Sunday, July 31, 2011

There will be a nice pink feather boa hanging in the galley soon

because I decided that I wasn't going to fry myself to a crisp this summer.

A couple of tours ago I decided that I wasn't going to fry myself in the sun, which I generally decide every year since I got out of basic training back when I signed up to serve with Colonel Roosevelt in Cuba. Army baseball caps at the time were just about the worst protection from the sun you can imagine. My ears blistered constantly. Ever since I have generally worn a hat with a brim on it for the summer.

I looked at my salty old boonie crusher this year and broke it out, but a trip to K-Mart had me pass by a bargain bin and for the sum of two bucks I saw a straw type hat and just knew it would breathe better than the old boonie hat. The brim is about six inches wide. I snagged it.

My original plan was to get one of those Amish straw hats, but those are damned expensive at the Amish feed stores. I'd just bet there are two prices on them, but I digress.

The K-Mart special was actually a woman's hat, of the type you see fat women wear at the beach and to hold it on during any winds one might run into there was a flowered scarf, which I knew I could replace with a piece of cord and masculinize it a bit.

Of course, when I broke it out there were the obligatory hoots and whistles, which is to be expected.

One of the guys offered to buy me a nice feather boa to go with it.

"Pink!" I shot back, "I like pink!"

"I'll snag one when I get to New Orleans," he said, and I'll bet he's going to be good to his word.

"What are you going to do with it?" asked my relief.

"Hang it up in the galley as a conversation piece," I answered. "Betcha every dockman asks about it. I'll tell them it's mine and tell them to leave it the hell alone."

Part of that, of course is a lie.

Yes, the boa will hang in the galley, but when anyone asks, and they certainly will, I will simply tell them that I don't know a damned thing about it and that it was left by the other crew. Of course, rumors will abound.

As I relieved the other crew, the offgoing guy asked me, "What if they don't have pink?"

I looked at him and grinned, "Pick out any other color that you think would look good on a stripper named Bubbles," I said.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's my money and I want it now!

I have a feeling that the people that created the catchy little ad for J.G. Wentworth have created a winner.

They are hacking around in Washington over the budget and it looks like a lot of people are not going to get paid. Barack, the magic president has mentioned that not only will the social security payees not see a check. If that happens you are going to see an awful lot of senior citizens pretty upset and shouting, "It's my money and I want it now!"

Of course, it is not going to be there because instead of paying the people that have worked all their lives and paid into the system, we are most likely make sure that the welfare checks, subsidies for people to not grow crops, the Zepplin and wool subsidy will probably be paid first.

After all, it is imperative that we keep rewarding failure and punish hard work, and besides it would be a major embarrassment if we paid the people to contributed to the system before we paid the leeches to the system. We can't have that happening now, can we?

Yes, we have to establish priorities and it seems we have.

We have to make suckers out of everyone that got up in the morning, put on their work shoes, packed a lunch and went out and busted their butts all day to pay into the system all the while believing the system would be there to pay them back.

It's also important to make sure we stiff some poor GI that went to war believing that the system would support them if they lost an arm or a leg in the process. After all, the leeches have to be paid first.

Of course, Barak, the magic president will see to that, after all he seems to have a magic plan and has decided to veto everything that comes down the pike, all the while keeping his magic plan a big secret.

Then again, I may get rich before this is over because before it is over there are going to be an awful lot of angry people. The trick to getting rich is to see a need and fulfill it.

Stand by for the grand opening of 'Piccolo's torch and pitchfork rental', opening soon in an store near you!

my other blog is:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Far away and long ago...A seminar and another reason I hate hotels

It was about twenty years ago when I was sent to a three day seminar by the company I used to work for.

It was a pretty luxurious affair and there was an overpriced hotel room I was slated to stay in which meant nothing but trouble to me. My earlier post on hotels may have explained things. I don't impress easily and feel insulted when someone offers me beads and trinkets to try to impress me.

Anyway, I checked into my room and laid my stuff out so that it was easy to get to in a hurry. I carefully laid changes of clothes out on the other bed that I wasn't going to use, having first stripped it of it's blanket to use to cover over the starched sheets that I loath that were on the bed I had planned to sleep in.

There were three or four complete outfits on the bed and each outfit was complete with underwear, socks, shirt and pants. I could spring from the shower and be dressed in seconds. I even had belts in all of the pants so as to save time. I left a large note on top of all of this that simply said, 'Please leave this room alone'.

Having done my homework by asking around, I knew that the entire schedule was going to be a mad house and I would be running hard from the instant I got up until I crapped out. I was set up for total efficiency. I had even gotten a fisherman's haircut for the seminar so as to preclude having to play the morning hair game. I could simply face the water from the shower, push my hair back with the towel with a single stroke and be good to go.

As usual, the wrench got thrown into the works.

I woke up, got dressed and did the seminar thing and sacked out and everything went according to plan and everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

Enter the hotel services department.

When I got back to my room, both beds were remade with new starched sheets and all of my clothes were put away neatly in the dresser. I was screwed.

I quickly redid everything and went down to the desk and politely but firmly told the desk that nobody whatsoever was to enter my room for any reason under any circumstances and that the only service the hotel was to provide me with was an 0555 wake up call.

"Even maids?" asked the clerk.

"Especially maids," I shot back. "I do NOT want my bed remade, I do not want my clothes put away I do not want anyone in my room for any reason at all. None. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I have everything set up the way I want it and anything anybody does will throw me off and make life hard for me. Simply leave my room alone."

"But we want you to feel at home," protested the desk person.

"Great! Let's make me feel at home," I said. "I don't have a maid at home, and I don't want one here. It doesn't make me feel at home when the maid gets in my way. It makes me feel like I'm in a cold, heartless, miserable hotel full of people that are trying to take my money by providing me with useless services I don't want or need."

This actually proved to be the only time a hotel has ever honored my wishes with a one stop request. In a way, it was pretty amazing.

A day later, the CEO of the outfit was hob-knobbing with a bunch of us lesser mortals and saw that the shirt I was wearing had come from the TransPac '89 race and asked me about it. I explained that I was part of the return delivery crew. He then asked me what I thought of the hotel and instead of the canned answer, I decided to tell him the truth.

Don't ever do that.

I told him that although the place was nice, I had cancelled all maid service to my room because it interferes with my efficiency. I could damned well make my own bed and that all the maid do was mess things up for me. He looked a little crestfallen and asked if he could do anything.

