A Joyful Noise

A fart. I still have a long way to go before I am better, but a few cc’s of gas is a step in the right direction.

Stayed home from work today. My main activity was napping while mainlining RP. Laid out on the couch from 7AM until 4:30 covered in a blanket with earbuds in that were hooked to the laptop on the floor beside me. Seems like I would close my eyes and the next thing I knew 35 minutes had passed. Twenty six minutes. 42 minutes. An hour and five. I was usually conscious just long enough to marvel at how long I was out, before dropping back into never-never land. Bill played some great music for me, what I can remember, thanks.

Started down, went up, back down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 492

Pseudarboris Plasticus

Neither of us felt too chipper this past weekend, so things that were supposed to get done, didn’t. The biggest failing was not raking any of the leaves off the front (or back or side for that matter) lawn. You know how quiet and beautiful it looks outside your house at daybreak after 3 inches of snow overnight? You can’t see where the grass ends and the driveway begins. Where you had plants or flowers there are just raised levels of snow. Good, now replace that snow with a blanket of dead brown oak and hickory leaves…the only way I found our newspaper this morning was because as it skidded across the driveway after being thrown from the passing car of the carrier, it left a little clearing behind it like a comet’s trail.

It wasn’t a total loss though as we did finalize the Christmas present buying for family members, with a couple of small purchases, so their boxes can be mailed out soon. I did pull down the half dozen plastic storage boxes from the attic so we could decorate the inside of the house too. Donna scattered about the seasonal knick-knacks while I unfolded the plastic tree. I guess it is time to dig out the Christmas MP3s.

Started down, went up, back down, up again, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 495

300 Miles

The post office doesn’t open until 9:00AM on Saturday. It’s 8:30 on weekdays.

Postmarks for this year’s Christmas boxes to family will read North, South Carolina.

There is no such place as South, North Carolina.

Lunch in Darlington. The meatloaf sandwich at Cracker Barrel is pretty damn good.

Dinner in Columbia. The 1/2 lb. burger at Fudruckers is pretty damn good.

The orange light on dash shaped like a gas pump is bad.

Christmas light decorations are good.

Started up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 499

Sunday Shopping

Besides the normal weekly grocery shopping trip, we did a little Christmas shopping for ourselves and others. Plus some shopping for normal replacement wear. Amazing how quickly a couple hundred bucks can get added to a credit card.

Yesterday’s mail contained a couple niceties; 1) a Christmas mix CD from Andrea (thanks girl) and 2) a long lost box that I had given up on (that’s all I’ll say on that for now.)

The cold snap has abated and the temps have returned to normal so we got to ride around this afternoon with the top down. The down cycle meant for the first time since I’ve been keeping track of the top changes I’ve gone over the 500 mark.

I may not keep track of the top transitions next year. The main reason for that is, as I approach the 5 year anniversary of blogging, I’m tired of *having to* write something every night which causes a lot of filler posts (like this one) that I’m not to proud of. I say that, but if I didn’t do this every night what would I do with my time?

Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 500

Monday Madness

Rollerbladed this evening for the first time in a while. I’m afraid it has fallen into the same bucket as the blogging. I take every opportunity to procrastinate and when I finally do do it, it is half-hearted at best. Could just be that time of the year – its dark in the morning and nearly dark at the end of the workday too.

Big news is I went through the scads of photos I took on the Thanksgiving Florida trip and made a 20 image gallery – Florida Trip 2006 right now and as always there is a link in the sidebar.

I got this via email today with the title Redneck Timeout:
Redneck Timeout
This is funny on so many levels…

Started down, went up, back down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 502

Best of 2006


Yeah, Go Baby!

Thursday the 26th

The local High School is only about a mile from my house and because ours is a nice quiet neighborhood the track team uses it as part of their training runs a couple times a week. Tonight I passed several groups of runners in both directions on my rollerblading excursion.

On the way to the Odell Weeks track for my middle mile loop, I passed from behind, a small group of guys who I smiled at as if to say, “I may be old, but I’m faster than you.” This is easy if you are on eight wheels instead of two sneakers.

