Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I am slowly learning.



I have been out of town and in a situation with time to use on my hands. I have sat down with the Koch system downloaded onto my laptop and am trying to learn code.

It is pretty slow going but it does a pretty good job of passing time. 

I have been told that people with a musical ear tend to learn it faster than those of us like me that can't carry a tune in a bucket.

I also don't have an affinity for learning languages, either so this is just going to have to be a slug fest. It really isn't coming easy like a lot of other things do for me.

My goal is to be able to decode 25 words per minute by ear and I think I am on the right path.

I have the program running the characters themselves at 25 wpm and the spacing between them set at about 5 wpm.

The plan is to get up to about 99% recognition and up the speed in spacing and work my way up. It's just going to take time and listening, listening and more listening.

I can already send fairly well, most likely around 10 wpm with good accuracy. I do believe the trick to sending and receiving code is to attain accuracy first and then increase speed as time goes on.

Anyway, I'm working on it and will likely will find a little more time to work on it and reach my goal. All learning to read code takes is practice.

Back in the day the army used to send kids to what was then called radio operator's school. I was told by someone that their dad went through it in the sixties and it was a twelve week course. Most likely one week of it was spent learning to use the various radios and the rest of it was spent learning code.

The guy's dad told him that after he graduated the army switched to single side band (voice) field communications and he never did use the code and like a lot of people, promptly forgot it.

Speaking of army schools and schools in general, it's too bad I couldn't just find about 8 weeks and immerse myself in code and learn it like the GIs did in radio operator's school.

In my quest for 200 DX entities I am at a plateau of sorts now with 185 confirmed. A few of the other guys I know that are DXers like me have said that if I want to keep going I'll likely have to either start using digital communications or learn and use code.

What is interesting to note is that there is a resurgence in the use of code. The use of it it is on the rise.

A few years ago the FCC dropped having a working knowledge of code as a requirement to getting an amateur radio operator's license. The requirement for the class of license I now hold was 20 wpm.

It should be noted that many of the recent operators out there, myself included, would not have gotten licensed if the code requirement was still in effect.

Yet there we are now trying to learn it.

Go figure....

Code is a perishable skill. What is interesting in amateur radio is that the very few old hams that sit around griping about the 'no code Extras' that haven't stayed in practice are generally either code illiterate or code semi-illiterate.

One of my first messages I sent out was to one of these chronic complainers. The message was: "Just another no code extra ruining the hobby." He claimed it was unreadable but the other guys said they read it just fine.

Enter this in the For What It's Worth department. There are a number of keyers out there for radio telegraphy. There are paddles and jitterbugs and what have you. Most modern ham rigs are set up for keyers and can be adjusted to make it fairly easy for a ham to send near perfect code.

Moving on to the 'As Usual, Piccolo Will Do Anything to be Different and Difficult Department', I am learning to send on an Old School straight key. It is actually a very heavy Chinese Army key from the Korea/early Vietnam era. And of course, my theory is that you start with basics and work up from there. Same as shooting. You learn with iron sights.




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Monday, April 20, 2015

I have seen part of a news story

 about how some guy calculated the monetary value of a stay at home wife.  The figure of $75K just popped up on the screen and I guess we can run with that for sake of argument.

Sounds a little low to me. 

Truth is that it is pretty damned hard to put a financial value on such a thing. It's neigh impossible to put a price tag on well-mannered disciplined kids. In this day and age they are simply priceless.

Much of the work mothers do at home is really simple minimum wage hotel/motel maid stuff. The cleaning and cooking doesn't take a rocket scientist to do that kind of work. Still, the overtime is pretty overwhelming as it is pretty much a 24/7 job.

While coming home to a nice home is a treat for the wage earner. I suppose at one time it was the guy that was the main breadwnner but that has changed now. An increasing number of men are now stay at home dads.  

Still, for the most part these days staying at home seems to be mom's job.

