Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One of the things I learned early on

 was the value of keeping secrets. Especially in the areas of romantic dealings with the opposite sex.

I noticed early on that the kiss and tell guys didn't last very long. Women talk among themselves and when it gets back to one of them that some idiot is bragging about his most recent conquest then an awful lot of women tend to avoid him. 

Especially in a small town.

I was always seen entering and leaving any of the bars and hangouts alone. It didn't take much to tell a prospective romantic partner to quietly leave alone and discreetly meet me somewhere else in a few minutes.

You would be astonished at how much this was appreciated. Most women don't care to advertise their private doings.

Unless I was with a regular girlfriend or out on the town with a date of some sort I was seldom if ever seem leaving a bar or restaurant with a woman.

What was interesting is that it was appreciated by the women I was with. 

Keeping my mouth shut paid pretty good dividends.

Consider this a lesson to you young readers from an old man and let's leave it at that.



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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I see a lot of car and motorcycle

 shows on TV these days and know that a lot of it is made-up drama for TV. 

The impossible deadlines, the setbacks, the bids that leave little room for error and the usual things that make for a little interest in the show.

What interests me is the money that people are willing to pay for these various cars. Many of which easily run well over a year's pay for a working stiff.

Of course the money is out there because if it wasn't the guys would not be building these custom vehicles.

Still, I have a hard time justifying paying, say, $75K for a hot rod.

Back in the day, kids would build their own and by the time it was over and done with they may have had a grand or so tied up in the whole project. I would imagine that some of the machining was likely done in the school shop eiter as a part of class or after school. I recall that some of the guys got to do a few things after school.

One of the things I recall about the guys in school that were into cars did was to make their own. These days it seems that a lot of the hot rods seem to come out of custom shops. I wonder why that is?

I suppose that a lot of guys have more money than time and I look at things differently (as usual). 

I think that if I was a car guy that wanted a hot rod I would value the time to build one more than the money to have someone else build one for me.

I had a doctor that lived a couple miles away from me as a kid that liked to spend time working with cars and I remember he rebuilt a Jeep from the ground up. When he was done he had a brand new twenty-five year old Jeep. He was pretty proud of it and I heard he entered it in a couple of shows although I may be wrong about that.

I have no clue how much he had into it but I'd bet it wasn't a whole lot when you consider he did all the work himself. While he certainly did replace a lot of parts, there were a lot of them that were in good shape and only needed cleaning up, rebuilding or refinishing.

Still, he put one hell of a lot of work into the project and it came out a beautiful job and displayed his talents in a way that he should have been very proud of.

On many of these car shows we get to see guys building a custom car for someone else. The final owner brings nothing into it but a checkbook.

To me having something you bought out of the custom shop is nowhere near as nice as something one put together with their hands.



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Monday, October 20, 2014

Welcome to Right Wing Nut Case Central.



So named by someone that read this blog and told me that I was one of those terrible people that doesn't love the poor and hate the rich.

Yup. That's me.

I don't hate the poor, nor love the rich, either. They are just there. The rich are generally rich because they have the talent and drive to get rich. They generally put up a lot of money and risk it in a venture of some sort. They have the dreams, vision and drive to get into a venture of some sort that make them a lot of money.

The poor are poor because they don't have the drive and or talent to get ahead.

It is really that the rich have chosen to get rich and in most cases the poor have chosen to be poor.

There was a cartoon once about Bill Gates. He was trying to get a few $100 investors back when he was working out of his garage. There was a guy that didn't want to invest in Gates.

Instead he took the money and bought an 8-track tape player. 

Betcha he feels like a fool now.

Truth is that if I had put the price of an 8-track into Microsoft back when Gates was working out of his garage I likely would be sitting on top of some mountain somewhere instead of busting my ass out on a boat.

The truth about a lot of the so-called poor is that life is too easy for them. They get free food, clothing, shelter, telephones and God only knows what else. They can find ways to either trade their government subsidies or work under the table for tattoos, beer, drugs and cigarettes.

We have made it too easy for them and by doing so have created a generational system of dependence.

Hey, if I had the basics coming in for free it would be pretty hard for me to get a job just to buy my own basics. Why bother?

Unfortunately there's a lot of wasted talent in the welfare rolls. I'd bet that if you did away with the benefits and made people support themselves there would be a number of people that would be quite successful once they got the hang of things.

I don't hate these people for this, I just wish they would decide to start taking care of themselves.

Thinking this way seems to have gotten me labeled a nut case so I figure I won't fight it. I guess if you want to call this blog Right Wing Nut Case Central, then go ahead.

I suppose I COULD care less, but I don't see how. My care-o-meter is resting on the zero peg.





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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back in the day in Alaska every town of size had their own radio station.

 I guess they still do.

