Sunday, May 30, 2010

I will be out of internet range for the next week

That is all.

my other blog is:

I am contemplating going off on a 3 day drunk.

I do not know why I am posting this.

I haven't been off on a real bender for quite a number of years.

I probably stay fairly sobor and behave myself like I usually do, but at least I'm thinking about it.

Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it a good thing.

But I guess it does show that I am at least alive because I am thinking of SOMETHING.

And that is a good thing.

my other blog is:

I am posting this a day early,

Today is Memorial Day.

One Memorial Day a few years back I put a bayonet on the end of an M-1 rifle and stuck it in the ground. Then I put an old style steel helmet on the buttstock and hung dogtags in the trigger guard.

The classic WW2 soldiers grave.

I did this in my front yard after dinner.

Then I retreated to the porch to watch.

As the people in the neighborhood were walking their pets, I noticed a few things.

The do gooders who never seem to have a clue as to why they have it so good in this country crossed the street to avoid the horrible sight of an uncased firearm. The truth is they didn’t want to face up to the truth.

The reason we live so good and sleep well in our beds is because rough men with arms stand by to do unspeakable violence on our behalf.

Most of the other people that walked by, though, grew silent and thoughtful. Some would spot me watching from the porch and nod.

One old timer looked up at me and said to me, “Someone knows what the day is all about.”

He looked like a Korean vet.

Now, I don’t want to ruin everyone’s barbecue, but I would like to see people take a moment or two to think of how damned costly our basic American lifestyle is.

It won’t hurt. It is the purpose of the holiday, and besides, if someone is so cheap with their day as to not be willing to spend a few minutes in thought, they don’t deserve the day off. Send them back to work.

Today is not the day to thank a living vet for his service, the proper day for that is Veterans Day. The veterans that you can thank are alive.

Today is the day to thank the veterans that didn’t make it home.

my other blog is:

I may miss a few posts as we are scheduled to be out of internet range for a few days.

Today I made two heaving lines, which is really no bit thing. Tieing a monkey’s fist is old hat, ad I figure I have tied hundreds of them over the years.

The first thing I did before I started was to dig into my stash and break out a couple of weights I have had a friend make me just for this specific purpose.

For those non-nautical readers, a heaving line is a light line with a weight on one end that is used to throw to a person on the dock. A heavier line (too heavy to be thrown) is attached to it and then the heavy line is hauled ashore (or wherever).

Now the monkey’s fist is simply an old school knot on the end of the heaving line to give it some weight so it will fly true when it is thrown. Generally a weight of some sort is placed in the monkey’s fist to give it more oomph.

I sat down to tie a monkey’s fist and was reminded of a job I did a few years back for the Navy.

A flattop was headed into the yard for repairs or something and the powers that be decided that it would be a good idea to empty some of the fuel off of the leviathan. I suppose it was probably a pretty good idea.

We came alongside in a 35,000 barrel oil barge to do this work.

Now, the carrier deck was much higher than we were, so the Navy guys decided to be kind and throw their heaving lines down to us so we didn’t have to throw ours up. Nautical courtesy dictates this. Make it easy for the other guy.

There was a pretty stiff wind blowing and their heaving lines blew all over hell. They could not get one to fly true in the wind. We grew impatient and my shipmate grabbed one of my heaving lines and giving the shout of ‘Incoming!’ he let loose. The monkey’s fist and its attached heaving line traveled like a bullet and landed on the deck of the carrier with a thunk.

The person nearest it happened to be the Chief of the deck and he did what sailors of any rank do, he hauled the heaving line and the attached deck line up and dropped the eye over the strong point.

When he was done, he examined the monkey’s fist and shook his head sadly. “That’s one hell of a heaving line. Haven’t seen one of those in a while” he said. “Navy regulations keep us from making them this way anymore.”

It made me sad to hear him say that.

We worked our way in closer to the huge vessel and then the Navy guys sent down another heaving line, which I snagged. It was then I saw the problem the sailors were having.

Attached to the end of their line was a wiffle ball.

The waffle ball on the end of a piece of 3/8ths inch line actually made it worse than having nothing at all on the end.

Of course, I didn’t blame the poor sailors for the lousy heaving line. It doesn’t take a Harvard Law School grad to know that, but it would not surprise me in any way to find out that it was a Harvard Law grad that decided to hamstring the Navy with a foolish safety regulation.

My guess is that some dweeb seaman recruit wasn’t paying attention and got bopped on the head with a heaving line and when his mother found out that here idiot kid got hurt, she wrote her congress critter who, in turn, raised hell with the Navy. The Navy powers that be, fearful of losing an appropriation of some sort, issued the appropriate orders mandating the use of waffle balls on the end of heaving lines.

This sounds like small potatoes, but it really isn’t, a heaving line thrown out and hitting the dock can make all the difference between colliding with a dock or a ship and a smooth docking.

Besides, this is also a symptom of the trends I all too often see where, covered under the impenetrable cloak of safety, common sense gets thrown out the window.

Often times the new policy backfires and takes a situation that has inherent risks to it go from mildly risky to outright dangerous.

Monkey's fist knot

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

I am an old man.

The other day I heard a younger father getting on his son’s case.

He said, “I buy you a laptop, I send you to school and you still don’t learn.”

In my day, it wasn’t a laptop, parents bought their kids books, sent them to school and they still didn’t learn unless the parents sat their ass down at the kitchen table and made them do their homework under pain of nine from the sky, which was socially acceptable for use in getting children to learn their lessons at the time.

Times change.

Things right now are changing at an astonishing rate and I will not even begin to say that I can come close to keeping up with them.

I-pods, X-boxes, smart phones and everything else is totally overwhelming. The technology is incredible.

A while ago my shipmate took a cell phone picture of a little bird we rescued. We wanted to see the picture on the computer, as the screen of the cell phone is so small. Having no USB cable made it difficult.

I got on a website I know of and had someone on the web site send me his cell number and we sent the picture to him. He downloaded it and emailed it to us.

It should be carefully noted that the person that took the call was over 3000 miles away.

The total time from the snapping of the picture to opening it on my email was under ten minutes.

Back in the day, one would buy a Kodak Brownie camera, load it with film, shoot the roll of film up and take it to a drugstore. They would send it out for processing. Times ranged from about a week to maybe two weeks or sometimes even more.

Today I had an instance where somebody needed a copy of a document as quickly as possible. It was not a typed document, to clarify things, this was a handwritten one. I mention this to make it clear that the writing on the document was not small, fine type. I don’t know if I could have reproduced fine type with the tool I had.

I grabbed my cell phone/camera and shot the documents with it and sent it to the person I was supposed to send it to. He was supposed to download the picture from his cell phone and put it on his computer and print it up.

There were three pages, the first try one of them reproduced clearly. It took me a couple more tries to get all three to where they were clear enough to print up.

Still, it’s incredible when you consider that I was doing that with a unit that cost me under $20 at Wal-Mart.

As a kid, there were a number of ‘secret agent’ shows on TV, most notably one called ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’. In one episode they were trying to steal a secret document from their adversary and instead of stealing it, the secret agent pulled out a camera about the size of my cell phone and photographed the documents.

