Well, Kenosha was interesting as hell. Typically, I only work like 8 hours a day while I’m outta town. I spent years at Creek getting fucked on my out of town pay, working long hours and getting nothing for it. And so I take it somewhat easy out of town.
As you can imagine from my last blog post, after the Thanksgiving timebomb, I worked long hours the whole trip. A one week trip turned into two weeks of 12 – 16 hour days. UG.
The downside is lots and lots of hours that I don’t get paid for (out of town jobs are per day + expenses, so working 8 hours I make more money than I do setting in town working 8 hours. Work 12 hours, and I make less than I made in town.) But I’m still getting considerably more than the original contract called for.
Of course, I have to wait for them to pay. Right now I’m setting on… hm, $.34 in the bank. Ouch. They should have already paid a portion of the invoices (Dominic had me submit one before I actually got there), but Thanksgiving happened in the middle of my trip, so that always throws companies like Cargill in disarray for a short bit.
Hopefully they hurry the fuck up and pay my ass – I’d like to have, oh I don’t know, gas in my car! Plus rent is coming up quickly, bills are coming due shortly, etc., etc., etc., etc. In fact, I’ll get this first check and it’s gonna be almost gone in nothing flat. Hopefully the second check will be right behind it, otherwise I’m not buying anyone stuff for Christmas!
Oh yeah, and intermixed in here is some pictures from inside the mill in Kenosha with my iPhone. I should have gotten pictures of the sifters. These things are 14 feet tall, and you throw flour in one end, and it sifts out the flour in different grades (actually, not quite correct – each sifter is attached to a different rollstand (the beige things pictured here), and it determines if the flour has been crushed enough to go to the next rollstand, or if it’s going to go back through the previous rollstand. As you can imagine, there’s a whole set of jargon here for the situation – the first time wheat goes in, it’s going into the First Break rollstand (1BK) where the wheat gets cracked open, then you get into things like Mids, Tailings, Germ, etc. I’ll not bore you with the entire long ass process!) Anyway… the sifters are 14 feet tall, huge things. They move in a circular motion, about two feet, and there’s an entire room full of them – standing in the middle of ’em is a little disorienting as they all move in tandem, making it feel like the entire room is moving in circles. On top off that, anything that large displaces some serious air – so if you get near one, you can feel it move. Cool stuff. But I didn’t get any pictures of interesting things 😉
The work it’s self was damned interesting. Lance and I built the network that runs the place a number of years ago – three fiberoptic segments, and a ton of CAT5. Prior to that it had been just thinnet strewn everwhere, and a network that was completely overloaded with data. As time went on, other contractors have added independent networks to the system, and I did a re-fit to modernize a whole lotta older hardware on my previous trip. This time, it all got tied together and became Internet accessable. This isn’t like an office network – most of the devices on here don’t run on standard protocols that you’ve heard of, and don’t have stuff like monitors and keyboards 🙂 Quick stats on the network:
17 PC’s (2 of them servers, 1 of them an IPCop router)
5 Virtualized machines running in VMWare
9 PLC’s, and something like 40 racks combined between them all
9 Protocol converters (Attached to motor controllers)
32 Ethernet enabled flow controllers
2 Wireless Access Points
5 Different Cabling Standards (Fiber Optic, CAT5e, DH+, Serial, And RIO)
12 Different Protocols (not including various extra PC things like VNC)
2 Different IP address spaces
ALL of it remotely controllable. It’s become on hell of a monster since Lance and I put in the original fiberoptic network. You can see my map to the left there (blurred, just so no one can pull in the IP’s of devices, just in case) – it take s a heck of a list to keep track of it all (I keep both a graphical map of interconnections, and a text listing of everything, which includes stuff like which ports are portmaped to which devices for external contractor access, blahblahblah – lot of work goes into keeping that updated and organized each time I make a change.)
