Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Old School trip to the dump.




Which begins at home when you wake up on a Saturday morning and decide to clean the garage up a bit and take the last week or so's worth of accumulated trash and haul it off. You stuff all of the trash into either the bed of our pickup or the trunk of the family car and it's off to the dump you go.

It's 9:30 am.

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump. Sung to the tune of the William Tell Overture.

You arrive, back up, unload, and look around a bit. Then you empty your trash.

 The place is a little smelly but your eye has caught a coil of what looks to be pretty good rope and you remember you were headed to the hardware store for a coil of rope about that size to use to tie down a couple of shees of plywood to your roof rack or use on the upcoming tree surgery. 

As you pick up the rope you notice a ceramic jug someone likely threw out by accident. It'll look good on the front porch. You snag that one.

Just then John Dalster comes in with his trash and two kids. John empties his trash while his kids start running around checking things out and being kids. It's been a month since you've run into John and he's always fun to chat with. He sees you looks at the treasures you've accumulated and grins. THe pair of you mosey over to his pickup and he hands you a cold one out of the cooler in his pickup. It's a little early but what the hell.

Dave Thomas arrives and John hands him a beer and Dave lets you know about what the clowns at City Hall are up to and you make a note to call and register an opinion with the alderman.

John's kids return from their running around with a couple treasures and throw them into the back of the pickup. As they do you see Sarah Wither drive up. She's almost 80 now and pretty spry and a real trip. She buried her husband about fifteen years ago and seems to have weathered widowhood well. She often acts cranky but is hilarious and a pretty good person to get to know. Besides knowing just about everything about everybody she dropped by with a casserolle every night when your wife was in the hospital.

You cringe in a way because you just know that Sarah is just going to say something outrageous and you don't want to bust up and offend her. Sarah quickly dumps her trash and walks over uninvited to John's truch and helps herself to a beer and comments that John is still drinking that cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon and ought to upgrade.

John grins and says he has been drinking PBR for twenty years. 

Sarah spots a flower pot with a chip in it and scarfs that up and comments that if nobody helped themselves to goodies at the dump the place would have been filled up twenty years ago. Everyone chuckles. You look at the stuff in your truck, notice what John's kids have recovered and realize her statement has merit. A lot of stuff IS leaving.

Sarah lets you know that the family three down from you is having hard times and you make a note of that. He's a pretty good carpenter and you had planned on redoing your bathroom next month. A quick mental check says you can afford to start the project next weekend and although you had planned on doing it yourself, you realize you ought to get a little help. You make a mental note to drop by his place on the way home. It won't put the guy's kids through college but ought to feed them for a week or so. You know anything helps.

Dave Thomas says he'll drop off some venison. He know the family will appreciate it. 

Dave Thomas turns to you and asks to borrow your chain saw and you agree to it. Every time Dave borrows something he returns it in better shape than it was when you gave it to him. Unlike Louie Swindell who practiclly destroyed your lawn mower a couple years back and just stuffed it back in your garage. Louie had a lot of gall getting upset when you refused to lend it to him the following weekend. Actually it is your fault in a way. Sarah had warned you Louie was like that.

John mentions that he's looking for a brand new used car for his wife. Nobody has any ideas but everyone offers to keep their ears open. He's computer illiterate and you and Sarah make a mental note to check Craigslist.  

You look at your watch, finish your now warm beer and take your leave, arriving home a little after noon. 

It's been a profitable morning.





Of course, if you have moved to, say, North Carolina from New Jersey you just can't figure out why the locals live that way. My advice to you is to stay in New Jersey until you figure it out. Once you do you'll probably find yourself accepted a lot faster if you do figure it out and decide that is what you want. If you don't want it, don't move there.



To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why do so many people hate freedom?

Why do people not love freedom?

I walked into a place a while ago and it just plain reeked of cigarette smoke. I simply turned and walked out. It really was as easy as that. I have choices and opted to use them. I took my business elsewhere.

A while ago there was a big movement to boycott Chick-Fil-A over something a position they took on gay marriage. I took the time to read their mission statement and decide that the boycott was just mean spirited whining from the gay community. As a result, I will eat there if I so desire. My choice.

A while ago I heard the mayor of Boston wouldn't allow the Chik-Fil-A people to open a restaurant there the first thing that came into my mind were the two words: 'Business Opportunity'. I thought of opening three CHick-Fil-As, one to the north, south and west of Boston about 10 feet out of the city limits with a huge sign posted above each of them. "Banned in Boston" in ten-foot high letters.

  The Irish from Southie and Dorchester would be flocking there in droves and I'd have had to hire three Brinks trucks a day to haul the money off to the bank. 

Someone pointed out that there would be protests and they're likely right except for one little fact. The Mayor of Boston tried to force the Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers to allow the gay rights people to be in the parade in their rainbow colors. I don't see why this is an issue as the gays have their own  parade, anyway.

The Irish were livid. When the mayor personally boycotted the parade he went straight to the Irish $hit list. 

People tend to forget the Irish have the best memories on the planet. They never forget a kindness...or a slight. The term 'Irish Alzheimer's' has moore than a grain of truth to it. Anyone so afflicted with the disease  forgets everything but the grudges. 

You can bet your ass that there isn't a protester stupid enough to go within 1000 yards of one of those Chick-Fil-As with half of Southie and Dorchester lined up outside waiting to get in. Not to mention about half the Boston Police and Fire departments.

Personally I find gay parades not to be my cup of tea. I simply do not attend them. I don't hate gays or want to take their rights from them. I simply don't want to attend their parades because I have no real interest. If you want to attend, have at it.

