Thursday, December 31, 2009

About 30 years ago I stumped into a ginmill in


South Boston, the Irish enclave.

I would imagine the demographics have probably changed a bit these days, but back then it was the rock solid Irish enclave of Boston. Rows of triple-deckers, all of which had Irish surnames on the doors.

So I was in some Southie ginmill having a beer and I got approached to donate to the IRA.

I didn't drink the Kool Aid then, and I won't drink it now. The bartender was one of those naive old types that tried to paint the romantic image of the downtrodden freedom fighter in my head.

I was pretty snappish when I tried to repaint the image in his head that the Provo IRA was nothing more or less than a bunch of terrorists. I asked the barkeep if he liked the idea of finding his daughter with her arms and legs blown off, and he paled.

"So why should I give money to someone that was going to do this to someone else's daughter?" I shot back.

I wound up getting 86'd, because several patrons looked at me thoughtfully and it looked like donations to the IRA were going to drop because I spoke out.

Let's fast forward to just after 9-11.

I was dealing regularly with several Muslims that worked as subcontractors for my employer and almost to a man they approached me and indignantly explained that they and their religion had nothing whatsoever to do with the WTC attacks.

They were pretty outspoken to me, and I was pretty frank with them when I made it clear that even though I believed them, not everyone else would. I told them they should watch their backs.

One of these men had lived in Afghanistan and had been fighting the Russians as a 12 year old kid. Interesting man.

When I suggested he start flying the flag at his residence, he indignantly pointed out that he had been doing that for the past several years, and had a hitch in the service under his belt and had obtained his citizenship a while back.

His goals in life were not any different than anyone else's. He wanted to be left alone to raise a couple of kids and have a decent place to live. I would have no problem with him being my neighbor. In fact, it might have a certain advantage as I could reasoably assume he wouldn't wolf down the last of my pulled pork and swill down a huge dent in my bottle of Jamesons 12 like Neighbor Bob did the last time I was home.

There's a lot of predjudice toward the Muslim community in this country, which is understandable because the Muslim community has been a little too quiet.

My beef with the bulk of the Muslim community is that they have elected to keep quiet and not cry out at the misdeeds of the people that are staining their religion.

The Muslim clerics in this country, along with their members should be screaming out that they have no part of the events going on that are being blamed on their religion.

The clerics should be singing out loud and clear from their pulpits, and the members of the faith should be making it clear that they want no part of terrorism shrouded under the banner of their religion.

Until that happens, the Muslim community had probably get used to being looked at with suspicion.

It's a shame, but that's the way it is.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It was a woman that led me to drink

So sayeth WC Fields.

Fields also commented that he never did write her to thank her.

I am a little different. Fields never had the internet.

I have her address in the Brownsville, Texas area.

If you are headed in that general direction, let me know.

I intend to pay her back and I will pay you handsomely to deliver her a jug of Kahlua, a jug of vodka, a half gallon of milk and a bucket of ice.

Unlike WC Fields, I pay my bills.
I got home and I am toasted. I need a good meal and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow I guess I'll be OK.

I am now up, but I feel pretty beat up. It was a long day yesterday, 22 hours of it, the last 14 or so traveling.

I had an interesting chat with a the teenaged girl that was sitting in the seat next to me on one of the legs of my flight. She had some sort of knitting project going on and we talked about sewing for a while.

I think it surprised the hell out of her to be chatting about sewing with a man her grandfathers age.

I have posted that I have made a few shirts and other odds and ends, but there's a hell of a lot more of it than meets the eye. As a seaman, I have a palm and needle and because I am so damned old school, I often do the palm and needle work that comes up every so often.

I have also made a couple of sails back when I lived on a sailboat.

I made a usable spinnaker/drifter out of a GI parachute that worked like a champ and kept me from being becalmed.

Most guys don't think women that sew are very mechanical.

Guess again. Take an old shirt apart sometime by splitting it at the seams and see what the parts look like. If you want a real mind blower, do it to a pair of pants.

Then look at a sewing machine and ask yourself if you have the skills to maintain it properly.

Betcha a lot of tough guys don't.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A daay of travel.

I will be traveling today.

I don't have clue one as to my ETA home.

Short on sleep, a 7 hour drive when I get to Philly. It'll be a long day.

I'm going home.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea, yada yada yada.

Pic, out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I may/may not be able to post for a coupla days.

Crew change is tomorrow and it's in BFE.

I do not know if I can wangle acess to the internet or not.

I will try do the best I can.

I WILL post to make up for the loss

Pic, out

The hooker returned the favor a month later

when I was sitting in Tony's with some babe I had a date with.

I had made a half assed date with some total fox, only to find out she was strung out on coke and was desperately trying not to get into by pants, but my pants pocket.

She was trying to get me to support her little habit, and here I was with one thing on my mind; I wanted out.

Now, I didn't want out with a scene if I could avoid it, but if there was to be a scene I wanted it to show some style.

I also watched the bartender watching me and he sort of smirked. He knew what was going on and seemed amused by it. He also knew that a lot of guys therre would gladly change places with me because they knew that they could sleep with the little bimbo if they coughed up a couple or three Gs of blow.

I thingk the barkeep respected the fact that I wasn't buying into her crap.

Anyway, right about now, the hooker of yesterday's blog walked in and sat at the bar.

I looked up and greeted her by name and she smiled and said hello.

My date looked at me and in a snooty voice loud enough for a lot of people to hear, asked me why I would even talk to such a woman.

A lot of heads turned.

"Because she is a proofessional at what she does. She charges a price for her services." I replied.
"You, on the otherr hand, are a damned coke hag. I could get the job done for a whole lot less with her and with a whole lot less hassle."

I got up and walkked over to the hooker.

"Let's take a walk," I said to her. "I'll buy you a drink."

She took the arm I offered and we left Tony's, even though she KNEW I wasn't going to give her any business. She knew what I was doing.

The whole place watched wide-eyed as the pair of us left, and as I hit the door the entire place started to howl with laughter. I glance back to see my former date turn beet red.

When we got outside, the hooker pointed out that I did NOT want to be seen in town for at least a couple of hours, so I offered to take her to the Kalsin Bay Inn for a drink.

Off we went. We went to Kalsin Bay a while and a couple hours later I dropped her off at a different bar downtown.

I got a lot of feedback on my actions that day.

A bunch of people told me that they had never seen such a hard, yet smooth put-down in a long time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last night someone said to me that he's as nervous

as a whore in church.

Which reminded me of a Christmas eve many moons ago when I decided to go to midnight mass.

