Saturday, December 12, 2009

21 Degrees F In Knoxville

47 Degrees F on St. Simons Island...

Who's idea was this--leaving Our Little Island--any way?

One Eight Down...

Two More To Go...

Well, I managed to throw eight of my new custom 3-way pneumatic valves out the door on FedEX on Friday. Four went out in the morning in one heavy cardboard box and their cousins went out about 4:30 PM in another 23 pound shipment.

My fingers hurt from banging them on the edges of the metal components and pushing on Allen wrenches and clamping things in my bench vice because--basically I'm an office boy and have no calluses on my hands unless I'm in the middle of a home improvement project (something that's a few months behind me most recently.)

Now for the next week on the professional front it's nuthin' but me and Bobby McGee there's just me and my PLC Infrared Temperature Probe project which has to be out preferably by mid week.

Did I mention that my customer called and ordered another duplicate panel for their Maryland Corporate Headquarters/Manufacturing facility?

They want to be able to evaluate it's performance on more than one production line and have ominously threatened me with a command performance meeting with Corporate Engineering in January.

The good news is that I have another order, the bad news I have as yet to make the first Prototype work so I either have two dead panels or two working panels. The hardware is a no-brainer, it's the software that needs a little fine tuning before it gets packed in bubble wrap and peanuts.

If things go as planned I could end up being inundated with dozens of orders for duplicate panels, and then there's a whole family of variants I'm talking to them about for delivery in 2010.

And in the mean time the %$#@ Government will continue to take my time filing forms and stealing money paying for "licences" and "permits."

And now not only do I have to file Federal Income Tax for Pat and I (fortunately the Turbo Pup is exempt as far as I can tell), but now yet another tax return for the Corporation will be due April 15th, and of course there's the State Sales Tax people to deal with and on and on and on.

I'm afraid the Government BS is going to force me back into having to have an Accountant look at things this year for the first time in over ten years, in spite of being officially "unemployed" since December 19th last year.

Isn't that a total load of crap?

A guy gets laid off, and the only thing he manages to do to earn a little income over the subsequent 12 months is sporadic consulting, sell a piece of real estate, and spend the minimum cash out of savings mandated to start a new Corporation--the only guarantee being the possibility of further losing his ass--and the Government passes laws so complex it makes him PAY someone to do the paperwork else risk making a mistake and having to pay INTEREST AND A PENALTY for an honest oversight.

%$#@ing Government...

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Out Up All Night...Sleep All Day..."

"I Don't Know Where I'm Going..." **

Date: December 11, 2009

Time: 5:36 AM EST

Location: Somewhere In A Basement In West Knoxville, TN

Mission Status: Critical

Current Plans: Ship one carton of Four Valves...Sleep...Build Four More...collapse

***With my apologies to Joe Walsh and the Eagles...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's 36 Degrees And I'm Out Hanging Lights On My House?

The Wind's Blowing In One Ear And Out The Other...

Of course I can't manage to wear gloves and do the intricate wire tied pattern on my front railings so if I start typing like rthis layter tyonighty yuyou'lklk knbnow whast happpperned.

(Frost bite in my fingers = FGrodst Buitre inb myu fgingerts.)


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Death By Lawn Tools

Don't Make Me Have To Kill You With A Rake...

I'm Pissed.

More than just a little.

My regular readers/lurkers/followers may remember last year when I spent $500 on a Monday having all of the lawn clipping and branches and trimming and other miscellaneous debris removed after a season spent cutting the overgrown shrubbery of our new 1963 vintage home...and then the VERY NEXT WEDNESDAY my asshole back yard neighbor's white pine tree fell into my yard destroying a giant Holley tree and barely missing the Turbo Pup's picket fenced in recreational area.

The guy,in his mid thirty's, came over and basically told this old crippled 50 year old (ok 49 at the time) man that he was sure sorry but since it didn't break anything his insurance wouldn't pay and that I could borrow his chain saw if I wanted.

I resisted the urge to do something to him involving removing his starched/pressed/pleated Khaki pants and hanging him from one of my trees in the front yard with his Yuppy pink tie as punishment because I'm too old to spend a night in the Knox County Jail.

The idiot never lifted a finger to help remove HIS TREE from my yard and I've never heard from him again another $200 later.

That said, right now I'm fuming because our next door neighbors--one of only two rental houses on the entire street to my knowledge--didn't remove their leaves which fell off of the two giant Oaks in their front yard this season...they just raked them into giant piles at the base of their trees.

I, on the other hand, paid my "lawn technician" to remove my leaves and I cleaned up the stuff that fell since and it's laying in two little piles in the natural areas in my back yard.

I also waited for all of the leaves to fall off of our own and all of the surrounding trees and then put out a pallet and one half of fancy dark stained Cypress mulch in all of the existing flower beds and a giant new bedding area along the front of the house.

Now guess what?

Today with the wind gusting over 40 MPH and blowing nearly constantly out of the west at 10 MPH...

can you guess who's yard is clean and who's yard looks like it hasn't been raked this fall?

And can you guess who's cypress mulch flower beds are full of leaves?

Maybe you can understand why I ask that somebody please consider coming down to the police station and posting bail if you don't hear from me for a couple of days.

MORE (at 4:00 AM)

I've had time to think about this issue and it gives me pause to consider the value of things like "neighborhood covenants" and idiotic "Homeowners Associations" (something I've been the president of a long time ago in another life.)

Still, the idea of home owner's renting houses in generally owner occupied neighborhoods and not including "lawn maintenance" in their rental prices in my Redneck mind could be something the general public should rise up and solve on their own...without government intervention.

I'm half way considering calling my lawn guy, having him clean up my front yard into a giant pile, and then taking the leaves over and dumping them in my neighbor's carport or on his front porch.

If he doesn't actually see me doing it, what can he do?

"Hey dude...act of Nature/ sucks sometimes..."

"Chest Nuts" Roasting On An Open Fire...

But What If I'm A 'THIGH' Man??????

OK...everybody settle down after trying to understand the overt meaning of my title and subtitle, and take this quick posting under my new Blog category of "consumer griping" for what it's worth...because last night I cooked a dish--in this case Parma Rosa Chicken with Vegetables--and it reminded me to publicly ask this question:

"Has anyone out there but me noticed that boneless Chicken Thighs cost more than boneless Chicken Breasts in the grocer these days...even ON SALE?"

What's up that?

I guess that it could be that just like the "Buffalo Wings" craze made the price of Chicken Wing Futures go through the roof over the past half century, and today many people have discovered that the other "dark meat" cuts of chicken are capable of adding an interesting flavor and texture to things like Stir Fry and some other rustic pasta dishes I like to produce in my kitchen.

And just in case you hadn't noticed the price differential at your local Kroger, feel free to remember that you heard it here first...

Consider it my December "Public Service Announcement."

Now would someone knock me in the head and make me sleep for more than TWO or THREE hours in a row?

Nightie Night...

I'm Heckling The Contestants On Food Network?

Soul Searching Revelations...

OK People, I hate to admit that I'm getting so obsessed with Food Network that I watch the re-runs of "Chopped" or "Next Iron Chef" or any one of their other competition shows...just so that I can criticize the losing contestants.


On second thought...

Maybe not... (NOT!)

It's just that once in a while Glenn and Neil and Mr. Bill and Sean and Gretta and the balance of the FOX News channel's reruns get the best of me and I know that I can recite the dialogue from all of the Andy Griffith and M*A*S*H reruns...


Here I am alone in the "Mission Control" area of my shop at Midnight watching the same "Chopped" episode I saw earlier today...not exactly one of the most exciting Midnight's I've spent over the past 20 years-but a Man's gotta do what a Man's gotta do...and live with the consequences thereafter.

It's sorta interesting to remember that it's five o'clock Midnight somewhere every hour on the hour...

...and my PLC programming efforts call.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"Blue Skys....Comin' My Way..."

Everybody...Sing Along With Me...

Maybe I should actually be doing "Singin' In The Rain", but I don't really care that it's raining outside here in Eastern Tennessee at the Turbo Pup compound on the banks of the Mighty Tennessee River this afternoon.

It's supposed to keep raining most of the week and end up possibly snowing on us again Friday Night/Saturday Morning...

But I don't care.

"Jimmy Cracked Corn" and people didn't care back then either.

(Everyone please excuse me...I'm loopie from lack of sleep...)

You see, in the past 24 hours I have managed to pretty well solve all of the stupid problems I was having with two projects--one a nerdy high tech computer based control system panel--and the other a "light blue collar" dirty fingernail type pneumatic valve rebuild project I've taken on having never actually rebuilt a valve like this before.