Personally I think abortion is wrong. Yet I certainly don't think that it is right forcing my beliefs on someone else. I have a hard time seeing where the government has any right whatsoever to get involved in the reproductive organs of its citizens either way. The way I see it is that abortion is between a woman, her physician and her maker. The government shouldn't have anything to say about it. Period.

I fail to see why marijuana (or any drug for that matter) is something worth putting someone in jail for. If you want to become a meth head, that's fine by me. Simply find a way to support your own habit and keep it out of the schools. If you try and rob me to support your habit do not be surprised to find yourself shot. It really IS that simple.

You want to get married to someone of legal age, have at it. Go see the preacher. If he doesn't want to marry you, find another. If that doesn't work out to your satisfaction, go see the county clerk. In fact, see me. If I like you, I'll fix you up. I'm a minister. Cash. I don't take Visa. 

(I suppose I'm looking at a business opportunity here. I could become the Earl Schieb of weddings. "I'll marry ANY two people for $49.95!") 

If you don't like the junk car in someone's driveway, offer to buy it. Most likely they'll sell it to you. When it becomes yours you can do anything you want with it. If they don't want to sell it, then cry me a river, build a bridge across said river and get over it.

If you decide you do not like the way I am driving then by all means let me know. I will cheerfully offer to let you drive if you are any good at it. If you don't want to drive and continue to complain about my driving  then you can hitch-hike home. It is a simple process. You stand on the side of the road and stick out your thumb. Eventually someone will stop and give you a ride.

If you want to stand in the breakdown lane with your thumb out that's fine by me. Please stay in the breakdown lane where it's safe, though. If I decide to stop and give you a ride I will. It depends on the mood I'm in.

Oh, and don't start in on public safety, either. Public safety laws, for the most part, have nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with taking money out of someone's pocket. About the only thing the government has done for pubic safety in recent years is go after drunk drivers, who actually DO endanger other people.

On the other hand it looks like a lot of that is revenue generation, too. I fail to see how some guy sleeping it off in a parking lot outside a tavern is endangering the public, yet in places that is considered to be drunk driving.

While we're at it, how about the smoking in restaurants and bars issue?  Everyone that lobbied the government to step in on that issue is a whiney little pussy that hates freedom. They were too busy being mean, petty and being stupid enough to let government steal another freedom.

Truth is, the smoking issue isn't the business of the government at all. It's the business of the owners that run these places. If a business owner wants to run it as either a smoking or a non-smoking business it is up to him and him alone. Government didn't put up one red cent for these business owners. They have no interest in the business and really don't care if it succeeds or fails. The owners financed it the businesses, not the government.

Ain't one of the people whining about a guy running a smoking or non-smoking bar or restaurant with a nickel's worth of interest in the success or failure of the business. Not a single nickel! The only thing they have is a whiney little mouth on them and the money in their pockets. What they ought to do is close their mouths and spend their money where they support the business owner.

People that don't like the way an owner runs it are certainly allowed to take their business anywhere they please. There's no shortage of entrepreneurs willing to look at the demands of the non-smoking public and open a place across the street catering to them.

Years ago businesses used to sport sings that said, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" which is how it was supposed to be.

I believe the signs started disappearing after the Civil RIght Act of '64. Some businesses discriminated on the basis of race and that was made illegal. Incidentally any business that does discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin won't get a nickel out of me. Still I don't think it should be illegal to do so. I don't imagine I would be too upset if a brothel or strip club doesn't want you to bring your wife and kids or sweetheart, though.

While we're on the subject, I often wonder what a government regulated whorehouse would look like. They'd likely have a wives waiting room and swings outside for the kids to play on while dear old dad is inside getting his ashes hauled by whichever government employed hooker is assigned to him.

A while ago I did a post on how the government couldn't run a whorehouse selling whiskey and turn a profit. Maybe a cartoonist somewhere will draw us a picture of an OSHA hooker. It would be a real hoot to see.

Freedom! What a concept! It works both ways!

The business owner get to run his business his way and the customer is free to shop there or somewhere else if he doesn't like it! Whoda thought such a thing? THAT'S the way it's SUPPOSED to work.

Stop whining and man up. Take responsibility for your own actions and step up to the plate and stop asking government to step in and do your job for you. Show a little character instead of bing a pouty-faced whining crybaby.

Then again, you might just be one of those people that hates freedom.

You might be one of those people that thinks that it is OK for the government to take the money I busted my ass to earn and give it to someone that is either too lazy or stupid to make their own money.

If you think the government should rob Bill Gates of the money he earned because 'nobody needs that much money" I would like to know why you hate freedom. 

You might think that it is OK for the government to tell me that I have to have government mandated  health insurance or contribute to the Ponzi scheme called Social Security when I'd rather find my own insurance of finance my own retirement, free and clear of government infringement.

You may be one of those people that think I don't have the right to own firearms to protect myself and my community because you are scared of them because you haven't taken an afternoon out to learn how to safely use one.

You may be one of those people that wants me to "Do it for the children' because you are too lazy to keep an eye on your kids and want Big Brother to take care of them for you. (Screw the children. If you can't raise them responsibly, don't have any.)

If you are one of those people I want to ask you why you hate freedom. Is is because the responsibility of taking care of yourself it too much to ask? I'd like to know.

If you are one of those people that wants government policy to be dictated by religious leaders, then I'd like to know why you hate freedom.

Why do so many people hate freedom?



To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Friday, November 21, 2014

A young man. He's twelve.



While I was out of town a while ago I hired one of the neighborhood youngsters to feed and otherwise entertain the family cat. We agreed on a price and resposibilities. He'd come over, feed the little guy and spend about an hour a day with him giving him needed stimulation. Cats need daily stimulation or it effects their mental health.

After that he simply became a regular. I leave town,  he takes over if Mrs Pic has to leave the area.