I had spent the previous holidays totally plastered and decided I didn't want to go that route again, so I had decided to fight the seasonal depression a little.

So en route, I stumped into Tony's Bar and offered anyone that wanted one, a ride to midnight mass. I immediately ignored the three guys that said "we'll be with you as soon as we finish our beers," as that wasn't going to happen. I shrugged and walked out.

The minute I cleared the door, I saw a hooker that I knew as a constant bar patron, as that was where the bulk of her business was conducted.

She said to me, "Pic, if you're going alone, could I get a ride? I won't let anyone see us together."

"Hop in," I answered. "I'dbe honored, and don't worry about being seen with me because you know I really don't give a rat's ass."

So I took a hooker to midnight mass. I didn't think anything of it.

Apparently a few other people did and I promptly got several earfuls from more than one of the pious people that seemed mortally offended by bringing such an evil sinner into their place of worship.

I drew a few dirty looks and a couple of people out and out said something to me about it.

One, a woman, had the common sense to say something to me privately.

I told her that it was what churches are for, sinners.

She blushed and felt pretty low and apologized. I'll give her this, she was decent about it and treated me well after the indident.

The big one was the City Father Stolid Citizen self-appointed leader type that actually had the nerve to come into Tony's and castigate me publicly and then he started to walk off.

Facing his back, I fired a verbal shot. "Two reasons you came into this den of iniquity to talk to me," I snapped. "Either you are running for instant canonization to sainthood to be bestowed on youu before you are even buried, or."

He angrily turned and faced me. Confidently and in a nasaty tone, he snapped, "Or what?"

"Or you been nailing her like a framer with a Senco nail gun and you are pissed because I made you feel guilty. One or the other! Which is is?!"

He instantly turned purple. This was clearly not what he expected.

The barflies were now agape, but recovered and looked to see which way this one was going to go.

"You can't talk to me that way," he snapped back.

"I can and I did. Put up or shut up, you old hippocritical windbag!"

I got a standing ovation for that one, and promptly had a drink and quite a number of chips good for a free drink set down in front of me, which was fine, but what meant the most to me is that I had successfully defended myself against one of the high muckety mucks of the town, and had kicked the living daylights out of him.

About an hour later, a sergeant of the police department came in and walked up to me grinning.

He asked me my side of the story and I told him. It was confirmed by the patrons sitting at the bar. The cop flat out laughed.

"He came in and raised cain and tried to get you run out of town," he laughed. "Don't worry, I'll fix it."

He did, too. A few days later, on New Year's Eve, the self-rightous bastard got nailed for a DUI on the way home from a party, much to the satisfaction of many.

The hooker in question was not in the bar at the time of the blowout, but her sister pavement princess was and word got back to her and the hooker approached me and told me she felt bad about getting me into trouble.

I responded by telling her I was proud to have taken her, which by now I was. My Irish was up over the incident, and I told her it was my intention to take her again next year if she was still in town.

She later did me a favor a month or so later when a certain coke whore tried to get into my pocket. I'll post that here if I remember.

The big payback came a few months laeter in the spring when she left town.

I walked into Tony's and there was a manila envelope there for me. The bartender handed it to me and I took it over to the table and opened it. I read the letter and quickly stuffed the contents into the envelope, went straight home and hid it.

It was a careful hand written verbatum, highly detailed copy of her trick book.

Guess who's name was on it? I would have never guessed the guy was into such sick stuff.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fighting useless battles is a waste of time

effort and resources.

Many battles do not even have to be fought because things change, and change fast.

I liked watching the Battle of the TWIC cards.

After 9-11, the authorities, in their infinite wisdom, decided that nothing would do but that all transportation workers were issued a special ID card identifying them as transportation workers. Truth be know, it's just another government crock of shit. The only people that think it's important are the people who make the TWIC cards because it created a payday for them.

As a seaman, I am already required to have various forms if ID, the mosst commonly known one is a Merchant Mariner's Document, often called a Z-Card. These are issued by the Coast Guard.

I got mine so I could sail on Noah's Ark.

These Z-Cards generally require an FBI background check, and so do the TWIC cards, making them a doubly needless item, but the Feds insisted. The rules were made, the price set at $135. The rules were made and immediately cut into stone.

It became an absolute. carved deeply into stone. It simply became an 'If/Then' equation.

IF you don't hava a TWIC by this date, THEN you can't work.

Now, let's get this straight. The day was carved in stone, the company told ALL of its employees that the card was required under Federal law, no exceptions. Fair enough, the company isn't in the business of making laws, they simply obey them and require employees to do likewise.

On top of that, the company also generously told all employees to save their reciepts, as they would be reimbursed. In effect, these TWIC cards became a freebie. The only out of pocket expenses for the damned things would be a little gas, wear and tear on the employees vehicle and maybe a buck's worth of postage. Hooah!

Of course, there were a stalwart few that held out, protesting the entire time. Most of these guys caved in, but there were a few holdouts.

When the big day arrived, it was duly noted that these scant few holdouts were not permitted to come back to work until they had their cards.

Their look of astonishment was a sight to behold. They moaned, wailed and gnashed their teeth.

I listened to some of it, and when a management type shook his head and said something to me, I got a dirty look coupled with a smirk for suggesting to him that the company buy them tickets to the Old City of Jerusalem so they could be facing the Wailing Wall.

The truth is, one of these guys tried griping to me and I flat out told him that the company was being generous by letting them return to work after they got their cards. I told one that I would have out and out fired him. He gave me an astonished look and asked me if I thought that not having the card should really be a firing offense.

That's when I told him that I wouldn't can him for not having a TWIC card, I'd fire him for being stupid. He howled at the injustice and stomped off.

This is a pretty good job. A guy working out here can afford a decent place to live in a decent neighborhood, own a decent vehicle, raise a couple, three kids and have Mom stay home at least until the youngest is in school and still have enough to put away for at least a good portion of the kids education.

And some idiot is willing to flush it down the crapper because he is either too lazy or too stupid to get off his ass for a couple of hours to go and fill out a form?

I don't get it. It simply does not make sense.

I could see not getting one if there was some type of a bona fide, organized protest of some sort that would actually accomplish something, although I can't say that I would (or would not) be a part of it, at least there would be some sort of point to that.

On the other hand, there was no real outcry, just a bunch of whiny bellyaching on an individual basis.

I, of course, saw the writing on the wall and simply got the card and shut up about it because I knew the outcome beforehand. Besides, I look stupid in a pencil-thin moustache, I can't find my sword anymore and at 58 I am too old to be swinging across a room on a chandelier gracefully, although I still can.

