Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bad News

My Dad, who is 89, is in the hospital. He has been suffering from a urinary infection for the last few weeks, and that on top of his weak heart (although the medicos haven't been able to figure out exactly what is causing the periodic chest pains over the last couple of years) has worn him down. He's lost a lot of weight, is freezing cold all the time. Yesterday his blood pressure dropped dangerously low and he was listless and incoherent.

Luckily my brother lives with my parents and was able to deal with the problems till the EMT's arrived. My Mom is in her 80's also and semi-bedridden (due to breathing problems, that the doctors are also at a loss to explain).

At the ER they got him on IV's and got his BP back up to a safe level and he became coherent again.

Both my parents have live a long time and I know the human body cannot run forever and I haven't seen them since they moved up to Portland over 7 1/2 years ago.. Tomorrow I'm taking Amtrak up to see them, I checked on flights, but to book at the last minute is just prohibitively expensive, being I just blew my discretionary funds in Vegas a week ago. I talk to them weekly, but it always seems like there would be time to get up there.

Well, now time is way to short. Luckily I work with a great guy who will cover a couple of my work shifts plus I'm coming up on my long change (5 1/3 days off), so outside of the 30 hour train rides, I'll be able to spend a few days up there.

If I can get on my Dad,s computer, I will try to post in a couple days, but, there just may be a weeks gap if I can't make a connection.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vegas-Why I Drive

Well here goes. I said I was going to post about my Las Vegas trip, and damn it, I’m gonna do it. Because I have a lot to expound on this, I’m going to break it into three installments: This one will deal with why I chose to drive to get there, then some observations on gambling and getting around town and finally a post on the drive itself.

I use to love to fly - but not now - not if the trip can be driven in 6 hours or less. I have two airports to choose from: Burbank and LAX. Burbank is very close, but it’s small and they put a surcharge on top of the normal airfare for the convenience. LAX is a bit of a drive, and requires either a heavy sedative or heavy drinking to deal with their setup.

Either airport I choose, I have to get there, which means either get an airport shuttle, or use long term parking – basically a push when time and money are factored. On top of the just getting there, they want you there 2 hours before your flight leaves. S0, with driving to and sitting there forever, you’ve already used up three hours and haven’t even left town.

Shall we mention “security”? You are not allowed to take half the stuff you need in your carry on, so now you are faced with the choice of going shopping when you first arrive at your destination and then chucking the stuff you just bought before going home, or checking your bag and waiting the year or so it takes for them to offload it and get it to the baggage carousel. Both are sucky options and more time, money and effort than it’s worth.

Flight time: one hour in the air – this does not include the planes taxi time.

If going to Vegas (275 miles), it’s taken one hour longer to fly than to drive without rushing. If I were going to Phoenix (380 miles)I’ve saved, maybe, an hour, but in both places I’m still at the airport, I still haven’t gotten to the hotel or house and once at those final destinations, I have no easy or inexpensive way to get around.

Now you may bring up the fact that Vegas just put in a monorail system. Yes, they did, but it doesn’t go to the airport and it cost $15 for a one day pass. Cheaper than taking taxis, but still way overpriced. Also, it goes nowhere close to The Palms our favorite casino, which is located on the other side of the freeway from The Strip

And of course there is no way to Boulder Station which is about 5 miles east of The Strip. Yeah, Boulder Station caters to older clientèle, but hey, we are old now, and this is a good place to go during the day. It has a good movie theater, thousands of machines, lots of TV screens for sports and a payoff rate that is fair enough that you can usually play for hours without losing a lot. This is also one of the few casinos that I have left with more money than I walked in with (once, and not much more).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Duke Rape Case

Watching the news this morning, I got to see Michael Nifong, the "illustrious" D.A. from Durham County, N.C. being hauled before the State Bar on a second charge to explain how withholding evidence from the defense and colluding with another party to keep the information suppressed is justified.

If anyone has ever kept track of the number of times a State Bar has bothered to even investigate a case of ethical behavior involving their members, let alone censor or disbar someone should realize that this is big news.

Even if nothing much comes of the hearings, at least we can be reasonably sure that Nifong's political career is over.