I have to admit that when I was doing that I felt a little like a secret agent. Then I realized one thing. The secret agent had to take HIS film back to headquarters for the lab process it, whereby I was sending them to the recipient as soon as I took them! Astonishing!

Now all of this stuff is all well and good and makes life a whole lot easier, but you do have to put it into context and step and look back.

This new technology isn’t a replacement for old technology by any means. It is nothing more or less than another tool to work with. There are times when the right tool for the job is a simple hammer.

Life requires both high and low tech tools so you can bet that I’m not taking the lowly P-38 can opener off of my neck-chain and toss it out anytime soon.

my other blog is:

Friday, May 28, 2010

One of the things that irks me

is how every company seems to use some type of special piece of hardware that is made specially for their product.

Cell phone and laptop chargers are a pretty good example of this.

I am on my fifth cell phone now. The first three were the same model, which posed me no problems. Because I got a free AC charger with each one, life was good.

I could set up 2 at home and one on the boat by the time I was using the third unit of the phone of the same model.

Then things changed and nothing would do but I just had to get a camera phone to make things a little easier at work.

Of course, the chargers wouldn’t fit the new phone and this meant I was carting the same charger to work with me back and forth. It also meant I had to get a new car charger which was another fifteen scoots down the tube.

Shortly after that I found my pay as you go plan was costing me too much money. I went to a different plan.

So now instead of being able to change, say, the SIMS card I have to get yet another phone of a different model requiring yet another car charger and again fifteen scoots go down the sinkhole.

I wish that these guys would make it easy on someone and all use the same mini USB plug or at least agree on something because I’m getting pretty tired of it.

Of course, the phone I have now has what LOOKS like a mini USB plug on it, and I was delighted until I tried to plug the phone into my laptop to download a picture.


Would it fit? No way in hell. The company twinked with the plug so it wouldn’t fit and now I have to buy their special little proprietary cord, which I refuse to do. I suppose I could figure out a way to use the browser to send my pics to my email address, but it still galls me. It’s not a simple process anymore.

Now the National Administration for Space and Aeronautics doesn’t call me on a regular basis to do the math required for the landing path of the Space Shuttle, but I can certainly figure out that money is involved here. They do this simply to knick your wallet, which is par golf.

Everybody wants a piece of you.

One thing I have seen the aftermarket people do is market car chargers that have several different plugs that fit several different models of cell phones.

Now, when I bought the last charger, I actually SAVED the other little plug in ends and Lo and Behold!
I saved myself from having to cough up yet ANOTHER fifteen scoots because one of the ends actually fits the new phone.

I know this is a small victory, and probably a pyrrhic one, but I think it’s worth pouring myself a drink over.

my other blog is:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I recently read

where a group of people from California are going to Arizona to protest the recent illegal immigration law that was passed there.

Of course, they sound like a bunch of busybodies to me. They should stay home and put themselves to work trying to improve whatever it is in California that needs improving.

If Arizona and California took care of themselves instead of trying to tell each other what to do, I’m pretty sure both states would be better off.

One thing gets me, though. I was reading where someone is trying to organize a counter protest to burn the Mexican flag in front of the protesters.

This sounds plainly and simply like someone looking for trouble.

I know I would see red and lash out if I was witness to someone burning Old Glory in front of me.

Let’s do a little clear thinking of the situation here.

This is a pretty highly charged emotional issue.

When people are emotional, they do not think very straight and burning a Mexican flag at an illegal immigrant support rally is a sure-fire way to get a response, and I’d just bet the illegal immigrant supporters would not simply invite the flag burners over to join them in singing Kum-Ba-Yah.

More than likely, it would immediately be met with rocks, sticks and fists.

While being a part of a counter rally and burning the Mexican flag may sound exciting and cool, being in a riot is no fun at all.

I know. Being caught up in a riot is like being caught up in the middle of a 25 foot wave. About the only thing you can do is curl up into a ball, pray, ride it out, and hope to hell you simply survive. It’s pretty ugly. Uglier than one of those women you find at Wal-Mart.

Such a scene is pretty likely to make their side look like they are the instigators of trouble, and when you look at the bias of the media, there really is no way you are going to come out of a brawl like that with clean hands.

Personally, I think you’d get a lot more done if you’d simply show up at the appropriate representative’s office and spend some time talking to either the representative or their aide than you would getting caught up in a bottle throwing melee.

But that’s just me.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I can recall one thing

that happened several years ago when I bought my pickup through a non conventional route.

A relative of mine was working for Toyota at the time and I got the truck at a hefty discount through him. He was living several states away from me.

I was to take delivery of the vehicle from a local dealer and I guess the dealer was under some kind of orders to keep his greasy little paws out of things and make the transfer as painless as possible, which was a pretty good deal, as I truly hate car salesmen with a passion.

I had also made it clear that I could possibly be out at sea when the vehicle arrived and that he was to hold it for me. My relative also called thee dealer and told them the same thing. I believe the term ‘until hell freezes over’ was used.

Anyway, shortly before the truck was to be delivered, I got a call at work regarding making payment upon delivery.

I was asleep at the time, having been up all night and one of the guys here fielded the call. He refused to wake me, and the woman got rude. She then commented to him that “I don’t know what kind of job he has that allows him to sleep at 10 am!”

When I arose at about 1400, I called my relative and he told me she was from some financing agency that was detailed with making sure the transaction would go smoothly and that she had a reputation of being pretty brusque.

I asked him for the address of her office and he gave it to me.

Scribble, scribble.

I thanked him and hung up.

When I called back, I identified myself and asked for the person that had just rudely beat up my crewman.


Finally, she told me she would forward my call.

The woman in question answered. She was pretty brusque in her tone of voice.

“Are you the woman that was rude to my crewman at 1000 hours this morning?” I asked in a withering tone.

“Some guy refused to wake you up…” she snapped back.

“That’s because I would have fired him had he done so,” I replied. “I told to wake me in an emergency only. Your call does not constitute an emergency.”

“Yeah, well….” She started.
“Well, nothing,” I interrupted. “Let’s get the ground rules straight. I am CAPTAIN Piccolo, and you may address me as such. I am a U.S. Merchant Marine Officer and the master of a small tanker. When you called I had just finished a thirty hour cargo transfer. I was tired and went to sleep as humans are apt to do. Now, pray, please tell me what pressing matter needs my immediate and pressing attention.”

She went on to explain that I was supposed to make sure I had made all the necessary financial arrangements to pay for said vehicle upon arrival. While she was not rude, she was not overly polite, either.

“Does the Toyota Motor Company not accept cash?” I asked. “Or, perhaps, if it would be more convenient for the dealer I could simply write a check.”

“You’re not arranging a loan?” she asked.

“I suppose I could if it’s necessary,” I answered. “Of course, the easiest way for me to do that would be to simply put it in VISA and pay it off at the end of the month; however, I would really prefer to pay cash.”

(This was pre 9-11. It was legal at the time to put a vehicle on plastic.)

“I see,” she replied.

“Would that pose a problem?”

Her voice changed, but she was not completely beaten down yet. I wasn’t trying to totally humiliate her, but I’ll admit that I was pretty annoyed that she had given my guy a bunch of aggravation.

“We’re tied up alongside a pier about thirty minutes away from your office right now. We are not sailing until later this evening. Perhaps I could grab a cab and drive over and discuss this in person.” I offered.

“That won’t be necessary,” she replied.

“Does this conclude our business?” I asked.

“Yes, Captain,” she replied.

I hung up.

Twenty-five minutes later I got a call from my relative.

He was delighted I had handled the woman that way.

I was pretty annoyed that I had to.

Why did she have to be that way?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One of the things

I have had to deal with in the area of communication problems was this tug skipper that could not articulate very well.

Without a doubt, he was one of the finest boat handlers I have ever met, but he couldn’t give directions for sour apples.

To him, everywhere was ‘Over yonder’.

It caused mass confusion, as you can well imagine, and the more confusing it got, the more frustrating it got for everyone involved.

It was just a matter of time before something turned sour and someone either got hurt or something got damaged.

I went over to his tug one day and asked him just exactly where ‘over yonder’ was.

He replied by explaining that he was from the south.

Over the years I have had people defend their actions and attitudes by explaining that they are from s certain geographic region. I don’t buy it, but I had to work with this guy.

I told him that he ought to be proud of himself because quite a number of good people came from the south and that I was an admirer of a fine southern gentleman by the name of Robert E. Lee. It seemed to mollify him quite a bit. I had not insulted the south.

When I returned to the subject of the use of the term ‘over yonder’, he seemed upset and explained that he had been using the term all of his life.

Politely and firmly, that I had no problem with the fine southern term, but that it had to be clearly defined.

I told him that ‘over yonder’ meant the twin bits amidships and ONLY the twin bits amidships. He was still free to use the charming southern term, but now it was clearly defined.

Then I made it clear that if he wanted something like a line ‘over yonder’ that he was going to get a line right there, on the twin bits.

If he wanted a line two cleats ahead of the twin bits, he could say that he wanted a line 2 cleats ahead of over yonder.

I knew I would have to stick to my guns with this and it would take a while. It didn’t take long. There were a few small spats. Every time he told me to do something ‘over yonder’ I reported to the twin bits and did what I was told.

It took some time, but he got over it.

Soon he was telling us what to do in a way we could understand. Docking and sailing changed from being a circus to a smooth uneventful operation.

It was mildly amusing when he started asking for something using ‘over yonder’ as a reference point.

This idea was not original. I stole it from a Marine Major that ran a Marine Force Recon company in Vietnam.

Back during the Vietnam War, the GIs there used the term ‘beaucoup’ to mean many. It was not a specific amount and was not very clear. The major told his troops that ‘beaucoup’ was fourteen (or something). If there were 20 enemy troops spotted, you could say ‘beaucoup plus six’ and everyone knew what that meant. It meant twenty.

It worked and the reports the troops made were a lot clearer.

Sometimes you simply have to sit down and define terms.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

So far trying to get a halfway decent roofer

is getting interesting. There are a few guys out there that seem to know what they are doing and can read.

There are a couple I am looking at.

The ones that really get my goat to no end are the ones that can’t read.

I am looking for a simple labor only bid, as I have all the materials lined up. I carefully specify this on my emails to these guys.

I also gave him a time frame. I specifically told him I was at sea and would have to wait until I got home.

Today I got a phone call from one.

He promptly started confidently telling me about all of the materials that he planned on using on my roof and how he was going to give me a real deal.

His price was ridiculously high, anyway.

Instead of getting upset, I decided to have a little fun.

“When can you start?” I asked. “I’d like to hire you right now.”

“I can start in the tomorrow,” he replied.

“Good,” I smoothly answered back. “That sounds great! Now that I’ve hired you, I have something to tell you.”

“What’s that?”

“You’re fired.”

He sounded very confused. “Why is that?”

“You can’t read,” I answered.

What is so damned hard about taking a minute to read what the customer wants?

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

One of the things I have learned in 58 years

man and boy is that communication is very important, especially when something goes wrong.

Americans hate a cover up more than anything else, and yet it is human nature to try and cover things up to stay out of hot water or avoid embarrassment.

I have a friend I grew up with that is somewhat semi retired from a career in banking. I guess he’s done pretty well for himself, and if I know him it’s because he has come up with solutions to people’s problems.

Quite a few years back we had a long chat in teaching me how to deal with the bank if something happens along the way. I had a mortgage and there was a possibility that I would be victim of some sort of layoff. I was somewhat worried over this.

Over breakfast he told me that the loss of a job or some other horrendous happening was a lot more common than is widely believed, and yet when it happens the difference between, say, keeping or losing the family manse is how the situation is handled.

The first step is communication. Get with the bank and let them know what is going on. The bank knows that these things happen and they really do not want to be stuck with another house. What they really want is to have the loan paid off.

They can and will work with you if you have something to work with. They actually want you to succeed because if you succeed, they succeed.

The worst thing you can do is avoid the bank because they do not know what is going on and it forces them to do exactly what neither party wants to have happen.

It creates a lose/lose situation where the bank gets stuck with an unwanted house and you get cast out to the wolves.

At work I enjoy a reputation of always being in the right place at the right time in the appropriate uniform. My hitch in the army stressed the importance of that to no end. I have missed a crew change one time in two decades and that was because of a pretty serious injury.

When that happened, I made it a point to call the office from the emergency room. I made two calls that night, one to Mrs. Pic, and the other was to my employer.

I called the dispatcher at about 2000 hours and told him that I was hurt and did not see myself recovering before I was scheduled to return to work.

The following day, personnel called me and seemed astonished that I had notified them two weeks before I was due to return to work.

The incident became a non event.

Instead of being angry that I wasn’t coming in, they were grateful that I had given them as much notice as possible.

Most people are pretty good about things if you don’t try and hide things. They expect things to happen.

Accidents are a fairly regular occurrence and I have seen more guys get canned not for the accident itself, but for trying to squirm out of it.

It’s interesting to watch the process over the course of a career. I’ve seen a guy plaster a piece of equipment and report it immediately and not miss a minute of work over it. On the other hand, I’ve seen people try hide something not much worse than scratched paint get sent down the road for trying to hide it.

The interesting thing to note is that had they called it in, the powers that be would probably simply said something like, “Yeah? So what?”

I’ve discovered over the years that a lot of life is the spin put on things.

Giving a ‘heads up’ to people generally takes a negative situation and puts it into a positive light. Instead of crucifying you, the people upstairs will generally bust their asses to help a guy out.

The army, which has a reputation of being pretty hard on their people regarding being where you are supposed to be and when you are supposed to be there is a lot more forgiving than one would believe if you play by the rules.

Once, while returning from a leave, I was the victim of an airlines strike. It looked like I was going to be late returning.

I instantly called the First Sergeant. He calmly told me two things; he told me to relax and keep him posted.

I was so surprised to hear this from Top that you could have knocked me over with a feather. Top was a damned serious, no nonsense Old Army First Sergeant. A man of very limited formal education, yet he was a man of immense native wisdom.

I had expected to catch holy hell.

The fact that I returned to my outfit on time with the most dramatic return from leave is immaterial.

Upon my return the old Top Kick hauled me into his office and instead of an ass chewing, he explained to me that I had done exactly the right thing on keeping him posted of the possibility of returning late.

I asked him what would have happened to me if I had not arrived on time, and he told me that because I had been forthright to him and called, he simply would have
kept me on leave status for another day or two until I returned. No problem.

Looking back on it, I imagine he would not have even charged my leave earnings balance with the extra day or two, had I been late. I think he was grateful that I had called and not created a problem for him.

Over the course of my hitch, I saw numerous guys get into trouble that could have simply been avoided with a simple phone call.

Over the course of my civilian career, I have seen the same thing.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

It doesn’t take much.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

ACSOTs are ApoCryphal Stories Often Told,

and there are a number of them out there.

There was a pretty good one that made the rounds several years ago with the entry of the primitive electronic game, Space Invaders. The rumor was that if you made the high score and entered your initials that the machine would take your picture and the Department of Defense would put it in a file so you could be drafted in case of an intergalactic war.

The game winner would be drafted and sent to Space Shuttle Door Gunner’s School or some such truck.

That particular rumor went around for at about ten or fifteen years.

My favorite one of all time just popped up again for the first time in quite a while. It is the Jeep one.

For the life of me, I heard it just the other day. It hasn’t died after 65 years and the rumor hasn’t changed at all.

This is a miracle among the order of Moses parting the Red Sea, as often repeated rumors get changed over time and retelling.

Now the Jeep rumor started in about late 1945 right after the Japanese surrendered.

The official rumor in that I heard in the 50s was this: You can buy an army surplus jeep in a crate for fifty dollars. All of the pieces are covered in cosmoline and you have to put it together yourself.

While it is fact that after the war, quite a number of jeeps were sold off to the public, it should be carefully remembered that the condition of them ranged from brand new to tired, worn out pieces of junk. Most of the ones sent overseas were left there after the war, but occasionally one made it back into the states for rebuild, so the side rumors of buying one full of bullet holes is greatly exaggerated.

I told my dad about the rumor and he told me that if I could buy one for that much money, he would pay for it and help me assemble it. You can bet that this young lad went off on a wild goose chase that lasted for years.

Letters were written, pamphlets sent for and a kid was kept out of mischief chasing the elusive fifty dollar jeep-in-a-crate.

Over the years I have met a number of people that know someone that had a friend who had a brother-in-law that had a best friend’s college room mate’s girlfriend that had an uncle that owned one that he had bought for fifty bucks and put together.

Try as I may, I was never able to find anyone that had ever seen one in real life, although I have met a couple of people that claimed someone they knew actually did own one.

Recently I found out where the Jeep in a crate rumor actually came from. Indeed, there really were Jeeps crated up, and to a certain extent they were partially disassembled.

Jeeps were shipped overseas by the thousands during the Second World War, and quite often they were crated up. The wheels, and canvas roofs were taken apart and stored in various parts of the body and the windshields were folded down. All of this was to reduce the size of the crate needed to box the jeep up.

When the jeep-in-a-crate arrived overseas, it was taken to a staging area near the dock, the crate was opened, and the wheels were bolted on, the battery connected. Oil was then added to the crankcase, the jeep was gassed up and it was good to go.

This is where the jeep in a crate myth was started, and because it was partially disassembled, the rumor of having to put the parts together yourself. This is true enough if you were fortunate enough to buy surplus jeep that had been packed for overseas shipment. Of course, the rumor apparently grew as to how much assembly was required.

Where the cosmoline part of the story came from is beyond me. Cosmoline is an obsolete military preservative used for the deep storage of metal and wood items. It is generally associated with small arms because many wartime GIs were issued weapons covered with the nasty stuff and played hell removing it.

Cosomline is a greasy looking compound that is a viscous liquid that enters every pore of whatever it is dipped into it, and shortly thereafter it gels up to a fairly stiff consistency and resembles petrified grease.

Rifles were dipped in the stuff, covered with a foil backed paper and packed into wooden cases, 10 per.

Over the years I have had a few surplus rifles and have had to remove cosmoline from them. The way I was taught by the WW2 generation was to disassemble the rifle, immerse the parts in gasoline and scrub it off with a stiff fiber brush. It’s a dangerous job that way, but it works.

I can think of no reason for the rumor of the jeep parts being coated in cosmoline except that it may have been started by a GI somewhere that had to de-cosmoline a number of weapons or whatever and mused about how just about everything GI he encountered was covered with the stuff.

It makes no sense, as the metal on every surface of a jeep was covered with good, solid OD green paint.

Anyway, the subject of the fifty dollar jeep-in-a-box, you assemble and de-cosmoline came up a couple of days ago and I had to laugh about it.

It had been a couple of years since I heard it, and deep inside I was very pleased to know the old rumor was very much alive.

Jeep crated up for shipping overseas.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Neighbor Bob is a member of the K of C,

which is not Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is the Knights of Columbus.

Bob always refers to it as ‘the Knights of Columbus’ instead of K of C because when he does, some imbecile or smartass always asks him how Colonel Sanders is doing these days.

Some time back he was doing some kind of fund raiser for them and some smartass asked him who he was representing. Bob simply told him they were the Knights of Columbus.

“What about the Days of Columbus,” asked the smartass?

Bob amazes me every so often. He had a pretty good off the top of his head answer for the guy.

“When Columbus set sail in the Santa Maria, he had both the Knights of Columbus and the Days of Columbus on board. The Knights of Columbus were berthed astern and the Days were in the forecastle. The days of Columbus were wearing heavy armor which upset the trim of the boat, bringing the bow down so that in any kind of seas the propeller would come out of the water.”

“Needless to say, this effected fuel consumption. He tried to integrate the crew, but they insisted that Days and Knights were not to be mixed, lest the earth be plunged into a permanent twilight.”

“Columbus had to do something or he knew he would never make it to where he was going because of the increased fuel consumption, so he put the Days of Columbus ashore on a Caribbean island somewhere where the Days of Columbus spent the rest of their days.”

“All the Days of Columbus had to do from then on was hoot, holler, drink rum and chase the native poon.”

“The Knights of Columbus went on to serve.”

Not bad for off the top of his head.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

“I do not think this was one of your better ideas,”

said Neighbor Bob.

He was right. I am lucky that the EPA did not come charging down and cart me off.

Bob and I were sitting on the back porch contemplating the rusty little love swing there and we decided that maybe it was time to send it off to the big love swing heaven in the sky.

I noticed an extension cord was there and knew it was hot, and that the good old Sawzall was in the garage. We made short work of it and stuffed the steel remains into a trash can knowing it would disappear the following trash day.

To celebrate this fine piece of Old World Sawzall craftsmanship, we built a pretty good fire in the fire pot in the yard, several yards from the porch.

Being responsible adults coupled with the fact that we had just opened a cold beer, we carefully lit the fire using the proscribed charcoal lighting fluid instead of the more efficient gasoline. As the flames slowly grew we reminisced about the good old days when we used to use gasoline and were treated to its satisfying ‘whoosh’ and instant campfire.

Now, there were a few remains of the old love swing on the porch. There were the two pillows and the pad.

I had planned on pulling them around and placing them on the ground next to the trash cans for the trash men to remove them.

The fire grew, and we added wood as necessary to keep it going and growing.

The fire served two purposes, one of which was camaraderie. The other was to get rid of a lot of wood, as I had lost a couple of trees a while back and had bucked them up for firewood. The pile was much too big, so I looked for any reason I could to have a recreational fire to get rid of the growing heap.

By now, the bed of coals was pretty hot and as I added wood it took off at a pretty good rate.

I looked on the porch at the two leftover pillows from the love seat and decided to test burn one of them.

The pillow burned off fairly quickly and cleanly, so when it died down I threw the other one in. It, too, burned off fairly quickly and cleanly.

Figuring that the main pad and backrest was similarly made, I decided to simply burn it off and make the trash guys life just a little easier.

Bob looked at the pad, noticed the small ‘Do not remove under penalty of law’ tag and yanked it off with a grin.

I grinned back. “Now I’m going to have to burn up the evidence to keep you out of jail,” I said to him with a snicker.

I folded the backrest over the seat and folded the entire thing into thirds and unceremoniously dumped the entire thing on the fire and placed a pair of heavy logs atop it to keep it from unfolding as it burned off.
The pad took off fairly slowly, and after short time caught. It burned for a minute or so and then a thin column of greasy black smoke rose straight up, thickening rapidly on a very ominous fashion. I grew a bit concerned.

In seconds, the column thickened and rose straight up, growing in density and speed rapidly. It quickly grew into a three foot in diameter column of a heavy, greasy, nasty looking of ecological planetary insult.

Because it was getting dark, I wasn’t too worried about anyone calling the authorities, but suddenly the column of smoke, heated by the flames and carrying inflammable gases ignited and the flames were now huge tongues of fire, leaping almost thirty feet into the air.

I looked down into the fire pot, three feet in diameter and shaped like a gigantic wok. Whatever materiel the pad was made of had melted down into the pot. The pot was burning like it was full of boiling gasoline.

I grew a tad nervous, and looked at Bob.

He looked back and shrugged. Things didn’t really look too bad, as there were trees behind us and the house itself shielded the inferno from most angles.

My closest neighbors, Mechanic Ralph and Nurse Connie were out of town, and if they were not, I knew they would say nothing to anyone. They’ve had me do worse without so much as raised eyebrows.

Suddenly, a strange odor emitted from the fire and grew in seconds. It was a truly vile, sweet chemical odor of some chemical that I once delivered to a plastic factory several years ago before it was mercifully outlawed by the EPA.

We had worn self-contained breathing apparatus for the entire cargo transfer. The stuff was deadly.

Of course, the evening air was pretty dead, there was no breeze to cart the vile odor off and it started to hang in the area.

Bob and I looked at each other wide eyed for a couple of seconds. I broke the fearful silence first.

“Where are Lem and Phyllis?” I asked.

“Shelly mentioned they were going back to Lake Erie to celebrate her pregnancy with her parents,” Bob replied.

“Thank God for small miracles,” I said. “One whiff of this and she’d be giving birth to a kid with two heads and six toes on each hand!”

The Japanese word ‘Kamikaze’ comes from the storm that kept Japan from being overrun by the Mongols. The word loosely translates to mean ‘Divine Wind’, and it was a divine wind that came out of practically nowhere and blew for several minutes, fanning the flames and dispersing the vile chemical odor.

The chemical odor quickly disappeared, and the smoke had thinned quite a bit. I relaxed and knew that I would hear nothing about this, unless it was on the sly from a neighbor. The flames had dropped to a level on a par of with that of burning pine. There was nothing anymore that could be pinned on us unless the CSI forensic team arrived right then and there and then to take a few last minute samples.

I looked at the remains of the pair of eight inch logs I had put on top of the pad. They were mere cinders. I went to the wood pile and got more wood and added it to the fire.

Just then, out of the darkness, a body appeared. I knew who it was immediately. It was the jerk that had been the sand in the ointment of Neighbor Bob. He is a loud, obnoxious person when he drinks and on top of that he had moved the survey stakes between his and Neighbor Bobs backyard a couple of times. It was Loudmouth Larry.

There is a right of way between our yards allowing the phone company to use the strip if they so desire. It has been misunderstood many times. I misunderstood it until I went to the city office and got the word on it. It is my property, period. The strip behind Neighbor Bobs is his property.

Mechanic Ralph, about 20 years ago had made the previous resident behind him move a shed he built on the right of way. Ralph would have let it stay there, but the guy was a jerk about it so Ralph lowered the boom.

In a way it was a good thing because it clearly defined the lot lines.

Loudmouth Larry, the guy behind Bob has tried to move the survey stakes a couple of times. I came to help Bob by showing up with about a yard of concrete and we had the surveyor set the stake in a cylinder of concrete about two feet in diameter and three feet deep. The pipes the surveyor used were two inch schedule 80 pipe and we painted them, too. They stuck out of the ground about three feet.

Shortly thereafter, they were mysteriously cut down to a couple of inched off the level of the concrete.

Last summer we heard cursing as Larry hit one of them with a new lawnmower.

There is no love lost between the two.

“What are you burning?” demanded Larry.

Bob interrupted before I could formulate a reply.

“Jews,” he shot back. It’s our last one. We’re also out of Gypsies, Poles, Russians, and homosexuals. We’re switching to criminals. You’re next.”

Loudmouth looked to me for defense. I stared back at him from the fire light.

I was surprised, but managed not to show it. Bob is generally a mild mannered soul. On the other hand, when he gets pushed too far, he is capable of snapping back.

I generally don’t get in the middle of things, but Loudmouth Larry has worked hard at being on the very short list of people I would like to see leave the planet in a painful ball of fire.

“Put and egg in your shoe and beat it,” I said.


“Beat it. Now” I snapped.


“Well, nothing. Hit the bricks.”

Loudmouth turned around and left, Neighbor Bob got up and walked away to the front of my yard, and returned and handed me a fresh beer.

Then the two of us drank a cold one and watched the rest of the fire die down.

It had been a pretty eventful fire that evening.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the way to work I stopped at a

rest area for a cup of joe, which I knew would hit the spot.

As I was carrying my precious cup of liquid heart massage out to my truck, a small group of women came in carrying their luggage, which seemed rather odd.

As I got out the door, I saw another much larger group of women and a couple of somewhat effeminate looking men walking in, all carrying luggage.

They all looked angry and outraged, and I realized that this might be a pretty good story in the making for this blog, so I decided to see what was going on.

I looked out and saw a bus go roaring off, and from the smoke and sound of things, I knew he had the gas pedal mashed tightly against the floor.

There women, for the most part, were in their 20s and looked pretty professional. They were mostly professionally dressed, well made up and looked like a group of mostly pretty classy women.

I stopped and asked a couple of them a few questions and found out that they were New York City students that were in some school related event in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Seems they had all just bailed out of the bus that was taking them back to New York.

Now, they were all pretty upset, and from what I managed to glean, they were escapees from the bus trip from hell.

I know I do not have the story straight because I got conflicting reports from a couple of pretty angry and upset women, but I’ll just bet I have gotten it somewhat close.

The Fly by Night Bus Company had hired an immigrant from some far flung remote outpost on the planet where domestic violence is a very routine occurrence and gave him the run to take the group of students back to New York City.

The picture that comes to my mind is some greasy looking, semi-bald wild-eyed A-rab with a huge Zapata moustache and a gold tooth driving the bus.

When the women politely explained that they had not eaten in several hours and wanted to stop off at a rest area for a quick bite, he balked and snapped that they could eat when they got home.

Then he broke into a cursing streak screaming at them

A few minutes later, one of the women discovered that the bathroom door was locked and the driver roundly cursed them all telling them he wasn’t going to clean up after all those pigs. They could wait until they got to New York.

Wrong move.

He very well might have gotten away with not letting them get a bite to eat, but if he thought for a second that he had what it takes to keep a busload of American women away from the toilet for a four hour bus ride, he must have been out of his mind.

That just ain’t gonna happen. No Way, no how. Nope. Euclid was wrong. The shortest distance between 2 points is not a straight line. It is the route a woman takes to go to the damned bathroom, and there is not a 300 pound linebacker that can stop a 92 pound women determined to pee from getting into the bathroom, either.

The women mutinied and I have visions of a well dressed, classy New York woman removing an Armani Italian stiletto high heel shoe from her foot, grabbing it by the toe and threatening to hammer a couple of dozen marble-sized blood blisters into the greasy little skull of the slimy twerp.

The little twerp, awakened to reality and in fear for his very life, realizes that he is no longer the Sheik of Araby. He is no longer Lord and Master of all he sees.

Something is dreadfully wrong when he has to be the servant of mere women. This is not right by all he calls holy and he wonders what wrong he has committed to have his God put him into this dreadfully fearful situation.

He puts the pedal to the metal and goes like hammers of holy hell to the nearest rest area, cursing loudly all the while. Upon arrival, he pulls up to the door slamming on the brakes and whipping the door open.

The women, seeing the opportunity to use a bathroom or get something in their gurgling, shrunken stomachs, grab their bags and baggage and bail out like paratroopers leaving a burning airplane.

The Bus driver, seeing the opportunity to get away from this angry rabble, curses them as they storm off the bus and the second the last one is off, seizes the opportunity to escape with his life from this unexpected rebellion of women, hits the gas and roars off. The cursing is instantly exchanged for with joyous prayers of thanksgiving for having escaped with his pitiful little life.

Over the years I have seen a few instances where someone moves to this country and forgets that he is not where he came from and gets into trouble by discounting an American woman.

I remember watching some grabby European macho man get a knuckle sandwich once from a pretty little thing that looked like a young Barbara Billingsley.

It never fails to amuse me when some dumb-ass gets what’s coming to him.

As for the women, I told them that I just knew that there was another bus coming along soon, as I had seen an older looking staff type woman on her cell phone.

I told a small group of the students that when this was over and they were back in class, they would have a pretty good story to tell their classmates about the bus ride from hell.

A couple of them looked thoughtfully for a second or two and calmed right down. They looked at me and smiled.

One of them looked at me and chuckled. “You’re right,” she said.

Generally it takes about three or four days for something like this to become a funny story to tell your friends.

I wish I had known this when I was their age.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I am aboard the vessel

which is a good thing.

Again I have cheated death on the PA Turnpike for yet another time.

I met a busload of young women at a rest area on the way that had a VERY interesting tale of woe to share and maybe tomorrow I will post it here.

my other blog is:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Although I am leaving for work soon, I have to wait

until 1500, as there is now scheduled a brief meeting with an Amish roofer.

This may be the answer to my dreama, as the price will be right and the quality of work will be first class.

I have seen them attack a roof with an oversized crew and it is a sight to behold, rating up alongside the spectacle of a pack of hungry wolves attack a side of beef.

I will be responsible for making sure everything is on hand and ready for them and I will be there making the metal drip edging and replacing the eave boards, which I am sure need replacing.

There are 2 roofers that I am looking at and both are Amish.

We shall see what we shall see.

This may get very interesting.

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Today, I will post double because I am not sure I will

be able to get to a computer because it is a crew change day and I have to go back to work and spin the wheels of industry.

This means that today I have to motor across the fins state of Pennsylvania and I think that because my grub situation is good, I just might stop off and secure myself a nice buffalo steak, which I llike to eat every so often.

There is a bison farm a little east of Breezewood on US 30 and they sell bison and Indian thinga at a little shop. Also, the Jean Bonnet Tavern a little closer to Breezewood serves a pretty good buffalo burger.

Buffalo has lass cholesterol than salmon!

It is good, and good for you.

We'll see what happens.

y other blog is:

Bleach does a good job of

making poison ivy go away.

I just got my annual shot of it from a tree that fell down in my neighbors yard.

He isn't in the best of health so I bucked it up for him and Neighbor Bob and I carted it away.

Lo, and behold! I wound up with poison ivy.

What used to be a real hassle and take weeks to get over goes away in a short time if you flood the afflicted areas with bleach a couple or three times a day.

Yes, it does sting like hell, but if it gets rid of the itches it is worth it.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

I am planning on roofing the house soon

but I really do not want to deal with a contractor unless I am there.

Contractors, as a general rule, and especially roofers are hit and run men. They just want to get done and get paid, which is understandable.

The problems come when they do a job the way they want to do a job and not the way the customer wants it done. Generally people will let them get away with things. I won't.

The last contractor that worked here likes me. He did what I asked him, and did it well, on time and didn't cut any corners. The one before that cut a couple of corners and as a result, when I told him to undo the work and do it right, he balked. He didn't get his final payment and that's just too damned bad.

On the roof, I want the bottom three courses to be ice guard, and I just know that Joe Roofer will probably forget and he will use tarpaper and the next winter there are ice dams I will be screwed. mThere will be more ceiling damage to fix.

He'll probably lay the valley flashing flat instead of putting a backfold on the edges, too. I will discover that when he's well into the job and I will demend that he tear it out and redo it right. A fight will result, only it will be a one sided fight, as the Golden Rule applies. "He who has the gold makes the rules."

I am not a hard ass by nature, I try to make things easy, but I am not a sucker, either. I know what I want and I am willing to pay for it. I will cheerfully pay extra for quality, but you had damned well better produce it.

No, it looks like when I reroof, I am going to have to personally supervise the entire job if I want it done right.

my other blog is:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I saw someone get hit on the head with a

cheeseburger the other day. I have to admit that it was wrong.

It should have been a brick.

I won't get into what started the vicious assault, except to say that the victim of this dastardly deed was running his mouth at about Mach 4 and whining about what someone else fifty yards away was doing.

Someone probably knew him and was tired of his conduct so they walloped him with a burger, which was fine by me for two reasons. First, I really didn't like the guy and figure he had it coming, and second, it was pretty good entertainmant.

It's been years since I have seen a food fight in a public place.

Anyway, when the injured party got clobbered, the look of outrage was there just like the look shown some muckety-muck that gets hit with a pie in the Thre Stooges.

A couple of seconds later, he started shooting off his mouth again with a fairly common spiel.

"I've got my rights," he said.

That's when I got involved.

"One of your rights is to remain silent. Had you exercised that a few minutes ago, you would not have an earful of special sauce and lettuce and pickles in your hair," I said to him.

Then I told the perpetrator of this evil deed of violence to unass the area of operations MOST riki-tik, as there is nothing so vengeful as a person that has just gotten what they have had coming.

Sure enough, the injured party had called the Gendarmes and a few seconds after the perp left, in walked the local cop.

I quietly left before he started asking questions because I was damned sure I'd say something and get into hot water. I waited outside.

When the cop went back to his patrol car, I headed him off and told him that what happened and the cop grinned and said something interesting to me.

"A big part of my job is dealing with angry people that have just gotten what they have had coming to them," he said.

Huh. I'll bet it is a big part of his job.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Why is it that people think they are smarter than


It doesn't get better than that. It really doesn't.

Yet every so often some genius starts with a "Turn right here. I know a short cut."

With me I generally tell them to go and argue with Garmin or the Defense mapping agency, yet they will STILL insist that they can save time. When that happens sometimes I simply write the GPS's ETA down and take the directions they suggest.

Guess what?

Not one of them has ever beat the GPS's time, and I have found myself on a number of three hour tours. Yet these people will still they insist they are smarter than the computer.

Granted, there are various time of day when it is smart to avoid certain heavy traffic areas, but I don't care how long you were a delivery boy for Acme Roadrunner products, you are not as smart as a well programmed computer. Ain't gonna happen.

Today I went shopping for shingles and it was a day of people playing the age old game of trying to sell me what they want to sell me instead of what I want.
I went through a number of salespeople until I found one that actually has at the very least a half a brain. He tried to find me what I wanted.

When the manager came by, I looked at him and snapped, "Shitcan your entire sales crew except him and put him in as your new sales manager," pointing at the young man.

The manager went to open his mouth and I beat him to it. "Yeah, he's that good," I snapped."He understands the basic comcept of trying to find out what the customer wants and then tries to find the product."

I regretted it immediately, as management these days does not respect straightforward simplicity and honesty.

I'll bet you the poor bastard gets fired.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Another dead stripper goes into the trash,",

said Neighbor Bob yesterday afternoon.

It was in reference to the pile of stuff I put on the curb. I had once commented that if I stuffed a dead hooker into the trash, they would cart her off without even raising an eyebrow.

I remember the day I said that to Bob. I really wasn't thinking because within earshot there was a pretty gullible, nosy neighbor listening in. He's one of those idiots that God put on earth for my personal entertainment. When I was a little younger, these idiots used to annoy me like all hell. Now they amuse the hell out of me.

Anyway, this idiot overheard my wry comment and went home and shined up his Junior G-Man badge and, although I never let him know I was watching him, he would nose through mmy trash every week, probably looking for a corpse or two.

It was pretty funny, really. I wonder if he called the trash company and asked what their policy was regarding disposal of the dead. I wouldn't be surprised.

Having an idiot go through my trash is one thing, but now I have to be a little careful about what I stuff in the trash. I reload ammunition from time to time and I just finished up with an 8 pound keg of powder.

I am mildly afraid to toss the empty keg out, as I'm sure if the imbicile spots it, he will have a panic attack and the EOD team will arrive at my trash can, cordon the area off and a three ring circus will ensue like it did several years ago when we pulled a prank on yet another neighbor.

Several years ago, we got a mannequin and a body bag, put the mannequin into the bag and put it out with anothe neighbors trash. The guys thought it WAS a body, called 911 and halarity ensued. Bob and I watched it from his porch and laughed ourselves silly.

I haven't seen the idiot going through my trash recently, but there is no sense taking chances because maybe he still does. I think I saw the reflection off of his Junior G-Man badge the other day. It looked pretty shiny to me.

I guess what I will do with the empty powder keg is just throw it in the dumpster behind the 7-Eleven.

Edited to add: About 40 minutes after I posted this, the trash guys showed up and didn't look twice at the pile of stuff on the curb. Most of it is stuff that wasn't supposed to be there. They simply stuffed it into the truck. I stuck my head out and pointed to a certain spot, they nodded. A minute later I put a pair of quarter pints of Jim Beam there which they will snag this evening on the way home. Total cost: Three bucks.

It doesn't take much.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"The doctor botched the operation."

is the complaint of one of my neighbors.

That doctor didn't botch anything, he probably did a damnned good job.

Fact is, the patient didn't live up to his end of the deal. He skipped out on the therapy because it hurt.

Neighbor Bob had the very same operation by the very same doctor in the very same hospital and Neighbor Bob went through the painful therapy and is OK these days.

In fact, the doctor told Neighbor Bob that he recovered a lot faster than most simply because in addition to the therapy, Bob walked a lot and worked it out.

I remember the poor bastard getting up and walking very painfully for quite some time after the operation. It hurt like hell.

At first, he was having a very painful time walking to the bathroom. Then he walked to the edge of the yard and rturned a sweat covered dishrag. He started walking two doors up to my house and back, and that hurt like hell. He kept toughing it out.

Finally he got over it little by little and was walking aaround the block several times a day. Over a relativly short period he was back in the saddle again.

If the President of the United States had the same operation, he would have to go through the same therapy and it would take him months to get back in the groove. There's no difference in the pain and work to undergo therapy like that. Money, social or political position do not mean a damned thing under these circumstances.

You have to do the therapy or else you don't get better. It's part of the package.

If you don't hold up your end of the deal, you don't get better.

Nobody said life was easy. Parts of it can be pretty painful.

My neighbor had a shot at getting back in the saddle and he wasn't willing to tough it out and now he probably expects his neighbors to pitch in and take care of him, but it ain't gonna happen.

The doctor didn't botch the operation.

The patient did.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I almost had to call the cops the other night,

which is always a bummer.

I haven't done that to anyone in many years. I don't like to do that, but I am getting too old to go down and beat the hell out of some loudmouth. Shooting the idiot is not an option and just plain killing him with fire will make the neighbors get a tad wierded out.

So civilized behavoir makes calling the police a necessity at times.

Neighbor Bob and I were sitting by the fire in my back yard getting ready to split a half-pint of Oh,be joyful when the loudmouth behind us and down a few houses went outside and started this loud, drunken, foul-mouthed conversation.

This guy is a notorious loud, foul mouthed jerk with a big ego. I have dealt with him before. However, I have no desire to listen to the Jerry Springer show in my back yard.

I shouted down to him and told him to shut the hell up and take it inside. He ignored my first request. My second request was a reiminder that I wouldn't even have to get up to dial 911. Thank God for cell phones. Just then someone with half a brain dragged him inside.

Thank God.

I can invision what a call to 911 would have been like.

Cop comes, stops, listens and I ask him to shut the loudmouth up.

Cops hate doing things like this, so here I am trying to make it palatable for the poor bastard.

"Hey," I say to the cop. "He's going to get nebby and ask who ratted him out. Tell him four pretty rough looking veterans are up here cleaning service rifles and drinking heavily. Tell him you counted two empty whiskey bottles on the ground and the third one had a pretty good dent in it."

The cop surpresses a smirk. "I can't tell him that," he replies.

"What's he gonna do about it? Call the police?"

The cop outright smirks. "I'll take care of it," he says and walks off.

Most cops hate doing things like that, but do so to prevent a fight from boiling over.

I really don't like calling them because the poor bastards have enough to deal with, but in this day and age, a baseball bat is no longer an option.

my other blog is:

Monday, May 10, 2010

"You can speed up. It's OK. I know all the cops,"

said my passenger.

I'm pretty sure most of us have heard that at one time or another.

The last time I did was a couple of years back. Of course, I held course and speed.

When I hear that I always wonder WHY my passenger 'knows all the cops'.

Let's see here, Officer Jones busted him for Grand Theft Auto, Officer Smith grabbed him for DUI, Officer Tooey snagged him for starting a bar fight.

Yup. He's right. He DOES know all the cops.

I think I'll just drive the speed limit, thank you.

my other blog is:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This morning things were too quiet

whic is interesting.

It tok me a while to figure it out and then I discovered the crystal set that has been in the corner running 24/7 for seveeral years was quiet.

There has been a tinny little sound coming from the old WW2 era headphones for years and it was then gone.

Now, as an old school guy, I knew that a crystal set needs a good ground, so I went to the baemant were there is a clamp attached to a cold water pipe and I wiggled the clamp.

Sure enough, when I went into the room, there was the familiar tinny soft noise. I picked up the old headphone, and sure enough, KDKA came through.

It's ironic that the oldest radio station in the country is playing on such a primitive radio.

my other blog is:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Today will be a day of boots and utes

as I will be gerdening for Mrs Pic.

As soon as ir rains, we are going to select the proper shingle for the house and then with an luck, next time home I will roof the house.

I hate having things put off, and this time home I should have been doing the job.

I hate things going this way because I have no burning desire to be on a roof in late June, July or August.

Bet you it works out that way, though.

Procrastination and indecision strike again.

my other blog is:

Friday, May 7, 2010

I just cleaned up a bunch of spaghetti

which overjoys me to no end.

I replaced the household phone system, which has neededd it for some time.

It was a series of add-tos which, although it worked, was a mess.

I got to get rid of about a mile of various wires and three of those obnoxious little transformers that seem th be pretty popular these days, so I guess it's a pretty good day when you get something like that taken care of.

my other blog is:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I am shopping for flowers today

because it is that time of year again.

I am going to plant marigolds and petunias again this year and have a pretty garden out in the front of the yard because I like it.

The neighbors grin when they watch a tough old salt out there talking to his little flowers and watering them, nd I guess I can see the humor in it.

One of the reasons I do this is because someday I am going to die and I am not going to leave this earth with thoughts of wishing I had spent more time at work.

I want to leave thinking about the beautiful garden I planted.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crash Murphy has a drink.

When the Jamesons bottle opens, I hang up the car keys, period.

There is, however, an exception and that's the drive home from Philly. I generally have a single drink, and ONLY a single drink. Usually it's about halfway home.

When I buy my coming home jug, I usually snag a miniature and about halfway home, I down it for medicinal purposes. After a couple of weeks of having generators running 24/7, one good belt takes the internal vibration out of me.

I didn't get the miniature when I left Philly, thinking I'd just have one when I got home.

Now, I am in the Miata, top down and it started getting a tad chilly last night so it was leather jacket and scarf time. Later on it became helmet and goggles time, so I am now dressed ala Crash Murphy and I could use my medicinal dallop, as between the chill and the past 2 weeks have left me internally vibrating.

Now, I'm going through the backroads and I am in some jerkwater town around 11 pm and I spotted an open ginmill on the opposite side of the deserted main street. I whipped a U-turn and planted the Miata right smack dab in the parkinng space just outside the door.

Crash Murphy walked into the bar and there were half a dozen patrons, a couple of beat up looking women and four or five male bar flies that looked a little rough.

I walked stright up to the bar, put my money on the bar and ordered a snort of bourbon. I took a sip off the top, knocked it back and headed out the door. All eyes were on me like I was some kind of Old West gunfighter passing through.

Someone opened the door after me and looked as I got into the Miata. He said something to me, and I didn't hear it so I simply said, "Pardon me, I didn't hear you."

He looked a little scared and said, "I din't say nuffin'" and closed the door.

I lit the Miata off and whipped another U turn and continued my pilgramage home.

Oh, to have been Clint Eastwood for five minutes.

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4 May. A sad GI story.

Yesterdays post was about a GI who saw his kid for the first time.

Like I said, there were a bunch of GIs getting off the plane and when I thanked a Staff Sergeant for his service, he made it pretty clear he was desparate for someone to talk to.

He had a 15 day leave and was coming home to nothing, as his entire family had imploded during his absence. It was a pretty sad, but not all that uncommon story.

It happens quite a bit.

This man was a professional, on his third hitch and he is responsible for a squad of infantrymen. He asked me for advice and all I could tell him is to look to his squad as a way to put this behind him.

I told him that the best escape from one's problems is to get involved in someone elses, and as a squad leader, he was sure to have a few guys with problems for him to help try and solve.

I had to give him this advice because there is nothing worse than having a leader wallowing in his personal problems instead of paying attention to his charges. Lives are at stake here and the last thing some grunt needs is to have his NCO preoccupied with a lousy personal life.

It's hard, unfair as hell, but it's the way it is.

I think the poor bastard was just grateful to have someone to hear him out, and because I had a 2 hour wait in the airport, I had the time.

He's in my prayers.

He also gave me some advice regarding my desire to blog out of Kabul, and that is not to. He told me that I was right when I figured that I would be nothing but a big pain in the ass to the upper ranks, and because stuff rolls downhill, a bunch of junior NCOs and privates would be made to do stupid things as a result.

I might just go to the airport in PGH once in a while and see if I can snag an interview or 2 from returning GIs.

We'll see.

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3 may at the airport there were a BUNCH of GIs

returning for a 15 day leave and I got to see an interesting sight.

One young soldier got to see his first child for the first time. I damned well came close to tears it was such a sight to behold.

The baby was born a couple of months ago when he was in Iraq, and the delightful look of wonderment and awe on his face was something to behold.

It sucks being overseas when something like that happens and some poor bastard gets cheated out of being there for the birth of his child, yet for a GI it is simply part of the gig.

What happens all too often is the GI gets killed and never gets to see his child.When something like that happens it is a tragedy.

It was a joyous sight to behold.

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2 May. I am home, arrived 0155 5 May

This is catch-up, as we were underway and out of cell/internet range for a few days.

I generally try post SOMETHING daily, but you can only do what you can do.

We arrived in the south somewhere and almost upon arrival changed crews. I'm home now after a long night drive in the Miata, which was OK, I guess.

As usual, top down all the way as there was no liquid sunshine falling out of the sky. It was a little chilly, though. I was in character as Crash Murphy, wearing helmet and goggles to keep my head warm and I'll post it as a seperate post.

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Hooray, Hooray! It's the first of May

Chipping and painting starts today

Which is a lie. It started a couple of weeks ago, but it'a a pretty good line for the 1st day of a pretty month.

I hope to plant my annuals inside the next weeks or so.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Just ducked back into internet range for a short time

Will be back on/about 6 May with a few catch up posts.



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