It simply was a battle I was unwilling to fight. I had little to win, and too damned much to lose.

Yes, it was an aggravation. Yes, I had to get off my ass and drive an automobile for 10 miles and yes I had to fill out a form and wait a couple of weeks and go back another 10 miles to pick up the card and yes, it was 10 miles, uphill both ways, and yes, I was carrying a goddamned tuba.

Last but not least, yes, it was more damned idiotic government meddling.

So what did I do?

I simply got the damned thing and shut up about it.

There was no use in wasting time, effort and resources fighting a useless battle.

I'm simply saving my energy for the next election and going to try and vote the bums out.

Friday, December 25, 2009

This is Christmas Day

Merry Christmas.

If I'm correct, this is something like my 16th out of the last 20 spent at sea, which is fine as I do not function well ashore during Christmas.

I have not been able to function during Christmas since Christmas Eve, '69 when I got stuck in Tampa Airport.

Actually I reallywasn't stuck, I was there as a volunteer. I had given up my seat to a young serviceman that had just returned from Vietnam that really wanted to get home ASAP.

I didn't get home until Christmas Day. Upon arrival home I was unceremoniously stuffed into the family car and hauled of to relatives.

I had been awake for well over 24 hours and really wanted to crash out.

My mother was upset and was worried what the family would say if I didn't show up. There was a small spat until my dad stepped in and hauled me into the kitchen and cut me a deal. I'd go and upon arrival to Grandmas, I'd crash out in the back bedroom upon arrival and get up for dinner.

Mom started to protest when she heard the deal, and right on the spot started to renegotiate with my mom. He simply looked at me and said, "Hit the rack."

Mom blanched and decided half a loaf was better than none. I went to Grandma's, and upon arrival sacked out.

I am the oldest of the generation. All of my cousins are younger than I am and I think I was 30 or so when the youngest of the generation was born. This means I had to deal with a tribe of squalling little excited kids. Ouch.

Upon arrival, I made my excuses and hit the rack and as the Aunts, Uncles and Cousins arrived, dad made it clear I was to be left alone. Of course, one of them decided it would be funny to wake me up and when he did, I simply popped him one. Not too hard, just enough to express my displeasure.

The cousin started bawling and my dad knew he had to do SSOMETHING to keep the peace, as 'Too goddaamned bad' was not an option.

He came into the room and made the sound effects of beating the living daylights out of me to the point, I later heard, that one of my uncles wanted to intervene. Truth is, he never laid a hand on me and when he was done, he winked at me and with a grin told be to get back to sleep.

My father was an expert at making things go away and had a true sense of justice, which most of his kids carry to this day.

I got up a few hours later for dinner and played the Christmas game until we left. If I recall, I drove us home.

Anyway, it seemed that this was the particular Christmas that set me off, probably in part because it was the last one we celebrated an an extended family.

I do not know why, but Christmases just seemed to get worse for me until I just decided to give up on it and let it pass. Things came to a head in the early 80s when I climbed into a jug about 23 Dec and didn't climb out until the morning of 26 Dec.

After that, for some reason it became tolorable. I never climbed into a jug like that again. Ever.

The folowing year, I went to midnight mass, which got me into hot water, as before I left for mass, I swung by Tony's Bar and offered anyone that wanted one a ride. A hooker took me up on the offer and I took her. Maybe I'll tell THAT story sometime. I got a lot of shit over that from a few hippocrites. I was later told by many people that i defended myself well during the following shitstorm.

Since I have been going to sea moving oil, I generally opt to work over the holidays and trade them off to someone with little kids in exchange for time off in the summer to go to Camp Perry, which is my special celebration. I play Santa there by delivering a couple of cases of beer to the Marines.

My dream Christmas would be to spend it with the troops overseas listening to them gripe and griping right along with them.(Maybe give a prize for the most original bitch or some damned thing)

Anyway, even though Mrs Pic and I do not get along very well, she has been pretty good about being pretty good to me over the holidays. For some reason, she seems to understand.

Anyway, here's just a little something for you to read from a guy at sea.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009


A while ago I wandered into a rest area along the PA turnpike and it was pretty full.

It was a real hash of ethnic groups. There were Irish, Amish, Black, White, Near Easterners, Middle Easterners, Far Easteners, and God knows what else.

Now, being a student of sorts of human behavior, I stopped and watched the dynamics of the scene for a while before I got my coffee.

Everyone seemed to get along pretty well.

People's faces ranged from relaxed too tired and irratible, but still, everyone seemed to get along. They said things like 'please', 'thank you' and 'excuse me'.

I wondered why this was happening until I looked around and then it dawned on me.

There was nobody there from the government or some do-good group to explain to us how different we were and to stir things up.

As a sailor, I have worked with a lot of different people and at sea we don't have time for nonsense. We have to put our self interests aside to get things done.

I recall eating a wonderful dinner of pork chops that had been cooked by a Jew even though he wouldn't eat them. He also made sure the morning bacon and sausage was done for the morning guys, even though he wouldn't eat it.

He simply put his selfishness aside and worked for the common good. The gentile crew wanted pork, it was his turn to cook, so he did the best he could and kept his mouth shut.

I often think that if Brother Jessee and Bigmouth Al would simply go away, a lot the so-called race problem would clear itself up on it's own, but if that happened, the both of them would be out on their ass and have to get a real job, and at a whole lot less pay.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If I won the lottery

Dateline 23 Dec 09

I would do a number of things.

For one, I would become a part time professional pain in the ass.

For another, I'd probably spend a lot of time adventuring. Maybe do something dumb like float down the Mississippi River in an inner tube or something.

Or see the Amazon Basin.

I would NOT buy a bunch of stupid junk like fancy cars and big houses.

I like the one I have and I like my neighbors.


While HE took her to Jared's, I got great news!

I just saved a bunch of money on pu$$y by switching to hookers.

A smell I do not miss at all

Dateline 22 Dec 09.

A Chief Engineer made a comment over dinner which caught my ear.

Now, of the 7 guys on this tugboat, at least five of them got started in the commercial fishing industry. I remember my days all to well. They were far away, long ago and just yesterday

The Chief, over a leisurely dinner, commented that for him it had been years since the smell of Ben Gay and Icy Hot had overpowered the food over dinner.

I remembered those days well.

I remember many times sitting down to eat with three or four other young men and smelling those two smells so overpowering that it covered up the aroma of good food.