Reports from another neighbor told me that in addition to this he had been changing lights around and leaving the TV on from time to time to give the house an occupied look. He started doing that pretty much on his own. He also (and this is a paid extra) keeps the driveway shoveled and digs a path to the front door. Actually the driveway is a pretty big so he clears a pretty good sized landing zone big enough for both cars.

I got him to start shoveling snow a couple of years ago to take a burden off of Mrs. Pic. 

Neighbors report that he has actually checked the weather the night before and gotten up before school to do some of the shoveling. That's pretty motivated if you ask me. Mrs Pic is pretty grateful for the shoveling as neither of us are kids anymore.

Anyway, something happened recently when I was out of town that let me know that I didn't hire a boy. I had simply hired a young man.

He noticed something just didn't seem right about the kitty and immediately called his father who authorized him to call a relative that is a semi-retired vet. Then he had his dad call me and see if it was OK to have his relative drop by and take a look at the little guy. Of course, I agreed and the vet came by and the verdict is that everything is going to be OK with Kitty.

This youngster really isn't a boy as far as I can see, he's a young man. He acted like one and therefore he is. He did what a man is supposed to do in discharging his manly (or womanly if she's a she) duties. He saw something wrong and stepped up to the plate and took direct action. He didn't stand there wondering what to do, he called for help. This is to be expected as he isn't a vetenarian.

He notified his dad and then called his relative and asked for help. He stood up to the plate and actually did something. He's to be complimented for this. Too many people three or four times his age would have either not have even noticed, shined it on or simply played another video game.

While there seems to be a shortage of men of any age these days it is really quite refreshing to see a person stepping to manhood at such an early age. He's, at twelve, a lot more of a man than a lot of people three or four times that age. I'm proud to have him as a neighbor.


To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Thursday, November 20, 2014

OK, Kilroy WAS here. We know where he WAS.

Where is Kilroy?

Everyone seems to know where he was, but where is he now?

Does anyone know?





To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's kind of hard getting old all at once. Take it from me. It just happened.




As you may/may not know I wrote the army for the return of my birthday which my First Sergeant took away from me as a hokey disciplinary action.

I just went from 22 years old all the way to 63 in a single second as the clock hit midnight a few days back. I was actually asleep when it happened. I went to bed 22 years old and woke up 63.



A couple weeks before my birthday I got an email from what later proved to be an army sergeant. He wanted my phone number and a time he could call me. Normally I would have ignored it but it came with a 'Happy non-birthday' comment and I figured it just HAD to be a GI.

Several hours after I sent the email back to him I got a call. Apparently the request I made to Army G-1 stirred up a kettle of worms. The form and attached statement got passed around and some understood it, and some didn't. The sergeant told me of one bird colonel that read it and looked confused.

"How could this guy possibly have children that are older than he is?" the confused colonel asked the sergeant as he read the attachment that I wrote that accompanied my form 4187.

The final disposition of my request was supposedly passed on to the JAG office, showing me what a litigous age we live in. The good sergeant opined it would die there. They don't like touching things like that wth a ten-foot pole.

When I told him that a few months after I had heard nothing from the S-1 shop I called my old outfit and got the First Sergeant to reinstate my birthday he howled gleefully and commented that most likely it is what I should have done in the first place. 

I'm grateful to a sergeant with a sense of humor that would make the effort to track me down and share humor with me. I very well may be risking his career.



Some of you people out there know what happened to me but some don't. I'll have to start at the beginning.

Back when I was a PFC I was walking by a Coke machine. It was big, bright red and said 'Have a Coke' on it in big white letters. I decided to cough up the princely sum of twenty-five cents and have a Coke. I reached into my pockets to fish out a quarter and heard a mousy pipsqueak voice start chewing me out for having my hands in my pockets. I turned to see who my tormentor was this time and found myself facing a 97 pound weakling straight out of a Charles Atlas comic book ad wearing the gold oak leaves of a major.

When I saw the leaves I popped to, saluted and said nothing but I suppose my face held the look of contempt and scorn. He ranted and raved a bit and demanded to see my ID card. I briefly thought of telling him I had lost it in a crap game but decided not to. I was hoping for the best here and decided not to fight it. He took my ID and wrote my name and asked my unit. I gave it to him and hoped for the best.

I did notice my brand new platoon leader in the distance watching the entire show and saying nothing. I prayed my BnXO would appear out of nowhere because he looked out for us. Had he shown up the BnXO would have heard my side of the story and probably offered to kick the hell out of the little dweeb major. I'd seen him offer to do it before. The BnXO was one hell of a soldier.

Instead after I got an earful and the major left my shiny new platoon leader, a second lieutenant straight out of West Point showed up and told me he had seen the entire thing and would stick up for me if I got hauled in to my First Sergeant.

A couple of hours later I was told to report to Top. When I did I saw the Lieutenant standing there and he proved good to his word.

"Don't bother telling me what happened," said Top. "The Lieutenant saw it all. What we are here to do is to figure out how to deal with it."

"Top, I could probably bring the major up on charges of conduct unbecoming," I said. "The Lieutenant is a credible witness and I'd bet we could make it stick."

Both of them looked sharply at me when I said that. The lieutenant looked uneasy.

"Let's not let it come to that," said Top, evenly. "I hope you're not serious. Besides if you did you'd have every officer in the Battalion gunning for you."

He turned to the Lieutenant. "Here's what we do. We punish this man appropriately and report that he has been appropriately punished and that will likely end it."

He turned to me. "When's your birthday?" he asked. I told him and he turned to the calendar, grabbed a bottle of White-Out and lifted the leaves until he came to my birthday and then he whited it out.

