Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day Off, Working From Home, Old Stuff, Syria

Since I have to work this coming Saturday I took my comp day today.  I got up early and read some of the blogs that I follow and had my morning coffee.  Honey got up and insisted on going out early and it is probably a good thing that I noticed the urgency.  Came home and had breakfast with Mia and took my bath while she took Honey out for her long morning walk.  I suspect they will be home anytime.

I took the day off but I brought home work.  Our key machine started to smoke last week and it looks like the toggle switch is worn out.  I disassembled it yesterday and brought the switch home with me and I will attempt to find a replacement later this morning.  As I have said I need more help (yes mental help would be good) and I have several applications but I just never seem to have the time to sit down and study them or make the calls for phone interviews.  We are in a bit of a rush at this point as we are going to be down four people very soon.  I need some support people and I have a ton of applications and should be able to fill those jobs easily.  I still need a counter person but finding one with experience in either manufacturer is difficult at best, so I am expanding my search to independent parts houses or folks working in other manufacturers dealers.

Mia and I spent an exceptional weekend at the trailer this past weekend.  It was quiet and peaceful and we just enjoyed the heck out of it.  We had gotten a notice from the park that we needed to clean up our wood pile or face a violation.  The park has pretty stringent rules regarding the look of the lots and what can and can't be on the lot, partially due to the County Conditional Use Permit that we operate under.  So we purchased a firewood holder and went up to clean up the mess.  I admit, it was a mess.  We cleaned up the area and when we were done there was a bunch of bark and small pieces of wood lying about so I started a fire and ended up filling my little fire pit with coals left over from burning everything I could.  We notified the office that we had cleaned so they can reinspect the lot.  Always feels good when the lot is cleaned up.

Since I have to work this Saturday I think Mia is planning on going up Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and I will join her Saturday evening.  I might stay until Tuesday and go to work from the park as opposed to driving home in traffic on Monday afternoon.

A fellow blogger posted this picture of a 1937 trailer complete with a fully dressed mannequin and made the comment that she appeared out of place, or something to that effect.  I love history and I have looked into the early days of camping.  The average family of a working class individual would have went camping in a tent and enjoyed the outdoors using the family car, if they had one.

The upper class individuals would have had it a little better.  I give you Henry Ford and Thomas Edison as examples of the upper class camping experience.  Note that the ladies and gentlemen shown in these pictures are dress much as they would be going to the store or office.  Just thought it was interesting.
Not the Ford/Edison trip but cute none the less

Unidentified lady, Mrs Ford, Mrs Edison

Enjoying the great outdoors

My last comment for the day.  Is it really necessary for the U.S. to continue to act as moral judge, jury and executioner?  Here we go again.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Time Certainly Flies By

There are 235 days left in my life long career in the automotive business.  It seems like yesterday I was free, single and driving truck for a Volkswagen dealership in downtown Seattle.  When I think back on my career I think driving a truck all over the Seattle area might have been the thing to do but then I doubt that I would be in the position I am in today had I continued along that trail.  Perhaps better off emotionally and closer to the family but I can't knock my existence too much at this point.  We have a really nice life together and in 235 days we'll be driving each other crazy.

Work has been very hectic lately and looking at the schedule I am preparing for September I suspect it to continue right through until October.  I still need another full time counterperson.  I advertised on the Washington State Employment site but even though I listed very specific qualifications I continue to get folks applying that likely couldn't tell the difference between a differential and a TPMS sensor.  I can train an individual with a good attitude, that smiles and can communicate if they have some technical or real parts counter experience.  Even if they come from another brand or independent parts house or right out of school as long as they have some auto science knowledge.   I will find the right individual even if it takes some time.  Chaplin's is a family owned business and they tell their employees that the customer is always right.  It takes a special individual to work in our environment.  Mr. Chaplin says it is okay to get screwed once in awhile as long as you know you're getting screwed.  Be nice and take care of the situation.  If you take care of the customer then the customer has no ammunition to go and tell others what a crappy place you run.

I usually leave very early in the morning and when I got up Tuesday I walked out into the morning and felt a cooling that hadn't been around for some time.  Looking up I saw a full moon hanging in the sky. The picture was taken with my phone which makes it difficult at best.  It looks like fall might actually be on the way.  The heat is around during the day and then it does cool down a lot overnight reminding one of harvest time and state fairs.  Oh wait, the Evergreen State Fair opens this weekend, followed by the Puyallup Fair in September.  Won't be too long and I'll be walking Honey around the block at night in the pouring rain.