"The only thing I can think of is to have the hotel put a jar of Georgia Moon on the drink cart for before dinner cocktails as I had noticed that there was none and that it was the drink of choice of a shipmate of mine and I'm looking out for him." I said. "I need nothing. I'm squared away."

I told him the Georgia Moon thing for a number of reasons. First, I knew a guy that did drink the stuff and second, I was curious if the CEO would actually ask to have it added the the drink cart. Georgia Moon comes in mason jars and is easy to spot on a drink cart. I also asked for Georgia Moon because it was one of those things that seem to come out of nowhere and I have a policy of keeping them guessing.

He looked a little shocked, to say the least. "So you think this entire thing is a waste of money?" he asked.

I gave a thoughtful look and realized I was probably on thin ice. Often people like this insult easily. "No," I said. "The seminar is probably just what the doctor ordered, the facility is designed for it. It's just that we really get no time to enjoy the rooms and the maid service just gets in my way. It might be different if I were here on vacation, but I'm not. It may work for someone else, though. We're all different."

"Why don't you like the maid service?" he asked.

"I set my room up to be efficient," I said. "I lay out everything for the entire seminar on the spare bed. Every outfit is planned and laid out so that from the time my feet hit the floor I am out of the room in under five minutes, showered and shaved and in a fresh outfit. I eat a buffet breakfast because it is fast and return to the room to check the sylabus so I am in the right place at the right time in the right uniform. When the maids enter my room and see my layout they think I'm a slob and put everything in drawers and I have go fishing around to set it up again before bed or in the morning I am lost."

"You cut it that close?" he asked.

"Yeah, I do." I answered. "Sleep is a valuable commodity at these seminars. After the classes and all, there is generally a lot of networking going on in the bar and most of us get in late. The trick is to go easy on the booze and get all the sleep you can so you are not falling asleep in class. Even the fifteen minutes I save in the morning and use to sleep helps."

Later that evening at the before dinner cocktail hour I noticed there was a jar of Georgia Moon on the drink cart. I was astonished. I went to my shipmate and made damned sure he knew about it and told him to order a snort or two to keep me from looking foolish. He obliged me. He's an odd duck. If he can't have Georgia Moon, he drinks Woodford Reserve. Go figure.

I figure that when he goes to these seminars he drinks Georgia Moon as his personal counter attack on the mentality of upper management. He once said to me that they probably think the upper management guys thin we are savages and he'd be damned if he'd let them down.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that people think are the greatest thing in the world since canned beer, but maid service is not one of them.

my other blog is:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well, we're now broke.

or swo says Uncle Sam.

Whoda ever thought?

Years ago I worked part time as a maintainence guy for a strip club. One day one of the regulars said that I ought to show up during regular hours becauuse there was some guy buying rounds for the house all night and I could probably get pretty toasted for free.

Actually it wasn't free, some other sucker was paying for it.

I dropped by for a couple nights and enjoyed watching this guy throw his cash around and awaited the shock on his face whaen he realized he had run out of money. This was back in the 80s and we're talking some real money here.

Of course, after a while he ran out of money and when he looked for sympathy none was forthcoming. He was laughed at for simply giving his fortune away.

The bird has finally come home to roost and I have no sympathy whatsoever for our lawmakers. Frankly, I think that quite a few of them should be handed a blindfold and a cigarette for what they have done over the years.

They are now broke because they have given all of our money away.

Those that we have elected to handle our affairs have taken our money and given countless billions away to foreign governments, greedy insiders and millions of people that are too damned lazy to get up off of their asses and take care of themselves and contribute to society.

Of course, the people that got up of of their dead asses and onto their dying feet every day and ingaged themselves in some form of constructive human endeavor to make money to pay taxes are going to be the ones that get screwed.

These are the guys that coughed up a portion of their weekly paychecks to give to our beloved government to hand out to those that are too lazy to take care of themselves and now they are going to get screwed.

Why? Because the powers that be have simply given it away to those that didn't deserve a single nickel of it.

The government has given away billions in welfare, foreign aid and worthless subsidies over the past couple of generations and spent our way into poverty.

Of the notably few schemes schemes the Feds have come up with that have worked, and I can think of only two or three, as soon as they work and start making money then the feds raid that fund.

Social Security is the classic example. It was well into the green and there was a fortune that was amassed and put aside so the program would work. This was probably the first time in history a Ponzi scheme was actually going to work, yet as soon as the feds ran out of money to give away they raided that fund and now it is broke.

Our elected officials seem to have taken it and given it all away.

I only have a high school education, but at least I can count. I know that you can only give away only as much money as you have. I learned to count when I saw what that fisherman did with an entire once in a lifetime season's earnings.

Then aain, I have a certain amount of respect for that squandering fisherman.

After all, he gave away his own money and not mine.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good morning from some fleabag in Philly

I am now up and will report in shortly.

I have already gotten the word that my chances of getting internet service this trip are going to be a little iffy.

If this is the case I will write a post a day and put them up when I get the chance.

Last summer was this way when I was down in the Gulf cleaning up BPs little mess.

WHich reminds me.

Everyone uses oil, yet they expect people to produce millions and millions of barrels of the stuff without spilling one drop.

Get over it.

The very fact that so much is wrestled out of the ground and so little is spilled is nothing less than a miracle.

Yet people go through the roof when an oil company spills some.

Get over it. It IS going to happen. It is the price you pay for being able to have oil to use.

No 'Yeah, but'. It is simply the cost of human endeavor. Mistakes get made,

Get over it,

my other blog is:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time to secure for work.

Work has just reared its ugly little head and off I go to spin the wheels of industry.

One of the things I get a kick out of is how people like to bellyache about the oil companies and how I sometimes get crap forworking for them.

They really do not have much to say when I tell them that without them they will have to walk home and freeze in the dark. They do not like that very much.

The other oones are the people that seem to blame me and hold me personally responsible every time the price of a gallon of gas goes up.

I have a way of dealing with them, too.

I look thoughtfully and then mention that I'd like to have another villa in Spain and I guess I'm just going to have to add another quarter a gallon to the price of gas so I can afford it.

It gets a dirty look from them.

One guy gave me a snotty answer to that and I snapped that if he didn't stop whining I was going to raise the price another three bucks just to give him something to whine about and if he didn't like it he could just walk.

These are the same people that blame the little girl at the register for the prices the market charges.

The little girl at the register has to take it. Guess what?

I don't.

Come to think of it, sometimes I am the champion of the little girl at the register.

WHen some fat slob was griping about paying an extra $2 for an XXXXXXXXXL I interrupted and told him that the smaller sizes were made by workers in a Chinese sweatshop, but his size had to be custom made by Omar the Tentmaker and that Omar charged union scale.

