Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another day of boots and utes.

When I came home from this tour I had about 35 feet of a tree top that was sheared off by the wind. I finished chain saw madness and cut it up. Then I chipped up everything under 2" in diameter.

After that I finished my flower planting.

As soon as I publish this I am going to take these damned boots off, sit a few minutes and then drop the utes and shower.

Sorry for such a short post.

Pic, out.

Edited to add: Royal wedding comment.

Neighbor Bob said that Harry walks like a damned grunt. Looking back at what I saw at the wedding, he DOES walk like a grunt.

my other blog is:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Piccolo reports on the Royal Wedding (with apologies to UK readers)

This day so far has not been as good as it could have been.

I'm sort of jammed up and the weather is being beastly. I have about a jillion flowers to transplant and there is the remainder of the tree in the back yard that needs to be ground up.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a really good day, but I just know that something/someone will want a piece of me and there will be bent feelings.

Right now in the background the Royal Wedding is on, but not for the reasons most people think.

I am not going to watch the entire thing, I'll just add to this as I pick up on bits and pieces of it.

I really don't give a damn about poor old Willie tying the knot, but what is interesting is all the pagentry and the foofurraw and geegaw that is going with it.

The costuming is pretty funny to watch. I just saw a bunch of little kids dressed up like 17th century admirals and others in Little Lord Fauntelroy suits. It made me laugh.

I guess the entire city of London is there and everyone is dressed up.

Now they just zoomed in on someone that looks like he is holding back about two six-packs, thirteen cups of coffee and maybe a glass of orange juice. The man looks like he is ready to explode. The poor bastard.

Over across from him is another couple, probably the Duke and Dutchess of Earl or someone and he looks like he needs about 3 fingers of Jameson's and she looks like she's ready to wet herself. She looks a lot like the other guy I just mentioned. A guy with a jug under his coat could make a few bucks for sure, but a guy with a screen and an empty mayonaise jar could probably make enough to retire on in about ten minutes flat.

There's Harry, I guess, standing there next to his brother and the look on his face says, "Better you than me. When my time comes I'm skipping out to the colonies and the wedding chapel in Vegas with the Elvis look-alike guy!"

William is the heir.

Harry is the spare. This means that maybe he CAN get away with the Las Vegas/elopement plan.

It is a good thing that as the actual ceremony is going on. Right now they are at the if 'anyone has any reason why these two cannot be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold their piece' part.

This part make me grateful that I am here and not there because I just know that if I were there a damned fly or something would kamikaze my throat and I would either cough or clear it and the resulting 'ahem' would draw a gasp of horror from the entire British Empire.

If I had to attend such an event I would have to purge my entire digestive system the night before and arrive totally dehydrated which may not really prove to ba a very good idea, either. Passing out isn't too cool, either.

Now a choir of little kids are singing and they are pretty funny looking. The boys are in red coats with ruffled 'Errol Flynn getting ready to fight a duel' collars. They look like they are in training to become swashbucklers. Actually it's kind of cute.

Now there is some kind of windbaggedness on the part of the preacher, who I suppose is the Archbishop of Canturbury or someone. The Queen Mother is sitting next to her son, Prince Charles and Charles is doing a remarkable job of looking at the Archbishop with a rapt look on his face like he is listening to something earth shaking. I'll bet he is bored to tears, but the Royals have been trained to look interested in just about anything.

I'd be a lousy royal. They haven't built a church yet that I couldn't fall sound asleep in.

Next there is kneeling and prayers, which is part of what a religious wedding is all about, so I can't say there's anything wrong with that.

There's all sorts of preachers involved in this one and they are taking turns. The camera is on one and then the other as they add their two bits worth.

Now a big choir is singing...nope it's the congregation.

More prayers, and an interruption. A call from a doctor's office scheduling a medical proceedure. I'll take a break.

More little kids singing, these are dressed like little altar boys.

Gabrials Golden Trumpets are playing typical British castle music which move right into 'God Save the Queen', which is par golf.

They zoomed into Charles again and he looks like the past few years have really aged him.

More hornage blaring, which quickly turns into somewhat quieter music as the new couple goes to sign the register. I wonder what would happen if Prince WIllie had a problem writing and put an 'X' in the spot?

Now, an X is divided into 4 quadrants. The appropriate witness would fill in the quadrents as follows. The top quadrent would read 'his', the bottom would read 'mark'.The left one would read 'Prince' and the right one, 'William'. And there it would be, for all to see. I know all about this because back when I was in the army I endorsed a GI paycheck in this manner to see if it was legal. It drove the bank nuts, but I came in with two witnesses and they signed it this way. My CO heard about it and laughed like hell.

Now there are a whole bunch of...

Interruption: Official Fanfare on the trumpets as they start to leave.

Out they go to horse driven carts and as usual I have an evil thought.

The bride ought to throw the bouquet. I wish she would. That way I could get to watch the catfight of the century! Picture every woman in London, from eight to eighty, blind, crippled or crazy fighting over the bouquet! London's answer to 'The Jerry Springer Show', and all it would take to start it is a quick flick of the wrist. The power that Kate has in her hand is something that a brace of six-guns can no way compete with.

It would take the entire Corps of Royal Marines to break a melee like that up and the casualties would be enormous.

Fleet Street would go wild. The wedding itself would wind up as a small article on page nine while page one would read 3784 women dead in wedding bouquet cat fight!

It's pretty neat watching all of London go nuts cheering and carrying on.

Of course, when you think about it, the two of them are not looking forward as they ride. I don't blame them. I wouldn't look ahead. Off to the left and right are the adoring crowds. In front of them are a half-dozen horse's asses. Pick one.

Next, I suppose, are a bunch of gala festivities of some sort and I'd just bet that it is going to take a king-hell dose of crank to last for the rest of it. They just said that Harry is throwing a survivor's party after the dinner and that supposidly is the place to go, but with over 700 people invited I'd probably pass on that one.

The British military is involved, of course, and while for the average Tommy the assignment is probably considered an honor, you can bet your ass that being a Tommy in those ranks is no joy.

It's bad enough having the NCOs all over your case checking you out for, say, a colonel's inspection, but having colonels and generals in a state of panic over non existint uniform problems must be sheer hell. I can hear some brigadier screeching in panic-stricken voice at some poor private telling him that he has his socks on the wrong feet. Ouch!

The crowds are being shown now and in the flood of Union Jacks I see a Japanese flag being waved. Whatever.

One of the things I have noticed is that everyone there is dressed very nicely and sharp. The women are in well put together conservative dress, but nothing showy. It is like their clothes are designed to bring dignity to the event and not draw attention to the wearer. It's refreshing, actually.

Of course, one of the American reporters is wearing a dress that is out of place. The dress says 'check out my boobs'. What do you expect? Bad taste is timeless.

Speaking of the American media, where the hell is Joan Rivers? This kind of stuff is right up her alley. As much as a lot of us laugh at her, she'd really be the one to watch if she was covering this event. Joan would probably do a pretty good job of reporting on this event. Maybe she is, but I'm on the wrong channel.

I wonder how many people have and will try and crash the thing? I can picture one potential crasher and that would be Larry the Cable Guy. Yes, this is just the party for Larry to try and walk in on. I can just picture him getting pitched out on his ass. I can just see some huge guard in a Beefeater uniform throwing Larry out and as Larry hits the pavement I can hear, "Git 'er done!" in an East Liverpool accent.

Still, on a more serious note, security must be a gold plated bastard. There has to be a genius here running things. Security has to be as tight as a drum, yet be totally unseen.

I'm actually glad I watched it.

Outside the house it is drying up so I guess I'll go outside and plant in few minutes.

And ten minutes later it started raining and I am back here and as soon as I walked it it started to dry up so out I go.

Hey, a Lanc and a pair of Spits just did a flyby! Cool! A WW2 Avro-Lancaster bomber escorted by a pair of Spitfires! That would be like having a B-17 and a pair of Mustangs do a flyover in this country.

OK, NOW out I go.


Back in. One of the neighbors came by when I was planting. She asked me if I had seen the Royal wedding. "Yeah, I did. First time I ever saw Larry the Cable Guy in a necktie," I said.

"You're kidding."

"Nope. He was sitting next to Camilla Bowles. Prince Charles had to sit with his mother, so Larry escorted her. Check it out on Joan Rivers tonight," I said.


"Yeah.. He cleans up pretty good. He even took his baseball cap off when he entered the cathedral." I said.

"Oh, I hope I get to see it!" she said and started to drive off. Then she stopped and backed up and reopened her window.

"Larry the Cable Guy did NOT attend the Royal Wedding!" she said.

"Whatever, check out Joan Rivers," I said.

She rode off figuring I was probably full of baloney, but I could tell she had a tinge of doubt in her mind. The thought that maybe Larry DID go to the Royal Wedding was going through her mind.


I got outside finally and transplanted over 100 marigolds. They are sprouts and it is probably too early to see what is going to happen to them. I know it is too early but I'm going back to sea and it would be too much to ask anyone to come in and water them or otherwise take care of them while I go back to work

my other blog is:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A day of miracles

The miracle that happened last night.