My testing device of choice? My iPhone 🙂 I caused some jaws to drop when someone had mentioned that they heard I was setting things up for remote contractor access. I was standing in the breakroom (one of the only places I consistently get cell access in the building, otherwise this trick wouldn’t have been impressive to anyone ;-), and pulled out my iPhone, and proceeded to pull up the control system for the entire plant, and switch pages, etc – from there I could have stopped or started any aspect of the the milling process. Yeah, I love my high-tech toys, specially when I pull off stuff like that 🙂
Not everything went perfect on the trip, but, things went pretty well, and the final result was slick. Actually, had it not been for the whole worm problem on thanksgiving, things would have went really well – it took me days in between other tasks to get machines disinfected (one refused to disinfect, and ended up being rebuilt from scratch, then another one just wanted to be highly resistent to disinfection, but I whooped it’s ass eventually.)
I had the now case bound Mac Mini there. And people thought that was like some James Bond shit. (Except for Dominic, he laughed and thought it looked more like Redneck shit to him, which is more along my opinion 🙂 People wanted to know where I got it, where’s the hard drive, wow you built that yourself, etc., etc., etc. And Dominic’s kids just went nuts over it, and all had to watch when I pulled it out at Thanksgiving to do a quick change to Dominic’s website. I even had a couple of people trying to convince me I should build those and sell ’em. Like this was a brand new concept.
Except it’s not. Compaq didn’t start out building a plain ol’ PC compatable computer – what they build was basically what I have – a portable desktop machine (sometimes referred to as a “luggable”) Laptops didn’t exist until well after laptops did. Though I can’t think of anyone actually building luggables anymore (‘specially not a Mac based luggable). So, heck, I might price out what it takes to build a luggable setup like this, and throw the price on the website. But my design isn’t complete just yet – after the trip I realized I need to improve the external port access just a bit (if I have to actually pug in an ethernet cable for testing, it’s a PITA!) and it’s in serious need of a lot of work on cabling (right now, I’m using standard sized power cables, when I really only need ones that are 6″ long). So, even if I do throw up a price, it’s not going to be until after I have something I feel is a final usable design that’s nice inside.
And this was my view for 2 1/2 hours on the way back:
It’s a 12 hour trip from Kenosha, WI to Derby, KS (not including if I nap on the way at a rest stop). It took 18 hours, 45 minutes to make the trip. After the ice storm hit the roads turned into a sheet of glass. The only good thing I have to say about a Pontiac G6 – not once did I loose traction. It was perfect on ice. Of course, I was also going nice and slow (35 before I got stuck at the wreck, 20 after that). I am NOT looking forward to another drive like that. Sheesh.
The wreck ended up being two semi’s and three pickup trucks. The slightly disturbing part about the wreck is I’m pretty sure I had just seen one of the pickup trucks at the stop before (a little gas station to get more soda and use the restroom.) Three guys in one truck, and the zoomed off in their little 4WD truck, and ya know how you think “You fuckers are just looking to get in an accident!” when you see people not respectin’ mother nature when she lays down snow or ice? Yeah, I remember thinking that – I’m pretty sure the little red banged up truck that was in the ditch was the same guys. Kinda hard to tell for sure though.
No, I don’t mean like going on a diet, like what you eat type of thing. Heather always tried to keep a good mix of veggies in our diet. And lately Meredith has been reminding me to make more veggies with our meals. Well… shit, I guess my metabolism changed a bit. I can’t decide if it’s conincidence or not, but the first two days of my trip I didn’t have any veggies, and I felt like crap. Then Thanksgiving came around, I ate good including veggies, and I felt better.
So I distrupted my eating plan (which was basically the Brat Stop for two meals a day) since it didn’t involve any veggies. Found a nice place to eat supper where I could get a steak and veggies for cheap ($10 most nights) and ate there every night. So I guess I have to make sure to consistently keep veggies in my diet now. Grrrrr – I hate it when the women are right 😉
The side benefit was kind of interesting – Birchwood Grill had great service, and I ended up yacking with the bartender quite a bit (nice gal – cute, great voice, funny personality, married. Oh well, three outta four ain’t bad.) Normally I tend to be anti-social when outta town, but it was a nice change.