Then I looked at the girl and told her that maybe the store should charge the fatties the same price as a public service so as to keep them from assaulting out eyes by running around naked.

Of course, the guy threw a fit, but too damned bad. I get tired of people blaming the first person handy. Screw 'em.

Besides, seeing the grateful look on a clerk's face when you bail them out is worth it.

my other blog is:

Monday, July 25, 2011

I am up and running and today is aa day of general clean up

which is OK as the place can use it.

I'm in my French Maid's uniform consisting of a pair of shorts and T-shirt,and I'm cleaning the kitchen as the rest of the place isn't too awfully bad.

Breakfast consisting of laftovers is underway and then with everything squared away I begin a new cycle. Make a mess and clean it up.

Yesterday evening early I met the proud father of a young sailor that is somewhat less than enamored with the duties of common seaman as he is doing little but cleaning things up.

He has to wait for his school to open and I guess that will happen soon.

I gave the father a link to the post I made a while ago about how 'the blog stays pink' and told him to pass it on to the kid who apparently thinks that SEALs and Green Berets have maid service.

He'll figure out that a big part of life is the cycle of making and cleaning up messes.

I started to water the flowers and as can be figured, it started to rain which is good as we can use it.

Last night I took the PRC set out and tried getting a certain person in NC to no avail as I guess atmospherics were wrong. I actually heard him very faintly and I guess he heard me but it was so faint we could not exchange callsigns so no QSO.

It should be noted that I was not at home for this, having packed up the rig and strung an ad hoc antenna. What was sweet about the deal is that I was in range of a free WiFi link. That won't happen again for a while.

Sunday afternoon was interesting in that a licky skip netted a signal from Australia which I believe I could have made QSO with except for the fact that everyone and their third cousin twice removed was on the air and as soon as the signal came through they all turned on their linear amps to max and created a pile up I couldn't even begin to think of getting through with my minimalist rig.

The Digger was running 100 watts so I just KNOW I could have exchanged communication with him. It would have been a damned good pelt to hang on my belt to show the naysayers but I guess I'll get lucky eventually.

This ham radio business has actually been good for me as it has kept me occupied and a little more healthier. last summer I hung out and drank too much beer but that is not the case this summer.

Between ham radio and gardening I have seemed to have found a nice place to be and that is a good thing.

my other blog is:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It is Sunday and I am busy getting squared away.

At last we have an overcast day and th heat is down so I feel pretty good about doing a little outside work without getting roasted.

One of the things I have learned is to schedule outdoor things to coincide with temperate weather. Years ago I would charge out into either the freezing cold or the desert heat to tackle a project.

One day I checked th crime statistics to see if this was a good idea.

As to be expected, thieves seem to go after money and property. I have yet to see a reported case where some thief sneaked in and stole work from some unsuspecting citizen.

Of course, maybe it happens all of the time and goes unreported, but it has never happened to me. Then agsin, if something like this DID happen to me i doubt I would go to the police to report it, either.

Picture the officer taking the report.

"Officer, I was getting ready to rake my leaves this morning and when I got up and went outside I saw that some dirty little thug had stolen them!"

Black and white movie time. Picture an old style desk sergeant sitting behind a 1940s desk microphone.

"Calling all cars! Calling all cars! Be on the lookout for a work thief! LAst seen at Piccolo's house last night stealing his leaves."

Doubtful scenario.

Likely scenario: "Don't worry, Piccolo, there are a couple of nice young men in clean white coats that are going too help you take a nice little rest."

In short, nobody out there is going to steal your work if you delay it a couple of days until the weather gets better. May as well take advantage of it.

I gotta go out and move some dirt before the sky opens up again and it gets too damned hot out.


my other blog is:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ya gotta love dumb luck

The other day I snagged a big atomic clock at Radio SHack for about $30 and a couple of hours later I took it back because I couldn't get it to stick to UTC. Every so often it would do what IT wanted to do and not what I wanted it to do.

It would reset itself every so often to the local time zone because it thought it was smarter than me. Things that have that attitude often find out that they are really quite stupid because it doesn't sink in that I have a big hammer until they start getting pounded to smithereens.

Then again, I figured it would be a better deal to get my $30 back, which I did.

This morning I had to run to the supermarket for coffee and Coke and juice and along the way I spied a garage sale and on a whim went in.


I scored a pretty good big faced clock, exactly what I wanted for $2.

You can't beat dumb luck.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Good morning. The world is flat.

I have just put on my morning coffee and it is brewing but not fast enough for me.

As I was wandering through the kitchen I noticed the knife I use to cook with. It is nothing more than the old Green River butcher knife that I used back in '86 to clean halibut with. The handle is still wrapped with the seine twine I put on it the day I got it to provide a non-slip grip.

It's funny to think about for a minute because there is a pretty nice set of knives over on the counter that remains largely unused except for the paring knife which I occasionally use to open plastic packages with.

I have listened to people talk about their cutlery and how much they spent on this and that and all of the things that go along with cooking, yet I can't help think about how many meals I have prepared with the old work horse.

From time to time I recall my adventures in the halibut fishery and of all of the things I have done on the water and for that matter ashore I always remember halibut fishing.

Unlike crab fishing where you empty the pots as they come in, you wrestle halibut in over the side and the entire process is nothing more than brutality in it's finest form. It is pure savagery and I truly loved being involved it.

Anyway, the knife.

It is my observation that I tend to have just a few work horse items that I seem to regularly use and the rest of the things I own are things I either do not use or only use occasionally.

If you look at a wrench set as an example, the average guy realy only uses about three or four sized wrenches most of the time, the four that come to mind are 3/8s, 7/16ths,1/2 inch and 9/16ths, and that's about it.

At this point some reader is going to babble on about how just yesterday he needed an 11/16th and I do not doubt it, but I daresay that was probably an exception. The four sizes I mentioned are still the basic four that bear the brunt of the average homeowner.

In my case the same sort of thing holds true for that dopey knife. It bears the brunt of my cooking around the house.

It is funny how there are certain little workhorses in out lives, the little go-to items that we seem to constantly grab to do things, and it is rather odd that we wind up with a bunch of stuff we seldom or for that matter sometimes never use.

It seems that about 10% of our tools do about 90% of the work.

In other gnus, My wellhead finally caved in after all of these years. It lasted 63 years.

What? Wellhead? What do you mean by that?

Back when this place was built for GI Joe back in '48 there was no city water and the house originally had a well and a pump for domestic water.