"Sir, I have taken away this man's birthday," he said."Do you have anything to add?"

"Yes, Top. How about some extra duty," said the Lieutenant. "Maybe make him empty your wastbasket and the BCs for good measure."

"So ordered, Sir," grinned the First Shirt. He turned to me. "This isn't a joke. It is nothing to run around laughing about. You will keep this under your hat and I meat it. I know what happened and it was wrong. In the future please try be a little more aware of your surroundings. Now beat it."

As I was clearing the door he called out to me and I returned to his desk.

"That school you requested and we need you to have came through. Haddad at the S-3 shop called. There's a hitch. You gotta be either a senior E-4 with a waiver or an E-5 to get in. We're making you a Sp/4 next week and immediately after that you will become an acting sergeant. We're hoping they won't notice."

I looked at Top wide eyed.

He continued. "You are not to pin on either until you report to that school and when you do you will enter the class wearing sergeant's stripes. Do not let us down."

"Thank you, Top." I said. "I won't."

I left and hung around outside and overheard Top tell the Lieutenant, "He's going to screw the S-3 shop. He's going to bust his ass to be first in his class and then when he does they'll see what Haddad did to get him in there when they check his record."

"Probably. Hey, Top. Is his loss of birthday a temporary or permanent thing," asked the Lieutenant. "I mean what's he going to do in forty or fifty years and he's still only in his twenties. How's he going to be able to apply for retirement if he's still only in his twenties?"

I heard Top snarf. He must have been drinking coffee. "You know something Lieutenant? I'm already beginning to like the way you think. The only difference I can see between the two of us is you have a West Point education. I think you're going to work out very well, Sir. Let's make it permanent."

They both laughed and the Lieutenant told Top he was flattered to hear that from the old soldier.

I took off at this point. I knew the Lieutenant was leaving and didn't want to get caught evesdropping.

When I got home I told my wife and she laughed. She offered to have two birthdays every year and give me one of them. I laughed but refused. Forty years later I was glad I did.


Forty some odd years later:

I met a Sergeant First Class in an airport. We were both waiting for the same flight and we started gabbing. He amused me with the things he has to deal with while running a platoon. Foolish privates and the like. Some things never change in the life on an NCO. You can still put two privates in a room with three bowling balls and orders to leave them alone and when you return you will find one missing, one snapped cllean in two and the third one pregnant.

I told him about the time my First Sergeant took away my birthday and he laughed. Then he suggested I submit paperwork and try and get it back. I thought about it and later posted that I wondered how to go about this on an internet forum I'm on all the time.

A GI sent me an IM, we swapped emails and he sent me the proper forms to fill out and I sent them into the Pentagon and waited. If I recall  correctly the GI that sent me the forms was a field grade officer with a pretty good sense of humor.

After a couple of months with no answer I suspected the Sp/4 mafia had pitched the forms so I decided to see what I could do with another route. I looked up my old outfit and found the First Sergeant's number and gave him a call.

I introduced myself by name and former rank and simply asked him if he could reinstate my birthday which was taken away from me back when I served in the outfit. 

"What? Someone took away your birthday?" he asked. "I'm confused"

So I proceeded to tell him about the major and the Coke machine and my platoon leader and so on as he listened laughing like hell. He said he had to put me on hold a minute and when he got back to me I realized I was likely now on speaker phone. By that time he had regained his composure although he truly did sound amused.

"What was your First Sergeant like back then?" He asked.

"Quite lacking in formal education but a man with immense native wisdom," I replied. "He was a Mississippi sharecroppers son and damned good NCO. He also had one attribute necessary for the times."

"What was that," asked the First Sergeant.

"He could beat the living dogsnot out of every single man in the battery," I answered and heard laughter in the background.

"So what makes you think I'm just going to give you your birthday back just like that?" He asked in an amused official sounding voice. When I heard that in that tone I knew my hands were going to be full. I was now back in the day and I knew how the game was played. I was going to have to fight like hell for what I wanted.

I was also aware that in this day and age First Sergeants are never addressed as 'Top' anymore but I figured it would be OK because most First Sergeants know it was common practice back in the day. They are generally aware that Old School First Shirts were pretty proud of that title. It originated as 'Top Sergeant', meaning senior NCO of a company sized unit. I could tell from this guy's voice he wouldn't object one single bit.

I knew he was a character and was enjoying himself.

"C'mon, Top, cut me a huss," I whined. It was a jab. we were feeling each other out.

"No!  Cut me a huss? You ARE a old soldier. I haven't heard that one since I was a PFC! I ought to quit right now." He laughed.

"You can't quit now! You're a first sergeant in the United States Army!" I shot back. "Besides I'm getting to the good part!"

He laughed. "You have a point there...now where were we?

"Awww Jeez, Top! You don't know what it's like having kids that are older than you!" I jabbed again. "How will I be able to collect Social Security? They won't give it to a 22 year old."

"No! It's your own fault! You shouldn't have put your hands in your pockets to begin with!" he parried.

"Awwww, pleeeeeease! Do it for my wife. She's a 62 year old woman married to a 22 year old man. She's tired of all my nieces and nephews calling her a cougar, Top. Do it for her!" I threw a decent one with that. "When he took away my birthday my wife offered to have two so I could have one but I didn't let her otherwise I'd now be a 22 year old guy married to a 102 year old woman and that would just plain be wrong! Please, Top!"

I could hear him put his hand over his mouth to laugh when I hit him with that one. I figured it was now time to switch from the begging and pleading to veiled threats. While most threats never seemed to work, there is one that generally gets their attention. They don't necessarily succumb to it but they kind of listen.

"Top,  I've had to hide this from my mother for over forty years. Is she ever found out I'm still only 22 years old there's no telling what she'd do. She'd likely come right over the the battery and there would be hell to pay," I said.