I trust you, my dear reader (and Rusty and Roy) to not tell anyone this horrible secret.

BTW, did I mention that these specialty valves like this built in France cost over $1,500 EACH...NEW?

I actually have ten of them sitting here (laughing at me if they could) and I have to have at least four torn down, cleaned, polished, with new guts and seals and gaskets and O-rings installed, and back in a box in the Big Brown Truck by Friday.

And for the past ten days I've been crawling around here kicking my own butt and asking myself "what the heck were you thinking Virgil???"

Everything looked easy when I took the order after looking at one sample valve, but I made the mistake of not completely taking every single snap ring and rolled pin and cam follower out of the beast, and when all of it's friends arrived they proceeded to gang up on me and like some sort of Macabre Machine-Shop Video Game present hurdle after Hurdle after HURDLE of annoying little problems emanating from the silly little details I had ignored in the bid process.

In the end it all came down to a stupid little stainless steel roller bearing shaft that was friction fit into each valve assembly and was apparently super glued into place by my predecessors.

But in the end...

...wait a minute...the UPS driver's here...I got to look in the box...

I'm back...let me catch my breath...

I'm so excited...I just received my 2 ounce quantity sample shipment of Christo-Lube 116, and another 2 ounce jar of Christo-Lube 132

I SAID "Cristo-Lube"...

NOT Crisco-Lube...

And get your mind out of the Gutter people (and you know who you are). You can go here ( if you don't believe that I have a legitimate reason for needing something called "Cristo-Lube"--something besides "Bear Grease" or "Owl Shit" to lubricate these very expensive valve assemblies I was writing about.

(UPS really did just arrive...)

But I digress...

Any way, then after the first valve shipment I need to have four more flying and/or rolling down the road by Monday or Tuesday next week, and in my spare time I have to finish the PLC Ladder Logic Programming and get the panel packed in bubble wrap and peanuts and out the door by next Friday, sooooooooo...

You'll have to excuse me because I have to go now and get back to work.

Lost In My Own Basement

Fortunately it's heated and has a Sofa Bed...

I just realized that I've spent more time in my basement workshop in the past two weeks than I've spent in my upstairs office or bedroom.

I've even found myself sleeping a few times in the 4th bedroom and woke up wondering where the heck I was laying there in the dark.

The Turbo Pup, who has historically spent little time at the bottom of the stairs, has taken to coming down and barking at me and checking on me when I don't wrestle with her enough.

Unfortunately my blogging will probably continue to be light for the balance of the week until I get some finished products out the door and a few invoices written.

Feel free to entertain yourselves in the mean time...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Lethargy

Ho Hum...

Well, the college football regular season is over and the bowl games that really mean anything won't begin until the end of December, so I have an extra four hours for the next few weekends that I'm going to have to figure something to do with myself.

The house is in pretty good shape inside and out, with the only ongoing projects being the final staining and finish on the two new exterior wood door slabs I bought back in September in the middle of the Kitchen floor project.

Fortunately we have storm doors on both openings so the weather won't be a problem...and the front door slab is still awaiting hinge slots and hardware holes--something I'll probably do in the basement unless the weather warms up for a few days.

On the political front, I see where Dingy Harry Reid is up to his normal BS...calling a Sunday afternoon Senate session and a pow wow with President Obamarama to try to slip some more money into the the miserable piece of legislation they call a "Healthcare Bill" and getting the whole thing passed before Christmas.

If they do manage to get it done just realize we've all basically will have gotten a giant dusty lump of coal crammed into our Christmas Stockings courtesy of a Government that could care less what the American People think or want.

Then I read the most obtuse, feckless ASSociated Press article in the local paper this morning, subtitled an "Analysis" talking about "some experts say[ing] the world is losing the battle against Global Warming and warn that humans need to follow natures example: Adapt or die."

What total unmitigated BS.

The article then goes on to spew the typical Eco Friendly Greenie Weenie Tree hugger crap about rising temperatures forcing animals and plants to relocate or adapt (I call it "Evolve") and rising sea levels threatening every thing and every one from New York City to California and everywhere in between.

