Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Personal view on political issue

Where I live there is a great deal of debate over migrant workers, and illegal immigration laws. I'm sure the same can be said all over the United States. It really bothers me to hear all the negative and racist comments that everyone has to say. One group of people will blame things on another group of people when really, it's not a certain groups fault that things are the way they are. It is not the fault of a Mexican migrant family that they are able to go to the Department of Health and Human Services and receive assistance for free. I mean, really think about it. If the government in Jamaca would pay you to live there... wouldn't you?
Another complaint I hear is that "they" (choose your minority) are coming to America uninvited and illegally. Really? That is your arguement? How about this: Inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a bronze tablet that is inscribed with the following poem by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your toried pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homelss, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The idea that any one of us is somehow better than another because we were born on US soil seems a bit strange to me. At some point in the history of nearly every person in the United States, there is an ancestor that came here from another place. Even native american ancestors migrated here at some point in the past. So to say you are better than someone that migrated here weeks or months ago is just rediculous.

On the flip side of this coin I do see another somewhat rediculous thing happening though. Our government is giving benefits to the illegal alien as well as their families. This is the part of the story that is wrong to me. Let me explain my point of view on this.

The United States is in an economic shortfall to say the least. We are in trouble for our future generations financially as well as the current generation. And yet we are giving away money in the billions to welfare recipients that are illegally in this country. People that have no intention of becoming legalized citizens in this country, and that pay nothing into the system through taxes or otherwise, should not be given access to any Government Financial aid of any kind.

If the US government really wants to fix the immigration issues, they should probably look first at how much money they are giving out to keep people coming into America illegally. When you take the profit away, the problem will resolve itself. Or so it makes sense.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Has it been that long?

It seems these days with Facebook, work, home and Jack that I don't really have a whole lot of time for blogging... I did say "it seems". That's a bunch of crap though. I totally have plenty of time. It's all a matter of time management and laziness. My office chair at home, and my recliner are worlds apart in the "comfortable" department. Plus, the remote doesn't have as many buttons or require as much input as the computer does.

Okay, so now that we've established that I'm a couch potato, lets move on to what's been going on since I last posted.

First, the bad. I am once again a smoker. Well... kind of. I fell off the wagon when drinking on several occasions over the past two months or so. I finally admitted it to myself a week or so ago and bought a pack of cigarettes. To date though, I have only smoked a few and it's only been when I was drinking with friends on the weekends. I know, that's how it starts and I am as disappointed as I'm sure some of you are. But hey, life will go on... until I die a horrible death from lung cancer or other smoking related issues. On the other hand, to date I really haven't wanted to smoke during the week. So maybe I'll just stop drinking on the weekends and... ah who am I kidding. :-)

The new puppy... err MOOSE is doing great. He still chews things up occasionally if you leave them down. Oh and you can add the satellite remote to the list of casualties. Although it still works, it's missing some of my favorite buttons. :-) He joins me at work a few times a week which is giving him a change of scenery and some much needed exercise as we go for a walk on my lunch break. It's also getting me off my lazy and expanding rear end for some much needed exercise. The other people in my office love him and he is quickly becoming a loved member of the office staff. When I don't bring him (if I have errands to run on my lunch break or something) everyone stops by my area of the office to see where he's at. Here's a photo of him at Christmas. He's so agreeable he would have kept the bow on all day if it would have stuck.
He's up to around 75 pounds and he is very curious about everything that moves. That being said, it was Solo that was sprayed by the skunk last night. Our house is still filled with the fragrant reminder of Solo's curiosity... or stupidity since it's the 4th or 5th time. Good thing he has such short thin single coated hair.

Ok, so Jack is great.... what else has been taking up time? Oh, we went wheeling again. Went up to our friends cabin for New Years.
In town as we were leaving a freezing rain storm was blowing in. A few miles up the mountain where this picture was taken, the wind was blowing to beat hell, drifts were growing, our tracks were filling before the tires had left them and it was snowing. As you can see by the look on my face it was a little chilly. We stopped here to loaf (let air out) our tires to get better traction. That trusty old Jeep from last year made it all the way to the property without incedent... then I drove it. In a little more than 400 yards with me behind the wheel, the slave cylinder for the clutch exploded in the bell housing. For those of you that don't know much about mechanics, that's bad. Basically it means that when you push the clutch pedal, there is nothing. Driving down the next day was even more interesting. Put it in 1st, and turn the key. The Jeep crawls forward as the engine turns over and then it fires up and you lurch forward. To go faster you time it just right and shift. If you miss a gear, turn the engine off, put it in first and try again.

