February 22, 2006

Not (quite) compassionate.

I've realized here lately that I've got a particular character flaw...the inability to empathize with irrational behavior/thought processes enough to help out folks who have those symptoms. It's pandemic to my relations with the "fairer sex" I'm afraid, as if you're a guy who is acting a fool, then I'll happily disabuse you of your foolish notions, and if it "don't take" then I'll certify you as an idiot and basically ignore you in perpetuity. The ladie's always get dispensation, 'cuz after I attempt to steer them onto the correct path, I don't leave them behind if they fail to "get it". Maybe it's a pheremone thing...I don't know.

A few months ago a female friend of mine was going through an existential crisis...trying to determine self-worth, uncertainty in profession, and feelings of self-destruction up to and including suicide. Every time we got on the subject (after a few cups of beer and a bourbon or two) I'd just wind up getting pissed off at her for what she was feeling. This was stuff that I went through and figured out when I was fifteen, so I found her issues innane. No matter how much I yelled and screamed sense at her, I was unable to convey my point in such a manner that she could "grok" it. Essentially my message was: Your life is all you've got, so ending it now would take away the potential for any joy, or happiness, or resolution, or retribution you may ever experience henceforth. no matter how bad it sucks right now, it'll "get better" despite the plans and expectations you've placed on yourself.

It took the ministrations of one her family members to get through to her that she has some worth. My vulcan-esque logic just didn't hit home. Even when I spoke calmly and rationally at her, I couldn't make that mind budge. The view from my Ivory tower reaches long and wide, but it's forgotten what the view is from the mud level. (not really, but I can't seem to put it into a linguistic that someone in the mud will dig.)

The other day, My roommate's lady-friend Jennifer was expounding upon the circumstances of her recent "haunting". She was at the house with a friend from work, and they were just leaving, and Jenny (somehow) went "Ass over Teakettle" when exiting the abode. Her companion determined that there was nothing wrong with her feet, so she decided that there was "something" that tripped her as she went out the door. She regaled me with an assortment of happenstances that included: Lights flickering at her workplace, an electric eye operated faucet starting on its own, a TV screen flickering, and all like that. Things that could be caused by any number of electrical anomolies were attributed to an ethereal entity. I was sympathetic in my speech to her, but was emphatic in my plausible explanations of the events that she experienced.

I attempted to get her to take the things she noticed, and go: Gee the lights flickered...Well...what's for lunch? I was unsuccessful in convincing her that she could talk herself out of her "manifestation" in the same way that she talked herself into it. She decided to discontinue speaking to the people that had witnessed her "haints" and decided that that was why they'd gone away.

It's apparrent to me that I have not the compassion to expres to someone of thefemale of the species that they'd be better off "thinking" and "observing" than they are just "reacting" and ascribing things to whatever is convenient.

I ain't saying it's a Universal, but it's all I've ever seen. No matter how dire the circumstance, my compassion comes up lacking.

Posted by Johnny - Oh at 09:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

Memphis Malaise

The trip over there went as well as could be expected, but it was a strange glimpse for me into what felt like another state altogether. East Tennessee has the Smokies, Middle TN has the foothills of the cumberland Plateau, and West TN is nothin' but flat and marshes. I never really got a handle on where anything was over there, due to the complete lack of geographical reference points. I'm used to giving and receiving directions with phrases like "At the bottom of the third hill, take a right" in them. I honestly don't know how all you "flatlanders'" out there do it.

The city itself was pretty groovy though. It had this vibe that's hard to explain...sort of a hopeful-despair. We went downtown the night of our arrival and checked out the Peabody Hotel. Really swank stuff there, beautiful elevators, but on the Lobby floor, far-left one, it's PI is hung above the entrance crooked. I'm happy that this is not one of "Our" jobs or I'd've had to hang my head in shame. We went down an alley just across the street to a place called Rendezvous. It was my first experience with a dry rub on ribs, and I must admit that I had to stifle the urge to "smack my Momma" for feeding me as poorly as she did all those year's. Just Damn! them was fine victuals.

A couple of blocks away from the opulence of the Peabody, there stood a fine figure of a building. (I really need to invest in a good digital camera so I could share it with you.) It is a towering brick structure that rises 30 stories or so. It's the type that has a stairstep effect every fifth floor or so, that lends it an air of elegance. Probably erected in the 1940's or so. It's boarded up solid at the street level. No lights shine in any of its windows, and it's been that way for some time. According to our local guy, this building that I would describe as "regal", has been voted #2 on the list of Memphis' Ugliest Buildings...these people got no class atall.

