Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Greatly Increased Nuttiness At Work......UPDATED

Gee, after today's meeting, I might not get a chance to give them notice!

Since this Friday is payday, and next Friday is when we turn in our time sheets, I'd expect things to hit the fan next week.

And all indications are it's going to be a bloodbath.

More when I know.......


Well, we had another meeting on Tuesday morning where our Direct Manager (the guy who signs our time sheets) brought all 20-something of us in, and clued us in on what's going on.

Everybody that was in the room, including himself, is subject to layoff, along with most of the other office staff, like the purchasing people, secretaries, and most of the IT staff.

It will be a bloodbath.

He said that he'd been in meetings the previous week, prior to the All Hands meeting, where lots of yelling, screaming, and table pounding (of the "We will BURY you" type, if you know what I mean) went on, and the owners were really putting down the American workers as "overpaid, pampered, and lazy", and how we never seemed to be doing anything and spent too much money on things that weren't needed.

And the last six launches we did were all booked in 2007 or earlier, and in some cases were done at a discount because of "launch credits" negotiated during the Chapter 11 doings.

And despite the fact we were told that our services would be "In very high demand" when they started launching again, after hearing what went on the previous week, responses in this meeting ranged from "Fool me once.....", to "I'm not quitting Boeing AGAIN!" (some people are making plans to head back to The Mothership, and a couple have already left), to "Good luck with that!".

I've worked with these guys (and ladies) since 2004, and if they say they won't come back, believe it!

We were advised to try and use our vacation and sick leave ASAP, "just in case" the owner's try and wiggle out of paying it to us at separation.

As far as spending money on things that "weren't needed", our part of the system is literally falling apart, and we're just about fresh out of bailing wire and chewing gum.

We have computers running Windows95 on 486 processors doing critical things.

We have other similar computers running Windows NT 3.5 doing other critical tasks.

All of the computers controlling things in the Launch Control Center are running Windows 2000, as are 95+% of the workstations there.

Some the managers in the LCC had their workstations "upgraded" to Windows XP, but not many.

Our "Autotracker" to run the telemetry capture antennas failed years ago, and I had to manually follow the flight profile using the control knobs on the front of the Antenna Control Unit.

The telemetry receivers have been failing due to old age, and we have to send them to a private place for repair as the company that built them doesn't (and won't) support them.

The telemetry decoders are ancient, require a couple of reboots to get them running, and have been known to just stop working.

Same with the optical tracker for recording the launches on film and video. The had to put a 6' piece of pipe on to the pedestal to muscle the cameras around and follow the launch vehicle, as the computer and control electronics had multiple failures, and the company servicing them "wanted too much money" to come out and fix them.

The ships have been getting a bit run down as well. Safety items are fine, but now you're starting to see rusty spots because there aren't enough crew members left to keep on top of things, and I suspect the paint budget" has been slashed.

They shut down the air conditioning in the building most of my group is in, and brought it portable AC units to keep things tolerable.

The carpets in the building look like something a slumlord would proud of, as they haven't been cleaned in at least 5 years.

There are "Out Of Service" toilets and urinals in the men's room, and burned out lights everywhere.

It really looks like The Beginning of the End for the place.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I Picked A GREAT Time To Retire!

WELL.....we had an "All Hands" meeting today, and the outlook is grim.

They're planning on doing some serious layoffs "sometime in August".

Hey, I volunteer!

Lay me off, and I'll happily collect unemployment until October when my SS is scheduled to start.

Seriously, the COO and CEO were there, and they truly sounded pained over having to tell us what's coming down the road.

Unfortunately, I think this may very well mark the beginning of the end for the company.

Considering that many of the operations support people left good jobs to come back, and were met with numerous unfulfilled promises, I think the chances of any of them coming back if called are slim to none, no matter how much the company says it "appreciated" all the hard work and sacrifices we all made.

I think I'm starting to hear nails being driven......

Sunday, July 20, 2014

45 Years Ago Today

Two brave men set foot on the Moon, while their shipmate orbited the Moon.

Cronkite (I think) called him "The Lonliest Man In The Universe".

Thanks to Keads for this stunningly wonderful recording of the event.

Even today, 45 years later, it brings tears to my old eyes......

We simply could NOT mount this effort today, and Denninger agrees with me.

I'd say more, but I'm FAR too disgusted with what our Country has become......

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Audio/Video/Photgraphy Day

Been going through all the pictures my wife, her friend, and I took on the trip.

Finally got them all organized (3 PLUS GB of Pix), and I'll be burning some CD's later for the kids and her friend.

Went to burn the zipline videos they took with the little GoPro, and Windoze Media Creator doesn't know what to do with them because they're mp4 videos.

