Sunday, August 25, 2013

Perchance to Dream......

Had a lovely dream last night that found me awake in the wee hours with a smile on my face.  Fell asleep again to restart where the dream left off.....  and it turned into the oddest thing, nearly a nightmare.

I do not want to go to sleep to see that place again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

F-ing Rocket Scientists

There was a bit of a back story to that whole rat tale.  It was before the whole rat incident.  It was actually a huge part of why I was too tired to deal with the mouse traps that night.  It was one of those events I alluded to.  I didn't tell it at the time because I was not sure I wanted to tell it at all.  I am still not sure I want it out there but well there is that whole blank blog thing... 

I work with a whole lot of hugely talented people.  I mean you can not be any moron off the street and get in here and even if you do, you would be kicked out pretty quickly.  That said, I also work with some people that sometimes are seriously lacking in the brains department. 

I was working at one of our other sites when my boss radioed me.  "Can you come back here pretty quick and work on this spot welder?  It is a critical path item and they need it right away.  It seems to be some kind of electrical control thing".  That puts it right in my core group so I told him I would be back directly.  He forwarded me the ticket and I headed off.

I chased down the equipment and found myself staring at quite possibly the world's largest spot welder....  or at least the biggest one I had ever seen.  I had the operator show me the problem and sure enough the thing barely even whimpered much less welded any spots. I worked my way through the controls while listening to his back story.  He kept mentioning another group in Florida rewiring it and mentioned several times that our number two electrician (they are a different group than us) had rewired it.  So finally I called Number Two and asked him about it.  He said he had indeed fixed the wiring and that they were going to test it and get back to him but had not.  I explained the situation and he said he would be right over. 

Number Two checked out all his wiring and confirmed that everything was good on his side of the control.  He had brought another electrician and with a nod to my status as little sister to THEIR group they stood there and kibitzed a bit while I worked through the control. They finally got called off to work on something else and so wandered off again. 

I worked my way through the system one piece at a time before deciding that the thing was in fact just DOA.  I called my boss and explained the issue to him and told him that the repair would be more time and money than a replacement.  He pondered that for a minute and then said he would send someone to give me a second look before we called it. 

I had been working on the cabinet live in order to chase the issue and at 480V and 300 Amps I, of course, had my gloves on.  So when my coworker appeared sans, gloves I pulled mine off and offered them to him with one hand while pulling the door away from him with the other.  He stepped in front of me a bit and promptly shoved both bare hands into the cabinet.  Now due to how he had stepped in front of me, his elbow made contact with my chest right in the corner below my left shoulder.  He also promptly made contact with the biggest power source in the cabinet.  My hand on the door made an excellent ground and so he managed to shock us both.  Fortunately the shock made me fall back a step almost immediately which broke the circuit and so stopped the shock.  Well the electric one anyway. 

I was so angry that one of my coworkers was so stupidly careless that I proceeded to rip him a new one right then and there.  The operator had seen and heard the whole thing and when I paused for breath, he whipped his welding gloves so hard at my coworker that he actually flinched and then he yelled at more coworker for a few minutes.  After determining that I was OK and my coworker only blistered a bit and suitably chastened I decided to let it drop.   

Now before you all jump up and down, this coworker has been there a long time and I have never heard of him ever doing anything so boneheaded before.  Something like this is more than enough to get him fired outright.  As crazy as we have been I was willing to put it down to a terribly stupid mistake and not risk his career over it.  No harm no foul so to speak.  We barked at him a bit more and then he put on a pair of gloves and finished cross checking me.

Finally the thing was declared dead and we all went on with our day.  I was working on something else when I became aware that I was being closely watched.  I turned around and saw Number one, Number Two, and Number Four Electricians staring at me with hard angry eyes.  Puzzled, I asked what was up and Number Four asks me gruffly  if I am ok.  I stare at him blankly for a second before Four says, "dumbass told us.  He thinks it is funny".  It is then I realize that their anger is not directed at me but at the person who has hurt their little sis.  I assure them that I am fine other than feeling like I had a bit of heart burn and then quickly run through what happened.  I promised them that I would never ever be so close nor ungloved near the dumbass and live electric again. 

