Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Volkswagen, Ken And A Life Of Automotive

In 1967 while working for the Boeing company at the Renton assembly plant I quickly came to the conclusion that bucking rivets was NOT the life for me.  I left the factory floor and since I belonged to the local machinist union I went to the hall looking for other possibilities.  I started as a lube technician at one of our local Chevrolet dealerships.  In fact, I worked for two of them before it became very apparent that service managers didn't last very long.  It was like musical chairs here in the area and every time the service manager was replaced the new guy would bring in "his crew" and you would be looking for work.  Not a good plan for the future.

Once again I went back to the union hall and that is how I found the parts side of business.  I began working in a warehouse in south Seattle called Chanslor and Lyon.  We supplied parts all over Washington, Idaho and Alaska for independent local parts houses.  I started pulling parts and worked by way up to counterperson and finally manager of the night shift.  Unfortunately there wasn't enough business to keep the Seattle location going so the rug was pulled out sometime in 1969.

I went to work for a local independent NAPA parts store in West Seattle.  I had always loved VW having already owned two.  The future wife and I did lots of traveling around our part of the world in our 1967 VW Bug with the Northwest VW Club.  We met lots of VW people.  Gene Berg, likely the first person to mess with the Beetle engine and ended up making a cottage industry out of hopping up Bugs for all kinds of people.  Muscle cars were big, but non of us could afford them so we looked to Gene to turn our little sleepers into rear wheel drive Muscle Car crushers.  While I could never afford to go all the way, my little 67 was a potent little blue Bug.  Then came marriage, home, responsibilities and kids.

I had met a Parts Manager for the local dealership that I purchased my first new car from.  My little 1967 Colbalt Blue VW Bug came from Moore Motors in Bellevue.  It cost me $1995. plus tax and license and I was in love with that car.
1967 Beetle Stock

First 12 volt Beetle

Stock 1500 cc Engine
Mia and I were married in 1969 and we ended up trading that car in on another Beetle…this time a green 1969.  I didn't modify the 69 as much as I had the 67.  We needed dependable transportation and at the time I was working for Metro Motors one of the first distributors turned dealership in Seattle, Washington.  The little air cooled, rear wheel car was becoming a cult favorite with younger individuals who couldn't afford to own the American gas guzzling muscle car.  Besides that all you needed to keep your Beetle running was sting, duct tape and a gum wrapper.  They were so simple to work on and parts were cheap.

I worked for Volkswagen into the 70's and 80's until they lost their luster.  It came the day they introduced their first water cooled car.  It was coming, everyone knew it but no one wanted it.  VW was not as good at building a quality water cooled vehicle as they were with the air cooled.  Momentum from years of record sales of the Beetle went into the toilet as VW continued to not understand the American market nor what they needed to do to make things right with their customers.  Sales declined and I left VW in the mid eighties.  But I will never forget these little air cooled beauties or the variations that we came up with over the years. 

Here are some pictures from my visit to the Lemay Museum earlier today.  I love cars and this place is the place to see them, lots of them.  I went for their current VW display.  Enjoy, I did.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

51 Days, Alabama, Lionel Richie

With only 51 days left to my scheduled retirement day.  Later this week I will apply for Social Security and upgrade my Medicare to include all the other parts that A doesn't take care.  I will also take a trip down memory lane to the Lemay Museum to see the vintage Volkswagen display that is currently running through Memorial Day.  I have a lot history with vintage Volkswagens that I will share later this week along with the pictures I take while I am at the display.

I would slap my daughter, but it really isn't her fault that she mentioned two country music shows that bring back a flood of memories.  I lived in the 80's but I didn't live in the 80's.  As I have said before I drank, a lot.  I do remember some things and two of the musicians that might be considered at opposite ends of the musical spectrum would be Alabama and Lionel Richie, but if you listen to both you soon realize there is much in common.  Friends of Alabama and Friends of Lionel Richie are two You Tube
videos that will bring back memories and let me warn you…be prepared for tears and emotions you have completely forgotten about.

I just watch both of them and while I am still in not so good condition the experience drained me emotionally.  Listening to those great hits from both entertainers gave me pause and brought me back to places I haven't been in some time.

Friday, February 21, 2014

53 Days Left And……Tires?

So the crud seems to be getting better however the aftermath of getting better is the antibiotics have destroyed any good germs I had left.  I am tired, run down.  My back and shoulders hurt in the morning when I get out of bed.  A headache arrives in the middle of the night and stays until I drop a couple of Tylenol during the getting ready process.  It hasn't come back today but I am sure I will get another visit tonight.  I have an urgent care follow up on Monday and I certainly hope I have the energy to get there.

While sitting around being sick I have been researching tires for the trailers.  Now there is a subject that can be down right overwhelming.  So I put it to my fellow RVer's and bloggers.  What success/failure have you had with trailer tires?  Any brands you deem better than others?

I look forward to you comments.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

55 Days And It Isn't Over Yet

This damned stuff is just plain maddening.  You feel tired when you wake up, get better in the morning, only to turn south and go down hill in the afternoon.  I am home completely exhausted, bad feelings in my stomach and just worn out.  It will be early to bed again.  Imagine, me sleeping almost 11 a night.  Unheard of.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

56 Days And I Think I Killed Everything

I am so tired and my stomach is beyond upset feeling.  No real illness, just don't feel right.  You know how you go to the doctor and when they start to talk you kind of shut your ears well that is what appears to have happened to me.

1500 mg of amoxicillin brings some nasty side effects.  One of them is nausea and being super tired most of the time.  It occurred to me last night as I was fading off into dream world that the pharmacist had made some comments about microbes and nausea.  Turns out I recall the conversation even though my ears were completely turned off.

I stopped by the store and got some yogurt.  Thinking this may help for the remainder of my 10 days of antibodies.

Monday, February 17, 2014

57 Days And Presidents Day

With 57 days to go we are celebrating Presidents Day in the U.S.  Originally intended to celebrate the first President of the United States, George Washington, it has become more of a celebration of the 44 men who managed to be President over the past couple of hundred years.  Lincoln has a birthday in February as well.

I was watching some of the television ads that use Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln and George Washington and while they can be funny I have to ask what kind of person thought of using founding fathers and past Presidents as actors in commercials?  Can you disrespect someone any more than sticking their likeness in a commercial for something they didn't even have when they were alive.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

58 Days And K Kups

I decided to purchase a Keurig Single cup coffee maker several weeks ago and I couldn't be more happy with the results.  I have a larger version and home and recently purchased the one pictured above for our trailer…goodbye Mr. Coffee.  I purchased several different brands of K Kups from Keurig since they give you a really good offer with the purchase of a unit.  Once you register you new unit you get a coupon number giving you two free packs with the purchase of two packs.

The local newspaper was discussing this rage and the effects that it will have on the environment.  Apparently these K Kups don't disappear well in the local landfills.  Made of plastic they live on and on.  I will use up the ones I have but I won't be buying any more of these little plastic hazards.  Instead I will purchase the adapter that allows you to make your own Kup.  You put your brand of coffee in it and brew.  It is just as good as the Kup and much, much cheaper

I had to work yesterday and didn't get the opportunity to see the U.S.A./Russia Hockey game.  I understand it was tightly played game.  While they weren't playing for a medal the U.S. met the Russian team with intensity and beat them on their home ice after several shoot outs.  Congratulations to our team.

Hope everyone is enjoying the weather where they are.  Be careful.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

61 Days And, Really? Obama

So there are 61 days left and I went back to work today although I likely should have stayed home.  I still feel like crud, eyes hurt, hair hurts, head aches and lots of muscles in pain.  Since this is bacterial I can't pass it on to some unsuspecting sold like I could with a common virus.  Sadly it must run its course and run it is.

Yesterday while suffering the pangs of this stuff I watch Obama announce that Federal Contractors must now pay their employees $10.10 per hour up from the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.  That is a nice hike that will be added to the contractors bid and be paid by, wait for it….you and me.  I don't deny that living on $7.25 isn't easy to do.  That works out to roughly $15,077 for an annual salary with no deductions or overtime.  $10.10 per hour works out to $21,003 with no deductions or overtime.
There is no way anyone can raise a family on either one of these.  So I will not say it isn't deserved but it makes me wonder about a company that would pay $7.25 to employee for any kind of work unless tips are involved.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

62 Days

I spent yesterday between sleep and pain.  I started taking the antibiotics but as the Physician Assistant told me it is unlikely that they will make any immediate change in my condition.  I can see that now as I awake with my face in about as much pain as I was feeling yesterday and my overall ability to navigate hindered by the whacked out feeling in my head.  This is not a fun thing to have this close to my retirement.  Sitting here at the computer is far safer than attempting to drive to work.  I was told it could take up to a month to get rid of all the symptoms.

The good news is we have bodies coming the 24th.  Both parties have committed to that start date so we will be doing a little better after that date.  I have to admit that I wasn't expecting to work this many hours or this hard just before retirement.  I had it in my head that I could work with my replacement and  leave the counter work to the counter people.  Who knew we would be so short handed for such a long

The unemployment numbers are still hovering around 7% and you would think that you would get people willing to work to apply but no, ads run but there doesn't seem to be an qualified people applying.  Once in a great while you get someone with experience or some automotive knowledge that would be trainable but they want to make scads of money to start and expect to be paid top dollar after a year of work with benefits like those they see at Amazon or Google.  We don't have those types of benefits and we pay well for beginning people with some automotive knowledge, good attitude and integrity.  Unfortunately most young folks don't play with cars like we did and attitude and integrity is being lost.

You can make a decent living in the back side of the local automotive dealership if you work and try to better yourself.  You won't get it without work.  There are Parts and Service Managers who make six figures to deal with customers, dealers, employees and manufacturers.  It is a tough job but can be a very rewarding one if you surround yourself with people who are on the same bus going in the same direction.  But then, that can be said of the dealer principal as well.  If he has a vision and surrounds himself with a good management team, good things are possible.  One bad apple can ruin the barrel.

Enough, I need to take a nap.  This was too much thinking for my aching head.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

63 Days

After suffering for the past two weeks with what fist started as a sore throat and developed into a chest and then head cold, I could take no more.  This morning I awoke with pressure around my nose and eyes but off to work I went.  After being there a couple of hours I blew my nose and promptly loaded the tissue with bloody waste.  I could not get in to see my doctor so I went to urgent care.  Until the doctor pressed the area around my nose and eyes I had had no pain.  Now my teeth hurt and I think my hair might hurt as well and I have a pharmacy of pills and nasal aids to use.  It is called bacterial sinus infection.  Not a good way to spend my 63rd day before retirement.

Monday, February 10, 2014

64 Days, But Who Is Counting

Me…I am counting.  Unfortunately I may not have the opportunity to leave quite as quickly as I had hoped.  With a little over two months to go we still do not have replacement parts personnel for two open positions on the counter.  We have commitments but no bodies.  My replacement and I have been working a lot of hours trying to just stay on top of the business leaving very little time to teach him anything.  One of our commitments should start sometime next week but he has no experience as a counter person so we will be training him from scratch.  Obviously he will not be ready to be alone on the counter for sometime to come.

Our other commitment hasn't given notice that I know of so we are still up in the air.  He is experienced and can run the counter with very little help on most days.  One day that is an issue is Saturday and it appears I maybe roped into working the Saturday shift until we can train the new guy to handle it alone.  The one with experience has already been told he won't have to work Saturday that often.  Not what I would have done but it is too late now.  I don't mind staying on a couple of months if all I am doing is working the 10 hour Saturday shift.  I figure it should be worth $$$ for me to get up and go in on Saturday.  We'll see.

I told the boss that I had restarted the countdown and told him to save his money and not bother with a party or any send off.   I was trying to get him to pop for a new truck but he laughs every time I say something so I suspect I have a better chance of winning the Lotto.

Mia and I are investigating the rather convoluted Medicare program and are trying to figure out just how much it will cost and what kind of supplemental we will need.  We currently have Group Health and really don't see any reason to change but trying to find out the benefits and costs is like pulling teeth.  I guess we will be reworking the budget tonight.  I certainly hope this doesn't mean I have to work longer….

Ready to leave in Seattle.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

65 Days

This has been one of the coldest weeks in the history of the Pacific Northwest and last night we were treated to a blanket of the white stuff.  Roughly one to two inches of snow fell last night and the outdoors is looking very beautiful this morning.  I probably shouldn't but I do like the snow.

There are 65 days left before I move on to the next stage of life.  Frankly, I can't wait.  Even if the boss wants me to stay, I am leaning towards, NOT.

Hope everyone is doing well and being safe in this latest storm.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Very Long Week

It all started Tuesday afternoon when I began to feel a little congested.  I kept telling myself it was nothing and when I would up Wednesday it appeared to be that..nothing.  Wednesday evening around bedtime the throat got scratchy and there was the post nasal drip that commonly comes with the good old fashion cold.  Thursday morning was better but the scratchy throat stayed with me as the cough began to rear it's ugly head creating a sore throat from hell.  I ate popsicles to cool it down and by Thursday night I was coughing and eating ice cubes in a vain attempt to thwart the sore throat that kept me awake for most of the night.

Coughing my way into Friday I got up, put on a happy face and went to work.  Throat was very sore and I continued to cough until my co-workers requested my absence and I left to come home.  I spent the day in bed taking all kinds of medical wonders and drinking fluids trying to regain some strength drained from me by this evil virus.

I managed to get out of bed and go to work on Saturday and suffer through a long day of further pain and agony.  My grandson was with me and seemed very concerned about my well being.  I thank him for that and all he did for the department on Saturday.  I went to Walmart on the way home last night and picked up the first thing that looked like cold medicine (it wasn't) took a cap full, went straight to bed and asleep.

It is Super Bowl Sunday and the Seattle Seahawks will play this afternoon.  I think I'll make it but boy am I tired.  Hopefully, I will be feeling better tomorrow because I really need to go to work in the morning.