"Some biologists point to how nature has handled the changing climate. The rare Adonis Blue Butterfly of Britain looked as if it was going to disappear because it couldn't fly far and global warming was making its habitat unbearable. To biologists surprise it evolved longer thoraxes and wings, allowing it to fly farther to cooler locals."

Would somebody cry me a River over this horse hockey?

These same kind of idiots would have stood around the La Brea Tar Pit in Los Angeles and told congress it was Mankind's' fault the Woolly Mammoths and Saber Toothed Tigers were jumping in the tar pit because they were committing suicide running from rising sea levels and cooling global temperatures caused by Exxon and Con Edison.

How can these people keep a straight face when they hyperventilate and look at things that are happening (or not happening in the case of significant rising sea levels and atmospheric temperatures) and bend the effects and causes and results to fit their own stupid political agendas.

The article's author closes by telling us our Community Organizer President wants to give away $1.2 billion of taxpayer dollars for "international climate aid."

The World Bank and the UN and a bunch of other sniveling, booger eating, tree hugging, patchouli stinking "experts" and "activists" then go on to say "...$10 to $12 billion a year through 2012" "...more like $75 billion to $100 billion a year over the next 40 years" ...hold on..."it may even be $200 billion a year or $300 billion..."

How in the world can anyone have any confidence in numbers like that being casually tossed around and varying in a range of over 3000%.

That's a THREE THOUSAND PERCENT range of estimates of how much of other people's money it's going to take to move poor people out of countries that started out below sea level back about 1000 BC--places like Bangladesh and Thailand and even Denmark and the Netherlands.

They want to pass some new world wide taxes on "rich nations" and then run out and do things like build seawalls and dikes and levies and even build houses on stilts that are taller than the stilts the houses are already built on.

What a bunch of highly educated IDIOTS.

I have a suggestion made by my old Comedic Idol Sam Kinison....

Wouldn't it be cheaper to send them Luggage?

And packing crates, moving boxes, and U-hauls?

And give them maps showing flood plains and telling them to get the heck out and move to dry land?

I swear people, if we continue to let these wild eyed, hand wringing, professional victims and their corrupt politicians reach further and further into our economy and YOUR and MY WALLETS, all we're going to get in return for our "investment" is the opportunity to avoid drowning in rising oceans and seas and instead end up drowning in a NEW MAN MADE SEA...


Is it just ME?

Think about it and get back to me when you have the time...

That will be all...for now...

We're Orange Bowling

Broadcasting Live From The Edge Of The Bermuda Triangle...

Well Ladies & Gentlemen, just in case you missed the game, my beloved Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Football team managed to slip past a determined Clemson Tiger Team last night down in Tampa in the ACC Championship Game.

We had to beat them twice in the same season to get to where we are and I know my fellow Tech Alumni friends in the Upstate of South Carolina will get a little boost out of the silence which is going to ensue for the next nine or ten months.

I didn't know whether to sit down or stand up while yelling until the very end...but they pulled it off and in spite of the loss to the University of Georgia last weekend (and Miami in the second game of the season) it looks like this season's bowl opportunity--the Orange Bowl in Miami January 5th--was not diminished in the process.

In fact, they'd probably end up playing in the Orange even if they were undefeated because Boise State and Texas and Florida and my other favorite team Bama are still ahead of them in the process.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to justify driving down the Florida Atlantic coast and buying a cheap scalper ticket for the game--something that makes absolutely no sense in light of our current employment/income situations.

And I guess that they wouldn't let the Turbo Pup in to watch the game so I guess we'll just end up watching it somewhere on TV.

In other news, in passing (while not paying much attention), I heard that Saturday was the anniversary of the infamous Navy Flight 19's disappearance into what we call today the "Bermuda Triangle" (December 5th, 1945.)

I've never bought into the UFO and ESP and other "space alien black hole" theories relating to that whole set of events, but still one has to wonder what the heck happened to FIVE perfectly good airplanes.

And then on a more somber note I recommend you join me in remembering the anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Fewer and fewer Americans today even have any direct memory of or any close relatives that were alive or were participating in the military during that sad chapter of world history.

It was the equivalent to the 9/11 for the American people during that part of the 20th century...long before the wild eyed peaceful Muslims killed near 3000 people on the East Coast of the US.

If you know a WWII veteran you should take the time to thank them for their service because they're getting to be few and far between and if it were't for their efforts we might be speaking German rather than talking about cooking German dishes on this blog.