We spent last weekend at Gold Bar and had a very quiet weekend since none of our friends where anywhere in sight.  Mia and I enjoyed the weekend with Honey taking long walks, reading and just enjoying the nice weather.  It was warm over the weekend with no rain.  We really enjoy the off weekends when very few folks are in the park.   There are a lot of spots for sale at the moment.  Some want an extraordinary amount of money for a small patch of land and a trailer and sheds.  Pictured below is the current most expensive place in the park.  They want $50,000 for the membership, trailer, furniture and buildings.  
Further down on the monetary scale is this one  at $2500 with no trailer, buildings or anything else.
You may remember our little water problem that developed into a lake behind our lot.  We complained to the park and did we ever open a can of worms.   In the middle of winter, last year, the park discovered that a neighbor had blocked a drainage ditch while cleaning up his property.  They contacted the county and state, moved our trailer to access the area and removed all of the greenbelt between our site and the sites at the end of the next street over.  They dug trenches, installed a drainage field and stopped working because of the wet weather.  The area became so muddy that the heavy equipment just sank down. 
We were a little upset to see no green belt between us and the other properties.  While you never have complete privacy in a campground the complete loss of it is something you would rather not experience.  It was ugly and several of our affected neighbors have put their places up for sale or just refused to come back.  We were promised that they would get to work on it and get it back in shape this summer.  Summer came and nothing happened so we spoke to the park manager who said they would be starting work again after the July 4th weekend.

A couple of weeks ago we learned that one of our members apparently called the EPA and while the project hasn't been red flagged the EPA is involved due to perceived wetlands running parallel to the property line.  Whoops...seems they may have stepped into it.  

This news prompted and email from me and my wife looking for options and being really upset with the parks handling of this situation.  We arrived at the park last weekend to find new vegetation planted behind the shed blocking our view of the terrible mess on the other side.  You can see the bushes in the picture below.  It isn't what was there but it is a start and I don't have to look at the mess behind me anymore.

Our son and his wife, Emily, came to visit us on Saturday.  The young man in the picture is our youngest grandson, James.  He is busy texting on Mom's phone while we all sit and enjoy the beautiful day.

That is pretty much all I have to say.  I have today off and Mia and I will be at an appointment this morning followed by another trip to Gold Bar.  Rain is in the forecast so we are taking our Kindles.  If the weather allows we have a firewood storage device to build and a vent cover to install on one of the exterior roof vents of the trailer.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Preparing For A Big Day

We have had thunder and lightning here in the great Northwest for the past couple of evenings.  The humidity is high even though there has been very little rain.  The temperatures have been nice but the humidity adds a degree of discomfort that we don't always have however it is tolerable and Zach and I spent yesterday chalking and sanding the majority of the old house in Covington.

 I have a small handheld Porter Cable power belt sander that uses 2 1/2" X 14" belts.  It handled the job fairly well however it does run through the belts (I figured out why) and it gets a little hot to hold after a few hours of continuous sanding.  As for the belts, they are only available at Lowe's in our area.  Home Depot doesn't appear to carry this sander and therefore doesn't choose to stock the belts for it.  I bought all the belts I could at our local Lowe's and ended up at another one about 10 miles away after I ran out of belts.  It appears that the only thing that Lowe's carries is an assortment of belts, three to a package.  You get 50/80/120 grit in the assortment and the 120 may as well be plain paper when it comes to sanding paint on a house.  50 grit works great and the 80 grit can deal with it but it doesn't last as long as the 50 grit.  Going to my son's place of work, Amazon, I see that I can purchase sandpaper belts in specific grits to fit this unit but it is too late now since I have but one small section to finish.

 After the sander hits the siding we have the following results.  It does a good job of getting rid of the flaking paint and makes quick work of feathering all those nasty holes.

 We will be putting a full court press to paint the rest of the house today.  We have a little over half the house to finish.  We worked all last weekend and got a good portion of it done.  Our son, daughter in law and little James came over to participate in our little adventure.  Jeff said James wanted to help paint and he did.  We gave him a bucket and a brush with some paint and he threw it on the side of the house.  My hands were dirty or I'd have a picture.  It was pretty funny.

When he first got there, Zach and I were installing some replacement trim on the front of the house and James became very interested in pounding nails.  Zach pounded a nail into a piece of scrap wood and James spent a goodly portion of his time with us pounding that nail with a James size hammer.  I am not sure the nail moved.  As you can see, James was entertaining Honey.

