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Travelling and Such
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
 
Job Situation Update
Here's some quick background: I got a stupid job at Mercury Marine, because I was just out of other options. Right after I took that job, I was contacted by an English gentleman who wanted to hire a full-time (25-30 hours a week) programmer. Things have advanced to the point that he called me this afternoon and wants me to quit the job at Mercury so I can dedicate serious time to his project. It's far too good an opportunity to pass up, but I want us both to feel confidence in each other before taking such a drastic step. I just sent a letter to Khrys which included this bit about the job at Mercury: Okay, I have to get to work on the second job. (My boss at Mercury the other day asked me what I did in the evenings. I told him I was moonlighting. He got this real funny look on his face and asked "Do you mean you stay up late at night? I kind of figured that, but what do you do?") He's the guy that keeps people in the same spot for several days at a time, because he doesn't want people to get confused and overwhelmed with information overflow. That probably sounds weird, compared to the main plant. We have a very small crew. One "main boss" in the office (and the secretary). One supervisor on the floor. Those are the only actual Mercury employees. Everyone else is Westaff. Figure 5 guys running the line, one "senior temp" who tracks the numbers, and another "senior temp" who just sort of floats around and does whatever he feels like. Then 4 girls who clean the light stuff. Oh, and a fork lift driver. So, what's that? 15 people. Oh, and then another Mercury employee who stays in a corner minding his own business, doing all their recycling. We never really interact with him. Though one day after a break he spent 20 minutes telling me about his childhood and how sick he is of working. Anyway, there's a spot for 5 people on the line. One guy works by himself, sorting things out as they come out of the washer. The other 4 check pieces and put them into the washer. Usually, they rotate every couple of hours, just to work different muscles or alleviate boredom. I spent the first week and a half working with the "floater" guy. It actually wasn't bad at all. Go tinker around with this for a while, then go do that some, then go do something else when you feel like it. They stuck me on the line last Friday. Monday, I started asking about rotating. They decided they'd let me switch to the opposite side. I was doing the same thing, but at least I got to exercise both sides instead of just my left. We got another new guy today, and they had a lot of confusion trying to figure out how to handle having 5 guys in that spot. I thought about volunteering to go back to what I was doing last week, but that seemed like a bad idea. He stood around doing nothing for about 20 minutes, then someone stuck him in one of the "other" spots (one I'm not allowed to try, because they don't want to confuse me). I got a little bit irritated about that, mainly because it's a lighter and more interesting job, but I learned a long time ago to never complain when someone else gets a good deal. The "senior temp" put a stop to it almost immediately. He swapped us, telling me I'd been there long enough that he had confidence in my ability to handle the extra complications of this job (I look at aluminum poles and decide whether they're bent), and the other guy could take the "new guy" spot for the next few days. I did that for about 4 hours, then started asking about rotating around again. I was told that I'll be doing this for at least the next two days. Sheesh. Okay, now I really have to get to work.
Monday, August 01, 2005
 
Interesting Job Day
It's been an interesting day on the job front. Khrys and I were supposed to go to interview at Mercury tomorrow morning. From his previous experience, he suspects we'd start Wednesday. The first big news of the day was that they're shutting down production at least all next week. Then I hear back from a guy in Scotland who's trying to set up an interview with me. We've been trying to get in touch for weeks now, and I assumed he's just given up. Then a temp agency calls with information about a job at one of the schools, starting tomorrow. I tell them about the Mercury interview, so they call Khrys. He figures he can work there at least part of next week. It doesn't pay as much per hour as Mercury, but he figured he'd rather have the extra guaranteed days working. Then I run across a couple of new job-finding sites that have some which seem perfectly tailored for me. One's in Chicago, another's developing games in San Francisco. I'm not sure what either of those pay. The third's in Seattle, pays anywhere from $85,000 to $110,000 a year, and offers relocation assistance. I just finished submitting my resume to them, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at least one will come through. Then Khrys dropped by with news about a 2 month (at least) job up in Boulder, paying either $11 or $12 an hour. It starts as soon as he can get up there. He figures he's obligated to that school job for at least tomorrow, but this is just too good an opportunity to pass up. So he's out now trying to figure out how to come up with enough cash to get back to Boulder.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
 
Feeling Stupid

Worked a basic moving job today. A really nice old couple was living in a duplex in a retirement complex. I helped move them into an apartment in the section which is guarded by nurses. The wife seems to be deteriorating quickly.

I felt almost intimidated by the people who were helping me move furniture.

There was Dr. Cowell, the veteranarian who's been through so much with me. I don't know whether she ever recognized me or not. Probably. Or maybe not. Who knows?

Then there was her husband, Dr. Cowell, who has a double doctorate as a veterinarian and a pathologist. He happens to run all the animal pathology labs in the OK/TX area, from Dallas. Very nice guy. Intimidating, but he has a great bed-side manner.

Then there was the other Dr. Cowell, who happens to be an optometrist from Perry. This guy's a delightful character. He joked that none of them could do anything about the common cold, but he could prescribe a penicillin shot in case I caught the clap. He also joked with the ladies in the nursing home about wearing his sneakers to chase them down...as we lugged this monstrous 200 pound bed down the hallway.

I'm not sure what he meant about the penicillin shot, but they thought it was funny.

Lisa has been talking lately about hanging out with a bunch of doctors, and I can suddenly sympathize. The optometrist was quite happy that I avoided college completely. His brother (the guy who manages veterinary pathology for this region of the US) applauded my idea about getting a degree in Underwater Basket Weaving.

And yet. And yet. I don't know where this train of thought leads. I just know I don't like it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005
 
Actually got to see Khrys today

He dropped by, rummaged through the fridge, hopped on the computer, and we talked a little bit about our options for paying rent this month. It looks pretty bleak at this point.

I did go back by a temp agency to see if anything new had turned up in the past couple of weeks. The last time I was there, they had some miserable job working out in the heat doing hard physical labor, and I turned them down because I wanted something inside. I went in today to tell them I'd take whatever they had. I should have done this last week, but I've been pretty wrapped up in a programming project I'm working on and I tend to lose track of the time. Like tonight. I figured I'd put in a few hours this evening and then go to bed. And now it's midnight. Oh well, I'm sort of at a stopping point for the evening, so I should be able to get to sleep soon.


Monday, July 25, 2005
 
Khrys got a car

He headed back from Wyoming (the trip turned out to be a complete waste, except for his nice little vacation in Boulder--I'm so jealous!) over the past couple of days. Stopped in Coffeyville to drop off the pickup and meet Melissa. While he was there, Dad decided to give him a spare car they had sitting around.

I don't know about Khrys--he came home and collapsed, I guess. I heard the story from Melissa. I'm completely floored. Then again, something had to break our way.


Sunday, July 24, 2005
 
Bridget Just Caught a Bird

I was wrapping up another long work day and let her out for one last time before we call it a night. She went around the corner of the house and started barking at something. Then she came back around the house with something in her mouth. I figured one of the neighbors had tossed some trash into my yard again, or something similar.

Then she set it down and it started trying to get away. She grabbed it, it whimpered, there was a sickening little crack, and that was that. It took me a while to convince her to let me see it. It was some kind of decent sized brown bird. Maybe a big female robin?

Whatever it was, it was a disturbing note to end the evening on. She seems to be burying it now. I wonder how it was stupid enough to be down on the ground like that and how she managed to catch it.


Friday, July 22, 2005
 
RR Interviewed Crash & Burn

Apparently the job in Rollins, WY is a bit less than might be desired. You are stuck there, forever. The people they hire are not allowed to transfer elsewhere. If you want to make decent money, you spend about 24 hours a month at home.

Khrys blew amazing amounts of money to get up there, spent about 4 hours going through a sort of "reality tv" "now you're disqualified" crap to reach the "Final Qualification" round. Where the manager proceeded to explain just how bad the job sucks, and how, unless you're the manager (i.e. you have his job) you have no chance to ever move elsewhere.

WHY couldn't they have presented this little detail up front?

Are they just after the people who are desperate enough to say "Yes, I'll be happy to spend my life here doing this crappy job"? Or was this a scare tactic to get rid of people who really didn't want to work there, because the union will not tolerate this sot of nonsense?

I wish I had a better relationship with my father and felt secure about asking his opinion.


