Pure Gonzo Engineering

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Stabbin’ Cabin

So it’s my last day in this building. Kind of weird. I’ve got all my shit packed up and ready to move to my new job out at the Proving Grounds. I brought in some Panera bagels and have a farewell lunch at the Mexican restaurant where we always go when people leave.

On Monday I go from the most knowledgeable guy in my group to the guy who doesn’t know shit. For the first few months I’ll have to keep my mouth shut and just soak up how things are done, and who not to piss off.

It should be good though. I’ll need to get my machine operators license, so I’ll get to play on some heavy equipment. I’ve got all kinds of safety training to take which is usually hella boring. No more flex time now either, well kind of, but everyone typically starts when all the mechanics start which is 7:00am. I usually rolled into work between 7:30 and 8:00, so I’ll be getting my ass up earlier now.

I feel like I should somehow feel more than what I do right now. I’m pretty empty, not really nervous, or sad, or overly excited.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Power of the Mind

You may recall that a while back my dad and I replaced all (most) of the old galvanized water pipes in my house with brand new PEX tubing. The PEX and all of it’s connection points have been rock solid.

The problem is that somewhere you still have to tie back in to the old work in the house. This can either be copper or more shitty old galvanized pipe. I have one hot and one cold water line that go up to my second floor. We decided not to run PEX up through the walls and just connect to the galvanized.

Yesterday the connection on the hot side started to leak between the galvanized pipe and the brass PEX fitting. I immediately started to get nervous. I hated the idea of having to break further into the galvanized and potential create more leaks or fuck something up in the walls higher up. I had no choice though. The one fantastic thing about PEX is that it has a manifold system rather than a branch and tee system like most copper installations. This means that you have single lines of PEX running from hot and cold manifolds that each have shutoff valves on them. So I just shut off this small branch and still had water to the rest of the house.

I ran to Lowes and grabbed a few supplies I thought I’d need. It was about 8:30pm.

My first plan was to take apart the union that was left and replace the old pipe nipple on the union with a new one. The whole assembly was up near the ceiling between to joists so it was a bitch to get wrenches on. I was able to get the union off and replaced the nipple and PEX fitting. I redid the PEX to the manifold and crimped and tightened everything. Moment of truth, turned on the water. Nothing leaked at first, but then the union started to drip as well as both of the pipe connections.

I started to get worried again. So much so that I started feeling nauseated. I didn’t want to have to call a plumber and pay big coin to fix something I should be able to. (I am my father’s son after all). My stomach started to burn. I turned off the branch and all of a sudden I heard a loud but muffled explosion. I yelled, “What the hell was that”. I thought a PEX pipe had burst somewhere. I didn’t hear water rushing anywhere.

My dumbass cats had knocked over a florescent bulb package that I had leaned against our fridge downstairs while I worked on the plumbing. I had enough at that point, there was glass all over the floor, my plumbing was fucked. I just needed to relax. My wife said she would clean up the glass

I went up stairs and dry heaved a few times and then managed to get a few teaspoons of nervous stomach acid out.

I left a message with my boss at 3:00 AM telling him I wouldn’t be in the next day. I was sick, I was throwing up, and my stomach was in turmoil. I was sick, although it was completely self-induced. No virus, no parasites, no bacteria.

I headed to Lowes the next day and scratched my head as to how to really fix this thing. The problem with pipe thread is that you need to get it really fucking tight. The threads are tapered like an Aztec pyramid, and as you tighten the joint it makes a seal along with the pipe dope you put in, but that’s mostly just to lubricate as you tighten. I couldn’t get the torque I need with the location of the joint. I needed to get more clever than the pipe.

I found a couple options. A swivel PEX fitting with a rubber seal, and your basic braided stainless hose, also with rubber seals. With a rubber seal you no longer rely on the pipe threads for the sealing, the rubber does the job.

First I had to take the union completely off. It wasn’t easy. While I was loosening it I called it a dirty whore and a bitch. You have to show plumbing joints who’s boss while you work on them. It finally let go. I got everything hooked up and opened the branch to main.

It seemed OK. I let it sit for a bit, and a tiny bit of water had formed around the connection. I went back throughout the day and it looked like about a drop every two hours was coming out of it. That should take care of itself with corrosion and sediment deposit. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

My stomach feels better today.

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Monday, June 25, 2007


Steve posted this pretty cool song on his blog. It talked about things in your life not being all they were supposed to be, how the songwriter would go back and change everything if he could.