Yeah, speaking of changes and women, I’m probably going to end up going out on some dates in the near future. Not sure if I’m looking forward to this or not. I’ve had a number of dating profiles out there, and I thought I had deactivated all of ’em. But someone contacted me…. and then another gal, and another, and… well, you get the idea.
I’ve been chasing someone around, but her life is… yeah, complicated. And potentially hazardous to other choices and responsibilities in my life.
So, well, hell – I guess if I have gals contacting me, I might as well make the best of it. I have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve been out on a date. I went out of town in January to meet a gal, but, that doesn’t really count as a date – Meredith referred to it as a booty call.
I’m not looking forward to going out on dates for the most part – I’m not particularly confident about it. But meeting new people is never a bad thing.
Problem is, um… yeah, most of the gals contacting me…. yeah.. no. Look, I’m no particular prize, but, most of the people I’ve talked to are… yeeesh. Dating at age 35 is pretty much pointless in a lot of ways, I think – let’s face it, the people who are most likely to have a constructive relationship are already in one. I’m a great example of that 🙂 That’s my opinion – but hell, I could be wrong.
On top of it, I had been setting on a free two months from eHarmony for quite a while now (Hehehehe – aparently the secret to eHarmony is to set up an account and never activate it. Slowly you get offers like “1/2 off”, then “1 month free when you buy one month”, all the way down to “Would you just sign up for the damned thing already? Fuck, we’ll give it to you for free!” (I started to set up the account in January, but, couldn’t merit spending money on it. So the inactive account is getting near a year old.)
So I said fuck it, and activated it.
Yeah, talk about a study in rejection or inappropriate matches! 🙂 Oh, it tried to match me with people as far away as Texas, and some people who were… yeah. Not sure how they were a match. But I tried to do what the site says, and sent the contact questions to the various matches.
So far, only one person has bothered to respond to the eHarmony “Guided Communication” system. All the rest of them either immediately closed the communication, or didn’t respond (in fairness, a number of those appeared to be fairly old accounts, so no responding probably meant they no longer used eHarmony.) Most of them don’t have pictures, and provide only the briefest answers to the questions you’re supposed to fill out in your profile.
I’ll probably try the online sites for a couple of months, then give up in frustration. Luckly, with the exception of eHarmony, all of ’em are free (and eHarmony is free for a little bit, but two months isn’t exactly a long time either).
Well, the hunt begins. Slowly I’m going to begin looking for my own place. The first thing is to get a full calculation of what the costs are, and how it fits into my budget, etc. This is gonna be… fun. Ideally I’d like to be doing another $2k in work a month to feel really solid about it (and hopefully get the cash flow working better, rather than customers being quite so slow on paying.)
This presents a new experience. See, I never lived in an apartment. And while I really don’t care to live in an apartment, it’s going to be the best idea – I’m not close to ready to plunk down cash on land somewhere in the country, and have a house built (or build a house.) So I’ll have to take an intermediate step. Apartment living. Yeeeeeks.
There are houses for rent, but, the more money I put towards rent, the slower I reach my goals of 0 debt, then my goal of buying land, then my goal of building a place, etc. (Actually, part of buying land will probably involve buying a small RV or trailer to put on the property until a place is completed – why pay for two places at once?) And it makes life harder if I have a lean month or two.
One of the options I’m already leaning towards is 250 Douglas Place – electric is paid, trash is paid, etc. (Though I’d stil have to pay for Internet access). Lots of cool amenties, thought it’s a bit pricy – $650 / mo (then again – $350 / mo + 15 / mo trash, $150 electric, no gas = $515 / mo already! Add the fact I want some place to work out, it ends up being pretty close to what I’d end up paying.) But it’s Downtown Wichita. Hrm.
But I’ve got a while to look, right now it’s just figuring out the budget, and what it’s gonna take to make it happen. In my opinion, I need to do a tad more business to feel comfortable pulling it off. So, let’s do more business 🙂 While this next check is all accounted for expendature wise, the next one I’ve got some leeway on. So it’s time to do some advertising – just trying to decide the exact best route. Gotta find the best bang for the buck!