This type of thing permeates the entire city..."uptown swank" sits next to "abandonned dank" at every turn. One of the elevator's (it's a bank of two actually) that we were sent down to help out with is in a building that's sat empty for ten years. These five-stop hydraulics have been sitting on their buffer stands for that entire time, and we're there to revive them. New pump unit's, controllers, CAr Operating Panels, hoistway door tracks, car header/gate track, and new door operator's. This town is kinda noted for its proximity to the Mississippi River, and the humidity that permeates everything. The entire cabs of these cars were constructed of wood, and wood + humidity = rot. The guy that was taking the old door operator off of one of the cars made the mistake of stepping onto the wooden ceiling when he was working, and damned-near took the whole cartop down. There's no way that I can think of to place a new header and operator up onto car walls that are crumbling as we speak, but the office would like us to "get the car's running, and we'll worry about the cab's later". Not gonna happen. The "New construction" job we were also to "pinch hit" on didn't have anything for us to attach our rail brackets to. They'd scabbed a 2/12 stick of wood between two pieces of 2 inch metal studs with some drywall on it, and expected us to hold up rails for a 3500lb commercial elevator with that. That rail's gotta support around 400lbs of lateral force...so we need some structural steel, but the contractor's balking at it. Ah well, we could've had this one in a running platform (or damn close to it) in a couple of day's, but it's just not to be.

The depressing vibe from this trip has rubbed off on me, and I find myself second guessing everything here lately. The old "Did I do it right? vs. Was my intention perceived correctly?" equation. It's led to a general malaise that I've been pushing through for the past five day's or so. There are only three solutions to this type of thing: Stimulating work, Liqour, or Nicotine...Stimulating work has been at a dearth, so which of the other two do you think I've been up to more lately? Sure, it's counter-productive, but it staves off the "lonely".

Posted by Johnny - Oh at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2006

Side trip

I had a crappy start to my weekend last Friday. Kev and I had made a trip down to Chattanooga to chance out a seal in a jack that was leaking. It took a little while longer than we'd initially intended, just due to the physics of the elevator. The jack is in the ground, and due to the size of the cab, three-iinch oil pipe was required. We set the car down on some pipe stands, and detached the top of the piston from the bottom of the car. Now all we had to do was force the piston down to get around 50 gallons of oil back up into the tank... simple. Unfortunately, we had to get all this oil to flow uphill at least eight feet. We got it done, but it ate up about three hours of the day.

So we finally got headed back towards Knoxville, and we were concerned because they were predicting snow. We got to just north of Athens, TN when the goddamn shop-van just died. One second we were trucking along at 70 MPH, and the next we were parked by the side of the road. After some basic troubleshooting, we determined that we couldn't do anything to get it back on the road, so we started making calls. We got approval from the Boss to call in a Wrecker and contacted a place out of Athens. After talking with the mealy-mouthed dispatcher girl, she decided that they had a rig big enough to haul us home, and stated that it'd be 20 minutes until we saw the driver. We waited forty before we called them back. This time he was three miles behind us. another twenty minutes or so goes by. After some negotiating, we finally procured the driver's cell-phone number, and he agreed to come get us. We spent about 2 1/2 hours by the side of the Interstate, only to get a driver who was crazier than a bedbug. He loaded up that 3/4 ton van (filled with tools and elevator parts), remarked on the wieght of the vehicle, and proceeded to drive 95 to 100 mph all the way to the shop. All I could do was hang on and hope that we made it to the shop okay, but a white-knuckle ride was had by all. I had to carry Kev on to his house, which made it so that I didn't get home 'til 10 PM.

This week we were supposed to head over to Memphis and help out our crew over there, but we obviously couldn't leave today as we didn't have any wheels. I didn't bother packing anything, as I wasn't sure if the truck would get fixed. Well, it got repaired today, so we are leaving out bright and early in the morning. I didn't really want to spend all night packing to go out of town, but I had to anyway. I guess I'll be incommunicado until Friday at least. Not that it's unusual for me to step away from the blog for day's at a time...just this time I've got a good excuse.

Posted by Johnny - Oh at 11:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 08, 2006

In Between Jobs

What? You thought...? No. I didn't quit/get fired from my current employ, I'm just talking about the smaller jobs that I am sent out to take care of "In Between" the larger projects. Sheesh! Calm down out there people.

Anyhow, I was sent out to do a little job on a residential aggravator today. It's a little three-stop "roped hydro" that I must say is quite a nice little elevator. Unfortunately, the contractor had to give it the nickname of "Thumper" due to a little quirk that it had. If the elevator sat still for any length of time (A few day's to a week), it's guide rollers would develop a little "flat spot", and for the first 8 to 10 trips after putting it back in service, it would go "thump...thump...thump" up the hoistway. If it was used regularly, this wouldn't be a problem, but it ain't, and the owner just happens to have a doctorate in Physics so he wants a "perfect" conveyance. We had orderred some new roller's that have a stiffer compound to the rubber, and it was my task to install them.

This customer (unfortunately for me) has a friend that works for the company that actually manufactures the elevator, and was told that the problem was most likely a mal-adjusted hydraulic valve, and he kept pestering me to look into it. The guy who'd given him that advice did so over the phone, so he really had nothing to base his diagnosis on other than the "hearsay" from the customer. I'm here to tell you that it's impossible to diagnose a bad valve over the phone (especially with someone who is ignorant of the trade on the other end of it), so I surmised that he was some stuffed shirt who'd overheard a couple of guy's who are on the "sharp end" discussing a problem, and applied it to this elevator. I HATE it when people do that without adding the caveat: "...but I'm not there, so it could be something else", due to the phenomena of the person who's not even a dilettente taking his word as gospel.