It made me think about critical choices I’ve made in my life, and if I would change them if I had the chance. Also about the events that conspired to even bring me into existence.

Last part first, my dad was originally engaged to not my mom. Something happened and he didn’t marry her and he married my mom. This is all hearsay, and I should really ask my dad to explain it fully, but it blows my mind that perhaps one critical decision in my dad’s life could have not brought me into existence. Had he married this other woman, I wouldn’t exist, Pure Gonzo Engineering wouldn’t exist, and Carter wouldn’t exist. Heavy shit for a Monday, I know.

There are three critical decisions I’ve made in my life that really steered me to where I am now. There are millions of smaller ones that are probably of equal or greater importance, but these stick out in my mind.

#1 The choice not to have sex with my high school girlfriend. I was a good little Catholic and thought I would burn in the fires of hell if I had premarital sex. Like most other good little Catholics, this didn’t include the heavy petting, stroking, etc., etc. I wouldn’t fuck though. Would I change this if I could? That’s kind of a hard one. (baad-um-ch). Would we still have broken up the end if we would have been having sex? If not, no Carter. That’s no good. If we would have still broken up then sure, why not. I ended up having premarital sex anyway, so my soul is SOL now(if all that stuff is true).

#2 The choice to stay with my wife, when she was my girlfriend, when she was having a difficult time with life in college. I had it easy in college, most of it was paid for by my parents, and I didn’t have to work very hard to do well. My wife had to pay her entire way which made it not a good time for her. She battled depression, etc., etc. I can vividly recall a moment sitting on her kitchen floor by myself after I had thrown my keys against the wall as hard as I could out of frustration, feeling the metal dog tag that I had dented on the key ring. I thought, “should I stay, or should I go.” I think I made the right choice.

#3 The choice to become an Engineer and work at Opposite of Dog. I’ve talked about this in previous posts. This ones a bit harder. Do I still go to UW-Madison to do whatever? If not, would I still have met my wife? Overall I’m pretty happy with what I do, as much as I bitch, so I don’t think I’d change this even with the chance. The choice to work at Opposite of Dog is tricky too. Both my wife and I are starting to not mind Peoria as much and have friends and things to do here now. If I had the chance I might have held out longer and taken the rotational job at Harley. Life would be different, but not worse.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The sisters are in, so check the front line.

We are pleased to announce that Lawryde has accepted a position in Hydraulic Systems Development within Global Machine Development at the Peoria Proving Ground. Lawryde’s assignment at PPG will include hydraulic systems development and validation activities for Pipelayer and D7 programs.

We would like to thank Lawryde for his many contributions to the Track-type tractor engine installation team. Most recently he was successful in completing the D7 cooling system designs on schedule and below target cost. His TTT engine installation and cooling system design experience will serve him well in his new position.

Please join us in thanking Lawryde for his many contributions and congratulating him on this new opportunity. The move will be effective July 1, 2007.

Engineering Supervisor
TTT/TTL/SSL Hydraulic Systems Development
Global Machine Development – PPG

Engineering Manager
Engine Installation & Light Fabrications
Heavy Construction and Mining Division - East Peoria Facility

That announcement makes me sound more important than I am and like I’ll be doing very complex and critical work.

Quick fire questions:

When people with a family history of mental problems (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) say something you did is wrong, is it really wrong?

Why are people without religious affiliation more apt to forgive and not judge others than those who are supposedly Christians?

Why are “normal” people so passive aggressive?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I’ll put up with that and a whole lot more.

I forgot in my last post to mention I got my performance review before I move to my new position within Opposite of Dog. It was good, I got a 3a, which is above average and will get me 3% (prorated for 6 months) in addition to my 3% for the developmental move I’m making. That’ll put me at roughly 82K after all boní are applied. Where does all our fucking money go?

My current boss is cool, much better than my old boss. He asked me if he had any comments about the section or him. I told him he was cool, and that he was one of my all time best bosses ever, he ranks right up there with meat-man Mike Terrell. Good bosses are willing to listen and teach, and not get in your fucking way when you’re trying to get your work done. They’re also willing to fight for you. I told him that he should avoid the bullshit that was pulled on me with my old boss and team leader. He should judge his employees based on what they are doing, not on what others perceive them doing.