There's a lot more to things than cooking and cleaning. There's tending to children. While it gets eeasier in some ways as a child leaves infancy it gets harder in other ways as a kid starts growing up. That's where I think a stay at home parent starts to be put to task.

This is where things get a little challenging. Mom has to become a number of things besides a maid and diaper changer. About the time they are toilet trained they have to be watched like a hawk and mothers have to be able to do their household chores and watch the kid(s) at the same time. 

They also have to become nurses and counselors at the same time as spills and accidents are inevitible. Nurses and counselors make good money. I suppose you could add that to the pot.

It strikes me that in order to calculate the value of a stay at home parent one would have to hire a full-time CPA and even he doesn't have a chance in hell of calculating the true value of a stay at home parent because there are a lot of intangibles involved that nobody can really put a price on.

The guy that tried calculating his stay at home wife's value was likely trying to give her a positive stroke and give he some kind of value to look at as a sign of appreciation. Still, I think he missed the boat.

The value of a stay at home mom can range from peanuts to incalculable depending on how serious she takes his or her job and does it.

Good stay at home parents are priceless.




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Sunday, April 19, 2015

At work I deal with a myriad

 of different people and the other day I was listening to a small town guy in his early twenties. He was talking about some bar fight that he was in a few weeks ago. Apparently he thinks if is some kind of sport to go out and get tanked up and fight someone  behind the tavern.

I imagine it's some kind of Har-De-Har Har Chuckleheaded Yuk Yuk Yuk roadhouse out in some inbred hillbilly county where most of the residents have family trees that resemble flagpoles.

The point is that I simply don't get it. Years ago Petersburg, Alaska was like that. There were a lot of people there that liked to fight and it made no sense to me.

I got caught up in a brawl in Petersburg once. It was a scary experience. My traveling partner of saved my ass in that one. He wasn't much of a boxer or brawler as his training had been to disable, cripple or even kill his opponent as quickly as possible. He was also a bull.

It was and remains the only time I have ever seen a human being pick up another human and throw him at a third. He severely injured a couple of people in an instant and we fled immediately. 

The reason we fled was that my partner, a very likable smiling and happy guy that was usually followed everywhere by kids and dogs was likely to not like getting roughly handled by the Petersburg authorities. 

While he was the kindest and one of the gentlest people I have ever met that would shine on any slight, you didn't do anything physical to him. A tactful policeman could hand him the cuffs and he'd likely cuff himself and go along with the officer to jail with not so much as a complaint.

On the other hand, if a poorly trained small town cop that was used to dealing with Bubbas and Jimbos tried to handle him roughly he'd likely find himself thrown through a closed door. Better to leave town most riki-tik than wind up where massive violence was likely to erupt.

The other reason we fled is because in a lot of small towns being right has nothing to do with anything. You have wounded a local and the town wants you to pay. It matters little who started it or that it was a clear cut case of self-defense. Some shiftless drifter type put poor ol Jimbo in the hospital and must pay. Sure ol Jimbo started it and tried to cripple someone but he really didn't mean nothin' by it. Why, that Jimbo, he a good old boy!

Actually this business of making excuses for someone's illegal behavior isn't limited to small towns. You hear it in cities all the time, often after someone gets shot while commiting a crime. One of the common lines heard is something like, "But little Jimmy was coming around!"

Yeah, right. If he was coming around, then why was he robbing a liquor store.

Generally one heard this after poor, innocent little Jimmy got shot in a shoot out after he robbed a liquor store and killed the clerk in the process of the stickup.

I don't consider fighting like that to be a sport or anything I want any part of. First of all, it's dangerous. People gripe about the dangers of guns but fail to realize that more killings are attributed to fists than guns.

There's nothing manly about it and it is just plain stupid. I want nothing to do with it whatsoever. I don't consider it a sport and starting one is nothing less than a case of assault.

The truth is that starting one is an invitation to whatever happens to you. I had a friend in Kodiak that used to occasionally box behind the bar every once in a while and I will admit that it was fine by me. Both were in agreement. It was straight boxing and if they wanted to then it was no concern of anyone else's.

