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

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 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.”