Sunday, July 17, 2005
 
Job Possibility
For years Dad's been trying to get Khrys and me to get railroad jobs. Khrys applied for several jobs a few months back but hasn't heard back from them. Friday was Melissa's birthday, so he's pretty much spent all his time with her since Thursday. He checked his email (probably for the first time since then) today and found a letter from the railroad. They want him at some sort of hiring session, in Rollins WY, Wednesday morning, 7:30 am. So now they're frantically figuring out how to get him up there. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and trying to make some money.
Friday, July 15, 2005
 
Finally got a backup

Finally got around to making a backup of this. Mainly because I had 7 blogs disappear from here yesterday. I'm still hoping tech support will get back to me about them, because it's annoying to waste the time creating them if they're just going to disappear.

In the process I ran across a couple of settings that might have been the entire problem I spent most of today/yesterday (it's been yet another marathon day...14 hours and counting) wrestling.

I finally gave up and decided it just wouldn't work, but this setting gives me new hope.

Not that I intend to stick with this address much longer. There's just too much that I can't do.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005
 

Firefox, Opera, KDE, and Gnome

[Warning--geek post]

For the past couple of weeks, I've been having a horrid time with my browser (Firefox) crashing constantly. On a back burner, I've been planning to get Gnome working, just to see how it compares these days with KDE, but it just wasn't worth the trouble. I finally got around last night to fixing the problem with Gnome and downloading a new version of Firefox. While everything was downloading/building, I had horrible browser problems. Crash after crash (I was using alternative browsers, just because I didn't want to do anything to interfere with Firefox's build proces).

So I forgot about it all this morning and just went to work. Firefox started causing immediate problems, so I threw my hands up in disgust and downloaded Opera. It's improved amazingly over the years, since the last time I used it. Still depressingly behind Firefox, but it never crashed.

I was getting ready to log off for the night and remembered my experiment with Gnome. So I restarted X to see how it worked. Ugly, but functional. Lots of work to set up the menus and such, if I actually decide to use it. On a whim, I started up Firefox to see how long it would take to crash. On KDE, it averages about once every 20 minutes.

I've been going at least 2.5 hours, trying everything I can think of that normally causes it to flake out, and it hasn't had one single glitch.

How obnoxious is that?

[/geek post]


Thursday, July 07, 2005
 
Well, I'm a little frustrated and annoyed. OSU is hiring an "application developer." This is basically a bare-bones entry level programmer spot (then again, their idea of a "programmer" matches my idea of a "system administrator"). They want a kid fresh out of college, with about 6 months experience as a "script kiddy." I know a few scripting languages. In fact, I use them quite a bit. I think they're a very useful tool, as long as one doesn't get too attached to them. Sorry, I really didn't mean to get even vaguely technical in this blog, ever. Let me start over. They want someone with a little professional experience doing the sort of thing I was doing back in high school. Except they also wanted a college degree. I figured it was a win-win situation. They could get someone with experience for a cut-rate price, I could go back to school. Except, I learned when I actually talked to them, there are laws that define the requirements for various positions, so they aren't allowed to make any kinds of deals/exceptions for anyone. This is the same issue I have with unions and seniority, in a different guise, but I really don't want to get into that.
 
Well, I'm a little frustrated and annoyed. OSU is hiring an "application developer." This is basically a bare-bones entry level programmer spot (then again, their idea of a "programmer" matches my idea of a "system administrator"). They want a kid fresh out of college, with about 6 months experience as a "script kiddy." I know a few scripting languages. In fact, I use them quite a bit. I think they're a very useful tool, as long as one doesn't get too attached to them. Sorry, I really didn't mean to get even vaguely technical in this blog, ever. Let me start over. They want someone with a little professional experience doing the sort of thing I was doing back in high school. Except they also wanted a college degree. I figured it was a win-win situation. They could get someone with experience for a cut-rate price, I could go back to school. Except, I learned when I actually talked to them, there are laws that define the requirements for various positions, so they aren't allowed to make any kinds of deals/exceptions for anyone. This is the same issue I have with unions and seniority, in a different guise, but I really don't want to get into that.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
 
Let me preface this by saying that I've been working some really obnoxious hours. Not that I'm making any money from it (yet), but at least I'm doing something. Last night I put in about 13 hours, plus taking time off in the middle to go watch fire works. Khrys handed me the rent money on Friday Friday the first. I didn't even think about getting it deposited until well after the bank closed. I sat up really late working, even though I knew I had to wake up before noon to get the money to the bank. I figured the landlord would show up about Tuesday the 5th to pick up the check, so that would give me a couple of days to clear. I woke up about 2 in the afternoon, cursing myself as a lazy idiot, then pushed myself through a late marathon day/night/morning session again, trying to get one of my sites ready for a real public release on the 4th. (It's a patriotic site, so I figured that would be appropriate). When I got up on the 4th, I couldn't find the money. I figured I'd stashed it in some "safe spot." Does anyone else do this? "I'll put it some place safe where I don't have to worry about losing it or it getting stolen before I get it to the bank." I usually do this with more basic objects, like shoes, but I remember on Friday evening thinking it was really stupid for me to be walking around town with that much cash in my pocket. I didn't mention it to Khrys yesterday. I figured it would turn up some time that day. It became a lot more worrisome when the landlord showed up for rent that morning, but I still didn't want to add more stress and trauma to what was already turning into a really bad day for him. Over the course of the day, I'd work until I thought of a new spot where I might have stashed it, then take a break to search that spot. I finally broke the news to him this morning. We spent most of the morning going through everything that seemed reasonable. All the pockets in all the clothes I have hanging up or in drawers, all the food containers in the kitchens, all the books that are easy to reach (most of them are still in boxes). Then we broke for an hour or so to let our right brains nibble at the problem. Every once in a while one of us would have think of a new place and go check it. I was starting to worry seriously that, rather than stashing it "safely," it had fallen out of my pocket instead. The worst part was not really remembering. (Not that this is all that unusual for me. I spend huge amounts of time wandering around in a little cloud, thinking about something else and not really paying much attention). Khrys thought it might have been in some library books that I had checked in over the weekend. I couldn't see me actually stashing something in a book. But it finally reached the point of either checking with them or going through boxes, so I walked down there. We didn't find any money, but they did locate a $60 some-odd fine from about 10 years ago that everybody had forgotten. I was starting to panic now. The stench of my fearful sweat was getting pretty bad. I started wondering if this was one of those days when I probably shouldn't have gotten out of bed and definitely shouldn't have tried doing anything connected with money. I ran into the landlord on the way back and told him about the problem He was very cheerful and understanding. Told me to just let him know when he could cash the check. I came in and told Khrys the bad news. He screwed up his face and suggested, "I know it's a silly question, but you haven't, by any chance, checked your bank account, have you?" Well, I was sort of saving that as a last resort. As long as I didn't check it, there was the chance that it was actually in there. Still, pretty much anything was better than going through those boxes. (It's not that I don't want to go through the boxes, get rid of a bunch of stuff I don't need, and get unpacked. It's the amount of time involved, and I seem to be getting farther and farther behind on my personal projects every day. I definitely need some organization system. In fact, I've started writing one several times now...) So I broke down and checked the bank. Turns out that I did deposit the money on Saturday. I must have dropped it off in a daze, then come home and gone back to bed. Or maybe I was sleepwalking. Who knows? Whatever, the rent for this month is paid.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
 
Just realized how incredibly ugly this thing is. I really need to fix it up some. It's crazy how much faster my "to-do" list grows than my "got done" list. Then again, I suppose if I ever actually wrote these lists somewhere, that might help. I really should start using one of the organizers I've downloaded recently. Of course, none of them are any good, so I need to add to my list to go ahead and make my own...
Friday, July 01, 2005
 
Khrys came through with the bulk of this month's rent, so that worry's taken care of. I'll just have to remember to get to the bank to deposit it in the morning.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
 
Nothing much at all has changed since my last post. I'm still stuck in Stillwater with no job. I did have an interview yesterday, for a job as a "programmer" with OSU. It's a job I'd love to grab for a while. It's hard to beat working for them if you're stuck here. Unfortunately, their job title and description don't fit at all with the actual job. They want a sys admin to prop up their team; they've just switched from Lotus Notes to Exchange Server and from something else to Active Directory. They want someone to help them manage these new systems. Now, sys admin is something that's never interested me much. Esp. on Windows. It's just too much repetive nonsence for my taste. It's not too bad on Unix, because you can script pretty much everything. But, still. It's a computer job, and it is for OSU. So I'd jump at the chance. I'm pretty sure I could learn whatever they need in record time. Unfortunately, I suspect they're looking for someone a little more clueful than I, even though they did label it as an entry-level position. I do have a couple of alternative ideas tumbling around in my head. I'm thinking about branching off with my custom software development website into something where I deliver a few web services I've dreamed up (and started working on) in between job hunting. So we'll see how that goes.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
 
