Showing posts from November, 2006

On notebook envy.

I have a notebook. It's spiral bound, college ruled paper, with 80 sheets.

I notice others in meetings have graph-paper notebooks, so they can create cool engineering-y diagrams while they doodle.

I envy those people.


Stumble in the dark
Engineers search, people hate.
Satisfying none

Baby Shower

I'm drowning in baby gifts. My old church family was very generous, as were several members of mom's family.

Got to drive Cathy's Mazda MPV today, and it handled very well at "interstate speeds" :-) More powerful than Yoda, in any case.

Thanksgiving in review

Tact: noun. a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.

After attending the second of two Thankgsivings, I must say, Brentzels don't have tact. The Combs clan doesn't either.

* * *


Atmosphere: The Combs homestead (now Janie's house) versus Papaw Brentzel's ranch-on-a-basement. Includes creek and hide-and-go-seek.
Advantage: Combs

Attendance: The Combs's were missing a whole family, while the Brentzels were only missing one cousin (Alan).
Advantage: Brentzel

Best after-dinner, catty comment: Combs. Hands down.

Best nugget of wisdom:
- "Hell, Harold, don't pay any attention. They can hear a gnat fart from 5 blocks away."
- "You know how often I change the oil in my race engine? After EVERY race...Yep...used that special 50-weight stuff..." "Well now, I wuz turning 4600 rpm down the back straight, and if I have my math right, using an overall tire diameter of ___…

The Cam-U-Ry

"Camry" means 'crown' in Japanese ("Cam-U-Ree"), so here's my summation of our Crown so far:

It's great so far; the only complaint I have is the engine--with 3-4 people + stuff aboard, it can barely get out of its own way. In the flat, it'll happily cruise at 80-90mph, as it's geared very tall, but it's hopeless in the mountains. We averaged 26 mpg on our trips in the past two days, which isn't bad, but it isn't the 30mpg I was hoping for. Some new tires and a tuneup should fix this.

* * *

Christmas & dad bought us a set of Goodyear Assurance TripleTreads:

And...a new stereo for my beamer:

cool stuff! :-)

Relaxation, day Zero

God help me, I'm taking off this week.

I expect to get the shakes sometime in the next couple days, as I really haven't decompressed. I'm accustomed to the 7am video conference with India, and until that doesn't happen, I'm not "on vacation".

* * *

This weekend was pretty neat--did nothing on Saturday, and little to nothing today, aside from some shopping :-)

In other news, we've Christened the Camry "Yoda", as it's unattractive, old, and unexciting. Yet, it's full of time tested wisdom.

Yeah, something like that. Anyway, Yoda rhymes with Toyota. Close enough, anyway. :-)

It's starting again...

Good old Michael K (aka "Gateway") is back on the GTO's are cheap, buy one bandwagon.

Apparently, they'll be going for under $25k again, since the 06's are the last year for them, and they're still piled-up on dealer lots.

Clunky 6-speed
no trunk

:) no thanks. Do miss Thor occasionally, when those ever-so-rare patches of open interstate loom, and my 170hp just doesn't feel adequate.

New inspirational moment

So, I come downstairs from my 10am meeting, to see something very...odd.

A middle-aged lady from our facilities staff had her mop and bucket, much like other days, but she was MOPPING THE CARPET. Not the tile in front of the elevators, the CARPETING!

Clayton came by and we commiserated on this idea, and found it to be a metaphor for our whole frickin' company. We're mopping the carpet. Working hard, but mopping the carpet nonetheless.

No, I don't have Connective Tissue Disorder

subtitle: OWWWWWWWWW!

So, Whitney and I were hanging out last night, practicing some of her Bradly exercises, specifically Tailor Sitting. As we sat there, we were discussing flexibility and she said I should lean forward from my 90-degree position as far as I could.

I leaned at about a 45 degree angle and finally felt a little stretch in my behind, so I kept going.

Turns out, I could bend all the way forward, still in the seated position and touch my nose to the carpet. She was suitably impressed...

...Then I got up this morning, and every piece of connective tissue from my lower back to my knees hurt. =-) Seems I'm not that flexible, after all.

A weekend

No car-buying/repairing histrionics this weekend--just a cool Friday night watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Joey's in love with this cartoon, and Bella and I wanted to check-it-out.

It's awesome--we were spellbound for 4 22-minute episodes. The story arcs are deep, characters are superbly round.

* * *

Saturday, I worked 6-12, then crashed at home for an hour nap before we went bowling with another family. I got a sparkling 83 on the second game.

Fun times...

Something about knowing I share a birthday with Nick Lachey isn't terribly comforting.

Though, the Berlin Wall did fall on my birthday, which is cool.

Cancelled my C&D subscription...


Been a C&D subscriber for ~20 years, but it was time to vote with my feet--their recent tests have been garbage, the redesign caused my eyes to hurt, and the editorial content has gotten more "frat-boy" by the issue.

It's still a respectable magazine, and their technical skills are above reproach, but it's not worth my money.


I love my wife even if she is a pharisee.

Changes in G'town


Pending a recount, looks like Varney is out and Tingle-Sames is in. Also, our guy Marvin Thompson is back in for city council.