"Your mother doesn't know the United States Army," he countered.

"Top, the army doesn't know my 91 year old mother!" I shot back. 

"Hmmm. Good point," he said. "Birthday reinstated. Next time keep your hands out of your pockets!"

"Thanks, Top! You're a real pal!"

We both broke up laughing. 

"Why did you decide to call me?" he asked.

"I sent a form 4187 into S-1 in the pentagon and after a couple months they didn't answer," I said.

"You didn't!" he shot back, laughing.

"Yeah, Top, I did. Those chairwarming bastards didn't  answer so I decided to go on line and look up the old outfit. When I saw they took away the guns and turned you into a training outfit I figured a job as a First Sergeant in a unit full of kids needed a little help. I was hoping your'd enjoy this. Besides, when you want something done go straight to a senior NCO. That hasn't changed."

"You sure made my day... my week, actually." he said. "And I was lucky enough to get the old man and a couple of other NCOs to hear this. They wouldn't have believed it otherwise."

"Actually, Top, two things," I said. "I was in Headquarters battery and there isn't one here any more. I picked your battery after I did my homework."

"Homework?" he asked.

"Yeah. I called Battalion and asked around for a couple of Sp/4s and sergeants about which First Sergeant to ask and they to a man recommended you. They said you were the man for the job. They steered me clear of the Sergeant Major."

"Wow! I'm really flattered," he said. "I suppose they did you quite a service steering you clear of him. Hey, thanks for calling. It's been fun! How old are you, anyway?"

"Still only 22," I replied. "But on a couple of months I'll turn 63."

"Have a happy birthday. Glad I could have helped!"


To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Liveaboards.





I was a liveaboard on my sailboat in Alaska for about a year. It was great.

It was also a very interesting existence as it was technically illegal. I guess you could say it was illegal but overlooked. Truth is the city fathers outlawed it in a futile effort to drive people ashore and make them rent a place and pay hideously high rents. Like most laws they were designed to take away someone's money and put it in someone else's pocket.

I'd imagine the harbormaster went along with it because it simply gave him another tool to work with. He could selectively enforce the law to keep things running smoothly. He could give troublemakers the boot and overlook those that were helpful to maintaining good order.

For the most part, liveaboards were actually a good thing as they kept their eyes opened and would give the harbor cops a jingle if they saw anything suspicious. The harbormaster knew this and it made his job easier. It made sense for us to do this as running thieves off was in our best interests.

This tended to breed a certain kind of self-reliant individual.

I think I posted somewhere about how a group of us wanted a dog gate installed to keep animal messes off of the pier. When the city fathers balked at the measly $100 or so to install it we started putting bathroom tissue on fresh piles of doggie poo and instantly stories of a phantom crapper started running wild.

It took the harbormaster a couple of days to figure that one out and was coincidentally authorized overtime to solve the mystery. The overtime was greatly appreciated as the harbor cops had bills to pay just like everyone else.

When the harbor cops had enough overtime the mystery was solved and a dog door mysteriously appeared. One harbor cop actually unofficially thanked us for that one. He said they had wanted a dog gate for some time. 

I spent two brief periods living on board in Port townsend, Washington and was made privy to a couple of liveaboard things there. Some weekenders would leave their halyards unsecured and on windy nights the ting...ting...ting of the halyard slapping an aluminum mast was the Devil's Tattoo.

Someone got some bungee type materiel and a bnch of coat hangers and we made bungee cords and secured the halyards. Come the next weekend the weekenders showed up and all but one of them seemed to be pleasantly surprised and either used them or wrapped their halyards around the mast to silence them.

There's always one and he ranted and raved about being boarded and threw the bungee over the side. 

He went home Sunday around sundown and ten minutes after he left the wind picked up. An hour or so later it was dark. At that point someone boarded me and stuck their hand below and growled "Gimme you're damned cable cutter."

I did and a minute later I was treated to the clatter as a stainless steel halyard hit a fiberglass deck. Thirty seconds later an arm holding my cable cutter entered my hatch. I took the cutter and heard a voice say, "Let's listen to that for a while."

To this day I don't know who it was.

The following weekend I got to hear the jerk that owned the vandalized boat rant and rave. He said he reported it to the harbormaster and when he saw me he started asking questions. He picked me because I was the first one he saw. I suggested he call Honolulu and get in touch with the famous Chinese detective, Charlie Chan and have him come and solve this big mystery. That added to his anger and I simply laughed at his plight.

Fixing the halyard was going to cost him a few bucks and he wasn't happy about it. Nobody had any sympathy for him, though.

I later heard that when he reported it, the harbormaster asked the guy why he didn't simply be considerate and use the bungee cord that was given to him for free. Then he said he'd 'look into it'. I think the harbormaster asked his dog what happened and got no answer so he closed the 'investigation'.

Oh, yeah. One of the guys told me that I had stolen his materiel. He had planned on using the Charlie Chan line. Brilliant minds must think alike.

The other liveaboard thing I dealt with in PT was part of was the deal they cut with the Coast Guard.

The Coasties had a bad habit of throwing a pretty good sized wake when they left and jostling us all over hell. We approached them one day en-masse and told the officers we wanted to see the Chief. We wanted to get something done.

The compromise we made was that if it was anything but a rescue they would leave on a slow bell. If there was any type of a rescue they would let us know. Incidentally we all insisted that a rescue situation meant flank speed for the Coasties. We respected that part of their mission. Lives were at stake.

I spoke up. "Can you let us know somehow? Bells? Whistles? Something?"

"I can do that," said the Chief.

"What's it going to be?" asked somebody else.

