31 October 2008

Spent my Birthday with Mr. Murphy

Last Friday we order some 40" OD Field Machining equipment to re-cut a tongue and groove in a 33" OD flange in Wichita Falls TX. We go to pick it up at Fed Ex Heavy on Monday and find out equipment is in Iowa. What the shit? We are due at the job site Tuesday AM.

We order another machine from Chicago and have it driven via hot shot to the job site. Due to the complexity of the machining required i solicit another machinist from our Long view TX location to help out my machinist. They call me Tuesday AM. The call goes something like this:

Machinist- you didn't look at this job before you bid it did you?
ME - No, it is a standard tongue and groove, what is the problem?
Machinist - the top flange is 33" OD (outside Diameter) and the bottom flange is 25" OD
Me - what the shit, how can that be, are you sure.....?
Machinist - did you send me here because I'm pretty or because i know what i am doing. We need a 30" machine so get it coming.
Me - I'll order it and i am on my way. You better hope i am not ordering another machine for no reason, butt plug

So i load up about noon on Tuesday and set out for Wichita Falls TX. I get there about 5 hours later and go straight to the job site. The machinist was right. Two different OD flanges bolted together. This was going to be a bitch of a job

A little background on a tongue and groove flange. One flange has a tongue machined onto it. This particular one was .512 thousandths thick and .250 thousandths tall. The receiving flange has a groove machined into it. this one was .562 wide and .187 deep. Our tolerance was plus or minus zero. Now it sounds simple enough but you must know that we could not locate center on either flange due to distortion of the flange and the receiving flange was welded on an 18" nozzle. We couldn't measure off the OD of the flanges because the chlorine had eaten the flanges to the point where there was a lot of pitting and we didn't know which was true. We had to establish reference points on both flanges and work the math backwards to make it right. Remember that when you set the top flange down, the tongue and groove have to match and the flange we could remove weighed about 500 pounds. A welder had spent Monday overlaying the flange with weld build up so we could machine the two flanges back to spec. Never a good sign.

Customer tells us that the Heat Treat guys will be there on Wednesday to Stress relieve the flanges. After that much welding, the flanges become brittle so they must be cooked about 6 hours at 1300 degrees to relieve the stress in the metal and eliminate premature fatigue of the metal.

We are machining the dollar plate when the 2nd machine arrives at 1900. I help one machinist set up on receiving flange and he starts cutting away. I was floating between the two helping out when needed. At about 0230 i notice that the thickness of the flanges doesn't match the engineering drawing and call the customer to inform him. He said keep going, we said OK. About 0630 we finished both flanges and turned them over to the customer for inspection. They performed a dye penetrate test and both flanges had indications in them. An indication is a point on the flange where the weld does not meet the code and must be cut out and re-welded. This is a common problem with non-automated overlaying.

The welder gets back at it and we wait for him to be done. When he is done we re-machine the flange to specs and do another PT test on it. We go through this process several times before the flanges pass inspection. (Note) the welder was damn good. He was trying to do what few people can do.

Around 1700 on Wednesday we dry fit the flanges and they mated well. We were done. We were on-site for 34 hours and tired. The customer was so happy that we worked it through that he took us out for Beer and steaks and let me tell you we put a hurt on his credit card. I got to bed about 2230 Wednesday and i was done.

Tuesday was my birthday so i spent it in a plant in Wichita Falls TX with two good friends doing what i love to do and eating cold pizza for supper. It definitely kept my mind off my personal issues for a couple of days. I must admit that i enjoyed my birthday this year.

28 October 2008

Destination Heaven

Last Saturday was our Fall Festival at church. Each year the Youth Group puts on a skit and they do a great job. This year the skit was called Destination Heaven. It was about two young girls who decided to skip church to go to a college party and they died in a car wreck on the way home. They both went to Heaven to be judged. One got in, and one didn't make it.

What got my attention was how they interpreted the judgement in Heaven. I guess it is what everyone would expect. God or Jesus sitting on a throne, angels all about the place and someone reading the Book of Life to see who's name is recorded and who's name isn't recorded. But is this how it really is? I guess no one reading this would really know. But let's break it down.

If you look at the World Clock at the bottom of this page, you will notice that it reports about 167,000 deaths per day not counting abortions. That works out to about 1 death every half second, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

We can prove the statistics of the death rate. This is fact. When you die you have to go to heaven and be judged in 1/2 of a second. This doesn't leave God much time to review our prayers let alone answer them. The judgements would keep him busy full time. We believe that with God all things are possible so there must be a way for all this to happen, we simply don't know it.