On the other hand, starting a fight with someone that doesn't want to be involved is a horse of a different color. It is nothing less than a criminal assault and should be dealt with as such. It is no joke.

This is a case where boys WON'T be boys. It is serious business and should be treated that way. Anyone that starts something and winds up in the hospital or the morgue gets exactly what they deserve. I couldn't care less.

The small handful of scuffles I have been in during my life, none of which I have started, were pretty ugly events. The most recent was back when I defended Tokie, a cat I used to serve, from a tormentor.

I told him that if he wanted to torment my cat he would have to get through me first. He decided to assalt me.

I cheated. I used one of the weapons I had at hand and disabled my opponent as fast as I could with no regard whatsoever for his safety and total regard for mine. It was a very serious affair. Short, sharp and ugly.

I simply blinded my assailant and tagged him with a roll of quarters in my fist and left him on the ground stunned temporarily blind and broken. It really wasn't very difficult. He was just a big, stupid kid. I guess he found out how fragile the human body really is. I took no joy in it as such but do remember the wild, cruel joy of relief for coming out unscathed.

I was about fifty at the time and that was a borderline situation legally. The kid was about seventeen and most likely had I stuck around and been arrested it likely would have gone on trial. They would have put the kid in a nice Buster Brown suit and made him look like the All-American boy and I may have played hell winning in court. I very well may have lost.

It took several shots of brandy to quell the after-action shakes on that one and I had to have someone else drive me home.

The kid must be in his early thirties now and hopefully wiser from his experience. At least I hope so. He got what he deserved at the time and I bear no ill will toward him now.

My state has a disparity in force law which means I was legally limited in the amount of force I could use in defense. I was actually carrying a pistol at the time. I elected not to use it because of the disparity of force laws. I'm glad I didn't shoot the little whelp in the leg.

However, fifteen years later I probably wouldn't opted for that route. I'm too old and tired to play that game.  

As I write this I have to give myself some serious credit for discipline. It would have been a whole lot easier just to pull an Indiana Jones vs. the swordsman and drop the little thug. I certainly had the means and what I would consider a valid reason.

Then again, what I consider a valid reason doesn't mean a whole  lot. A jury of my peers might think otherwise and hand me the Go to jail Monopoly card.

In the earlier part of the 20th century an awful lot of men carried pocket pistols. It is often referred to as the era of good manners. Shootings were not commonplace and of the shootings that did take place they were judged on the merits of simple self-defense. Self-defense was a simple right and was treated as such. 

Most of these self-defense shootings never saw a court room. The assailant started it, the victim defended himself and finished it and that was simply that. It makes sense when you think about it. Back then justice was more clear cut. People worried about the victims and their rights instead of the rights of the criminal.

I guess it was generally accepted that the criminal lost his rights when he committed the crime. Fair enough.

I'm in my sixties now and certainly in no shape to go a few rounds with some young thug. I have changed my lifestyle accordingly and the list of places I won't go for safety reasons has grown. I rarely go where alcohol is served for example. I'm a lot more careful not and less inclined to say much of anything or do anything that might start something.

One of my codes in life is to try to do no unnecessary harm and I hope I can make it stay that way until the end.



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Saturday, April 18, 2015

One of the things I noticed while commercial fishing is how much fish boats cost to run.

They ain't cheap.

Now you have to remember that this was back in 80s and in the era of cheap diesel fuel.

I knew of one exceptionally generous owner of a limit seiner that paid each of his three guys a sixth of the gross. He was exceptionally generous and I suppose he could afford to as his boat had been paid off for years.

I worked on a 98 foot boat and was paid 10% of the gross less 10% of the fuel, 10% of the bait and 20% of the groceries and this was deemed fair. The skipper ran with himself and 4 others. He was personally paid a share as there was an unseen partner in the boat with him. 