I'm still in Stillwater. Let's see. What's happened since the last time we wrote, back in January? When I first got here, I was staying with my brother and his family. Then Bridget killed one of their cats. Everyone agreed that she couldn't stay there, so we moved back into the 4-Runner for a couple of months. I was working through a temp agency at the time. I had a few jobs with a company that does "disaster restoration," and applied there when I found out they were hiring. Then I got a fairly long-term gig doing demolition work. I helped tear down a big chunk of the local football stadium (well, mainly the big machines tore things down. Mostly I just sorted out the piles of trash from stuff they could sell). Doing this, I was managing to save up a little cash. I finally got a message from that disaster restoration company. When somebody has a small fire, they clean the soot off everything (actually, they scrub and polish until it looks as close to new as they can get it). If someone's house (or business) floods (usually a broken line to the icemaker), they go in and rip up floors and walls that can't be salvaged, then set up fans to dry out what they can. They also clean ducts, upholstery, and carpet. Anyway, they wanted to hire me right away. I got the message on a Wednesday, interviewed on Thursday, and they wanted me to start on Monday. But I had to get a place to live and a phone. That pretty much wiped out what money I'd been able to save up. I was at that job about 2.5 months. I think I averaged between 55-60 hours a week. (I think 40 hours is ridiculous, but at $7 an hour, I needed all the overtime I could get, esp. with all the deposits that go with renting a house). About 2 weeks ago (a week after he decided to give me a raise), the boss told me he thought "it's time for us to end our relationship" (or some phrase to that effect). Lots of reasons, which aren't really important. So now I'm sitting in Stillwater, land of No Jobs, trying to figure out how I'll pay rent next month. Still, all the college kids are gone, so there has to be *something.* (I've decided that, unless things get really desperate, I'm shooting for some cushy indoors job. Maybe get back into computers, though that's pretty much impossible to do here. It's just to hot down here to work outside in the summer). And there's my recent life story in a nutshell. Sometimes being outside the "comfort zone" really sucks. On a happier note, I've finally have room (and the time) to start practicing my guitar again. It's appalling how much I've lost.
Monday, May 02, 2005
 
It's weird. I feel like I've been amazingly busy, but I haven't managed to do anything, really, except impress my boss. For a $7 an hour job, that's really not saying much. No, that's not fair. I've been spending a lot of time being domesticated again (for example, I'm about to take some of a big pot of beans I whipped up the other day and use them to make burrito filling--nothing elaborate, but filling--for lunch for the next few days) and remembering what it's like to have a toilet to keep clean. And I've been puttering around with my computer, remembering how it all works. I think I managed a lot more updates to my web-site when I was stuck using the library in Seattle, but now I feel as though I should get something working together, rather than just putting up whatever I manage to finish before the library closes. Not sure which is better, since I really had no choice back then. But I'm also being lazy, playing computer games and such. I've been trying to get focused, get back to work...there are *so* many things I want to be doing. By the time I get home, let Bridget out (I have a back yard, with a really short fence--only about 4 feet or so--so I don't dare leave her to wander alone. Esp. since the land-lord next door lets his cat wander around), cook up supper, check my email, etc, I usually have less than an hour before bed-time, and it seems silly to spend that time working, when (for example) I have an overdue library book. On those nights when I do manage to have a clear trail in front of me (no errands to run after work, leftovers are sitting in the fridge, etc), some random friend usually calls me up and needs my company. Why is it that people seem to only contact me when they *need* me? (Well, I'm using one of those pre-paid cell phones now that runs about $0.50 a minute, and I really only want to use it for emergencies, so I guess that makes sense mostly. But I tell everyone to contact me via email, or drop by my place to leave a note in the mailbox, or some such). There's a nice, peaceful feeling to the term "my place." I'm paying too much rent for what I get, I think. Except the land lord's finished objecting about Bridget. In fact, I haven't seen him in a few days, and I need to drop off the rent check. But that's beside the point. It's a calm feeling to have some place for "coming home," even if it is a little old house (what more do I need?) with dirty clothes scattered all over the bedroom floor (believe it or not, that snarled mess was actually sorted out about a week ago, grouped by how badly I needed to wash any of it) and boxes of books filling half the living room. Anyway, that pretty much sums up my state of mind right now. Not sure how it meshes with the "how are you doing?" question, but there you go. As usual, I'm pretty bewildered. (Chelsea used to break down crying, complaining about how confused she was. I didn't have much sympathy; I mainly just tried to convince her that I was more confused).
Friday, April 15, 2005
 
Just a quick note here. I got an internet connection (cable!) this morning, so I'm actually writing this post from my living room. Okay, I've been living here since about 3-15. I started my travels back around 6-1-03. That's 21.5 months homeless. The limited internet/computer access was the worst part of it for me. I really can't describe the sense of satisfaction at sitting here in front of my friendly old monitor (I've had this sucker about 9 years now...it's outlasted 3 or 4 computers; I highly recommend ViewSonic) with my desktop background, typing on a Dvorak keyboard. My dog's hanging out in the back yard enjoying the sun (I'm joining her very soon), and all the errands/chores hovering over my head can wait until tomorrow. I'm psyched.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
 
I just realized yesterday that I haven't been in touch in quite a while. I'll write more when I have more time, but I thought you might appreciate *some* sort of update. I got a "real" job and moved into a rental house about 3 weeks ago. It's been hectic-crazy. The job keeps me gone pretty much the entire work day. I mean really gone. In 14 working days, I've made at least 11 trips to work sites over an hour away. I usually start around 8:15 and get done about 6. Though my very first Friday I wound up getting done about 11 at night. My first two weeks I wound up with about 10 hours overtime. Which is great (since I desperately need the money), but it doesn't give me any chance to do things in Stillwater during the work day. My second day at the house, I came home to find that Bridget had broken a window. I planned on talking to the landlord after work the next day and assuring him I would be happy to replace it (no big deal, it's an old window that just takes a pane of glass and some caulking). He showed up early the next morning, as I was heading out for work, and told me that Bridget was too much; I had to either find a new place by the first or get rid of her. Well, I did manage to take a lunch one day in that time frame and look around for about an hour, but I didn't find anything. After that, I never had a chance to really look for anything. I was pretty much at my wit's end on Tuesday, ready to move everything into a storage building and head up to Boulder with Khrys. I figured I could be happier unemployed and homeless again there than here. (There's no way I could do this job without a freely available shower anytime). The owner showed up yesterday morning and told me I could stay, instead, as long as I paid all the deposits and everything. I have two theories for why he changed his mind:1. He was messing with Bridget the first day and got scared when she broke the window. After a couple of weeks, he saw her settle down (at least a bit) and decided she wasn't so bad after all.2. He had a really expensive trip to a casino and desperately needs some cash. Either way, I get to stay, and this is an incredible relief. I figure I need several months at a steady job to convince employers that I am still reliable, even if the job's completely unrelated to anything I actually want to do. (I'll write about the job some other time).
Monday, March 07, 2005
 
I'm sorry I didn't come back by after work on Saturday. I was in awful shape--the day (added to the week before it) kicked my butt. I got done and barely had the energy to make it out to Ripley. Remember that adorable little puppy we ran into last week? She is a stray that someone dropped off. Probably not long before we ran into her. She's still out there. She and Bridget had a blast running around like crazy dogs Sunday morning--splashing through the river, then tearing around the woods up there. They ran around for about 2 hours, then Bridget came panting back to the 4-runner and pretty much collapsed. She didn't move for about another 3 hours. Then she mustered the energy to go back out, but it was nothing like it had been in the morning. I went to that interview today, and he offered me the job. They want me to start ASAP, at $7 an hour. I figure I have to go back to the construction job at least tomorrow, and it might be courteous to go Wednesday as well (although I might spend Wednesday looking for a place. What's your landlady's phone number, anyway? I need to find out what sort of cheap place she might have). They have different certification schools for the cleaning, that come up 3 or 4 times a year. Well, around here. They also have them in, say, Denver or Dallas, but they try to send people locally. You go to one of these schools, pass a test, and get some sort of certification. You also get a dollar raise. I'm going to one Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in OKC. So three days to get my first raise. Not too bad, eh? Sigh. Maybe I'll be able to sort through stuff on Sunday.
Monday, February 07, 2005
 