After they all patted me awkwardly, they disappeared back to where they snuck up on me from.  The scene would be repeated several more times over the course of the day (and honestly the rest of the week) by the rest of the electricians.  Everyone who stopped me told me that they had heard it from my coworker who seemed to think it was funny.  Everyone told me that they had all told him how not funny it was and threatened him with gross injury if he hurt me.  I swore them all to silence not wanting the story to get out of hand. 

I finally finished my day and came home emotionally and physically drained.  I am sure that this had a lot to do with my panic and subsequent asthma attack over the rat. 

The story, of course, did not stop with the electricians, nor even the rest of their group.  Anyway, the story has now made the rounds of several groups though fortunately not our own group but it has led to so many people I am working with finding out from the dumbass that I finally had to tell TIM about it this morning after we met over coffee before/after work as we do from time to time.  As I ended my summary with how angry the electricians are he looked at me and snapped "More people are angry than just them."

I do not think I have ever seen him that mad.  I confess to having just stood there with my mouth hanging open stupidly as he got into his truck and drove away.  I was glad that he heard it from me.  I shudder to think how angry he would have been to hear it elsewhere. 
And that right there is why I decided I needed to commit it to blog before anyone heard it somewhere else.

So there.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Some of you have noticed I have not been around,  some noticed and made contact in other ways, and some will only notice when I mention this fact. 

Part of the reason has been that we have been crazy busy at work.  With a launch coming up things always get a little crazy to begin with but we also were moving our shop to a new area and it was this moment that, of course, Murphy chose to have equipment breaking right and left.  So we have been working crazy hours. 

That alone is enough to keep things quiet over here but even then, I try to check in at lunch at least.  No this quiet was one of those things.  You know the kind that was a disaster at the time and now looking back at it from a few days distant, I can begin to see the humor in it.  You know those times where you guys get a good story. 

It was Thursday night.  I had clocked close to sixty hours in the work week already and so was tired, very tired.  I was making my way towards bed when the dog assumed her "Oh look a mouse" stance.  She always does the same thing, watches a spot intensely where she has just seen something zip by.  If she sees it twice, as in this case, she will go make an attempt to chase it down. 

I had been making chit chat with The Man on the texts and he said "remember life is short".  I replied with a joking "life is very short for that mouse!"  He laughed when I explained and I made myself a note to put out mouse traps the next day.  I get a mouse now and then out here.  Usually when someone moves out of a house or something big changes in the neighborhood.  The construction crew next door had just hauled out their roll off dumpster so I assumed this was the source of the mouse.

I hit the bed and was out in no time only to be woken in a few hours by a pacing whiny dog.  She had been a bit urfy since she got a hold of an off bit of veggie scavenged from the compost.  I assumed she was needing to go out so got up and let her outside.  She ran out but came right back so we went right back to bed.  I was back to sleep only to repeat this cycle about every hour all night long.  I finally stopped getting up to let her out when I figured out she was not interested in going out at all.  I just told her to go back to bed and went back to sleep. 

At that rate, morning came way too soon and I struggled out of bed.  I let the dog out and fed her and made my way to the shower.  At one point I heard her let out one sharp bark and it crossed my mind that maybe that dang cat was back in the yard.   I heard her moving around the bedroom so figured all was well and finished my shower. 

Wrapped in a towel with another wrapped around my hair, I walked into the bedroom to get into my uniform and then I saw it.  There laying on her bed was my precious puppy.  Laying on the floor in front of her was the source of her sleeplessness as well as mine.  It was no mouse, it was in fact a rat, a quite large rat.  It was no Chicago sewer rat but for California it was a good sized rat.  It lay there stretched out on its side, quite dead, from head to tail wider than my girl who looked up at me with pride. 

