many of you are on the road and having fun.  I can hardly wait.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wife Appreciation Day And The First Day of Fall

September 22nd is a big day.  The end of summer becomes official and believe me when I say Mother Nature has chosen to bring fall in with a bang.

I don't know when it started but it was pouring buckets as I got up this morning.

Mia and I went to dinner last night and we sat outside to eat because the weather was absolutely perfect.  We had a seat right next to the railing as we hung over the water.  The place is called Katie Downs and we had some great deep dish pizza and drinks while enjoying the last Sun we'll see in awhile.  The view was fantastic.

Today is Wife Appreciation Day and there are no words to express my appreciation of my partner in this life.  She is everything I am not.
A sneak shot taken at Katie Downs
Years ago when I was in a world of hurt from all kinds of different issues with life, I turned towards the invisible being that supposedly has all the answers.  At the time I was Presbyterian but as I have said many times before, my mom disliked them so much after her illness that we never set foot back in their church.  I knew some folks who were Catholic and one of them sponsored me in Adult Catechism.  Basically you attend weekly classes and learn what you need to know to be a good Catholic.  Some of the teachings were strange to me and others were not.  Symbolism plays a big part in the Catholic religion.  Interpretation of the Bible seemed different to me but of course they have their own Bible that is published in accordance with Catholic Canon Law.  No reason to go into detail but suffice it to say that the teachings and rituals in the Catholic Church were quite different from any I had experienced in any of the churches I had attended up to that point.  I was later baptized as an adult into the Catholic community.

Once there, I volunteered to work with kids in a Wednesday morning meeting with teenagers from a local senior high school.  I had to study and know my stuff to meet and teach the kids.  They were intelligent individuals who often came up with questions I couldn't answer.  At the time, the priest couldn't answer them any better than I.  Some of them involved the Church's view on gays.  The kids read the teachings of Jesus who never turned anyone away and wondered why the Church chose to ignore and put them down.  I wondered myself.  The priest didn't wonder.  They just followed the teachings of the Church wether it coincided with the Bible or not.  It was an interesting time and I stuck with it until I finally dug myself out of the gutter and stop doing all the bad things I had been doing.

Then those questions started to get to me and I found myself not attending church or having anything to do with my adopted religion.  I am sure a lot of my decision came from the Church's handling of the Priest verses child issue that raised its ugly head in the media not to long ago.  It seem like no one cared enough to make some kind of law or rule within the organization that it would no longer protect these individuals.  It has finally come to pass.

Along comes a new Pope.  He is silent in the beginning.  Not causing waves as he appears to study the landscape and finally conclude that there might actually be something wrong with the way Catholics think.  So he makes a speech and sends everyone scrambling to find out if he plans to change the Roman point of view for the church and give more latitude on specific issues.  I am look forward to see what he plans to bring to the table after the controversy of this recent move dies.  I say more power to him and I hope he is able to make some change that appears to be long overdue.  A church should be a place to go and be loved and not a place that tells you all the things you did wrong and how much it is going to cost you in the afterlife.

Honey loves Saturday and Sunday mornings when I am home.  She sits on my stomach and looks out the window while I give her a morning massage.  She is starting to get some of her hair back so it looks like it might be time to trim her.  She has healed quite well from her earlier attacks.  I am really surprised at how much we look forward to seeing her at the end of the day.  She returns that by being equally happy to see us.

Yesterday the Washington Huskies embarrassed Idaho State with a 56 - 0 win at home.  It was their last tune up before PAC 12 play begins.  This coming Saturday they will meet Arizona who, like Washington, is undefeated so far this year.  It is a home game and the fans will be in their best form.   Here in Seattle it appears we make too much noise for the opposing teams and they want us to stop.  I don't think that will happen anytime soon.  What I do hope happens soon is a way to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

Somewhere along the line the new up tempo offense appears to be having signal issues in their opening three games.  Washington gained a total of 680 yards but they had 16 penalties totaling 130 yards.  These penalties might cost them in games against ranked or better opponents.  Hopefully they will get it worked out by next week.

I am off to the store for the weekly shopping.  I could get on my soap box about the government and politics but what use would that be.

Have a great week....only 204 days to go.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's All Very Shocking

I just read an article that kind of has my hair standing on end.  Has anyone every been electrically shocked by their RV?

According to a recent article in one of the RV newsletters I follow over 21% of us have.  That is a big number.  Makes me wonder about traveling around the country, plugging into campground power sources only to grab the door handle of my RV and get set on my backside (pratt).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Am Up, I Think

I am sitting in front of the computer with my television on NBC for Sunday Night Football as the Seahawks play the 49ers.

Friday I had to work late so instead of going in early and missing traffic my commute ended up looking like everyone else's.

It has been a wonderful weekend even though I had to work on Saturday.  The good news is it was quiet and I was able to accomplish a lot.  I was way behind in my paperwork and I managed to get all of it caught up.  The office will not like me much tomorrow because I have a huge stack of work to turn in.  My new employee starts tomorrow but my most experienced guy is gone visiting family in Boston so the next couple of weeks should be very interesting.

Each month I generally look over the financial statement from the previous month to see how we compare with the same month last year as well as a year to date comparison for the past five years to see where we are compared to where we have been.  I don't know what happened.  Perhaps my subliminal mind wants to leave a month sooner, or make me think I wish to leave a month earlier.  I was comparing August.  I should be comparing it to August last year but I discovered this morning that I actually was comparing it with September.  That can make a really big difference in the performance standards.  I put them on the bosses desk and sent him a text to let him know they were there.  I asked him what he thought of last month because I found the month (YTD) to be kind of miserable when compared with last year.  I discovered my mistake when he text me this morning to see him on Monday.  Once I discovered it, I sent him a text and told him to toss the comparison and I would have new ones for him in the morning.  Leaving early would be fun, but I don't believe my making mistakes is going to help me exit faster unless he doesn't enjoy the pun.
Mia enjoys the conversation waiting for breakfast

After work Saturday I joined Mia and Honey at Gold Bar for the evening.  We are getting ready to wrap up another fun summer with the trailer.  I am hoping to get it washed next week and then move it back down to our house and wrap it up for the winter.  We worked around the trailer last night, had dinner and went to our friends and visited for awhile.  I came home a little early and took Honey for her last walk of the evening and we hit the sack early.  I picked up dinner and was supposed to get eggs for breakfast but I forgot them so Mia and we went to breakfast at the clubhouse this morning.  Then we went back to the trailer, took Honey for a walk and then made further preparations for winter.  We left and got home around noon.  Something new for us.  We usually linger and get home in the mid afternoon when we don't have the grandkids.

The weather has gone for pretty hot to overcast and now thunder, lightning and rain.  Not like some parts of the country yet, but wet none the less.  I would say fall is arriving.  This tree in our complex has been changing for a couple of weeks.

 I have discussed the park before but I just don't quite understand folks who spend tons of money on a trailer to put on a small piece of property that they don't own and then consider it valuable when they go to sell it.  Unless a lot has improvements it most likely isn't worth more that $2,000.  Add a shed, gazebo, fire pit, etc and you can increase the amount you ask.  If the lot has a trailer then the value obviously goes up and it can be considerable depending on the trailer.

But a lot of people think that with all the amenities and a 40' trailer equals a high value.  Big trailers are like automobiles.  They depreciate.  They don' appreciate.  But some folks apparently think they do..  There are a lot of lots for sale with trailers that are really over priced and sitting.  I did see one today that might be priced right.
It is a smaller lot, but has a 2000 Nomad on it that looks to be in pretty good shape.  Fully furnished and ready to go for 10k.  If I had the money I might buy this one and make it look like the 45 - 50k units others have for sale.

Lightning has put a stall in the game.  The officials have suspended the game until the weather clears some.

Hope everyone is having a good week.  Oh, my new license plate for the trailer, "RV We There Yet".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blogging and other stuff

In the past the opinion page of the newspaper provided a place for folks to sound off about their concerns.  Someone would state an opinion and there would be letters to the editor from others who either agreed or disagreed with the original hypothesis.  I recall having seen several letters to the editor when a particular subject was brought up by one of the opinion writers that really got someone up on their soap box.

Blogging is a different world and yet a lot like the opinion page of the newspaper.  We have opinions or things that we are doing that we think others would enjoy.  (Facebook is just a quick one line version of Blogging)  I began to wonder what it is that makes another individual respond with a comment about something you have written and I really haven't come to any conclusion.

I have never had more that one or two responses to anything I have written.  I note that other bloggers have many responses to their comments regardless of what they say.  A couple of months ago, I did a blog titled, "Looking For Friendly Suggestions".  While 62 people read the blog only 2 responded.  A couple of days ago I wrote a blog titled, "With A Little Help From My Friends".  There were 28 folks that opened the blog, but only 2 responded.

As I look at my reading list I see that I am following more than one hundred blogs.  I try to read the posts every couple of days or so and comment when I see something of interest or I can help in someway.  If everyone is following as many blogs as I am, I can see why comments are very limited on any one blog.  Who would have time to follow all those blogs and comment on each one?

So how does a blogger get recognition?  For me, the number of people reading is far more important than the number commenting.  We are all busy, retired or not, and our time is very limited.  Commenting on everything you read would be nearly impossible.

It has been very hot here lately.  We hit 93 degrees yesterday afternoon at the peak of the heat.  The heat was the same in Dallas, Texas yesterday.  We beat the previous record of 87 degrees for September 11 back in 2009 and tied the all time record for summer heat set on June 30th.  I need to start looking for a place to sunbird much like the snowbirds.  I don't like this heat.

I am off today and of course the computer at work has decided to stop working.  I have had calls from several employees looking for answers and I am here at home in my underwear with no plans to go to work today.  I am usually the first one in the door and I have the access to fix things when the computer decides to shutdown.  Unfortunately I believe the issue this morning is merely an overheated circuit breaker but none of the folks who have been calling can locate it.  Of course the one day I decide to take off, something goes wrong.  I see this as a training opportunity because as my countdown indicates there is only 215 days left to use and abuse me.