Oops, this turned out a lot more grim than I intended. Better turn away now. It gets ugly. (I wouldn't send this at all, except for some stupid promise I made myself *way* back in Springfield. Really, just delete it and don't read the rest). (start from the beginning, you idiot) I wound up here, desperate and starving, as you might have guessed (though we found a bag of raisins that you sent...I still have that!). Khrys and Melissa (mainly Melissa...bless her!) fed me and kept me going. I probably shouldn't tell this tale. But I shall. Mark it well. They fed us and sheltered us, even after Bridget killed Callie. I still have nightmares about that. Callie snuck out. We were gone, off to work for the day. Except I didn't get to work. So we came back, and I let Bridget run around the back yard a bit. All of a sudden, Idgy started barking up a storm. I whirled around. Bridget was wagging her tail, triumphant, Callie was squirming around like a dishrag that you swirl in your sink, in Bridget's mouth. I screamed and ran to them. Callie dropped loose and swirled up a fence-post. She sat atop and yowled at me, then disappeared underneath the house. I called Melissa to ask her what to do. I have a few definite situations where I ask other people. When it comes to hurt people/animals, I call Melissa. When it comes to a car that's screwed up, I call Ashley. Any other situation, I figure my Mom taught me the answer Way Back When. Melissa didn't know. She couldn't. She gave me a best guess, which should have been pretty good. She didn't know. She couldn't know. I have this dizzying image of a tower of cards that falls, because Mom can't know either. And I can't tell you how hard this is to type. My fingers feel like each is carrying a bag of cement (ever tried hauling around cement? Give it a shot sometime). So I crawled underneath the house. I squirmed through the tiny crawlspace opening. Scrubbed through the muck and the grime that just grows beneath a house. Squirmed my way through the rack and ruin of families that have tried and failed. Languorous tendrils of fiberglass slid their way down my neck. Earthworms skithered away as I slimed my way through their burrow. Spiders scuttered out of the scruff of my neck as I slithered my way through their carefully woven webs. I found Callie under there, panting and heaving, in shock. Callie is the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. The personification of "cat." Silk does not begin to describe her fur. She can pounce on a rat from forty yards. You can stalk a yard clean, then she'll find a borough of rats for feed. She deserves a home with Paul Bunyan. My belly still clenches as I see this poor beloved kitty lying in shock before me. Months have passed. Tears still rise to my eyes. An image...my beloved dog, shaking a beloved toy...but that toy was alive. It wasn't a toy. This little stuffed animal used to be a cat. She sat atop and yowled at me, then disappeared underneath the house. My best friend went somewhere with another friend--that's another story--and brought back a couple of cats. These cats squirmed and fought the entire way. They were in a box, and they wanted out. They couldn't have gotten out far, but they could have gotten farther than they were. Or at least they thought. Squirm and fight and get out of this box, let me chase some mice. These cats had idealistic lives. Maybe not lives that PETA would have loved. After all, people still fed them, and took care of them. Callie actually went in for surgery. Some butcher had slit a fraction of an inch extra-deep, when he was cutting out her ovaries (it just doesn't sound the same, does it, though there's not much difference, as 'cutting off his balls') and slit into her diaphragm. It took a team of two surgeons to keep her alive, once people recognized the issue. Oh, the cats knew the issue. There was no question about that. Her brother. He was the squally little whiney-eyed whailing-throating son of a whore who most wanted out of that damned box. Those people decided to let him tag along, God knows why. Rump-stanking, fart-smelling, hooba-stanking Lord Knows Why. But he kept her alive for months. They pumped for her lungs to breathe. Her guts had crawled up into her lungs. They'd wrapped around her little bits that kept breathing. Her brother licked all the bits and places that mattered. Oh, yes. After all the time that she spent chasing barn rats, they knew. She was a mean, nasty bitch-kitty. She was *the* mean nasty bitch-kitty. This is not a bad thing. As a mathematical subset, it included being the nicest, kindest, sweetest, most adorable cat on earth. But she still had this wonderful habit that included bringing home such joys as dead mice, dead rabbits, and dead birds. But it didn't matter. It all boiled down to this little bit of "My best friend went somewhere with another friend--that's another story--and brought back a couple of cats. These cats squirmed and fought the entire way. They were in a box, and they wanted out. They couldn't have gotten out far, but they could have gotten farther than they were. Or at least they thought. Squirm and fight and get out of this box, let me chase some mice. These cats had idealistic lives. Maybe not lives that PETA would have loved. After all, people still fed them, and took care of them. Callie actually went in for surgery. Some butcher had slit a fraction of an inch extra-deep, when he was cutting out her ovaries (it just doesn't sound the same, does it, though there's not much difference, as 'cutting off his balls') and slit into her diaphragm. It took a team of two surgeons to keep her alive, once people recognized the issue. Oh, the cats knew the issue. There was no question about that. Her brother. He was the squally little whiney-eyed whailing-throating son of a whore who most wanted out of that damned box. Those people decided to let him tag along, God knows why. Rump-stanking, fart-smelling, hooba-stanking Lord Knows Why. But he kept her alive for months. They pumped for her lungs to breathe. Her guts had crawled up into her lungs. They'd wrapped around her little bits that kept breathing. Her brother licked all the bits and places that mattered. Oh, yes. After all the time that she spent chasing barn rats, they knew. She was a mean, nasty bitch-kitty. She was *the* mean nasty bitch-kitty. This is not a bad thing. As a mathematical subset, it included being the nicest, kindest, sweetest, most adorable cat on earth. But she still had this wonderful habit that included bringing home such joys as dead mice, dead rabbits, and dead birds. But it didn't matter. It all boiled down to this little bit of "stuffed animal" that Bridget shook around a bit and then tossed away when I yelled at her. Callie shook it off, swirled up a fence-post, and yowled. There may be something symbolic in that. One's last bit of defiance on the fencepost of the undeniable end. After that, nothing really counted. I called Melissa for advice. I called the vet. I slogged underneath the house, praying that things would turn out different. I broke every traffic law I could find, screaming through school zones and wanting to tear out power lines. I wanted to rip apart cities to make it all right. It turned out that I couldn't, but I did manage to bring Khrys there in time to see her brought down. But the vet boiled it down to numbers. And, in the end, even numbers couldn't make it right. It all boiled down to that instant when my dear friend clamped down on my other dear friend, with her wonderful silky hair, and shook her like a tawdry discarded stuffed animal at the county fair. This is an image I'll never be able to dispel, and I doubt I ever will: my beloved Bridget with my beloved Callie clamped between her jaws. After that, nothing really counted. I called Melissa for advice. I called the vet. I slogged underneath the house, praying that things would turn out different. I broke every traffic law I could find, screaming through school zones and wanting to tear out power lines. I wanted to rip apart cities to make it all right. It turned out that I couldn't, but I did manage to bring Khrys there in time to see her brought down. But the vet boiled it down to numbers. And, in the end, even numbers couldn't make it right. It all boiled down to that instant when my dear friend clamped down on my other dear friend, with her wonderful silky hair, and shook her like a tawdry discarded stuffed animal at the county fair. This is an image I'll never be able to dispel, and I doubt I ever will: my beloved Bridget with my beloved Callie clamped between her jaws.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
 
Hey, everyone, That remodeling job is finally done, so I'm heading out of here. Just in time, too; the weather's turning nasty on me. Here's my current itenerary (it's, of course, subject to change without notice, though I'll try to let everyone know): Monday, get all the 4-runner work done that I've been putting off for so long. (Actually, I'm going to limit myself to brakes, one new tire, and a tune-up, so I think it's doable in 1 day). Wake up Tuesday and vote, then take off I'm planning on long driving days, so I imagine I'll get to Aguila (it's a 1500 mile trip) Thursday or Friday (3 or 4 days) I figure a day or two there (so Friday or Sunday), then on to Stillwater. Aguila to Stillwater is 1100 miles, so another 2 or 3 days to reach there. So Saturday to Tuesday. Okay, I know it's loose, but it's more of a schedule than I've had in over a year. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone (well, those of you I'll see) soon.
Friday, August 27, 2004
 
