Archive for January, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Feeling sorry for myself never helped me get anything done.  Worrying doesn’t accomplish much either.

I figure it is time to cowboy up and move on.  I will probably have some more opportunities to work in other semi conductor plants but I don’t really want to.  It seems to me that America is close to being done with manufacturing.  So am I.

I want to do something “completely different.”   I have a couple of ideas but I am still open to suggestions.  So tell me, what do you think I ought to do?

Gravity

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

I went to the pharmacy.  The bill was high.  With my benefits it was still only a fraction of what it would be.  Without the prescription benefit provided by my employer, the bill would be close to a grand.  That benefit will soon be gone.

So all at once the gravity of my situation hit me.  My family depends on me for so much.  I have to find very gainful employment in a big hurry.

I look at the way I have been living and I don’t like it.  I have been trying to get ready for my life after this job for a while.  My plans just weren’t this short term.  The fact of the matter is making semiconductor stateside does not make the profit that it used to.  Places overseas are willing to do it for a fraction of the profit.  I really need to do something completely different.

I have spent too many years working nights in a factory.  Even if I continue to do this, it will only be temporary.  I don’t think I have accomplished much.  I want to do something more profound with my life.  Life is too short.  Yet I have these pressing needs.

I have been rapidly cycling from acceptance back to anger and depression.  My feelings don’t really make sense.   I do a lot of stinkin’ thinkin’.   At this point, I just can’t think right for very long.

I am getting comments and email saying that you folks are praying for me.  Thank you.  Your prayers are appreciated and your so are your kind words.  I am audacious enough to ask a little more of you.  So if you are praying for me, pray that I can get my head together.  I think that may be more just as important as getting a new job.

Aint that a Kick in the Head?

Friday, January 26th, 2007

I had a bit of a bad day.

When I got to work there was a sign on the door telling all personnel to report to a meeting room.  There we found our division vice president looking nervous.  He did not waste any time.  “Folks, we are shutting down your factory by the end of the year.”

At first I was shocked. Then I became angry.  Depression set in next.  Right now I am slightly on the irritable side of indifferent.  I figure acceptance will come soon.  Then hope should come around eventually.

TI had a banner year with fantastic profits.  My factory ran like a spotted ape.  We exceeded goals all year long. That doesn’t matter.  There are many factories which are less modern.  Still, the laws of supply and demand are never really just.  I know better but still feel like we are being punished for our achievement.

One would hope that there would be a general layoff that moved out the low producers.  That would make room for the high producers to find a place.  But it aint working that way this time.

The operators have guaranteed jobs.  I am happy for them.  I however am in the engineering group.  We have to compete with each other for whatever internal jobs happen to surface or find something else to do for a living.

On the bright side, I should have a few months to find something new.  Yeah, that is the bright side.

All things considered it has been a pretty good ride.  TI treated me great right up until they threw me under the bus.

A Tale of Two Freds

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

There were two fellas named Fred that lived outside my home town. One went by Freddy the other by Fredo.

Freddy owned a roustabout service. Fredo worked for him.

Freddy lived on the 12 acre lot next to his business. At the back of his property was a stables with a drill pipe corral. The ½ acre lot behind the stables belonged to Fredo. Freddy had a 6 bedroom house with a pool and a deck. Fredo made his home from an old school bus, a box car and a hardboard shack connecting them. Fredo liked Freddy’s deck so the two Freds built one on Fredo’s house.

Both Freds had it better than they ever dreamed they would. They lived contently. They ate together. They gardened together. They raised their families together.

Freddy’s youngest and Fredo’s oldest were the same age. The boys were named Chester and Baldemar. Neither boy liked their name. They went by Skeeter and Chapo. The boys were inseparable. They spent every afternoon riding Freddy’s horses around the neighborhood.

One day Chapo’s little sister Izzy straddled the drill pipe fence and watched the boys ride. The boys couldn’t resist. They put Izzy up on the gentler horse and walked him up and down the road. She was elated. She really loved the horses. She was a frail girl though, small and diabetic. She probably shouldn’t have been doing anything like that. The boys just couldn’t refuse her big brown eyes. As the children approached the stables, they noticed an onlooker. Fredo was watching them. His arms were crossed. His face was insipid. The boys figured there would be trouble.

Fredo came and took Izzy by the hand. They laughed as they walked back to the house. She was so proud.