The Occupy Wall Street set was around back then under a different name but the game was the same. Most of these kids were college students that were Humanities majors or some other kind of liberal arts majors. I knew this because they couldn't count.

They griped because the boat took the lion's share of the money they got for the fish they caught. Yet not one of them had anything invested in the boat at all. Their entire investment in the industry was a $25 commercial fisherman's license. I listened to one kid gripe because the skipper wouldn't let him fish without one.

A lot of people never seem to understand that even back then a guy would spend a million bucks on a boat and tie up another million bucks in gear. That's a lot of money today and it was certainly a lot more money then.

This money had to be paid back. The banks didn't have nor do they now have a sense of humor abut having loans repaid.

I remember one college kid saying that after the boat made expenses the profit it made ought to be split up by the crew.  I suggested that would be OK if perhaps if the boat didn't meet expenses that maybe the crew shares be cut accordingly. He didn't like that very much and the skipper overheard it and after that he thought I was pretty cool for speaking up.

I do remember a couple of kids putting themselves through college by fishing and the two I'll mention were engineering types. They had to take math courses therefore they could count. They were an interesting pair.

Unlike a lot of their humanities counterparts that never seemed to last on fish boats, they worked hard and did well. They both graduated debt free and after they were offered jobs right out of school. They told their future employers they would start in late September as opposed to right out of school.

They wanted to fish one more season before they went into their respective fields. It was a clever move because it enabled the pair of them to put pretty good down payments on modest houses and get off to a running start.

Straight out of college debt free, starting a new career and having a new starter home to live in doesn't sound like a bad deal.

I didn't know what percentage these guys were paid although it supposedly wasn't as high as some skippers paid. Then again, a lot of people often got worked up over percentages when they should have been looking at the boatowners history of dollar amount shares.

People would often jump on a guy that paid a percentage or two higher and forgot the basic rule of fishing percentages. 

Twenty percent of nothin' is nothin'.

Not all humanities majors did poorly, of course. Still there were a lot of college kids that didn't get it. They didn't seem to understand the nature of the beast.

Some of them seemed to go through their lives bitching about how the man was screwing them and how they deserved more. They had a hard time understanding that they had not been given an hourly job but an opportunity to make money based on performance. 

If you caught a lot of fish, you made a lot of money. If you didn't catch a lot of fish you didn't make a lot of money. It was as simple as that.

Of course, when these guys came in after a bad trip they didn't think it was fair. What was interesting is that the two engineering students once told me that they didn't make a whole lot on every trip and even came back in broke a couple times. Yet if they stayed at it there would be a few real good hauls that more than made up for it. The trick was to find a good skipper and stick with him for the whole season.

Imagine what it was like back in the late 70s and early 80s to go back to school with $25 or 30K in your pocket! I've seen guys do it. They lived like kings!

Needless to say the two engineering types didn't gripe about anything. They were happy as hell to have what they had and knew they had a good deal.

Most of the gripers never seemed to have the required stick to it nature required to do well in any field.

It would be interesting to see how successful the average OWS person is. My guess is that they are not very successful and a lot of their attitude is one of sour grapes.



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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Springfield match at Camp Perry.



A few years back I shot the Springfield match and also what I consider to be the best string I ever fired. While maybe not my highest score, it was my best moment as a shooter. It was a real train crash as a Marine NCO later put it. I came out of it smelling like a rose.

I was on the firing line, loaded, slinged up and ready to go. The bolt was back and as the order was given to commence firing the lens of my shooting glasses fell out!

I had checked them countless times and now it fell apart on me! I bent over, snagged it and popped it back in. My scorer was putting his sticker on my scorecard to record that he was my scorer. I reached down, took his sticker and used it to tape my lens in. Then I hit the dirt, got into position, slammed the bolt home and started sending rounds downrange.

I was playing catchup and I knew it. I can also count and know that a 5 is better then a held round. There are no refires on this course of fire.