On the way back from my loop I came across a group of a half dozen girls. We were traveling in opposite directions on the same side of the street, so I looked up as we approached so as to not bump into anyone. A cute brunette near the back made eye contact and shouted, “Yeah, Go Baby!” I smiled to myself and thought, I still got it, 50 years-old and the chicks still swoon.

It was then that I remembered I was wearing a blue sweatshirt with large bright yellow letters that I bought at the gift shop on Annapolis a few years ago. She was saying. “Yeah, Go NAVY!”


Non Conforming Material Report

Friday the 3rd

Donna and I work in a manufacturing plant and our Quality Assurance department uses what they call an NCMR to flag parts that are bad. NCMR stands for Non Conforming Material Report which is the politically correct term for crap parts. Like the parts that aren’t up to spec would have its feelings hurt if we called them scrap or something.

Today at work the Activities Committee had a bake sale to raise money for projects they do during the year (and perhaps to help defray the cost of psychiatric help for the fragile egos of non conforming parts.) Donna volunteered to bake some of her renowned chocolate chip cookies for them to sell. Last night we made around 10 dozen cookies. As always there are a few that get baked a little too long or crack and break when they are removed from the cookie sheet. Wanting to put only her best cookies on sale we took a paper plate full of the rejects to work to give away on my side of the plant.

To be cute I placed a little sign over the cookies that read:
Non Conforming Cookie Report.
Failed inspection for the following reasons:
1) Heat treated to long
2) Rough edges
3) General workmanship

Within a half an hour the cookies were all gone, but someone had placed a sign over the top of mine:
Second sample of 24 required to make final determination. Submit to Engineering Department. Day shift only.


It Can’t Come Soon Enough

Sunday the 26th

While I read on one end of the couch, Donna was on the other watching TV. Mostly the reruns of yesterday’s World Ice Skating Championships, but during commercials and lapses in excitement she would surf the channels. At one point she nudged me to remove my headphones. CNN was doing an interview with someone involved with a new IMAX movie called “Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France.” Looks interesting, but it is not playing at any IMAX theater within 600 miles of us. Sigh.

After the movie segment we hopped to the other CNN where they were into something about the increasing number of major hurricanes. Seems it might be because since the 70’s the surface temperature of the oceans has risen 1 degree Celsius. Last winter was the warmest on record. Glaciers melting! Global Warming! The reporter pinned down one scientist to say that it is because of human actions that this happening. We are ruining the very environment we need to survive.

From there she jumped to Bravo where “Real Housewives of Orange County” was on. After watching a couple of minutes of this very weird show I came to the conclusion that if this is what life is all about, causing our own extinction via global warming can’t come soon enough.


Buying Beer For The Neighborhood Kids

Thursday the 27th

Every morning when I get to work I fire up the PC and wander into our “cafeteria” to fill my mug full of ice and water while the computer boots up. Donna and I start work at 7:30 and the production and assembly folks start at 7:00, so the place is usually deserted.

This morning as I approached the ice machine I hear, “Psst. Bri-yan.” Over by the water fountain, just inside the door, is one of the women who work on the assembly line motioning me over. She hands me 50˘ and asks, “Can you go buy me a large cappuccino?” So I put my mug on top of the ice machine and get her a hot cappuccino out of the coffee machine. As I bring her cup, another woman shows up and asks if I could do the same for her. I say, “Sure.” So she hands me 2 quarters and I head back to the coffee machine. After they have both poured their paper cups of steaming cappuccino into their approved, covered mugs, they thank me profusely and go back out to their respective assembly lines.

I’m guessing that they are allowed into the cafeteria as far as the fountain so they can get water, but can’t go anywhere near the snack or drink machines unless it is during breaks or lunch. It felt just a little like going into the package store to buy a six-pack for some high schoolers…


Hope She Thinks They’re From Me

Tuesday the 9th

Sub-Titled: That’s The Last Time Donna’ll Let Me Do That Unsupervised
It’s coming up on Mother’s Day, so if you’ve got one, better start planning a gift. It is time for us to pick out some flowers or a plant to be delivered to my Mom in Connecticut. We always used to do flowers, but somewhere along the way Mom mentioned she hated to throw away the flowers after they got all ooey. She suggested we get her a plant, something that could be transplanted and enjoyed for more than a week or so.