Went and downloaded the "GoPro Studio" software so I could convert them to avi, and make Windoze happy.

Yes, I know there's other free software to do this, but the GoPro Studio is very easy to use and does a good job.

If I get some time later I'll post some of the pix from one of our excursions.

Total mileage traveled was around 2700, and fuel economy for the entire trip was 17.1 MPG. Not too bad considering all the elevation changes between here and Colorado and back, and the fact we spent literally HOURS cruising at 75~80 MPH with three people and all the "stuff" two women have to bring on a vacation!

And back to "work" tomorrow.

Oh, well, it's only another 4 weeks before I give my notice, and then two more weeks after that, and I'm outta there!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Back In The 'Stan

Got back yesterday about 1545. Dropped off the wife's friend and her luggage, then headed here to unload the Jeep.

Finally got to the kennel about 1800 to pick up Pebbles, who ignored me for the first 20 minutes or so.

I'd forgotten my house keys, so when we got home I couldn't get in to the house! Had to fight the bees around the lavender bush to get at the faucet for the front garden hose so I could give the poor dog a drink, and then we waited for the wife to get home.

And waited.

And waited.

After about 20 minutes, I took the dog for another ride (she's excellent in the car) to kill some time, and when we got home, the wife was still gone.

Hmmmmm....maybe she went to get groceries, as we'd cleaned out the fridge before we left.

SOOOO.....back in the car for another ride. Stopped and got gas, and rode around for about another 30 minutes.

Got home and saw the wife's car in the driveway, so I parked and we went in.

Turns out the fire alarm at the wife's school had gone casters up and was wailing away, so they called her in to reset it. It wouldn't reset, and started throwing error codes she'd never seen, so she called the alarm company who diagnosed it as a bad sensor, and told her to turn it off.

She had to go back in this  morning to give the alarm company access to the buildings, and they replaced three different types of sensors, and now all is good.

I'm off to pick up our mail, and then over to my private P.O. Box where I do all my shipping and receiving from. I *know* I have a Heathkit SB-303 receiver waiting for me, along with a few parts for the Supra, and a HUGE box of mail and other junk.

Glad I don't have to be back to "work" until Monday, as the back yard needs some grooming!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Headed Back to Kaliforniastan......

And we'll really miss Colorado!

Yesterday we went to Estes Park, home of "The Stanley Hotel".

You've seen The Stanley before, I'm sure, as it was extensively used in a movie.

"Here's JOHNNNNNY!" should be enough of a clue.

Turns out that The Stanley was NOT used in "The Shining", but rather was a hotel Stephen King stayed in for a while, inspiring him to write the novel.

It's up at 7500 feet, like the future in-laws homestead, and walking around the grounds (no, the maze isn't there. It was shot somewhere else) kinda winded me, but not as bad as it would have the first day or two we were here.

We spent today with The Kids, going out to lunch, and then going over to their place to see "our" dogs. The dogs went nuts to see us again, but calmed down faster this time.

The stepson's GF was out walking Coco when we pulled up, and I swear she recognized my Jeep, although the GF claims the dog smelled us coming!

Anyway......we'll take The Kids out for breakfast tomorrow, give them and the dogs a big hug, and then head back to the 'Stan Wednesday.

We're going to spend the night in Mesquite, Nevada, as everybody agreed doing this drive in one 18-hour marathon is NOT fun for us Old Folks.

Besides, I want them to see the scenery during daylight hours, as when we came through there on the way out, it was "O Dark Thirty", and they didn't get to see any of the spectacular scenery West of the Continental Divide, and through Utah and Arizona.

We've taking several hundred pix, and I'll sort through them after we get back, and write little posts about some of the things we saw.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Shooting and Boating, But NOT at the Same Time

Well, we went shooting today the the stepson's GF's parent's place.

First of all, their homestead is located at seventy five hundred feet above sea level!

After the 14,000+ foot excursion to Pike's peak, which really knocked me for a loop, this wasn't too bad. At least I didn't have to stop every 10 or 15 steps to get my breath.

I *finally* got to fire and AR pattern rifle, the stepson's slightly customized M&P-15.

He got quite a deal on the rifle and EOTech holographic sight for it; $400 for the rifle, and $400 for the sight!

We were firing the Wold Gold ammo I bought him, and it fed perfectly, went BANG everytime, and he seemed to feel it was more accurate than the reloaded stuff he'd been buyinh.

The M&P-15 is a really sweet rifle, and my wife, who is pretty recoil-sensitive, had NO problems firing it, and getting solid hits on the 100-yard steels they have on their range.