The boys however decided to cut their losses. Chapo had supper with Skeeter’s family and they tried to avoid their parents for the rest of the night.

Skeeter got up in the morning and went to the stables. He flipped on the lights and discovered the stables were clean. Fresh straw was laid down. The horses were already eating. It wasn’t hard to figure out what happened. So he told his father about it.

Freddy wasn’t surprised. He told the boy, “Fredo works hard. I couldn’t pay him what he is worth. He gives more than he gets. One time I walked to his house when they were cooking a goat. He killed another just to have enough for me. He really didn’t have it to give but gave anyway. I talked him into working for me. I couldn’t have a better friend.” The boy asked, “How do you pay somebody back for that?” Freddy smiled. “You just sit patiently and wait for the right time. When that time comes you will know just what to do.”

Months went by. Izzy kept riding. The stables kept on getting done before Skeeter got there. That was until the girl took a turn for the worse. Her kidneys were failing. Her bills were piling up. Her future looked pretty dismal.

Skeeter and Chapo talked their way through some tears and asked Freddy what he could do. They thought maybe he could afford to help. They were right. He sent them away. And then he left.

Freddy could afford to help. He had one more kidney than he had to have and he was happy to give it to Izzy.

Izzy grew stronger and became a barrel racer. When she turned 22 she married Skeeter.

The Freds grew old happily. They still live next to each other. They know what it means to give more than you think you have. And to think it all started with a goat.

Scott Wade the Cezanne of Caliche

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

I grew up in Odessa Texas. Folks there are really good at making the most out of anything. Still there are a couple of natural resources that are so abundant that no one needs to make the most of them. They are Petroleum and Caliche.

Caliche (Calcium Carbonate) is an off white colored powdery sand. When I was a boy I used to ride bicycles and shoot guns in a pit where a large amount of Caliche was mined. Most roads in Texas use Caliche as a substrate. Some dirt roads are completely composed of the stuff.

Roads solely composed of Caliche are dusty. I mean seriously dusty. My mother danced a jig when they paved our road. It meant that our home could actually be dusted and still look clean an hour later.

So my mother sent this to me in an email. It is too good not to share.

Well these roads are all over Texas. Many people that live, “outside of town” drive down them every day. Scott Wade is one of those people. He lives on Roadrunner Road north of San Marcos. Check out these creations.

These videos rock too. Video1 Video2

Superstitious

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

I try not to be superstitious. I try. Still, I catch myself wearing a Cowboys jersey the night before the game. I keep the horseshoes open side up. I wouldn’t want my luck to run out. When somebody says something positive about my situation, I tell them to hush before they jinx me. And I never rub in a person’s misfortune. Well, almost never.

A while back. Jeff’s truck bit it. We have had a few exchanges since he is a Ford man and I aint. When his truck went down, a few of you asked me why I didn’t rub his nose in it. One reason was empathy. The other reason was superstition.

I am absolutely positive that giving somebody trouble amidst misfortune is begging for my own trouble. Trouble comes. I don’t have to beg for it.

Trouble came tonight. My trusty reliable family vehicle left me and Tiger on the side of the road. It was cold. The road was busy. One of those life savers that folks call freeway buzzards gave me a tow back home for a reasonable price.

I think I know what happened to the van. I’ll probably have it fixed tomorrow. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

Freeze and Refreeze

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Believe it or not, Dallas just got its first freeze. I guess it has been later in the year for everybody. Truth be told, Texas often doesn’t get a freeze until February.

When I lived in West Texas, the only conversation was about the cold and the stupid drivers. Now that I live in North Texas there subject matter is more diverse. See there are a bunch of ex-yankees here. They come here from the land of the frozen tundra and remark about how these freezes are nothing. They are perplexed at the twisted metal on the freeways.

Most of the time they will continue to brag about their ice driving skills until they discover just what freeze and refreeze can do to their day. After they have a wreck, they quit talking so much. It is always fun to watch the progression from ex-yankee to naturalized Texan. So the bragging continues until the big wreck day.

See, in Texas most ice melts before the days end. The moisture stays put then refreezes in an invisible super slick road hazard. This is complicated by the idiot factor. Some folks can’t see past their hood ornament. These people find the slick spots or at least help others to find them at unsafe speeds.

We actually had a pretty good day for driving today. The sun is out and the ice is melting. We will see how tomorrow goes.