Speaking of Honey, she was attacked by another much small dog on Monday.  A Yorkshire put some teeth marks in her, bruised her and chewed at one rear leg.  Needless to say she spent the day at the vet.  Mia said it was totally unprovoked and she had to kick the other dog to get it to let go.  The owner was very apologetic and even paid for our vet bill.  She is on light duty and healing nicely.  She is very apprehensive when walking around the neighborhood especially when she gets near the area where she was attacked.

I promised Zach we would be over about 10 am so I best close for now and get my butt moving.
Hope everyone is having a good time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Do I Sound Like I Am Complaining And Working On The Road

My grandson said the each paragraph that I posted yesterday sounded like I was complaining.  I, of course, said I wasn't't complaining merely stating fact.  Was I complaining.

Does anyone reading my blog currently work consulting while traveling?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Where's Waldo (Ken)

It is a overcast, foggy, damp morning in the Emerald city.   The fog has come down to our level and is providing a cooling mist as Honey and I walk through the neighborhood on her morning outing.

I have the weekend off but it doesn't look like I have the weekend off.  I may not be at work but there is a ton of things that need to be done this Seafair weekend and none of them include any of the many activities taking place throughout the Seattle area.

I have 255 days left and while I do look forward to the possibilities of not getting up and going to work everyday, I am entering this stage of my life with some apprehension.  There are so many unanswered questions and as I have said before we are not the richest people in the world and neither of us has a pension plan from a governmental or union job so what we have saved over the years (thanks to my saint, Mia) is what we have to live on over the course of the next few years.  If we, like our parents, live into our 90's we may find ourselves with some monetary issues.

I have put out some feelers through a network of people I have worked with and vendors who I use.  Surprisingly there are a number of people who might be interested in using my experience for training or consulting with other companies.  I have to get more details, but I have made it clear I am not looking for a full time position but rather something to fill the monetary holes as I travel about the country seeking new adventures.  It would be great if we could travel to a specific location, consult and use our free time to investigate the region before moving on to a different destination.  I still have a lot of unanswered questions regarding this after employment employment but it may well be the answer to keeping our savings in our IRA's or 401's while still having some kind of income to supplement the Social Security Benefit.

Today is going to be a busy day.  Once I hit the publish tab I will be loading up my tools and taking off for the house we own that our daughter lives in.  With the help of our grandson, Zach, the plan is to prep and paint as much of the house as we can today and possibly tomorrow.  I went over there a week ago and prep one portion of the house and sprayed it to see what the results would be.  I was happily surprised and it came out well.  I instructed Zach how to use the sprayer but once we were done I realized that his idea of clean and mine are slightly different so I need to be there anytime he is spraying so I ensure the cleanup is good.

 As you can see he catches on really quickly and he was able to apply paint to the house in a very consistent manner. I suspect we will have great success today.

Work has been a little messed up.  Our department has been understaffed for sometime now and an employee who was on leave couldn't make a decisive choice between coming back or going to a dealer closer to home.  After making several attempts to conform to his requests, I finally gave up and made his leave permanent.  Of course, I did this on a weekend he was supposed to work and I had planned to take three days and spend them at the trailer in Gold Bar.  I went to work Friday to attend a managers meeting and then left and went to the house to work with Zach.  We left his house around noon and headed over to our place to pack up and leave for Gold Bar.  We arrived in Gold Bar in the mid-afternoon and set up camp and had dinner.  Since I couldn't get anyone else to work on short notice I got up early Saturday morning and headed into the shop.  On the way, I caught these flying over the highway.  It was the high point of my day.

The good news, I am off for the weekend.  Next week I have staff on vacation but I must still try to find a replacement for the young man who left.  Just another day in the life of a manager.  I hope to get staffed so that I can work on a mountain of things that I have let slide for the past couple of years.  We need to take a physical inventory of the parts department in November and I want the place ready so it doesn't take us two days to do it.  To do that, I need time to work with the inventory, spend time in the bins and make sure all the paperwork is straight.  We have parts that say they are there but aren't and some that show no indication of being there but yet they are.  It has been almost two years since our last inventory and we moved the department twice during that time.  I am certain we have lost stuff and with all the stress in the department we have no doubt failed to do some of the tasks that are required to keep a straight, organized and accurate inventory.

I must pack up my tools, stop by Lowe's and head over to the house.  Hope everyone has a great day.