They eventually installed city water but left the pump installed.

When I moved in almost 20 years ago it was still there and the realtor pointed out that it was just the thing for washing my car and so on.

From time to time I would run it just for the sake of keeping it going and occasionally I watered a few plans with it.

Yesterday I fired the pump us but it produced no water whisc really does not surprise me because the thing is so old. The pump still works, but no water is forthcoming and I think I am going to have to pin the blame on the wellhead because it is 63 years old and is probably nothing more than black pipe and has finally rusted out and caved in.

The nook the pump is in has actually been a source of mustiness and cobwebs over the years and is a pain in the ass to get around in. Maybe I'll just jerk the pump and the tank out, knock the mounting pad off and seal everything up.

Then I can install a permanent light and maybe Drylock the wall and have some more usable space in the basement, but not right yet, though.

I will do this sometime in the fall after I make sure it just isn't a case of the well being temporarily dry. We'll see.

I just glanced at the clock I keep that is on UTC and it is now 11:30 in Greenwich, England. The instant I saw it I knew that it was about 0730 here.

After years of being at sea where we use basic 24 hour time, and working as an SWL as a kid and so on it is rather odd how I can look at a clock set several time zones ahead and know in an instant what is going on here.

I recall many years ago when someone brought up the subject of time. He mentioned that he used a shortwave and time ticks to set his watch and deducted the proper amount of hours for the time zone because WWV uses UTC. A guy who was a contractor shouted out, "Who the hell cares what time it is in Greenwich, England!"

Like a lot of people he wasn't even willing to take a passing glance of something as simple as time and the way things have been set up.

Years ago it was a confusing hash of local times, based on high noon at a specific geographical location. It was the event of the railroads that brought the time zones we have. Prior to that towns would set their watches by whatever, generally basing it on local high noon.

The railroads needed to syncronize their activities so they created the standardized time zones we now have.

That contractor never realized that the very cartography that laid out the plots he was building on had their finger in the pie of coordinated time.

Today time, and extermely accurate time is a very real need for things like GPS and other navigational needs.

Hell, I needed accurate time when I was crossing the Pacific in a sailboat because I was using a sextant for Pete's sake!

While I am pretty sure that I would have hit North America from Hawaii with no major sweat and I know I could have hit the Strait of Juan de Fuca by running a parallel, but having some idea of longitude sure made it a whole lot easier.

Still, I remember the answer I gave the contractor.

"A whole lot of people that have made your life a whole lot easier that you take for granted care a LOT about what time it is in Greenwich, England."

Now that I am on this subject, there are quite a few things that work and work well based on a false premise. One of them is celestial navigation. It is pretty much based on the premise that all the stars and pplanets are equidistant from the earth. As we now know, they are not, but celestial navigation works.

Another thing that comes to mind was when I blew the mind of the aforementioned contractor. He was doing what most small time general contractors do. He was basing his building upon the premise that the world was flat. In general, this works because the amount of distance something will be out of plumb in, say three stories is pretty miniscule.

For you readers to understand what I am talking about, plumb is a line that drops straight to the center of the earth. Two plumb walls in reality are not parallel, but for, say a house, it's most certainly close enough.

If you built a wall from the North pole to the Equator and plumber the both ends of the wall and carried the line down to the center of the earth the two lines would meet at a 90 degree angle.

Still, for something as small as a house, plumbing the walls is close enough.

It is when you get into something big where the curvature of the earth commes into play. What comes into my mind is the Verazzano Narrows bridge in New York Harbor.

Careful higher mathematical calculations were needed because the two end pillars on that bridge are NOT parallel. They are plumbed to the center of the earth and there is a very measurable difference between the two tops of the pillars and the bottoms of them.

Still, all in all for smaller projects things seem to work out OK basing reasonably sized construction projects on the premise that the world is flat.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

I am running a bit late and have some things to do today like get myself

a pair of shoes. This used to be a fairly simple process but is no longer because too many of them are now made with man made materiels in China.

My feet emit a hideous odor upon contact with man made materiels and if I have to wear them thick socks are a necessity. Gold Bond does do a little good, but not a whole lot.

Trying to find leather boat shoes can be done but you can bet that you are going to have to do some searching or get beaten up pretty badly in the process. They are now pretty expensive.

Although times have changed a lot over the past 6 years and things are more available and cheaper in terms of how much work something costs it seems like a lot of manufacturers have forgotten about how to make things like shoes.

Leather is the ideal materiel for boat shoes as it sort of breathes a bit and doesn't create a foul smell when the wearer skips the part about wearing socks as I have done over the years. Yet the shoemakers have opted for a non porous materiel that they will tell you is a lot better than leather.

Yeah, right. Don't feed me that crock of baloney. I won't buy it.

Another thing that makes me wonder if we are headed in the right direction is packaging. Yesterday a simple printer cable needed a sharp pair of scissors to get opened. Why is that?

It makes no sense to me to put something in a package made of materiel that is so tough that it holds the space shuttle together when cardboard and a cellophane window would do nicely. What are these people thinking?

In this 'green' society we are living in it makes little or no sense to package something in a materiel that can neither be recycled or will not break down.

I imagine that when the Pyramids of Egypt wear down to little nubs that the package that held the cable will be sitting somewhere in about as good of a condition as it was when I threw it out.

I'm not anti-technology or anti plastic by any stretch of the imagination. My house has vinyl siding on it and it wears well and will probably outlast me with little or no maintainence and that is a good thing.

My point is simply that we ought to think a little and use the right materiel for the right job.

In my case it means leather for boat shoes as I will probably not be wearing socks with them too often. We'll see what happens today.

In other gnus.

Because all ham business is conducted in UTC (formerly Greenwich Mean Time)
I have dedicated a small clock to that to make things easier when I am on the air. I carefully labeled it "GMT" in 1" black block letters and it sits next to my rig.

Virtually everyone that has seen it has told me that it needs resetting.

I am tired of it and there is a piece of flashing in the basement that I can make a small cover for it so as to prevent some helpful soul from setting it to local time for me because it I leave it there long enough some half-wit will under the guise of being helpful.

Speaking of unsolicited advice, last winter when I grew my beard a woman told me that I would look a whole lot better if I put Grecian Formula in my beard.

A few minutes later after the subject was changed, I told her that she ought to see Doctor Blanchard and how much better she would look with a bigger rack.

She turned purpla and asked me if I knew how offensive I was being.

"About as offensive as you were a couple of minutes ago when you told me I ought to put Grecian Formula in my beard," I replied, quite casually.