Now reading from the Bible it assures us that God knows our hearts intimately and every hair on our head is numbered. I want to think that on my judgement i would get to spend some quality time with God but the shear number of deaths points to the fact that i can not do this.

I am going to have to do a little more research into this. If you have any ideas, i would love to hear them.

21 October 2008

I made it

I am back from my yearly pilgrimage to Louisiana for hunting season. This year was bittersweet. I hadn't been home since Ruth died and i new that people would offer their condolences. I wanted to go home but i didn't want to deal with everyone. You take the good with the bad i guess.

It was a typical year. Lots of beer drinking, 4-wheeling and bullshitting. My nephew cooked a catfish courtboullion this year. He is one damn fine cook at 17 years old.

I showed up with 5 30 packs of beer, we bought 3 more cases and two bottles of Ameretta. It took 2 days to sober up. That is the #1 reason my jeep is no longer running.

We were down at dead mans creek and their is a set of ramps to drive the ATV's across. My Brother decided that only pussies need the rails. Real men can cross the creek. After we crossed it in the ATV's we decide to try it with the jeeps. Big mistake.

I shattered a universal joint trying to get across that damn thing. Oh, it was about midnight when we tried this. We tow the jeep back to camp and the next day i replace the U-Joint.

The drive shaft later kept throwing the U-Joint so i changed the sleeves that hold them. That stopped the problem. Here is a little hint, if you shatter a rear U-Joint, check your front shaft. Good advice.

I didn't and i happened to bend my front drive shaft to where it looked like an S. Later the next day i was crossing another creek and twisted the rear shaft in two pieces. Not a good day for my jeep. Oh well, that is the price of fun.

08 October 2008

I'm a tad bit confused

The Fed and other countries have slashed interest rates, my 401K is down, The Dow Jones 30 is down and we approved $850 Billion dollars for a bailout. What the hell is wrong with this picture?

Now we hear that the credit lenders are freezing the lending. Hum.... If a bank is a business and a business is in business to make money, and banks make money by loaning money, what good does it serve to halt all lending? That is a head scratcher.

My 401K being down doesn't bother me. I knew when i started it that i would take the most risk because that has the most payout. Although it is down now, it will come back up. Even Dave Ramsey says that you should not play with stocks unless you want to stay in for at least 5 years. In 5 years i will be fine. That doesn't worry me. I know where 100% of my 401K is invested and the companies it is invested in. You see i live in the Permian Basin which produces 13% of US market crude. Crude is around $100 per barrel. I invested in companies that deal with the crude industry. No matter what Wall street does, we will still need crude. The companies will stay up and running and will be here for the long haul.

All those idiots that bought Mortgage back securities, that is their problem. If they collapse, too bad for them. Citicorp, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are buying the the banks that made stupid decisions so the banking industry doesn't seem to me to be in bad shape. Hell, its just like the food chain. The stronger ones eat the weaker ones and the strong survive.

I say let the market fall and it will purge itself and come back stronger.

01 October 2008

Surprise, surprise, surprise

How the bailout could affect me

Right now i am torn between supporting and destroying the bailout. It will have farther reaching implications than people think.

Yes the banks lent money on mortgages that people could never repay. They simply overvalued the homes figuring that the market would grow and increase equity in the home without the homeowner paying down any principle. That and they come up with interest only loans assuming the equity growth in the same manner.

What happens if the banks have to re-write all the bad loans. It freezes the credit market and it will be harder for someone to get a loan. Doesn't seem like an issue for you and me who pay our mortgage on time and pay our other debts on time. But the issue goes much farther than that.

The companies that we work for usually doesn't require cash up front for the work that we do. They bill the customer. By the time an invoice is generated, sent, received, processed and payed, your looking at 30 days or more. The time frame from the time the work is completed until the payment is received is called Day Sales Outstanding, DSO. If your DSO gets too long, your company has a revolving loan with a local bank to cover cost such as payroll. A company usually has millions of dollars tied up in DSO.

The company that you're working for has a revolving loan to cover their expenses such as your invoice. You see where we are going with this. If the companies can not get this loan they can't cover their cost. If they must reduce cost, where is the biggest cost for any company? Their people. They cut people, we lose jobs, no one wins.

I don't want the bailout myself but we must keep the credit freed up so we can continue to conduct business. This will in fact affect all of us in the future.

The other side of the coin is your 401K. It is handled by investment bankers who bought these junk mortgages. We are likely to see out 401K's drop. I don't worry about mine because i do not have a single dollar invested in the mortgage crap. I am 100% in the stock market with companies i think will survive this crisis. Not everyone can say that.

If you have another perspective of this, i am interested in hearing it.