For the last couple of years we have been buying and sending the Mother’s Day plant using the internet. Usually we do this together, because being a guy, I can’t always be relied upon to pick out the best gift. This year Donna let me try on my own, after all it is for my Mom. Not being much of a shopper when it comes to these sorts of things, I usually pick whoever has an ad running on the front page of Yahoo. This year’s lucky recipient of our business was proflowers.com. I picked out a nice large 6” potted Ventricosa Heather plant in a decorative tin basket for $30 (+ $10 for delivery.) When I showed Donna what I had bought she was pleased. Then she asked me what I put on the card I told her, “Happy Mother’s Day, what did you think?” She then replied, “Did you put ‘Love Brian & Donna’ on it?”



Now We’re Even

Friday the 23rd

A few weeks back Donna sent me out for a small Wendy’s Frosty. They cost 99 cents and with our local 6% sales tax my total was a buck five. I went through the drive up and I didn’t have the nickel, so I gave the cashier a dollar bill and a quarter. She handed me my Frosty and then gave me my 15 cents change. By the time I realized I had been cheated out of a nickel; it wasn’t worth going back to get it.

Tonight she wanted another Frosty. Back to the drive up I go. Cost was the same as before, $1.05, so I gave the cashier a dollar and then rummaged around in the center console looking for the 5 cents. After watching me struggle for a bit, she finally said, “I’ve a got a nickel, just go ahead.”

Now we’re even.


Brian Buys .06 Gallons Of Gas

Saturday the 15th

We wanted to do our weekly grocery shopping late tonight to avoid the heat, so we left the house at 10PM mainly because that is when the Trading Spaces Donna was watching ended. We shop at Kroger because it is convenient and they sell gas too. Because we have a customer loyalty card I get to save an extra dime off the per gallon cost of their gas. This is usually a good deal as most times their price per gallon is a nickel or so less than the surrounding stations to begin with.

I dropped Donna in front of the store, so she could start shopping while I went and filled up the tank. When I got around the side of the store where the gas is it looked kind of dark. The overhead lights of the gas station were off, but the pump lights were on bright, so I went over. As I pulled in there was an attendant in the booth, so I stopped and opened the gas cap. I scanned my loyalty card and then inserted my debit card. When it told me to lift the nozzle and select a grade, I did just that. I started pumping and it was coming out really slow and then stopped at 17 cents. Hmmm. maybe they are out of premium. I walked over to the window and asked the attendant if they were out of gas or something, when she told me they were closed and that must have been all that was left in the hose.

I went back to the pump replaced the nozzle and closed my gas cap. The little LCD window on the pump asked if I wanted a receipt and I replied yes, to which it told me to see the cashier. Back to the window I go. The attendant said that she couldn’t get me a receipt because she had already closed the register. Sigh.


My World Is Empty Without You Babe

Wednesday the 23rd

I had been sharing my cubicle/workspace with college kid/summer help, Adam, since May, but he is gone now and the silence has been deafening. Now it is echoing.

A few days before Adam left ASCO’s employ, the Department Manager and the IT guy showed up and asked, “Your last day is Friday the 11th, right?” Adam assumed that they were coming to say nice working with you, you’ve been a big help, come back next time, etc. His bubble was popped when the IT guy said, “That PC should work.” The manager said, “I’ll get Maintenance to move the desk on Saturday.”

Seems the new departmental Industrial Engineer was starting on Monday and they needed some stuff so the new guy wouldn’t come in to an empty cubicle. Turns out the new IE doesn’t start until this Monday, so the PC got moved last Friday and Maintenance didn’t come to get the desk until today. For good measure those guys also grabbed the side table and the trash can. They left behind only a chair and lots of dust.


The Lost Weekend

Friday the 8th

Starring Brian Bogardus as Don Birnam and introducing Donna Bogardus as Helen St. James.