The morning after I got home from this tour I went to the feed and seed store and picked up 6 of those nursery flats and a bag of potting soil. Each flat has 48 little cups in it.

I filled the flats with potting soil and broke open a couple of envelopes of supermarket marigold seeds and planted four of the flats, for a total of 192 possible marigolds. Two days later I planted another one with poppies and the remaining one with zinnias.

I watered the hell out of them and put them next to the window.

This morning when I got up and made my coffee I looked at the marigold flats and lo and behold!

About thirty of the little guys have sprouted overnight! A couple of them are now about 3/8ths of an inch tall.

I have never truly been a gardener of any kind. For the past few years I have bought flats of annuals from building supply houses and nurseries and transplanted them to make the frony yard look nice. This is the first time I have tried to grow anything from seeds and it is a pretty neat thing to do.

The little guys sprouted last night while I slept.

I think that the frosts are over for the year, but I am not 100% sure so I'll keep an eye on the weather.

Today if the sun breaks through I'm going to put the flats out next to the driveway and start getting them used to being outside.

It's pretty neat!


Today's miracle.

I decided to start up the outside maintenance equipment today. Four small gasoline engines.

I took the lawn mower outside and pulled it through twice to set the choke and then filled the gas tank and waited about 30 seconds in order to fill the carb. It started on the first pull.

I filled the tank of the chipper/shredder and gave the carb a shot of ether. It started on the first pull.

The chain saw started up easily. On full choke it coughed on the first pull and then on half-choke it fired right up.

Mext came the weed whacker and that was the same as the chain saw. A first pull cough on full choke and a start on one pull on half choke.

All four tools ran like a top.

That's a bigger miracle than the miracle of life I got from the flowers!

my other blog is:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Signage wanted

Somehow my old sign disappeared and I want it replaced with a professional looking one.

It is to be set up on my lawn when I mow it.

It should read as follows:

Ground cover readjustment project

Federal funds $0.00
State funds $0.00
County funds $0.00
Local funds $0.00
Grand total $0.00

No tax dollars 'at work' here

If there are any of you sign makers out here that can make one that will fit on a 3' high by 2' wide piece of plywood, let me know. If the price is right I'll buy it.

In other news I made a grave marker for the cat I put to sleep a few weeks ago. I took a small piece of copper plate and had a jeweler put on it:

a pretty good cat

I then screwed the plate onto a flat piece of marble and it is in the garden to mark his final resting spot.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I should be shot for this.

Neighbor Bob and I were doing what we do best which is to say that the weather was a little iffy and we decided to do what we do when the weather is iffy which is to sit in the garage behind the Miata and by the open door and watch the neighbors walk their pets.

One guy in his mid 40s was carrying his kids skateboard as his wife was walking the dog. She was about fifty feet ahead of him as the dog was really walking her. I snickered and Bob smirked. I noted the skateboard.

Target of opportunity.

"If you really had a pair you would be riding that skateboard," I said to him.

He didn't have much of a sense of humor, which is a part of being that age. He is getting older and doesn't like it. Then again, he looks like he doesn't get a whole lot of exercise which would do him a little good.

"Want to show me how it's done?" he shot back.

Now I am in my 60th year and have come to the realization that I am a little long in the tooth to go roaring down the hill I live on going like the hammers of hell on a a skateboard. Then again, I am not quite too old to take one out for a nice, slow, careful ride.

"Don't mind if I do give a youngster like you a few tips and pointers," I said, getting up off of my ass and onto my dying feet. I made it a point to be a little cocky.

I got on the damned thing and slowly wove my way back and forth across the street making a special effort to bleed the speed off by going uphill just before I'd turn and start going downhill. It was a careful, well controlled. slow ride. I took my time and made out OK.

I also made a mental note that my skateboarding days are pretty much over. Even at that slow speed I really didn't feel too comfortable. Had I taken a dive I could easily have broken something.

I hopped off and handed the board back to him.

"Learn anything from an old man?" I asked, in a cocky tone.

To a lot of guys the mid 40s are a rough age.

Even in the services forty is pretty much a cut-off age. A lot of schools are closed to those that have reached that age. They know that in an awful lot of cases things are starting to break down a little and that people are no longer made of rubber. I know of a guy that went through Ranger school at about 40 and it probably damned near killed him and he works out daily. I think he had to get a waiver to go through that particular school, but I'm not 100% sure. Still, you get the point.

Guys this age are no longer young and many of them fight it. This guy was one of them. There was no way in hell he was going to let that one pass. He stood on the skateboard and gave a shove and off he went, straight down the hill. In a few yards he was moving along at a pretty good clip and went whistling past his wife. When he tried to turn to start weaving and bleed off speed he was going a little too fast and went ass over teakettle.

Bob and I, standing at the edge of the driveway, looked at each other in feigned looks of horror. The man's profanity and the way he staggered to his feet told us he wasn't hurt much more than a good case of road rash and a beaten up ego. We returned to out lawn chairs in the garage.

We both picked up our beverages, my diet coke and his beer, took a sip and I reached over and pushed the button and the garage door closed. Then I'll admit the pair of us laughed like hell.

Five minutes later I reopened the door and we sat there watching the next dog owner pass by.


my other blog is:

Monday, April 25, 2011

One of the things people do not know about me

is that I am bilingual.

I speak very fluent High School Spanish. You can take me to any Spanish class in the nation and I will be able to communicate with the students there very well.

Unfortunately, that is about the only place that High School Spanish is spoken.

I recall a trip down to Old Mexico back in the 70s that I got to go on for cheap over a Christmas vacation and I sort of hooked up with this chick that went along. One night we went out for dinner at a nice little place that looked like you wouldn't get too sick there.

Being the suave, handsome and debonair devil I am, I started to order in my perfect High School Spanish. I ordered us a couple of steaks and a couple of beers plus a few other odds and ends.

The waiter smoothly replied in perfect idiomatic unaccented Milwaulkee English.

"Let's try this again in English," he said. "You just ordered a pair of baked stuffed elephants. I don't think you two are going to be able to finish them."

I instantly re-ordered in English.

One of the things about posting here is that I have the choice to pick and choose what I want to post and anyone with half a brain knows that history is generally written by the victors.

It hasn't all been peaches and cream.


Last night I had a little flash that went through my mind.

I got to see how fast time passes and how important it is not to waste it.

It was just about ten seconds ago when I was bellyaching about shoveling snow and now spring is in the air. The snows are gone and things are starting to poke their way out of the ground. I will be planing a boatload of seeds when I get home and doing all sorts of things to get ready for the upcoming season.

The lawn will need to be mowed and there will be weeding and the neighborhood will be back in full swing.


my other blog is:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday.

This has been an interesting day.

I goofed off for a lot of it and just looked out the rear window and watched the wildlife.

Being rainy the bird activity was pretty low, but there was an awful lot of rabbit activity and it looks like there are going to be a lot of rabbits in the area this year. I saw no less than five at one time in my back yard.

I have never seen this much rabbit activity at one time in all the years I have lived here.

Last year it was chipmunks and Neighbor Bob and I had a hell of a time with them getting into the eaves and the attic. The cat was healthy then so I simply put the contents of his litterbox in another box and parked it in the attic.

I would have popped them with a pellet gun but the jerk down the street was laying for me and I wasn't going to give her an easy shot at me. A couple of years ago it would have not been an issue but the changes in the local police policies make things not concucive to popping chippies with a pellet gun.

Rabbits, of course, are no problem and they get a pass at the Piccolo place.

Last night I was out in the street and the guy across it and his little daughter were out and I mentioned that I am planning on planting a whole lot this spring, probably after my next tour. He asked me what kind of flowers and I looked at the little girl and in my best Margaret Hamiton/ Wicked Witch voice, said "Poppies...fields and fields of poppies!".

Her whole face lit up and she gave me the biggest smile in the world. It's funny that you can use a line from the Wizard of Oz on almost everyone over the age of five and and they seem to pick right up on it.

She laughed outright when I said to her, "I'll get you, my pretty....and your little dog, too!"

As I write this I just took a two minute break and stepped out just in time to see an old friend.

When I moved here he was a 19 year old kid dating the daughter of my neighbor. Now he's 37 and married to her and the two of them are raising 4 kids. Time flies. He's a good father, but in a way I worry about him and is future because he is still working with his hands. He's installing floors and doing general carpentry, which is fine, but an accident or health issues can put him out of work in a heartbeat.

I got a gift, marshmallow Peeps, the traditional Easter treat. I believe they are made by a Jewish outfit which tickles my perverse funnybone. Funny also is the Jewish barber that wished me a Happy Easter. He's quite a character and he wished me a Merry Christmas back when I got a clip in December. He's a pretty good guy. A few years back I got him a copy of the Constitution in Russian so he could study for his citizenship, as he's a Russian immigrant.

As for the Peeps, I will eat half of them now and put the rest in the cupboard for a few months because I like them when they get a little crusty when they dry out with age.