Like Sergeant York, I put the front sight on the sweet spot of the target and snapped it off. As soon as the rifle settled down I worked the bolt, put the tip of the front sight on the target and as soon as it got aligned I snapped anothe shot off. I repeated this three more times.

 My the end of my first five rounds I had caught up! I relaxed slightly as I reloaded my next five rounds only to have my well waxed and inspected stripper clip fall apart on me! My rounds were on the mat!

I picked them up as fast as I could and stuffed them into the magazine, slammed the bolt home and started shooting. Just as the cease fire command was being given and the targets were starting to come down I lit off my last round.

When the smoke cleared and the targets came up for groups and scores I didn't believe my eyes. My score read like this:

X-5
10-2
9-2
8-1
Score:96-5X

The spotters told me the pair of nines were tight...very close to the ten-ring. The eight was mid-ring at 12 O'clock but I knew it was because the target was going down. 

I was astonished!

My scorer that had been watching my rounds impact through his spotting scope opined that my last round would have likely been another X or at the very least a tight 10 had not the target started dropping.

Then it was my turn into the pits to pull targets.

Normally this is about a 2 or maybe three hour job but the Gods were not with me that day. It was a hot day and some damned hippie was out in Lake Erie on a Jetski. 

Lake Erie has served as an impact area for rifle fire for years and there has been little or no enviornmental impact. Yet for some time small groups of people have driven Jetskis and boats int the impact area during live fire exercises and have delayed the matches.

One year the National Guard sent a helicopter out to chase a sailboat out of the impact area. The rotor wash gave the boater a little more wind than he wanted and the pilot simply blew him out of the impact area with the downwash.

The boatowner later called the base demanding compensation for damage to his boat. The base people told him to stop by and promised he'd be taken care of.

He was, too. When he walked in to the headquarters building he was promptly placed under arrest by the MPs who held him for the feds. This is additional evidence to the old adage that you can't fix stupid.

I never heard what happened in court. 

This year they returned with Jetskis and were giving the Naval Militia a run for their money. The firing line, of course, had to shut down until the National Guard and Naval Militia could run them off.

I, of course, was at the time sitting in the pits baking in the sun on a 105 degree day. My canteen ran dry as did everyone else's and the CMP water cannisters ran dry, too. 

We had already been sweating it out faster than we could pour it in but now we had nothing to replace the sweat with. 

The comments in the pits were ranged between downright angry and bitter to truly funny. Many of us started getting a little punchy.

Finally the impact area was cleared and the match resumed. When it was over we had spent practically six hours baking in the Camp Perry sun. Most of us were punchy as all hell. We stumbled to the stairway exhausted and spent.

Then it happened. Out of the middle of the daze and punchiness a voice sounded out.

"Well, Boys," said the voice that I just KNEW came from a nasty little foul mouthed runt of a man.  If they made a movie about this guy he would have to be played by none other than Danny DiVito. "Time to head up to the firing line, pick up our medals, take 'em downtown and trade 'em for pu$$y!"

It came out of the middle of the pack and from nowhere at the same time and hit the dog-tired punchy crowd like a shotgun blast. Virtually everyone there split right open laughing. Everyone. The handful of women in the crowd laughed right along with the men. As did one man that I knew was very religious and usually easily offended.

The laughter was crippling and the line came to a complete stop as people started falling over each other laughing themselves silly. .

While a comment like that was probably worthy of a chuckle in normal circumstances, actually it was sort of stupid. But to people as punchy as we all were it was downright disabling. His timing was perfect.

Of course, we all wanted to beat the hell out of the nasty little bastard. Maybe grab his ears, toss him in the air and punt the little dweeb thirty or forty yards but we were helpless to do so.

It was a thousand plus yard  walk to where the tables were set up to pick up prizes and T-shirts and most of us had to stop every fifty feet because the laughter returned. We'd just double up and laugh.

