The Monday Morning Report

I think I figured out why my latest home project is kicking my ass up and down the block:

It's a ladder job.

The project I'm talking about is the one I've been working on for a few weeks now, and is nothing more than an angled roof over the stack of firewood across the back of our garage. It's almost finished actually, and really only needs its shingles put up and that's about it. I'm very happy with the way it's going and all, but there are some days when it just takes a lot out of me. The bending, reaching, twisting, pushing, pulling, lifting--You name it--Almost all of which done from a ladder or ducking under it while standing on the firewood itself. It will be good when it's finished.

Suzie is already ahead of me blog-wise, and has mentioned the incident on Thursday when I came home early. Like she said, I was freezing. I was wearing everything I had, but sitting in a breezy doorway is not a good place to sit when everyone but me wants the door open. My hands were like ice while I was trying to type on the computer. I could feel a cold breeze on my face and my hands while I was sitting there and decided at 10am that enough was enough. I left so fast I didn't even think to change my shoes--I wore my work boots home and left my tennies there.

It's definitely taken a turn around here. I have been playing a little portable heater on my legs while I sit here in the mornings in my robe during coffee and computer time. Suzie just set up the automatic thermostat to start kicking the heat on the other day too. She even has me programmed into it and has it kicking on a little while before I get up and stopping before I leave for work. Bless her heart for that! When we were on our shopping excursion on Thursday I also bought myself a new "annual" ice scraper for the car. Although it hasn't yet, I don't think it will be long before the windshield starts frosting up on me. This will be my first winter experienced out here in the rural wilderness. I'm not looking forward to the inevitable icy roads in this part of town... We have been getting more hot tub time too. The nights are colder, and it gets dark sooner--Both of which make for a better hot tub experience. When it's clear and cold you can see the stars so easily.

We had a visit from my old friend Greg on Saturday. I haven't seen him in a long time--Probably easily 6 months or so, so obviously it was the first time he had ever been out here. He visited with us back and forth outside while we were doing our projects--Me on the garage roof extension and Suzie on the kid's playground set she's been overhauling. He stuck around quite a while, staying for dinner too. We had an excellent visit and I'm glad he came. Sue thought I should stop working and visit with him, but I assured her that this is what we do--If I visit him while he's puttering he continues to putter too. It's a guy thing. Now that he knows where we live I hope he'll pop in more often.

Well, I wonder how long it will take someone to open the door where I sit at work this morning. Friday worked out well when I went back--It didn't open until lunch, and it was nice by then. I have been shopping for some fingerless gloves to take to work, but I still haven't found what I've been looking for. I guess I'll try the online sources.

Oktoberfest: Fremont Style

Yep, that was our Saturday afternoon/evening: Suzie and I decided to attend the Fremont Oktoberfest 2009 event in Seattle.

Let's back up just a tad.

Friday night we were poking around on the web and I read about it. It was rated one of the best in the country. The more we read about it, the more interesting it sounded. A little expensive at $25 to get in, we still thought it sounded like fun. We had gotten past the point of deciding we would go and settled down to the business of what to do for dinner. Keith was here so the three of us headed up to Jimmy Mac's Roadhouse in Federal Way, assuring him he would like the place (peanut shells on the floor & good food). While we sat waiting for our happy hour food selections to show up, we whipped out our iPods and made use of their excellent free wireless. Searching more info about the Oktoberfest, we again turned our attention to the advance tickets. The website initially said it was too late to buy advance tickets that would save us $5 each. As we dug around a little, we found the listing of vendors that were selling the advance tickets, and as luck would have it, the last one on the list was 99 Bottles (I blogged the place a while back), and they were right there in the same parking lot as Jimmy Mac's! Needless to say, we bought our advance tickets, opting for the "gold" version instead of the regular (10 tasting tokens each instead of 6) version.

When it came time to go Saturday afternoon, Suzie got herself into costume by selecting various items from her costume stash. When I tried a couple things of mine (a much smaller stash to pick from), we decided that I just looked "costumey" instead of Bavarian so I opted for t-shirt and jeans.

While I wouldn't call it a great Oktoberfest, it was a great event. I would call it more of a "beer-tasting" myself though. There was little or no Bavarian flavor to the place at all. The crowds of people were all mellow and friendly, but very few were dressed in anything festive. Suzie got lots of admiring looks, as did all of the folks that had decided on wearing costumes. At one point a couple of gals came running up and asked me if I'd take a picture with them and Suzie with their camera. Another time she got a compliment on her cape. We were having a pretty good time all in all. The crowd was very tolerable in size, but did get noticeably thicker by the time we were ready to leave.

The whole event was outdoors in an area of Seattle's Fremont district (Center of the Universe as locals like to say). Right next to a waterway, it was two parallel streets about a block long each, and they had the whole thing cordoned off with entrance/exit gates at each end. When you arrive, you buy (or trade your advance ticket for) your official commemorative miniature plastic beer stein and your tasting tokens. Each time you got your glass refilled it cost one token. We both looked at the little glass and laughed about the size, but in retrospect we both agreed that the size was about perfect. It afforded you just enough of each beer to really get a grasp of it--I'd say about 4 drinks (or two if you're a gulper). By the time our ten were finished, we were winding down ourselves. I took my camera and spent the whole time taking pictures of anything and everything, so be sure to visit our pictures site to check em out! They're under the "Events" category.

Speaking of pictures, did I mention that we went out last weekend to the Puyallup Fair with Sarah on a photo junket? Well we did, and there are a lot of pictures on our site from that as well. We went with the sole intention of taking pictures (mostly nighttime). We picked Sarah up at her dorm at PLU on that Friday afternoon and took her to the fairgrounds from there. We bought her a tripod (essential for night shots!) and presented it to her upon our arrival at the fair. We had a lot of fun there, and took several hundred pictures between the three of us. We noticed that when we had our cameras on tripods and would stop in the middle of an area for pictures that most people would give us a lot of room. I guess we looked like important people! At any rate, check out the pictures from that event too, posted under the "Photography" heading. What's posted are just from me and Suzie, but trust me, Sarah had just as many great ones as we did!

Wanted: Personal Force Field

I haven't blogged in a while and I think it's time I did. This time I feel like going with a rant post (the crowd gasps). I know, I know--Sometimes it seems like half my posts are ranting and raving about something or someone.

This time the subject is smell.

Anyone that knows me knows that I have a good sense of smell. Okay, I'm getting older and it doesn't work nearly as good as it once did, but it's still annoyingly sensitive sometimes. When you couple that sensitivity with something that I don't like, a rant is inevitable.

There is a guy at work that works (ha!) in the area that I inhabited when I was first employed at LaCroix Industries: The packaging area. He is probably my age, but I'm not sure. He may be 40 going on 70 for all I know. Like most of our employees, he smokes. By the nature of his cough he has smoked for the duration of 2 or 3 lifetimes all rolled into one. He coughs so bad that I feel like I might have to help him stuff his lung back into his body any moment. Even Phil (one of the owners) who only has one lung doesn't cough that badly.

But I've digressed.

The point of this post is the smell. His smell. Most mornings he bathes in some noxious substance that I can smell at least 20 feet away. Really. To me it's a hideous smell, but he apparently calls it cologne or deodorant. I don't want to ask him what it is, but I'm suspecting it's Axe. I could find out by sniffing a container of said product next time I'm out in a store, but I'm somewhat afraid at the rush of bad karma that might flood over me if it's a match. Because I don't work near him, it's generally not a problem, but every time I walk by I have to literally hold my breath for a distance until it's save to once again breathe the usual dirty air in our plant.

Now let's add Heather to the mix.

She is a young gal--About 22 or 23--And she wears her own brand of scent. You guessed it--Also strong. Normally I like women's scents. I find them interesting. Sometimes they don't work and sometimes they do. Although her scent doesn't really do anything for me, I don't find it offensive. But I do find it strong in the morning.

Here's the problem: Both of them work in the same area most of the day. When you combine the scents (I use that term loosely) of the two of them together, it results in a combination that I find unbearable.

I call it noxious soup. It borders on toxic.

I can't for the life of me figure out why someone would use so much of something like that. Are they olfactory-challenged? They can't smell anything? If that's the case, perhaps what they do is their way of making sure nobody around them can smell anything either. I have read that there are schools in the US where teachers have literally banned the use of Axe by students in their classroom. Like those teachers, I just want to be able to enjoy tolerate my job. Keep your environment to yourself. Please.

Oh wait--While I'm on that subject... Let me rant momentarily about his (yes, that same guy) radio. In addition to his obvious burned out lungs and burned out nose, his hearing is apparently gone as well. He has a little bitty radio that sounds badly "tinny". When you couple the fact that he apparently has trouble hearing the terrible tinny sound of his tiny little radio wannabe, the effect is yet another assault on the senses. Believe it or not, I can hear it over 50 feet away where I sit.

Okay, I'm done now. (deep breaths) Thank goodness it's the weekend.

The Uneasiness of Facebook

I've already blogged the fact that I am a member of Facebook--That's no secret. But I haven't blogged the Facebook secrets themselves. Do we really want ourselves to be naked to the world?