He Chief gave us a big grin. "You'll know and it will be unmistakable," he said.

The Coasties came and went about their business in the harbor at a slow bell for the next few days. 

Then one night around 2300 as I was sacking out I was brought straight upright as I heard the opening notes of the William Tell Overture blasting away. In a second I knew it was from the Coast Guard boat's PA sytem and immediately I knew what it meant. I braced myself for the wake I knew was coming as the huge boat cranked up and left its moorings at flank speed.

(Old guys know this particular piece of music as the Lone Ranger theme song)

The next day I heard from a couple of amused people that they figured the Chief would pull something like that. None of us had any problem with it and a few of us wandered by and told the Coasties that we were grateful for the warning. Almost everyone thought it was the perfect piece of music to serve as a warning to stand by because the United States Coast Guard was going To The Rescue. 

Later in Kodiak a couple with a kid moved into a ramshackle houseboat and let the kid run free on the docks. He went over the side a couple of times and I had to go into the water to fish the little yard ape out. The first time I verbally blistered the father's ass. The second time he was treated to a shot in the solar plexus. He reported that one to a harbor cop.

The cop asked me my side of the story and when he heard it, replied "Nobody said anything about THAT $hit!" Then he suggested we both go up onto Near Island and settle our differences like men.

The father refused, having already taken one to the gut earlier that day. He figured I'd rearrange his face. As mad as I was with the irresponsible jerk I sure would have. To this day I can not see how parents could let a clumsy little kid like that run around on a dock.

Inside 24 hours the couple and kid were ashore. Selective law enforcement in action. 

They griped to the city fathers who told the harbormaster to do something. He told the cop to take care of it and the cop chased me down and told me I was a bad boy. I suppose that would have ended it if I hadn't pouted. When I pouted he told me that I couldn't pout for sour apples and I'd best give him a better pouty face than that. I did, he said it was more like it and the incident ended there. He was a character that knew his job and knew people.

A few weeks later a couple of the guys caught someone trying to steal electronics from a pleasure boat. They didn't know who owned the boat because if they had they likely would have ignored it. I knew who owned the boat and had I seen the guy I would likely have helped him. The owner was a jerk and a city big shot.

The guys simply beat the hell out of him, threw him off the float and took the electronics and piled them up inside the guys cabin. The thief hauled himself out of the water and fled while the guys returned his stuff. The next day we tipped off the harbor guys because we saw trouble brewing over that one.

Sure enough, a few days later the owner came by his boat and saw his electronics on his galley table and went straight to the harbor patrol accusing us of vandalizing his boat. He didn't get far. It was quickly pointed out to him that he owed the fact that he even had electronics at all was because of the 'E float irregulars' as he dubbed us. He told him he ought to buy us a case of beer!

One of the harbor guys had seen my boat and the way I had done her up and recommended me as the guy to re install his gear. He actually hired me and I re installed his VHF, LORAN, and part of his depth sounder. He was so impressed he had me do a lot of rewiring for him. Every connection was crimped, soldered and taped.   

The harbor cops were given an awful lot of latitude and overlooked a lot, really. There was a tacit agreement with the city police that they didn't enter the harbor without permission of the harbor patrol unless it was something really horrible that required immediate attention. 

A few years earlier before I became a liveaboard a couple of go-getter hot dog cops tried to board a fish boat looking for drugs. The skipper saw it coming and flipped the lines off making the boat legally underway. The cops boarded and were promptly thrown over the far side. When the smoke cleared in court a few days later the cops were found to be out of their juristiction as the boat was legally underway. Actually the thing ended in courtroom. The judge threw it out. The judge said it was a federal matter and the court didn't have the jurisdiction to try the case. 

I heard they had to hire a diver to find their guns and duty belts which they dumped to stay afloat. After that the local cops stayed pretty clear of the docks. They left things to the harbor patrol.

One funny thing happened to me personally, though.

There was a certain city cop that was a pain in the ass and a real go-getter. Most of his fellow cops hated him.

One cold night I left the Anchor Bar and took a pretty good hit when I slipped on some ice. I had not been drinking as I was in there doing some kind of business, but I was pretty sore. I limped and the hot dog cop saw me and I guess he figured I was pretty tanked. I saw him and figured out what was going on so I staggered my way back to the boat which was in nearby St. Paul's harbor.

The engine was out of it getting repaired and I hoisted the sails and started making way for Dog Bay, across the channel. The hot dog decided that he was going to try and tag me for a DUI and went over to the Harbor Patrol and asked to be taken to Dog Bay. The harbor patrolman had no real choice and took him there post haste beating me to my slip.

I sailed into the slip pretty as pie and tied her up and was approached by the pair of them. The policeman started questioning me and the harbor cop interrupted him and told him my sailboat wasn't a motor vehicle as the engine was sitting on the dock.

The cop turned beet red when he realized he had nothing and the pair of them left. After the harbor patrolman dropped the cop off he returned to me and noticed I was stone cold sober and asked me what that was all about. I told him and he grinned and shook his head. I guess he didn't like that particular cop, either. Truth is almost nobody on the harbor patrol or the police force could stand him.  

I believe the DUI laws have been changed to include sailboats now, but even so I was sober as a judge that night.

Another thing that often happened is the liveaboards were pretty generous with any freebies they found. I was constantly having people over for dinner and being invited over to dinner on someone's boat. Generally it wasn't anything fancy but there was usually a lot of it and it was good. Very little of it came from the supermarket. Generally it was fish, duck or venison. It was considered good manners to bring beer if you were flush but OK not to if you were broke.

We all were highly trained scroungers, recyclers and qualified dumpster divers and generally looked out for each other. Generally someone would check in at the Anchor Bar every day and report the goings on there. Every so often there was a free party and we were part of it. 