Other than that minor little issue, the trip was fun. We hung out with some great friends and were surrounded by nothing but trees, 4x4's and a seemingly endless supply of food and drink. Needless to say I wasn't feeling so great the next morning. I didn't have a rig to drive around the mountain so I compensated with a beer can. Oh, and I recently began making Liquid Apple Pie. If you've never had it, you're missing out. Tastes just like Apple Pie only it's made with 190 proof Everclear. We had some of that up there that night too. :-)

Shortly after my last post, Dena and I went to Seattle for the funeral service for my Grandma Stephens. I've been to... too many funerals over the years. They are usually somber, quiet and rightfully depressing. Most of the funerals I've been to have also been on my mothers side of the family and to put things mildly, there is a lot of depression on that side of the family anyway. So with that expectation in mind, I was not really looking forward to this type of family reunion.

Thankfully, I underestimated the Stephens family. I would like to extend a very warm thank you to all of you who attended. Especially Kim, Aaron, Andy and Doug who traveled quite a distance to be there. It was not depressing, or sad, or... a funeral really. Sure, there was a church, but Bob was swearing in it and didn't burst into flames or get struck by lightning... so it's all good. I love my family a great deal. One of my Grandma's fears is that once she died, we wouldn't all get together like we have for as far back as I can remember. If her funeral was any indication of whats to come... I'd have to say the opposite will happen. I think it brought the family closer together. I was happy to see family I hadn't seen in a long time, and more happy to see family I'm not sure I ever had seen. If everyone had a family like mine, the world would be a better place. Left to right: Adam, Doug, Kim, Me, Chris, Andy, Michele, Aaron. There were several cousins missing from this picture, but we did get to see most of them at the funeral service. We need to do a once a year cousin get together... I'll even host if anyone is interested. I live in northeast Oregon just south of Walla Walla, WA. Between local hotels, our house, our property, Chris' house... we'd easily be able to accomodate everyone. If anyone is interested let me know and I'll take charge and get something planned.

Until next time loyal followers, I bid you farewell. Stay healthy, stay happy, and enjoy every minute life gives you. I love you all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jack... the ripper!

Let me just say that I love my new dog. Jack is a cherished addition to the family. That being said, here is a list of the items he has partially or fully injested:
multiple newspapers
two books (one of which I wasn't finished reading yet)
my favorite slippers
a comforter
stuffed animals (too many to count anymore)
and the big item is the bedroom carpet.

Now, to his benefit, the carpet was my fault. I locked him in the bedroom without Dena's dog Solo, so he scratched at the door and the carpet flipped up. Well, the rest is history.

This destruction happened over the course of three days. We went out this last weekend and bought hard bones, rawhide, and a few other chew toys for him and so far so good. He does still have the taste for newspaper, but it's all crap anyway so it may as well end up that way... right?

It's been a very long time since I've had a puppy to deal with so this is a learning curve. It's amazing how quickly he is learning though. things that he couldn't do a couple of days ago he now does without objection. You know, things like "Lay down" and "sit". Things that you take for granted when you haven't had a puppy to train for a while. Oh, and how to walk on a leash or more importantly how NOT to walk on a leash.

Yep, it's all falling into place quite nicely. He's a great dog with a wonderful disposition. He's very loving and enjoys the kids too. It was touch and go when he ate the carpet, but I think we'll keep him... :-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

New family members *UPDATE*

The voting polls for "Name our newest family member" have closed. The name that won is Jack, and I think it's a good name for him. Some say that it's not original enough, but realistically, everything except for maybe Brick (thanks again Sis) was a fairly common name. Welcome to the Stephens' family Jack. Here's too a long and happy life for you and the rest of the family as well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Little things