Then, since he’s always been straight with me, I showed him my sleeves. He had asked one time at lunch if I had tattoos as a reached for my drink and a bit peaked out from under my shirt. I said no, which wasn’t a complete lie. I don’t have “a” tattoo. I have many tattoos. Again, he showed how cool he was and just chatted a bit with me about them. He told me not to show them at my new position, which I knew. I’ve bought several long sleeve Under Armour and Nike Dri-Fit gear for the heat of working outside.

It finally rained yesterday. It felt good this morning, after the heat and frustration of yesterday, cooler and wet.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

I am the playmaker

Well, I got my RATM tickets. I just got general admission lawn seats. It would have been cool to be really, really close, but my hearing is already damaged to a point where I have a ringing if its quiet. I’ve been to two Ozzfests at Alpine Valley with lawn seats, and they’re still really good both visually and acoustically.

We went to Ye Old Renaissance Fair on Ye old Saturday, but Ye old heat and humidity did not make it lots of Ye old fun. We also got there in between Ye old sword fighting demonstrations and Ye old jousting demonstrations. It’s still lots of fun to see Ye old nerds running around in Ye old costumes sweating there Ye old balls off.

On Father’s Day I had a hockey game. We were supposedly playing this really good team that had beat the team we tied two weeks ago who were very good. It turns out this team was a bit of a joke. They played us pretty well the first period. We were down 2-1. Then big Stu, their dirty player showed up. He messed with a few of our guys, and that fired us up a bit. We went on a nine goal scoring run, in which I had three assists. It was a fun game. Big Stu tried to muscle me off the puck in the corner, and I just shook him off and dropped him. The little guys on our bench liked that, since Stu had been giving them shit all game.

When I got back home I ate and drank about 5 pounds of food and drink. (I like to weigh myself pre and post game to see how I vary). My wife and son presented me with my Father’s Day gifts. My wife had taken a bunch of my shirts and ironed on Principal Blackman faces on them.

She also bought a few new shirts and ironed on large faces on them. She knows me so well. They’re awesome.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The End is Near

I’ve got about two weeks left at my current assignment at Opposite of Dog. Next month I’ll move out to the sandbox and do hydraulic development work on pipelayers, a subset of track type tractors. (No blade or ripper with a big boom and hook and a big counterweight on either side). I tend to enjoy laying pipe, so it should be a good fit for me.

That was a terrible joke.

I’ve worked at… about 9 different places thus far in my life, but never as long as I’ve been at this job. I’ll still be with the same company, but I’ve gone to the same building for three and a half years.

My physical plant tends to not work well with change. It makes me physically ill.

Maybe I’ve progressed mentally as a human being in the past few years, maybe this will go well.

Note to wife: Perhaps we should buy a swing for the devil baby you are watching. I’ve heard they calm the worst babies.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I’ll be able to check off another box on my life’s To Do list.

I found out yesterday that Rage Against the Machine is going to be playing in Alpine Valley in East Troy, WI on 8/24

They’ve got two dates in California, two dates in New York, and a date in Wisconsin.

I can’t fucking believe it.

I’ve never seen them live.

I’m so excited to be able to see them live.

My wife and I will be able to drop the boy off at her Mom’s place in Hartford and we’ll go to the show.

Queens of the Stone Age are opening, who I also like.

I’m going to try and buy four tickets since this show is going to sell out, and then sell the other two on Ebay to pay for all of them.

I can’t wait.


Thursday, June 07, 2007


I often think I’d be happier doing something that gave more daily gratification than what I do now.

Now, I design things that may or may not ever be made. I deal with corporate bureaucracy, and playing little corporate games to make people like me so they will give me more money.

In a way we’re all little corporate prostitutes, watching what we say and when we say it. Just like in Fight Club, no on is who they really are when they are working at their job in a large corporation. Everyone is afraid so everyone walks on eggshells because you know there are a few dicks out there that would nail you to the wall if they found out what you were really like.

I think I’d rather be, like a plumber or something. There would be the daily satisfaction of helping people fix their broken shower or toilet or whatever. Some may say it would be gross, but I’ve worked doing some way more disgusting things in my life so that wouldn’t bother me. I’d get to be my own boss, wear short sleeves, say “fuck you” when I wanted, etc., etc. Sure there would be BS to deal with, but I think it would be more tolerable than the bullshit I put up with now.

Now I have this over inflated salary, and all kinds of bills to pay. It would be nearly impossible to apprentice a trade and be able to support a family. Then I’d start out making way less than I do now.

I also find the forthrightness of the workingman refreshing. I always liked my shit jobs in high school and college because the crews I worked with were cool. Almost none of my friends are working professionals. They’re average guys with average jobs.

