Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last night in the background there was an infomercial

in the background that I wasn't paying much attention to. It was background noise.

After a while I figured out that it was for one of those male enhance ment pills deals, which is a joke. I listensd to the ad for about 2 minutes and then went back to paperwork and zoned it out.

Truth is, I can't see how something like that works to begin with.

I find ads for this crap to be about as tasteless as ads for feminine hygiene products, and I feel sorry for those guys that are so desperate to fall for the ads.

Of course, the ads contain the hottest of chicks making a semi suggestive speil, which is nothing more than a shabby attempt to cover up the tastelessness of the ad.

Why not just be outright tasteless? Picture this:

"Hey, Louise, what happened last night?"

Kathy, I've been dying to tell you! Last night Jimmy ate 14 of those pills I told you about and he turned into a real donkey! I won't be able to walk right for a week!"

"A real gorilla, huh?"

"I'll say!"

Just then Jimmy,a drunken, tobacco stained lout, walks by and both women stop talking and look at him agape like he's some kind of god or something.

I wonder how many of the guys that spend their money on all of this bait to attract the opposite sex could be a lot more amourously successful AND save a few bucks if they simply changed their shirt every so often and hit the shower every now and then.

They could take the money they saved to buy a whole lot better chick bait, like maybe putting the money towards an education or a decent set of clothes to wear.

Not only would they be more successful with the opposite sex, but they woould improve the world simply by looking a little better.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The word 'Militia' is one that has been beaten to a pulp by CNN

and it galls me to no end.

The militia is nothing more or less than the pool of citizens that are available for service to the state.

The militia of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania consists of all citizens 17 1/2 to 55 years of age. Read the state statues some time. It's there, and it's not as antiquitated as most people think. In 1976 it was changed from 'All men' to "all citizens'.

It used to be a source of pride in being of service to the Commonwealth, but now it seems to be a label for every fringe group that comes down the pike and is looking for a name to hide behind to give it legitimacy.

It really angers me when some fringe group uses the term to describe their organization that is upset with the Federal government. Of course, I don't care very much for the Federal government much these days either. They have gotten too big and too cumbersome and they do not seem to listen to the ordinary guy any more.

All this is well and good, but a group that is trying to slap the Feds down is not a militia. It is really a group of rebels.

This country was founded by rebels, and there's nothing wrong with that. Those guys had a lot of true grit. They risked everything to form this country. I respect that.

Now, I am a pretty rebellious soul and if one of these groups has an intelligent plan to slap the Feds down a peg or two, I'm all ears. Hell, if you are not too far out in left field, I very well may even support you.

On the other hand, I am not going to get my ass shot off under the leadership of some pompous nutcake retired army supply corps officer that is now a self-appointed head of the East Muleshoe (so-called) militia. My momma didn't raise no fool.

Besides, it's a sure bet that if this half-baked organization has 100 members in it, you can bet that a large number of them are Federal agents and a lot of the membership are Walter Mittys or a bigger collection of flakes and nuts than there are in 10 pounds of trail mix.

There was once a cartoon of about 50 wide eyed guys pointing guns at each other and they're in shock, saying "We're ALL Federal Agents?"

If you look at many states laws, the governor is generally defines as being the commander in chief of the militia of the state. That means the militia is under control of the state.

Our state's militia consists of 2 main factions, the National Guard, which can be federalized, and the PA home guard, which I do not believe can be federalized, although their individual members may be drafted under selective service laws. The latter is not organized at this time, but the governor has the authority to do so.

Ask almost any Pennsylvanian if they are a member of the Militia and they'll look at you like you're some kind of nut, yet it's in the books. If they are between 17 1/2 and 55, they are in the militia of the Commonwealth.

What was once a source of pride has turned into a dirty word.

It really galls me to no end.

I hold 2 groups responsible for besmirching the proud name of the militias of this country; the nutcake groups hiding behind the name and the media for sensationalizing them and playing along.

Mainly, though, I blame the media.

They don't really care about doing the right thing; they care only about sensationalization and making names for themselves.

my other blog is:

Monday, March 29, 2010

One of the things that annoys me is dealing with

tech assistance that has been sent overseas because in a lot of cases the Engilsh spoken by the tech reps isn't understandable.

I have dealt most recently with Tracfone and Comcast, and they have tech people in the South America and the Phillipines.

Generally their English has been pretty damned good, but not always.

When I draw the bad luck to draw a tech rep I can't understand, I politely beg off and start the process over again because the frustration of poor communication is too much for me. Generally after the first try or two I manage to get someone I understand.

I have a friend that speaks fluent Spanish and when he gets a problem with something and ends up with a tech rep in South America, he uses Spanish, which is a pretty pragmatic solution to the problem.

I only speak English and High School Spanish which means I that my Spanish is a language that can only be understood by other speeakers of High School Spanish. Once in Mexico I tried to order a special in a restaurant and the waiter told me to try English, as I had just ordered a roast elephant with all the trimmings. In short, Spanish is not an option for me.

When I get a tech rep I can't understand, I have to either start the process over again and get one I can understand or subject myself to the frustrations of lousy communication. Both options are really annoying, especially if it is a busy day for them because more often than not you have to sit on hold for some time to get through to someone.

The whole process can be an exercise in frustration.

You can't tell me that there are no Americans that would take a tech rep job for Comcast or Tracfone. Especially in the present economy where we have so many people out of work, so don't tell me that or I will call you a liar.

my other blog is:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I am looking at rubber for the Miata

and there are sure a lot of choices out there.

For most of my life I have simply put basic rubber on vehicles, but now I really want some decent performance tires and the research is interesting.

Yokohama has a good reputation for making great performance tires, yet it seems so many autocross guys use Falkens, which are pretty inexpensive compared to the Yokos.

I want to buy once and cry once, and I want to get what I want, which is a tire that will make the Miata handle like it is on rails.

I think I am going to listen to the autocrossers and go with the Falken Azenis, modle 615s

I'll post the results when I get them.

my other blog is:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How much is enough?

I'm writing this as I go down a river and past the house of a very wealthy breakfast magnate.

We just passed his house, and the grounds are gorgeous. It would be really neat to walk around in the yard and smell the flowers in a month or so, and I imagine a guy could easily live on what the gardener probably makes.

There is a main house and a few out buildings, at least one of which is another home in itself.

Yet I can't help but wonder how much of the main house he actually uses on a day by day basis.

Like most guys, I'd bet he uses one favorite bathroom, he probably eats at a nook unless he has company, sleeps in the same bedroom and watches TV in a favorite spot and has an office of some sort and really that's about it.

The rest of the house is there for entertaining and whatever.

My house is certainly smaller than one of his out buildings and when you get down to it, it's realy a bit too large for me.

I seldom venture upstairs, and with the 2 bedrooms on the main floor I seldom enter the one I don't sleep in. My life at home is really split between the bedroom, the bath, the kitchen and living/dining rooms and the basement.

The house fits me well and that's a pretty good deal, but then again I am a common seaman and not the CEO of a breakfast conglomerate, which probably fits because I like what I do and I could not picture myself running a large business like he does.

In my little Cape, there is a lot of wasted space and I can't help to think that maybe every so often he may feel the same way about his home. Who knows?

I'm not getting all anti capitalist or anything. The guy took a chunk of money he made in an earlier short lived career and invested it wisely and worked his ass off. It's his and he earned it, and that's the way it is and how it should be.

Nobody should take it from him and give it to someone else, like the social liberals seem to want to do these days. It's his.

Still, I seriously doubt that I'd trade his lifestyle for mine.

I guess I'm about as fortunate as he is in some ways because I have what I want.

It's hard for me to picture life without Neighbor Bob to drop by and drink a beer over a backyard fire, or to be able to drop in on Nurse Connie and sit on her porch and chat.

I have a new pickup and an old Miata, a decent place to live in a good neighborhood and I am happy with with what I have.

Maybe that's one of the things that makes for happiness, having what you want and liking it.

I suppose that if I won the lottery or something, I might feel diifferently, but as I sit here all I can think of if I had that kind of money is that I would buy a low milage '94 Miata and have some California rebuild shop rebuild it to brand new condition and then set it up the way I have mine set up now, which means I'm pretty happy with what I have, yet I am human because I want it just a little nicer than it presently is.

I'd bet that he and I could sit down somewhere and find a lot of common ground. Most guys are like that. I know the man owns a pretty nice boat, and I am a sailor, so that's one thing. Then there's the usual guy stuff of work and play, so there is probably a lot of common ground.

All in all, it's a pretty good trip down the river and I'm glad I just had something to mull over for a little bit.

my other blog is:

Friday, March 26, 2010

stuff multipliers is an interesting and accurate term

for getting something that needs other things.

An example would be a fishing pole.

First you get a fishing pole to go fishing with. Next, of course, comes a reel and line. Then you need hooks, lures, bobbers and artificial baits and the whole kiit and kaboodle that comes with it.

They ought to simply give you the damned fishing pole as a come-on with the stipulation that you buy the rest of the tackle from them. The company would still make money.

Another example is a boat, but let's not go there.

my other blog is:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

There is a term starting to go around among a

certain group of people. It's 'Going Galt"

With everyone and their cousin sucking off the federal tit these days and the successful being penalized for getting ahead, this guy Galt seems to have taken an interesting tack.

While he hasn't dropped out completely, he has taken steps to lower his income substantially so as to reduce the amount in taxes he is supposed to pay and hence stop feeding the beast.

I commented to one of the higher ups at work that I wished that any future pay raises or bonuses would go into benefits that can not be taxed.

He understood exactly where I was coming from.

Sometimes I wish there was some sort of mechanism where I could get paid only what I need and could have the employer put the rest aside, unpaid and untaxed until such time as I retire or get hurt or maybe take a vacation for a few years or something.

Then he could dole it out to me and my tax rate would be lower.

I can understand 'going Galt' pretty well. There are a lot of stupid things we work for. My recent trip to a mall showed me that. We buy a lot of stuff, and I'd say that an incredible amount of it is useless and we'd be better off without it.

A couple of years ago I went that route with food. I quit eating a whole lot of junk, and the results were astonishing. As an old man I fit into my old army uniform. My various blood levels raised and dropped appropriately and my blood pressure dropped like a stone. I was healthier and I was actually saving money because I wasn't eating junk anymore.

When I was traveling and forced to eat out, I was eating more carefully and was far more aware of what I was putting down the pie hole. I discovered that McDonalds sells salads.

Even when I would decide to chow down on an occasional pizza or burger, I'd simply have something light for the next day or two.

In short, I was getting a whole lot more for a whole lot less.

I am seriously thinking of bringing the principle into other aspects of life and cutting back just to see if I can get ahead a little more on a little less.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

back at it.

Made it to the boat after a long trek. I may have something to say later tonight.

Nope. Too tired. Will try again on the morrow.

One little thing, though.

I went through a major mall yesterday and saw that the entire mall was nothing but useless bling and junk aimed at kids.

We're in a recession now, and I sure would like to know where the money for this crap comes from?

my other blog is:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today is a day of travel, which is a pain in the

neck because I really don't like to drive long hauls anymore.

I think I'm going to do a serious milage test on the Toyota. I'll get my gas in Butler county, as it is not Allegheny county, and hence not a reformulated gas area.

It will be interesting to see what kind of milage I get now that the weatheer has broken.

I have noticed I seem to get far better milage going to work than coming home. Someone attributed it to driving like the hammers of hell to get home, and going slower to get there, but I disagree.

The gas I get in Philly is reformulated and gives me lousy milage.

We'll see.

my other blog is:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last night I discovered I have poison ivy from

cutting up a neighbors tree.

I took household bleach and daubed it all over my arms and a few minutes ago I repeated the process. It stung a bit, but if I do it a couple of times a day for a day or two the poison ivy will go away.

my other blog is:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Do it for the children is just like the quickly losing

credibility 'race card'.

Bothers Jesse and Al have played that one to death and it seems to be losing credibility, which is both good and to be expected for something as overused and abused as the race card has been over recent years.

The sacred one that everyone is afraid to touch is the 'Do it for the children card.'

Someone tried playing that one on me regarding some dopey thing about some kind of after school activity and I decided to challenge it.

Want to do something for the children?

The children don't need some sort of place to go and hang out, anyway. Truth is, places like that become infested with drug dealers unless you have a full-time team of cops there and if you do, the kids won't want to hang out there. That being the case, why bother.

Instead, let's do something useful for the children.

Let's teach them to read, write, do basic math.

Let's teach them to logically solve problems with their brains instead of with knives and guns.

Let's teach them to look both ways before they cross the street so they'll be around to live and eat.

Let's teach them to contribute to society instead of leech off of it, and teach them that parenthood at age 14 really isn't a good idea.

Let's teach them to take care of themselves so they can cook themselves a decent meal make their beds and clean up after themselves. If we do that we might instill some pride into them so they stop eating crap and get morbidly obese as teenagers.

Let's teach them some basic personal responsibility so they are not looking to hop on the government dole and steal from those that work and pay taxes.

Want to do something for the children? Try what I have just listed.

One other thing; eliminate the school zones from in front of schools above grade six. If a kid hasn't learned to look both ways by sixth grade, then it's time to let a little Darwinism step in. A kid that age that is too stupid to look both ways probably won't do society much good, anyway.

my other blog is:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I just learned of a cop that did me a favor many years


The cop is retired, so I'm going to have a pretty hard time chasing him down to thank him, but I'm going to try.

About a decade ago I used to take the chain off of my chainsaw and chased a couple of the neighborhood kids around. The parents knew and didn't seem to mind, as it was in good fun and without a chain, a chainsaw is pretty harmless. Even the local gendarmes knew and said nothing.

Still, it was a lot of fun playing chain saw murderer to the kids.

Enter the neighborhood stupid troublemaker. He called the cops on me.

I never heard about it until the other day, but this cop went to the troublemaker's place and explained that what I was doing was harmless, but the jerk didn't seem to understand. He kept babbling that chainsaws were dangerous, yada yada yada.

Finally, the cop told the old bat that he would return a couple hours later, and he did when he got off duty. He brought HIS chainsaw along with him, and he had removed the chain.

He proceeded to demonstrate by trying to cut his own leg off with it. Of course, nothinng happened. He got the jerk to understand that no one was in any danger.

That's a pretty damned good cop if you ask me.

A guy that went the whole mile to make life a bit easier and not ruin everyone elses fun.

I suppose it would have been easier for him to drop by and tell me not to do it anymore, but he didn't take the easy way out, he went the full mile.

I'm pretty blessed having people like that in my life.

Sure, it was a little thing, but like I say, it doesn't take much.

my other blog is:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sometimes government plans are not as good as

they seem.

Right now there is an energy credit tax break that everyone seems all keyed up to take advantage of.

It's a pretty good deal if you truly need some sort of an energy update or were planning on an upgrade, anyway.

Recently it was proposed to me that I replace all of my windows to take advantage of the plan. If I had old fashioned single pane windows or something, this might be a great idea. If my windows were really bad, it might be a good deal, but it really isn't when you put the pencil to it.

We're talking about a 10-15 thousand price tag on windows here, which is a bundle.
In return, the energy savings MIGHT be, say $50 per month, which sounds somewhat overinflated to me, but it's an easy figure to work with. The $50 per month is for five months here that we really use the heat, so we're looking at $250 per year savings.

Now, let's use the low end figure for windows of $10,000.

It would take forty years for the windows to start paying for themselves.

If the window price is $15,000 the figure jumps to sixty years.

Enter the government program of a $1500 tax rebate and the $10,000 window package now starts paying for itself in 34 years, and the payback on the 15k package drops to 54 years.

FTen or fifteen grand left in the bank drawing interest for 54 years will net a lot more money than spending it on unneeded windows.

Right now, that government program doesn't look very useful to me.

my other blog is:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I never had a real job until I was 38.

The subject of where one is supposed to be at what age came up.

Everybody's schedule is different.

It's a foolish concept, really. There is no set pattern and it reminds me of the so-called 'permanant record' they tried to scare you with at school and in the service.

When I was 38 I embarked on my career as a seaman moving oil. Prior to that I was doing odd jobs.

I'm 58 now, my home and all my vehicles are paid for and I am pretty much either even or ahead of most of the people I went to school with that put their noses directly to the grindstone at an early age and played the game.

A lot of them were the suckers that fell for the baloney that they were told, and I'm sure one or two of them still believe the somemone maintains the so-called 'permanent record' somewhere.

In fact, one time some nosy woman asked me what I did for a living and I told her that I worked for the Department of Permanent Records. She asked me about hers, so(this was a few years back) we went over to the pay phone and I called a friend of mine that is quick on the uptake and she gave me her name and SSN, which I acted like my cohort was plugging into the system.

After a wait, I said into the phone "What? She has none? I guess we better start a file on her." I then was treated to a panicky paranoia trip from her. It was halarious.

What astonished me is that she was one of those people that believed that crap.

I guess it just took me time to find where I should be. I'm glad I did and this business has been good to me.

Still, it's pretty nice having memories of a wonderfully misspent youth.

It goes well with proving to those suckers that they were wrong.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I had a long talk yesterday with a person I watched

grow up.

I first met her as the kid of one of my neighbors when I moved in and from across the street I watched her grow up. It was interesting.

I sort of kept an eye on her as a courtesy to my neighbors coupled with the fact that she seemed to be a pretty good kid.

I got to see her as a child and as a young adult and now she's an adult.

One of the hard parts of a parent/child relationship is that she will always be daddy's little girl and hence it is hard for a parent to realize that the kid isn't a child anymore. Parents worry themselves to death over things sometimes.

One advantage that I have in dealing with her is that I'm not her dad or mom. I didn't raise her. There isn't the emotional bond and I can be detached and not deal have to deal with things on an emotional level.

I think it puts me in a clearer position to think about things because I don't have to deal with the emotional fog of things.

One of the differences she has with her dad is that he's one of those people that likes his life to be neat, orderly and predictible.

She and I are different from her dad in that we both hate being in a rut. I'm a seaman partly because it's different every day, so I can relate to this young woman. She tends to thrive in an unpredictible world, as do I. The sea is very unpredictible, and I seem to do well there.

Right now she's working as a temp for one of those agencies that supply temporary employees to various companies. She works at one place for a while,and then she's sent someplace else to do something else.

Back when I was an Ordinary seaman and the money wasn't too good, I'd work during my time off at one of these agencies. The jobs they sent me off to were very varied. Most of them were interesting, but some of them sucked. I raised circus tents one day, then for the next several days I would be a hotel maid or work in a concrete plant. A couple of times I would have to dress in slacks and a nice shirt and work in an office. I never knew what was coming next and I thrived on it.

Maybe she ought to see if she could become a full-time temporary worker.

Whatever. Who knows?

Anyway, besides being interesting talking to an adult I met first as a child, I think I am going to look forward to chatting with her as an adult when she comes to visit her folks.

While I can certainly see that she has made some mistakes getting to where she is, she's managed to learn from them. This is a lot more than I can say for a lot of people. Most people do not learn.

Right now, I think her dad is selling her short because he's worried a little too much about her.

When it's over and done with, I believe she'll turn out just fine.

When it's time for the long dirt nap, I believe she'll be able to look back and be generally pleased with herself that she did her own thing in her own time. That ain't such a bad deal.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I may or may not get back to this

Later on today.

We'll see.

I did and I'm glad I put it off for a few hours.

Something I did several years ago got back to me, and it tickles me pink.

Quite a few years ago, I asked the thirteen year old girl across the street to marry me. Of course, it was in good fun. I simply wanted to see the look on her face when I asked her.

Of course, I was treated to a giggly teenaged girl going into shock. The look on her face was priceless and well worth the effort it took me to get down on one knee as ask her with a straight face.

Time has passed and recently someone closer to her age has asked for her hand in marriage.

She refused him, saying that she has already refused a better offer.

She told him that an old man with a nice sports car and a huge insurance policy and a bad cough had already asked her.

I do not know if I should laugh or cry. On one hand, it's funny. On the other hand, I am now an old man.

It's fun being older and having little things like this come back to you.

my other blog is:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shooting season is coming up and this year I'm

going to be a part of it.

I saw the club schedule and there are 2 sererate series of matches, the service rifle matches, fired on the usual National Match course. The other is the old Army qualification course, an early WW2 leftover.

Most guys will use their competitive service rifles for both, as in their minds, everything is practice for the Nationals at Camp Perry.

I, on the other hand, will use my service rifle for the National Match course, needless to say. However, for the WW2 Army qualification course I will be using an old 1903 Springfield.

The old workhorse was brought into existence by none other than Teddy Roosevelt following his experience in the Spanish American war and saw service well into the Vietnam war.

It really is a hoot to shoot. Loud, powerful with a real solid muzzle blast and a recoil that lets you know you are shooting a real Old School rifle.

The guys generally grin when I uncase it and make sure they have a little additional ear protection on when I let fly with the old cannon.

I am not really alone on my attitude toward the WW2 matches. The club used to fire the old Marine Corps 5-V matches a few years ago in cooperation with the local chapter fo the Marine Corps league and I knew a guy that used to shoot it with an old 1873 trapdoor Springfield rifle left over from General Custer's day.

Although most of us load our own ammo for these matches, we do used premade bullets from various bulletmakers. This guy, with his 1873 trapdoor cast his own bullets from old wheel weights. It was astonishing to see how well he made the old rifle shoot at 200 yards.

One of the joys of getting a little older is that you come to grips with things a little easier.

I realize that the liklihood of me getting a Distinguished Shooter badge have dimmed to the point where I am not even going to waste my time trying anymore. This is a good thing because now I am just shooting for fun.

I guess the point of todays blog is simply to say that I feel a whole lot better about some things ever since I gave up hope.

Shooting is one of them.

my other blog is:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One of the guys says he got hassled by TSA

over a loust t-shirt.

Of course, the last time I flew I was dressed like 'Crash' Murphy, in a leather jacket, white scarf leather helmet and goggles. The TSA dude asked me if it had been a while since I flew last and I got whisked right through.

Go figure.

Why am I not surprised?

I have quite a number of t-shirts that are shooting match related, and hence could be considered 'gun shirts'. Big deal.

If anybody were to ask about any of my shirts, I'd look at them like they were stupid and tell them my wife snagged it at a garage sale for a quarter.

That generally defuses things.

The incident I get a boot out of most was in Philly when I had to go to the hospital to have a TB test read. I was going through a metal detector and handed the idiot there a key ring with a P-38 can opener, a dogtag and a 7.62 case, just the actual bullet on it. A harmless piece of copper and lead.

"Whassat?" he asked, holding the P-38.

"A can opener," I replied and he looked very disappointed.

"Whassat?" he asked again, holding tthe bullet.

"Seven point six-two NATO," I replied.

"Dat a bullet?"

"Yes. Don't drop it." I answered, dryly.

You'd have thought I was carrying a lit stick of dynamite or something the way the imbicile carried on.

When I explained to the ignorammus that it was inert, he said to me, "Yeah, but it's the SYMBOL of firearm violence."

"So's the dogtag," I replied. "It means I trained to go to far and distant places, meet interesting and exotic people and kill them in wholesale numbers. You got a problem with the United States Army?"

Of course, there wasn't a whole lot he could answer with, but he still refused me service. I also pointed out that if I had, for example, s swastika tattooed on my forehead and an Aryan Nation symbol tattooed that they'd still have to give me medical treatment and that those symbols were a hell of a lot worse than a GI souvenier on a key ring.

Fortunately, common sense and dumb luck ruled that day.

It must have been shift change or something beecause a nurse started to come up behind me, asked wahat was going on and I told her. She rolled her eyes and asked me why I was there. I told her I simply wanted a TB test read.

She asked me if I had a form, which I did. I then rolled up my sleeve then and there and she examined me, filled out my form and sent me on my way. The looks she gave the door guard guy was a look of scorn.

I held out my key ring to the nurse. "Does this key ring hold any symbols of firearm violence?" I asked her.

"No," she replied, "It just looks like you were in the service at one time."

My anger changed to pity when I looked at the door guard. I realized that the man was so stupid that he didn't even have the brains to know he was stupid, which is sad. Most Downes kids I've met have been fully aware that they have Downes and are slow. This guy was one hell of a lot worse off than that.

I pitied him, yet I was still pretty mad at the hospital for hiring such a person.

Then I had another thought. The person that hired him was probably about as stupid as the guard was.

Now THAT'S scary.

I'd just bet TSA has a lot of these kind of idiots working for them.

That's a whole lot scarier.

my other blog is:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Finally! The snow is going away!

For the past several weeks the Pittsburgh area has been clobbered with snow.

It's been a miserable winter and the snow is finally going away and none to soon.

For the past few days the weather has been well above freezing and the white stuff has been melting away to my great joy. Today it is raining pretty good and it looks like the remaining patches of snow on the lawn of the Piccolo residences will disappear.

All I have to say about that is Thank God.

In a couple of weeks when everything dries out, I will start repairing the damage that the ice dams have done to the living room ceiling.

Amen, Brother!

my other blog is:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Winter storms have knocked a couple of trees down

and it became chain saw madness time.

Of course, it wasn't simple as the pair of trees that fell landed in another tree and the whole thing became a tangled mess that required a lot of work and skill to get everything safely onto the ground.

I got Neighbor Bob to stand by with his cell phone just in case I screwed up. If I wound up under several tons of tree he could call 911 for me.

Getting the trees on the ground was sort of a slow, careful process.

The first step was to bump off as many limbs as I could reach and get them well out of the way, followed by a general clean-up of the area. I knew that when I heard th sound of something letting go, I would have to get the heck out of the way and I didn't want anything around that I could trip over. After all, I'm not a graceful kid anymore.

This was done so next it was a couple of critical cuts that resulted in the topmost of the two trees dropping out of the way quite nicely. The area was again policed up and then it was time for a couple more tricky cuts. The last one produced the desired results and the tree was now on the ground, where it was at least now safe.

I used the rest of the gas in the tank to buck up quite a bit of the trees until the chain saw ran out of fuel and then called it a day.

My plan now is to run the chain saw for a single tank of gas bucking the whole maee up and then stacking things up rather than playing the get up early and work until it's all done game. I'm not in any hurry, as it's now at least safe and there's no reason to get worked up about things.

It'll all get done sooner or later.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The recycling guys just came

and I will venture a guess that the one I watched will not be working there for a long time.

He spilled some stuff off of an overfilled recycling bin and not only did he stop and pick the stuff that he spilled, but he did a meticulous job of picking up every little thing.

Guys like that are few and far between in this day and age.

Now, this guy doesn't have the best job in the world and I am sure he isn't going to be recruited by NASA to plot the path of the Space Shuttle, but he still takes pride in doing a good job.

It's my bet that his work ethic is going to get him off of the recycling truck and into a better job. Guys like that are valuable and generally get snagged by sharp employers, especially employers that send their employees out into the general public to work on people's homes.

Take a roofing job. A guy that will do a good job picking up every little chunk of roofing materiel left over or torn off and get it into the dumpster is quite an asset. Homeowners can be very picky and the simple fact that the homeowner doesn't have to muck about and pick up after a contractor can mean the difference between hard times and fat city.

Things like roofing jobs tend to be somewhat cyclic in the richer neighborhoods. When one guy reroofs, often a couple of others do, also.

The people that consider a reroof will ask the neighbor that just had it done what kind of job the guys did and quite often the recommendation is enough for the rooofer to get the job.

I keep saying that it doesn't take much, and it doesn't.

I'd bet that the recycling guy doesn't last there verry long because someone is going to offer him a better job.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I don't coddle out Wounded Warriors very much

because I feel it strips them of their very dignity.

I treat them the same way I treat anyone else.

About the only thing I do for them is help them do the things they can not do for themselves, such as maybe getting over an unsurmountable obstacle or the overly sprung, hard to open door.

There are reasons for this. I refuse to take a guys man card away from him just because he lost a couple of limbs. It ain't right to do so. A guy is a guy and he's expected to take care of himself as best he can and by not busting his balls the same way I bust everyone elses, he's being robbed of his man card.

Yes, the Wounded Warrior has to put up with an old man telling him about how I had it back in the day.The poor bastard has to suffer through hearing about 40 pound muskets and three-mile long chow lines. I do this to active servicemen and recent vets, and what make him any different?

The other reason is that he generally has a long life ahead of him and he had best get used to the fact that his life has taken a very large change that he has to adapt to. The sooner he adapts, the better off he will be.

I have been criticized a couple of times for things like letting a guy on a wheel chair of on crutches hold the door for me. So it was just his turn. Big deal.My shoulders are broad.

You have to realize that these guys are not your average person. Thay are soldiers for God's sake. They are physical animals. They run, jump, do PT, play sports and things like that. Soldiers are very physical and energetic.

When they lose a limb, the very essence ot their entire life changes.

Fortunately, most of them are young and resilient and once the shock turns to anger and the anger starts to vent, there are generally two routes that tend to be taken.

Some give up entirely, at least until they figure out that life is not over, it has just made a huge change. Others simply recover quicker and accept the challenges of their handicap and realize that they can do an awful lot more than they think they can.

I have spoken with a number of thesee guys and their optimism floors me.

One of them spoke of wanting to build another race car, and was thinking of some kind of sports car, if he could learn to drive a clutch.

Quick fix.

My Tacoma was a manual and I stuffed him into it and we headed off to an empty parking lot and I put himm in the driver's seat for about an hour. The last forty five minutes was practice, practice, practice because relearning the skill with a prosthetic leg.

I opined that if the Tacoma had an old cable clutch instrad of a hydraulic, that it would have taken him aboout five minutes flat. Hydraulics sort of dampen the feeling and I think the guy was trying to learn to feel the vibrations through his titanium leg. A cable clutch would have vibrated a little more, but they have not made them in years.

There was another guy there that was new to life on his wheelchair, and I let him wheel himself as we moseyed to the chow hall together. He spoke of the door when we got there. The door at the dining place can be a little difficult.I bet him a beer it would take him more than 7 seconds to get through the door, and he accepted the bet.

Enter the do-gooders, who were not going to permit the young man to open his own door. We had to run two different people that charged in to hold his damned door off, and they seemed pretty upset with me over telling them to leave us alone.

As is often the case, someone instinctively knew what we were doing and he asked what the bet was and I told him it was over a beer. He grinned and wanted a piece of the action and then someone else jumped in and offered odds, which I took and the bet was on. It took the guy about four seconds flat and when the bets were settled, I guess I caame out a beer ahead or something.

The guy in the wheelchair in the process was the real winner inn that he had mastered the door which meant he had also mastered several more he will encounter.

The firing line was another situation that came up, thanks to a stupid 4th assistant junior trainee range officer that had no brain.

It was the Garand match. A Garand is an animal to shoot. It fire a huge, powerful 30/06 cartridge and the blast and recoil are pretty significant. Firing it from a wheelchair at best will push the shooter back, but the likely result is that it will tip the wheelchair back, leaving the shooter flat on his back.

Guys in this situation are permitted to shoot the offhand from the prone position, given the fact that they do not have legs to stand on. Shooters with prosthetic legs are required to stand, which seems fair enough.

So this idiot Range Officer insisted that this guy show some paperwork, which is stupid and I cannot stand stupid for an instant.

I butted in and told the RO that the absence of legs and a wheelchair was paperless paperwork and to let things slide, but he wouldn't listen.

I snapped at my scorer and his scorer and told everyone to trade places with me.

I told the RO I had been a gunner on Old Ironsides and that every time the man would fire, I'd just push him back into battery and let him crank another one off.

The shooter gave me a hurt look, I returned it with a deadpan wink and was rewarded with a silent smirk. He knew I was on his side. Someone else got the next RO up the food chain and he relieved the idiot and everything went back to normal.

The shooter and I later met and we discussed his future and his injuries meant that he was probably going to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he had some pretty interesting prospects for the future and was planning on going back to school.

I think the biggest thing these wounded warriors want more than anything else is not to be coddled, but to be left with their basic human dignity.

I think that generally that's more important to them than it is to recognize the price they have paid for out way of life.

Like I generally say, it doesn't take much.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I had a stress test today

and I guess everything is OK.

Someone asked me what I was going to do today's post on and I told them that I didn't have a clue. It was not a lie or a put-off, it was the truth.

Of course, they started in like I was trying to keep some deep adak secret, which I wasn't. I simply did not know WHAT I was doing today's post on.

Trying to explain that to someone is a worthless pain in the neck because they just KNOW that I have something up my sleeve, which I don't.

Truth is, I don't know what I am going to post until I sit down at the keyboard.

This entire blog is totally ad lib as a general rule.

The discipline for me is twofold.

First, it is a daily discipline in that I make a diligent effort to post at least SOMETHING daily, and I've done pretty well in that the only couple of posts that have run late were because I was at sea and out of internet range. I wrote the posts anyway and saved them on 'Word' and posted tham as soon as we got back into range.

The other thing is that generally this is an exercise of being able to think on my feet.

I simply sit down and write something about the first thing that comes into my mind.

Explaining the concept to someone that has somewhat of a limited imagination is really kind of a waste of time because there are people out there that can not fathom being able to pull something out of their butt on short notice.

I guess they figure that if they can't, nobody else can.


Of course, being able to think on one's feet requires discipline, too.

My ability to drum something up on short notice could be a serious source of trouble if I don't think before I react.

Telling a police officer that you were not going to brush the snow off of your pickup so you could take it to Miami and sell it for $4 a pound really isn't the brightest thing to say to a cop.

Funny, but not too bright.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

I was digging through my old files and I found this


my address

7 February 2008

Natick Labs
Natick, MA

Dear Sir or Ma’am,

I left active duty back in the seventies. My uniform sat in the closet for quite a number of years until I decided to try it on recently.

To my dismay, I found out that it had shrunk!

Naturally, I was curious, so I ran a poll on the internet and found out I was not alone. A whopping 85% of the veterans that answered the poll were in agreement that their uniforms had shrunk over time and no longer fit them.

I figure that of the remaining fifteen percent, there were probably a few internet liars and the rest had probably lost the bulging musculature they had gained in basic training. Whatever the reason, 85% of vets are complaining of shrinking uniforms.

This has caused veterans a lot of social embarrassment and has caused a lot of spouses and children to belittle their mates.

A discussion among us noticed that most uniforms are stored in closets, chests and footlockers where they are not exposed to sunlight for years on end. Could this be part of the reason?

Whatever the reason is, I think you ought to look into this so that future veterans are not plagued by this problem.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say about this, and will pass what you have to say about this on to the guys at the American Legion post.

Thank you,

Former Sp/5, US Army

Shortly after that I decided to see what it took to make the uniform fit.

Six months later, it fit like a glove.

Hard work pays off.

my other blog is:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

running hard today

Hope to post before bed;

OK, got caught up.

This morning as I was opening up the blog, Neighbor Bob called and wanted me to go with him to his camp to check for winter damage. He was calling me to let me know breakfast was being cooked as we spoke, so I scrambled out the door after I made my initial post.

Damage at the camp was minimal, we didn't even go inside, as it would have required us to dig snow out of the way.

When we got home, I took care of a project and tonight I will pick up a piece of a rifle I have had worked on as part of a trade deal.

I like to trade things, as you may have figured. In a good trade, both sides come out smelling like a rose.

If you look around the house you can find all sorts of stuff someone else can use, but you have little or no need for, and it becomes instant trading stock.

In this case, I swapped some car parts for some work on a target rifle. I came out well, and so did the gunsmith.

Best part of things is that I got the shock absorbers I gave him for free off of Craigslist. He plans on installing them on someone else's car and will charge a fair price for them or maybe he'll do another trade.

One thing about a trade is that there is generally no tax on it, either.

That's always a good thing.

my other blog is:

running hard today

Hope to post before bed;

my other blog is:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The TV people did me right, which astonishes me.

I had to get one of those damned boxes because of some foolish upgrade that makes TV reception better than my poor eyes can really see.

I was moaning and bellyaching about yet ANOTHER remote.

Of course, with the one the TV people sent along with the box was a set of instructions to combine the use of the remote so it would work with both the TV and the cable box.

I did what the directions told me and the remote works with both the cable box AND the TV.

I am astonished because generally I wind up with the one brand of whatever that is the exception.

I expected to need 2 remotes to waatch TV with, yet I only need one.

Wow! Pretty neat!

my other blog is:

Friday, March 5, 2010

I hate going around in circles, yet

it very much seems to be the norm these days.

I posted that I tried to get a certain ringtone from Tracfone and that they keep sending me back to EXACTLY where I do not want to go, which is their website and their limited number of ringtones.

I guess it's because they do not want my money.

Yeah, right. That's a good one! They don't want my money. Believe that and I'll sell you, oh, never mind.

Truth is they don't want to earn it.

I have suggested that they simply set up the ringtonse selection with another option that would be profitable, which is a 'create your own' option.

This would probably require a short time for their website tschnician to set up and it would probably turn a pretty good profit, yet they seem to be playing the game that I see constantly.

They are trying to sell you what they want to sell you, and NOT what you want to buy.

This attitude seems pretty prevelant, and when I bought my pickup a few months ago it was very much the attitude of the local car dealership.

I knew what I wanted, which is a HUGE part of a salesman's job. Figuring out what the customer wants is a lot of what a salesman has to do.

Yet, because they didn't have what I wanted in stock, they tried to sell me what they had instead of simply getting off their daed ass and onto their dying feet and simply finding it. It's not too hard.

There are now telephones and computers out there to make a search a simple five minute job.

I got fed up pretty quick with the salesman telling me that what I was looking for didn't exist, so I simply went to the library and searched for it. The process took me 10 minutes. Then I picked up my cell phone and cut my deal and gave him my credit card number to hold the vehicle. The next day I drove down to the dealership and bought it.

I'll admit the dealership was a couple of hours away, but getting what I wanted was sure a whole lot cheaper and better for me than buying something that I really didn't want and then have to live with it for the next ten or twelve years.

The drive was a pretty cheap expense whan you thing about it in the long haul.

The Tracfone people are playing that game with me over their ringtones, but with a twist. They are playing the circle game with me and I'm going to continue to tie them up until they do one of several things.

This is war in a small scale.

The game they are playing, the circle game, goes like this: Every request I make they send me to the website where I can NOT download what I want.

This is laziness on their part.

I simply want them to either create the aforementioned option, or download what I want to my phone or SIMPLY SAY THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED IN DOING THIS!

'NO.' is acceptable answer. I can live with that.

Instead, the people there keep sending me hot links that send me back to their site whereby they are making another futile attempt to sell me waht they want to sell me, which is what I do not want to buy.

I know this is pretty silly to make an issue over a lousy ringtone, but I'm tired of having business in general stumble through life trying to sell me waht I do not and will not buy.

When they start to sell me what I want, they will find I can be a very willing and cheerful customer.

my other blog is:

I am alive, my ISP is down and I'm

on a borroewd machine until I can get things up again.

my other blog is:

Monday, March 1, 2010

I have an Irish Catholic background, however there

are a number of Jewish things I have taken to heart, mainly in the aarea of food.

My favorite oxymoron is the 'kosher hot dog'. It make me snicker a little every time I think of it.

Truth is, my favorite hog dog of all time is the Hebrew National. It's one hell of a damned good hot dog and I love them.

The other thing I do when I am fortunate enough to be ashore on Saint Patrick's day is to get my dose of Corned beef and cabbage from a Jewish deli by ordering a corned beef on rye and a side of cole slaw.

The truth is, I abhor the Irish recipe for corned beef and cabbage, which if to toss the whole mess into a pot and boil it into a totally soggy mess. It rates up there with New England Boiled Dinner as on of my all time dishes unfit for the family dog, much less the human palate.

I do, however, add a Guiness to the lunch to make it Irish, however this year it may be a totally kosher lunch as I have heard there is an outfit called the (no lie) He Brewing company and I have found out that they make a stout.

There is a Jew I know that lives out near where they make the stuff and he's supposed to check their stout out and see if it's close to as good as Guiness.

Of course, that is doubtful, as Guiness is as close to perfection as anything is, but there is always a chance and it's worth looking into.

If it is even close, than my St Patty's day will be pretty much celebrated 100% kosher.

One of my younger relatives once asked me what the difference between Irish and Jewish was and I told the young lady that the biggest difference I could see is that the Jews did a better job on corned beef.

My sister heard me say that and looked doubtful for a second, furrowed her brows and thought for a second.

"You're right," she said to me.

my other blog is:

Dateline 4 March in anticipation of computer hassles.

Of all of the things Mark Twain said,

the one that seems to stick in my head the most is when he said that 'A camel is a horse designed by a committee'.

That is a truth you can pass on and put in The Gosppel According to Piccolo right on page one.

It seems that everyone and their cousin will have a bright idea and want to have it included.

Of course, when the thing, whatever it is, gets finished you can rest assured that it will be big and cumbersome and pretty much useless.

I am astonished that things in this planet work as well as they do.

Let's say the problem is hooking up New York with a direct, non stop train line because, for some reason there are aa lot of people that have lost their driver's licenses and are afraid to fly.

A governmental subcommittee is given the job of connecting the two by rail.

It seems like a pretty straight forward operation to me if you'd just give it to a single senator from Hawaii or Alaska to work it out. Inside a short period of time, things would start happening and in a reasonable short period of time, the railway would link the two.

The reaason I said giving the job to a senator from Alaska or Hawaii is because he has no real vested interest in it as it really does not concern him.

If you gave the same job to a committee in congress, the job would turn into a total hash because every single one of these idiots would decide that the route should include their home state and that it should service several cities in it.

Of course, the result would be a 17,000 mile rat maze streching from Coast to coast along a route covering most of the states in the union and it would take weeks for a person to get from New York to Los Angeles.

The cost of such an undertaking would be astronomical.

Of course, if the private sector looked at it and it seemed profitable, they would be on it in a heartbeat and it would be as straight as an arrow and they would redesign the train to travel almoat as fast as the SST.

A big part of the reason is because there would be one single person in charge who would make all of the major decisions, delegating the minor ones as needed to get the job done.

I drive the Pennsylvania turnpike all the time and it is without a doubt the worst deal for the money I have ever seen in this country. The tolls are insane and keep going up regularly, the road is in lousy condition and there is always work going on rebuilding sections that were not built right the first time.

I'd bet that if they privatized the road, the company that took it over could build three times the road at a fraction of the cost and charge a nominal toll and make money hand over fist.

Think that's going to happen?

Fat chance.

my other blog is:

Posted 1/3 with a dateline of 3/3 because I foresee IP problems at home.

The five-gallon can surprises me because

it has stayed pretty much standard for the past umpteen years.

Now, it's true that I have seen 20 litter cans for sale, and even a few 25 liter cans, but the standard stays roughly an a nominal five US gallons or so.

This makes sense, as it is holds a pretty good volume and when filled it is generally not too heavy and unwieldy for a person to use.

The can, as we know it, started with the German Army in North Africa during the Second World War. Presumably, the Brits were using 55 gallon drums, which require a pump to get the fuel into the various vehicles. I'm sure that a broken or missing pump meant improvising with siphon hoses and/or manhandling the bulky drums.

The Germans were using smaller cans, which were either 20 or 25 liters and were a whole lot handier.

The Brits captured a bunch of them and started calling them 'Jerry cans', which is what they are often called to this day.

The size, running between 5 US gallons and a little over 6 gallons has pretty much stayed the same size, give or take a little.

Twenty five liters, or a little over 6 gallons is about the right size, not too little volume nor too much weight. I guess the reason the size has stayed in that ball park is just for that reason.

Contractors and home owners use 5 gallon cans all the time for the same reeason. Enough volume and not too much weight.

I guess the military has somehow managed to keep congress from sticking their stupid little nose into things because I see the cans with the troops in the news every so often.

Watching congress decide to change something like that would be a hoot to watch, but I sure wouldn't want to be one of the troops having to fill up vehicles whit the new cans congress would design.

First of all, they would look at a 55 gallon drum and decide that 11 five gallon cans equal 55 gallons, so to make it an even ten trips to empty a drum they would decide that 5.5 gallons is the way to go intil someone else would decide to make them 11 gallons, as it would reduce the number of trips from the 55 gallon drum by 50 percent.

An 11 gallon can would be a rough go for smaller GIs, but they could probably handle it, although it would be a real push for, say some of the smaller ones and many of the women serving.

Next some idiot would think that a 27.5 gallon can is the way to go because they could empty a 55 gallon drum in 2 trips. Of course, when the fact that the 27.5 is too heavy to carry, the same idiot in his infinite wisdom, would suggest designing a pump for the 22.5 gallon drums.

This, of course, would make things worse that they were in North Africa for the Brits who were dealing with pumps and 55 gallon drums to begin with. You would have twice the containers and still need pumps. A broken or missing pump and the GIs are back to square one, improvising with scrounged hose to siphon the drums.

Of course, the GIs would do a number of things. They would either dig up old stocks of 5 gallon cans or start stealing them from our allies and or start capturing them from the enemy.

Then the hue and cry would go out to the military supply system for 5 gallon cans and the cycle would start over again.

I guess that maybe the 5 gallon can is such a perfect size that even the idiots in congress are smart enough to leave it alone, but I dare not bet on for how long.

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Posted 1 Mar, but given a 2 March dateline because my IP provider is no longer and it will be catch is as catch can for a while.

It is the night before I get off of this pig and things

are their usual hectic selves because we have had three weeks to turn the place into a pig sty and one night to return it to it's sparkling pristine condition.

One of the thing that happens is that the place morphs into what it was before we got off.

In my case, it will look pretty good, as the other guy is pretty good, too.

Anyway, I gotta go crack the whip because if I don't someone will take it from me and crack ME on the ass with it.

Sorry for the short post, but I'm busy.

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