Hey, everyone. Yet again, sorry it's been so long between mails. I've been working very steadily (as in one day off in the past 3 weeks), helping this nice couple remodel a house. They're really doing the whole 9 yards--going from 1 bathroom to 3, adding a new bedroom and some sort of extra storage extension, entirely new plumbing and mostly new wiring... All this is so their kids will have a place to stay while they're in college, though they are going to rent out at least one extra bedroom (the mom told me the other day she really hopes their "tenants" pay their rent on time). Anyway, the library where I usually go for computer access is basically shut until school starts back up in the fall (Sept. 27). I'm starting to get tired of living in my car, and I really don't want to spend another winter in Seattle (especially working outside). A friend of a friend has a potential programming job opening up, in Oklahoma of all places. So I'm planning on heading down there after I finish up this house (a bird in the hand, and all that). Not that I'm doing the house myself--I'm just doing the grunt work, like digging out the basement for that addition I mentioned, and sanding the exterior walls, to try to make it look decent when they repaint it (yes, I have spent days sanding walls--my hands really ache at the end of the day). Okay, I'm at Kinko's, paying ridiculous amounts of money for computer time, so I've gotta run.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
 
Hey, everyone, Sorry I haven't written in so long.  No real reason, just not much happening. After that marathon project I wrote about last time, I spent a couple of weeks trying to get paid (the guy still owes me about $500), then I gave up in disgust and went camping for a while, up in the Cascade mountains. They have a series of dams up there, on a river, which provide about a third of Seattle's electricity.  It was a huge project, starting during the Depression and lasting until the 50's or 60's.  (They have a sort of museum set up there, about the whole thing, but I've forgotten most of the details).  I had a tough time finding a camp site, though.  The 4-Runner overheated driving up one trail, and I was sitting around waiting for it to cool off when a guy from the electric company showed up and told me where to go. It was absolutely gorgeous.  Right on a creek.  At that spot, half the creek (closest to the camp) was white water and the other half was a calm, jade green.  Bridget had a blast.  I cleaned her up before we left.  She took off after I let her out of the 4-Runner; she was back 10 minutes later covered in some sort of goo. We spent about a week there, then back to Seattle.  Really, nothing worth mentioning since then.  I didn't even do anything for July 4th. I did tear down a small (1 car) garage last Friday.  Well, I helped.  Stucco walls are *heavy*!  Anyway, two of us tore it down, then jackhammered up the concrete slab (which, luckily, was no more than 4" thick, except around the edges).  I don't know if I've ever hurt as bad as I did when we got done.  I had muscle cramps in my toes.  And I was filthy--I grabbed a burger afterwards, and a guy there commented that he thought my formerly white t-shirt was tie-dyed in earth tones. Let's see.  I recently acquired a unix (actually Free BSD) shell account, and I've been using that to play around with writing software and putting together a web page, again.  I'm toying with the idea of using that as a sort of portfolio, to try to get some contract programming jobs.  I'm starting to get tired of doing the manual labor thing. Oh, I went to see Spiderman 2 a week or so ago, and I'm trying to get around to see Farenheit 9/11.  Not that I need to see the movie to know that Bush terrifies me, but I hear that it's just an excellent movie. Love, James
Sunday, June 06, 2004
 
For anyone who's interested, here's my log of the hours I kept over the past four weeks, turning a garage into a bedroom/bathroom. This doesn't include going to the boss' house to wake him up every morning. * Fri, May 7 (?)-Fri, May 14--7 days straight helping a guy do some remodelling work. Actually, 3 different jobs. 1) finishing up remodelling a bedroom 2) Putting a lot of trim on the outside of a garage, and installing a couple of new doors and 3) Beautiful house on a lake, lots of windows and skylights; pulled out a window (about 6'x9'--we guessed it weighed around 400 pounds), replaced the rotten frame, and put it back in. * Fri (May 14) evening--Dan called me up, said he finally had the money he owed me from a job a couple of weeks back. I met him late that evening at his place. He said he needed help with a new, rush job. A client was moving his mother (with Alzheimer's) from a nursing home to his house, since it would be a lot cheaper. * Sat, May 15: 8:15 am-6:15 pm (started out emptying the garage, busting up some concrete for a sewer line, and framing the ceiling) * Sun, May 16: 10:30 am-6:30 am (had a couple of hours off to get a new guitar out of layaway). Actually hung the sheetrock on the ceiling. Yes, this was about a 17 hour shift * Mon: woke up about noon. Called Dan a couple of times to see if we were going to do anything. He finally woke up about 5:00 and framed part of the floor, but I wound up getting the day off. * Tues, 10 am-9:30 pm Put in most of the floor. The garage was below the rest of the house, so we had to raise it up about 13 inches. Put in insulation and such * Wed, 12 pm-11pm * Thurs 9:45 am-10:45 pm * Fri 10:15 am-9:45 pm * Sat 11:15 am-1:45 am--these days are pretty much a blur. Framed up the walls, hung sheet rock. Finished up the sewer line, and buried it in concrete. Laid out lots of wiring and plumbing. * Sun 3:15 pm-6:45 am Another all-night session, slapping plaster onto the walls. Very frustrating and painful night. * Mon 8:45 am-10:15 am: We broke for breakfast, then tried to go back and finish the first layer of plaster. It didn't happen--we were just too stupid/silly/exhausted to get it done. I think I sent out an e-mail to the list around about here. * Tues: When I finally woke up, my fingers were numb, from holding the trowel and bucket of mud. I spent a few hours working feeling back into them, and decided I was taking the day off. Dan's son-in-law *loves* doing dry wall. He's supposed to be really good at it. The plan was that Dan and I would hang the sheet rock, then the son-in-law would come in, put the mud on, and do all the sanding. So I figured that's what was going on Tuesday. It turns out that he never showed up and did nothing at all. So... * Wed 12 pm-11pm: Back to slapping mud and sanding * Thurs 10 am-1 am Finished up the drywall (mostly) * Fri 10 am-7 pm More finishing up drywalling. Textured and painted (well, started the painting. Dan's paint gun exploded right at the end). We packed all the garbage into his trailer. His son-in-law was supposed to help with that, and didn't. He was also supposed to help make the dump delivery in the morning. * Sat--I got a check from Dan the night before, and was planning on taking the day off. Turns out the bank wouldn't cash the check, so I went back to his house. We (without the son-in-law) took the trash to the dump, cashed the check, and bought a new clutch for my 4-Runner. (At this point, my old one was completely shot. When I'd stop, I'd just kill the engine. Then start it and let off the clutch--while the starter was still going--to take off. I could sometimes get into first while the engine was running; I'd shove the gear shift a few times, start rolling, then bust my knuckles on the dash when it finally popped into place). We went by the job site for a while, then to his place where I started tearing my clutch apart. Back to the job site a couple more times, mainly to finish up the painting. I didn't keep track of the hours, really. I charged him 2 hours for the day, though it was probably closer to 4 or 6. * Sun: 12:00-3:45 [revised arrival time for the mother] Not sure what we did at the job today. I finally got the transmission broken apart from the engine in the morning, and put the new clutch in place. Then we did something at the job site (obviously, since I marked down the hours). Then I came back and started putting the engine and tranny back together. The plan was to take them apart, put the new clutch in loosely, put them together loosely to align the clutch, take them back apart and tighten the clutch in place, then put them back together and bolt everything in place. * Monday: spent the entire day working on the 4-Runner. I got the engine and transmission together for the first time early in the morning. Pulled them apart, tightened the pressure plate (the part that holds the clutch in place) then spent the rest of the day trying to force them back together. * Tues: [original day the mother was supposed to arrive] Got an actual alignment tool for the clutch. It was supposed to be included with the clutch, but wasn't (one of the reasons I got it for $40 off). Then back to the job site from 9:30 am-1:30 pm. Again, I don't remember what we did. I spent most of that time wishing Dan would quit finding little nitpicky things so I could get back to the 4-Runner. Finally did get back to it. Pulled it apart, aligned the clutch, tightened it down, and spent the rest of the day/evening bolting it together. I finally quit, late that night, with a couple of pieces left that just weren't going together. * Wed: Bolted on the last two pieces (the starter and the slave cylinder that actually manipulates the clutch). Added hydraulic fluid and bled the system. Started up the 4-Runner. The clutch still wouldn't disengage. Can't begin to express the frustration at this point. I'd decided while I was bolting on the last pieces that, no matter what, I was *not* pulling it back apart--I'd wasted far too much time and energy on it already. One of the neighbors introduced me to another neighbor, who has a mechanic shop in his front yard. They both figured it was the throw-out bearing, until I convinced them that I really had replaced it. The mechanic decided, at that point, that it was probably the transmission. We decided that I'd tow/push the 4-Runner over to his place, and he'd start ripping it back apart in the morning. Dan came home that night, we kicked the tires a few times, then started it up so I could show him what it was doing. For whatever reason, it decided to start working. * Thurs: Took it out for a test drive. There was a squeal whenever I pushed in the clutch, which soon went away. As I drove back up to Dan's, the neighbor (not the mechanic) excitedly came up to me to tell me that he knew the problem--he was sure I'd installed the clutch backwards (never mind that it had decided to start running). One of the frame pieces I'd pulled loose, while messing with the transmission, had sheared off 3 of its 4 bolts (okay, that sentence is awful, but I'm running out of time to figure out how to phrase it better). Dan offered to just weld it back into place. Went to the job site from 1:30 to 6:30, and wired up the wall outlets (among other things, like cutting a hole in the wall and wiring up an exhaust fan for the bathroom). Dan's wife hung out with us. Her first comment, when she walked in: "Is this supposed to be a room?" * Fri: Wound up taking an actual day off. Finally got to spend some quality time with Bridget, and let her run around. She kept harassing the smaller dogs at the park (and their owners objected), so that part didn't last long. * Sat: Finally got Dan to weld up the 4-Runner and shell out some more of the money he owes me. The guy whose garage we re-built wanted me to do some "cleanup" work for him. Went over there 2 or 3 times, but he was at the hospital. Went back for 1 last try, about 4:00. He'd finally showed up. Worked until about 9:30, mainly doing touch-up paint (we pulled down a lot of siding to install a new door and window. Dan put it back up, but it got beat up in the process). The mother-in-law still hasn't arrived. Somewhere along the line, they discovered that she had a badly broken leg--apparently one of the bones has been completely crushed. She had 3 heart attacks during surgery to fix that. Apparently her dementia's so bad that she has no short-term memory, really. They explain why she's in such pain, and she forgets almost immediately.
 