You know how often it happens in the political world... Someone does all the right campaigning and does/says all the right things to get he or she elected. Then something "comes up" in the media that happened to them ages ago. "Oh, I forgot about that..." Too late... Time for damage control.

This last week I happened to be looking at my Friends list on my Facebook page. "Hmm," I thought, "That's odd--I wonder what happened to Mark and Dana?" (For those that don't know, Mark is my son in Los Angeles and Dana is his lovely wife.) I thought about it for a little bit. I was sure I had sent them an invite and I was sure they had replied with acceptance. I checked my emailed notifications, and sure enough--There it was. So what was going on? I was just about to send one of them an email when it hit me: They took me off, and for good reason. Why?

The unforeseen Facebook Danger Zone.

On Mark's Friends list was, of course, his mother. While I have nothing bad to say about her or to her, she has apparently avoided contacting me during the last 3 decades for reasons of her own. Either she mentioned me and my Facebook to him, or he and/or Dana had a moment of realization and said, "Whoa" and removed me for everyone's best interests. Then there is the possibility of his dad. While he isn't known as a Friend on either of their Facebook pages, I suppose he could be lurking in the background and he may have serious animosity towards me. At any rate, those are just examples.

There have already been situations where I have removed people from my Friends list. Maybe it was the frequency of mundane updates (those automatic things that pop up when they play a farming game or whatever), or maybe it was just a little feeling of unease about them being there. It's hard to put your finger on it sometimes, but the way I figure it, if someone's presence in your cyber-world makes you the teeniest bit uneasy, they shouldn't be there.

It's nice to be able keep up with Sarah on Facebook and to be able to follow her into her college life, but I wonder how many times these same feelings of uneasiness have cropped up in her mind. Now that I'm on there, she may have second thoughts about her privacy. I don't need Facebook to chat with her--We both have Gmail chat for that any time we want or need it.

I keep thinking about it. How much to I want the world to know about me? Anyone that knows me knows that I have all kinds of times when I have bared my inner self to the world. There are other times when I wonder about the skeletons in the closet that I may have forgotten about.

Facebook: Love it or leave it? The jury is still out, but they're still discussing it. The verdict will probably come soon.

Sleep vs. Brain Activity

I had trouble going to sleep last night thanks to the neighbor's dog. I kept wishing it would have been the their dog that stroked out and died instantly last week instead of Pokey. Apparently once I started thinking about guns, poison, and dog strangulation I must have lulled myself to sleep. Oh, and the ear plugs didn't hurt either...

That only lasted until about 2am I guess, because I woke up then and couldn't get back to sleep. I hate it when my mind works at the wrong time. I should have been sleeping, but no... Instead my mind was alive with stuff... And all the while it was singing the chorus to "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley (seriously) over and over. I have no idea why.

What kinda stuff was whirling through my brain? Home projects like the wood stove installation (or lack thereof), the garage storage addition, the fact that I need a haircut, my car needs an oil change, and many other mundane things.

One thing I had on my mind for at least an hour before I got up was friction. Yes, really.

How much of our lives would be changed forever if there was no friction? Air friction keeps planes and birds aloft. For that matter, it probably controls weather patterns (highs, lows, and winds) for all I know. And what about automotive? Engines probably wouldn't work any longer because without friction they wouldn't be able to maintain compression (and combustion). The obvious automotive friction things like brakes, traction, clutches, and windshield wipers would no longer exist. Would we even be able to walk? Of course not. We need friction for that.

Then my mind wandered again. This time it was gravity.

This one was is probably a little more realistic. I'm sure man will someday conquer gravity if they can keep a society together long enough (humans are pretty self-destructive after all). I kept thinking about things that would no longer be needed if we had that control.

Would there even be a need for beds? I would love to be able to tether myself to something and sleep in midair. No more sore spots or muscle strains! Beds and bedding are a huge industry. What else would we not need? Elevators (stairs for that matter), cranes, forklifts, and anything else that we need to move heavy things--No longer needed. Maybe it would be possible to wear little protective devices on our person that would react instantly if we slipped or tripped, triggering our personal anti-gravity safety "net" that would keep us from smacking the floor and breaking a hip. Kind of a new variation of the, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!" thing.

See? I told you... The crap that cascades through my cobwebbed brain sometimes is out there.

Now I feel like I could sleep, but no--It's time to go to work.

The Long Weekend

I don't know if it was a typical Labor Day weekend. I can never really remember if it was hot or rainy or what during years past. This weekend was basically a rainy one. Although I have nothing major to report, it was still nice to have 4 days off.

Friday was the nicest day of the whole thing. Taking our time getting dressed, we made a stop at Round Table Pizza for their all-you-can-eat lunch buffet our basis for getting dressed and going out. A couple of shopping stops on the way home and the rest of the day was spent doing not much of anything significant. As I recall the day got progressively more dreary weather-wise.

Saturday was our good day. We spent the afternoon an evening at one of my coworkers' lake place about an hour south of here. It was a small gathering, but a fun one. Some game playing, great food, a great boat tour around the lake, and campfire time while people across the lake blew off some good fireworks. We had a great time. We were first to arrive and last to leave. There are some good pictures of the event on our picture site.

Sunday was dreary and subject to some killer rain squalls. Before Suz went to her Sunday Meeting we had a major one that brought a sheet of water down, and that reminded me that the gutters were not doing their job. After she left I went up on the roof. I spent the entire time she was gone scooping gutters and trimming branches that were covering them.

I determined that it was a soup day while I was up there. Nothing like the cold and wet for bringing that out, right? Sue concurred, and she went on the offensive to find the recipe for a soup we had at The Olive Garden last month. She found it. After a quick trip to the store for a couple of ingredients, we made it. Talk about good! We couldn't stop saying mmm while we were eating it. We had Sarah up that evening for a little time in the hot tub. We hoped it would rain a little so we could hear the pitter-patter of it on the big umbrella, but it never happened.

Yesterday was project day. The steel I brought home last week was all measured, cut, drilled, and welded into the triangular-shaped frames that will be bolted onto the back of our garage. All that's needed now is a little corrosion-control beforehand so they don't rust. While I'm not looking forward to putting them up, it will be good to have it up.

We finished up the weekend by having Rachyl, Denny, Heather, and Hunter up for some of our leftover soup. The general consensus? Thumbs up!

While it's a bummer to have to go back to work, I'll say the same thing I usually say in this instance: At least it's only a 4-day work week!

The Dweeby, Nerdy Compu-Addicts

You know how we are: Nerds. Both of us--Suzie and Ricky. Something new is in our household stirring things around:


I have had a Facebook account for a while now but I've never touched it in any way. I only got it to be able to use it--To search out people. Sometimes you have those, "I wonder where ---- is these days" moments, and Facebook is a good vehicle to help you in your quest. Like I said--It was there but dormant. I never had any desire to do anything with it. I still have bad memories of the spam I was subjected to with Myspace before I finally pulled the plug and deleted my account. So what changed? Suzie's daughter Rachyl came over one night because her internet was down, and during her visit logged onto her Facebook account. She showed Sue how all the "friends" are intertwined, and you can see friends of friends, etc. Sue was amazed. She has quite an extended "family" of Witnesses that she has been unable to keep tabs on since I came into the picture, and she was enthralled with its possibilities. Well, after she got on there she went nuts. After all, we're compu-geeks, and she ran with it. She had a profile in no time, complete with pictures and all kinds of stuff. I sighed and went ahead and jumped in and fluffed my Facebook up as well.

Sarah is officially in college now at PLU in Tacoma. She went down with her mom Thursday morning. I joined her that evening with the new fridge for her dorm that I have been carrying in my car since last weekend. After I brought up her fridge the three of us wandered over and had dinner at their "welcome" thing. It was a catered thing outdoors. It was not all that good. The possibilities were there if the meal was hot, but cold potatoes just don't cut it--No matter how fancy the recipe. They just get too "mealy" and dense. The rest was cheese tortellini (good, but also cold) and fried chicken (duh, cold). I had forgotten to bring Suzie's hiking boots for Sarah to borrow for her Saturday morning hike. She also needed a power strip to use in her dorm room. I offered to drive her back to my house to get the boots and stop and buy her a power strip. Her mom left at the same time. After getting the boots we stopped at Sarah's house and picked up her printer and a couple other things before hitting the store and buying a couple power strips (one for her roommate).

This morning brought a melancholy Sarah. She was sad and homesick, which is pretty common in that circumstance. She was not enjoying herself, and didn't even feel good enough to go get breakfast. I chatted with her for a while (Facebook!) and tried to console her.

One of the things that she was interested in that she didn't have yet was a backpack. Suzie and I were out today (I was off work) at Costco and they had good-looking ones for a good price. I took a pic with the cell phone (geek!) and sent her. When I called to ask her she was outdoors at some sort of a group photo shoot, and it sounded like she was having a better time.

So here we are--September and rain. The day started out nice and hot & sunny, but now it's raining. That's okay though, because we have...