The main thing about the original "Rape Case" that has bothered me most is the fact that nobody seems to remember how many peoples lives were screwed up. You always hear about the 3 guys that were charged, but what dropped off the radar was that 1) the Lacrosse coach lost his job, 2) the entire 46 man nationally ranked team was disbanded , 3) the players were threatened, assaulted and condemned for "covering up" the rape (that did not occur).

Back when this started, I opined that the case would fade away after the election. I was terribly wrong. I didn't know exactly how low Nifong would stoop to keep his phoney-baloney job, but I should have realized you couldn't get anything much lower than a cross between a lawyer and politician.

I won't say the Lacrosse players were upstanding examples of morality, they are what that they are, college age boys. Back when I was their age I think I may have been to a couple of parties where strippers were present. Where it seems silly now to pay to have a lady come take off her clothes and dance for a group of drunks, I can't condemn them going through this "rite of passage" that I would hazard to guess that 90% of guys have gone through at least once.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm Think I'm Getting Better

I was going to try to post more regularly this year, but things happen. The getting better part is that I feel I've let myself down by missing a whole week.

When I got back from Vegas, I hand wrote a long diatribe on the gambling and driving in that city and the drive home. However, when I got home, my wife had a huge head cold, which due to the hours I keep in Vegas (about 6 hours sleep over 4 days), I was not in shape to fight off. I spent the last two days of my vacation with mountains of kleenex piling up next to me in bed, then back to work for 6 days on day shift.

My project for this week was to stay out of the way while Schlumberger played with explosives and blew some new perforations in one of our injector wells. The other was to give our yard a high pressure enema to clean out some drains that had plugged up over the summer. If you've worked on oil wells, you know that great smell associated with brine and the wonderful feeling of the crap blowing back on you along with the sludge that builds up in field drains while it's 50 degrees down in the cellar. Cold, wet, stinky...that's how I like to spend my weekends.

If I can make it through my shift tomorrow, I will try to get my musings on the trip posted. I got over the cold last Friday, so I'm almost back to feeling normal.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Home Agian

Wonderful time, and came home under budget.

Snowed, froze,laughed (a lot) and caught up with my friends.

Around six hours sleep over three days has left me a little tired, so I'll try to post more tomorrow.
I've still got 3 days vacation to recuperate.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Getting Ready For Fun, Maybe

I'm getting things together for my trip to Vegas. Picked out some DVD's to watch while we're out there, got some CD's together to stay awake on the drive back and forth and found my "Preferred Sucker" cards for the different casinos.

The first problem I've had with the trip, is that I save up aluminum cans between trips to help defray the cost. Upon loading my truck with all the cans I could carry and driving down to Glendale to cash them in, I find that they've moved the Recycling Center that I've gone to for the last 6 or 7 years....No sign of where they've gone, nothing. I'm now at home have found the new location, but will now have to delay my departure time to deal with this tomorrow morning.
In one way this is good. After thinking about leaving early (5:00 am) to beat the traffic, I realized I'm driving NE most of the way and would be driving into the rising sun most of the trip, so leaving around 10- 11, after morning rush, isn't so bad.

My new jacket hasn't arrived at my door yet, but the UPS tracking says it's on a truck for delivery. It better get here, as the projected high for Saturday is 38 degrees, and this SoCal boy doesn't do well when temps get below 60.

I'm going to keep a positive attitude and figure these little annoyances will just help me appreciate the time away more.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Christmas is arriving a little late this year. Due to budget constraints at the North Pole, Santa had to defer the delivery of one of my presents till the new year.

I just got word today (placed my order) that this beautiful (I mean that in a manly sense) jacket will be arriving at my house no later than Wednesday, January 10th. Just in time for my trip to Lost Wages, Nevada to blow a lot of cash, but also get to spend time with friends from my wasted days at ASU back in '79-80. These Frat brothers (ΘΔΧ) are still my closest friends, even after all these years.

This trip to Vegas is the first vacation I've had since '05. Due to all the crap that's been going on at work, even though I've put in for vacation time, it kept getting put off "cause we're going to start up next week, and we need you there". We never started up and the company finally had the opportunity of 1) I take all my vacation right now and I'll see you in a month, 2) Pay me now for the vacation time I wasn't allowed to take or 3) Carry it over (not company policy) and I get to use it in '07. I know the company is short of cash, so I accepted the carry over, now I've got 6 weeks vacation to use up--minus the 7 days I'm using now.

Typically, now that I get to take vacation, my wife can't get the time off. Just before the end of the year, the guy that knew all the secrets to get the jobs done at her company left. Now they "can't spare anyone until they get things under control again".

We'll still get to spend time together, as I won't leave town until Thursday, but she still has work. This is still an improvement over our normal schedule as I'll be home and awake while she's home. Being on a rotating shift schedule can take a big toll on together time. I don't think she knows how much I appreciate her tolerance of things not getting done around the house when I'm on graveyard and the day or so period when I try to force my body back onto a daylight schedule.

My major project over the next week is to cash in all the aluminum cans I have been saving for my Vegas trip over the last year and a half. This should be fun, as we tend to drink a hell of a lot of coke (and another thing thing that comes in cans), so I probably should be able to gamble with little or no drain on our banked money. I actually have $100 left from my last gambling trip stashed, so that will make my spree that much cheaper (Ha-rationalization at it's best).

All I can say is those Video Poker machines had better watch out, they won't know what hit them with all the money I going to pull out of them. Hoped the cashier has stocked the vault.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

RFC-Don't Go Here

While at work last night (between rounds), I decided to see if I could find out what ever happened to a Classic Rock internet radio station I really liked. One week it was there, and the next gone... without a word. Originally I just figured the guy got tired and gave it up.

I ran some searches and got all kinds of speculation on why it went off line without any notice. To me, the guy that ran it, Gary Burke, seemed to just get closer to the edge of nuts, whether due to the pressure of running a 24 hour station solo, or some other reason.

Once after he had upgraded to a new server and the feed keep getting dropped, I wrote an E-mail just to tell him that I loved the station, but they were having major problems and they might want to get it what they were paying for, I got a replay back that was insulting and downright mean.

Well, Radio Free Colorado is back online. I was able to sneak in (the server always seems to be full) and if you want Classic Rock, no advertisements or talk, this is the best. Now if the formats the same as before, Gary may get on once a day and express his opinions for about 20 minutes, and he is a real left winger, but it's his station and I can wait for the next song.

I'll warn you right now, getting on during normal hours is next to impossible and if you get on, make damn sure you're done, cause it will be a battle to get a slot in the limited space he has.

Last night I turn off the TV at work for the first time in ages. I don't really watch anything until TVLand shows Gunsmoke at 3am, followed by Bonanza (love those show I grew up with), and just listened to a good mix of music that I grew up with.

The reason I say don't go there, is because I would prefer that there were a slot open for me when I want to listen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's 2007, Happy New Year

I've had another exciting New Years Eve, sitting in the office at work for the fourth straight year. At least I haven't heard any bullets bouncing off the roof this time around.

Not that it really matters. The years prior to my getting stuck on graveyard shift, I was to the point of going to bed before 11:00. I like the idea of a new beginning, but I like to sleep also, and drinking heavily and staying up till midnight got old. I prefer getting up in sunlight to greet the new year, kinda like a sunrise service.

To any and all that pass by here, I wish a a sincere, heart felt wish for a great year coming up for you and those you love.

I got my New Years present about 1:00 PM (PST) when my Raiders lost their last game and the Detroit Lions won theirs, clinching our bid for the first round pick in the next draft. Now it's just waiting to see how bad Al Davis can screw this up. He'll probably go for another quarterback using the idea of "with no offensive line, we need to be deeper".

Right now I'm sitting and waiting to see how long the company I work for can continue to make (or not make) decisions that achieve nothing, nor produce anything resembling income, not to mention profit. We get instructions to run equipment that just costs us money to have it going, delay repairs on equipment that doesn't work correctly and jump from a project that is half finished to another project that we stopped working on (half finished) two months ago, and for some reason we pull off that before it's finished and go to something else.

I've got a couple irons in the fire, but I know this place could make money again and I like the job, when thing are going right. I must say though, that after 9 months of no income, my outlook isn't positive.

As far a resolutions, I believe they're crap, but I'll make one anyway. "I RESOLVE TO POST ON A MORE REGULAR BASIS SO THAT THE WORLD CAN BENEFIT FROM MY BALANCED AND LEARNED OPINIONS." Let's see how long that sticks.