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I have found that to be true on so many occasions. Drink a case of beer, fall down. :-) Smoke, get addicted to a nasty habbit (by the way, still not smoking). Ride my bike down a steep hill as fast as possible, well you get the picture. A week ago, I was in a god-almighty bad mood. (I wonder if this will be edited for content for using the word God?) You know the kind. The kind where just the sound of someones voice gives you ample reason to hate them. I couldn't figure it out. Dena and I hadn't fought in months (our fights are typically about 8-12 months apart), work was going... as well as it could, kids are healthy and happy... Don't know. Was just in a bad mood. Well, you know when you're in a really bad mood and then something happens to put the world into perspective and it takes that bad mood away? That happened. I was sitting at home after work. I had just settled into my chair and turned the TV on when my cell phone rang. I checked the Caller ID and it was my Dad.
My Dad doesn't call me. Not on Christmas, or my birthday or Father's day, or any other day unless there is bad news, or they are coming for a visit. Visiting season is gone. So I took a deep breath and I answered the phone fully knowing what was about to be said.
Dad called to let me know that my Grandma had passed away. It was peaceful, and to be completely honest was expected. She has been going down hill for quite some time and we've all be preparing for this day since around August (if memory serves). She is not suffering any longer and that was enough to put the world into perspective.
My Grandma was an amazing woman. She gave birth and raised 12 productive and self sustaining children. How they all lived I have no idea, but just for that one accomplishment (or 12 if you will) she should be made a Saint. She loved everyone like there would be no tomorrow, nor was there a yesterday. She understood even when she didn't understand. She was everything that we should all strive to be. The world is a little worse off without her. I'm glad for her that she is no longer suffering in any way. And I'm glad that her and my Grandfather (died in 1975) are together again. Most of all, I'm glad for the time that I had with her, and the ways in which she touched my life.
I am sad for the loss that we all feel because we will not see her for some time. As we all learn early in life, that's the way it goes. We love you Grandma. We'll meet again. Until then, thank you for pulling me out of my bad mood last Friday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New family members

If you have looked at my facebook you know that we have a new family member. As I'm writing this there is a vote going on to find his new name. He's a 1 year old Rottweiler/Lab cross. Here's a pic: He's such a cutie!
So far the votes are: Jethro: 2, Nico: 2, Jack: 2, Brick: 1. You can thank my Sister-in-law for Brick. She's pregnant, we'll let it slide... :-) Go to my facebook and vote. :-) He needs a name he can get used to.
As you may have also noticed the title of this post is new family memberS as it plural. This one may not be new, but it has recently returned from where I thought it would never return from.

Here is what it looked like when it left our house 4 years ago: A little beat up, and in need of some immediate engine work, but it was a running and driving car. It's a 1973 Plymouth Duster with a small block V8 and an automatic transmission. I got it from the original owners son in trade for my old 78 Ford 4x4. Here's the story as I remember it.

Dena and her ex had an agreement that he was to provide Jarrett (my step son) with a car when he was old enough. The ex is an Auto Body worker and is quite good, when he wants to be. So he was over at the house talking to Jarrett a few years back, about what kind of car he wanted. A newer car or an older muscle car. Jarrett chose an older muscle car. The ex wanted a little more specific but Jarrett doesn't know much about cars as to what kind it is and that kind of thing. So the ex asked me to help him look online and figure out what he wanted.

That night Jarrett and I got online and looked at Nova's, Camero's, Mustang's, Dart's, GTO's, Imapala's, Skylark's, Javlyn's... you name it, we looked at it. Even a few 32 Ford coupes. Hey, it's not my money... :-) Finally I remembered my first (legal) car. A 1974 Plymouth Duster. Not what I considered a muscle car, but then mine had the trusty 225cid slant 6. It wouldn't hardly get out of it's own way, but it was reliable and I thought it was a good looking car. So I found one, in Lemon Twist Yellow with factory Ralley wheels like mine had been. He liked it. I couldn't believe it. He actually found a car that he really liked. Well, that was easy. So I called the Ex and told him that Jarrett wants a Plymouth Duster. I told him all the others we looked at and everything. He kind of turned up his nose at the thought but said he'd see what he could find.

A very short couple of months later I bought my 1994 Jeep Cherokee to replace my 1978 Ford F-150. I was going to keep the truck because... well... who doesn't need a truck? :-) But then I was talking to a buddy of mine at work who was looking for that vintage truck. And guess what? He just happened to have 3 1973/1974 Plymouth Dusters. So I offered a trade for one and he accepted.

That night I called the ex and told him that I had found it and the car wasn't going to cost him a thing. I took pictures of all body damage and let him know that I would do all the required engine work (he's good at body work, no so much with the mechanical aspects though) and he could do the body work. He said he'd take a look at it. I said no problem, if you don't want to do it, I'll keep it for myself.