I will be working this Saturday but I plan to join Mia at the trailer in the evening and make some final preparations to move it home for the winter.  Camping World is having a sale on covers for RV's so I need to measure up the trailer so I can get the correct size.  Last year I used the one we bought for our old trailer but we soon realized it was just a tad bit short as we pulled it over the rain gutters and it tore.  I fixed it with some duct tape and tossed it when I removed it this year.  ADCO makes some nice universal covers that fit very well and are a reasonable cost considering the protection they offer.

We have a few things to do before I get away from work.  Tires for the trailer and the truck.  I have to make an appointment with the dentist.  I hate dentist.  I suspect my mouth is full of problems.

We have a solution to the medical insurance issue.  Mia went to a seminar and it looks like we can continue our Group Health Insurance as a supplemental to Medicare for a reasonable amount.  I feared that the cost would be like Cobra which can be a small fortune for two people.  Small fortunes I do not have.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

With A Little Help From My Friends

It is an early Sunday morning and I am up as usual watching the sunrise but there doesn't seem to be anything in the sky but light gray clouds.  I can see them really well because I washed all the outside windows on the condo yesterday.  That requires some effort especially on the second floor where you have to step out through the window and close it behind you.  If Mia wanted to leave me there she could just forget to reopen the window.

I asked yesterday about grilles.  Hidden in my ramblings was the question about which grilles you prefer.

When Mia and I started back camping we bought one of the grilles with legs that folded up when you stored it.  I didn't like the fact that it was constantly falling apart whenever you tried to move it.
So we got rid of it and found a small Coleman unit that was both portable and table top.  It has a grille and burner and it works fairly well except the controls for the gas are weird.  If you turn it down to far it  shuts off the gas supply before it gets to the off position.  We can't regulate the burner because it is either on full blast or down really low.  Nothing in between.  So we are now looking at getting rid of this.
Now we have a decision to make.  I have been reading reviews until my head is about to fall off so a little help from my friends (followers) would be greatly appreciated.  Which grille do you use?  Is it everything you want a grille to be?

Thanks in advance.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fall Might Be Here

Wow did we every get hit with a nasty storm a couple of nights ago.  Heavy rains, lightning, thunder and I heard someone say we had dime sized hail somewhere around the area.  Can't remember every hearing any reference the size of the hail around here before.  We had a motorcycle rider struck by one of the 28,000 strikes in the state, a portion of a major highway suffer closure after a slide, a sink hole developed in one of our suburbs, Lewis County reported 4" of rain, sewers overflowed in Everett, there were flood watches on all rivers and Sea Tac International Airport reported 1.7" of rain in a 48 hour period.  We went from muggy, hot to cooler, wet inside of a few hours.  It is currently 62 degrees with no rain, very comfortable with a forecast of sun returning tomorrow.  September 22 is the official end of summer but I think fall is creeping in a little early.

Mia and I have visited the trailer the past two weekends.  Last weekend we took the grandkids up with us for the Labor Day weekend.  I had to work Saturday so Mia and the kids left Friday night and I joined them after work.  We had a lot of fun with them and our friends.  It was the first time I can say that the two kids got along with each other for the entire weekend.  It was very refreshing and different to see them interact without all the drama and nasty stuff that goes on sometimes.  I hope they can find a way to enjoy each others company the way or son and daughter have finally been able to find each other.

I fixed hamburgers on our little grille Saturday and did all of the breakfast preps while we where up there.  As I have said before, Mia and the kids are night people and I am a morning person so I would get up and make coffee and since every seating area was used up in the trailer and the weather was decent, I would go outside with my Kindle and read at the picnic table and enjoy the sunrise or take Honey for her morning walk while I waited for them to get up.
What of grilles do you use or prefer?  This one doesn't have much adjustment between very hot and very cool.
I have two Kindles.  This is the first one I got as a present from my kids and wife.  I use it a lot and really enjoy reading with it.  Without a backlight it is difficult to use in the dark but overall it has been great.  We got another Kindle not to long ago.  It is the HD color version with many more features that this one.  I like it as well, but I seldom get to use it since Mia enjoys using it to play games.  It has replaced our old HP laptop she used to use.

If you like breakfast I can fix it for you.  I love breakfast.  It is hard to ruin and everything tastes soooooo good.  Loved the strawberry waffles but sad that the whipped cream lost it body once the can was opened.  Still, it tasted pretty good.
Sunday I got out the ladder and climbed up to see what the roof looked like.  It was a nasty, blackish, grey with pine needles everywhere.  I had purchased the vent cover a few weeks ago, so I got a wild hair and decided to install it.  Once done, I took a little break and climbed back up with a can of Comet, my trusty hand scrub brush and the hose.  I cleaned to roof from one end to the other.  I was dripping with sweat when I finished but I was truly amazed with the difference once I was done.  Now I need to move the trailer to our winter home base and cover it until next spring when I take it in to get it gone through for our retirement trip.  Going to have all the systems gone through as well as replacing the tires that have been sitting for several years and have date stamps that will soon expire.

Work is moving along.  I have actually found some additional bodies to help so it looks like we will be moving forward.  220 days to go.

Hope everyone is have a great time.