The smell of Icy Hot and Ben Gay are not the smells I associate with a neighborhood basketball or baseball game.

It's the smell I associate with the battered bodies of young men trying to make a living in a brutal and quite often deadly business.

I do not miss that smell at all.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Dateline:21 Dec,09

I'm a pretty lazy deer hunter. For me, it's a chance to take my rifle for a walk in the woods and take a nap in the woods.

Truth is, I really don't like killing vary much any more, but I sure like eating venison.

Anyway a while ago I made a post on an internet forum stating that if anyone had an extr(a piece of venison hanging around, I'd surely take it off their hands.

Lo and behold! I got an instant message from a person that lives along my way home that he had an entire hindquarter for me just for the taking.

The young guy loves to hunt, always fills his deer tags and generally gets more than he can use, which is fine because he contributes some of his extra to a 'hunters helping homeless' food kitchen, and passes on any extra to guys like me.

None of it goes to waste.

So what did I have to do to get an entire hindquarter?

I simply had to ask.

Sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it does.

Sometimes you cast your bread on the water and the ducks eat it and swim away, but quite often you cast your bread on the water and get back poached eggs on toast.

(Thanks, Chris)

Computer uses

Dateline 20 Dec 09

I suppose I'm like a lot of people, I don't use anywhere near a computers full potential.

I know I don't.

I have a shipmate that is a photographer and he uses his laptop to do hiis photography with. I'd bet he has umpteen gigs worth of photos on his hard drive.

It's a wonderful tool.

On the other hand, all I do is run a couple of programs for work on the ship's laptop.


Maybe I DO use it more than I think......

I guess I was taking it for granted, but it sure saves me a lot of time, effort and countless errors.

I guess I DO use it for a lot more than I thought I did.

A step backwards in telling time.

Dateline: 17 Dec o9

We got two things from the Brits during the First World War, cigarettes and wristwatches.

Let's skip the cigarettes. I do not want to listen to moaning, wailing and the accompanying gnashing of teeth over something that has been beaten well past death and into a bloody puree.

Before that, American man carried pocket watches which were a pain in the ass because you had to dig them out of a pocket or pull them out of a watch pocket with a fob.

For a couple generations, an analog wrist watch served us well until someone got a bright idea and started telling time with an LED module, which is the predecessor to today's LCD.

With the LED you had to push a button to light up the lights and see what time it is. That was a step backwards because now it took 2 hands to see what time it was.

Then LCD came along and we went back to a simple glance at the wrist.

These days wristwatch sales are down and you seldom see anyone under the age of about 25 wearing a wrist watch.

When you ask them why, they explain that their cell phones have the time on them. They're correct. Cell phones have a clock built in. Even the $20 cheapie I carry that I got from Wally World has a clock built in to it.

Now we're back to the pre WW1 style of telling time.

You have to dig your watch, now a part of a cell phone, out of a pocket again to see what time it is. If it's not in a pocket, it's on a belt pouch, which, I guess, is the modern day equivilent of a watch pocket.

This is par golf because young people don't really seem to put a premium on punctuality these days.

Being an old school sailorman, I'll keep my wrist watch, thank you.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

will be surpiised if this posts

still running.

Got a lot to say when I get time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm busy as all hell

Looks like I'll be writing again sometime between Cristmas and New Years.

I am on on a long, dangerous secret mission and internet service is little and opportunities are scarce.

Again, I'm on a borrowed machine..

Pic, out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

today will be another day of traveling

I'm pressed for time, so again I'll make a short post.

Again, it's a borrowed computer.

I might be able to continue if I can get to the boat and use their machine.

Anyway, yesterday was a zoo, travel, VERY short notice and general chaos. I got to the airport at 1300 and knew I was very early.

I had promised one of the womenz at work my spare helmet and goggles for some reason. I also had my usual set for motorcycle/Miata driving in my carry on, along with my scarf. I was wearing my usual flight jacket and I was at the airport.

So here I am at an airport, with my scarf, helmet, goggles and the biggest troublemaker if all.

I had too much time on my hands.

Before I got to the TSA check in I spotted a target of opportunity, an Air Force Academy Cadet, obviously a Doolie. A forst year cadet.

I donned the helmet, goggles and wrapped the scarf around my neck and walked up to the Cadet who seemed to have just arrived home for Christmas leave. He was with his parents.

"How ya doin, Sonny? I see you're at the Academy." He looked shocked, his father looked amused.

I shook his hand, 'I just wantedto tell ya that you young fellas are doin' one hell of a real fine job keepin' em flyin'. Damned fine job, damned fine."

Then I swapped to my normal voice, "Have a good holiday with your folks," I said. His face lit up and he thanked me.

The kid had that look of a stunned Doolie as I walked off, the father recovered. He laughed.

Then I headed over to TSA to check in. I was still wearing the rig and expected to be really torn up going through because I was traveling on a last minute ticket.

The TSA guy took one look at me and smirking, he asked me, "Been a while since you've flown?"

"Just got offa cropduster, Young fella." I replied, and he chuckled.

I tossed my stuff on the conveyer and just went on through. It had never been this easy.

Go figure.

I went to the gate early and scoped out the area and got my bearings.

I had an hour to kill, so I kept a keen eye for service men and made it a point to have something nice to say to them. When I got on the plane, the pilot had the door open. He was watching the passengers board.

I looked at him. 'Hey, Sonny, If ya get in a lurch and need a hand, I'll be in aisle 12-C," I said to him.

The look I got was like a guy trying to close one eye and fart because I knew he didn't know whether to shit or go blind.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and I stashed my gear upon landing.

I had to get to work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

busy as hell

a day in transit.
Later, a day of a major circus, and an airline flight.

TSA DOES have a sense of humor.

Tonight will be spent in a hotel better than one I would pay for in Norfolk, VA and I will be back aboard tomorrow AM.

Monday, December 14, 2009

1.25 x10mm x 45mm hardened bolts are hard to find

I needed them to put the new sway bar links on the family Ferrari and started in on a search.

Even the dealer didn't have them in stock. He had to order them for about $9 apiece, which is a total rip-off.

All if the auto parts store guys sent me to the same place for these simple littlee fasteners, yet he was closed. sign on the door said he'd be open the next day, so I waited. Closed again.

There was a phone number on the closed sign, and repeated calls went unanswered.

I finally found the hardened bolts I needed. They were properly hardened, the right length, but had a slightly different thread pattern. They were 1.5s.

Fortunately, they came with the proper nuts and lockwashers so everything came out fine.