They kept a typewriter in the corner of the bar for people to use. It was originally put by somebody that said we could use it to write a pornographic novel on and sell to an outfit in California and use the proceeds to party with. Every so often someone would chip away at it and I believe they did get a few bucks for the trash people wrote. 

I used that typewriter to battle with Fish and Game all winter trying to get a permit to fish mermaids. Alaska bureaucracy at the time had a pretty good sense of humor. I sent in a prospectus and was told they were an endangered species. I asked why they were not on the list and a battle of wits ensued for several months. About every eight or ten days I'd get an answer and I'd go straight to the typewriter and fire one back. It kept a lot of people interested and entertained. I ought to write about that some time. 

Often I would find useful things in my cockpit when I came back to the boat after being ashore. Several times I found freshly killed and gutted ducks. One of the guys was a wing shooter and was generous. The ducks tasted a little fishy but were pretty good after you got used to it.

I remember finding a humongous pile of torn up halibut gear in a dumpster and unceremoniously dumping on someone's deck because I figured he could use it. He came home pleasantly surprised and a couple days later I found a mostly full quart can of varnish in my cockpit as a thank you. It took him days to untangle the gear but time we seemed to have although money was short. 

The day after I gave him the tangled up ball of gear he bought a six-pack and I spent the afternoon helping him untangle it and making sure he didn't drink the whole thing and get tanked. It gave me something to do. A few days later he helped me strip a couple wooden combings and we took them to Tony's Bar where I hid them in the back room for a day or so to warm it up and then re varnished them. It took a few days as I put several coats on it. When they dried I took the combings back in and re installed them.

There was one liveaboard that was a little slow and we all looked out after him. His boat was an open skiff and he slept under a tarp. That got fixed in short order. We scraped up some plywood somewhere and decked part of it in for him and that kept him dry. Someone else loaned him a heater of some sort and he managed until he sneaked off hunting one day and wound up getting eaten by a bear.

The truth is that one by one guys dropped out of wintering on board. A couple had a messy breakup I won't get into here. Later on that winter their boat got mysteriously got stolen. A few days later he left town for Seldovia and was last seen arriving there. About two or three years later a post card caught up to me from him with a Solomon Islands post mark on it. Let's leave it at that.

We had a suicide unrelated to being a liveaboard. A couple guys found convenient wintertime girlfriends and went ashore to stay with them. Another guy got sick and wound up at the Mayo Clinic. 

Come early April there were two of us that had wintered successfully and some of the other guys slowly trickled back in. For me it had been a great winter, but for some it had been rough. There were two of us left and the truth is we had fared better as liveaboards than we would have ashore. It was in our nature to live that way, I guess.

Actually it was in April I was mentally overwhelmed when I saw I was one of two guys left on the float. I got a little over emotional and went on a brief crying jag. The harbor cop I knew well saw me and simply went on board my boat and emerged with my Camels, Zippo and a glass of brandy and sat me down and heard me out. You don't find good cops like that anymore. He was a rare one for the times, too when you think about it. I doubt any cops today would hand an upset person a drink. Maybe a smoke and a shoulder to cry on, though.

I would imagine today they would have carted me off for observation of some sort when all I needed was to calm down and vent.

The truth be known, he was an interesting man. He respected us, liked us and treated us like friends which in a way we were. He neither drank nor smoked but didn't look down on those of us who did. He accepted us for what we were, a group of odd ducks with adventuresome souls. He kept us posted and let us know when trouble was brewing. In return we did what we could to make his job easier. He had never married and sometimes I think he regarded us as the sons he never had. 

I his giving me a place to vent that time was a generous payback after the suicide a couple months earlier. Both of us were entering the greasy spoon for his memorial service and neither of us could bring ourselves to go in. Instead we stayed outside telling each other stories about the screwed up things the deceased had done until we were both laughing ourselves sore.  

It didn't bring him back, but it sort of made his loss bearable. The suicide was a well loved part of the gang.

Incidentally when I heard his father was coming to bring his son's body back I spent hours cleaning his brains off of the coachroof and squaring away his boat. The city cops were pissed off I had altered a crime scene but this particular harbor cop stepped in and reminded them that basic decency prohibited letting a father walk in on such a terrible thing. I later heard the harbormaster himself intervened on my behalf in that one.

I also met his father at the airport and helped him out for a couple days.

Another thing happened to the two of us that lasted all winter. We were quietly given keys to the shower next to the harbormaster's building. We could use the shower there that had been closed for years because some of the fishermen left the place in terrible shape and ruined it for everyone else.

The other guy and myself went in there and fixed things up and scrubbed the place down from top to bottom. We kept it clean and as a result we were allowed to use it. Nobody else was, though, except on very rare occasions. I think one or two of the harbor cops didn't have running water in the winter and cleaned up there. That would be my guess. At three bucks a shower in the laundromat or having to go to someone's house it saved us either money, gas or goodwill with our shoreside dwelling friends.

Several of us had a codes with the harbormaster's office in case we wanted to report something on the marine VHF and not have anyone else know what was going on. I'd ask the person on duty to loan me $20 the next time I saw them  and in minutes there would be a harbor patrolman showing up. I only used that once when someone coked up, drunk and out of his mind started looking to start trouble one night. They arrived and carted him off in a matter of seconds. He was being a danger to himself and everyone else.

Still, it was a pretty discrete way to call the harbor patrol. Incidentally the following day after I called them I got a thank you from the harbormaster himself. 

I suppose that being a liveaboard in other places is a whole lot different but that's what it was like for me for the time I lived aboard. One thing remains pretty solid, though. You get out of something what you put into it. I was generous with my time and effort and got it back in spades.