She stood there agape for a moment and then proved to me she had at least half the required brain.

"I see what you mean," she said.

Truth is, I like myself the way I am and don't feel the need to look like a teenager. I am a man rapidly entering old age and am embracing it. This is my 60th year and I have dedicated it to flowers and birds and I am enjoying myself because when you think about it there is nothing worse than an old man that is full of regrets.

I have no qualms that even though I have been unsuccessful in some areas I would not want to be young again and go back and change things. I simply want to move on, see what comes next and try and improve on my future.

I may not have a 75 foot yacht, but that's OK. Having the best looking garden on the street is damned sure good enough for me.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yesterday I was headed to Good Old Boy Jim's CB shop for coax

based on his website and I wound up in BFE where I spent over an hour cruising one of those little industrial parks looking for the damned place.

You''d figure that anyone in the business of making money would cheerfully sell to the public if someone camme to your shop.

The website had pictures of a nice looking store looking front room so I figured it would be a lot easier for me to just go and pick up the damned coax.

Enter a new one on me.

After I found the place they refused to do business with me.

They explained that they were an INTERNET business and ONLY an internet business and that they had no mechanism for payment other than by computer.


Now I have to go on line and buy this and then wait for the United Parcel Service to take the item and drag it to Memphis and then send it back to Pittsburgh and then put it in a truck and deliver it to me when I could simplly have driven home with it.

Of course, the mechanism I wanted to use to pay for this lousy piece of Coaxial cable was something called cash. It is green and used to need no introduction.

I guess now it does.

Is cash going away?

Maybe it is. Whoda ever thought!

Now what?

Is the paper boy going to have to get wired to MasterCard/Visa/PayPal?

How do you bribe a crooked cop? What in the world is the Godfather going to do? You can't put a six million dollar drug deal on Vissa can you?

The little kids down the street opened a sidewalk lemonade stand. How can I buytheir lemonade if cash disappers? Can you picture a five year old kid handing you a glass of sidewalk lemonade and asking you fr your VISA card?

Oh, well. Cashless society.

It's starting.

Or maybe the business I tried to buy something will fail and the world will be a better place to live.

As for the cable I wanted to buy, I got lucky. Back in the day Radio Shack used to cater to hams and shortwave listeners. The store actually has a piece of cable with pl-259s on each end. I was surprised because this cable ins't used in iPods or computers. They actually had it in stock, a leftover from the old days.


Ever wonder what the Godfather's speed dial would look like?

The truth is he would probably only have a couple numbers on it. His wife's and his attorneys, but let's have a little fun here.

#1 Freddy the Fence
#2 Larry the torch
#3 Three finger Tommy
#4 Louie the louse
#5 Armbuster Arnie
#6 Officer Krumpke (5 internets if you remember him)
#7 Shyster Salvatore
#8 Godfather's pizza
#9 Home


my other blog is:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Last night a couple of hams expressed a desire to go the green radio route

and I am putting together a little package for them about my experiences with the little manpack rig. When I am done with it I will email it to interested parties upon request.
Rained last night and I stayed off the air as T-storms were passing through. It is overcast now and today's project is to get a piece of coax to get the IC 718 up and running. This will be interesting. It arrived yesterday and it was really a frustrating day as UPS was running very late.

Seems I waited and hung around all day expecting to have to sign for it and went inside to make lunch. I turned around and saw the truck pulling away and ran downstairs to hop in my pickup to chase him down as they have a rep for hitting the door with one knuckle one time and then slapping a sticker on the door and driving off if a signature is required.

When I entered the garage there was the package.

Go figure. A wasted day of hanging out. Oh, well. At least I did get the vent for the little room I wrote about yesterday finished.
Yesterday in my quest for a length of coax I called a communications place and got a big deal on how their coax was made of pure gold and the connectors were platinum. Truth is, I think he sensed I was a ham with a new rig and therefore desperate for the cable. He acted like a hammerhead shark and went straight to his copy of 'Handbook for Gougers' and opened it to chapter 6, 'Hams with new rigs' and priced the cable appropriately at about a month's pay and a first born son.

I thanked him and later tried Good Old Boy Dave's CB shop and he want's about a quarter of what the communications shop does, and it is better cable and comes with the ends installed for a buck an end. Go figure.
Today ought to be interesting.
When the rig arrived yesterday I broke out the power supply and hooked it to the 320's charger and topped off the battery. I might go commando tonight and 'go guerilla' tonight, maybe take the slingshot and launch a wire into a tree or something and try make contact with someone. We'll see.
I'm glad I got into this radio business as it keeps me occupied. Last summer I was bored and sat around a campfire and drank beer too many nights. I really wasted a lot of the summer. It is good having something worthwhile to do and a damned sight healthier. Neighbor Bob is worrying me a bit as he has seemed to have gotten himself into a funk and has been there for a while. He misses the nightly fires and doesn't seem to be interested in much else, which sucks. I am not going back to that, though.

Besides the fact that I am learning something, my health is at stake here. You can't sit around sipping beer all night and not eventually pay for it.

This summer I have chosen a more disciplined life style and it has started to pay me back in spades. I have gotten up earlier and gotten more done and that is a good thing.

I think this is going to come to a head of sorts soon and I am going to have to explain that you can keep going ahead and learn something and keep plugging away or you can put it into 'park' and sit there.

I have opted to stay in gear and keep going. As I enter old age I plan on staying active and learning.

WHat he does will be his choice. I do not want to become a living dead person right now and refuse to do so. Still, it is hard to see a friend who was so active put it into park. Damned hard. It makes me want to cry.


In other gnus, the grandfather club guys asked me if I'd commit another major felony and I agreed. The lid will come off of the pickup and a couple of kids are going to get a ride through farm country in the back of an open pickup through the backroads of America for an evening.

I did this last year and I guess the little kids told the their bigger siblings so one of the teenagers is coming along which is a plus as there will be some leadership there. I'll have a word with him beforehand. Although the kids were good last year, I'll be able to relax a bit more with a teenager in the bed with the youngsters.

While I think that hauling kids around casually in the bed of a pickup is probably not the brightest idea in the world, no kid in the United States should go without memories of a ride through the country on a sultry night in the back of an open pickup.

WHile I try and lead a reasonable and responsible law-abiding life, there comes a time when a man has to hoist the black flag, spit on his hands and slit a few throats. Time to clip the mistletoe to my shirt-tail.

Incidentally, I have discussed this with only one grandfather as discussing it with two would make it a conspiracy and turn this into a fedreal beef.

I can see how that one would play out.

Joliet Federal prison. Clang! goes the cell door.

"Kid, wha are you here for?"

"Conspiracy to take a couple of kids for a pickup truck ride through the country."

And they all laughed and went away from me, so I added "And creating a disturbance."

And they all came back and we smoked cigarettes and discussed robbing banks, stealing cars and shootouts with the Feds. (Thanks, Arlo)

Probation time:

"I think you people have a lotta damned nerve asking me if I've rehabilitated myself for taking someone's grandkids for a ride in the country!"

Three minutes later: Clang!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Today is a day of working and waiting.

The little room below my porch was built too tight and holds in moisture which translates to mold.

Quick fix. I added a vent yesterday and I think I will add another one today along with a little 12 volt fan attached to a solar panel.

I do not think it will take a whole lot to dry this little nook out, just a little air being able to move about and that's about it.

Of course there is the "No! No! You're doing it all wrong!" crowd that will try and talk to me like I ama backward child and explain that I am supposed to have X number of feet of open vent per cubic foot of space and that I have my solar panel about a quarter degree off and how I can shine some special light on the panel at night to keep the fan running 24/7 and so on, but as usual I will ignore them.

They will tell me that I am supposed to have the air completely change in the little room 12.75834 times per hour and the vents should be 12.915 square feet for the little 5x7 room and that the fan should be 17 inches in diameter with a pitch of 3.14832 and turn 1404 rpm with a .03 hp motor and that my solar panel should be on a frame that changes daily with a special init that will both rotate and change pitch to follow the sun, with a computerized unit to adjust the frame to keep up with the daily changes of the sun's relationship to the earth.

Total cost? $347,942.63.

Yeah, right.

Two vent screens, Lowe's. $6.53. One auto part's store fan, $10.98, One solar panel, Piccolo's garage, $0.00 and we're off to the races.

Of course, the experts will moan, wail, gnash their teeth and cry out that I am doing it all wrong, but they have not taken the time to look at WHAT I am doing.

First of all, we are not talking about an operating room at West Allegheny General Hospital where a single mold spore can kill some poor guy getting a liver transplant.

We're talking about a simple little nook that is six sides of conctete and is used to store rakes, shovels, hoes and other implements of destruction. Occasiaonally after a big rain the floor gets a little damp and with nowhere for it to go the rainwater makes the place get a little musty.

All I need is a little air movement and I am good to go.

While I know that I will not eliminate 100% of the problem, I do know that I can eliminate about 99.9% of the problem and that's a whole lot better than nothing and the truth is that is certainly good enough for me.

The solar panel will be in an out of the way place and will run at least a couple of hours a day in the winter and a lot more than that in the summer and that's all the place needs is a little air movement. Hell, when you get right down to it, I don't really need the fan, but when I can get it powered by the sun, why not use it.

I already have the vent in above the door so I think that today I will put in the lower vent on the door.

See ya. I gotta get to work.

my other blog is:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

There is a restaurant in the Monroeville, PA area

that has banned children under six years old from coming in. The report I read says that emails are pouring in and this move is supported by an 11 to 1 margin.

It is a private enterprise and as far as I am concerned I have no problem with that whatsoever. For years I have always held with the idea of free enterprise and I have always figured a restaurant owner should have the right to refuse service to anyone and for just about any reason.

I very well might go and dine there sometime simply because it is a place where I can go and not have to listen to someone's darling little spoiled brat.

It would be nice to be able to go to a restaurant and sit down and eat and not worry that I have left my piano wire garrotte at home and eat knowing that I won't need it to strangle some misbehaving little whelp that has decided to cut loose with the shriek. Most of you readers know what 'the shriek' is. It is that loud, shrill high pitched noise that spoiled brats make to get their own way. You know the one. The sound that is like having an ice pick stuck in your ear.

Enter MOB.

Mothers of Brats, the new organization of parents that think that the rest of us should be forced to put up with their darling little misbehaving children anywhere any time any place the parents decide to take them.

They will pop out of the woodwork and start caterwallering about how it isn't fair that the big mean restaurant owner doesn't want to cater to their little squalling spawn from hell.

Now, you may think I do not like children, but that is not the case. I like kids and in reality I don't mind dining around them whatsoever if they behave themselves. My gripe is with those parents that do not control their children. I have gone out to dinner before and offered well behaving kids a dessert and complimented the parents on having such well behaved kids. I enjoy having them around so long as they behave themselves.

No, it won't be long before the Mothers of Brats organize and start raising cain and ruining things for the rest of us. They will take this to court and nine old farts will decide that the rest of us have to have these brats inflicted on us because it is age discrimination.

Of course, then the restaurant might take another tack and if they do it might be fun to watch.

Since day one establishments have had the right to throw people out because of their conduct. I have opened the exit door with my face a few times over the years and looking back on it I deserved it. I was conducting myself in an unsuitable manner and was shown the door. Fair enough.

It would be interesting to watch some big bruiser bouncer type pick up a four year old and gently take him and carefully place him outside the door. The ensuing parental involvement would be a horror show of epic proportions and a hoot to watch. Indignant parents would stand up, the mother would freak out and inside of a few short seconds the parents would be joining their little spawn outside on the porch. Maybe the parents could open the door with their face, too.

This would not bother me a whit, in fact I would probably be entertained because it would be a sight to behold, worthy of the Jerry Springer Show.

Of course, MOB would get involved but they probably would not be able to do a whole lot because this is not an age issue, but one of conduct. The kid didn't behave himself and got chucked out. So what? This happens to adults all the time. Where's the age discrimination?

MOB wanted to fight the restaurant on the basis of age and just got themselves a valuable lesson. With rights go responsibility. The kid wasn't thrown out because of age, the kid was chucked out for reasons of conduct. Tango Sierra.

It is going to be interesting how this deal in Monroeville, PA pans out.

Incidentally, the people I blame for this are those lousy parents that take their misbehaving kids out for all of us to tolorate. It is another case of things being 'dumbed down' by the actions of a few.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lookee what I done

my other blog is:

Japanese beetles are on my zinnias

so I went to the nursery to get something to take care of things.

The guy there is somewhat of a kindred soul. He understands my sarcasm.

He looked around to make sure no hippie dippie types or women were listening.

"You want some hippie product or just plain old napalm to fry the little bastards?"

In a minute I was coming home with something that I KNOW will do the job.

Adios, beetles.

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As I look out the window I see Bunny Rabbbit

who is eating grass from my lawn. He sure has grown fast. It seems ike just a day or so ago he was a baby and now he is a young adult wabbit.

I have my flowers to look at and the birds are flitting about. The garden sure looks good this year and I have the best flower garden on the street. Like with a lot of things I do it makes the neighbors wonder because of the paradox of me being a rough and tough Old School sailor that grows flowers and watches the deer and rabbits.

The garden is nothing less than drop dead gorgeous and the neat part about it is that I MIGHT have all of $20 in it and the flowers are FAR more healthy than the ones you buy in flats at nurseries and home improvement stores. Some of the stalks are well over a half-inch in diameter and that's pretty stout for a marigold.

I think today will be a Miata day as it looks like it will be sunny all day and I can use the vitaman D.

Last night 80 meters was pretty clear and I made a couple of quick contacts in New York and Michigan with the little manpack rig.

Monday the black set will arrive and I will be setting that up. It is an Icom IC-718 which is a respectable set, sort of like a good Toyota, with 100 watts of output, three times the power of the PRC 320.

My first love in this ham business will always be guerilla radio because I think it is pretty neat to take a slingshot and shoot monofiliment line over a tree and use it to drag an improvised antenna up a tree and then contact someone.

There is a spot along US 30 I am thinking of making a pilgrimage to to set up the masts from and see what I can do on 40 meters.

I am liiking out the window and there is the antenna running back into the way-back and it is hot pink. I specifically bought hot pink wire not because I like the color, which I do. I bought the color because I am wise enough to know that things like antennas drop after storms and that color is very visable and decreases the liklihood of getting hit by a lawn mower or tripped over. I rewired the counterpoise with red wire for the same reason. Red was chosen because I couldn't find orange or pink of the proper gauge.

The Rifleman is on in the background and for those younger readers it is an old early sixties Western rerun. The star, Chuck Conners, was a professional baseball and basketball player before he went into acting.

According to my clock there are eleven minutes left until Lucas (Conners) picks up his rifle and turns some evildoer into hamburger.

Yesterday I returned a clock I bought from Radio Shack because it would now display UTC (formerly GMT). It was set up for the 4 CONUS time zones and that was now what I bought it for. Too bad, it had a big display and i would have had it set for UTC, which you need in a hurry when you are running a ham station as all times are recorded in UTC. Off to the Dollar Store, I suppose as I'd bet they have one there pretty cheap.

I have to get some kind of bug spray as I have seen a couple of Japanese beetles in the zinnias eating away. An M-1 is too much rifle to do the job so I suppose there is some kind of spray or powder I can use to run them off.

It's 0900 so I guess I better start my day.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Well, last night I went and did it.

Guerrilla radio operations commenced last night at Wally World.

I tossed the PRC-320 into the back of the Miata and headed off to Wally World to start my little guerilla radio operation. The object of which is to get a solid QSO from off the wall locations around town using the set not as a home set, but as a combat rig which is what it was designed for. The rig is designed for quick communications in primitive conditions and I could not think of a more savage place than Wally World. The infighting that takes place there on Black Friday is without a doubt some of the most brutal fighting in the world.

Seasoned infantrymen are known to break down and cry when their wives send them out there and the Battle of the Christmas Furby dolls a few years back has left more than one store warrior with serious PTSD problems.

I whipped into the lot and instantly got out with a slingshot in hand and saw a likely looking light pole to hang an antenna from and let fly. A 3/4 ounce fishing sinker attached to monofiliment went whistling over the top of the pole without any problems or busted windshields which was a plus. The monofiliment was attached to a piece of 550 paracord which was attached to a 27.5 meter piece of ordinary wire to serve as a field expedient antenna.

A home brew counterpoise was quickly laid out and in under three minutes I was on the air on 40 meters.

I ambled through the 40 meter band and found a net that was going to start up in New York I and jumped in and took my place and waited. When I heard I was on deck I stood by and waited and then it became my turn.

I gave the obligatory weather synopsis and a description of my rig and location explaining that I was in the Wally World lot with my manpack rig, then I signed off and that was that.

The antenna came down, the counterpoise was folded up. As I was folding the counterpoise up a couple came by and asked me what I was up to and I simply told them, "Ham radio operator conducting an emergency drill."

They nodded and he asked me where I had made contact. When I told him I was talking to the Syracuse area he looked impressed. He told me they had watched the entire thing and was impressed with how fast I managed toset things up.

The Piccolo road show with the PRC 320 is officially underway.

Now I have to get a special set of QSL cards printed up for this little extravaganza.

We'll see.

my other blog is:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

First day back

is my 'ass day' in that I sit on my ass and do whatever the hell I feel like.

Last night I got drafted to snag someone at the airport which makes me grin because of something I did about 40 years ago that I STILL get teased about.

Back when I was in the service and home on leave I was asked to go into Logan and pick someone up. I had done this from time to time for the past few years. He was a businessman and really quite a colorful character.

He had the obligatory 2 cars, of course. One was a nice luxury car and the other was a dilapidated beat up old jalopy that the neighborhood kids would work on to keep running because we thought it was funny to see a big shot tooling around in such a rat. The car had a name, it was called 'Vomit'.

Anyway, I had a pretty slick idea on how to bust this guys chops and called a friend.

I donned a suit. Yes, the kind you wear with a necktie. Sheesh! I ain't THAT much of a hick. Oh, yeah. I also wore my GI lowquarters, those shiny black FBI shoes.

I went into my toy box and found a set of handcuffs I had come across somewhere and off we went to Logan. We took his car as we usually did.

He was expecting me to show, so my cohort sat down with a newspaper with a hole in it keeping out of sight at the luggage rack awaiting the pair of us. My partner was dressed sort of biker-ish and would easily pass as an undercover officer if he was with me.

I met him at the gate, which you could do back then and we went to the luggage carousel and waited. I knew his bag from past pickups and when I saw it I snagged it.

My cohort had put down his paper and had sneaked up behind him.

I pulled the bag off of the carousel, quickly opened it and gave my cohort a somber nod.

"Patrick O'Donnell, Federal marshals.You're under arrest for distribution of narcotics!" he said authoritativly and quickly cuffed him before he knew what had happened.

I picked up the bag in my right hand and took his arm with the other and the pair of us escorted him out of the airport in handcuffs for all to see.

He protested the entire way until we got him out of the terminal where we uncuffed him. When we got to the car he figured he'd get his pound of flesh so he hopped in and quickly locked the doors figuring to drive off and leave us stranded at the airport parking lot.

As he was putting the key in the ignition, my cohort rapped on the window and held up a distributor rotor.

He blushed, shook his head and unlocked the door and let us in.