After I'd learned the controls, and fired a few "practice" rounds through it, I was able to get solid hits on the 100 and 200-yard steels with it.

I even got fancy, and was alternating shots between the 100 and 200 yard targets, getting solid hits almost every time. If I fired too fast, I'd miss one, but if I waited until I had the pipper solidly on the target, I got a hit every single time!

The GF's brother also brought several rifles, including a Henry "Survival Rifle" in 22LR, and Marlin 336 in 30-30, identical to mine, and a Winchester 94 in 30-30.

I was getting solid hits on the 200-yard steel with both rifles using Hornady LeverEvolution ammo.

The Marlin had a "Factory" 3-9x32mm scope on it, while the Winchester had classic buckhorn sights.

Getting solid 200-yard hits with open sights surprised me, but then I haven't been rifle shooting since I got my new glasses about six months ago.

Then we headed down to the Horsetooth Reservoir @5400 feet for an afternoon of boating, with The Kids going nuts tubing, while all us Old Folks just enjoying the scenery.

And it sure feels good to be back to "only" 4980 feet!

I'm jumping in the shower, and then to bed.......

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday America!

And we're going to a big family BBQ later today.

The stepson's GF's family has a nice 50 acre or so "ranch" west of town, and we'll be heading out there a little later.

They have their own range, so we're going to burn through some of the 1000 rounds of 223 I bought for the stepson (WoW....I get to shoot an AR today, something I've never done), and then we'll have the usual burgers and dogs cooked on the grill, and watch the fireworks from Fort Collins.

Still recovering from the Pike's peak trip.

And I *promise* to never go above 10,000 feet again without my bail-out bottle!

And for a really good take on July 4, 2014, drop on by Wirecutter's place and RTWT.

Bravo, Ken!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Went to Pike's Peak Today

And the 14,000+ foot altitude kicked my tail end but good!

Just glad I bought a couple of cans of "Boost O2", basically 2 liters of 95% O2 in a small can, before we rode the Cog Railway to the top.

After that, we went to "Cave of the Winds", but I was too trashed to take the cave tour with my wife, her friend, and my stepson's GF.

Got up @ 0630, and didn't get back until 2100.

One good thing was when we dropped off the GF, I got to see Diamond and Coco, our two dogs that the kids took with them when they moved here. I called them, they heard me, and about knocked poor GF off her feet getting to me.

After much sniffing and licking, they settled down (a bit!) and it was fun to play with them for a while before we headed back here to our hotel.

Too beat to download my camera pix, so I'll do that tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's A LOOOONG Drive......

From Long Beach to Fort Collins!

Took us about 17 hours, and we averaged 16.8 MPG, not bad considering we spent HOURS cruising at 75 MPH (80 through Utah!).

Haven't looked at the odometer yet, but we went through $250 worth of gas.

Outside air temp peaked at 116* on the way to Vegas, and it was 113* in Baker where we stopped for fuel.

Stopped for dinner in Veags (BIG mistake!), and I wanted to go to Planet Hollywood.

Big mistake #2.

We got the menu, saw that the steaks were $55,  and everything was a la carte, so we politely thanked the staff and slipped out to find something cheaper.

Wasted over 90 minutes in Vegas, including getting off and back on I-15.

At least the parking was free!

Continued on out way through Nevada, cut through the NW corner of Arizona, and then on into Utah, where the speed limit went to 80 MPH!

We picked up with two brand new Dodge Challengers wearing manufacturer's plates, and cruised at 80+ MPH until just before sunset, when they peeled off at a small city that advertised "Gas Food Lodging".

Since they both had "SRT" emblems, and judging from the hood scoops, splitters, and spoilers both had, I'm guessing they were the new "Hellcat" models that aren't quite for sale yet.

Crossed most of Utah in darkness, which is a shame, as I remembered it being nice scenery from the last time I drove through it, some 30 years ago.

Came through the Vail area about 30 minutes after sunrise, and it was just beautiful.

There's still snow in large sections of Vail, and the outside air temp dropped to a low of 31*, quite a difference from some hours earlier in the desert!

Had breakfast in Denver, then headed North to Fort Collins. Got to our hotel several hours early, due to my wife estimating our travel time to be 22 hours, very tired, so I napped in the Jeep.

When we got our room, I laid down on the bed and slept for 7 hours. Got up, had some dinner, watched some TV, and went back to sleep for another 10 hours!

This high-speed traveling is kinda fun, but only when it matches your sleep schedule.

I'm going to be out-of-it until tomorrow........

For Phil......

 My buddy Phil from Bustednuckles brought up a good point on my previous post. Since I have things on the engine torn down this far: It wou...