For anyone on the list who doesn't know, Patsy's my mom. I'm so far behind on e-mailing and life in general that I'm just going to answer her letter and send it along to the rest of you, to try to get vaguely caught up. BTW, I'm switching to a new e-mail address. I'll keep checking the yahoo one for a while, but I'm tired of never having any room in my inbox. Regards, James --- Patsy Ashley wrote: > well, as grandma always says, no news is good news. Sorry about that. I've been a tad busy lately. > I haven't been doing much with emails lately--so I > figure you haven't either since no one has heard > from you. hope all is going alright for you. Everything's fine, now. Life's been pretty crazy for the past month. My clutch started going out. I worked with a guy for about a week, doing 10 hours a day. I finished up with him, figured I'd look up clutch shops. A buddy called me that evening, said he had some money he owed me. He also needed some crazy, wild hours help turning a garage into a bedroom. We put in about 150 hours over the next two weeks (with a couple of all-nighters) and did it. After that, I spent the next 4 (or 5) days replacing my clutch (it sounded like a bargain at first--$100 for the parts, instead of $400 for a shop to do it). I'm at the tail end of this. The job's done. My clutch now works great (there were a few hours, after I'd finished, when it didn't work, which just scared me to death--changing a clutch gets ugly). The guy whose garage we just redid wants some cleaning around his house, then I'm going camping. Bridgette's been a real trooper. She started out on a chain, at the client's house. She broke it. In a couple of places. Then she got loose and killed a kitten (yeah, that tore me up--I *loved* that kitten). She's been horribly neglected. She needs to get off the leash and run around like a crazy heathen child. I'm really hoping that's just a day or so away. Of course, I'm looking forward to getting away to the woods myself. My liver's going nuts over all the hot dogs and McDonald's I've eaten over the past month. I'm *really* looking forward to firing up my camp stove, having time to play my guitar, and being able to stretch out in a tent. (Yes, my tent got lost with my practice studio, so I have to replace it. No big deal). > how did the band project work out? It hasn't yet. We're still in touch. Well, we were until I got so busy with this job that I didn't have time to pay my phone bill. I need to get back in touch. > > I finally borrowed a cassette player last week and > have listened to your recital tape from JC in Ft. > Smith---your last one there, the one that Kay Adams > recorded for me. it was fun hearing your voice even > if you didn't say much. :-) I said *way* too much. . I chickened out of playing one song that I just wasn't comfortable with and substituted something that wasn't a challenge. I look back now and wish that I'd pushed it. > > we are on the last week of school. Yay! Is Kit excited? > I am on my way > home from the first grade picnic. it was fun > watching all the kids. I bet. Just hearing about it reminds me of a lot of picnics and such back when I was in school. Did it bring back a lot of your memories? > they had walked from the > school, but I drove. Probably a good idea. > > how is the weather doing there? It's weird. Almost sort of like Oklahoma spring-time weather, only milder. We had a day that was just absolutely gorgeous, and smoking hot (say, around 80 degrees--). The next day, we got pounded with rain. The next couple of days, we had clouds blow in, light showers, clouds disappear for a while, then repeat. At least there aren't any thunderstorms or tornadoes. (Actually, there apparently were a bunch of t-storms a month or so ago...it's so easy to lose track of time when you spend all your waking time at the job). > it is definitely > summer here now. I heard that somewhere in Montana > got a couple of inches of snow on the week end. Seems like I heard something along those lines, too. Also that it was up in the 90's regularly, somewhere in OK (not Stillwater) nearly 2 months ago. Oh, yeah. The strawberry crops here came in around 3 weeks earlier than pretty much ever (well, in about 30 years) before. > > take care, love ya, mom Love you, too, James >
 
For anyone on the list who doesn't know, Patsy's my mom. I'm so far behind on e-mailing and life in general that I'm just going to answer her letter and send it along to the rest of you, to try to get vaguely caught up. BTW, I'm switching to a new e-mail address. I'll keep checking the yahoo one for a while, but I'm tired of never having any room in my inbox. Regards, James --- Patsy Ashley wrote: > well, as grandma always says, no news is good news. Sorry about that. I've been a tad busy lately. > I haven't been doing much with emails lately--so I > figure you haven't either since no one has heard > from you. hope all is going alright for you. Everything's fine, now. Life's been pretty crazy for the past month. My clutch started going out. I worked with a guy for about a week, doing 10 hours a day. I finished up with him, figured I'd look up clutch shops. A buddy called me that evening, said he had some money he owed me. He also needed some crazy, wild hours help turning a garage into a bedroom. We put in about 150 hours over the next two weeks (with a couple of all-nighters) and did it. After that, I spent the next 4 (or 5) days replacing my clutch (it sounded like a bargain at first--$100 for the parts, instead of $400 for a shop to do it). I'm at the tail end of this. The job's done. My clutch now works great (there were a few hours, after I'd finished, when it didn't work, which just scared me to death--changing a clutch gets ugly). The guy whose garage we just redid wants some cleaning around his house, then I'm going camping. Bridgette's been a real trooper. She started out on a chain, at the client's house. She broke it. In a couple of places. Then she got loose and killed a kitten (yeah, that tore me up--I *loved* that kitten). She's been horribly neglected. She needs to get off the leash and run around like a crazy heathen child. I'm really hoping that's just a day or so away. Of course, I'm looking forward to getting away to the woods myself. My liver's going nuts over all the hot dogs and McDonald's I've eaten over the past month. I'm *really* looking forward to firing up my camp stove, having time to play my guitar, and being able to stretch out in a tent. (Yes, my tent got lost with my practice studio, so I have to replace it. No big deal). > how did the band project work out? It hasn't yet. We're still in touch. Well, we were until I got so busy with this job that I didn't have time to pay my phone bill. I need to get back in touch. > > I finally borrowed a cassette player last week and > have listened to your recital tape from JC in Ft. > Smith---your last one there, the one that Kay Adams > recorded for me. it was fun hearing your voice even > if you didn't say much. :-) I said *way* too much. . I chickened out. > > we are on the last week of school. Yay! Is Kit excited? > I am on my way > home from the first grade picnic. it was fun > watching all the kids. I bet. Just hearing about it reminds me of a lot of picnics and such back when I was in school. Did it bring back a lot of your memories? > they had walked from the > school, but I drove. Probably a good idea. > > how is the weather doing there? It's weird. Almost sort of like Oklahoma spring-time weather, only milder. We had a day that was just absolutely gorgeous, and smoking hot (say, around 80 degrees--). The next day, we got pounded with rain. The next couple of days, we had clouds blow in, light showers, clouds disappear for a while, then repeat. At least there aren't any thunderstorms or tornadoes. (Actually, there apparently were a bunch of t-storms a month or so ago...it's so easy to lose track of time when you spend all your waking time at the job). > it is definitely > summer here now. I heard that somewhere in Montana > got a couple of inches of snow on the week end. Seems like I heard something along those lines, too. Also that it was up in the 90's regularly, somewhere in OK (not Stillwater) nearly 2 months ago. Oh, yeah. The strawberry crops here came in around 3 weeks earlier than pretty much ever (well, in about 30 years) before. > > take care, love ya, mom Love you, too, James >
 