Of course, two days after I got the 1/2 hour job done, I drove past the place and it was open.

A lousy 1/2 hour job took 2 damned days.

Can't win for losing.

I did go into the nuts and bolts store and he did have the ones I originally wanted in stock, but the job was already done. I then asked him about why he was keeping odd hours and he told me that business has seemed to have dropped off.

Well, no lie.

It's dropped off for everyone,

My guess is that he isn't going to be around much longer with that attitude. Business drops off so you shorten hours and make it harder for the few customers to get your merchandise. What do they do?

They go somewhere else.

Sometimes you have to tough it out.

Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Out the door pricing

A couple of days ago I needed something and I called a guy I occasionally do business with. I asked him how much it was going to cost me.

He answered that the price was $132.67, out the door.

I wrote a check for that amount and went and picked up my item, no problem.

I like doing business with this guy because he makes it easy for me. He tells me what something is going to cost, including all taxes and other hidden costs. Like I said earlier, I wrote the check before I left home.

Cars are the worst things I can think of to buy. There are all sorts of things to consider.

You can agree on, for example, a $20,000 price on a car and when you drive off, you can easily find you have forked over more than $22,000 or even more depending on a number of things. Taxes, tags, title and other things add up pretty fast.

I recently bought myself a new pickup from a dealer about three and a half hours away from where I live, in anotherr state. It was the most painless deal I have ever made. We spoke on the phone and after I explained what I wanted, he said he'd have me a price in a few minutes.

When he called back, he simply said to me that the truck would cost me X number of dollars, out the door, but then he explained that I would be responsible for my own taxes, title and tags here in Pennsylvania. He had that figured out, too. He told me the entire cost of putting the vehicle on the road. I later found out that he was correct to the nearest dollar.

I drove down and picked up the truck and was in and out of the dealership in less than an hour, and the following Monday I had PA plates on it. Totally painless. I'll cheerfully buy from him again.

I love it when someone quotes you an 'out the door' price, and I wish more people would do that.

Of course, every once in a while you get some con artist that trys pull some evil stunt on you.

When I was shopping for Mrs Pic's car, a salesman quoted me a so-called out the door price.

I knew it was too good to be true, so I decided to take him up on his offer. I had done my research and I knew what the cost of the vehicle should have been.

I walked in and handed him a check.

He started to hem and haw.

"Get the sales manager. NOW!" I demanded.

He appeared.

"This man quoted me an Out the Door price to the tune of the amount written on this check," I explained. "Now he wants to renegotiate. I don't. I want this car for this amount."

The sales manager hesitated.

"Your salesman is either patently dishonest, stupid or ignorant," I continued. "Which is it? If he's dishonest or stupid, you ought to get rid of him. If he's ignorant, teach him."

Being a Saturday with a full showroom, they were loathe to start a real donnybrook or create a scene.

The salesman fessed up to ignorance, which was the fastest way to get me off his back.

I didn't get the car for the amount on the check, but I DID get the car for pretty much what it cost him. I saved quite a bit.

Betcha the next time someone asks for an out the door price he does his homework.

Generally, when you ask for an OTD price, people are pretty good about it.

The same principle holds true for buying stuff that has to be shipped.

I like to know in advance what something costs me to be delivered to my door.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A nominal world.

Life is pretty nominal when you really think about it, yet a lot of people will try and make it exact.

One dude told me that his car gets 33.1284 miles per gallon.

Yeah, right. It gets ABOUT 33.

He filled the tank, recorded the milage, and refilled the tank and did the math and it came out to 33.1284 mpg so that's what the car gets, right?

How accurate was the gauge on the gas pump? Probably fairly close, but it sure in hell wasn't 100% exact. How accurate is his odometer? This 'point one two eight four' is s pile of crap. Truth is, you don't really know.

People today seem to be enamored with a bunch of petty details, when the truth is that it ain't that way.

What ever happened to the 'ball park estimate'?

The damned car gets ABOUT 33 MPG.

maybe more later

Friday, December 11, 2009

Helped unload a truck yesterday.

Some guy on the website I frequented posted that he was moving to my general area so I send him an IM offering to help him unload his truck if and when he moved.

Shore 'nuff, a while later I got an IM with a date, time, phone number and ADDRESS. (see my recent blog entry on GPS and you'll know why I was impressed. No stupid from him!)

I drove on down, even though it was actually well over an hour away.

I met the man and his charming wife and looked at the truck, which was stuffed full. It looked overwhelming, but with the help of his parents and another guy from the website, we got all the stuff off the truck and into the apartment in about 2 hours flat.

It was a fairly organized offload and I'm sure most of the stuff we pulled off got at least pretty close to where it went.

Furniture-wise, these people think very much along the same lines as I do, as their furnishings were mainly antiques, and there was vary little of the new and improved modern stuff that gets palmed off to the public as furniture these days. Most of the dressers, chests and cabinets weighed a ton, as they were made of solid hardwoods.

Very beautiful stuff. I'm quite sure than in a while after the Mrs gets through doing her womanly magic to the place it will becoome a very warm home. She appeared to be the type that has the magic in her to do this.

Of course, I busted his chops.

Halfway through unloading, I said to him, "You've moved before and it sure shows."

"How's that?"

"You have enough common sense to secure the sex toys in a locked footlocker so nobody has to look at them, easpecially your parents."

He blushed until he saw my deadpan look of innocence and laughed.

Truth is, some years back I helped a guy move. He was a real macho man type that looked like a logger on a cereal box or something like that, and when a wardrobe opened up I sort of figured out that he was probably a cross dresser. Whatever.

When you ask someone to help you move, you open yourself up to the person. They get to see all your stuff unless you take serious steps to hide it. I have a feeling these people really had little if anything to hide.

It was at about this point, when I was grabbing another box, I had a thought. I suddenly thought of all the junk we collect as we go through life.

Although the home furnishings were damned nice, there was the usual collection of junk and stuff we collect in our lives and it actually accounts for the bulk of things we own.

This couple was no different than any one of us; the majority of what they owned was simply junk and stuff.

It made me look at my own home and reflect that when I'm dead and gone that most of the contents of the house will wind up in a huge pile outside for the trash guys to haul off unless the pickers snag a few odds and ends. Still, I'm pretty sure most of it will wind up at the dump.

I also thought that maybe it might be time for me to slowly go through this stuff and start culling. For example, there is a hunting outfit I snagged somewhere that is now too big for me that I will never wear, and I have a box of shooting stuff I will never use that I simply either ought to sell or give to someone that can use it.