To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Monday, November 17, 2014

The other day a group of scientists landed a spacecraft on a comet somewhere.



It's a pretty good feat, really. It's likely akin to hitting the window of a 747 with a slingshot from Georgia when the plane is over Reno somewhere doing 617.8 knots indicated air speed. I'd have loved to see the science behind it.

Guys that do stuff like that are for the most part eggheads. They generally have to be because they have to have so much focus. Our early space program guys smoked while they worked and I heard once that at the heyday of the Skunk Works and NASA they actually had a guy assigned to empty ash trays and pick up after the engineers that were engrossed in their projects. 

I do know that the astronauts themselves were hauled in and sent through a charm school of sorts and taught to dress in public. It probably wasn't necessary because they were military officers. I also heard that to a lesser degree the engineers were taught the same. 

Guys like that are often pretty unaware of a lot of things. They are too focused on what they are doing to bother worrying if their shoes are on the right feet. Interviews with Dr. Taylor's family say that he has a hard time parking his car. In short, they are odd ducks.

So one of the guys that was interviewed recently showed up in a kind of bowling/Hawaiian shirt a woman made for him that had a bunch of pretty sexy women printed on it. They were not nudes or indecent, just fairly sexy women.

Of course, some braided armpitted hairy-legged sandal wearing feminist types are outraged.

As usual, the Social Justice Warriors came charging in and ruined it for some guy that accomplished quite a feat. Truth is I don't think there are very many SJWs out there capable of even beginning to understand the math and physics that went onto such a spectacular feat. Most of them are generally good for nothing but running off at the mouth or keyboard. Those with degrees are generally liberal arts types. Few if any have a science, technology, engineering or math background. If they did they would be either involved in the program or watching in awe and not bothering to notice the shirt some engineer was wearing. 

The SJWs contribute nothing to the project at hand and only serve to get in the way. Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. They chose to get IN the way. They have contributed exactly nothing to getting a space vehicle on a speeding comet. Not one thing. All they have done is to spoil the victory over some stupid little non-issue like what a preoccupied, eccentric scientist wore.

Where were the SJWs at 0300 when this guy, likely oblivious to time, was sitting at his computer running through programs that kept the thing on track? Where were the SJWs when he was craving a caffeine fix?

Ain't ONE of them that would have had the decency to buy him a Coke, a cup of coffee or simply empty his wastebasket which was likely overflowing. Where were they?

Likely they were in bed, sacking out and having nice dreams about how they are going to change the world into a place full of rainbows and unicorns. Surely they were not leading. Lord knows they were not following. They were in the rack dreaming up ways to get in the way of things and cheat a good man out of his hard earned success with a First Class cheap shot.

I was at an air show a few years back and some braided armpit feminazi started griping about the mildly cheesecake nose art on a WW2 airplane. I was feeling fiesty. I told her that when she got into one of those and flew 25 missions over Schweinfurt sitting in the nose with her head in a Nordon bombsight oblivious to the flak and fighters trying to kill her then she could gripe about the nose art. 

Then I looked at the tour guide and said, "Ever notice the women that gripe about pinups and nose art are the ones you wouldn't want to bother screwing, anyway?"

The well dressed woman behind me was drinking lemonade. She snarfed. She recovered and looked at the tour guide. "He's right on both counts," she laughed. "Probably the guys liked seeing a picture of their dream girl when they were so far away from home." 

She knew why those planes flew over Europe and Japan. It wasn't to seed clouds for rainbows or deliver unicorn food, either. Most likely the feminazi had no clue or she would have kept her mouth shut. It likely never occurred to her that a lot of damned good men died flying those planes in combat missions.

I suppose the solution for this is probably something similar to what they did in the Skunk Works back in the day. They should likely hire someone to get the preoccupied scientists to change into something that won't upset the poor little SJWs.

I guess the SJWs claim that things like this keep women out of the scientific fields but I really don't think so. The truth is that true competence breeds a confidence that doesn't have to hide behind feminism. Truly competent women generally have better things to worry about than some guy wearing a somewhat cheesy shirt. For one thing they have their job to do and are too busy doing it to bother with something so trivial.

Then again I have a different view on woman's politics because I knew a couple of women that fished commercially up in Alaska. I'm not talking someone working for someone else. I'm talking boat owner/skippers. These woman were competent.

They had to be competent because there was nobody to blame but themselves if they had a bad season and couldn't pay their bills. There were no set-asides for women, no special rights, nothing. It was all about catching fish.They entered a business as equals, were generally treated as equals and when they acted as equals they were respected as equals.

The odd times they stepped aboard a guy's boat they were there for business. They didn't look around for things to be offended about. I do remember one woman seeing a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model picture somewhere and dryly commenting that she wished she looked that good. She was known for having a sharp, dry, self-effacing wit.

(The skipper was a gentleman and told her she did look that good and they had a chuckle about it)

Still, she was a respected part of the fishing community.

Incidentally, this wasn't the kiss my ass because I'm someone (Black, female, gay, whatever) phoney crap that people mistake as respect. We're talking the real kind of respect that is only earned by standing up to the plate and taking responsibility and making no excuses for failure and taking one's victories with no excessive fanfare.

The again, maybe the scientists shouldn't hire someone to make sure the scientists dress politically correct. They should simply do what I am doing here and let everyone know where they can get the shirt so people can show support for the scientists that managed to land the machine on the comet. I'm going to wear mine with a pin that says "I'm Matt Taylor", ala Spartacus.

http://www.alohaland.com/whats-new/new-gunner-girls

http://www.alohaland.com/whats-new/new-gunner-girls

I'm getting one as soon as production catches up. I guess some alike minded people have thought the same thing and beat me to it.




To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY