Thursday, June 30, 2011

One of the guys I work with did an interesting thing a while back.

He was and still is working and making a decent wage but he went into the unemployment office and found out how much he would be making a week if he was laid off.

He took this figure and used it as a basis for how he would set up his weekly and monthly expenses.

In short, he changed his lifestyle a little and paid off his debt and carefully has made it a point to make sure he takes on no debt that he can't pay off if he finds himself out of work.

That sounds pretty familiar. I did something like that a long time ago.

Now this doesn't mean that either of us are living in caves and watching television by candle light, but it does mean that we're a little more frugal about expenses, especially the ones that cause long term debt that is hard to pay if we both find ourselves out of work.

There are a handful of people out there that laugh at me from time to time. Over the years I have been chided for driving a simple Toyota pickup that is plain. I have to actually roll up my own windows and step on a thing called a clutch to make it move.

It doesn't have 4 wheel drive, nor a 500 cubic inch V-8 engine, but a pretty snappy little four clinder. It's paid for. If I wind up out on my ass I can keep it.

My home is a nice little cape nestled into a wonderful old neighborhood and is paid off, partly due to a windfall, but then again in the first place it wasn't so expensive that I could not afford to keep it if I wound up on unemployment.

Now, this in no way means I can't have a few nice toys and things. I can, and when yo stop and think about it I can have as many as I want just so long as I don't go overboard.

I don't need a 40 foot Winnabago as if I want one for a week I will simply rent it, nor do I have a boat because not only do I already work on one, I can simply rent one of those, too. In fact this time home I very well may rent one on Lake Arthur to refresh my basic sailing skills.

Seeing I don't have any payments it means I have a lot more disposable income if I decide to go out and buy something expensive.

My shipmate lives the same way, but instead of a house he lives on a boat which is another story. He paid $5000 for it and now has a standing offer of 87K for it. He just described it as the culmination of someone that had so much money and so few brains that when he had run it down he simply said the hell with it and bought another one.

My shipmate said that maybe-just maybe- he put 10K into it, as even though it was run down he simply put his labor and a minimal amount of materiel into it. It wasn't a lot of hard work, either. He simply chipped away at it when he felt like it.

His slip rent is $470/month and that includes water, electricity, cable TV and internet.

Not a bad deal and not really a bad lifestyle for a single man.

Mine is fairly simple, too although my lifestyle isn't quite that inexpensive. I have property taxes, electricity and a heating bill to pay, but still I could easily get by on unemployment if I had to. I actually could when I still had a mortgage, but there would be a whole lot less to play with, but still I could.

Today with no mortgage it is a whole lot easier.

All of this has put me into a position where I have a lot more time to enjoy life than many of my fellow employees do. I haven't put myself in a position where I have so many expenses that I am a slave to the system.

I see so many people I know so far in hock that if they miss so much as a single tour they will be behind in payments.

Why? So you can have a 500 cubic inch engine instead of a 4 cylinder? So you don't have to roll down your own windows?

Someone recently commented to my shipmate that it must be nice living on an expensive yacht in Florida and how independaently wealthy he must be. He told the person that it was great, but I quiety covered my mouth so as not to let the cat out of the bag.

While it is nice to live on a yacht, the truth in his case is that he is far from independently wealthy. He just knows how to manage what he has.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I am in an interesting little Yahoo group

I wanted to learn a little more about my radio and someone sent me in the direction of the Yahoo! groups department and lo and behold there is a group that is into the PRC 320 radio.

I joined.

Now, the radio set I have was made in the UK, and has recently hit the surplus market and because of that quite a number of the Brits have snapped these rigs up and are as I write constantly swapping notes on these fine sets.

So I am presently in a group consisting of Brits which is somewhat interesting. I believe there are about three of us colonists in the group. One guy I believe lives in Tennessee and there is also an Eastern Massachusetts police officer.

When I joined the group I found out that I was in well over my head as I ama aham only because I managed to pass a test. The rest of the group I think are a bunch of rocket scientists or electronic engineers. These guys are sharp. Real sharp. In fact they are about as sharp as I am ignorant and that says a lot in itself, as I am about as dumb about these sets as a box of rocks.

Well, maybe not THAT bad. Try about as dumb as a hemlock stump. That's about right. Yeah. A hemlock stump sounds about right.

As with enthusiasts everywhere, be it shooting, rados, cars or whatever there is generally an enthusiasm in the subjet that is infectous. The enthusiasts are generally more than willing to help the new guys along and this group is no exception. These guys are incredibly helpful.

Of course, I am well in over my head, but that is how you learn to swim.

Still, I find a few things mildly amusing.

Winston Churchill, the man I consider to be 'Man of the 2th Century' once wryly commented that the relationship between the UK and the States was 'Two peoples seperated by a common language'.

While I try to be an observer of things, I do note that there was at least a small germ of truth to that statement. Some of the posts I read have subtle differences in terminology here and there that take me a second or two to figure out. Some of them make me smile, a few make me chuckle.

On the other hand, I suppose the inverse it true, and when you couple it with my tongue in cheek sense of humor I would imagine that I am a hard one to figure out.

All and all, I am grateful that these guys answer my newbie questions and are just so damned helpful.

In other news.

Because the rig is a British one, I have to deal with a few dealers in the UK. I recently exchanged a couple of emails.

Here is a synopsis:

1.Do you have this part?
2.Do you have that part?
3.If you have both, how much to ship them to the States?
4. What is the rate of flight of an unladen swallow?

I recieved the following answer:

1: I have this part
2:I have that part
3: Shipped to the States will cost you X number of pounds.
4. 30 meters per second per second.

I read the answer to my shipmate and he scowled.

"That ain't no Brit," he said."He's gotta be some kind of communist off- brand type or somethin', maybe a Russian mafia type that is using a typical Brit name to do business with. If he was a Brit he would have given you the right answer to the rate of flight of an unladen swallow question!"

I tend to agree with my shipmate.

I have added this edit to say that if you DO know the official answer to "What is the rate of flight of an unladen swallow?" you are invited to post it in the comments section. First correct answer wins 276 internet points. Act now! Operators are standing by!

my other blog is:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I am packing for work

and there is now a lot more work than there was before.

A couple of antennas have been lowered and the 40 meter one was taken down altogether and put away. The 80 meter one was lowered and coiled up neatly at the tree base where I'll set it up when I get home.

Maybe this winter I'll leave it up.

Grub has to be boxed up and tha combat laptop has to get ready for another trip to sea.

My personal gear has been packed since I got home, as washing and repacking is what I do the day I come home.

I have been chipping away at this as I write this.

It is now time to fold up tha laptop and pack it for sea.

Good day.

my other blog is:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Yesterday was a day of labor which I guess was OK

As usual, nothing is easy.

Last year we cut three arbor vituses down that were in the corner of the house. They had gotten way too tall and were leaving a lot of stuff on the roof. Because we were putting a new roof on it was decreed that they go away which I was all for.

Now where once stood three trees it was determined that some decorative tall grasses should go there. It required four holes which meant tearing up a boatload of roots. Anyway, describing what hapened would be futile save that several wheelbarrows of dirt were dug up and had to be hauled away which was done.

Soon the bare weeded corner will look nice.

Then the hedge needed trimming which I got done.

This morning I am grub shopping for the boat as I go back to sea soon. I already have three gallons of milk in the freezer which will serve as ice to keep the cold stuff cold for the trip to work. When I get there four of the six will go into the ship's freezer and the other two will be thawed out for immediate use.

This time home went too fast and I got too little time to myself.

Last night I was calling any station and I got an answer and inside two minutes I was in a chat with 3 other guys in New Jersay, about 300 miles away. Not bad for my little rig.

One of the guys I know had his laptop next to his rig and looked it up. He asked me if I was using the battery/generator rig or had an external power supply.

I told him I was using a power supply as the native boy had the night off.

"Native boy? You in Africa?"

"Naw, Pittsburgh," I replied. "My native boy is the kid across the street. I just tape a KFC bone to his upper lip. Instant native...of Pittsburgh."

They got a boot out of that.

Maybe more later today.

my other blog is:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One of the things I like about this daily little blog is that I do not have someone

picking my subjects for me and I can do as I please.

I can gripe here, I can tell a story can congragulate someone for something well done, I can ridicule someone for doing something stupid.

I can ridicule the public for puttiing that incompetent boob Obama in office if I so desire, but there are enough people doing that already and a lot of them do a better job than I do.

Last night I had an interesting conversation with a neighbor. He is not very optimistic about the future.

He seems to me to be one of those fly under the radar type people that fail to understand that flying under the radar ganerally means you are low enough to be within range of small arms fire.

WHile evasion is quite often a good idea, there are times when confrontation is necessary.

One of the jobs I had in the service was to be sort of a scout-recon type and unlike what civvies may think I was not to engage with my rifle if I could possibly avoid it. My tool was the radio because with it I coud bring an awful lot more force into the fight simply by directing the 18 each 155 howitzers in the battalion. My job was to fly under the radar, so to speak.

Stealth can be a great tool but there comes a time when force is necessary and I wonder a little about my neighbor.

He's worried about what is going to happen when this spending the government is doing catches up with us.

Social programs are going to have to be cut and with that the paaeasement of the low-lifes will come to a halt. He expressed concerns of groups of newly cut off welfare types combing the suburbs.

I suppose it is a real fear because it looks like something has to be done and it either means HUGE taxation of HUGE spending cuts.

My answer to a small part of this is a Garand, a .45 a pretty good stockpile of ammunition and a willingness to use them. I said that one time to someone down the street and they got pretty wide eyed and asked me why I wouldn't call the police.

If things get to that the police are not going to be looking out for the little guy very much and the little guy will be on his own. The answer is going to be that the neighborhoods band together and take care of themselves.

The truth is that the neighborhoods that do this and make it very clear that they mean serious business will probaby fare better than those that do not.

Some of the people that worry about the future have exppressed fears that the entire structure will collapse and we'll be back to living in caves, I don't see it that way.

Nobody wants the entire system to fail, and that means from the top down. The big guys will lose too much money and the little people do not want to move into darkness. The power grid is not going to shut down. Neither is the banking system going to fail.

What is a more realistic scenario is that when we decide that everyone will now have to pull their own weight that a lot of leeches are going to have a serious reality check handed them and they will become very bitter and very resentful.

The late Blaine Welsh once said to me, "Pic, if you give a guy fifty bucks a day, no strings attached for three consecutive days and stop doing it on the fourth, he will hate you for stopping."

Over the years I have found that to be right.

Our problem, one which we have made for ourselves is that we have made it too easy to live in poverty by setting up a welfare state. When we finally decide to end this, there are going to be a lot of confused and angry people out there and they are going to go into a panic.

There will probably be the usual group of malcontents (males age 15 to 40) that will try to play the 'let's take things away from people' game and then we will have a fight on our hands.

The neighborhoods that put up a good fight will pretty much be left alone. Nobody really wants a nice, bloody sucking chest wound and human nature is to avoid places that deal this sort of thing out.

As a society we have brought it on ourselves by so-called compassion.

We give-operative word here is 'give'-all sorts of things to our poor; cell phones, internet access, and disposable income, asking nothing in return.

What we don't give them is the satisfaction of earning it.

Ben Franklin once said that the only way to get rid of poverty is to make is so hard being poor that the poor will find a way to climb out of it.

I think he was right.

While I do not think that we ought to allow people to starve or freeze to death in this country, I do believe that we ought to make welfare a dead basic program whereby low income housing simply consists of a cot in an unused barracks somewhere and a couple of basic Government Issue meals a day which the person accepting this will pay for by working around the area on infastructure projects.

It won't be much of a life and you can bet your boots that there will be an awful lot of people that decide that a 9 to 5 job even at Burger King is a whole lot better lot in life.

It wouldn't take a lot of time before that sort of welfare program would dwindle down to practically nothing.

People that are now tax burdens would then become tax payers and the whole system would improve.

Of course, there would be the element that thinks they can make their living by stealing from others. The answer to that is really quite simple.

Castle doctrine laws should be changed so that people have the right to defend their lives and property whereever they happen to be and using the force needed to do so.
In other news, my zinnias and marigolds are coming along very nicely.

Last night 40 and 80 meters were a zoo as I guess it was a ham field day weekend.

Maybe tonight I will go on 80 meters on 3.898 and CQ Arfcom.


my other blog is:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

There is a zinnia in my garden that I have paid attention to.

Last weel I had to move a few of my flowers to make room for Mrs Pics addition to the garden. I'm glad she did add to it because it looks a little nicer and she added a couple of perrenials which ought to make it easier in the future.

Anyway, one of the flowers I moved was a pretty good sized zinnia and inside a couple of hours after I moved it, it wilted.

I decided to see if I could help it recover and gave it a pretty good wetting down and an extra good sized slug of transplanting food and I'll be damned, inside a couple of days it slowly began to recover.

It began to blossom overnight and this morning I noticed it is going to be a beautiful flower.

Besides that, it's pink and I like pink.


In other news, I am constantly amazed at the way the body heals.

It took about 24 hours to get fully back to normal after I purged myself for the colonoscopy. One lousy day and everything was back to normal.

The chunk I took out of myself with a chain saw a while back is back has healed completely leaving only a 1/2"x 2" purple mark that shows signs of disappearing.

It didn't take long, either.

It is simpy amazing to watch living things grow and heal themselves as they need to.

Someone upstairs sure knew what he was doing when he made things like this.

Well, except for avacados. He made the seeds too big.

my other blog is:

Friday, June 24, 2011

The garden is coming along very nicely.

and that is a good thing.

The marigolds are blossoming and many of the zinnias are opening up and the garden looks nice. The petunias are doing well, too. Maybe next year I will plant mostly petunias.

Several of the neighbors have commented favorably.

While I am not really a gardener I have found out that I can make the house look nice and I do like looking at the flowers I grew from seeds.

Last night I startled one of the pair of fawns that seem to like to sack out in the back yard and the little creature took off like a shot, quick, lithe and as graceful as you please. It's amazing how fast the little animals mature.

I've watched the mother bird going back and forth into the bird house I put up on a pipe and I wonder what is going on in it. Are there eggs? are there new little birdies there? Will I be home in time to watch then fledge?

Today after I get the grasses planted I think I am going to run an 80 meter antenna and see what happens tonight around dark.

I might get as I hear that 80 meters is a pretty good frequency to try and DX on. I hope I can get the wire run in such a way that I can put it up and down with no hassle.

The wire I am using is fairly tough and should easily last the winter. The insulation is hot pink, but not because I like pink, which I do. It is pink because antennas break and fall down from time to time and it is more visable and therefore less likely to be overseen when I mow the lawn and wind up balled up in the mower.

I am going to use paracord as the part that gets tied to the tree because it seems to be the thing to use. I have 500 feet of the stuff which sounds like a lot but it isn't. Guys for my masting will use that up at an alarming rate. Maybe I should have bought 1000 feet. We'll see.

I just had a thought.

Here I am, I am known well as a competitive shooter that has embarrassed a couple of the local gendarmes. A couple of them have seen my targets from 3 and 600 yards and their eyes popped out.(I was unloading my truck and Nebby Al panicked and called them so they simply stopped by and asked me a few questions. I showed them a few off my targets and they were astonished)

I am constantly feeding Nebby Al and the mouth a couple doors down wild stories about Bangalore torpedoes, land mines,dead hookers in the trash, stuffing little kids in the chipper shredder and the like. Numerous loud noises have erupted in the back yard at odd times.

The Miata in the garage is set up for racing and it looks it, yet I drive it responsibly.

It was duly noted that I was the first on the scene giving first aid to a little kid that got hurt some time ago and that when the neighbor refused to let me use her phone, I simply shouldered past her and dialed 911.

I have been seen drinking Jameson's out of the bottle while sitting on the front porch one summer day when I got totally plastered.

Lord knows what they would think if they had my entire history; the sailboats, tipis, bush flying, commercial fishing and so on.

They do know I am a licensed Merchant Marine officer and run a tank vessel, so I suppose they think I am at least somewhat responsible as companies generally do not put irresponsible people in charge of multi-milllion dollar pieces of equipment.

I also have the hands down prettiest garden on the entire street.

I am a mass of contradictions, a tough guy in a pink T-shirt out there gardening. It would be interesting to see what the local gendarmes have on me in their files. I'll bet they can't figure me out.

Truth is I am nothing more than a person with varied interests that has decided that you only go around once and you had best do what you have to do to make a complete life. You have to follow your dreams.

I have an out and out hatred for stupid, I do not suffer neb$hits or fools at all and simply believe in taking care of myself and taking what is mine and leaving the rest alone. There is one cop that used to be on the local force that I have made a fool out of twice.

Belay that about making a fool out of the cop. He did that to himself. I simply pointed it out. Both incidents were over what I was wearing. The last incident was over an old Hellgate pilots jacket and he wanted to know what gang it was. The idiot. When I told him that they were ships pilots and not a gang he really felt stupid.

I believe in being a good neighbor because it pays huge dividends.

One of the biggest paradoxes is that I am probably one of the last people to commit a serious crime, and if I were accused of one I would simply go down to the station on my own and sort the mess out.

I suppose it they did have to cart me off they would send the SWAT team to pick me up and they would be sadly disappointed when they found I had slipped out the back and was waiting for them at the police station.

It would be interesting to see my jacket if they have one.

I'd bet thay have it all screwed up.

my other blog is:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One of the things I have learned is to show a little patience

before I charge into a situation with the guns blazing.

Right now I have 2 situations I am dealing with and I am going to remain cool and collected until I know exactly what is going on.

One of them is an eBay deal and it seems that the person sends me a tracking number and when I trace it it says that the parcel has not been mailed yet. I figure someone in the shipping department is not doing their job so i will contact the salesman and report this to him.

The other has just stopped being a problem as a few minutes ago I recieved an email explaining that he had made a mistake.

The latter is easy to forgive and let slide. Yes, it is inconvenient and it is an aggravation but he was forthright and admitted that he HAD made a mistake and has offered to rectify it.

We ALL make mistakes and I have little problem with people that do and correct things as beat they can.

The eBay deal I think I can correc because I think I know what is going on.

First of all I am dealing with a large operation which means several people.

I figure the guy that is in shipping is either lazy, stupid or maybe dishonest.

I figure the shipping guy simply gets a tracking number for the parcel and fails to take it to the post office and either simply forgets or even possibly steals the unit and sells it somewhere else.

Something isn't right and I'd just bet that a tactful word to the salesmann is going to get pretty good results.

We'll see.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

COlonoscopy today. All is well.

I like the doctor. He's a pretty good guy.

Born in India, I'm gonna make him a member of the Sons of Ireland by bringing him a bottle of Jameson's.

Last time I think I offended him a bit when I looked up at him and said "Gee, Doc! Last time I saw you you saved my life. I guess you was just tryin' to make up for scalping me at the Little Big Horn"

The nurse turned purple and told me that that was the most politically incorect thing she had ever heard. I told the nurse that that was a good thing as political correctness is going to be the ruination of the country.

Then I looked at the Doc and he looked a little confused.

I turned to the nurse and told her I only pick on the people I like and ignored her.

I think the Doc figured out there was no malice in what I said.

This year I told hm I wanted to get him a blttle of Jamesons and induct him into the Sons of Ireland and he laughed outright.

Another thing is that the new style prep kit seemed to work a lot better this time around. It only took three hours or so start to finish to clean me out as the new stuff worked better. The last time was a horror show. I drank the entire half-gallon and nothing happened for three hours so I went to a drug store and got something I knew would work and as soon as I got home and took it, I purged for the next several hours and didn't get to bed until the wee hours and woke up exhausted.

I don't menntion this to be crude, it is simply another part of life.

On eBay news. When I bought my ham rig from England I bought a few odds and ends off of eBay. Two of the four items were in my mail box three days before I ordered them.(Read:They shipped them out instantly)

The other two have not arrived yet. Ons shipped without a tracking number, probably some sore of slow boat from Staten Island and the other sent me a tracking number that never seemed to go anywhere. I would look it up and all it would say is that the shipper had been given a tracking number and that the PO was waiting to recieve the package.

I wrote the shipper and the company said they were confused and said they'd send me another one with another tracking number. Same deal.

In a couple of days I will write eBay and have them handle it.

This sucks because I wanted to have this stuff so I could use it while I am home.

ebAY will help if I ask them to because they know that their reputation is at stake. I understand they are brutal about bogus deals, still I am of the old school that tries to avoid telling an adult to solve my problems. I only use that as a last resort.

Maybe more later today as I still feel a little dopey.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yesterday I was right. I got a visit from the police at 0815.

I was up early and the neighborhood 'rules' are that no loud activity takes place before, say 0900.

Cutting an antenna is quiet so I decided to cut a long wire antenna for 80 meters. It's a long one, about 151 feet long.

The easiest way to do this is to lay the wire out on the side of the road and measure twice and cut once. I was in the driveway when I saw Nebshit Al doing his daily walk.

Now, next to the garage door are a number of OD fiberglass mast sections that nest together that I can use for portable dipoles.

Nebby Al stopped and asked me what I thought I was doing.

"I'm cutting a detonating wire. See them Bangalore torpedoes sitting against the wall next to the garage door? It's time for my annual brush clearance in the back yard. I'm tired of bustin' ass down there so I'm just gonna blow 'em all."


'Yeah. I bought them from a guy on eBay and checked them out. They're a year or so past the due date, but I don't think they've gotten unstable yet so it's not like they're going to go off like old dynamite does. They'll be OK."

He turned white and walked off.

Then I went inside quickly and poured myself a cup of coffee and put the rest of the pot into a thermos and went back outside and sat on the wall to wait.

My ass had just hit the stonewall when a cruiser hove into view. I stayed seated. The cruiser pulled up and the window opened.

"WHat's going on here?"

"Bangalore torpedoes? Nebby Al call?"

"OK, I gotta check." He got out of the car and walked over to the mast sections and looked down the end of one and shook his head.

"Last year it was land mines," he said."What ARE you doing, anyway?"

"Cutting an antenna wire. Shortwave rig." I answered.

"You're going to have to quit telling people you're blowing things up," he said.

"Nebby Al doesn't count," I answered."You know I am totally incapable of doing anything to him but feeding the nosy little do-gooder a bunch of baloney. Besides, it gives you a golden opportunity to drop by and see what I am up to. Coffee?"

"No, thanks." he said. He faced me with a serious look which turned into a sheepish look and then he started laughing.

"Let's see now," he said. "Over the past few years, now. Bangalore torpedoes, land mines, a couple dead hookers in the trash, and stuffing little kids into the chipper-shredder...Oh, yeah. The nuclear reactor in your basement. What are you going to do next? Nice flowers this year, by the way."

"Thanks," I replied."It depends on what I am doing when Nebby Al walks by."

"How about giving it a rest for a while? At least until I get off of vacation, which I am leaving on next week."

"I can do that," I replied.

He got back into the cruiser and drove off.

my other blog is:

Monday, June 20, 2011

It is 0815 and overcast.

and I think I am going to leave this as an open keyboard post today and see what happens.

Yesterday was a long, hard miserable day in that I spent several miserable hours digging a very small hole to plant some decorative grass.

There is a corner of the house where last summer we cut down a trio of Arbor vitus trees and I managed to yank out the stumps to the point that you can not see that they were there. That was a day of chain saw madness, pickup trucks, nylon slings and chains. Now it is time to replant the area.

One thing about the trees is that they sure had one hell of a root structure and the epicenter of where I wanted to plant was right smack dab in the middle of the old root structure.

I managed to get three of the grass clumps where I wanted them with a reasonable amount of effort but number four was a class A chore. I have an entire day into digging that small hole and it cost me about 5 Sawzall blades which was a mess. I got hole number 4 finished ar about 1830 yesterday.

A neighbor dropped by yesterday for a couple of reasons, he wanted to get out of the house and I suppose he wanted to do a little fishing as he heard I am now a licensed ham which means antennas and I suppose he was curious to know if I was going to do something like set up a 200 foot high tower or something along those lines.(I'm not)

I told him to drop by and as an afterthought suggested he bring his son with him. The lad is about 10. He's well behaved and welcome.

They showed up and we chatted.

The reason I told him to bring the boy along is that my father often took me along with him when he had dealings with people and I consider it to be an important part of growing up.

While the dad and I chatted, I occasionally asked the boy a couple of questions to keep him from feeling left out. Apparently he's doing well in school unlike me at that age. He's also a pretty voracious reader which I was at that age. Unless something stupid comes along he'll grow up just fine.

One of the things that happened to me as a result of my dad taking me with him is that over time I developed a couple of older friends.

As I write this one family comes to mind, the Greenes.

I grew up with Tom Greene,Jr who was a couple of years older than I am, but we stayed in touch. He was my friend and to this day still is.

However, because of my dad and his relationship with Tom Sr, he became a friend even though he was maybe 30 years older.

Tom Jr's son, Tom III is now a friend of mine, too.

Tom Sr was not just Tom Jr's dad to me, but a seperate individual that I respected and it was good that I had developed a relationship with him as he provided me with advice over the years. He was a WW2 sailor.

I guess now I am returning the favor to the family with the friendship I have with Tom III who is nearing 30. Time flies.

I think that it is important to have sons watch their fathers deal with other men because it shows the youngsters a few of mens ways and makes things easier for them as they grow up.

The reason i told my neighbor to bring his son with him is because I know that it will make the father's job of raising him a bit easier as time passes. It's a part of the Piccolo Good Neighbor policy.

Maybe more later.

I got the lawn mowed which is no problem.

Earlier today I went looking for a specific battery and went to a battery shop which is a rather new thing as years ago drugstores had the job and now there are so many proprietory batteries out there that a drugstore can't handle a thenth of the,

ANyway, it was another case of someone trying to sell me something that he wanted to sell me as opposed to what I want. I smiled, nodded and walked out. A couple of years ago I would have smoked the whelp. I must be getting old.
Out to get a few things. SOmething happened for the first time in a long, long time. First ever, actually.

For the past couple of years when I am out I have developed a habit of at least trying to say something nice to a perfect stranger.

It may be something simple like 'nice shirt' but it is at least a positive step in this constantly gettting worse negative world we live in.

I said "Wow! You look attractive today." to a woman and she told me I was rude.

Hmmm."Don't worry, Ma'am, even though you're attractive, you are still miserable," I added and walked off.

This is the first time I have ever gotten a negative answer to a compliment I have given out.

Looking at it as I write, I am surprised it hasn't happened earlier.

There are a lot of miserable people out there.




I bought a couple things on eBay and it is sure hit or miss.

I buy, pay instantly and either it comes the following day in the mail or there is a hassle.

I bought a power pack for $27 change+shipping. I paid instantly and was immediately given a tracking number the next day.

The Post Office says they have not received it.

This means thay have not mailed it.

I see the same item listed now for $127 change+shipping, yet the actual Item I bought is still $27 =shipping.

I sense a fight.

There is another thing coming. Juno was my ISP until last winter when I cancelled them. They still bill my card. I have cancelled them monthly for 5 months now yet they still bill me.

I am going to call my credit card people and order them to stop paying the bums. I am tired of this.

Of course, they will send me to conflict resolution but there is no conflict. The way it is going to work is simple;Either they stop paying Juno or else I cancel the card. Period.

Companies like Juno that are on the ropes do this sort of thing. They keep billing small amounts hoping to fly under the radar.

That's what small arms fire is for.
My day is over and the hill is weeded. I found a bottle of gin that is about two years old and I am feeling British today. I think I am going to get a lime and open a bottle of tonic water. First I must put on my pith helmet.

Betcha the police show up tomorrow.

Tomorrow if my wire arrives I am going to have to cut antennas and one of them is going to be about 46 meters long.

Now I will stretch the wire down the street and measure it and bigger than shit someone is going to demand to know what I am doing.

If they ask nicely I will tell them. If it is obvious that they are just being nebby I will tell them that I am cutting wire so that I can set off a row of Bangalore torpedoes off from my kitchen if anyone tries sneaking into my back yard.

There is something patently wrong with me because I simply can not give nebby people a straight answer. Curious? Yes. Nebby? No way.

Last year I was weeding and someone asked me what I was doing.

Now, I have a weeding tool in my hand, there are weeds in a pile nearby. I am dirty and sweaty.

The man deserved to have Bill Engvall hand him a sign. I would have but I was fresh out of signs which reminds me to call my printer as I have run out again.

Anyway, I told the idiot I was looking for land mines and sure enough, he called the cops. Hilarity ensued.

Checking the mail.

My first QSL card arrived. Loudoun County, Virginia. 2333 UTC 16 Jun 11 on 7.265Mhz SSB.

The naysayers will have to shut up. My little backpack radio shot out over 200 miles the first time I tried it.

Not bad.


I now have my gin and tonic in front of me and tomorrow will such as I have to get ready for a colonoscopy tomorrow night. Oh, well.

my other blog is:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

a pair of fawns and the neighbors little kids

From time to time I find myself dealing with children, which is OK because they can be very entertaining and it is the duty of older people to help younger people along the path of life.

I was up the other morning and saw that the woman across the street was out with two of her three kids. She and I chatted for a few minutes about the deer that populate the neighborhood. I told her that the twin fawns bed down in my backyard and offered to show her and the kids where so they could watch the fawns wake up the following morning. Mom and the kids were jazzed.

The youngest girl is the one that overcame her shyness last Christmas and walked with me across the street to look at the Christmas lights her dad had just set up. Of course, the following day she went back to being shy.

But when the opportunity to find out where the fawns slept arose, her face lit up and she reached up and took my hand and the two of us led the way. Mom and the older daughter followed.

I explained to the little one that when they were up and in the grass she had to be quiet so as not to scare them and she got a little excited and grew quiet. The silence and excitement were almost overwhelming but it was fun because that is the way small children are.

The excitement the little one showed was delightful to watch. It doesn't take a whole lot to get a kid like that all excited about something and for an older person it is fun to watch and brings back memories of their own childhood.

When we got to the hill I showed the two girls where to look and where to sit so as to get a good view of the animals when they awaken all sleepy eyed in the morning and admonished them to be quiet soa as not to acare the critters.

For a few minutes I thought the mother might be annoyed because now her kids were going to start bugging her to take them to see the animals, but she was grateful, too as she enjoys watching them, too.

A newly born fawn in my back yard

a pair of sleepy eyed fawns waking up to face the new day.

my other blog is:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A day of gardening and tearing up things.

I wanted to get the spot where we cut down a couple of trees a while back squared away and it was decided to plant sea oat grasses there which means digging up the old roots and sweating like a pig in the sun.

I got some of it done but methinks tomorrow will prove to be a day of chainsaw madness.

my other blog is:

Friday, June 17, 2011

A while back I posted one of the circus

situations I found myself in while I was in the army in the early 70s.

It was a bad time to serve because as the Vietnam mess was winding down the fickle Armerican public was very anti-military. Things were so bad that we were ordered NOT to were uniforms in public. I had to once to get a decent fare on a flight once and I got spit on at Logan International as I was getting off of the airplane.

As a result the standards dropped and I'd have to say that about 1/3 to 1/2 of my basic platoon were mental catagory 4s. Read: Special Olympic candidates.

Of course, because I could cloud a mirror held under my nose I was considered one of the best and brightest and was actually offered a shot at OCS fresh out of basic. I had a high school diploma.

That has to tell you something.

It also explains my meteoric rise to E-5 in well under 2 years total service.

I didn't plan on being a soldier, I planned on joining the Marines. What stopped me is that when I saw the recruiter taping up an arm that had needle marks on it I decided I wanted no part of that so I went down the hall and talked to the army recruiter.

Relax, Marines. Keep your shirt on. I found the same sort of thing in the army. At that time both services were scraping the very bottom of the barrel.

Every Marine I have told this to goes straight into denial except for a damned few. I was telling a Gunnery Sergeant about this once several years ago. The Gunny was denying it and saying that it wasn't possible when a voice behind us spoke up and said, "Believe him, Gunny. I was there."

The voice belonged to a mustang Marine major that was an LtC designee. He had been an enlisted man right around the time I was mentioning.

The reason for this in my opinion is that the services tolorated it. They thought they were so desperate for bodies that they took just about everyone that walked in the door.

General Norman Schwartzkoff mentions this in the book he wrote about his career after Desert Storm.

I have to give the Marines credit, though. They recovered from the post Viet slump a lot faster than the other services because thet simply decided not to tolorate it any more and simply threw out substandard Marines.

It was quite some time before the army decided to do the same thing and boot out the jerks.

Before they started getting rid of the jerks it seemed like an awful lot of good people were getting out and an awful lot of deadbeats were staying in.

For the most part I remember that company level leadership wasn't too bad. As one looked up the chain it was more hit or miss the further up you went.

I had a BnCO that was a jerk, he was replace by a pretty good leader when he got relieved.

I served under a total of 4 BnCOs during my enlistment and this man that took over for the jerk that got relieved I'd rate as tied for the top two BnCOs I served under.

Todays GIs have it a lot different. Leadership has improved and the very caliber of people has gone through the roof. The average GI of today is a whole lot better trained than we were, and is led and fed better, too. Led, anyway. I don't imagine the food has gotten a whole lot better.

Of course, they are nowhere as good looking as we were back in the day, but let's just save that for another post.

my other blog is:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today will be an open post day and I will add to it as things go.

Up early, which is somewhat different than I am used to as a younger man. I used to come home after a tour and drop into a deep sleep for 10 to 16 hours and wake up real late. Now I simply wake up at first light, which is staarting to open a new world to me.

I was often called the Doctor of darkness and I suppose it still rings true because left to my own devices I would be up to 4 or 5am and sleep until noon.

Anyway I was up early, at first light and saw that there is a lot to watch out the windows. The rabbits are hopping around, several baby bunnies.

It's the deer that fascinate me. For the past couple of years I have let the grass in the 'lower 40' uncut. I whack it down to the nubs in October and let it run wild.

A pair of fawns is down there and I got to watch them get up from where the bedded down and wake up all sleepy-eyed. I am watching them now as as I type this as they frolic in the back yard.

While I had my morning coffee in the driveway one of the neighbors sent her brood off with somewhere to parts unknown and we chatted.

I mentioned that I was getting my ham rig and it was powered by a generator. I offered to take a couple of her kids and feed them Coca Cola and sugar doughnuts and let them spin the crank all afternoon to keep the batteries charged and she laughed outright. A couple of years ago I'm certain she would have freaked if I had said such a thing.

I'll bet the guy across the street must have pointed out that I watched his daughter like a hawk as she grew up, making sure no harm befell her. He probably tuned up her sarcasm meter, which is a good thing as my sarcasm sometimes is misunderstood.

Instead of freaking out, she laughed and commented that anything that makes the kids tired is a good thing as they are at the age where they are tireless and often the parents go to bed exhausted.

In other news I tracked my radio and it has arrived in-country and has cleared customs which is a good thing. I am expecting it anytime between tomorrow and Monday.

The antenna masts are due in tomorrow, I got a set of 24 each four foot sections as they are portable and can be set up and knocked down as needed.

There is also antenna wire,a power supply, parachute cord and a 30 meter tape dribbling in over the next few days.

Right now there are sausages whistling in the skillet as they let the gasses escape and I had best attend to them.

More later today.

This morning the roll of bathroom tissue ran out and I reached behind onto the tank, grabbed the spare and I replaced it without even thinking. After my shower I noticed that it was set so as to be rolling over the top which means nothing.

Over the years I have heard fights break out over which way the toilet paper is put on the roll. We're talking major brawls here over something as dopey as that.

As I age I realize that 97.8 of the things that work us up are a waste of time and energy and when you think about it the only thing that really matters is that there is paper there when you need it.

I have finished breakfast and also made up a couple of charts in anticipation of my radio's arrival. I want to make sure I stay on frequency. A lot of ham rigs won't transmit unless they are set to a legal ham frequency. The one coming to me will so I have to be careful.

Neighbor Bob just dropped by and I think the pair of us are going to go shopping as he needs a few things and I need grub.

More later.

I just checked he computer to see where my package is and they say it is which I THINK means it will be shere later this afternoon.

Holy smoke! It's noon now and it landed in Cincinatti somewhere near 0230.

That's fast!

Neighbor Bob and I went grub shopping and I grubbed up.

Bob wonders about me as I am somewhat careful about what I eat. I avoid filling up on carbs.

There is some more planting to do and the lawn to mow, but I'm going to make sure the lawn isn't too wet as the last time I mowed when it was a tad dewy the grass clumped up and stalled the mower a few times. Not to mention leaving huge clumps all over hell which I ad to rake up.

Later today there are going to be a number of grasses to plant, the decorative kind. It has been discussed with my other half and agreed that grasses will look good as well as being easier to maintain in a few spots around the house. We want them dug in before the weekend so it looks like today and tomorrow things will be busy outside which is fine as I can use the vitiman D.

more later

About 1500.

My rig showed up, a prc 320-L (upper sideband model)

I opened it and everything was there EXCEPT a battery charget, but not to worry. I have the hand powered generator.

I checked it out and with a lousy whip antenna I joined a Leesburg, VA net at 1930 tonight on 40 meters. Neighbor Bob turned the generator crank.(three beers worth of crank turning.)

My QSL card goes out tomorrow along with a picture of my rig.

After that I tried my luck with CW.

Nope. Nobody would touch my CW with a 10 foot pole.

I am one happy camper.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What a nice homecoming!

I arrived home at 0800 thanks to a relief that had nothing to do but to come in and relieve me.

I sit here and there are birds in the birdhouses I built.

The flowers in the back porch flower box are in full bloom, my Zinnias and marigolds are doing well and when I looked into the wayback I saw a doe nursing not one, but two fawns!

While I walked around back I saw a couple of baby rabbits to boot.

What a wonderful thing to come home to!

Seeing I drove most of the night I think I'm going to catch a few zulus.

My radio kit and kaboodle should be arriving soon.



my other blog is:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There is another side to the teacher issue

and that is the student. Or, really, the parents.

When one of the students is maliciously disruptive and slows the class down, it is the duty of the teacher to throw him out on his ass and send him up to the office for the discipliniarians to deal with him. If his conduct does not improve than simply throw him out on his ass and stop making excuses for him/her.


I get sick and tired of hearing parents tell me that their kids classes get slowed up by the angry few. It simply is not fair to the students that really want to learn something.

I don't care if little Johnny has something wrong with him because his mother fed him with the wrong spoon and I don't care if he has some type of disorder. Throw him out of the class and let the kids that want to get ahead do so. The entire purpose of school is to prepare them for the real world and school should do just that.

If Johnny's parents want to make an issue out of it and insist the school has no right to throw him out than put him in with a class of like minded students and put him where he belongs.

Parents have to get involved, too.

School is a place to learn and if the parents are looking to park their misbehaving little whelp they can simply hire a baby sitter. Schools are not baby sitting services but places to learn.

The reason schools have gotten the way they are is simply because the schools have permitted things to get that way.

my other blog is:

Monday, June 13, 2011

a little advice to younger guys

This morning I had a couple of light bulbs to change, which is pretty much a daily job on a boat because the power comes from generators and in the generator room there is some vibration that destroys them at a pretty good clip.

I noticed that I was somewhat more careful than I had been in the past as far as climbing on top of the diesel to reach the light. It was somewhat enlightening as I generally just hop up there without a care in the world.

The thing I notice is that I was a little more cautious than I used to be because I realized that I was cheking my hand holds a little more than I used to.

Then it struck me that I was subconciously being a little more careful than I was when I was younger.

While I am certainly not unable to climb areound and do my job, it is interesting to note that I have realized that I am not made of rubber anymore. One good spill and I am out of the business.

Of course, when I was younger one good spill could have taken me out, too but I was too young and dumb to realize it. The bullet proofedness of youth. Nothing can hurt a young guy, or so they think until they wind up in the hospital. It's the reason the Air Corps recruited young guys. They'd fly with a recklessness and have no fear whatsoever until they were shot out of the sky.

Still, as one gets older they realize that there are things out there that can hurt you and that it can happen to you.

There was also another thing that occurred to e twhile I was on top of that diesel changing the light bulb.

I sure wish I had taken the precautions as a younger man that I do now that I am rapidly approaching old age.

It sure would have saved me a lot of pain and suffering as a younger man.

my other blog is:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I have covered this one before but it irks me so bad I'll cover it again.

One of the things I have noticed much to my chagrin is the dumbing down of things.

It always seem like we have to live a lot of our lives by having things dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

A while back I took a fire fighting class and had to sit through it bored to tears because the poor teacher had to slow things down to make sure the handful of dummies understood what was being taught.

Looking back on it, things were not all that bad as the dummies in the class were not all that bad in that they were motivated and had at least the required half of a brain needed to do well in the class. All but one, anyway.

The class was actually a rehash of a rehash of a rehash of something required and I really didn't want to be there repeating the basics. It would havebeen nice if we could have rehashed the basics for a quick refresher and gone ahead with something new, but we couldn't.

It was a shame because there were so many of us that had the basics under our belt that were interested in learning more. When you get right down to it the things we learn can save our lives.

A lot of other things seem to get dumbed down, too.

There are a number of things that I have seen over the years get dumbed down.

College admissions are one.

A while back there were a number of schools that wanted some sort of racial diversity so they started accepting minority candidates for admission that had lower test scores and grades because they wanted to show people that their institution was not racist.

Instead they sent out a message to the minorities that they were not as capable as everyone else because they were permitting them to enter the institution with lower scores.

It is quite refreshing to report that I know of one Black female that refused to put down her race on a college application because she did not want to be accepted to the school based on her race or sex. Seems she thought that dumbing things down was an insult to an entire race, which it is.

In addition to this, they have probably in many cases dumbed down many of the classes which generally lowers standards and everyone loses because now everybody knows the school has just lowered its standards. Graduates are no longer in as much demand as they were.

And on and on it goes until you find that the person that is now going to perform a complex medical proceedure on you is a diploma mill graduate and his credentials have come off of a Wheaties box.

The way I see things is that standards should only go UP, not down and the standards should apply to everyone. That was society improves.

Dumbing anything down serves no purpose except to hurt us all.

my other blog is:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

School teacher think they hold the key to the world's know-how. HAH!

One of the things I look at with a pretty jaundiced eye are school teachers.

The various states require different levels of education (a bachelor's degree is generally considered the minimum) before they will issue someone a teaching certificate and there are all sorts of special little courses someone has to have to be issued one.

That is a crock the way I see it.

I am pretty certain that some of the best teachers I have ever had over the years have had nothing more than high school diplomas and probably a couple had not even finished high school before they started teaching.

Most of these were in the army, but not all of them. I've had several courses over the years that were taught by people with no teaching degree and they did a wonderful job of teaching me their subject.

I have taken a couple of seamanship and fire fighting courses over the years, both of which were taught by people with hands-on experience in their fields. These guys knew what they were talking about because they had considerable experience in their fields, yet few if any of them had ever seen the inside of a college classroom.

One of the things you have to like about the army is the pragmatism. When they go looking for a teacher they generally grab a bright NCO with a lot of experience in his field. They may or may not run him through a crash course on teaching and stick him in front of a classroom.

Of course, I have never heard the NEA gripe about this terrible injustice to our soldiers and I doubt that I will because the NEA will probably come out of it with egg on their face when they get it thrown in their face how successful military schools are.

Basic training is a school and they take a kid off the streets and turn him into a soldier, sailor, airman of Marine in anywhere between 8 to 13 weeks and the change stays with them for life. Don't even try and tell me that a drill NCO isn't a teacher. They are probably some of the best teachers in the world, but let's go beyond basic training.

From basic the newly found military student heads on out to his job training and inside a period of about a month or so to six months a student graduates and is a pretty good entry level whatever his job is going to be.

It sure does not take long after the new graduate breaks in and becomes an integral part of a well-oiled team.

In many cases, about a year after a youngster arrives at basic training they find themselves in a position of real responsibility. Look at some of the young people working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. They are responsible for some aspect of a multi-million dollar airplane.

In most cases their civilian counterpart that went from high school to get a degree will enter the corporate work force and find himself responsible for making coffee and running the copier for the first couple of years he is out of school.

The schools are no frills basic job related and because there is discipline instilled the young students learn fast and either pass the course or are dropped and wind up spending the rest of theirhitch generally doing something else. Generally it is not pleasant.

It should be carefully noted that most of the teachers do not have a degree in anything much less teaching.

There are a lot of private sector schools out there that are run similarly.

The requirements to teach in these schools are generally on the job experience and a willingness to teach. They are, for the most part, pretty good schools.

A teacher brings into the classroom a sum total of their lives.

As a kid there were quite a number of male teachers that had served in WW2 and most of them brought an awful lot of life experience with them to the classroom. They also knew how to keep a youngster's attention.

Looking back on it, the teachers that had the least to offer were for the most part the younger ones that had graduated from high school, gone to the local state teacher's college and returned to teach in either the town's school they graduated from or from the school a couple of towns away. Most of these were simply idealistic women that had nothing but a suburban background.

They had little going for them, yet in many cases their credentials were impeccable.

I can think of a of teachers that really stay in my mind after all of these years. Most of these were men, but there was one young idealistic woman that kept me after school and hammered high school Spanish into my head. She worked at it with a passion and I will always give her credit for that.

My most memorable teacher was my army drill sergeant. He turned me into a pretty good soldier in short oorder. I believe he had only high school.

There were a few others. A shipboard fire fighting teacher that was a retired gruff old smoke eater taught me one thing I will never forget. He told the class that if we ever have to fight a shipboard fire that we WERE going to get hurt fighting it and probably get killed if we didn't.

Over coffee after class he told me that safety equipment really didn't prevent injuries, it did minimize the inevitible injuries that fighting a fire at sea would cause us to suffer.

That has stuck with me for two decades.

I tell the newer guys that all the time.

Of course, the NEA and other teachers unions will tell you that teaching is so special and that it takes someone special and so on, but that is nothing more than a smoke screen to protect their jobs and milk money out of the public.

Some of the best teachers out there have never even finished high school.

While I do not think for a minute that having a degree to teach basic academics in public schools should not be a requirement, I do think that a person that has one should be required to do something else in the real world for five years before they are eligible for hire.

At least that way they will have something to bring into the classroom with them.

This piece may sound like I am against college degrees. I am not. Had I known that I would have ended up where I am, I would have gotten a degree from either King's Point or one of the state merchant marine academies.

While the degree would not really have changed much I suppose it would have given me a little more confidence and just been nice to have. It would have also given me something to fall back on and take an office job if bad health or injury took me from working out here.

What I do have is that I wonder where school teachers get off thinking they have a monopoly of the world's know-how.

my other blog is:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Generally the cover-up is worse than the crime

One of the things I have learned in 59 years man and boy is that communication is very important, especially when something goes wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The incident became a non event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had expected to catch holy hell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t take much.

my other blog is:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who's the jerk?

I have a shipmate that lives on a boat and boy, do a lot of people thing he's a jerk.

Let's look at why.

It's because he won't take people out in it when they ask him. Boy, what a jerk he is.

These people offer to bring the beer and a picnic lunch and still he won't. Boy, what a jerk!

He live on this boat and it is his home. He pays all the slip rent, and all of the expenses out of his pocket because he has a job which is unlike some of the people that seem to ask him.

Jeez! You'd think he would like to take everyone out and show his boat off!

He would, too except for one silly little reason; he can count.

The boat makes 11 knots at 6 gallons per hour. For a fourteen trip that's 84 gallons of fuel.

At $3.47/gallon that means that the 14 hour trip has cost someone in the vicinity of $291.48 for fuel.

Not a whole lot of the people that try and invite themselves for a 14 hour ride offer to cough up even a part of the fuel bill. He really can't afford to cough up the better part of three bills every time someone wants to go for a boat ride. The poor bastard works for a living and isn't as rich as Bill Gates.

When he tell people that they are going to have to do a little more than come up with a couple of six-packs and a Subway sandwich and a bag of chips they get a little upset and wonder why he is so selfish with his boat.

He told me that generally the people that ask and get offended when he refuses are generally unemployed and are living off of some sort of government relief. I guess they think that everythign in life is free.

A few of the people that ask are underemployed and do not realize the costs associated with running a boat like his.

Every once in a while he reports that a person that has a good job offers to pay for fuel if he will take them fishing. Of course, not a lot of people that have good jobs seem to be able to go out on his boat with him, though. This is because they are too busy working.

Still, most of the people that try invite themselves are refused and they think he's a jerk because he won't take them out and spend $300 out of his pocket just to entertain them.

What i would like to know who the real jerks are and I'd have to say it is not my shipmate.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I am not always cynical about the younger people

One of the younger guys I know seems to have half a brain, or maybe even more than that, which is all too rare these days.

We were discussing things in general one night and he brought up that a team at MIT was working on trying to figure out how to make the under $100 laptop so that everyone in Africa could have internet access.

Neither of us really thought too much of it because it struck both of us that the guys at MIT really had no clue and seemed to think that the solution to all of lifes little problems is the internet, which it certainly isn't.

While neither of us are anti technology by any sense of the word, this young guy seemed to think of technology as something to add to the basics to make life better as opposed to being the instant solution.

Before the internet is going to do a person a whole lot of good you have to be able to read first. A person also has to be able to know how to use a computer on top of that. If you do not know how to at least read and write than a laptop really isn't going to do you a whole lot of good unless you use it as, say a cutting board or a flat spot to prepare foood on or something along these lines.

He then went on to point out that there was another gang of guys at MIT working on a toilet of some sort that would pretty much vaporize human waste.

While this project seemed a little more down to earth in that there is a lot of disease from lack of sanitation in the more primative parts of the Dark Continent, the entire project is pretty much based on the premise that people there are eating fairly regularly. Generally speaking, in order to need a toilet, one must eat first.

It struck the young man that the people at MIT were putting the cart ahead of the horse because in a lot of Africa the people there are starving and need the very basics of life. Giving many of these people technological things would be a lot like giving a fish a bicycle.

It was quite refreshing talking to a young man of the technology age that seemed to really understand what was going on.

I hope I can meet up with him again soon, and maybe spend a weekend with him up at his old man's camp.

I'll bring along my portable ham set and he can peddle the generator while I try and contact someone in China. It might make for an interesting evening.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sixty years on the planet has allowed me to see

an awful lot of changes but the biggest one I can think of it the internet.

Ideas can be exchanged with people all over the world. To an older guy like me this is amazing.

According to the 'stats' section of this blog I have readers from all over the globe. It wasn't a whole long time ago when the only people with the ability to communicate with people overseas without having to cough up huge long-distance telephone charges were a handful of ham radio operators.

These days I watch a crewman call his wife on a cell phone and she lives in Siberia while he is at sea. It's no big thing. He bought the cell phone at a kiosk in a mall someplace along the line.

I had an uncle Fred that was a ham operator and he had a pretty good fist on a code key. He could send and receive morse code at an incredible speed for the times and I recall being agog when he would tell me that the other day he was communicating with someone in Europe, or (holy smoke!) China.

My uncle must have had a small fortune tied up in his little ham radio station, and by todays standards it would be considered pretty primitive. I'm sure that these days there are not a whole lot of people communicating by way of morse code, although I'd bet there are a few Old School hams left that do.

These days not only are communications far better and more reliable, they are dirt cheap!

Twenty bucks these days buys a cell phone that one can communicate with someone almost anywhere on the planet with the exception of someone in the depths of a South African diamond mine.

God knows how much money my uncle had tied up in his ham station, but right now I am communication with the people all over the planet with a surplus laptop I snagged on eBay for about $200.

Chump change.

When I think about it, the ideas that get exchanged over the net are creating a global change that has never been imagined twenty years ago.

People in, for example, the Middle East are seeing things that are happening in the West and are asking their governments why they can't have things like they do in the West and as time passes we are going to see a lot of change there and other places.

I'm sure there are a few governments that are working overtime to see that internet access is restricted just for this very purpose.

North Korea is one I am fairly sure of. It is in the best interests of the dictator there to make damned good and sure that the people on North Korea are kept in the dark because as soon as the gnarled peasants there get wind of the way things are in South Korea they will be asking for change. This, of course, is not in the best interests of the governing that will probably wind up unemployed after word gets out in North Korea that things are a lot better just about everywhere else on the planet.

Maybe I will get lucky and in my lifetime I'll get to watch the North Korean people throw the bums out.

It is nothing less than amazing that I can communicate with people with this little machine.

I can post a story, an idea, a thought on this machine, hit 'send' and in a nanosecond or three, it is all over the world for a huge chunk of the planet to peruse if they so desire.

As I sit here thinking of all of the devices that can and will create global change that have been created over the past century I'm going to have to say that the internet is probably number one.

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Kudus to some Japanese senior citizens

A bunch of older Japanese have volunteered to clean up the nuclear mess.

I just heard that over in Japan where they have a pretty good nuclear mess to clean up that a bunch of retired guys have volenteered to take charge of cleaning up the nuclear mess.


These are not just a bunch of old guys as such, but a group of pretty educated engineer types that have retired but still know what they are doing.

The reasoning is pretty interesting. One of them said that although he still felt he had a few pretty good years left, he figured he'd be dead and gone before the cancer caught up with him.

I kept my eyes open after the disaister there took place and watched in awe the self discipline the average Japanese has displayed during the period right after the disaister and I really have to say I have a lot of respect for those people.

Unlike the mess that took place in this country after Katrina, the Japanese took their lumps with a quiet dignity that leaves me in awe. There were no widespread outbreaks of looting even though a few people tried to use the rare exception to prove otherwise.

I heard a story about how a convenience store got power back briefly and people came in in droves, which is certainly to be expected. However, when the place lost power again, the Japanese simply put the stuff back on the shelves and left quietly. I think it was because they couldn't get the register open or something simple along those lines.

I know that if I were there running the store I would have busted the damned register open and taken a calculator off of the shelf and simply added the persons purchases up and made change as best I could because of two reasons. First, the people really needed the stuff and of course, as an American the rule is 'anything to make a buck'. The paperwork and figuring out the take could just wait as far as I'm concerned.

Still, the Japanese did what they did and seem to have persevered well.

Now this.

These older retired guys are willing to charge in there knowing that they are probably going to wind up with some form of radiation poisoning and they are doing it for the good of the younger generation behind them.

I think that's pretty neat and worth mentioning in this blog.

Kudos to those retired Japanese guys for their fortitude. God bless them!

In a way it reminds me of the Eastwood/Jones/Garner movie that came out a few years ago called 'Space Cowboys',, where the older guys have to go into space and disarm some nukes.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

One of the things that irks me is when I.

. come up with a good idea for a post and don't write it down and then forget it.

I had a great one yesterday when i was out on deck working. I didn't have my pen handy so when I sat down in front of this laptop to post I drew another blank. I hate when that happens.

Right now I am looking at maybe getting my ham rig from the UK and things are pretty interesting. There are a couple of people over there that seem to have supplies of the type of radio I am looking for. One of them insists that in order to buy one I have to have an end-users certificate because the radio is under the catagory of being munitions.


How come none of the other sellers require one?

There have been a couple of  pretty honest sales types out there and I have to give credit where credit is due. A guy in Canada answered a lot of my questions regarding the Chinese set he had for sale and suggested that the set was not for me, as I would be very uncomfortable trying to put together a power supply for the unit he was selling.

There was also a ham I spoke with that suggested that perhaps going the military route was a case of tunnel vision on my part. To a point he was right, but I sat down and figured that I have to start somewhere and the idea of a portable generator powered manpack still fires my imagination and if I am going to do anything with my license I ought to start somewhere.

A big part of going into any field of endeavor is getting started and figuring what you want to get out of it.

The generator manpack rig fires my imagination and I think I want to start there.

It brings to mind mental images of some guy named Evans in a grass hut overlooking Ironbottom Sound with a couple of natives to turn the generator. Evans is, of course, a coastwatcher. He's out there eating cocoanuts and what have you and is all alone with no reac access to gasoline and other civilized things.

I have observed a couple of ham field days and while they are interesting and I suppose in an emergency they can provide assistance to the community, I can't help but notice the Honda Generator running the whole shebang. I think I want to go more primitive than that.

In a number of endeavors in life I have not done as well as I could have because I have intentionally hamstrung myself.

When I got into shooting a couple of decades ago I didn't chase technology for the first several years, opting to enter service rifle matches with a Garand instead of an AR. When I finally did get an AR, my scores climbed but in many ways it was not as satisfying as it was when I was going into a match undergeared as there is a lot of satisfaction doing well as an underdog.

Incidentally, the highest compliment I have ever recieved came from a Master Gunnery sergeant at Camp Perry the year I had my train crash rapid fire string at a Springfield match. He said that under the circumstances there were not many people on his team that could have done nearly as well as I had done that year.

It felt pretty good.

I spoke with my neighbor as to which road to take on my rig and he told me to take the road less traveled as I generally seem to do best on that path.

WHen I ran it by a couple of the guys I know here at work, one of them grinned and told me that there was no other choice to be made and that if I was going to do something then I really ought to do it in the most different and difficult Old School way possible.

I guess that's the way I am going to go.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

One of the things that surprises me is that you do not see more violence

perpetrated by very old people that have gotten the shaft somewhere along the line.

Yesterday one of the guys I know brought up the subject of an elderly couple that were drawing a pension from I believe Bethleham Steel and got the surprise of their life when the pension got raided by someone and their pension stopped. I understand the man was in his 80s.

A man in his 80s is generally in no position to go back into the job market, although I suppose there are always a few exceptions.

Although I suppose that someone found a legal way to raid the pension find, legal does not make things right. It is outright wrong to do that to people. Some of the biggest thieves in this world are lawyers.

Back in the day, robbers used to have to wake up early and chase a train, stop it and simply rob it at gunpoint. It was pretty risky work as there were a lot of armed people on the train and the robbers stood a pretty fair chance at getting shot. Couple that with the other risks of falling under a moving train, getting thrown by a panicky horse, etc it was really a pretty risky lifestyle.

Of course, this robbery would usually result in a chase by a possee or being tracked down by Pinkerton detectives who did not have their hands tied the same way police officers do today. The reward for these train robbers was generally paid if they were delivered dead or alive.

As for the money, it was generally pretty hit or miss and probably mostly miss with a pretty poor take considering the risks.

Today an attorney with a briefcase can rob with impunity and no risk whatsoever. With no risk whatsever it is little wonder that trashy lawywers try and rob things like pension funds and care none at all for their victims or their families.

When you think about it, I am pretty surprised that a few of these old timers haven't decided to simply retaliate by simply whacking the responsible party. It doesn't take much strength to wield a pistol of for that matter to hire some punk to do the job.

Take the guy that has just been diagnose with some disease and knows the end is coming and that he's going to have to cough up a lot of his savings for hospitalization. He knows that the money he spends on hospitalization is less for the widow he is leaving behind.

He also knows that as a prisoner of the state he would get medical attention from the state for free.

He simply KNOWS that by getting sent to prison for the last few months of his life he is going to make it possible for his wife to live a semi-comfortable few years. I would imagine that the temptation to dig up a pistol, wander into the attorney's office and pop him would cross his mind.

I know I would certainly give something like that very serious consideration.

It would be interesting to see some octagenarian in court looking at the judge and simply say to the judge, "Yeah? So? I've got 4 months left. Hospitalization will cost me my life savings. I popped the bastard.What are you going to do about it? Put me in jail for life?"

It would be a real head trip for the judge to sentence a person in those shoes. The entire concept of crime and punishment just went out the window. There is not a whole lot the system can do to punish a guy like this unless it is to simply give him a suspended sentence for first degree murder. It would, of course, be the most punishing thing a judge could do in this case.

After all, putting him in jail is just what he wants. It will permit him to save what little money he has left to pass on to his spouse.

I suppose if something like this happened once it would be an anamoly.

But if something like this happened on a regular basis, I'd just bet that the number of attornies that use their briefcases as a license to steal would decrease because unlike the robbers of old, most of the attornies of today just don't have the stomach to take any real chances.

I am surprised I have not heard of this happening yet.

I will post it here if I do.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hurry up and wait is the order for the day

which in not uncommon for this business.

Seeing I have some time on my hands I'll post something for today.

I have located a pretty good ham radio kit that seems to interest me. It is Old School military which seems to suit me as MilSpec gear is generally pretty simple to operate.

The average ham is a radio enthusiast and wants all of the bells and whistles on his rig and that means a complex set. While maybe I will grow into that I am certainly not looking to walk in on some set where every knob is multifunction. I'm looking to get inst something simple and that often means another trip to the surplus outfits.

This one even comes with a hand cranked generator that means I don't need an outside power source. Just grab some 8 year old and feed him 2 Red Bulls and a bag of sugar cookies and there is your power supply.

"Gee, Honey, Ralph has been coming in tired lately. Wonder what's up?"

"I dunno, Phyllis, but he looks like he's working on a pair of 19 inch biceps."

With a rating of 30 watts it means there is enough power to do some pretty good DXing if you are patient and willing to set up a temporary outside antenna (included).

I like packages like this. Neat, clean, simple and everything is there.

I stopped off at a ham outlet en route to work and started scouting and learning. There is a lot of stuff you need to get going. First you need a transceiver, then a power supply and an antenna tuner and an antenna and so on and so on. It adds up and it adds up fast.

Granted, you get 100 watts out of it but you actually need to set up a dedicated shack while the manpack rig can be set up just about anywhere  and when not in use, just put up on a shelf.

I think this is the way I want to go as I don't really want to set up a dedicated radio shack.

We'll see what happens next.


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Friday, June 3, 2011

I just read where 47% of Americans want to redistribute the wealth.

Apparantly they are upset that there are people out there that have more money than they do, which seems to be par golf for the way the human race looks at things, at least in a primitive setting.

It is a crab mentality.

Any crab fisherman knows that you really do not have to worry about crabs escaping from a tank or bin simply because as soon as one beginss to look like he is going to make it over the top and escape the rest of the crabs are going to pull him back down into the bin.

I read where some Peace Corps types got frustrated with trying to help out some of the villagers in Haiti or someplace like that. I think it was Haiti, but I could be wrong.

They would punch a well to provide clean water and almost instantly the neighboring village would get upset that they didn't have a well so they would poison the well and then after that, they would tear out the piping and sell if for scrap.

Of course everybody lost.

This seems to be the type of mentality we are heading to and it really isn't surprising. It starts early.

Even back in the day the mentality seems to have been taught at school.

Amyone remember being caught chewing gum?

"Did you bring enough so everyone can have some?"

Of course, I was prepared for that one and before she could say another word I was on my feet passing out gum. The teacher then treated me to a pretty good hissy fit and it cost me an hour after school.

One of the things I noticed while I was passing out the gum is that a lot of people that generally didn't chew gum accepted the gum I handed out, probably because it was free. Go figure.

The next time I got caught in another class, I got the same spiel about bringing enough for everyone. I told the teacher that this was a free country and that if anyone else wanted gum they could simplly buy their own and besides, I asked her, "What are you some kind of off-brand communist type?"

I got an hour after school for that one, too.

There was a third time and I have to admit that the teacher in that class had at least half of a brain in his head.

"Piccolo," he said. "While I recognize that as an American you have a right to buy gum and share it or not share it as you see fit, I would appreciate it if you didn't chew it in my class because it is against the rules."

I could live with that one. 

Anyway, this share the wealth stuff is not new, it is crab mentality.

We see it in the ghettos and other places all the time.

The person that plants a window box and gets it torn up or the person that puts up something only to get it tagged the first night it's there.

It doesn't take a whole lot of time getting improvements to the community torn up before one smartens up and simply packs it in a and gives up trying to improve things. Why bother?

The suburbs is a little different. This year when I busted my ass to do a lot of planting the neighbors seemed to go out and do a little extra to make their yards look a little nicer. It is a bit of keeping up with the Joneses that makes for things being a little nicer.

The same holds true for trying to get ahead. If the powers that be make it a waste of time to get ahead than people will not bother. You can't blame them.

Over the years I have listened to people grouse about big corporations like oil companies, yet they still insist on driving huge tanks that get lousy gas milage. They bellyache about corporate greed yet they never stop to think that these corporations provide employment for a tremendous amount of people here. They supply an awful lot of people with an income and put an awful lot of meat on an awful lot of tables. When they start having their profits taken away from them they start to make other plans.

Part of the reason we have a  poor merchant marine in this country is that as soon as the shipping companies were making a pretty good profit, the wonderful do-gooders in the powers that be started wallopping them with taxes and discouraged growth. The corporations responded by reflagging their ships to avoid both the taxation and the regulations laid down by the US government.

End result? Fewer jobs and less national income.

We gripe about having to talk to someone in India or South America or the Phillipines when we need tech support for out computers, phones or TVs, yet there is a pretty good reason for that. PArt of it,of course, probably IS that the corporations can pay these people a lesser wage, but I really think that they would prefer the convenience of having their tech departments in the states. I'd just bet that the government has wallopped them with taxes and as a result they have moved their tech departments off shore to keep the government out of things.

I can't blame them. I would probably do the same damned thing if I was running the show.

This isn't junior high school and you have no right to expect anyone that chews gum to have to share it with you. It's his decision.

Why should I be forced to share the money I have earned with you?

Get a job and earn your own.

While you're at it, buy your own damned gum.

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