As I sit here writing this post I can see a menagerie of things I simply ought to get rid of because they are of no earthly good to me whatsoever.

Still, a lot of the junk and stuff we accumulate are things we use so seldom that they are almost, but not quite, more trouble than they are worth.

I have a gear puller that I have not used since Methuslah wore knickers, yet I keep it because I know that eventually I will come across a project that will require it. It simply takes up space and when you think about it, for all the aggravation it causes by getting in the way of other things in my toolbox drawer, I ought to just get rid of it. When I need one I can simply rent it for peanuts. I think Advanced Auto will actually loan me one for free.

Still, all in all, we really have very little worth getting upset over. Most of our belongings are just junk and stuff and we spend a huge part of our lives worrying about these things that don't really amount to a thing.

Unloading that truck was good for me. It gave me an opportunity to look at something in a different light.

Some people might think I'm a real nice guy for helping that couple out, but the truth of the matter is that I seldom do something for someone where I don't go away feeling like I got the better part of the deal.

I learned something, or at least relearned something I had forgotten.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why do people srtill insist on giving directions

is beyond me. Just give me your address and I'll run it through the computer.

The computer or GPS does a lot better job of giving directions than 99.8% of humans do.

In fact, humans generally give lousy directions.

"Now you go down the road to where the coal pile used to be before they moved it and turn right. Then you go down the road to where the house they just painted a while back that used to be green but it's some other color now and take the right after that. Go down to the tree where the Jenkins boy had that horrible accident back in 1962 and almost killed Licinda Felice when they hit that tree on prom night. Oh, wait! They cut that tree down last year, but that's OK, just make a left there. You'll find it all right."

A lot of people understand when you say "I've got GPS" or "I'll google it", but many do not.

Some know that it means, but insist on trying to give directions, anyway.

I was supposed to meet someone and they wanted to give me directions. I said to this jerk, ala Jack Webb/Joe Friday "Just the address, Sir. I'll know how to get there. I'm from the Internet."

"Oh, Gee! I didn't know! Really?" Then he caught on, and I'm sure he felt dumb.

Another direction giver was cut off with, "No directions needed, Ma'am, just an address. My cousin is an astronaut on the space shuttle and he had the National Aeronautical and Space Administration engineers fix me up with a special navigator. I give it the address and the car drives itself there."


"Absolutely, Ma'am.

When I arrived, she wanted to see the 'special navigator'. I showed her the GPS and she was astonished. Then I told her she could get one at WallyWorld for about $100 and she seemed dubious until I told her it would save her money on gas by more efficient routing.

Betcha she goes straight to WallyWorld.

The people that piss me off to no end are the ones that will not give you an address until they give you their lame directions. I generally cut them off with "Let's not do stupid. I don't listen to directions people give because they are inaccurate. Please just give me an address and I'll Google or GPS it."

I wish I had more patience, but I don't. Over the past 50 years I've spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours trying to find places by following directions given by people that don't know how to give then.

Now technology has finally done something useful for a change.

I like it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One more of the simple things that is annoying

is that most coffee makers have a carafe that was scientifically designed to make damned sure that you spill just as much coffee as you get into your cup.

I've tried most of the homeowner style coffeemakers over the years and the carafes are all a pain in the ass with the exception of the type that takes the kind of carafe that they use in restaurants. Those carafes are pretty good.

Why is that?

It strikes me that it shouldn't be too hard for some rocket scientist to design a carafe that doesn't drip down the side when you pour a cup.

This might also be the time to get this done, as with this economy being what it is.

I'd just bet that the coffee maker companies could go to the Cape Kennedy space center and snag some underemployed rocket scientist that has a bunch of kids headed to college and is looking for a side job.

Besides simply having a no drip carafe, the advertising possibilities are there. if they wanted to persue the rocket scientist angle, too. I can see it on TV now.

"Designed by NASA scientists for the demanding needs of the space program!"

If it worked, they could sell a jillion of them.

I'd sure buy one. It would save me a fortune on sponges and paper towels.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tape measures are good to have kicking around

No matter what project you undertake, chances are pretty good that you will need to measure something.

There is at least one tape measure in every room of this house except for maybe one, and that room has 2tape measures in it.

Good ones were on sale yesterday at Trader Horn for $4 apiece and I bought two more, which is a pretty good deal.

These 2 new ones will go straight into the tool box because there were none there and there really ought to be one there.

You may wonder why I have so many of them kicking around until you watch me constantly fixing something or making something and you'll figure that that the reason for all the tapes is that I'm too lazy to keep going back and forth to the took box.

This latter arguement may just hold water, but the truth is something you use on a daily basis is nice to have around where it is easy to get to.
Maybe more later

Here's a little something from last summer.

Tonight I heard a thunderstorm headed my way.

I walked around and dug through a few drawers and looked for an old package of cigarettes. There were a couple of them left, so I snagged one. Then I put on my old bush jacket and poured about ¾ of an inch of bourbon into a small glass. Next I put on a grubby old cap and headed out to my porch, a rickety little thing that serve the purpose of being a place with a gorgeous view.

So equipped with a drink and a smoke, I set up the small umbrella and sat there and enjoyed a passing thunderstorm, a drink and a smoke. It’s been quite a while since I’ve enjoyed a smoke, a while since I’ve enjoyed a drink or enjoyed a thunderstorm.

Sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms his child.

My mother gave me the common sense to come in out of the rain.

Tonight I listened to my father who taught me to enjoy the things I can’t change.
I miss my father.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My feminine side: The blog stays pink

Let's look at that today.

I am a pretty good cook. I keep a clean house, I can sew. I can bake cookies and pies. I can change a diaper, feed a squalling child and do a lot of feminine things.

In fact, I'm looking across the room at a shirt that I made for myself a while back. It fits me pretty good.

I routinely bake things, I chase dust bunnies out from under the sofa, and for those that want to take it to issue, there's a Miata in the garage with a racing suspension in it and this old fart can take a lot of young bucks through mountain passes so quickly they'll be screaming for their mamas.

When I dress up, I'll often wear a pink shirt, a black tie and a blue blazer. When I really dress up, it's Brooks Brothers time. I gravitate to the understated classics because I am of the Old School and do not follow fads.

I LIKE pink. This blog is pink because I like the color for certain things.

I certainly won't decorate with it, but I'm sure not afraid to wear it.

There is a reason I do a lot of these feminine things.

I am a man. Men take care of themselves. I can feed myself, keep my clothing maintained and my quarters clean and organized.