Just good people

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Swim parallel to the beach…

Alright, I’ve found some time to recount my trip to Florida.

We left two Thursdays ago around Carter’s bedtime. The drive was pretty pleasant for the first 5 or 6 hours. I listened to The 40 Year Old Virgin through the auxiliary jack on the Elantra. We stopped somewhere in Tennessee and my wife took over driving for a bit. I had a hard time sleeping since we hadn’t brought a pillow. So I took over again since my wife hadn’t slept either and was getting a bit tired. The 2:30 to 4:00 am shift was rough. I had to stop once so I didn’t fall asleep and kill us all. I did some jumping jacks in a gas station parking lot and splashed water on my face.

Once day broke it was better. We were somewhere in Georgia and decided to stop at a Cracker Barrel. The service was fucking terrible and we were surrounded by Southerners (imagine that).

We hit Atlanta on the tail end of rush hour and it kind of sucked. After that my wife took over and drove us the rest of the way to Fernandina Beach. It took us about 20 hours. It should have only taken about 16.5, but the shitty service at the Cracker Barrel and Atlanta slowed us down. Carter was not happy the last hour or so. He didn’t want to be in the car anymore, none of us really did.

We stayed at a friends place. I took a long nap when we got there.

The next day we went to a park and played and enjoyed the nice weather. It was sunny and about 82 with a cool easterly breeze. It was actually hotter in Illinois the whole time we were there.

Sunday we went to the Jacksonville Zoo. (see the below pictures) It was a really nice zoo. There were kind of elevated walkways in places were you could walk above the animals. Carter had a good time. He would point and say ohhhh or ooooo when he saw an animal he didn’t know. There was also a small water fun area for kids to run around in and get wet. He loved splashing around and climbing on the fake dolphins and stingrays. There were also some goats to pet, which he didn’t smack. (He’s in a bit of a smacky stage.)

The next day we went to the beach. Rip currents were in full effect. A guy died the prior day due to the current. The waves were pretty large too. We stayed about waste high. Carter was more interested in digging in the sand for the most part. He would run into the low surf every once in a while, but was still pretty wary of it. I walked around and looked for fossilized sharks teeth. I ended up finding about 6 of them.

Tuesday we decided to head down to scenic downtown Fernandina Beach. It was kind of cool, but we did go into this massive antique store and found “Answer Me Jesus”, which is basically a Magic Eight Ball in the shape of a giant pink Jesus. It kind of looks like a sex toy of some kind, but it’s super cool.

Me, “Will I go to church next Sunday Jesus?”

Jesus, “Not a chance in Hell”

He’s so benevolent

Wednesday was beach day again. Found a couple more sharks teeth and just playing in the sand with the boy.

That night we had our friends watch Carter and My Wife and I went out for dinner to celebrate our 4-year wedding anniversary, which will be June 14. It was the best seafood dinner I’ve ever had in my life. Started out with some muscles and a vodka stone sour, then an awesome Caesar salad, the wife had shrimp bisque. The main course was seared scallops, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. My wife had swordfish. It was delicious. We walked a bit through downtown Fernandina Beach to an ice cream parlor for desert.

Thursday we planned to head back home at night so we played it low key during the day. One of our friends works at White Oak Conservation Center so late in the afternoon we packed up all our stuff and headed north to check it out. It’s not open to the general public so we got a behind the scenes look at all the animals. We got to feed some giraffes. It’s pretty cool being only a few feet away and this big head comes down and grabs a branch of leaves out of your hands. They’re much taller at that angle, and muscular. We also got to pet a couple rhinos. Their skin is crazy tough, but where their joints are the skin is very silky and smooth. We also got to see some cheetahs, zebras, and all kinds of elk type animals (don’t recall their names).

We said goodbye and started the drive home. I decided to go a different way back since Atlanta sucked so bad last time. We went up through the Carolinas, then over through Tennessee, and up Kentucky to Cincinnati, then over through Indianapolis. It was much better. It was cool driving through the Great Smokey Mountains during a full moon with a bit of fog. It only took about 16 hours. All told the gas only cost me about $160 roundtrip.

It was a good vacation.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

I really don't want to go back to work tomorrow.

Here are a few pics from the vacation. It was sweet. I'll go into more detail tomorrow when I don't want to do anything at work.

@ the Jacksonville zoo

@ the beach... the boy didn't like it at first, but after a bit he liked the sand and the water.

In the historic downtown area of Fernandina Beach

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