We went to the video store this evening and spent $25 renting all 7 DVDs of the TV show LOST. Twice.

The first time we went into the store and found the TV section where they had the Lost discs all lined up. I grabbed the first three thinking that would be enough to keep us busy for a while. Donna said, “No get all of them.” Checked out all seven and came home. Donna took a quick nap and about 5:30 we thought we would start our marathon. Each disc has 4 episodes and each episode lasts about 42 minutes, so we figured we would watch one disc tonight leaving 3 for Saturday and 3 for Sunday. When I opened up the case for disc one, I realized it was a Season One disc. WTF? All of them were Season One…

We didn’t pay attention in the store, we just figured that the second season’s stuff would right up front because it just came out on Tuesday. Nope. Donna called the store up and asked if they had Season Two in stock. They did. She asked them to put the whole set aside for and we would be in later to get them.

As we were checking out we asked for the “Stupid Renters Discount” and explained what we had done. The manager was there and had the clerk call up our account. She could see we had picked out 7 DVDs just two hours before and took pity on us. She did a swap thing and we didn’t have to pay for them the second time. Nice.


Mother Would Be So Proud

Wednesday the18th

Daily, I am emailed a PowerPoint presentation with a chart on it that shows how as a plant we are doing towards our goal of shipping out product. Weekly, I get another PowerPoint presentation with 3 lines on it, manufacturing, assembly and total, tracking our service levels (on time delivery.) The reason I get these presentations is not because I need to be keeping abreast of this sort of stuff, but in my capacity as the Arts & Crafts Engineer at ASCO.

I print these charts out on in full technicolor on an 18 x 24 piece of paper and post them outside the cafeteria. These are placed there in the hopes that my fellow associates will be inspired to work harder towards our common goals, but mostly they are ignored by the troops as they file in and out during breaks and lunch.

For the first year or so I sprayed some artists adhesive to the backs of the charts and stuck them to a larger piece of cardboard supported by an easel. About six months ago management decide that the cardboard thing just wasn’t professional enough, so they commissioned a very nice set of wooden frames. The frames even have a, hinged at the top, second frame with a piece of Plexiglas in the middle to protect the charts from outside damage and keep them looking nice. These were hung on the same wall that the easel used to sit in front of with the tops of the frames about 6” off the ground. Inside the frames I have some miracle of modern science mounting system, it is made of a sort of rubbery sheet that has the same low tack long lasting stickum that is on post-it notes.

My daily routine is to print out my chart and go out to the frame and lift the hinged cover and prop it open on top of my head while I peel the old chart off the sticky mount and carefully smooth out the new chart while balancing the lid up with my head. Because I do this usually at mid morning break for a lot of people, I get some weird looks and comments from folks on their way to the cafeteria for break. Every chance I get I tell them that my mother would be so proud because she was always saying to me, “I wish you would use your head for something besides a hat rack.”


The Democratic Process

Monday the 6th

Tomorrow is Election Day and while I just love the bumper sticker, “I don’t vote, it just encourages them” I usually do just the opposite, I vote to encourage them. In my own little protest against mainstream politicians, I typically vote for the Libertarian, the Green Party guy or some other third party candidates.

This election my voting will be guided by another bumper sticker I saw just the other day, “It’s broke, so let’s fix it. Vote Democratic.”

I mean what have I been thinking all these years, voting that way. The Democratic Party is the way to go, always was, I mean they don’t call voting “The Republican Process” do they?


Getting the Carpet to Match the Drapes

Tuesday the 19th

For those of you who are not regular readers, Donna and I get our haircut every 4 weeks from a friend, Sheri, who owns her own salon. Today was haircut day an on our way out tonight of the shop I spotted something on display that made me do a double take.

Remember in the movie M*A*S*H where everyone gathers around the woman’s shower tent and they are taking bets as to whether or not Major Hot Lips O’Houlihan is a natural blonde? Let’s just say that with modern technology she would have no worries about the truth now.