There is another reason that I show my feminine side.

It is because my mother is not here to pick up after me.

Recently I listened to a young serviceman thinking of going into an elite military unit. He said something about trying to escape some of the drudgery of military life.


What is he thinking? Anyone ever seen a Special Forces unit in garrison?

Let's take a look. Two officers, ten enlisted.

The lowest ranking enlisted is suppposed to be a sergeant, at least on paper.

No privates. None.

There also isn't any maid service available, either. That means that there is nobody available to do the work, right? The Special Forces live in squalor in unmade beds and torn filthy uniforms, right?

I sort of doubt it.

If you watch the day to day mechanics of this team, and it certainly is a team, you will see a lot of interesting things going on.

Most likely, you will see senior NCOs doing yard work and cleaning the place up from time to time. The basics never go away, they still have to be done and someone has to do them.

Watching a tough, battle hardened platoon sergeant pick up a mop is a fairly common thing in a Special Forces unit. The floor needs to be cleaned and someone has to do it.

Green Berets don't have mothers to clean up after then, either.
Ever notice the guys that gripe most about women are the ones that couldn't get laid in a whorehouse with a handful of $100 bills?

Look a little deeper. Ever notice that they're generally the ones that don't know how to take care of themselves?

A little secret: Chicks gravitate toward competent men.
It's Pearl Harbor day. A day of Infamy. 7 Dec,1941.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

post 60. At the mall, the lotion lady.

So I am at the mall, and I walk past a kiosk and this young, attractive woman in her early 20 looks at me and tells me to hold out my hands. I see I'm getting a free sample of some kind of lotion.

I comply, she takes one look at my meathooks and recoils.

"My God! What do you do for a living?"

I looked at my paws, they were exceptionally clean and really not in too bad shape at all. They haven't looked that good in years. True, they are a little waxy and calloused and covered with the small scars and nicks of a lifetime of practical engineering, but the question is this:

Hasn't this young person ever seen a pair of hands that work for a living?

Mechanics hands generally look a whole lot worse than mine.

I didn't want to get into the Merchant Marine thing because that opens me up to twenty questions, so I told her I was a commercial fisherman, which is close enough.

Still, it makes me wonder.

I'd like to take that little chickie with me for a while aand teach a little school. Maybe feed her venison and show her that meat isn't magically produced in the back room of a supermarket and that having a nice yard requires work. In order to have a decent yard, SOMEONE has to get out there and work with their hands. Things don't just happen by magic.

On the other hand, maybe she is unteachable, who knows.

Anyway, when I got home I checked the crock pot and it smelled pretty good. There was a venison roast in it and it was coming along quite nicely.

Later when I ate it, it fell apart in my mouth.

Betcha that's one other thing the lotion lady has missed in her short, little protected life.
I've posted daily now for 60 days. It's been difficult at best sometimes, and I've almost missed a couple times, but managed to get the posts off with a laptop while sitting in a WiFi area.

Pretty neat. Too bad I couldn't get 60 days off of work and a flight to Afghanistan. I'd give my right arm to Blog the troops ala Ernie Pyle.

Pyle really didn't cover the global picture of the war, he covered the day to day lives of the troops. This is more up my alley, as everyone and their cousin wants to talk with General Whatsisname or General Whoseemajigger.

Truth is, what a war really is all about is Sergeant Localkid or Private Grewupdownthestreet.
This war, also, is a little closer to home because for the first time since Korea, we've put the reserves to work. This war is not just being fought by Regulars. There are a whole ringtailed passle of Citizen-Soldiers out there.

I'd just love to go over there and tell their story.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A morning of The Old School.

Yesterday morning. Got up. Had a couple little things to do.

Fired up the Miata in the driveway and let it warm up.

It was a clear, sunny day and as an Old School sportscar driver, the top stays down unless it is raining. I bought the car strictly for top down fun, and just because it's cold doesn't mean I don't take it out on a clear day.

Helmet and goggles time. Old School stuff. I donned my leather jacket, silk scarf, helmet and goggles and I was off to the barber shop for an Old School barbershop shave.

The barber slathered my face with hot foam and started working it into my beard with his fingertips for a while, next he covered my face with a hot towel and drove the steam deep into the shaving cream and pushed it deeper into my beard. This was followed by a re-lathering and then the steel appeared, a straight razor.

When the scraping was done, this was followed by anotheer somewhat cooler hot towel and a quick face massage and the application of Bay Rum.

Nothing like an Old School barbershop shave to start the day with.

Then came the unsuccessful chase to find a wool hunting shirt.

I tried all over hell to find a wool hunting shirt, starting with LL Bean at the mall.

The fact that I couldn't find one anywhere means little compared to the hassle of having to deal with salespeople that try their damnedest to sell me EXACTLY what I am NOT looking for.

It got old fast.

Abercrombie and Fitch used to be an outfitter. A place you could enter in street clothing and leave looking like you were going to Arrica to shoot an elephant, but no more.

Entering Abercrombie and Fitch is like entering a Bangkok whorehouse, with dark lights, loud music and incense burning. I kept looking around for a bunch a petite asian women in scanty lingerie to come out of the woodwork and line up for me.

LL Bean let me down fast, and I got a lecturee there about how wool is obselete and old fashioned and not as warm as the new stuff. I shot back that all the new stuff is fine until you get it wet. Then you remove your right boot, put your big toe in the trigger guard and the muzzle in your mouth and end it because it's whole lot better going that way rather than freezing to death.

With wool, you wring it out and put it back on. Wet wool holds heat.

Funny how many so-called outdoor clothing salesman don't know that little piece of Old School lore.

Anyway, I wound up ordering the shirt on line. I ordered two, actually. If I ordered two, I got free shipping and a price break, so the second one was cheap enough to make it worth getting.

Now I have a pair off Old School shirts coming, which is pretty neat.

I think that tonight I'll fire up the old Ocean Hopper radio and comb the airwaves for a little European entertainment. What would be cool is to hear the North Korean station spout off with their special brand of 'Yankee dog, Imperialist pig' propaganda. That kind of stuff is getting pretty hard to find these days.

I'll tell you how I make out tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I am going to clean house today

Allthough I keep a faairly clean house, there are places that get overlooked, like maybe a dust bunny under the couch or something along these lines.

I think I'll do some 'deep cleaning' today and see what the place looks like when I'm done.

Maybe I'll write some more later.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Provolone cheese comes from UTAH

As we all know, provolone cheese comes from Utah, because by Federal law in order to be labeled as genuine provolone cheese it has to come out of one of the cheese factories in Provo.