I would like them to change to a district-based council for 8 folks in the at-large is too hard!

On the election

Today's the day...

Cast my ballot at 6:15 this morning, and was glad to do so. With all but one exception, I voted Democratic (yes, Dad, you can rejoice.)

Yes, I'm naive. Yes, I've started to believe at least some of what I read with respect to Iraq, torture, foreign policy, and the covert operations of our current executive.

Yes, I believe in checks-and-balances, and the blank check Hastert and Frist gave Bush over the past 2-3 years is criminal.

Yes, I believe Carl Rove is Satan, a demagogue who sowed division in a country desperately needing togetherness, all for political gain.

Yes, I believe we've willfully exchanged freedom for safety.

* * *

Okay, the reality here--our only national election was for the House of Representatives, in that race Ben Chandler ran without Republican opposition. Still, I hope enough Republicans get their butts kicked that SOME of the political structure changes...

weekend in reverse: the e34 fiasco

...or "My Dad becomes a BMW brand Ho"

So, after haranguing Dad to be my wingman on the Desperate Friday Car-Search©, replacing my burned-out wife, I developed a list of 5 "likely" cars from the lists I could find online:

- At World Class Autos in Nicholasville: an Infiniti I30, and '95 BMW 525i
- At Big Blue Autos: The Camry, the Accord, and another I30.

Upon arriving at World Class Autos (Home of "Kentucky's largest used car showroom"...yeah right, you could fit their building inside CarMax, but whatever...), we scoured the frosty lot for the e34 I was so keen on.

Aside: An e34 is a 1989-1995 BMW 5-series. It's like a bigger version of my car 325

We finally found the car, and it was a rough back-lot special: Filthy outside, with pitted paint, and 130k miles on the odo. The power/heated driver's seat had burned-out its fore/aft adjustment motor. Oh, and the battery (located beneath the rear seats) was dead.

But how this thing drove!! Tight, …

Weekend in reverse: Buying the blasted car

After the e34 fiasco, buying the Camry was pretty easy: Drove over to Big Blue Autos, and they (conveniently) had the keys to EVERY CAR sticking OUT OF ITS DRIVER'S SIDE DOOR!

Supposedly, this was to simply the detail-guys moving them around the lot. I personally think this was a giant sociological experiment to see who would be the first person to steal a car.

I only did it halfway--I got a dealer plate first.

First up was a sad-looking Infiniti I30 that didn't quite that was out. At this point, two cars remained: the Camry and a V-6 Accord.

The accord was kill-me-beige, and a real blast to drive. Great seats and tremendous power. Every stoplight/stop sign had me laying rubber as I booted the throttle. Controls were light, but TOO light. Driving up Bryan Station Road, the car was playful and engaging. Sadly, the inspection of the car didn't add-up: It was missing a couple of VIN stickers, and had corrosion in odd places in the engine bay. Also, I did…

Weekend in reverse: Camries have crappy lug studs.

So, having bought our new-to-us Friday, and brought it home Saturday, I noticed some interesting things about it Sunday.

It has THREE brands of tires on it. The front tires look new, but they're called 'Road King' or something like that. The passenger rear was a Dunlop P4000 touring tire, and the driver's side rear was a BFGoodrich something-or-other.

The BFGoodrich tire was also backwards.

Some tires, particularly rain tires, have V-shaped treads that dissipate water, IF THEY'RE MOUNTED CORRECTLY! If they're not, they approximate the wet-road traction of a greased pig.

No problem, I thought...I have all the tools necessary to jack the rear of the car, and flip the two rear tires. Ah yes, as with most of my "this will be easy" inclinations, I was wrong.

Jacking the car was easy: The rear subframe carrier has a nice flat spot where the suspension attaches, and with 60% of the weight on the front wheels, my 2 1/2 ton jack was well up to the task.


Weekend in reverse: Monday Morning

Yep...this is the Quentin Tarantino version of my weekend...

So, this morning, I arise at ye earlie momente of 5am, make coffee, scour the house for my badge, finally leaving with a backpack full of books, computer, power brick, passport, and other assorted goods.

(And, I just remembered...without lunch...CRAP!)

So, I get to the security room, and notice that the interior of my car reeks of coffee. I unzip my backpack to find the thermos tipped over. Usually, this isn't a problem, the thermos is watertight and double-sealed at the top...

...unless the idiot who washed it last (me) left out the rubber piece in the lid.

- One ruined (borrowed) book
- One passport that looks aged 100 years
- One soaked backpack

Thankfully, the power brick and laptop seem to be fine. They live in their own cushioned area.

After last night, thought all my bad luck was over. Nope.

MY EYES....the goggles, they do NOTHING!!!


Lou Dobbs gives 'em heck...

This doesn't sound much like Lou:

Only 15 percent of eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot in this year's primary elections, according to an American University study. Never before have so few of us bothered to vote in primary elections. And it's no wonder. Our middle class is beginning to get the joke.

Most Americans understand that all the major decisions have already been made.

His point on outsourcing is apt: No matter which party is in power, outsourcing manufacturing will continue unabated. The next congress and definitely the next presidency will see the utter collapse of Ford or Chrysler (possibly both), destroying the heart of the middle class.