Introducing Betty Beauty – The first safe color specially formulated for the hair down there. Colors naturally, covers gray, and enhances to match your glorious locks above. Whether you’re blonde (be a true blonde now!), radiant auburn, brunette, or black, our easy-to-use, no-drip formula gives you the perfect finishing touch. From now on, when you highlight or color your hair, don’t forget your betty color for the hair down there.

Or as Sheri said, “Now you can get the carpet to match the drapes.”

Best of 2006

It is that time of the year, time for the Top 10 (Stories, Photos, Songs, Celebrities with no Underwear) of the Year things from news outlets, web logs and town criers.

It is also time for the onslaught of Christmas cards with newsletters inside.

I don’t have either for you, but I have something like it with a twist. I have gone back over everything I’ve posted here in 2006 and picked my favorite post from each month and created a page for it: Best of 2006 My least favorite favorite is the one from December, but December is only half over, so I reserve the right to go back and change that entry in the list.

It was kind of fun to go back through the posts…I might go ahead and do the same thing for 2002 through 2005.

Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 506

I’m A Pepper

My college student, AKA The Hired Mouse, who was working with me during the summer to reduce my big ol’ pile of drafting backlog was a prodigious Dr. Pepper drinker. Adam usually downed a couple 20oz. bottles a day, but could finish off three of them before lunch on a dare. During this time frame Dr. Pepper was running a promotion that if you sent in twenty-three UPC symbols from the labels of the 20oz. bottles you would get a free Pepper Pack. The PP consisted of a ball cap, a T-shirt and a lunch box. Needless to say Adam responded to the challenge and in the span of a couple weeks had the required 23 labels.

The fine print said, “Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery – Offer good while supplies last.” There were no descriptions for the items, so Adam had no idea what any of this stuff would look like or when it would get to him. He tried to wait patiently, but he really did want to get his Pepper Pack before his employment was over at ASCO so he could show off his Pepper Pack.

Finally after about a month and a half he came in to work one day with a nice looking gray ball cap with a Dr. Pepper logo patch on the front. Not bad looking, I’d wear one of those. Adam was a big kid and he said even thought the Tee was an XL it was too small for him, so he gave it to his mom. And the lunch box was one of those old time rectangular metal things and was good for a collectible or collecting bits of junk in the garage.

Seeing as I drink Dr. Pepper too I thought maybe I’d go for a Pepper Pack as well. I don’t drink as much as Adam and with the offer expiring at the end of September I was in trouble. August was almost over, but my buddy Mark drinks and he offered to help. Sometime in the third week of September we had enough labels to mail in. With the phrase “Offer good while supplies last” and the fast approaching deadline, I didn’t think there was a very good chance I’d ever see a Pepper Pack, but what the heck it was only costing me a 39˘ stamp (we won’t count the cost of the soda as we would have drank that many in a month anyway.)

Having totally forgotten about the promotion, I was totally confused by the box from Minnesota in the mail last Saturday. Donna demanded to know what I’d ordered and I frantically search my memory banks for what I might have done. The only clue to what it might be was a small line at the bottom of the label that read Pepper Pack. I couldn’t think what that meant. Did someone send me a Christmas gift that consisted of the pepper of the month, January would be jalapeos, February might be habaneros, etc. It wasn’t until I saw the maroon metal lunch box that I remembered.

I’ve got a new favorite hat…

Started down, went up, back down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 508

Folding Bucket 2

Before going any further, read this post — Folding Bucket — from October. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Really.

Donna and I swap gifts with very few people other than family, but there is one couple and their kids that we have been doing so with for about the last 16 years. Even though we don’t see as much of them as we used to we still get together enough that we know likes and dislikes which makes present selection fairly easy. The woman in this family has become a quasi-regular reader here (Hi Rae!), so she knew exactly what to get me for Christmas this year – The Gift.