Hope you all have had a happy Easter.

my other blog is:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Picolo on professional sports

154 MILLION dollars over 7 years baseball deal?

I just read where the Red Sox have cut a deal with a first baseman named Gonzalez for $154,000,000 over seven years.

That's ridiculous and adds yet one more reason why I don't pay a whole lot of attention to baseball.

Of course, this could get me shot if I ever have to re-enter American lines at night and forget the password because I don't know who won the World Series. I really don't care, either.

For the love of some old lady, baseball is a kids game. It is not a contact sport and the liklihood of getting seriously injured is pretty small.

Of course, someone has to cough up about $22 million to pay this guy and you can bet your patoochie that it ain't gonna be the fat cats that own the club. The fans are going to get the honor of paying this overpaid athlete for playing a kid's game by increased ticket, hot dog, beer,soda and memorabilia prices.

Enter the $20 hot dog and the $30 beer.

Twenty years ago ticket prices had already gotten to the point where taking the family to see a ball game was becomming a once or twice a season event. It was a real treat back then instead of being the American Pastime it was once slated.

This aggravates me to the point where I'd like to see Pete Rose get some kind of pardon so he could be placed in the baseball hall of fame where he belongs. After all, good old Charlie Hustle, as he was sometimes called had a love for the game that he would have willingy played it for, say, $20,000 a season.

I listen to these professional athletes whine about being underpaid and can't help but remember why I opted out being any kind of a professional sports fan. I have had no interest whatsoever in any professional sports in about thirty years. The spark that set me off was a baseball strike years ago.

I simply decided that I would have nothing to do with encouraging these overpaid whiners and have not given them anything for decades and will continue to do so.

I still get my baseball, though. One of the mothers down the street is raising a trio of boys, all three play ball in one of the local leagues all summer long. I figure I have a few more years of having an inside contact with the pony league schedule. Free admission, hot dogs about two bucks and brown bag a 16 ounce beer to wash the dogs down with.

It's great watching the youngsters play their hearts out simply for the love of the game and the games I watch are played by kids just old enough to put on a pretty good show.

All I know is that when I heard the money being paid a first baseman for the Red Sox, I simply feel pretty good about the decision I made to ignore professional sports.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

my other blog is:

Friday, April 22, 2011

The adventures of the Second Most Interesting Man in the World.

Yeah, I thing the ads are great. So here's the Second Most Interesting Man in the World.

He's the guy that isn't quite number one, but I guess he's pretty interesting...but not enough to be number one.


He can speak High school Spanish and make himself understood in any high school in the country.

(but nowhere else)


He doesn't put Grecian formula in his beard.

(Jonathan Goldsmith did to get the job from Dos Equis so that's why he's only the Second Most Interesting man in the World)


He won the Cripple Creek Donkey Derby Days tobacco spitting contest.


When it rains he gets wet just like everyone else.... Well, not quite as wet as everyone else.....


He took second place in the Grand Prix... Guess who beat him?


The police don't question him as often as they question the Most Interesting Man in the World because they don't find him quite as interesting.

He's a lover not a fighter....but he he's pretty good with a pool cue, so watch out.


He has has just as many adventures as the Most Interesting Man in the World but his were not quite as interesting.

He doesn't always drink beer but when he does, he won't drink a Dos Equis.

He speaks fluent French, but not in Russian. He speaks it in French.

His blood smells like it might have just a touch of cologne in it.


He was offered a job making beer commercials once...

but he wasn't interested.

Feel free to add anything you might have in the comments section.

my other blog is:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

News I got later yeaterday evening

There is a guy that I have known for years that has been somewhat a wet blanket regarding the way I have lived my life even though it has never been any of his business.

He retired a while back and to tell the truth I was not all that sad to see him retire and get off of my back.

He was always telling me how I should have buckled down and gone to college gotten married and raised 3.2 kids in a house in the suburbs with a little white picket fence around it.

My sailing and fishing days were ‘too dangerous’ for his taste. He was always telling me I should have played it safe.

When I met him after I had spent a glorious afternoon in a Stearman biplane he asked me why I would do such a dangerous thing.

If he wasn’t telling me how to stay safe then he was telling me how I ought to see the light and join his church and be saved and change my life.

I’ll make no bones about things. It would be pretty nice to be able to drop in on a couple of grown kids and visit a couple of young grandbabies.

Over the years I have had a number of people tell me that I would have made a pretty good father, but for me it simply wasn’t in the cards.

My lifestyle and career choices were not conducive to it. Raising children would not have been fair to the kids as I would not be around enough to do a decent job of being a father. Now that it is too far along to start over again I have to sit and think of all of the could haves, would haves and should haves.

All in all things have worked out pretty good for me when I look at the big picture. I’m reasonably content even though there are a few regrets. On the other hand I wonder about those that have no regrets. Maybe my basic contentment is just a part of my DNA or something.

For several years I have heard all this talk from the guy about how wonderful his life is as a father and grandfather and how I have wasted my time.

This man seems to never have had a bad day in his entire life if you listened to him.

I have heard him go on and on about how wonderful it was that he married at an early age and started his family right off and how happy he is with his family his home and his church.

I sit here wondering about all of his happiness as I write this because yesterday evening shortly after I got home a mutual acquaintance told me that this guy is no longer collecting his pension. About a month ago he took a shotgun and put it in his mouth and blew the back of his head off.

This spring I am going for a hot air balloon ride in his memory. That or skydiving.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I just got home

Bad news: I lost the top of a beautiful tree in a wind storm.
Chain saw duty tomorrow.

Good news: When I walked by a bird house I put up before I left to go to work, a bird poked his head out. Cool!

Home is the sailor home fron the sea.....

my other blog is:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One of the things I am not is greedy.

I have a life style that is fairly comfortable and I'm happy this way. I have no real desires to get rich and have a whole pile of toys. My hobbies are shooting and booting around in a 20 year old Miata sports car and I really don't have to spend a whole lot on that because I reload my own ammunition, although components are going up in price these days. Still, it is affordable.

That and a little gardening in the summer. Seeds are cheap.

I don't really aspire to own, for example, a Ferrari or something along those lines. I can scare myself enough with my little $1200 Miata if I decide to. What is neat about the Miata is that I heated it up by beefing up the suspension and removing a few of the things that bleed horsepower like the air conditioning unit and the power steering system. I probably have under $2500 in it and the fun I've had with is is priceless.

A lot of the parts I put into it I either got off of Craigslist or eBay. It goes like the hammers of hell considering it only has a 1.6 liter engine. It holds the road like glue on sticky stuff.

I live in a little cape that is paid off and I generally do all of my own work if I can and it's in pretty good shape these days. My pickup is a simple two wheel drive Toyota that I paid cash for because I could.

I'm pretty much a minimalist. If you come by for dinner sometime you will be served a meal on a halfway decent set of dinnerwear. The flatwear will be inexpensive and most of the glasses will match pretty closely. It most certainly will not be bone china.

You'll eat pretty good, though. I'm a pretty good cook when I feel like it.

One thing I have a hard time figuring out is why so many of my coworkers seem to have so many problems with money. I can see it if you are raising a brood of kids, but if you are not I can't seem to figure out why.

Actually I can. It's an attitude.

It seems that a lot of people are caught up in the trap and have fallen for the smooth talking devils on Madison Avenue. The think that they need a whole lot more than they do.

A four wheel drive truck is nice to have on a snowy day, I'll be the first to admit, and the power of a 440 cubic inch V-8 feels pretty good when you start to stuff raw fuel into the afterburners, but it is expensive.

My pickup is a 4 cylinder two wheel drive and for maybe one or two days a year I have to wait a little bit until the streets are plowed a bit before I leave. To me, it isn't worth the thousands one spends on a monster machine.

My job is nothing more than a job of work that pays a halfway decent wage and I can live well on it if I am even the least bit observant. Back to the pickup. It ran me about $17,000. The guy the sister ship of mine has a huge four-by that cost him well over $50,000. That's a lot of money. On a 5 year note that's about 10K/year, not counting interest. Do the math. There's a $33,000 difference in our vehicles and they both get used for the same damned thing; they haul us to work.

This doesn't even begin to go into the additional expenses of insurance, lower gas milage and maintenance, which adds up pretty fast.

Me? I'd rather have the $33,000 plus, pay lower insurance rates, get good mileage and quietly commute in my Tacoma.

My home is really nothing too special, it's a small 3 bedroom cape in a wonderful neighborhood. It's paid for, and has a beautiful back yard. There are deer, birds, squirrels, chipmunks and occassionally, turkeys that wander through the yard and almost every summer a doe gives birth in my back yard. It is a wonderful thing to behold, and the neighborhood is a great place to live.

Still, it is a modest home with no frills and nonsense. It's not on top of the hill and it isn't eight bedrooms and I don't get to brag a whole lot, but I can say that it is a whole lot nicer than where about 85% of the rest of the planet lives when you look at the big picture.