I suppose that in Anchorage they were fairly polished affairs but in the smaller towns they were a little less polished but were more in tune to the actual needs of the town or area they served.

They generally had little programs scheduled that announced who needed people to work for them. In Kodiak sometimes the canneries would have an announcement that they needed a few people or that someone needed a carpenter or plumber.

They opened that little daily program with Sha-Na-Na's song, 'Get a job'. Then they announced the jobs that were open.

They also provided a message service for people that lived out of town in the bush. When my father died I was out of town and the station announced "Piccolo, call home."

Someone else heard it and passed it on to me via marine VHF. I called home on the marine operator and got the bad news.

The service in Kodiak was called "Kodiak crabbers". You could call the station and have them announce something directed to someone out of town. They would air them about five or six times a day.

Other towns had similar programs. There was the trapper hotline and another town had a program called Caribou Clatter. There were also Mukluk Messages, Ptarmigan Hotline and others all over the huge state. They are the ame thing with different names, messages to people outside the grid.

Many of the messages sounded like they were coded and likely they were to avoid broadcasting someone's personal business. It was generally easy enough to figure them out, though.

"To Tim Smith. Aunt Louise is fine." ( We took this one at face value.) 

"Al Murphy, your prescription is ready at the drug store." (We always said that message sounded like a dope deal)  

"Lonnie Davis, Doctor Lewis says the test was negative."(We guessed Lonnie had been sleeping with Betty Lou Thelma Liz last time he was in town)

"Louise Gilson, Mike is coming out on Inland Air tomorrow." (Louise had best clean the cabin up.)

People from the Lower 48 were somewhat confused the first time they heard some of the local programming. I don't know if they still have these programs in Alaska, but I'd bet they do.

They are useful for people living off the grid.

Someone explained to me that stateside it's illegal to use a radio station to broadcast private messages like that but that the FCC had given Alaska an exemption because there were enough people living off the grid so that the programs would provide a bona fide service.

Another thing some of these local stations did was to air little things that locals created. I remember in Kodiak a group of locals got together and created a drama serial program based loosely on local characters. Of course the names were changed but everyone knew who they were.

It was a local thing. You had to be a local to appreciate it but it was funny as hell. It was obviously a product made by amateurs. There were no personal computers or internet then to get special sound effects from back then. It was like one of the old radio serials of the 40s. Thunder sounds came from shaking a piece of sheet metal, for example.

The program sounded pretty much home brew but that just added greatly to its entertainment value.

Another thing they had was a daily morning program called "Stump the professor". If you could, you won 5 gallons of gasoline from a local service station. You would call in and he'd answer the first caller's question.

The Professor was actually pretty good. People would generally ask him all sorts of complicated science questions and he usually knew the answers.

I won 5 gallons of gas once. There was a bar manager that always wore beautiful hats to work every day. She was often affectionactly called  'The Hat'.

I called in and asked the professor what color hat she was going to wear to work that day. He instantly admitted he didn't have a clue. The bells rang and the announcer announced that Piccolo had just won 5 gallons of gasoline.

When I came by to collect my gas the station owner came out and grinned. He told me he thought I was pretty sharp and told me he was giving me an extra gallon for making him laugh. I felt like I had just won the lottery even though it was only three bucks worth of gas.

Later that day I met up with The Hat. I went into the bar she managed to meet someone. She looked at me with a blushing, sheepish look on her face and shook her head. Then she bought me a drink. Actually I knew she wasn't upset in the least. She actually thought it was pretty funny. 

I suppose she made money on the deal. Half the town had to come in and tease her about it and most of them bought at least one drink. One of the things I noticed about successful people there is they generally had a pretty good sense of humor.

One of the things I liked about life in Alaska was that things like radio stations did cool things for the average guy. They actually tried to serve and entertain the community.




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Saturday, October 18, 2014

A third of nothin' is nothin'



Is an old adage of commercial fishermen.  It goes back to the way fishermen are paid. They get a percentage of the catch.

Of course, the bottom line for a fisherman is how much money he gets to take home after the trip is over and done with.

Back in the day I fished herring one season and had agreed to a 30% share because we were fishing a two man boat and I was not having a share fuel, bait or groceries deducted.

We didn't catch a lot of herring and as a result I worked for about six or eight weeks for under a grand when everything was over and done with. Fortunately I had no rent or other expenses to worry about at the time. I was living in a camper-trailer and the landowner let me stay there for free just to keep an eye on things.

Actually I took the job knowing I likely wouldn't make a whole lot of money but would get to see a lot of pretty good scenery. I have no regrets looking back on it. It was a wonderful spring and I got plenty of fresh air, exercise and a pretty good adventure out of the deal.

On the other hand I fished a halibut opening and was generously given a 10% crew share on a 5 man boat. The boat's share was 50% and the rest of us split the other 50% of the catch.

I did quite well on that trip because we caught a lot of fish.