A couple of weeks later, Jarrett and the ex loaded it up on a car trailer and that was the last I had seen of it. Over the years there have been stories of some work being done. But to be honest I had washed my hands of it and figured the next time I saw the ex I'd just give him the title and be done with it. He had give Jarrett a "loaner" car. Obviously there is a little more to the story than that, but it's all irrelevant. I had figured the car was lost and gone forever and was done with it.

A couple of weeks ago, Dena called me from work and let me know that the ex was on his way up with (what was left) of the car. "Oh really?" Hmm. I wonder if it's even worth unloading. Remember, when he took the car it was running (had lifter knock from a bent push rod but it ran great) and drivable. I drove it across town to load on the trailer. When he pulled into the driveway this is what I saw on the back of the trailer:
Yep, that's right. Different doors (I had given them to him because of the large dents in the originals) all interior was out (they had brought all that back a few years ago), the wiring stripped out of the engine compartment for no apparent reason, the dash removed for no apparent reason, the trunk lid rusting from being sanded to bare metal years ago and never being primered.
The engine was also removed. In order to get the engine out, they CUT THE HEADER off the drivers side rather than doing the job right and removing it. It's tight, but it can be done. For gods sake, it had to go in there! It's not factory.
This next group of pictures is how the engine came to me. For those of you that are not mechanically inclined the block is the large thing with blue paint on it in the back corner that has rust on it. The internal components are in the boxes surrounding it all. It's mostly all there:
Here is what the engine looked like when it left:
Kind of a big change. Which reminds me... I still don't have the radiator. I guess I'll have to call the ex. Don't have the windshield either... damn it. I probably should just cut my losses and buy the parts I still don't have for completion. It's gonna be a LOOOONNNGGG project. I better sell the wheeling rig to pay for it. :-)
I hope you are all in good health and happy in life. I'll be in the shop if you need me. :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wow, words fail me

Another season, another vacation. As you may know, this year I decided to take my vacations evenly spaced and on weeks where there were already days off. Memorial Day week, and Labor Day week. If you have no trouble following a calendar you also know that I just finished my 2nd week of vacation for the year. I'm sad to see it go.

I made the mistake halfway through my vacation of checking my work email. It was a mistake because I found that one of my techs decided to quit without leaving the customary 2 weeks notice. To her defense, she did leave almost a week... kind of. However she had told me two weeks prior that if she decides to leave she will give 2 weeks notice... whatever... water under the bridge. Just makes my return a little more stressful. Especially since the one tech I have left was cut to very part time a while back and has planned things up for the next 2 weeks. So basically it's me for the next two weeks. I have a little help from my network administrator but due to him not doing this job on a day to day basis he doesn't know that he needs to follow a few areas to keep on top of things. It's a constant battle of catch up from open tickets to voicemail and so on. He's doing better than previous times he has needed to help out though. And his help is VERY APPRECIATED!!! Thank you Mike!

My vacation did start out on the right foot though. We went camping over Labor Day weekend. It gave us a chance to take the new Jeep into the mountains and test it out on some light off roading. :-) I did go through a ditch or two. And my little Jeep did excellent! I did put a very minor ding in the windshield frame that I'm not convinced wasn't there before hand. It also came home with twice the weight in dirt and dust. :-) But it was fun, and that's really all that matters. :-)

On Labor Day my friend Erik and I were getting a load of firewood for his house. My foot slid out from under me and before I could get to the chain break, the chain saw and bounced off my leg. As you can see in the picture below, it's not a big deal. Just a minor flesh wound:

That is my index finger to give you a point of reference as to the size of the "scrape". Just enough to make me remember to check my footing before I start a cut, or finish a cut in this case. I got very lucky and I know it.
The remainder of my vacation went fairly smooth. My brother Adam and his girlfriend Kellie came to visit us from Wednesday through Sunday. It was great to see them and we had lots of time to visit. Saturday we had a rather large BBQ even by our standards. I think when I counted there were (including kids) 27 people there. Judging by the "beer mote" (a ring around the fire pit where everyone throws their beer cans to keep the yard clean) we had more than that there though. It's full. Yes, still. I was tired yesterday and didn't want to clean the yard. I'll get to it tonight.

Well, that should pretty well update everyone. I hope all is well with everyone.