For anyone on the list who doesn't know, Patsy's my mom. I'm so far behind on e-mailing and life in general that I'm just going to answer her letter and send it along to the rest of you, to try to get vaguely caught up. BTW, I'm switching to a new e-mail address. I'll keep checking the yahoo one for a while, but I'm tired of never having any room in my inbox. Regards, James --- Patsy Ashley wrote: > well, as grandma always says, no news is good news. Sorry about that. I've been a tad busy lately. > I haven't been doing much with emails lately--so I > figure you haven't either since no one has heard > from you. hope all is going alright for you. Everything's fine, now. Life's been pretty crazy for the past month. My clutch started going out. I worked with a guy for about a week, doing 10 hours a day. I finished up with him, figured I'd look up clutch shops. A buddy called me that evening, said he had some money he owed me. He also needed some crazy, wild hours help turning a garage into a bedroom. We put in about 150 hours over the next two weeks (with a couple of all-nighters) and did it. After that, I spent the next 4 (or 5) days replacing my clutch (it sounded like a bargain at first--$100 for the parts, instead of $400 for a shop to do it). I'm at the tail end of this. The job's done. My clutch now works great (there were a few hours, after I'd finished, when it didn't work, which just scared me to death--changing a clutch gets ugly). The guy whose garage we just redid wants some cleaning around his house, then I'm going camping. Bridgette's been a real trooper. She started out on a chain, at the client's house. She broke it. In a couple of places. Then she got loose and killed a kitten (yeah, that tore me up--I *loved* that kitten). She's been horribly neglected. She needs to get off the leash and run around like a crazy heathen child. I'm really hoping that's just a day or so away. Of course, I'm looking forward to getting away to the woods myself. My liver's going nuts over all the hot dogs and McDonald's I've eaten over the past month. I'm *really* looking forward to firing up my camp stove, having time to play my guitar, and being able to stretch out in a tent. (Yes, my tent got lost with my practice studio, so I have to replace it. No big deal). > how did the band project work out? It hasn't yet. We're still in touch. Well, we were until I got so busy with this job that I didn't have time to pay my phone bill. I need to get back in touch. > > I finally borrowed a cassette player last week and > have listened to your recital tape from JC in Ft. > Smith---your last one there, the one that Kay Adams > recorded for me. it was fun hearing your voice even > if you didn't say much. :-) I said *way* too much. . I chickened out. > > we are on the last week of school. Yay! Is Kit excited? > I am on my way > home from the first grade picnic. it was fun > watching all the kids. I bet. Just hearing about it reminds me of a lot of picnics and such back when I was in school. Did it bring back a lot of your memories? > they had walked from the > school, but I drove. Probably a good idea. > > how is the weather doing there? It's weird. Almost sort of like Oklahoma spring-time weather, only milder. We had a day that was just absolutely gorgeous, and smoking hot (say, around 80 degrees--). The next day, we got pounded with rain. The next couple of days, we had clouds blow in, light showers, clouds disappear for a while, then repeat. At least there aren't any thunderstorms or tornadoes. (Actually, there apparently were a bunch of t-storms a month or so ago...it's so easy to lose track of time when you spend all your waking time at the job). > it is definitely > summer here now. I heard that somewhere in Montana > got a couple of inches of snow on the week end. Seems like I heard something along those lines, too. Also that it was up in the 90's regularly, somewhere in OK (not Stillwater) nearly 2 months ago. Oh, yeah. The strawberry crops here came in around 3 weeks earlier than pretty much ever (well, in about 30 years) before. > > take care, love ya, mom Love you, too, James >
Monday, May 24, 2004
 
Hey, I've been frantically busy the past couple of weeks. Lots of construction and remodeling going on around here right now (the hours are wild--I started yesterday at 3 pm, got done this morning about 10). Just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive. Well, sort of. I'm off now to sleep for about 3 days.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
 

Got Bridget Spayed

On Thursday, April 20. She spent the night at the vet, where they all fell in love with her. She spent the next few days refusing to eat. The next Monday evening (the 26th), I noticed hard splotches on her belly. Took her back in the next day. By then, they'd turned into bright red irritated swellings--obviously infected. So we put her on antibiotics and stuck her in a cone collar. Oh, and at their recommendation, I switched to canned food, which she ate just fine. Went to a job on Wednesday. Tied her up on a telephone pole near where I was digging a hole. Between the 4-Runner and the pole, she managed to mangle the collar. By the end of the day, it had fallen off completely. I bought some duct tape and patched it up that evening. It stayed on until Saturday. I went out to another job with Dan, and left her loose in his yard. She managed to knock it off while we were gone all day. The wound looked so much better that I didn't get around to putting it back on until I took her back to the vet this past Tuesday (the 4th). They told me to leave it on her for a couple more days, but to quit feeding her antibiotics (which was quite a relief. Usually she'd eat the pills with her food, but sometimes she'd manage to avoid them. She's very submissive, but shoving the slimy things down her throat while she's wearing the collar was just a mess). I kept the collar on her until that evening, when I took it off to let her sleep. She looked just fine in the morning, and I hate those things almost as much as she must, so I just left it off. We had a great time going for a walk that afternoon. She seemed so happy! She found a rabbit burrow under a tree, and spent a long time trying to fit into it. She finally realized that she just couldn't squeeze between the roots and gave up.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
 
In case anyone's interested, I finally got a current picture of me online. It's at http://photos.yahoo.com/j_r_ashley.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
 
Last Thursday, I got a job helping a lady get ready to put in a new lawn in her front yard. They'd pulled up most of the sod already. I went in and tilled it up (the tillers with the tines on the back are *so* much nicer than the front-tined ones I've used before!) Then two of us dug it down about an inch and a half. The job wound up going through Friday afternoon. She's supposed to get new sod tomorrow and have us go back to lay it, but I haven't heard from her, so I don't know. Gaylen, the guy with the big deck who gave me so much work a while back, had me go back to his place to do some yard work Friday night. I cleaned up some more of the mess made by the construction, then started raking his yard. I went back Saturday morning, finished raking, and started mowing. The carpenter (Dan) showed up and we chatted a bit. He wanted his attic cleaned out, and it's such an awful job that he didn't want to do it. So I got up early Sunday morning and got started on ripping up his insulation. Coveralls, respirator, painter's hood, big thick rubber gloves. And it turned out to be a brutally hot day (I saw a thermometer sitting at 95, around 2 pm). I lasted about 3.5 hours up there. Then I ran back to Gaylen's and finished mowing (I'd run out of gas the night before, and the gas can was over at Dan's). I figured on an hour, at the most. He actually found enough puttering around stuff to keep me for three. And he spent another hour feeding me, so I got out of there about 5:00. The job at Dan's wound up lasting 2 more full days, then about half a day yesterday. The weather took pity on me. It got cloudy, and yesterday was drizzly and chilly. Today the sun's back out, and the temperature's somewhere about 75 (at a guess). So now I'm indoors long enough to write this and look up (yet again) which tax form I need to fill out.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 
I got a job through Labor Ready last Saturday (mar 20?). It was for a florist, so we all expected I'd be doing something with flowers. It turns out that he was doing some massive additions to his house. The carpenter had just finished adding a room with an indoor pool. When I got there, he'd just started adding a couple of decks. One was four feet wide, and ran about 50 feet along the back of the house. The other is about 12'x50'. I got to help build those, when I wasn't busy cleaning, so that was really neat. I also got to build a good size brick patio (it started off as a path from the pool room to the deck, but we got carried away). In between that, I did a lot of digging, and a lot of moving bricks around. My back and legs are *really* sore. The job ended (until he has more money for "the next phase") yesterday. Having something steady for over a week (including the weekend) was really nice, but I was working such long hours that I haven't had time for anything else. I did manage a shower last Friday, but I'm desperately looking forward to getting my laundry done today. The money was really good to get. My amp's finally out of the repair shop, I got my phone activated again, and I can afford to get my guitar out of the pawn shop. Yay! (Oh, and I sneaked off to a big discount show at the football stadium and bought a new stereo--with a CD player--for the 4-Runner. I'm leaving here to track down a buddy who'll install it for $20). Anyway, that's what I've been doing, why I haven't answered the phone (I've been too tired to even check my voice mail), and why I've been so far out of touch.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
 
Well, Friday wound up pretty much being a repeat of Thursday. Got up early, still pretty excited about the whole thing, and headed to the office for more training. Left there about 10:30, sent downtown again. I did better this time. I didn't get quite as frustrated looking for a parking spot, and it only took me an hour. Still, the guy I was supposed to meet had gotten tired of waiting on me and left. We all decided that it was just a waste of time and money for everybody concerned until I wasn't so tied to my car and could take buses to get around town. (Usually, not having to take the bus has been an asset. Go figure). So, anyway, it was back to Labor Ready yesterday. Spent the day cleaning up a construction site. Another Bonefish restaurant is going up. (I don't remember if I ever talked about Bonefish When I worked at the first one. Forgive me if this is a repeat). Bonefish is pretty much a companion to the big Outback Steakhouse chain, owned by the same, big, faceless corporation. From now on, they're putting the two up together whenever a new franchise (not sure whether they're franchises or not, but you get the idea) opens. I worked on one that went up near downtown...I'm guessing it was probably last December. The guy running everything got some Labor Ready grunt for his finish carpenter. (He's the guy who goes through and hides all the mistakes everyone else made. He should own every tool known to man, and have tons of carpentry experience. These are the carpenters who make the "big bucks.") Now, some guy off the streets who's getting paid $7 an hour probably isn't the best bet for this important job. So they brought in 4 others, the last couple of days, to cover up all his mistakes. I'm not sure whether they learned a lesson from that or not. They haven't really gotten to that phase yet. No, wait. They do have another Labor Ready guy putting up at least some of their trim, which is part of the finish job, so I guess they didn't. Anyway, I went out there Saturday and helped clean up. Since I still won't get paid for another two weeks for the fund-raising job, I'm really glad I managed to do something to make some cash. I celebrated this time by buying a box of girl scout cookies.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
 
So I started a new "real" job (more or less) Tuesday. Now I'm a professional panhandler. Well, okay, I'm canvassing to raise funds for a non-profit group called "Save the Children," which has convinced me it's a really good cause, and quite a good charity (hey, it's been around since 1932, and 90% of their funds actually get used). I haven't had a chance to do any research on my own about them, just the literature they give us to convince others, but it still seems good. But I'm still stopping people on the street and begging them for money. It's just not directly for me. Anyway, Tuesday went pretty decent for a first day, I was told. At least I stayed cheerful all day long, and I did raise one donation. Wednesday went much better--I got a couple of one-time donations, and signed up two people to do a monthly sponsorship. I had to get 2 (although I'm really expected to do 3) of those in my first three days, or I was out. After that, we're required to average 1.8 a day. Anyway, that's the basic gist of the whole thing. I woke up this morning, luxuriating in getting to sleep late, in the beautiful, warm, sunny day, and excited about doing something to help make the world a better place. I called the boss to find where I was working, and felt a bit of worry when I found out it was downtown. I got down there an hour early, then spent an hour and a half looking for a parking spot (getting angry and frustrated at the situation). I finally found one, and headed down to meet the others. I'd called off and was starting to feel cheerful when I got there. Except they weren't where they were supposed to be. So I spent the next two hours circling the blocks, trying to spot them. I figured maybe something had gone wrong with that specific spot, so they'd moved over a block or two. At this point, I was *really* low on cash (more about that later), so I couldn't afford to call the office again to find out what was going on. I finally gave up, trudged the 20 blocks (ish) back to my parking spot, and headed back to the office. When I got there, they were talking about some guy who'd been late the first day (which I had), then hadn't shown up. I figured they meant me, and I was fired. But it turns out that the others hadn't waited on me, just headed to a completely different section of downtown. So no big deal, all around, I just missed a workday and made some new blisters (my great new boots I got for Christmas aren't as good as I thought back then). So, anyway. I left the office, used my last $1.18 to put gas in the tank, and hocked my guitar. Then I put $7 more in the tank, and now I'm off to buy Bridget some food. Pay day's not for another 2 weeks for tomorrow (and it'll only have 3 days on it), then another one 2 weeks after that. After the second payday, things should be fine. Until then, I'm hoping to work Saturdays at Labor Ready to get $50 to make it through the week. If I don't swing that, I don't know how I can possibly last. (I could have stuck with the day labor jobs in general, and just raised cash to get out of here, but this job seems *so* much more enjoyable and fulfilling, that I figured I had to give it a shot). Anyway, that's the latest update from this end.
Monday, March 08, 2004
 
I finally found a website that lets me add comments to these posts, in case anyone's interested in telling me what they think about what's going on, out here where everyone can see it.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
 
I *finally* got a job, on Saturday. Yay! I was starting to feel quite desperate--after buying Bridget a 5 pound bag of food to get through the weekend on Friday, I had $1 left to my name. The job was quite a bit different than usual. The people were witty, interesting, and fun to talk to. Everyone seemed interested in...not working hard, but doing his share. It was supposed to rain fiercely, but it held up until just as we were cleaning up for the day. A store is adding a huge expansion, and they've just poured the concrete footing. We spent the day stripping the former boards off. I've done that sort of thing before, though not on a project of this scale. We'd strip a section, then clean up the larger boards (by scraping the cement off), and then spray oil on them (one guy claimed the oil keeps the boards clean, but I'm not sure I believe that). Anyway, I finally got a day's work. I celebrated by going out last night and getting a big plate of nachos.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
 
Yet again, nothing really going on here except desperately trying to find some sort of job. I really expected plenty of day labor by now. The weather's clearing up, and it's getting warm again. But I'm still only averaging one day of work a week. Khrys and Melissa thought, for a while, that I was in sort of desperate trouble (with the Mafia, maybe), and they were going to scrape up money somewhere (pawning everything, maybe) to pay for me to rush back there. (Thanks, you two!) After we talked about it more, though, we got the miscommunication straightened out, and it's more a matter of me wanting to go somewhere the unemployment isn't quite so high so I can get some sort of job (doing day labor's great, when the work's plentiful, but spending 5 hours a day sitting in an office watching the news over and over, to find there's nothing going, just isn't working out). After that, we all figured I should just stick with my original plan and go back to working my own way around the country. (Though they are still willing to help out--thanks yet again). Anyway, I do have a couple of positives here, in the way of "real" jobs. Adam should be through any time now, finishing up his neighbor's bathroom. His buddy who was helping him has headed back to CA. So he should need my help doing another hardwood floor, sometime in the near future. I went to a job Monday, where they wanted someone who'd worked with sheet metal. I've done that, a little. I've scraped the edges off and sanded signs. I've done a little bit of body work. I've dealt with corrugated tin, with barn roofs and walls. So they sent me. Turns out these jokers wanted someone highly skilled in building gutters, doing siding, and that sort of thing--with all the requisite tools. Still, they were impressed enough by the end of the day to ask me to come back and work under the table. Unfortunately, they don't know from one day to the next whether the weather will be nice enough for them to be up on the roof where their current job lies. So I have to call them every morning to ask. I'm way behind on my cell phone bill, and that cut off Wednesday, so calling them gets to be that much more annoying (pay phones are amazingly scarce around here). And then I finally got around to asking a professional about my resume. I've been sending it out for at least 6 months now, and I haven't had one response from a human. My experience should have gotten something. He gave me some ideas, and I've completely rewritten it, in all the spare time I've had lately. (Well, there hasn't been as much as it would seem; there seems to be a constant waiting list on the public computers, keeping my access quite limited). That's it for jobs and money. I'm irritated that this seems to be such a recurring theme. Money just isn't all that important. Bridget's in heat, so her access to the dog park is extremely limited right now. I took her for a "walk" around the lake the other day--about 3 miles. I haven't done much walking lately, and absolutely no jogging or running. I like to let her have the lead, since it's her time. She tends to sprint from spot to spot, to smell or whatever. I was dumb, and wore my sandals. The next day, my thighs were painfully sore from dragging her back when I was too out of breath to keep up. And the muscles in the bottom of my feet kept going into knotting cramps. The weather was clear and beautiful through Tuesday. Yesterday and today were supposed to bring horrible rain storms--the March "coming in like a lion" thing. Yesterday came out cloudy and sprinkly, and today we have a gorgeous blue sky (though a bank of clouds is rolling somewhere--not sure whether it's in or out).
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
 
I ran across a website for musicians to connect with each other. It praised the joys of blogs, in all their forms. I thought about it for a while, and figured it might be a good way for Pat and I (at least) to put our thoughts/experiences/journal things on line. I lost pretty much all my early letters when I let my website go back, which wouldn't have happened if I'd been copying the letters here.

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