I took a little while getting the new roller's installed, and decided that I'd better take a "check ride" and see if it had done the trick. No more "thumper", but now I can feel each rail joint. The softer compound of the original roller's makes up for a slightly uneven rail fit (acting as a shock absorber of sorts), but the new rollers actually magnify any mechanical imperfections. Time to acquire a file and "dress" those rails. I borrowed a little file from the contractor and made a valiant attempt at fixing things, but it was designed more for finish work than removing a lot of metal to even up the two surfaces. I pressed on with it though, and got the ride kinda okay, but I knew that it needed a little something extra. When I went to lunch, I stopped by the hardware store, and procured the type of file that would do the job. I spent some more quality time with the rail joints, and got things really nice...but not perfect.

One of the rail joints had been hit, or dropped, or scraped on something...enough to make a slight indentation in it. Essentially, there's a "U" in the rail face, right where they come together. A file can certainly remove material from either side when things don't line up right, but it cannot add material to fill in where it is missing. There's a (barely) perceptable bump as the car passes this area, and I had nothing suitable on hand to fill it with.

If I'd been a lesser man, I'd have told the customer that things were perfect, and went on with life, but I ain't. I advised him of what I felt, and why it was so, and then left. Sure... I could have lied to him...hell I probably should have, but at the end of the day. I am proud of the work that I performed there, and that's the smoothest residential elevator I've ever ridden...period. If he bitches about it...he's an idiot, but I can feel smug about the fact that he got an honest fix for an honest problem, and he got the best correction that could be had. He'll probably bitch though. being a Physic's Doctor and all, he knows way more than I do...and if that's so...next time he can fix it his damnedself.

Metal file vs. Sheepskin? In a "Rock-Paper-Scissors" game, which do you think would win?

Posted by Johnny - Oh at 10:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 06, 2006

now With 15% Less Stopping Power!

On the way to work this morning, I discovered that when I depressed the brake pedal, the sucker went clear to the floorboard, and I could barely stop. Luckily, thgis happened at 6:30am, so I didn't have to worry about too many cars out there and was able to make it to work without incident. I took a quick look, and discovered that Iw as leaking hydraulic fluid from the right rear... Gotta work though, so I put it on the back burner.

Kev and I went on out to the jobsite after our safety meeting, and continued to adjust some final things on this modernization. Late last week, we were able to use a different laptop with another type of software to get our machine to realize where it was in the hoistway, so today we had to finalize a few things and get it "buttoned up" so it can be turned back over to the contractor. We ran into a few snags late in the day, and stayed an extra hour to finish up, so it was a quarter 'til five in the evening before we made it back to the shop.

Around where I live is a very large shopping district, and I knew that I'd be driving home right in the heart of rush hour, so I wanted to try to make a stopgap fix for my brakes. Just before Kev left, he suggested running a screw up in the brake line on that wheel so that I'd have brakes on at least three tires. Didn't sound like a bad plan to me, so I made the attempt, but the screw I used managed to completely destroy the end of the brake line. All I could do then was crimp the line, and hope for the best. Hey! I had some brakes, so I figured I was good.

I got no more than a mile on the interstate before the brake pads on that side somehow crashed into the inside of the drum, and basically exploded. I had a lot of fun removing the detritus from that brake drum on the side of the road, let me tell you...There's just nothing like doing vehicle repairs on the side of an Interstate during rush-hour. After all of this, I was finally able to get my "wormy" ass to the house.

There's a rule of thumb that states: "70% of a vehicles stopping power comes from the front wheels." and I'm here to say that of the 30% that's left for the rear, 15% is permanently gone. This is the second time that this brake assemble has exploded on me, and I ain't fixing it again. Did I mention that I'm in the market for a new car?

Posted by Johnny - Oh at 11:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 04, 2006

The Future!

So...I'm hanging out at the bar with a Lady friebnd of mine, and a gentleman sidles up to the bar with his five-year-old progeny. We were conversing on the finer things in life, and where my young friend was to be educated... "MIT" was posited by his Dad as a good choice, but he was vehement against it. A little Rebellion was what we were witnessing.

The young man (Logan was his moniker) was frighteningly intelligent. My comp[anion asked him "what do you want to be when you grow up?" and his responce was: "A Renaissance Man". That's frickin' brilliant!
He was quyizzed on all aspects of his profesion...He scored well on science, music, and art, and he had a wonderful grasp on the concept of "pressure"...as it applies to "all of the above". Just a great kid.

He was provided with a plethora of Bar Napkins to draw out his automotive idea's and he performed stunningly. He drew out five different prototypes.. and the one that will stay with me until the day that I die will be the "Jet-Fast".

If there's ever as brand of automobile that's named so....I'll buy it and drive with pride.

He'll do us all proud, and I'm reasssured as to the Future of the species. When we're bad we're bad, but when we're brilliant we shine.This kid is a shining example of what we all aspire to.

Thank you for restoring my faith in the human animal. I was getting discouraged.

Posted by Johnny - Oh at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack