Monday, January 31, 2011

This is a post designed to catch me up and make sure I have one a day

for this month.

Please keep reading on down to the previous posts, several of which have been posted today.

I have had technological problems and missed a few days.

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I am not a happy camper now.

There is snow in the offing and that is not a good thing because we do not have a snow blower on board.

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No I am not going to post the whisky to the Indians story.

quit bugging me.

You know who you are.

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I am making an exception to my policy about product endorsements.

Generally I do not endorse products but something has happened over the past couple of days.

When I bought the Taco a while back the cap off of the old Taco no longer fit because the bed on the newer model was bigger. I was going to get a cap somewhere but opted fo a hard ABS tonneau instead because I was tired of having too many close calls backing into things due to the blind spot a cap creates.

I opted for a thing called an Armor Lid. It's been great. It works, is easy to use, locks and is very weather tight. Of course, I had expected all of this.

When I got it they supplied me with the obligatory set of 2 keys which were, unfortunately of a type I could not seem to have made locally, but no fear. A call to the Armor Lid people had another couple of keys in the mail for short money, or maybe they didn't even charge me at all. I forgot, to be honest.

Anyway, there is a guarentee they started shortly after I bought mine. Five years for everything but the struts, which are guarenteed for two years.

I didn't register for the guarentee, as I was unaware of the plan.

It seems that the cold weather has knocked the starch out of the gas struts and I started looking for replacements. I went to their web site and asked them how much replacement struts were and explained that the tonneau had never been registered under the warranty program.

In a very short time I got a return email.

"No problem, Piccolo. We have your name in out customer base and you are good to go. We'll send you out a new set of struts for free."

That's pretty good if you ask me.

I was expecting to have to cough up and have just gotten a pleasant surprise.

I'd buy another.

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I just got an email from someong that wants me to

tell my story about running whiskey to the Indians.

It is not going to happen here on an open internet forum.

To hear that story you are going to have to meet me face to face and supply me with some pretty good hooch.

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Another little rave on stupid

One of the things I have seen that stupid people do is to ruin things for the rest of us.

I was listening to a story a shipmate told me about getting back to his homeport.

It was a reasonably simple process involving a couple of short cab rides and a pair of train rides.

He had called the office and they started making arrangements for him and gave him a lot of time to spare in case there was a hitch. The office handled everything, which in a way isn't a bad deal, but in the process he lost a lot of time and there was a lot more hassle than there had to be.

At one time I was on the unofficial list of good boys that could be expected to take care of themselves, but some sissy that couldn't take care of himself complained that it wasn't fair so they threw out the list, so to speak, but I digress.

What happened to my shipmate is that he had to get the office to make him train reservations and cab arrangements.

No biggie in itself, but cabs can be somewhat unreliable and if one shows up late the whole process can get thrown out of kilter.

The time and hassle the office had to go through is to be considered, too. They had to make calls and arrangements and get tickets. There is always a chance something could get lost in translation and the arrangements would get screwed up somewhere along the line.

Often times the easiest and best thing to do is simply tell the employee to get home on his own, save his reciepts and turn them in for reemburstment.

The SMART employee will generally make out better because he can take advantage of what ever situation is handed to him.

If he gets somewhere a little early can snag an earlier ride. He will, of course, presuming he has half a brain, provided it is no great difference in cost.

If he is running a little late, he can reschedule for a later ride.

The company will generally make out pretty good also because it will save them the time and hassle of setting things up and having to reschedule the whole thing if something goes awry.

Enter stupid.

This is the entire reason good things go away.

Telling a stupid person to get home on his own is a recipe for disaster.

Stupid people will do stupid things.

One such chooch hopped into a cab in Bridgeport, Connecticut and told the driver to take him to the Philadelphia office resulting in a whopping cab fare that the office was expected to pay. It should be carefully noted that the man picked up the cab about a ten minute ride from the local train station.

Another idiot decided that he simply couldn't wait ten minutes for the next train and boarded some special train and the ride cost an extra hundred bucks or so.

Then there was the guy that had well under the required half of a brain that found himself somewhere in New York and simply called the office and told them he was lost and wanted to know what to do. That sent the entire office into panic because Lord knows what kind of trouble he was going to encounter alone in the big city.

The office told him to hop into the first cab he could find and have the cabbie take him straight to Grand Central Station and then call. It was then that the dumbass told the office he didn't have cab fare.

The office then had to call around and find a cab company willing to drive the jerk to Grand Central Station and send the company a bill. Done.

The office people were sharp enough to have the cabbie hand this clod written directions to call them as soon as he got to Grand Central where they had to explain to him how to go to the service desk and pick up his ticket. They also told him to call when he got to where he had to change trains to make damned good and sure he got on the right train and got to the home port. There a supervisor had to pick him up at the train station.

It should be carefully noted that this hillbilly had llived his entire life in Philadelphia. He wasn't some roughshod hayshaker from the boonies. He was a city kid and should have had at least some idea.

It is interesting to note that one crewman I worked with really was a hillbilly from some jerkwater place a quarter-mile west of BFE. He was one of those people that probably had gone to school barefoot, yet he could easily get around anywhere on earth. The reason for this is that he had at least the necessary half a brain required to be able to think.

One time I was told to make sure a certain deck hand off of one of the tugs got back to the homeport OK.

I had planned on taking the cab of the arriving crewmen to the train station, but I found that they had let the cab go at the entrance of the tank farm. Ouch.

A quick word with the dockman told me thaat cabs took forever to arrive and that the fastest way to go was to catch the bus that ran just outside the main gate.

The deckhand seemed lost. He wanted to know what we were going to do and I looked at him and told him simply that we were going home. Of course, he was worried and said so. I was irritable at the time and told him, "Follow me. I'm infantry."

We caught the bus and it took us a couple blocks from the train station. Then he wanted to know how we were going to get to the train station and I told him we were going to walk. When he asked how far, I told him that it was three or four miles and he said he 'wasn't going to walk no three or four miles'.

At which point I told him he was on his own and started to walk the couple of blocks. He followed me like a puppy and we boarded the train almost instantly and arrived in Philly a couple of hours later. Yeah, I was probably rude, but the truth is that I was plain sick and tired of dopey people that got panicky over nothing.

You have to stop and think for a minute. There is a transportation system set up in this world that can take a person anywhere he wants to go. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know where most of the stations and depots are, but at least I know enough to simply be able to ask someone. In fact with Google it is easier yet.

Yet the world still has stupid people in it that are either too lazy or stupid to be able to take care of themselves and because of that the people in the various offices will have no shortage of employment taking care of these less than mental giants.

On the other hand, those of us that can shift for ourselves are going to have to deal with the inconveniences of not being able to take care of ourselves because the system has to be dumbed down to make sure the stupid are cared for.

It sometimes make you want to become a total Darwinist and throw the dummies of this world to the wolves.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sometimes there is a simple solution to a problem.

The hatch on this slab has an automatic closer on it which is OK except that it has gotten a little old and doesn't quite close the door so we gave it aittle help with a bungee cord.

I guess the bungee cord has gotten a little weak because today I noticed that it was not closing the door to the point of where it would latch. It lacked about a 32nd of an inch of making the door latch.

My shipmate offered to clean the pump house if I fixed the door.

Best deal I've had in ages.

I simply tied a knot in the bungee cord. It made it a little shorter and it now had enough pull on it to do the job.

Of course, my shipmate wasn't too impressed.

"I could have done that," he said.

"Why didn't you?" I asked.

Sometimes it doesn't take a whole lot to rectify a situation.

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I was thinking of posting about the time I ran whiskey to the Indians

but I don't think I will here on an internet blog where everyone can read it. I don't know what the statute of limitations on it is.

Suffice to say that it's pretty neat having done something straight out of a grade B western under my belt to look back on and laugh about.

Let's leave this at that.

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Good manners go a long way.

I got stopped a while back, apparently for running a red light.

As I pulled over I was wondering what in the name of Sam Hill I was getting pulled over for. At the same time I dug out my license, registration and proof of insurance. Then I rolled out the window and waited for the officer to approach me and ask for them.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?" he asked.

"I really don't," I confessed.

"You ran a red light," he said.

My brows furrowed and I thought. 'I honestly don't recall running a red light," I replied and thought a few seconds. "Wait, was it the one that is at the 'T' intersection that the other end is the alley?"

"It was," he replied.

"I very well might have run that particular one," I confessed. It is a sneaky one and seems to be out of place and I have found myself almost missing it a couple of times. it really doesn't seem like it belongs there. I very well might have missed it."

He glanced at my license and told me I was a long way from home. I told him I was a sailor that had just gotten ashore and was headed home. He said I seemed to be headed in the wrong direction and I explained that I was picking up a bottle of Cognac for a friend.

"No law against that," he grinned.

He took my license and registration and went back to his patrol car and ran them. He returned a few minutes later.

"I woke up and wasn't in a very good mood," he said. "I was in the mood to write a few tickets today, but you were so polite and respectful I am going to let this one slide."

Sometimes good manners pay pretty good dividends.


The aforementioned trip home was a pretty good day for being stopped by law enforcement people. It has been years since I have been stopped even once. Now I was stopped twice in three hours. Go figure. When it rains, it pours. On the turnpike I got stopped again! This time I wass accused of speeding, but I really wasn't speeding.

I saw what had happened. Some guy was running up my tail going like the hammers of hell and then when he saw the cop he climbed all over the brake and got on my tail. Apparently the radar had picked him up and it looked like I was the speeder.

Thank God for GPS.

On a whim I had luckily reset the trip a few minutes earlier and had been staying pretty much within the speed limit. The trip log showed that.

What I haden't reset was the max speed log. It read 567 mph.

When the officer told me that he had recorded me at driving over 80 mph, I politely explained to him that I thought he had made a mistake and told him about the guy coming up fast and hard behind me and tucking into my tail at the last minute. He looked pretty dubious, of course.

I pointed out that I had reset my GPS about 10 minutes earlier and we could look at it and that might show I hadn't been speeding, or at the very least, driving in excess of 80 mph.

I reached up and my moving average for the past 10 minutes was something like 64.8, just under the posted limit.

Then he looked and saw where my max speed read 567 mph and his eyes grew a little big.

"What's with the 567 mph?" he asked. He looked like he was really getting ready to write me a ticket for 567 mph!

I grinned. "You would look pretty funny in court giving a man a ticket for driving a four-cylinder pickup 567 mph," I said and he flushed a bit.

"I guess I would," he said and by the look on his face he felt a little foolish.

"What's with the 567 mph?" he asked.

"Well, my other car..." I started, "Actually I brought the unit on an airplane in my carry-on. Apparently the slide switch got jostled and turned it on and it picked up the signal at 35,000 feet and logged the speed of the airplane."

"Why don't you reset it?" he asked.

"That's a pretty neat trophy," I answered. "Would you reset yours if it happened to you?"

He thought a second. "I see your point. I probably would, but I can see why someone wouldn't." he said. "Pretty good bragging rights."

He returned to the original reason he had stopped me.

"I don't think I could get a conviction," he said. "Not with your GPS reading the way it does. I'll have to let you go."

I attribute that one not to good manners, but to good luck.

Then again, had I been rude, there is no telling what he might have decided to dig up to write me up on, so I guess my good manners probably helped.

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I am finally back to normal again

One of the things that happens to a lot of us seamen takes place either when we arrive back to work or when we get home.

Getting back into the swing of things can take a couple of days.

Sleep patterns have to adjust and bowel and bladder habits also have to readjust as well as feeding schedules and eating habits.

A lot of people in my business have two totally seperate life styles and therefore have adjustments to make. I think the guys with a larger family have more things to deal with.

Years ago I had problems coming home as the generator on board here runs 24/7.

Although it isn't loud as it is in a seperate area, it does provide a background noise. The silence of it shutting down will wake a sailor up instantly. The lack of the background noise used to make it hard for me to sleep so I used to run something for background noise. A fan was pretty good in the summer. Shutting the fan off would wake me instantly.

These days making te switch from ship to shore or shore to ship is a little easier, but there are still quite a number of things that have not changed.

I am now back to my sea schedule, and now everything is OK.

Of course, when I get off I will have to return to my shoreside schedule.

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A pretty good convoluted arguement t make a few bucks

One of the things I 0nce suggested to my boss was that we charter a rig from Alaska to Russia and do a little international work.

"Why is that?" he asked.

"Because it crosses the International Date Line," I replied.

"So?" he asked.

"Just think of it. We charter the units and pay our people by the day. We could do very well."

"How's that?"

"Simple. When you cross the International Date line, say on a Wednesday, it becomes Tuesday again then you get another Wednesday. That's two Tuesdays and two Wednesdays on the same week for nine billable days in one week."

"Yeah, but doesn't that even out when you cross it in the other direction?" he countered.

"Nope," I said with a grin. "When you're coming the other way and hit it on a Tuesday it then becomes Wednesday and you can get a billable week in just six days!"

"Wait a minute," he said, and I could see that he had pretty much figured out my reasoning, but was doing a quick mental re-check of the mechanics of my proposal.

"Run it by marketing," I said. "I'm headed over to payroll." and with that I wandered off leaving him something to think about.

I looked in a nearby window and saw his reflection smiling and shaking his head.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

I am back following technology difficulties.

Sorry, but that is the way the cookie crumbles.

But I am back and that is that.

I am back at work now plying my trade on the Seven Seas, which reminds me of the time years ago I looked at a crewman and asked him to name the Seven Seas. He coulden't, and neither could I.

We had time on our hands and decided to have a little fun. We wrote a number of places letters asking them to name the Seven Seas. We wrote the Defense MApping Agency, the US Navy, and a number of other governmental agencies along with a couple of Matitime organizations.

Over the course of the next few weeks, tha answers came in slowly, and they were pretty much all the same.

They all explained that the term 'Seven Seas' was an old seafaring term that has been around for generations and that it refers to various non-specific bodies of water yada yada yada.

In  short, the governmental agencies fed me a crock of vague answers that said nothing and meant a lot less.

The whole project got no real results and cost the death of a number of good trees that were just sitting there minding their own business when some logger came and chopped them down to make paper for the government to send worthless letters to a bunch of people that meant nothing. It should ba carefully noted that the quality of the paper was so stiff and inabsorbant that it couldn't even be used for sanitary purposes.

A few months later I was sitting at the table in the galley and noticed the salad dressing. It was made by the Seven Seas salad dressing people and curiosity overwhelmed me.

Afterr dinner a letter was written to the Seven Seas salad dressing people and inside a week they had an answer.

They sent me a very nice explaination that the Seven Seas were the original route to China from Arabia, and there was a delightful little explaination of all seven of the seas one would pass through on their way.

Go figure.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

I now have Indiana Jones' pistol.

Well, not really, but pretty close.

It is a Webley Mk IV chambered in .30-200, which was the British loading of the .38 S&W cartridge.

I wrote in an earlier post that as a 12 year old kid I bought a pistol through the US Mail back in the early 60s and posted it here on 12/29 and it seems to have disappeared, probably because I am clumsy with touch pads. Here it is:

I just found one for a VERY low price and picked it up. I couldn't say no at the price I got it for. Please do not ask. You will call me all sorts of abusive names including comments about my honesty and parentage. Just say I got a damned good deal.

When I picked it up, Neighbor Bob looked at it and said, "Isn't that the same pistol Indiana Jones used in the movie we watched a couple of nights ago? Looks like you're going to have to get a Sam Brown belt and a whip to go with it."

Actually, it isn't. Indy's pistol it the daddy of this one, but it's close. Jones carried a .455 Webley, which is a somewhat larger pistol and shot a larger round. This pistol is very similar in appearance and function, but is noticeably smaller.

Nobody loads the 38-200 anymore, but I can shoot .38 S&W in it safely, which is really not good enough for the Webley as the .38 S&W cartridge has been dumbed down for safety and liability reasons.

Enter the hand loader, which among other things I am. It won't take me long to whip up a couple of boxes of .38-200 loads to shoot the thing with the full power loads it was designed to shoot. I want to fire 84 rounds from this to complete this project.

When I was 12 I bought the same pistol and 108 rounds. I managed to sneak out into the woods and get 14 rounds off before I turned around and saw my dad looking at me shaking his head. He told me to finish shooting. I fired the next 4 rounds and then he shot six, for a total of 18. Then he put the pistol in his pocket and that ended my youthful career as a pistolero.

By my reckoning I had 84 more rounds left.

I wish my father was still here so we could shoot the damned thing together. I'd bet he'd get a kick out of it.

Bet when I get the 14th round off, I look over my shoulder for him.

He'll be there, smiling and shaking his head.

For any of you that are reloaders, I'll give you the inside scoop on the reloading data. The recipe for this is 3 grains of Unique beneath a cast 200 grain bullet. We're talking about 650 feet per second(FPS) here, which is the original velocity. The Brits used a full metal jacket (FMJ) round to comply with the Hague convention but FMJ bullets are no longer readily available. The somewaht softer cast bullets should run down the bore a little easier and not create quite as much pressure as an FMJ.

If you go to the .38 S&W data, you will find that this is somewhat of an overload. For the .38 S&W it actually is s hot load. The reason it is labeled as an overload is because there are still a boatload of pre-war Iver-Johnson top-break revolvers floating around. The hinges on them are pretty weak and can't handle the pressures.

A similar situation exists with the .45/70 Government round. It was originally a black powder cartridge designed for the old Trapdoor Springfield rifles and the action is weak by today's standards. Ammo makers today can not make a cartridge for that rifle that will allow the round to live up to it's full potential because no matter what they do or how they label the box or paint the cartridges or what they say, some jerk is going to load the damned cartridge into an old Trapdoor rifle and blow himself up.

The ammo makers today load to somewhere in the area of maybe 16-1800 FPS and reloaders that have solid bolt-action rifles in this caliber have safely pushed this cartridge out into the 2200+ FPS range.

Same holds true for the .38 S&W and the boatload of Iver-Johnsons floating around. About 10 years ago at the range I saw a pretty good case of catastrophic failure by some jerk that had his friend make up ammo for one. The friend simply cut down .38 Special cases and used .38 Special data for the load.

Before the guy shot it, I suggested he think twice, but he looke at me and told me that his pal knew what he was doing, pointed it down range and fired a shot. "See?" he said.

I walked away and sure enough the second shot went Ka-Blooey and made a pretty good mess out of things. I didn't stick around as guys that do things like that are not generally in the best of spirits so I can't give a decent assesment of the damage.

Here's a picture of a Webley MKIV:

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Today is a day of painting the bedroom.

 It is the last of the entire downstairs part of the house to be painted and that is, of course, a good thing.

I'll put on a pair of shorts and crank up the heat and sit on my ass and paint the baseboards and then paint the window trim and it will be done. I painted the walls and overhead yesterday. Neighbor Bob dropped by with his impeccable timing and watched me paint the overhead and was very helpful as he could see what I was doing from the corner of the room better than I could. He told me when I had missed a spot here and there so I got excellent even coverage.

Last night I rehung all of the pictures so that when the baseboard, door and window trim is done, all I will have to do is a deep cleaning and yard all the furnishings back into the room.

This morning there was a lot of snow on the ground and it is still snowing lightly as I write. I decided to blow out the driveway and did so in a very short time.
Before I bought the snow blower, it would take me forever and a day just to shovel out the basic rudiments of getting things operational, meaning so I could park the Taco get in and out of the house. Not anymore. I blasted out the entire driveway and cleared the mailbox area for the mailman in jig time.

I hate snow with a purple passion, but I'll have to say that the snow blower has made it a little more bearable. At least I don't have to go out and shovel and freeze my ass off shoveling.

One of the things you have to understand about snow blowers is that they are not magic and that they are simply a tool. You have to know how to use it and take things slow and patiently because like most good things, failure to think and use it properly can get you into trouble.

A snow blower blows snow, but it will also throw things like gravel and whatever it picks up. The throwing action is forceful enough to break a window or mar paint on a vehicle if you are not careful. Catching a newspaper in the auger can also jam things up pretty good, too. The first step is generally digging the newspaper out of the snow to prevent this.

The next step is to generally watch where the snow is going to fly and adjust the chute to make sure the snow goes where it should. Often times you have to stop and readjust, which really takes no time at all. You stop, readjust and continue.

All of this sounds pretty simple, but you would be astonished to find out how many people there are that simply do not know how to use tools. They get impatient and force things, try to speed things up or they simply are not aware of the limitations and functions of the tool.
My all-time favorite out there that a lot of people think is the be-all and the end-all as far
as transportation goes is the four-wheel drive vehicle.

"Hey, Joe! Watch this! I don't have to even slow down on this ice and snow because I have FOUR WHEEL DRIVE!"
Three minutes later: Crunch.

"What happened? This is four wheel drive."
You have to think, and that goes for all tools from the venerable hammer all the way to the surgeons Lasik beam.

Anyway, that is what I have to say for today because the heat is cranked up and it is now warm enough for me to put on my shorts and start painting.

I got it all done except for the inside of the closet, so I can move the furniture in tomorrow sometime. It looks pretty good.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Last night's TV

The other night Neighbor Bob and I watched the last of the four Indiana Jones movies. We caught ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’.

This one was great escape fantasy entertainment and a wonderful way to hide from reality for a few hours.

Now, I have been an Indiana Jones fan since ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ came out in 1881. I saw it in Kodiak and it actually forced me to change my wardrobe because at the time I generally ran around town in a khaki shirt, leather jacket and fedora. After the movie people started asking me why I was dressed like Indy when the truth was Indy was dressed like me.

Anyway, in the latest Indy thriller it was pretty cool because there is Indy, in 1957. Wikipedia list the fictitious character as being born in 1899 so I guess that in 1957 he was 58 years old, which is not much younger than I am now.

I’ll say that at my age, I suppose I could survive a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator and being blown through the air for several miles only to crawl out fairly unscathed. My swashbuckling days are not quite over so I’ll have to give Indy a pass on that one.

I also have some land in Florida up for sale now if you are interested. It would make a nice retirement home for you. Interested parties bring cash.

This was probably the first movie Neighbor Bob and I have watched together and we drank a couple of beers during the movie and the cat rule came into play here and was properly obeyed.

The cat rule is somewhat simple. Whoever’s lap the cat is sitting on at the time doesn’t have to get up and get the next beer out of the refrigerator. The other person does.

The cat kept changing laps, so even that evened out pretty good.

All in all it was a pretty good movie and a great way to blow off a few hours and escape into the land of escape.

I wonder what Spielberg and Lucas are going to do with Indy.

As I age, it would be really neat to see him get older and continue his adventures. A while back there was a TV series that included Indy at the ripe old age of 93 getting into mischief and I’d just bet that they could really make another couple of pretty funny old man silver screen swashbucklers that would sell pretty well.

Anyway, I guess I’m going to have to keep my eyes open and see if Indy has been retired or if he pops up again.

We’ll see.

Then again, the Crystal Skull is going to be a pretty hard act to follow.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

KUDOS to REC Toledo.

I had to start the license renewal process today and since 9-11 it has just gotten worse and worse.

For years I had my file at another REC, but moved it to the USCG Regional Exam Center in Toledo for good reason. It is the ONLY Federal office I have ever found where the person that says, "May I help you?" honestly means it and wants to help.

They are amazing and do their damndest to make things work for the mariner.

Since a couple of years ago, all files for mariners have been sent to the Maritime center in West Virginia and they evaluate and issue licenses and Merchant Mariners Documents from there. The RECs have had their responsibilities changed since then, but their service is just wonderful.

Today I turned in my packet and one of the women there went carefully through it and made sure it was in order so that when it reaches WV it will be good to go and there won't be any snags.

Of course, when the Coast Guard decided to centralize things they sure added a lot of red tape and paperwork.

My application USED to be a single page. Now it's 4. The physical used to be a single sheet. I just had to have 9 pages filled out at an already overworked doctor's office.

My ariners document used to be a little large for wallet carry, but you'd stuff it into your wallet and maybe the edges would fray a bit, but so what? That was replaced by a plascic credit card sized document that fit right into the wallet. It was a definite improvement.

Now a seaman is issued a passport sized bok that is nothing more than a pain in the ass to deal with because it is now just one more thing to easily be lost or stolen.

The new document reminds me of what the P-38 can opener would be like if an engineer was detailed to redesign it. Instead of two little pieces of steel costing a nickel to make and weighing a couple grams, the updated verision would weigh ten pounds and have a jillion moving parts and a battery pack and wouldn't open cans nearly as well as the original.

There really is no excuse for this kind of thing. It is a waste of time, effort paper and serves no purpose but to make life a wole lot worse for some poor guy trying to make a living.

Back whn I started in the industry it was a lot simpler to renew. You would walk in carrying a completed application form, a completed physical form and a couple of passport sized photos and an hour later you would walk out with your renewed licenses and documents.

These days it takes weeks. The people at REC Toledo said it was running between 6 and 8 weeks from the time the package arrived at West Virginia.

Of course, all of this crap ha been blamed on 9-11 and maybe some of it is justified, but no way that the bulk of what goes on now is justified whatsoever.

It's not just the Coast Guard by any stretch of the imagination. The entire transportation industry has turned upside down. I spoke with a trucker and he told me that his entire industry had been beat up pretty badly under the guise of 9-11.

In spite of all of this the people at REC Toledo have managed to survive, adapt and overcome an awful lot of changes, I suppose all of the RECs have had to.

The amazing thing about REC Toledo is that they have done so without losing their sense of humor or their honest desire to serve the public and do the best that they possibly can to be polite, mannerly, competent, halpful and downright pleasant.

REC Toledo is a little slice of heaven and an example of what service from the Federal government SHOULD be like.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't post this because if some horse's ass further up the chain reads this, instead of making the OTHER RECs shape up, he'll decide to ruin this one.

I sure hope not.

To the people at REC Toledo: Thanks for making my life a lot easier.

You are appreciated.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I’d like to find out about my readers.

As a Blogspot blogger I have noticed that there is a section here for the writer that keeps statistics on the writer’s audience.

I have noticed that several readers are not in the United States, which is fine, as I don’t care who reads this daily vent.

My guess is that some of the readers are either GIs or expatriated Americans, such as embassy employees and others are people that live in the respective country they log in from.

There is a ‘comments’ area below every post and it would be nice if any of you people that are reading this from anywhere but the United States and Canada would click on it and let me know three things.

1.     Are you a resident of the country you are reading this from?
2.     Are you a GI or an American expat of some sort and what you are doing there and how long you will be there.
3.     If you are a resident of a country that is NOT either the United States or Canada, is there anything you want to know about life here in the States? If so, I might do a post on what you want to know.

my other blog is:

Monday, January 17, 2011

I went through a drug store today and looked at technology for sale cheap.

It was pretty amzing to see all of the doo-dads that technology brings us.

There were recorders, various portable music boxes, flash drives and little chips for electronic cameras.  One camera chip for about $20 is the same as 100 rolls of 35mm film!

I generally ignore these things because I am a simple person and not a techno guy. It's been a couple of years since I've gone and looked to see what is out there, and i was sort of overwhelmed.

About 12 years ago I gave a guy a ride that had just gotten out of Federal prison. I was about 47 or 48 at the time and the man had been in the joint since shortly before I was born. While he knew Windows 95 inside and out, he was astonished at the workings of a gas pump. He was worried that I was stealing gas because I didn't go in to pay for the gas I had pumped and I had to explain to him how you paid for it by swiping a card.

Now, because I hadn't been observant over the new techhnology that I had been passing by daily in drug stores, I was feeling like I was behind the times. For a few minutes I felt almost lost at what I had let slip by me.

I wonder how the newly released con felt when he got out after almost 50 years of sitting on ice. I can't imagine. He must have felt like he was on Mars or maybe in the USS Enterprise of 'Star Trek' fame.

I suppose if I was in his shoes, I'd have probably just wanted to turn around and go back into the joint where it was comfortable and safe!

my other blog is:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Last night was a pretty cool evening.

A young Marine reservist dropped by and we discussed his career and a few other things.

He has few things, but the things he does have are first-class.

He is of the school that says you buy cutting edge things and keep them until they are either horribly outdated or are worn out.

Mrs Pic sometimes goes that route and I respect her for it. She got a new computer recently to replact the one she bought several years ago. She bought the latest high-tech model and now the days of Windows 98 are long gone so she retired it recently.

I'll admit that computer-wise I am of a different school.

Right now I am writing this on a boat anchor that probably came from an army surplus auction. I paid $180 for it, delivered. It does the job and that's all I worry about. It replaces a string of about half a dozen other laptops I have had over the years.

Over the years I have not bought a whole lot of new things which is fine because everything I do buy is carefully checked out so as the be able to do what I want it to do.

I was almost 50 when I bought my first new vehicle and I did that because the price of used cars was so high that it really WAS cheaper to buy new. I used to buy them 3 model years old with about 30K miles on them, pay hald of new price, and run them into the ground. It was once the most cost efficient way to go.

Not anymore. Buy new and run them into the dirt is now the way to go.

Years ago Mrs Pic and I bought a chipper/shredder and she was the one that insisted on getting the bigger model. I still have it, it runs and works OK, but Neighbor Bob still has his and it works about as well as mine does, so I guess the jury is still out on that one.

Still, the one I has is a bit more powerful and may or may not outperform Bob's.

Frankly it may end up a wash. Still, it has been a good deal.

It has been a cold winter, and I figured right and decided to buy some itchulated overalls. In the past I would just layer and wear long johns and generally tough out winters. I didn't this year.

I bought a new float coat and a pair of itchulated oneralls. I'm glad I did.

When I mentioned that I was going to do this to Mrs Pic, she thought it was probably a good idea.

Back to last night, I got to help a young, recently promoted sergeant of marines wet down his new stripes.

That ain't a bad deal.

my other blog is:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Neighbor Bob and I handle a dweeb

I decided that after I ran the snow blower for the first time to let it run a while to break the engine in and then change the oil. Done.

The next order of business was to get some oil to refill the machine with so Bob and I got into the Taco and went off to about eleventy four places looking for OEM oil. Of course, it was nowhere to be found.

Then I had a real stroke of genuis.(Duh!) Let's try going to where I bought the damned thing in the first place!

Wow! What a concept!

There it was. I bought it. Quick fix. Done.

So we were leaving the store and it was cold and nasty out, which is par golf around here these days.

We opted to go out the in door, as it was a lot closer to the Taco. I briefly stopped and picked up a flyer and Bob got a little ahead of me.

Now, both Bob and I are dweeb magnets big time and as Bob was going out the in door, the dweeb saw him and said, "Hey, you're going out the in door!"

Now as you know, Bob has been hanging around me for too long and he has picked up a couple of my smart-assed ways. He looked over to the dweeb.

"It's OK. I'm a professional criminal. The laws don't apply to me," Bob said.

"What? I don't understand..."

"Right," said Bob. "Criminals don't have to obey the rules. That's why we're criminals. I can't stop and talk to you because I have to get to the bank before it closes so I can rob it."

The dweeb's kid was with him and the kid rolled his eyes. He picked up on what his father couldn't figure out.

The dweeb finally figured out he was being toyed with and looked at me, a couple of steps behind.

I looked at him and gave him the old double whammy.

"It's OK," I said. "I'm a member of Melvin Purvis's Junior G-man squad and I'm hot on his tail. Have no fear because I will bring this desperate criminal to justice!"

Needless to say, the little dweeb was not too happy to get what he got, but anyone out and out stupid enough to challenge someone over something as insignigicant as going out the in door an a snowy day deserves what they get.

my other blog is:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yesterday I found my DD-214.

I found my DD-214 yesterday and it is the first time I have seen it since I got out of the service in the 70s.

Someone wanted it to prove I served so I can get into a certain forum. This is the first time I have ever needed it for anything.

I looked at it and saw a number of things that were missing and I suppose I could try and dig out the old records and apply for a correction of some sort, but at this stage why bother. You can just take my word for it that I was decorated. I was given the Good Conduct medal for going three whole years without robbing and murdering the payroll officer. That's pretty good.

The next time I think I am going to need it will be after I am dead and gone so the Navy can bury me at sea.

Looking back, I remember simply being in a hurry with the admin people just to get out-processed and when the Sp/4 told me to look at it, I just told her that so long as it said honorable, I was happy with that.

After I had my discharge, I went to the unit to sign out and shake hands with a couple of people. My First Sergeant knew I was headed off to adventure and offered to mail my records home for me so as not to lose them. That was awful nice of him. Looking back on it, I suppose it saved me grief. I probably would have lost it.

My mom framed the damned thing and hung it somewhere (I'm the oldest, go figure Irish mothers)and a few years later when the government decided to discharge me fully, they sent my discharge. Mom put that in the frame to replace my DD-214.

When we broke up the old homestead a few years back, it was given to me and I hung it on my bedroom wall. I had no clue where the DD-214 went.

When I was asked for it, I thought and on a whim I decided to look behind the discharge certificate and there it was. Three copies.

I remember the Sp/4 telling me how important it was to keep it and so on, but she was wrong because I have really never needed it for anything since. When I took my GI bill they simply asked me for service dates and left it at that.

The only thing I have ever needed it for was to join an internet forum board.

I think I might write the people in Indianapolis for a complete copy of my service jacket and see if the records there are more complete. It would be interesting to go through them.

A couple of years ago I wrote for the records an uncle that was KIA at Iwo Jima and I asked for my dad's, too. I should have asked for mine.

They sent me a copy of my Uncle Jack's, they also gave me a letter stating my father had served but the records had been burned up in a fire years ago. I wonder what mine look like.

Curiosity overwhelms me. I think I'll write them for a copy and if there are any records of the schools I attended, maybe I'll apply for a DD-215 and get the record set straight.

Then again, after all these years, why bother?

If I do get it corrected, and I send the Navy a DD-215 instead of a DD-214 you never know what some armchair type is going to do. Maybe it is better I leave things alone so as to make things simply go smoother.

Then again, I could just use my current 214. It doesn't really matter now.

my other blog is:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I am home and back in businesss.

I ended up driving in at about 2200 last night to a pretty much snowed in driveway which wasn't too bad as I could easily park. Last night after I got inside and poured myself a Cognac, it started snowing again and by kept at it until about 1200 local time. It was pretty deep, say 8" and I know by the weather forecasts it is not going to go away.

I fired up the brand new Jim Dandy snow blower and blew out half of the entire driveway in a few minutes. Then I moved the truck and blew out the other half. It's a fairly big driveway and total running time was about 20 minutes. Not a bad deal.

Someone asked me why I got such a large machine and the reason is that bigger machines are more efficient and a whole lot easier to use. A lot of people do not understand that generally speaking a large machine is self-propelled and more efficient.

This behemoth was a snap to operate and I believe it will be easy to operate when I grow old and feeble.

All I really had to do is operate the controls and let the machine do the work. Although it is big and cumbersome, I just had to guide it. With a smaller unit I would be forced to supply more oomph.

The trick with this sized unit is to be patient and simply run it with the gears. You just back it up by using reverse instead af yarding at around with your muscles.

Twenty minutes to do the entire driveway is a snap.


In the comments section of an earlier post, someone wrote that they heard somebody having a pipe dream about a 60 foot sailboat. The commenter pointed out that he is presently saving for a much smaller vessel.

I'd bet that the guy is going to wind up with a smaller vessel and will probably sail the holy hell out of it.

Maybe tomorrows post will be about smaller sailboats, and getting one and preparing it for adventuring.

We'll see.

my other blog is:

Monday, January 10, 2011

We are getting ready to get off of this pig and go home for a while and that is a good thing.

What isn't a good thing is that we are expecting snow tomorrow andon top of that the weather back home just plain sucks.

I just wish I could talk Mrs Pic into going to Bermuda or someplace warm for a week or so. Maybe not Bermuda, as it is now in a rainy season, but that would be a lot better than being cold like it is going to be in Pittsburgh when I get home.

I am not really a picky traveler and could easily get by camping out in the pickup bedand do something like a Florida trip on the cheap, but if I were to go with Mrs Pic we would get a civilized motel room of something along those lines.

As I write this mmaybe something along the lines of renting a sailboat for a few days would be the ticket as I think she really might like that. A relaxed few days of living in a Marina would probably be pretty good for her and I wouldn't mind it myself.

For me I could go along with just about anything so loong as it is in a warm place that isn't too buggy and snake-ridden. I suppose snake ridden isn't too bad if they don't eat too much or bite. Buggy is out of the question.

I just simply can't stand the cold weather.

It wasn't all that long ago that I was considered to be about as immune to the weather as a hemlock stump, but as I have gotten older the cold has bothered me a little more. These days I work out on deck dressed like Nanook of the North. I never used to do that unless it was sub-zero out.

Now if it gets into the 20s I don the itchulated overalls and pac boots.

All in all I suppose it is because I really don't like wearing a whole lot of clothes. Deep down I'm probably a baggy shorts and T-shirt kind of guy.

Going home to cold weather sucks.

At least I have a halfway decent central heating system,though

my other blog is:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

After over 500 posts I am making a change

A few things have come up in my life and I have to address them.

While I am not packing it in, I may not be posting on a daily basis.

I will probably miss the daily routine of facing the keyboard and having to pull something out of my ass, and it has been fun writing a few stories of a mis spent youth but there are a few things that have come up.

I'll stillpost from time to time, but probably not on a daily basis.

That is all.

my other blog is:

Friday, January 7, 2011

It is snowing here.

That means to me that today I have been handed a big, giant, new and improved suck pill which I have to eat and there is no liquor out here to wash it down with.

One of the things I have noticed over the years is that most of the people that either like or profess to not mind snow are those souls that do not have to work in it.

One of the things that sailors do is spend a lot of time out in the weather and although rain can be miserable, it isn’t too bad if you don a good set of raingear.

Snow, on the other hand, sticks around for a while after it falls down from the heavens. Rain at least has the common decency to go away once it hits the ground. Snow can stick around for weeks.

I had a fellow crewman once tell me that he didn’t mind working during a snowfall and when I heard that I knew I was going to have a hard time with him because that simple statement told me that he was incapable of planning ahead.

I was right. The guy turned out to be one of those guys that would create work for himself, which didn’t bother me too much. What did annoy me is the amount of work he created for the rest of us. He turned out to be one of those guys that go through life going through three hours of misery to get out of five minutes worth of work.

Rain at sea is the easiest of all things to get rid of. All you have to do to get rid of rain is to pull a scupper plug open and let gravity perform its duty.

Snow, on the other hand, just gets in the way and must be shoveled and moved around. It’s a miserable thing to deal with.

As I get older, I start to think that maybe come winter I ought to snoop around and see if I can get transferred to a warmer clime.

I just might have to look into that.

my other blog is:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to the drone of Suburbia for a post

Neighbor Bob finally got smart this year and planned ahead.

Like most people, his garage is stuffed with the usual trappings of life in Outer Suburbia. It’s winter and the patio furniture etc. is in the garage taking up the space that surrounds the car that is generally parked there.

Not this year. He got slick for a change.

His snow blower is in the garage and the patio furniture is in the shed. He learned from last year when we got clobbered with snow.

Most people in this neighborhood leave their snow removal machinery in the shed because they really don’t think ahead.

When it snows the owner of the snow blower generally has to break out a shovel and dig their way to the shed which is pretty stupid when you think about it. After all, you bought the damned thing so you don’t have to shovel in the first place.

Now all he has to do is open the garage door, fire the machine up and start pushing snow out of the way.

This is the way it is supposed to be.

Of course, Bob was also smart enough to make damned good and well he planned the entire operation ahead.

He made good and sure that he could get the snow blower out of the garage without having to move the wife’s car.

He did this because the only thing that is more stupid than having to dig a path to the shed to get to the snow blower is having to dig a place in the driveway to park the car so he can get to the snow blower.   

Of course this story doesn’t end here.

Bob’s other neighbor really isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He keeps his snow removal equipment in a shed about fifty yards away from the house where it rusts in peace.

Come winter it generally stays there because it is too far away to get to.

Come snowfall, Bob’s neighbor whines and carrys on and Bob generally blows the neighbor’s driveway out just to shut him up.

This year is different.

Before I left for sea this last tour, Bob and I went down to this guys shed and hauled his snow blower up to his garage and he and I got the damned thing running.

Most people reading this will think we are fools for doing this, but truth be known, we didn’t do this for him.

We did it for us.

When his wife asked us why we did this she went into shock with the answer she got. She actually had the gall to ask him why we were doing this and how come he wasn’t planning on taking care of their driveway ‘like you do every year’.

Bobs answer sent her into shock.

“This year is different,” Bob said to her. “I am tired of being played for a sucker. This year you are going to put on your big girl panties and your husband is going to find his missing jock strap you two are going to learn to take care of yourselves. My back isn’t as young as it used to be and I can barely take care of myself.”

It is good to see Bob getting smarter this year.

Next winter they are on their own as far as getting their snow machine started. I’ll just bet you that next winter they won’t be able to get it started because he is either too lazy or too stupid to empty the stale gas out of the tank and clean the carburetor.

Two bucks to a stale doughnut on that one.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Orange coveralls are the proper uniform for visiting the casino located next to a jail.

There is a Harrah’s casino in Chester, PA that is right next to the jail located there. You can actually throw a stone from Harrah’s and it will land in the jail yard.

Of course, the convicts there are issued orange coveralls.

A couple of months ago a petroleum inspector gave me a set of orange coveralls after I told him I wanted a pair to wear for a visit to visit Harrah’s. At first the inspector told me that there was no way in hell he could get me a pair.

I told him to run it by his boss, and tell his boss that I wanted them to wear to Harrah’s, which he did.

When he returned he gave me a set with the stipulation that I tell his boss what happened when I wore them there. I think his boss saw the humor in it.

I am sending the inspector a hot link to this post to show his boss.

Anyway, it was this past October when this happened. The weather was pretty good and before I went, I made a pit stop at K-Mart to buy a matching set of bedroom slippers.

I pulled in, parked in the parking garage and wandered into the place clad in orange coveralls and bathroom slippers.

Now, you have to go through a security type checkpoint as you enter and there were a couple of security types I passed through.

Although they seemed the least bit startled to see a guy entering the place clad in the uniform of an inmate of the jail next door, they recovered pretty quickly and acted like they were just giving me a passing glance. I have to admit they were trained well. They said nothing and acted like I was welcome.

 I wandered around a bit trying to figure out what was where and had the feeling I was being watched by a group of hawks, yet I saw nobody, even though I was keeping my eyes peeled for security types.

Then it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to see any security types because the security type watching me was sitting in a room behind a bunch of computer monitors and watching me with the use of cameras.

Then again, there probably were a couple of plainclothes security types eyeing me, but they seemed to be pretty damned good if they were because I never made anyone to be one.

I figured that the guy watching me through the monitor ought to think I was unaware of him so I looked around quickly and when I saw nobody on the floor looking at me, I gave my groin a pretty good scratching.

It’s one of those things we all do, but make sure nobody’s looking before we do. I did it to let the guy watching me think I was unaware of him.

I just knew that at that point I wasn’t going to get out of there without some sort of questioning, so I decided to make it easy for them. I wandered over to a corner where it looked like it would be a pretty easy place to pick me up and sure enough, that’s what happened.

Two policemen, the real kind that get paid by the taxpayers quickly whisked me into a small room. The whole process took only a couple of seconds and was very discreet. I knew these two were well trained.

Of course, I played dumb. Instant hillbilly, a real Gosh-Golly Jethro Bodine, just add cops.

They asked me for some ID and it just took a few seconds to figure out that I was not some escaped convict, but some guy that had just walked in off the street.

The larger of the two cops asked me why I was dressed in orange coveralls and I told him they were work clothes and were orange for safety.

“Yeah, well there’s a jail over there and that’s what they wear,” said the other officer.

I feigned enlightenment.

‘You mean to tell me that there’s a jail next door and I’m wearing a prison uniform like a convict?” I asked.

They both nodded.

‘Why my momma told me that if I ever done got throwed in jail, she’d disown me!”  I said, indignantly. “I guess I better get me a new set of clothes before I come in here again!”

The big officer, suppressing a smirk, told me it might be a good idea.

“Huh,” I said. “Who da ever thought I’d be next to a prison dressed like a jailbird!” Both officers were hard pressed not to smirk and we left the room where I was met outside by a security type who quietly apologized to me.

He offered to comp me a free meal and a couple of drinks to smooth over things and I accepted.

I grabbed a shot of Irish and pretty good sized plateful at an excellent buffet and noticed a few people looking at me oddly. I left a tip and then went home.

It was an excellent little adventure.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The father that raised me

The Old Man was pretty observant about things my kid brother and I did.

He was interesting in that he was a man that truly WANTED to be a father and enjoyed raising kids. I really think this is a rare commodity. It probably was then and most likely is now.

As I write this, looking at my father’s strengths and weaknesses, I truly believe that God had one simple mission for him in his life, and that was to raise five successful children and then his mission complete, he could then leave.

He did leave. He was 57 years old when he died. His youngest was in her senior year in college.

Mission complete. Adios. Or so I thought. He has returned to me a couple of times since he died, most notably during a storm in August of 1986 where he sat in the galley of my sailboat laughing himself silly at the predicament I had gotten myself into.

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

This time was different. God sent me my father to sit there and laugh at me. Sometimes I wonder about God, and it was some time before I figured out that he had sent me my Old Man to calm me down when I needed it.

I think one of the things he knew was to be worth a damn at fatherhood, he had to grade on the curve; That is to say he had to be able to watch us make out mistakes, stepping in only when things looked like they were getting way out of hand.

He also had a knack for taking stuff that was pretty dry and making it pretty exciting. I always remember the time I wasn’t doing very well in school and he thought that math was going to be important in my life.

How right he was.

It was the year I was taking plane geometry and was bored. He knew it.

One night out of the clear blue he offered to teach me to navigate an airplane. Of course, I jumped at the offer!

Dad had been a navigator in B-17s and later on in B-29s and had actually been a teacher for a while in the Air Corps. He had aerial gunnery under his belt and had been a bombardier.

Here was a chance to learn something that was worth learning to a boy of that age! This was something cool!

Dad went to the upstairs hall closet and dragged out an old box and dug through it and made a couple of notes. He then made a call to a guy up the street that was still in the Air Force reserves. The following evening the neighbor dropped off a few thick tomes.

He took a globe and explained the navigational triangle to me and although it was pretty complicated to a boy of that age, he had a way of getting me to grasp the concept of the heavenly sphere and explained that even though it wasn’t true in real life that for the sake of navigation all the stars and planets were considered to be the same distance from the earth. They were part of the heavenly sphere.

Once I grasped that, everything seemed to be pretty easy until it occurred to me that once the spherical triangle had been laid out that it had to be solved.

That was a gold-plated sonuvabitch.

I was clever. I had figured out on my own how to solve the triangle with the obsolete air tables, dated sometime during the war years. It really wasn’t all that hard when you consider that almost everything the services issued had pretty good directions to go with it.

Even the lowly P-38 can opener has instructions printed on the wrapper. Go check it out the next time you hit the surplus store.

I solved the triangles after school and waited for dad.

“Let me see your work.” He said.

I explained that I had used the air tables out of the box.

Dad wasn’t having any of that. He took the air tables and put them back in the box.

“POW!” he said. “An 88 has just gone through them and all you have is a pencil and paper.”  

We spent the next couple of hours immersed in long division carrying the quotients out several decimal places, figuring out sines and cosines the hard way. It was a bitch.

The plane geometry came when we converted the celestial sphere to a paper flat map. When we were doing the map part, he also taught me to figure wind drift and how to change a compass course to overcome it.

The next part was learning to use the flight computer, which is still taught today. It’s a circular slide rule with a calculator for wind drift.

Then we did all of the other necessary figuring and after a couple of evenings of this, out of the blue he whacked me on the head.

“You stink in plane geometry,” he snapped. “Yet when you put your mind to it, you can sit here and do spherical geometry! Get back to class and knock plane geometry cold!”

I went from the bottom straight to the top of the class and a couple of times the teacher would side track the class a little to quiz me on spherical. He was amazed that I was so far ahead of the class in some things, yet average in others. I never let on that the Old Man had taught me the basics of navigation.

I’d have to say that between the plane geometry class and dad’s little course in air navigation, the two of them have really shaped my life and career.

I went into the army several years later and enlisted as an 82-C Field Artillery surveyor and there were quite a few parts of the class that I slept through and did very well in.

Astronomy week was supposed to separate the men from the boys in that tough course I had enlisted for, yet I breezed right through it. My instructor asked where I had attended college, figuring I had dropped out of some type of math or physics major program. He was surprised to find out I hadn’t.

I went through the ranks, making Sp/5 well ahead of my peers.

When I got out of the army, I built houses for a while and never went at a loss for work because I could easily frame out a chopped up roofline or breeze through a complicated dormer. Sometimes I would be hired specifically to build a stick-framed roof or dormers. The angles involved in building roofs were nothing more than applied plane geometry.

Later on when I went for my Coast Guard captain’s license, I simply read through a couple of books to refresh my memory and went in and took my entire battery of tests and passed with flying colors. The navigational problems had to be passed with a 90% or better, yet I breezed through and maxed that part of the test.

I was caught somewhat flat footed when I had to correct a course for current on the navigation test, yet I sat there for a few minutes and after a several decade absence, I recalled Dad’s lesson and it all came back to me.

If I recall, the lowest grade I had for the entire battery of six tests was a 90%, and that was ‘Deck General’. Nobody really does very well in that. It’s where I scored the 90%.

When I look back on growing up with the Old Man, I was blessed because he taught me some pretty good skills as a kid that I would find myself using constantly as an adult.

I guess it doesn’t get any better than that when you think about it.

I miss him every day. He died too young.

He didn’t cheat me and take me by surprise, though.

He gave me fair warning.

Every time he would drop me off at an airport or a bus station or even the highway when I’d hitchhike somewhere, his parting words were always the same.

“See you later, Kiddo.” He’d say.

At the airport that day, it was different. He lingered for a scant second and looked at me with a very warm smile. ”Good bye, Son,” he said. 

I held the gaze a second or two longer before I turned to get on the airplane. As I boarded it, I knew that it was to be the last time I would ever see my father.

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