Or so I told a woman one day at the deli.

"When the Mormons were working their way west, they had to winter in Wisconsin. The farmers there taught them the cheese making trade. When they arrived in Utah, they found wild cattle running around that were escapees from the long cattle drives. They started milking them and making cheese. Because the vegetation was different in Utah than in Wisconsin, the milk was different, so the cheese was different. Provolone cheese comes from Provo Utah."

"Really?" she asked.

"Yes, and what's interesting is the way it was marketed in New York," I added.

"How's that?" she asked.

"Ever see any of the 'Godfather' movies?"

She said that she had.

"When the first of the Italian mob guys came to power, they opened little olive oil and cheese importing businesses. They discovered Provolone cheese and it was similar too the stuff they made back in the Old Country. They had it shipped to Genoa, New York, a suburb of Manhattan. That way they could say it came from Genoa and they could pass it off to the Italian immigrants as coming from Italy."

"Really? I can't wait to tell my garden club! Who would have ever thought"

Her son, standing nearby just shook his head. I'll bet he didn't tell her the truth, though.

The smirk he gave me was priceless.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

at the quarry 40 years ago

It was a Saturday afternoon either late November or early December about 40 years ago.

We were at a quarry we used to swim in. Actually, we’d jump off the cliffs into the water below. My father had done the very same thing as a kid, his record was 88 feet. I had broken that record a few months earlier by 8 feet.

We were not there that day to swim. We were there to scout out places to jump from without getting hurt. Although by diving there we were doing something inherently dangerous, we were trying to make it as safe as possible.

My friend, John, was up on top and I was climbing down. I saw a shelf below me that showed promise and I wanted to clamber down. I knew I could make it, but I decided it would be safer if I had a length of rope.

I planned on throwing the bight around a boulder and using the 2 parts to steady myself down. I shouted up to John to lower me a rope.

It was a mistake, as there was some idiot kid there and he didn’t have clue one. He quietly went for his car and promptly roared off. Then, unbeknownst to us, the jerk made a panicky call to the police, who immediately called the damned rescue squad.

So there I am, on a ledge, with the rescue squad on top shouting ‘hut, hut, hut’, running around in circles and in general staging a Chinese fire drill. Excuse me. That’s not politically correct. They were conducting a Central Asian conflagration rehearsal. There. Are you happy now? Good.

I sat down on the ledge and put my face in both palms.

Then I got up and told them that if they wanted me up there, they could simply wait a couple minutes as I climbed up, but that was not what they wanted.

They wanted to save me from myself.

I was livid.

Down came a pair of lines. I wanted some rope, anyway, so I pulled out my Camp King and cut off about 20 feet of it and lowered myself to where I was going in the first place. Of course, as I was doing this, the rescue guys were shouting at me to stay where I was.

I looked at where I was and figured it was a pretty good place to dive from, as it wasn’t too high up to dive. Any higher than that and we’d have to jump.

I knew I was resigned to have to deal with a rescue worker that was going to make a big deal out of nothing, and when I got up topside, there was going to be a long, boring, stupid lecture.

There was also going to be a huge report to fill out and a cartload of other happy horseshit to deal with. There was also a pretty good chance I’d lose my temper and get arrested. Then they’d call me an ungrateful bastard and tell me how they had saved my life and I should be grateful and I’d have to face the ‘juvenile officer’ at the station.

That’s when I decided that it wasn’t going to happen. About this time, the rescue worker came down on a bosun’s chair, rested his feet on the ledge and told me to stay put. “Don’t worry, son. We’ll get you out of here!”

I looked at him and gave him the ass chewing of his life and told him that if I wanted or needed to be rescued, I’d call him.

I was not very polite.

He started to argue with me, but I cut him off by shouting up to John.

“Snag me in the lower,” I shouted.

Then, right before his very eyes, I turned my back to him and dove! It was a letter perfect jackknife, and I entered the water cleanly.

Looking back on it, it was very possible the best dive of my career.

The water was as cold as a witch’s tit in a brass bra, but when I surfaced, I doffed my jacket.

Then I started to swim straight for shore. I beat John to the pickup point by about thirty long seconds and stood there shaking like a dog shitting peach pits. I knew the police officer would be busy making sure the rescue workers were OK, so I hopped in the car and told John to hit it.

We took off like a shot, got on the road and after a few minutes we were on the highway and I knew we were home free.

To this day, my biggest pet peeve of all, the one I have never gotten over or come to grips with after all these years, has been people that try and save me from myself.

Tomorrow: Where Provolone cheese comes from

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Looking for a Seeing eye cat

I was feeling cruel and cowardly this morning when I went to cash a check.

I kept my eyes open for something, anything. A baby with a candy bar to take away. A handicapped guy on a wheelchair, an old lady on a walker, SOMMETHING. Anything.

OK, OK, it wasn't that bad, but you get the idea. I just felt like feeding a gullible old soul a crock of bull.

A couple of hours later, I got the OK to go cash a check. I cashed it and as I was leaving the bank. I spotted a pet store and simply couldn't resist.

I wandered in and put the Official 'Help Me" look on my face.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, Ma'am," I said, solomnly. "My nephew lost his eyesight in an accident and I'm looking for a guide animal for him."

"You mean a seeing eye dog?" she asked.

"A seeing eye cat, actually," I said, seriously.

"I never heard of a seeing eye CAT," she said.

'It's a recent thing," I explained. "Cats don't have to be walked several times a day, dogs do."

"How interesting. I never knew."

She then went on to explain that a number of local shelters keep their eyes peeled for intelligent yooung pups that they send out to trainers to become guide animals and gave me the names of s couple of shelters. I pulled out a notebook and a pen and took copious notes.

Then she asked me, "What do people with cats as guide animals do to protect them, say, from unleashed dogs?"

I looked at her and explained, " One of the first things Goveernor Rendell did when he took office was to sign legislation permitting people with guide animals to carry handguns to protect their guide animals."

'But they're blind, how do they see where to shoot?" she sounded worried.

"Ray Charles opened a school in Louisiana that teaches marksmanship to blind people," I explained. "Most people are unaware that Ray was an excellent marksman. In one of his movies he fired a couple shots over someone's head to chase him off. The scene was filmed with Ray using live ammunition."


"Yes, Ma'am," I replied. "Thank you for your time."

"Oooh! This is exciting! Tonight I'm going to look this up on the internet," she said.

I left and had a VERY hard time holding it together until I reached my pickup.