I called her to me and she stood and picked it up.  "Leave it" I told her and she placed it back on the floor and came to my side.  I made her go outside and closed the door locking her out.  I should have known nothing was that easy.  I should have known better, I really should have, but I missed the signs. 

I walked back through the house carrying the kitchen trash can and a long handled grabber.  I paused in the hall to adjust my towel and then walked back into the bedroom.  There I found....   nothing. It took my sleepy brain a second to process the thoughts.  Larssen had tried to pick up that rat because it was not dead and I made her leave it behind to wander off who knows where while I put her outside. 

I looked around the room and realized that it had to be under the bed or in the closet.  There was no where else to hide.  I sighed, set down the trash can, and closed the door as I went back to the front of the house.  I came back with a baseball bat and a flash light.  Outside, I can hear the dog pitching an absolute fit but no way am I letting her back in just yet. 

Back in the bed room I survey the situation.  I have dust ruffle or whatever you call those thingies that hide the legs of the bed.  This means I have to lift it with one hand and look under while holding the flash light in the other.  I am not a fan of this idea as I lack a third hand to hold the bat in.  I am panicking a bit at this moment wondering how I am going to accomplish this feat.  Finally I decide that if I set the flashlight on the floor and use one hand to tuck the dust ruffle under the mattress I can both see and hold the bat. 

So here I am crawling around on the floor in a towel trying to look under the bed for ratzilla.  I have a small heart attack when the towel on my head slides off and lands next to me.  I pause long enough to throw it on the bed then resume my search.  I realize that my wet hair is now falling in my face and pause again to grab a hair band and tie it back.  As I get back down on the floor I see it.  It is sitting there centered under the bed looking for all the world just like a drowned rat or at least one that was been thoroughly drooled upon.

I try moving the bed a bit and it moves itself back to center position.  I try again with the same result so I get myself into a good spot and take aim on the bugger.  I take a very uncoordinated swing at it and realize that to swing the bat, I lose sight of it and of course promptly miss.  It moves to the far side of the by the time I regroup and readjust the flashlight to see it better.  I move to the side of the bed nearest to the wall.  I tuck up the dust ruffle and blind the dang thing with the flash light.  I ponder how to swing on it when it occurs to me to just whap it straight on with the bat.  

I make the sudden jab and it flies a bit away with a pitiful squeak.  It pulls itself off a bit with its front paws and it is clear that I have just rendered its hinders non-functional.  Relieved, some part of my mind recognizes that now I have a fighting chance of catching the dang thing.  then of course reality sinks in and I realize that it is STILL under the bed.  I can not reach it even if I wanted to.  I can not just whack it on the head and kill it as it is of course still under the bed. We stare each other down for a tense second when I remember the grabber.  I get up and retrieve it and then reach under the bed with it.  A slow speed chase ensues as it tries to evade me but I finally get a grip on its scruff and yank it from under the bed. 

It squeaks so loud that the dog is at the outside of the bedroom window pitching a fit. I hurl that dang rat into the trash can and slam the lid and lock it.  Now and only now do I do that whole shuddery, twitchy, OMG gross dance.  Then I rush the trash can, bat and grabber thing to the back door and toss the lot out onto the patio.  The dog darts past me, back into the house, and runs for the bedroom. 

With visions or the thing leaping out of the can at me and attacking, I carefully open the trash lid and quickly grab the bag out of the can.  I give it a spin to seal the top and set it on the patio long enough to whack the rat out of this world and then toss it into the big trash can.  I throw the bat and the grabber into the tub and spray the heck out of them with the strongest cleaner I have.  Then I go back to the bedroom to clean it as well.  I recognize by now that I am in perhaps a bit more state of panic than I should be.

This thought barely clears my brain when I realize that something is wrong.  It is then that I realize that I can not breathe and am fact am having a massive asthma attack.  I should not be surprised.  The only thing I am more allergic to than cats is rodents.   I should have been prepared for this but I was not. 