I live well and I am satisfied. I haven't fallen into the traps that seem to abound and put a large percentage of us in bondage.

I listened to one of the guys brag about his big Dodge pickup a while back. He told me what it cost him and I shook my head sadly. He said it was a lot more comfortable than my little Toyota. In the next sentence he told me he was working overtime and I asked why. He said he had to catch up on some bills.

I wryly told him I had to catch up on my fishing and got a dour look.

We had both bought our trucks at about the same time. I looked at him and asked him how many miles he had on his and he told me. I commented that I had twice the mileage on mine.

He asked me why and I told him that I have more time to enjoy my things than he does because I don't have to work overtime to pay for them. He looked confused.

I told him that it sounded like he was a slave to his posessions; he didn't own them, they owned him because the time he lost paying for them was time he should be enjoying them but couldn't because he was too busy working.

Let's look at his truck, a four wheeler. The man lives on the coast of North Carolina on a flat and fairly level section of the state. He doesn't have to climb Mount Everest to get to his home and snow is really not a problem. He drives down the street and parks in a fairly level driveway just like you see on TV. It's simple, as issued in fact.

Of course, he'll insist he needs a four wheel drive and when you call him on that, he'll say, "Well, I do a lot of four wheelin'."

Yeah, right. First of all he doesn't have the time to; he's at work most of the time to pay for all of this. Besides, the guy is pretty picky about the appearance of his V-8 behemoth and the chances are pretty slim that he's going to go out into the boonies and tear up his truck, at least if he has half a brain.

Truth is, he needs a 4 wheeler to satisfy his ego and prove to everyone he's some kind of a big shot.

Ask him how much he puts in his 401K and I'd just bet it's not a whole lot. He'll tell you he can't afford it. He's got car and house payments to make because instead of a modest home he has a castle atop the hill somewhere and the moat has to be dredged annually and drawbridge maintainence is not cheap.

In short, it is keeping up with appearances that is driving him. He's a slave and is competely convinced that if he doesn't have the latest Blackberry or the newest computer, then he is doing it all wrong.

My all time favorite out here is the guy who got a call telling him that one of his kids had gotten in trouble with the law. He turned to me and was pretty upset, of course. I simply told him that maybe it was time to stop working so much overtime and spend some time with the kid and get him back on the straight and narrow. Good advice in my book.

He looked at me like I was from Mars and with his lower lip quivering he stated that he now had to make even more money yet. He turned and called straight in and asked for more overtime yet, even though he hadn't been home in ten weeks. His answer to everything was simply to make more money.


How in hell is all the money in the world going to make up for time spent being a father?

How about intelligently spending the money you have?

Right now I am writing this on a $200 surplus laptop that I bought because I knew it will be able to take a few hard knocks. It isn't the newest or the biggest or the best, but when I am done writing this and I post it nobody will know what kind of computer it was written on and when you look at processors they are only as fast as the ISP is. Most newer computers process a whole lot faster than their service provider. Chasing technology for the average guy is a complete waste of money.

Service rifle season is coming up and someone asked me if I was going to rebarrel for the upcoming season.


At 600 yards the barrel I have still hangs in there a whole lot better than I can shoot it. When it gets to the point where I can outshoot the rifle, I will bebarrel. Putting a new Krieger barrel on it at this point is just dumb. Let's just wait until the one I have wears out and then we'll rebarrel. When it loses accuracy I'll put on a Krieger. Quality pays.

This is not to say that I am cheap. I'm not. Quality costs money and in general is the most cost efficient way to go. There's no savings when a cheap tool fails and breaks an expensive part. There is no gain buying an inexpensive house in a neighborhood that is going down the sinkhole.

It's just that I do not consider thinking to be an option when it comes to spending sums of money.

The truth is that every so often you have to look at things and put your brain into gear and ask if you truly need something or are just feeding an ego. You have to ask yourself what good something is going to do for you and think a little. In this life, thinking is not an option. Spending your life in slavery to a bunch of stuff or having time for the things that matter is a choice many of us can make.

Of course, when I see a bunch of ATVs, boats, firearms, cars and other toys being sucked up into a hole in a cloud I might change my mind. That means that someone figured out a way to take his stuff with him after he died. Until I see that happen I am not going to worry about it.

Do I want my freedom or do I want to be a slave to a big house or a monster truck or some other spendy little toy I don't really need?

Remember, you pay for your toys with your time. It's your choice. I made mine and I'm pretty happy with it. Although I haven't gotten myself a whole lot of toys in this life I've had the time to do a lot of interesting things. I simply opted for fewer toys and more time to do things.

My advice is to choose wisely.

my other blog is:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tonight's post is a dedication

The post is dedicated to a certain woman I know that persevered 12 years of Catholic education. She knows who she is.

Kiddo, this one's for you.

Our new shipboard series, 'Cathoic High School girls in trouble' is coming along nicely.

There are several parts, of course.It is an eight part series.

Part one: The shameful beginnings

Part 2: The formative years

Part 3: Uniform day

Part 4: Sister Mary Aloyosious.

Part 5: The insult

Part 6: Punishment day

Part 7: Revenge

Part 8: The final humiliation.

No, we are not writing kiddie porn. There is nothing more to this than what you have already read, just a series of amusing titles.

It started when I had to get an email through to someone that told me to make sure the subject box contained something that would catch his eye as he gets over 100 emails a day. He explained he didn't want what I sent him to get buried in the other things he had going.

I grinned at the nearest crewman, a guy with such deep rooted dark psychological problems that he is a rare and precious jewel to sail with. He's my go-to guy for anything sick, twisted or depraved. This man is a very valuable asset to the sanity of the vessel.

He's also my stay away from guy when I am drinking any beverage. He has caused me to ruin a number of keyboards which is yet another reason I use a milspec laptop. When coffee comes out of your nose and onto the keyboard it doesn't hurt the laptop.

I looked up and said to him, "Give me a subject for this email I need to send."

"Gay bikers on acid?" he suggested.

"You can do better than that," I said.

"Catholic high school girls in trouble?" he tried.

"Has potential," I said.

"Part 2: The formative years," he added.

"Excellent!" I said.

So I sent an email off to a business cohort with 'Catholic high school girls in trouble. Part 2: The formative years' in the subject box.

Of course I got a call back inside of an hour. He was amused. Apparently his wife, who was looking over his shoulder was not.

My shipmate overheard the phone call and smiled proudly.

"What are you going to do for an encore?" my shipmate asked me.

"Part 8," I replied. "The final humiliation." and we laughed.

Then I got to thinking. We needed a laugh. I opened word pad on the old combat laptop and titled a page "Catholic high school girls in trouble" and listed parts 1 through 8.

Part 2, of course, was tagged 'The formative years' and part 8 was tagged 'The final humiliation'.

"OK, guys. Fill in the blanks," I said, spinning the laptop. I got up to go out on deck.

When I got back about ten minutes later the blanks were filled in. It's what you see above.

Life out here is often difficult at best and it has been a hard trip. We've been run hard and everyone is getting pretty close to getting a little punchy. Sometimes the job needs a little help. We needed a good, sick, depraved yuk. We needed something, really.

The best part of the whole deal was watching a trainee blush. He's young enough so that it wasn't more than a year or two that he was chasing high school girls and it was funny watching him turn beet red.

Still, it was the kid that pointed something out.

"Betcha if you need the office quickly and the phones are jammed all you have to do is send them an email with one of those chapters in the subject box," he said.

It's because of this that we keep the trainee around. The man keeps shining through at odd times. He clearly has potential.

"Yeah", said my second. "They'll call"

It reminds me of the story of the guy at the chocolate factory that fell into a vat of chocolate and shouted, "Fire! Fire!"

People came running and quickly fished him out ot the gooey mess.

The foreman wanted to know why he had shouted 'fire!'

He looked at the foreman all covered in gooey chocolate sauce and stammered out an explaination. "Nobody would have come running if I had shouted chocolate sauce," he said.

I guess that if I ever run into an emergency, need the office fast and the phone system is busy I'll just send them an email with one of the aforementioned titles in the subject block. They'll be calling us in in a matter of minutes.

Remember, Lumins have hopes and dreams just like you.

Save the Lumins!


my other blog is:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ever buy something like a football or a pillow on eBay?

Try it sometime. Hilarity is likely to ensue.

It will probably come packaged the way a soccer ball I bought there came.

Neighbor Bob's kid had a birthday coming up so I decided to get the kid a soccer ball. I got a pretty good price for one on eBay and sent the money off and presto!

There it came in a huge box that some guy in a brown truck left on my doorstep.

I opened the box and sadly shook my head.

The ball was wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap and the oversized box was jammed full of packing peanuts.

I took one look at the packing and then carefully checked to make sure I had bought a real soccer ball instead of a model soccer ball made of something like bone china.

Nope. It was a real live ordinary soccer ball of the kind that kids just boot around these days.

I brought this up to a shipmate today and he told me that he once bought a pillow of some sort on eBay and it was the same deal for him. A huge oversized box with a pillow covered in bubble wrap and carefully placed into a box full of packing peanuts to make sure that if it was handled roughly in shipping that it wouldn't get broken.

Don't these people have a brain?

my other blog is:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This will go on your permanant record

I used to work for the Department of Permanent Records.

Or so I once told some woman.

A number of years ago I met a Gunnery Sergeant of marines for a beer. He's single and always seems to keep his eyes open for a little female company and he's a magnet for women. I am married and am not in the market.

Sure enough, before long there was a pretty little thing sitting next to him and I let the two of them make chit chat and watched the tube behind the bar.

Gunny got up to pee and the woman asked me what I did. I told her I worked for the Federal Dapartmment of Permanent Records. She looked confused.

"Haven't you ever been told that something will go on your permanent record?" I asked.

Certainly she had, but she explained that she knew it was a bunch of hogwash that people used to get other people to tow the line.

"That's where you are wrong," I said. "Six years ago the NEA and the teachers unions hammered Congress to create one. Right now every single person in the country has a permanent record. It starts with a child entering Grade one in school. It ends when social security pays death benefits."

'Really?" she asked.

"Yup. All employers hiring people have to let us know about how their employees are doing." I answered. "It's been that way for the last five years."

"I wonder what my permanant record has in it," she said.

I looked at my watch. "I know the night duty officer working now. She owes me a couple of favors. Want to find out?"

"I most certainly do," she said with a touch of indignation.

The Gunny had left his cell phone on the bar so I picked it up and called my kid sister who is incredibly quick on the uptake.

"Sally," I said. 'It's Pic and I need a favor. Look a record up for me." When I addressed my sister as 'Sally' she knew something was up. It's not her name. I leaned over and told the woman to write here name and social security number on a napkin. A second later I read it to my sister and the woman and I waited.

A short time later I spoke into the phone. "What?" I asked. "No record of her? I guess this phone call starts one for her."

The woman panicked. "No, no, no, Don't start one!" she cried.

I hung up the phone and turned to her. "Sorry. It's automatic. The second a social security number is entered into the system it automatically opens a file. Can't help you as I don't have friends that high up to cancel it."

Gunny had returned and had heard most of what went on.

"Hey, Pic," he said. "I know a master sergeant in the Marine data section that has access to permanent records. Maybe he can squash this."

The woman sidled up to the Gunny.

"Oh, could you," she asked.

I didn't believe a person could be so gullible!

I finished my beer and left.

The next day was Sunday and at about 1130 I got a call from the Gunny.

"You had that poor woman all messed up," he laughed.

"Where is she now?" I asked.

"She just left here a minute ago." he answered. "I called a friend who I knew was out and when the answering machine went off I knew I could pull the same stunt you did so I had an imaginary master sergeant delete her imaginary file. Thanks for making me look like a hero, Pal."

"No problem.Glad to have been able to help."

my other blog is:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catholic high school girls in trouble. Part 2: the formative years

This post has nothing to do with the title. I just asked the crew for a good title for tonight's post and that's what they came up with.

Sure gets your attention, though.

I crawled out of the rack and was told we were getting close to our next stop.

The newbie wandered over to the computer and sat down, "Gotta check the weather," he said.

I looked at him a second and said, "You'll need 2 sweatshirts and light raingear."

"How do you know, I haven't even downloaded the web site yet," he replied.

"I looked out the window," I replied.

Things like this seem to be happening a lot more frequently these days. It seems that people are so hooked on using the miracle electronic tools around us more and more to the point where they have forgotten the simple things.

I truly believe that there are people out there that can't even urinate unless the computer tells them when, where and how.

The Weather channel, weather station dot com, and a host of other things are pretty dopey things that people seem to let run their lives.

I'm not anti-technology by any sense of the word. A lot of what comes down the pike is certain to make our lives easier and more comfortable. The weather we get on the computer is great, and these days it is pretty accurate. For a seaman it can literally be the difference between life or death and I am grateful for it.

The internet is a great communications tool. I can keep tabs on anyone I want just about anywhere in the world in real time. Gone are the days of writing a letter and waiting for weeks for an answer. It's sure a lot nicer.

Still, though, even though you have all of the finest technology in the world at your fingertips, there is still no substitute for looking out the window every so often to see if you ought to wear your boots.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Cast Iron skillets are the way to got for this kid.

I think that I am going to snag another one for making stuff like chili in, maybe one about a foot in diameter.

I have three in three different sizes and for a guy living alone I use them for an awful lot of cooking, and certainly not just frying as I do not like a whole lot of fried stuff. The eight-incher is perfect for making corn bread in.

There's a smaller one I use for frying up a couple of eggs. It's the perfect size for that.

Then there is one that's a little bigger than the eight incher and it's a pretty good all purpose skillet.

Cast iron skillets are wonderful for baking in, too, as the heat evenly spreads through the dough or whatever that is being baked. The even heat distribution is great for frying or baking. You can't beat it.

I really believe that if you know how to use one and keep it seasoned it is pretty much as close to teflon is for being a no stick surface, although you do have to pay attention to things. You have to take care and keep things moving so they don't stick and when they do decide to stick you have to take care in not tearing the seasoning off of them.

Still, all in all I think they do a better job of cooking things,

Save the Lumins!

Daily the lives of countless lumins are snuffed out by heartless people every time they push a simple light switch into the off position. As the filament stops it's warm glow, so do the lives of countless lumins. It's ruthless and uncaring.

Stop the slaughter of these bright warm animals by leaving the light switch on so that every lumin in a light bulb will have a chance at a decent life. Remember, every time a light is turned off the lives of billions and billions of warm glowing lumins are senselessly snuffed out.

To help stop this senseless slaughter of billions of these brilliant warm animals, sent your donations to Piccolo Enterprises, 123 Main Street, Hometown USA where your money will go directly to the electric bill of Piccolo so he can save countless lumins and create countless more to help repopulate the planet with these warm, bright little creatures.

I swear, if I posted that ad in some big national publication like 'USA Today' some moron would send me money. I very well may recieve enough donations to offset the cost of advertising. Of course, if anyone did send me money, the government would cart me off because it is not nice to take money from people that are stupid enough to give it away even if I did use it to pay my increased light bill and save the lives of countless lumins in unused rooms at the Piccolo house.

Then again, if I had 'Save the Lumins' printed up on bumper stickers, I KNOW I could make money on them.

Go figure.

Maybe while we're at it we can save the skeets.

I can't see killing any more skeets until someone comes up with a decent recipe for them and I don't see that happening anytime soon.


my other blog is:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The past 24 hours seem to have swamped me with new readers.

To those that have spread the blog to others, I thank you.

To those new readers, a bit of an explaination is in order.

I am a career seaman that is nearing the end of a life I made made mainly working on the water for well over the past three decades. I am in my 60th year now and have had a pretty wild time. Unlike a lot of people that seem to rust out, I swore as a lad that I wanted to wear out and I can say truthfully that even though I know I do not have long left on the planet, I do not see the end coming soon.

I'm lucky to be in pretty good shape to the point that my old three and a half decade army uniform still fits me pretty good.

Bear with me. I am a lousy typist.

This blog is nothing more than a discipline for me to make me try to stay sharp and creative. There is no rhyme nor reason to it and the way I pick the subject of the day is to simply get up and face the keyboard and write.

While yesterday's post has seemed to whipped through cyberspace like nothing I have ever seen before, the truth is that I write this blog for myself. If nobody read it I would still write it. It is a personal labor of love.

I'm flattered that so many people have read yesterdays post. It's just another day in a person that is going through life the best they can and I really don't see why it seems to be so pouular.

As I near the end of my seafaring career, I am pretty much happy with the way I turned out and it's a lot of fun recounting adventures of a checkered career.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SHooting match/hotel story. Maid walks in while I'm cleaning a service rifle.

I was attending a weekend shooting match once. There was no housing, as is generally the case for private club matches so I decided to motel it, which is generally no big thing. A lot of shooters do this. The process is simple. You rent a room, drag your gear in and sack out there.

I found out that all of the Motel 6/ Red Roof places had been rented, so I had to spend the night in a place that had a lobby which stinks. Lobbys can create problems as the desk people can see what you drag into your room.

Guns, stolen motorcycles and dead hookers tend to draw a lot of attention.

Not wanting to leave my gear overnight in a pickup, I simply tied it all to my cart and wheeled it through the lobby where a bored clerk paid no attention to the three cased rifles, cart, spotting scope and assorted gear.

I was up early and something unusual for a match happened. I got on the first relay, shot and was done for the first day by about noon. By 1300 I was back at the hotel room with a rifle to clean and my gear to go through for the next day when I would be on the range for the entire day.

I was sitting on a chair with newspaper spread out all over the floor clad in nothing but a pair of undershorts when the door opened and the maid walked in.

Then she spotted me and started to apologize until she saw the service rifle and then her eyes popped out of their sockets and she went agape and slowly backed out of the room. The instant she was out of the room, I was treated to the spectacle of watching her run down the hall babbling away in some strange foriegn tongue that I didn't recognize, but if I had to guess it was something like Tamel or Swahili or something rather third-world.

It was rather funny to watch, but I sure knew that wasn't going to be the end of things.

It took me less than a minute to put on a pair of shorts and T-shirt, grab my wallet, stick my feet into my shoes, grab my room key and head down to the lobby. I figured the best way to deal with the upcoming chaos was to face things head on.

I arrived in the lobby, picked up a free USA Today, sat down and hid my face in it.

Sure enough, in seconds a pair of pretty concerned policemen showed up and went straight to the desk. I waited until they had listened to what the desk pople had to say and then I got up and somewhat blocked the way of one of the pair of officers.

"I know the guy in 137," I said. "He's a real good friend of mine. I can help. I even heve his room key."

That stopped the pair of them cold. I had just started to explain wthat there was a service rifle match going on when the maid that started this hash in the first place saw me, turned white, pointed at me and screeched, "Dat him!"

"It most certainly is me," I said. "There is a service rifle match, as I was starting to say, in town here. I am one of the competitors. I shot on the morning relay and have the afternoon off. I was sitting in my room cleaning my rifle when the maid walked in on me, went into a panic called you."

Of course, the two officers were not mollified, and asked me a half-dozen questions asking me if I was in some kind of militia group or something along these lines. I answered as best I could until we got to my room and I opened the door.

The officers charged right in and saw my disassembled rifle on the floor and approached it like it was a rattlesnake or something. I reached down for my scorecard and the match bulletin and handed to to one of the officers.

"I don't know anything about this," he said.

"Call the station and I'd just bet there's one of your officers shooting in the same match," I suggested. "It will probably save us all some time."

'Don't tell us what to do," snapped the younger of the two. Then he turned, saw an open box and in an excited voice said, "There's about 100 rounds in this box!"

"Eighty-eight," I answered. "It's enough for one match."

"How much ammo you got?" demanded the other cop.

"I left home with almost a thousand rounds," I answered. "This weekend is going to put a pretty good dent in it."

The two of them traded incredulous looks.

About this time, the manager walked in with an older police sergeant. "What's going on here?" asked the sergeant. The two officers explained that they had been called on a complaint of a man with a gun in a hotel room and started to suggest that maybe it was some kind of militia meeting or something along these lines.

"More like the maid walked in on one of the shooters from the match at the shooting club," interrupted the sergeant. "Happens every other year, or so it seems."

"He says he has a thousand rounds here," said the younger of the two.

'Yeah? So?" asked the sergeant.

The two officers gave the sergeant a dirty look as the sergeant turned to me and looked at the bulletin and scorecard I offered him. He looked at the scorecard and turned to the pair of officers. "That's a 90 and a 95 at 600 yards," he said. "Betcha this guy could take your heads off at that range if he wanted to."

The pair looked a little more uneasy. The entire bust of the century wasn't going like they thought it was going to go.

He turned to me, "How'dja do overall?"

"Middle of the pack," I replied. "Offhand crucified me."

"Yeah, I can see," he said.

The manager interrupted and explained that he had just taken over managing the hotel recently from another state and wanted to know it this was legal. The sergeant explained that between the shooting matches and the deer hunters he should get used to seeing people traveling with firearms in that neck of the woods.

I looked at the sergeant. "You got about ten feet of that 'Crime Scene-do not enter' tape I could drape across the door to keep the maid out?" I asked.

The younger officer interrupted and said something about how the tape was for official police business.

The sergeant snapped back, "We used to buy it at the police hardware store until purchasing found they were being raped. Now we buy it off the rack at the joke and novelty store." He turned to me, 'Hell, I'll give you my entire unopened roll!"

He then turned to the two officers and told them to get back to work.

The sergeant and I spent the next half-hour discussing the matches and shooting in general while the manager listened. When I mentioned the Garand match the sergeant asked me if my Garand was one of those I had gotten from the government and nooded when I told him it was a CMP rifle. He turned to the manager.

"He got one of his rifles from the governrment," he explained."They sell them to qualified shooters."

The manager looked surprised.

Ten minutes the door to my room was draped with the crime scene tape the sergeant gave me, the maid never returned and I had a pretty good weekend even though I couldn't for the life of me manage to hit a bull in the ass with a canoe paddle all weekend.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I often wonder where I got my mannerisms

and my sense of humor and I think I got it from my father who God sent to the planet for the sole purpose of raising children. SOme of my older relatives have told me I am alot like him.

While he certainly had other skills, he had a temperment for raising kids that will probably be unseen again on the planet at least for the next twelve generations.

Of course, when we were little, he kept his colorful side to himself, but as we got older he would share it with us from time to time. He had his pet peeves, too. He couldn't stand being in a room with a spoiled kid and maybe that's where I get it. I think I was about 12 or so when some little kid pulled the old 'stick an ice pick in everyone's ear' screech trick. He looked at me and said angrily, but in a quiet tone, "Someone strangle that little bastard!" I laughed.

"Did I try that trick when I was little?" I asked.

"Yes, all four of you did, and the baby will try it soon," he answered, conversationally.

"How did you make it stop?"

"Your sisters took a swat on the behind apiece, your brother took two or three," he said, chuckling. "But you, you little bastard! By the time I got you to stop doing that your bottom had inch-thick callouses on it. You didn't quit until I stuffed a boot up it!"

So, OK, I was a handful, but I learned.

Still, to this day when I hear that screech, the first thing I think of is a piece of piano wire, preferably C sharp.

The Old Man was somewhat of a character in a few ways. Although he died in '82 at an early age he is still very much still with me. I think of him often.

I was about sixteen when I walked into the living room and sat down with a book. Dad was there reading an old copy of something like 'Outdoor Life'. A few minutes later, chuckled, looked up and spoke.

"God, I wish I had one of these when you were little," he said. "It would have made things a lot easier."

He turned the magazine upside down and pointed. I got up, went over and looked. He pointed at an ad for a stainless steel cattle prod. "It would have kept me from wearing my arm out... Hmmm. I still have one baby left in the house... Six ninty five, huh?"

My mother, also in the room, looked at the ad and was aghast for a second and opened her mouth only to close it quickly. She saw the twinkle in Dad's eye and the smirk on his face and blushed a bit and felt a bit foolish at having taken him seriously for a second. She shook her head and went back to knitting.

A couple of months ago I was bearded and it is now gray because I am getting to be an old man. One of the chops-busters at work kidded me and asked me if I was trying out for the job of Most Interesting Man in the World. I told him I would have had the job if Jonathan Goldsmith hadn't used Grecian formula in his beard and we both shared a yuk.

I've grinned at those damned ads since they came out, but the day I got kidded about my beard I thought of what it would have been like to watch one with my father. Outwardly he probably wouldn't have been very amused, but he would have had a comment. Often it would knock one out of the park. Dad had a great batting average.

In a somewhat semi-disgusted tone of voice, he probably would have said something like, "The guys that make these ads must be sitting around all day half in the bag thinking this stuff up. I suppose next week they're going to say he went from Paris to New York once...on foot."

I would have laughed and he would have smiled and shaken his head. Yet when the target was pulled there would be another hole in the X-ring.

What would give the entire family the heebie-jeebies every so often that the next ad (or whatever)WOULD be what dad had suggested. It was eerie sometimes.

I once mentioned this to an aunt in passing once and she laughed and said he probably got a touch of this from his father. Supposidly my Grandfather was pretty psychic. The family used to say that if you wanted to know what was happening next then go see Grandpa Pic.

I remember as a kid arguing with my mother who didn't like my brother and I to watch the Three Stooges.

Generations of mothers have been terrified that their sons will get hurt when they start doing Curly imitations. The Urban Legend of kids getting hurt by watching the Stooges was actually played on in an episode of 'The Simpsons' where Bart Simpson is taken to the hospital to see all of the injured kids in the skateboard ward. The doctor there tells Homer and Marge the Bart is too young to see the brutal injuries of boys hospitalized in the Three Stooges ward.

Dad walked in on the argument and listened for a couple of minutes. The he turned to me, "Hey, Porcupine," he said. I turned to face him as he let fly at my eyes with his index and middle fingers ala Moe Howard. I quickly blocked it with an open hand running up and down the bridge of my nose and I felt the web between his fingers hit my hand and saw the fingertips stop just short of my eyes.

I stuck my tongue out and said, "Nyeah!" like I was supposed to. He looked at me, grinned, told me to get my brother and leave.

When I got my brother he told me to leave the room, which I did and promptly listened to what happened next from a nearby room. He did the same thing he had just done to me and my brother blocked it the same way I had a minute earlier. He dismissed my brother.

"See that? They're trained properly," he said to my mother, evenly. "You can let them watch the Stooges."

Years later we discussed the incident along with a few others. He explained to me why my mother was the way she was. She had only two sisters and her only brother was a bookworm as a kid. With no outdoor types in her life, she didn't really understand them very well. By the time I was in junior high school, she had figured a lot of it out. She eventually got to the point where there were a lot of things she'd OK without telling me to ask dad.

I remember the time he found out I was diving off of the Humarock bridge. At dinnertime he reached over and whacked me on the back of the head.

"You're not supposed to dive off of the Humarock bridge," he said.

"The sign says 'no swimming'," I answered. "I dive off of the bridge and swim in the water beneath it."

He furrowed his brows and thought a minute. Then he looked at my mother. 'He's right," he said.

My mother started to protest, but dad cut her off. "I'll take care of this," he said.

A day or two later I smugly went down to the bridge and beneath the large "No Swimming" stencil on the sidewalk in Dutch Boy Westchester gray paint it said, 'no diving, either' in eight inch high letters. I knew where that had come from. I knew the color instantly. It was the color of our house.

I didn't dive off the bridge until the paint wore off the sidewalk.

The time my kid brother and I saw an ad for a pet alligator I walked up to my dad. "Dad, can I..."

"No, you can't get a pet alligator," he interrupted. Tell me that getting headed off at the pass like that doesn't get a 10 year-old kid wondering.

As I got older, he'd share little thing with me. We'd be near a stream with a group of kids fishing. He'd lean over to me and quietly say something like, "See that kid on the rock? In about 5 minutes he's going to get antsy and try and hop over to the other rock next to it. He'll probably fall in."

Five minutes later, splash!

I think the nicest compliment he ever got was said to me. I passed it on to him.

When I finished basic training, my drill sergeant was walking past me and stopped for a minute. He turned and faced me and simply said to me, "Someone did a good job of raising you."

When I passed this on to dad a few days later, he blushed and I'd bet I could have knocked him over with a feather. He also looked proud as a peacock at the same time.

I know he took raising kids very seriously in one vein, yet he treated like a game and a challenge. His mind was constantly running to keep ahead of the game. Years later I asked him how he managed to stay one step ahead of us and he smiled.

"I looked back on being a kid myself, watch you guys and think of what I would have done at your age. Nine times out of ten I'd be pretty close," he said. "Of course, when you would throw me through a loop, I'd have to think fast."

That was a pretty wise statement. I've used it quite a lot to figure people out.

I'll still never know how he figured out I was going to ask him if it was OK to get an alligator, though.

If I had to say where my father is now, I suppose I'd say that his prematurely used up body is rotting in the casket six feet under, but I have a pretty good idea where his soul is. He's back on earth in another body doing what he seemed to do best. He's been gone 29 years and I'd just bet that after God gave him a little R&R he sent him back to do what he was so good at.

Giving him a year of R&R, he'd be 28 now and probably has been married to a decent woman for two or three years now and is already father to a couple of kids with another three or four more coming.

I'll just bet he had another rotten childhood so that he's now hell bent on making sure his kids don't. It seemed to be a pretty good motivator for him when I was a kid.

I'm sure God picked her out. She's the one that would try as hard as she could, but needed a little help with the sons. His wife probably grew up sheltered with no brothers and he's there patiently to her explaining that the boys don't need Little Lord Fauntelroy suits and that jeans are the way to go, and that it is OK for a kid to be a kid.

He's somewhere busting his ass to support a family, involved in the local church and in a few years will be involved in Scouts or some similar program.

I'm sure he's out there doing what he does best. God doesn't like to see talent like that wasted.

I'd love to meet him now. The roles would be reversed. He would be a young idealistic man looking ahead to raising a family and now I am entering old age and am as I write this, older than he was when he died. It would be most interesting to watch him raising his kids today. I'd get to see things that happened to me years ago happen to some other kid and now I'd see it as an adult.

While I miss him, I hope he's doing what he did best and I'm sure there are kids out there that will need him more than I do now as an adult.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

This post will take about 20 minutes if your computer streams we..

You will either love, hate or not understand the video.

When I look at this improbable mess called life I have to look back at one man's attempt to put a part of it to music.

I normally write my own materiel for this blog, but this is an exception.

I believe the link is hot. If not, you'll have to cut and paste

I have never been the same since I heard this back in high school. If I recall it was in '68.

Enjoy it.

If you don't understand it, stop and think a little and recall a little history.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Upscale restaurants do nothing for me, either

Another perfectly good waste of money is to take me to a fancy restaurant. Maybe it is because I have the taste buds of a Phillistine. Who knows?

From time to time people try to do that to me to impress me and when it is all done and over with I generally am not impressed. I really don't give a damn how much the food costs and how you had to kiss the Maitre D's ass to get reservations. I could care less.

I remember one place I ate at and loved. I was dubious about it until I called for reservations.

When I called the place a woman answered and I asked is she had reservations.

"Just beastiality," she replied.

Needless to say, I was there for dinner in about fifteen minutes flat just to meet the woman that answered the phone. It's a slam-dunk a smart answer like that deserves my patronage. How could I resist? She proved to be a one woman riot as you can imagine. They also had a pretty good prime rib that night, too.

I really don't care if the executive chef taught for ten years at Johnson and Wales and is regarded as the biggest hotshot chef on the entire East coast. It really doesn't impress me.

Want to impress me?

Show me a diner that has a great meat loaf special or a little neighborhood place with a little local color. Show me a little ethnic place where I can try out a few things or check out something new for a change.

I once said something along these lines to a co-worker years ago and he put it somewhere in the bowels of his twisted little mind and kept it there. A couple of years later I did him a favor and he decide to repay me. He reached into the deep storage of his brain and decided to take me out to dinner.

"I know how to impress you, Pic," he told me.

Now this guy, Joey, was born and raised in the Italian section of Philly and knew it like the back of his hand. He was one of those little Americans of Italian ancestry that would run around and shadowbox for about a week after watching 'Rocky'.

Impress me, he did. He took me to a little spot in the old neighborhood that had little checkered tablecloths and candles stuck in Chianti bottles that dripped wax on the table.

The place was run by a guy that had obviously been born in Italy and spoke broken English. The shrimp scampi was delicious and there was a lot of it, and for pretty short money, too. I was impressed.

Another fellow employee a little further up the food chain looked at me one time and grinned, "There's this little place I know of that has a pretty good meat loaf special Thursdays," he said. It turned out to be a pretty good deal and a damned good little dinner. I was impressed.

When I was in the shipyard in Norfolk one of the shipyard employees, a young black guy I had nicknamed 'Irish' told me he was making a cigarette run down the the North Carolina border a few miles away. Did I want to go along and try out a North Carolina pork barbecue? I was game.

I told the waitress to bring my barbecue sandwich to me prepared the same way the locals ate them and she smiled and came back with a pretty interesting plate of North Carolina barbecue.

One meal I look back on fondly was in Kodiak.

I was working with a Filipino and when we geared down for the day I commented that I was famished. He told me he'd call his wife and see if I could come to dinner with him. He ran over to a phone booth (remember them?) and called. He looked at me almost ashamed and said I could come, but they were having Filipino food.

My face lit up and I said, "Far out!"

His wife was a chubby little bubbly Filipina who I knew because she worked downtown and was always teasing her customers. When she apologized for serving me Filipino food I surpressed a smirk and told her that, 'I like American food. You know, Bratwurst, pizza, chili, tacos, spaghetti. American food."

"But that's all..." and then she figured out the humor, started laughing and playfully threw a dish rag at me.

The food was delicious, and the meal itself was a wonderful mixture of bedlam and chaos as there were, in addition to the three of us, their four kids and somebody's grandmother. I spent a wonderful hour there eating a delicious meal listening to a smattering of excellent English, pretty good English, broken English and occasional outbursts in Tagalog. It was a joyful meal of boarding house reaches, talking with our mouths full, laughter, love and humor. I damned near snarfed twice when the grandmother caught me off guard. She was a character. She was trying to get me to meet her other daughter.

I was impressed as all git-go over that meal and for the next few years I accepted every invitation Johnny gave me through the next couple of years.

You can take your fancy restaurants to a taxidermist and stuff them. Money spent on taking me to one is wasted.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

I hate upscale hotels.

I have had to stay in a hotel several times over the years and I really don't like it too much. Especially expensive ones. Give me a reasonably clean Motel 6 and I am happy.

For one thing they are generally whole lot more expensive than what I would pay for if I was footing the bill, but I guess that's OK. I wasn't.

The other thing is that I have had horrible experiences with maids and room service over the years.

The other thing is that for some idiotic reason they starched the sheets and it was like trying to sleep on something along the stiffness of cook's whites and I don't like that much at all. The truth is that I do not like cotton sheets very much. I prefer flannel or something soft, yet for some reason expensive hotels think that making people sleep on cardboard is proof positive that their place is first rate.

Then there was the time I was living in a hotel for 2 weeks while baby sitting a damaged vessel several years ago and I was baby sitting the 2100 to 0900 watch. This meant I was a day sleeper.

This also meant the maids kept waking me up at just the right time to ruin my day. They would knock on the door at precisely the time of my sleep cycle where I could not get back to sleep without the use of massive quantities of hard drugs. Of course, this was out of the question. The premature wake-up left me grouchy all day.

The 'Do not disturb' signs meant nothing to them.

Telling the front desk to have the maids simply drop off a couple of towels by the door every couple of days did no good. The maids would still knock on the damned door to see if they could do anything for me.

I posted a sign on the door that read: 'Day Sleeper. Go Away!'

The maid knocked, I answered and the maid asked me when I planned on waking up so she could clean the room.

That did it.

In a fit of pique, I posted a sign on the door that read: 'The occupant of this room is a mad veterinarian that has stolen an injured grizzly bear from the Philadelphia zoo that he is nursing back to health. The bear has a toothache and a sore a$$hole. He is sleeping now. If you wake him up you are on your own."

Apparently the maid found someone that could read English and had them read the sign and she left me alone, which was fine until the front desk called to see if I had an animal in the room.

"Just a mad dog," I replied. "Me."

Now, I had been there for a week and had another week coming and I wasn't going to put up with that for another seven days so I simply made an appointment with the manager and told him my plight.

"Tell the maids anything you want," I said. "Tell them I am Vito Corleone and use the room to hide bodies in, Tell them I escaped from an insane asylum. Tell them anything. Simply have them come in now, change the sheets, leave 14 towels and not come back until I leave!"

Ten minutes later the maid changed my sheets, left me a stack of towels and when she saw me the next time, she avoided me like I was Charles Manson, which was fine by me.

Last year I found myself on a similar deal and it started all over again.

Enter the computer age. I broke out the laptop and went to work. I wrote a letter to the manager.

Dear Sir,

You might recognize me from the GEICO commercials. I am the cave man in the background.

I got the job because of my experience. I lived in a cave for quite a while. I was born and raised in one.

During my period of cave dwelling, I learned to sleep on soft things like buffalo robes and flannel. I have never been able to adapt to sleeping on starched sheets. Please send me a couple of soft blankets, a week's worth of towels and make sure that no maids come to my door at any time during my stay as they have a knack of waking me at precisely the wrong time.

As a former cave dweller, I can assure you that I am capable of taking care of myself and prefer to. I need no help whatsoever. Seeing the hotel has central heating, it will not be necessary for me to build a fire on in the middle of the room so there is no worry about that. I will need no fire wood.

Incidentally, a while back I tried out for the Dos Equis advertising job as 'Most Interesting Man in the World' where I took second place only because that bum Jonathan Goldsmith put Grecian formula in his beard.

That makes makes me the Second Most Interesting Man in the World.

If you would care to buy the Second Most Interesting Man in the World a beer (anything but Dos Equis) and discuss this matter, please feel free to call XXX-XXX-XXXX at anytime. If I don't answer, simply leave a voice message.


I put the letter on a flash drive, as I had no printer and got the desk clerk to print it and I put it in an envelope and told her to give it to the manager ASAP.

I had just gotten back to my room and my cell phone went off and it proved to be the manager.

He asked to meet me in the lobby, and I agreed.

Three minutes later, he led me into the bar and offered me a beer, and then changed the offer to dinner where he confessed that he wanted to meet the person that had just written the letter he had just read. I guess he had enjoyed reading it and we had a delightful dinner together.

I told him what I wanted and had a most pleasant stay. Nobody bugged me for the entire week. I was as happy as a clam and came and went as I had to. More important than that, I could sleep in the day without interruption.

I have saved a copy of the letter and if I have to spend more than a single night in a fancy hotel, I'll just print it up and use it again.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Alaska is considering a bill

that would lower the drinking age for those Alaskans that are in military service.

Now, prior to the late 80s before Nancy Reagan had Ronald change the on-post age to 21, service people used to be able to drink on post. It wasn't really a bad deal because on post there was at least some sort of supervision. The NCOs would simply cart off some private that had imbibed a little too much.

Generally speaking, when a one-term serviceman got out after his hitch he had some idea of how much he could hold without getting himself into hot water.

I remember the first time I tangled with a bottle of J&B scotch and I'll tell you that I was a mess. Looking back on it I was glad that there were a couple of pretty squared away people to keep me out of trouble. I base this entirely on luck.

It took a few nights of stupid before I learned my lesson and learned not to wolf down 80 proof hooch like it was Kool-Aid on a hot summer day.

While I was a junior NCO I had the occasion to pluck a couple of privates that had fallen off of their stools and cart them back to the barracks. I didn't really like it very much as generally when I returned someone had taken my seat at the bar, but I did it. It was part of my job as an NCO.

The following morning I generally worked the hung over private pretty hard so as to make him suffer and atone for his sins. After a time or two, the private generally learned that it was considered good manners to leave a little booze at the bar for the rest of us.

I figure that the guy that is serving today is probably smarter than most of the peole I served with back in the day. It's likely that he is somewhat of a quicker learner than a lot of the guys I served with. Todays GI will learn, and I would imagine that it will take a lot less effort to train him than it used to.

I have no problem with what Alaska is doing because I figure that if a GI is trusted with things like rifles, grenades, machine guns, tanks and cannons then it's probably a pretty good bet that he can to be trusted with a six-pack.

The truth is, what we ought to do is reopen the EM clubs back on post and let GI Joe tip a couple and let the NCOs handle things the way they used to. It used to be a real win/win situation. A young GI that had no previous experience with alcohol could learn something about it in a somewhat controlled setting and the chances of getting into any real trouble were greatly reduced.

Of course, if the proposal in Alaska goes through and GI Joe gets to be able to tip a couple after work, the next step is that a bunch of idiot do-gooders will start bellyaching about how unfair it is to those who chose not to serve.

The Gospel According to Piccolo says that this is not unfair at all. If you want to tip a couple before you turn twenty-one than sign right up and ship right out. The Marines are looking for a few good men, and women, too. I get tired of the whiners in the world that snivel about every little percieved injustice that comes down the pike. There is no injustice to lowering the drinking age for GIs whatsoever. Accepting responsibility should mean getting a few privliges to go with it.

The mentality is like listening to someone complain that So and So has more money than I do and how unfair it is that he can buy his own car when the truth is that So and So has a job and works 40 hours a week while the complainer sits on his ass and blubbers. A lowered drinking age for GIs is nothing more than a fringe benefit for getting off of one's ass and assuming a part of the responsibility of a nation.

Of course, GI Joe had best be responsible with his newly found freedom. He better behave himself. I'm going to hold him to it.

With freedom comes responsibility.

Overheard at Wal Mart: "With all that cottage cheese you got on them thighs, you ought to be sittin' in the dairy case."


While I wouldn't have the gall to tell somebody that, I do have to admit I laughed like hell when I heard it.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

I was rude the other day, or so someone told me.

I had two items and went to the 6 items or less line and when I arrived there, a person with three or four items was just paying for his purchase. The next guy in line was in the process of unloading an entire shopping cart so I took my two items and put them in front of his and nodded to the clerk to ring me up next.

When the man asked me who I was, I told him that I was someone who wasn't going to wait for his cartful of crap to be rung up as I had better things to do than wait for him. Of course he got upset, and even more so whan the woman that was behind me followed right behind me and cut in front of him also.

He howled at the injustice and demanded to know what right we had to get in front of him.

"We know how to count," I said to him.

"Whaddya mean by that?" he asked.

"If you knew how to count, you would know that the little thing on the sign there with the circle and the tail sticking up is a thing called a 'six'. A six means this many," I replied holding up my right hand spread out and my left hand with my index finger held up. "If you had gone to school instead of spending your lunch money on dope, you would know this."

"I know what a six is," he shot back.

I paid for my two items and left.

As I was leaving I heard the woman had followed suggesting to the hapless idiot that he get 'Hooked on Phonics' so that he could learn to read signs.

I'm glad I did that because over the years I have had to wait behind countless inconsiderate people that have ignored the 6 items or less sign.I should have done this more often. If more people did things like this than maybe it would stop,


I just met a kindred soul.

I was in Lowes and was looking for a thermometer when one of the people there asked me if they could help me. I told him what I was looking for and he started taking me there. As we passed the rope section I asked him if he had any recommendations for a specific size to use for strangling recaltricent children in restaurants.

His face lit up and he stopped cold in his tracks.

"Rope?" he said. "You're doing it all wrong."

He then showed me a thin piece of cable and pulled it off the shelf and went over to where the cable clamps were and showed me how to make a noose out of the thin cable and pointed out the proper way to use it in a crowded restaurant in such a skillful manner that even the shrillist screaming little yard ape would be silent in half an instant.

He also pointed out that it was easier to use than the traditional piano wire garrote because the noose he showed me only needed one toggle and hence one hand.

You could silence the little whelp without even having to have someone hold your beer!

It was obvious that I was in the presence of a true master. I felt honored. He was also one hell of a salesman because I bought one. It ought to go with me the next time I go out to dinnner in a nice place, but it won't because I might find myself tempted to use it. I'll just bring a taser instead.

You have to like people that work with the public that have a good sense of humor.

Twisted people that work for the public are priceless. They make shopping fun.

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