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Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 510

All Lit Up

LightsThe Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia puts up a ton of lights for the Christmas season. They boot everybody at five o’clock and then reopen the gates at 6 with a separate admission charge. Donna and I did this several years ago and have meaning to go back, but never make it. Tonight our neighbors invited us to join them on a trip to there, we agreed. Jim, Ann, daughter Ellen and the kids from across the street, Zack and Tanner piled into their big truck while Donna and I followed in the Miata dinghy. As a bonus, daddy Jim paid our way in and even picked up the dinner tab at the Cracker Barrel afterwards. Thanks, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

And now for something completely different – New Voyages. Independently produced episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series with new actors playing the old familiar characters. If you are a Trekkie or Trekker, check it out. After you get over the fact that the new Captain Kirk looks more like an Elvis impersonator than William Shatner, it is not bad TV.

Started down, went up, back down, up again, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 513

Getting the Carpet to Match the Drapes

Our Christmas box arrived today from Donna’s sister in Stuart, FL. While Donna was squeezing and analyzing the wrapped presents trying to determine just what might be inside the pretty paper, I was dancing around the house shouting, “My favorite pants are here! My favorite pants are here!” like Navin R. Johnson with the new phone book.

Harry Hartounian: Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.
Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

Are you as tired of penguins as I am? The ones in Madagascar practically made that movie, but then came March of the Penguins and this year’s Happy Feet. Tonight I even saw a Dawn dish liquid commercial about how they save mother penguins after oil spills, so they can go back to raising their babies. Enough! Take out your flightless black & white bird rage here: Yeti Batting Practice. Click once to make the penguin jump and then click again to make the Yeti swing.

For those of you who are not regular readers, Donna and I get our haircut every 4 weeks from a friend who owns her salon. Today was haircut day an on our way out tonight I spotted something on display that made me do a double take. As long as I’m on the whole relating life to movies kick…Remember in the movie M*A*S*H where everyone gathers around the woman’s shower tent and they are taking bets as to whether or not Major Hot Lips O’Houlihan is a natural blonde? Let’s just say that with modern technology she would have no worries about the truth now. Introducing – Betty Beauty.

Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 514


Sushi?If your workplace is anything like mine, it has been a veritable smorgasbord everyday since like Thanksgiving. Each year for the holiday season the company furnishes each department with a ham and a turkey to cook up and share. of course this prompts everyone in the department to bring in side dishes and desserts to go with this meal which is eaten in one of the conference rooms. Because Donna and I interact with several departments, we aren’t necessarily invited to eat lunch with them, but someone will always come through with a plate of leftovers for us, usually desserts.

Today was Turned Parts and we both got a bowl with a piece of chocolate cake and a chocolate & pecan candy thing. Mmmm. Late that afternoon I was delivering some updated paperwork to the Turned Parts supervisor when one of the women called me over and asked if I wanted a couple of sweets. I tried to refuse, but not wanting to hurt any body’s feelings I took three different items. First was a big hunk of that birds nest stuff (Chinese noodles covered in butterscotch fudge), second was a big pretzel covered in white chocolate and sprinkled with peanuts and thirdly was the item pictured.

Looks a little like some scallops on a skewer covered in cream sauce with a dusting of paprika, doesn’t it? Well, it is actually three marshmallows covered with white chocolate and decorated with red granulated sugar – on a stick! Maybe you’d love ’em, but, at least to me, it wasn’t that good. Not like that bird’s nest stuff, man that is tasty.

Started down, went up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 515

Gallery Tweaks

I finally got the photo galleries script updated to eSPG 2.0. Took quite a bit of monkeying around to get something that is relatively transparent to you the viewer. But it makes it easier for me to add pictures and their descriptions because I can now do it online as opposed to changing stuff on the desktop and not seeing the results until after everything has been uploaded.

I added a Random Gallery Image to the sidebar. If you click on the teaser image it will take you to the main gallery page where you will be greeted with the big new trick the updated script has up it’s sleeve, a thumbnail image the go along with the gallery title. I may need to put it closer to the top or nobody will ever see it…

Started up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 515

“Holiday” Season

Both Donna and I have developed a case of the sniffle, runny nose, sneezing thing. Boy are we fun to be around…

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Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 518

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

Tomorrow when you look up and notice that the flags are flying at half mast, who will it be for?

The Good – Gerald Ford
The Bad – Saddam Hussein
The Ugly – James Brown

Started down, went up, back down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/06: 524