Many of us were still laughing when we got to the table. You couldn't shake it no matter what you did. People wanted to know what was so funny but you could not explain it to someone that wasn't there and heard it firsthand! If you did, they would look at you like you were stupid. 

I picked up my T-shirt and left for the barracks.

I gotta say that what goes around comes around.

The day before I had dropped off a couple of cases of PBR at the Marine barracks. As I  was staggering back to the barracks I heard a voice call out to me.

"Hey, Pic! Incoming!" shouted a Marine.

I turned, let go of my cart and caught what proved to be an ice cold PBR. I drained it in a single gulp and the Marine laughed. "Want another?"  he asked.

"No. It'll knock me on my ass, but thanks, Mac!" I replied.

He grinned when I called him 'Mac'. He knew what I was doing. It was a WW2 term for any GI and I occasionally use it on younger servicemen. Sometimes they take the bait and get fooled into thinking I'm of the WW2 generation.

"You still look dried out," he said. Then he walked over and handed me two bottles of cold water. I drained both of those, too. I was truly grateful.

The next day I bought the Marines another case of PBR.



Aftermath.

After I showered and recovered I ran over to the Marine barracks to commiserate with Marines that had not shot well.  

This actually means everyone because unless a Marine on the rifle team shot a perfect score (and nobody does) it generally turns into a humorous gripe session.

I once sold a corporal a pretty good excuse for having a lousy day for $10. I took his money and whispered to him that 'Tomorrow's excuse is that you were still pissed off over having been cheated out of $10 by a mean old man'

He was too embarrassed to ask for his money back. I simply used it to buy beer for the guys so no foul.

Few if any Marines shot in the Springfield match back then. Some do now if they are not slated with another event. Many of the Marines there were not familiar with the 1903 Springfield as then they generally only shot a government issued M-16 type service rifle.

My gripes, of course, were greeted with hoots and laughter. A laughing Staff Sergeant looked up laughing and said, "A real train crash, huh?"

Then a Master Sergeant looked at me and said, "Mr. Piccolo, I do believe there are maybe -and that's a big maybe-but one or two of our guys that could have come close to doing what you did."

That turned heads, including mine.

"Think about it," he said to us. "How many of you guys could pick up an obsolete WW1 bolt action rifle and do that well? Especially under his circumstances. Few of you if any have ever even shot one. Hell, some of you haven't even seen one."

He turned to me. "Mr. Piccolo, you did just fine. You did yourself right proud."

As he was leaving one of the guys looked at me and said, "Yeah, but we're gonna bust your balls anyway!"

The Master Sergeant heard it, turned and grinned shook his head as he walked off and I felt like a million bucks.


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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Al Sharpton must be disappointed.

One of the things I have noticed is that Al Sharpton hasn't come charging down to South Carolina raising holy hell about the shooting of Walter Scott by a policeman.

I read somewhere that Scott's family sent word to him that he was not welcome. They did not want their town to turn into another Ferguson. Frankly I doubt it would have the way the police department down there appears to be handling things.

Officer Michael Slager has been appropriately charged and is likely sitting in the can awaiting trial. My guess now is that he will be tried for second degree murder or manslaughter. If so, that's fair enough because I really don't think it was pre meditated. It looks to me like an angry shooting based on the heat of an argument and likely doesn't qualify for murder one.

I'm not defending Slager at all. If he is found guilty and likely he will, he should pay and through the nose.

Most likely a big part of why Sharpton isn't down there raising hell is that the department didn't screw around. They immediately fired and arrested Slager and made it clear there was going to be no effort whatsoever of a coverup.

I do believe that this will blow over soon simply because things are pretty cut and dried. There's no shades of grey involved.

I have to give police leadership credit here for stepping up to the plate and airing their laundry for everyone to see. Truth is, not covering anything up is generally the best and fastest way of making things return to normal.

Americans are pretty forgiving people about a lot of things, but they can't stand a coverup. Coverups have destroyed presidencies. Nixon resigned because of one and Clinton was impeached over coverups.