I manage to get to the night stand where I grab my inhaler and use it.  I do not feel it working so hit it again.  Still nothing.  I reach out to the night stand again and grab my phone.  If the inhaler does not start working I am in trouble and I know it, so I dial TIM.  He does not answer.  I hit the inhaler again and redial and drop the phone.  It pops open the texting screen to my last text.  I tap out a few keys to The Man, "need help, call" and hit send.  Hitting the inhaler yet again, I manage to hit the slider thing that dials from text.  It rings The Man's phone but he does not answer either. 

I am about to give in and dial 911 when I feel the first signs that the inhaler is working.  Relieved that I do not have to worry about them getting in the house with the dog, I wait.  Finally after a seeming eternity, I can breathe again. 

I am sweating buckets and so drag myself back to the shower.  Best course of action, remove allergen and cool body.  Finally thus relieved, I am breathing somewhat normally.  It is then I realize that time must have passed.  I look at the clock and I am shocked to see that I am already over an hour late for work.  I text my boss that I am going to be later than I already am. 

After my breathing returns to normal, I start to get dressed as my phone rings.  It is The Man who has just seen the message.  He confirms that I am ok and says he will call back then hangs up.  I get myself together, close up the house, and slowly make my way to work.  I have just made it there, when TIM calls me.  He had been asleep with his ringer off but woke and saw the missed call from me.  I tell him that I had a problem but am fine now and let him go back to sleep. 

The adrenaline rush from the inhaler carries me through the morning before the headache sets in.  I have a lot of work to do, it was the reason I came in at all, as there was still a massive issue with a critical piece of equipment that I had been working on the previous night.  Anyway, that incident knocked me a bit sideways in addition to the workload and so Friday turned into Saturday, which turned into Sunday before I caught a break from work.  I left work Sunday afternoon after being called in twice during the day and just went straight to the beach where I applied salt water and sand therapy. 

Anyway. I feel better now.  I have told my boss that I am taking some time off.  My house is vermin free and cleaned from top to bottom (as is my truck but that that is another story). 

Sunday, August 4, 2013


That looks funny even to me and I just made that word up, I think.

So it is August which means that this is time for the second annual purchase of beef from Star Brand Beef.

Anyone who is not familiar with the lovely and wonderful Shreve Stockton should be busy clicking here: Daily Coyote Or here: Honey Rock Dawn  Or maybe here if you prefer tweets:  Twitter Daily Coyote  If you want a ride in the way back machine to see where I first got to know Shreve:  Vespa vagabond.....

Anyway, besides all her other wonderful stuff, Shreve raises cattle.  Raises them the old fashioned way by letting them wander around and eat grass....  Then she sells to lucky people like myself.  True story, I have had a hard time eating beef for a very long time, more than a very small amount and I would be very sad the next day.  Then I started finding non-grain fed beef....  and I could eat a normal sized portion with no ill effects.  I have to say that this is really difficult to find and very expensive when you do find it and so was reserved for special treats.  Then came the day last year when Shreve offered to share her cattle and I jumped on it.  It was everything I expected and more.

The beef is processed by a processor who does it much like one might process their game and it is securely wrapped, air free, and over wrapped in paper so that all I did was slip it into ziplocks and toss it in the freezer.  I can tell you that even after a year, the last steak was as perfect as the first.

Fast forward to this year and when she offered again, I was right back in there, this time with the egging on of several friends who got to share in last year's bounty.  Added bonus was that this year, I also finally got to meet Shreve in person(among others but that is another post for another time!).

I have to say that she is as wonderful in person as she is electronically and one should cheerfully disregard her warning "not to expect too much of her".   So much so in fact that she now has a standing invitation to my home.

So, beef acquired to last me another year, my freezer is full, my dog is on over load from sniffing all the boxes and scents in the air (including the spot where Shreve's boot rested on my bumper!!) and I am a happy camper!

Yes, I know that the panorama did not work so well on this shot but I was laughing at SOMEONE stealing a sniff!!! 

Much better shot, and now all is safely stashed in the freezer on the left.

And the dog is off napping somewhere.