I learned early that the newbies were the ones that worried about percentages. If you had half a clue you simply decided who to fish for by looking at the actual dollar amount of the checks the skipper wrote the crew.

I recall the time I was offered a fishing job from a skipper that didn't have a very good catch record. He offered me a 15% share which was considered generous. I didn't take the offer and later a friend of mine asked me why.

"Fifteen percent of nothin' is nothin'," I said.

Incidentally a job comercial fishing is not a job in the normal sense. It is an opportunity to make or lose money.  It is gamble, a real crapshoot. You can go out and make a fortune or come in broke.

Once I listened to the father of a college kid griping that it wasn't fair that his kid worked all summer and had so little for his season. I pointed out that had he made a fortune the skipper would not have put a cap on his income. He rolled the dice and lost. They don't give losers their money back in Las Vegas.

Fishing is one of the few places left where you can see that kind of opportunity. No minumun and no maximum.

A lot of people are masters of the snow job. A big piece of the pie sounds pretty good and may very well may be pretty good. 

It depends on the size of the pie.

While we're on the subject of percentages...

I have been a proponent of an across the board flat tax rate. There are a lot of people out there that say that the rich will be skating and not paying their fair share.

I have an answer for this: Pig's puckey.

Do the math.

Using ten percent as a figure for taxation this means that someone in the lower end that makes 25 grand a year will have to cough up $2500.

A guy in the upper middle making a hundred grand annually will pay $10,000 to Uncle Sam yearly.

A big shot that generated a million bucks for the year has to cough up $100,000. The rich guy will pay more, the poorer guy will pay less.

The guy making a million a year will wind up paying ten times as much as the guy making a hundred grand.

Sounds reasonable to me.



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Friday, October 17, 2014

Halibut feeders are bottom feeders except for on windy days.



On windy days they feed on the surface.

Their eyes are on the top of their heads and the swim below the surface. When they see something above them they leap out of the water to catch it.

Because their eyes are on the top of their heads they have to flip over to see where their prey is and it exposes their white bellies.

On windy days you see a lot of white things on the surface of the sea. It's halibut feeding on the surface.

Or so I was told once. I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday so I knew it was a crock.

Once when I lived in Kodiak someone wanted to hire a pilot and airplane to spot herring. He took out an ad of sorts on the local radio station. The announcer misread the ad and said, halibut spotter instead of herring spotter. Then he corrected himself by saying that he believed the person was looking for a herring spotter.

I was sitting with a couple of the guys doing gear work and we were listening to the radio. One of the guys jumped up and snapped "Wait here and listen to the radio!" and took off like a shot.

There was a phone booth nearby and he ran to it and called the radio station and explained that the person looking for the spotter was probably looking for a halibut spotter and explained the windy day feeding habits of the big, flat soakers.

The announcer got the call and asked my friend if he would explain things on the air.

He agreed and much to the laughter of most of the town, there was my friend Blaine, booming over the airwaves.  He explained that halibut were surface feeds on windy days and so on. He had the announcer totally buffaloed and fascinated.

"Thank you," said the announcer after my pal had finished. "I never knew that." This added to our already side splitting laughter.

For the next month Blaine never had to buy his own beer.




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Thursday, October 16, 2014

I took my sweetie for a walk the other day.

 She's now six.

She never let go of my hand the entire walk.

She still gives me hugs when she sees me. It's funny how little kids remember things. Come Christmas it will be three Christmases since she became my sweetie.

She was three at the time and extremely shy. Her father had just finished putting up the Christmas lights and was lighting them up. I offered her my hand and offered to walk her across the street and let her look at the lights from the other side of the street.

She mulled it over, looked at the lights, then looked at me. Slowly she decided that overcoming her shyness was worth it to see the lights and she took my hand and we crossed the street together.

In the Christmas lights I saw awe, wonderment and childish delight on her face and after a while she and I walked back home across the street and she let go of my hand.

She's been my sweetie ever since.

It's interesting how kids like that remember things and make friends like that. I figured that by now she'd have forgotten it but I guess she hasn't. She was excited when I invited her to go for a walk and prattled on and on excitedly the entire walk.

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I have read this before I posted it and have to add that being around kids is likely good for me. I had none of my own and being around them has a tendency of making me a little less of a grouchy person.

My sweetie's older brother is 12 and does a few odd jobs for me and takes care of the cat when I have a day's shopping or something like that to do. The cat likes him and he's good to him. He's an honest and responsible kid and that is something rare in this day and age.

Sometimes I pass advice on to him, but make it a point to keep his parents in the loop. I'd hate to sabotage their efforts.

Most recently I have spoken to him about the value of being a kind and generous big brother to his kid sisters. It's likely going to be hard. Kid sisters can be annoying at times, but with any luck it will pay off when he gets older.



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