Had either of these two simply admitted their crimes the American public likely would have said, "Never let it happen again." and forgotten about it.

When a police department comes out and airs things out for all to see and puts things in place to prevent future crimes from being committed they generally regain the trust of the public pretty quickly. It's the coverups that damage the reputation of a department and often permanently.

Slager will most likely do serous time and rightly so. Still, I don't see this as a capital crime and I'd have to say that he'll either be convicted for second degree murder or maybe manslaughter.

I'm taking a 'what it is, it is' attitude here and what it looks to me is that Slager let the frustrations of the job get to him and over reacted. He was wrong and there is no excuse for his actions.

Still, looking at them for what they are, I don't think the state can prove he was out gunning for Walter Scott personally. Frankly I don't think he was gunning for anyone on a personal level.

He simply lost his temper when Scott started running and wildly over reacted. Like it or not, that doesn't qualify for murder in the first degree. 

My guess as of now is that Slater's attorney is in the DA's office trying to cut a deal for manslaughter but I could be wrong. Hopefully if his attorney is successful and Slater is convicted of manslaughter the public will be appeased.  Things will return to normal with a minimum of damage done, all things considered.

At least that's my take on it as of now.

What might prove to be interesting with this post is the number of cops that will be upset if Slater gets convicted of manslaughter. Right now a lot of officers are pretty hot about this and will be pretty upset if Slater doesn't get convicted for at least second degree murder. 

Don't forget, cops hate this kind of thing more than the general public does because it makes their job a lot more difficult.

Update. I wrote this about three or four days ago and already the heat seems to have died down over this.

Funny how things drop from sight fast when people admit that something is wrong and do the right thing. It nips things right at the bud. It probably pissed Al Sharpton off big time because now there is nothing he can really do. It's already been taken care of. 




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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One of the things I notice



 about things is that there are a lot of people that jump to conclusions or try and read something into this that isn't there.

They go through life trying to find ulterior motives in everything.  A comment "Nice day, huh?" will send their minds spinning in a concerted effort the find the hidden meaning if something like that.

Hmmm... 'Nice day, huh?'. I wonder what he really means by that. There just has to be more to that than meets the eye... Their heads will be spinning for hours after a comment like that. There just HAS to be some kind of a hidden meaning in a comment like that!

Several years ago a group of Pennsylvanians formed the Zen Shooting Club. I'm not going to get into the politics of why it was formed save to say they opened it to just about any shooter that was willing to cough up $25 for a membership and a T-shirt. I was actually given a free membership and a T-shirt for doing a sarcastic write-up they put in their newsletter.

Of course, the very name 'Zen' inspired a bunch of sayings and little things that had a mysterious appearance or sound to them. 'Be the bullet' was one of them. Of course, just about all of it was a crock designed to sound deep like it came from an ancient Chinese monk or maybe someone like the village scone crusher.

What is interesting is that they actually started doing rather well and gave the State Association a pretty good run for their money for a while. 

My contribution was 'The mind is willing but the ox is slow.' It meant nothing then and it means nothing now. It came out off the top of my brain one day. Note I said the top of my brain as opposed to the part where the deep thoughts come out of. They actually made a bunch of stickers that said that and a lot of members put them on their cars. I did.

The really funny part about it is the picture on the sticker was not of an ox, but of an American Bison, commonly known in this country as a buffalo. I guess the sticker maker thought it added to the mystique.

What was interesting is that over time a number of people would ask me what it meant. My answers were generally whatever thing I was willing to say at the time as a rule. I did, however, tell a cop that asked me the inside story that it was just something I made up that was supposed to sound like something out of the show 'Kung Fu'. Then I told him the inside story of the Zen shooting team. The cop laughed like hell. 

A lot of people I actually didn't dare tell them the truth simply because they wouldn't believe it. I would give them some sort of ancient Chinese monk story about oxen and mental conditioning and walking across fire and stuff like that because I knew they wouldn't believe the truth.




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