When we got in he asked us if we had plans on reinstalling the rotor and my partner in crime grinned and said, It came out of his MG.

That's when he caved in and had a fit of uncontrolable laughter. He had been set up by a couple of pros and knew it.

We laughed about it all the way home.

Of course, someone we knew saw the whole thing and it went all over town but back then people would laugh such shenanigans off. Today there would be penalty markers thrown for that one.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I am home now and opening up the house

which is a pain in the ass with all of the little things that have to be done.

There was the good feeling of being home amplified by seeing tthe beautiful garden in full bloom. It simply exploded while I was away and the Zinnias went wild, and the marigolds took off. It looks real nice.

The internet router gets turned on and the little shut-off beneath the toilet gets opened, the A/C goes on and the thermostat is reset.

I stopped for a little grub on the way so I am good to go for a couple of days.

My grubbies are in the wash and now it is time to set up an antenna for tonight's radio activity.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Unless something FUBAR happens I get off of this rig at 0600 tomorrow am

which means the rest of the day will be spent cleaning this pig sty up.

One thing nice, though.

I do not have to buy opera tickets.

Those damned J.G. Wentworth have been on the tube constantly for the past week so I see no need to go to the damned opera when I get home.

And that is a good thing.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

one of the things about being at sea

that drives a person nuts is being on the edge of internet and cell service.

It is a frustrating mess of dropped calls and 'Internet Explorer cannot display this webpage' that is intermittent.

Now last summer when I was in the Gulf of Mexico cleaning up the BP mess we would be out of cell/net range for over a week at a time. Please to note that I said 'out of range', meaning that we had NO service at all.

Now there were constantly bars on out cell phones but we quickly discovered that they were from the various oil rigs out there and that they were no good to me as I have a simple cell service through Wally World and Tracfone and they were not part of the oil rig system.

One of the guys thought he would do something r another and found out that the call he made home from one of the rigs cost him an arm and a leg so for practical purposes we were out of cell range.

Our internet service runs through cell towers so that generally put the kibosh on things.

That we can live with. When something is broken it can be lived with because it is a constant. You get used to a constant. There is nothing you can do to change things so you simply learn to live with it and that is simply that.

On the other hand, when you have something that works on a part time basis you have frustration based on hope and expectation.

It gets frustrating hoping you can get a project done only to have things go to hell on you when the signal drops or the electrical gods turn their head. You have to start.

Incidentally, any financial things that take place are thrown into bedlam and chaos. Out here it is common knowledge never to either buy something or pay for something unless you have a certain strong signal.

Still, there have been blog posts that have had to be reposted and emails that have had to be rewritten and that can be a royal cause for frustration. Most people hate doing things over and over again.

It will drive a person nuttier than a cukoo clock factory at midnight, as my father used to say.

Many years ago I had a radial arm saw that used to work when it felt like it and it was dangerous because you would position the work, snap the switch and sometimes nothing would happen. You'd smack it a couple times and it would start and when it did you would not quite be ready for it.

Finally one time the damned thing was being cantankerous and I finally flew off the handle and fixed it so that it would be reliable. Cursing loudly I used an old fire axe on it and hammered it into a twisted piece of wreckage and crammed the wreckage alongside the foundation of the house I was building at the time where it became part of the backfill. It became very reliable. From then on I knew I could count on it to rust in peace, and I believe it is there doing that to this very day.

While I admit it drew looks from coworkers that told me I was an inch from being carted off by nice young men in clean white coats, it sure felt pretty good both to vent the frustration and simply make further annoyances go away.

It is now among the most reliable things I can think of. It can be relied on to decay.

Anyway, I am, as I write this, in a fringe area and I sure hope we can either go into a place where the signal gets better or dies out all together because it is just plain frustrating.

my other blog is:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I very seldom if ever say anything about another race, creed or color but I think there is always time for a nice exception.

A while ago I lightered a ship and the deck crew was Filipino. The instant I saw that I relaxed because I knew that everything was going to be all right. The instant I heard the sing-song chatter of Tagalog I knew everything would be all right.

There is something special about these people and I suppose that the guy who called them the Irish of the Pacific really wasn't all that too far off. Most of them are Catholic. (Which means nothing to me.) They enjoy beer and a good time and for the most part seem to have very good dispositions. They are kind and generous and from the way they work so well together, they are just about the best seamen out here.

A shipmate once said that if you have only one Filipino on a ship you have a sad soul, but add another for him to bounce off of and you have a wonderful asset aboard any ship. I guess they are just like the Irish in that they are social beings.

When I lived in Kodiak there was a pretty good sized Filipino community there and I generally got along very well with a number of members of the community there. I was invited into a number of their immaculate homes and enjoyed their hospitality.

A number of them also joined in on a so-called St. Patrick's day parade one year in Kodiak. It was pretty funny seeing them wearing the green, but you have to realize that there was a shortage of Irishmen there so we did what we had to do and filled in the ranks with a few Norwegians, Swedes, Aleuts, Filipinos and whatever else we could scrape up.

(Parade, my ass! It was nothing but a damned Pub crawl!)

While I do not doubt that there is a dark side, it is just nice to be around what I see as basically happy people. I hope that in the future the rest of the deck crews I have to work with are like these guys. It is fun to work with them.

The reason this came up is because a few minutes ago a shipmate and I were yakking about the lightering job. These can get wierd in a heartbeat, but we both agreed that as soon as we saw the deck crew was Filipino we both relaxed.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

A couple of people have asked me about my ham rig.

It is a British made RT-320-L, made by Plessy, a British outfit. The 'L' indicates that the SSB mode in in lower side band, while the non-'L' rigs are in upper sideband. Mine was actually made for export to Yugoslavian forces, but it looks like it was never issued.

It covers pretty much the entire HF band except for 160 meters, between 2 Mhz and 30 Mhz.

It is a manpack rig and it came with a backpack to carry it in, but there are also pack frames available for it. It was designed for company level communicatons and can easily been toted about by one man. It runs on a 24 volt battery and has a generator kit as an accessory that can be used to keep the battery charged indefinitly.

It has a built in antenna tuner and there are a number of antenna configurations ranging from a whip to longwire to dipole arrangements, including a 5.4 meter mast kit. All of the accessories are designed for portable field use and are easily broken down or wound into neat little packages that can easily be man packed.

I bought it with a lot of accessories, as I have a tendency to keep all of my options open and I am seriously thinking of tossing the rig into my vehicle and taking it on the road with me to set up in odd places to try my luck.

There is a mountain top along US 30 that looks like it ought to be a pretty good place to set up my little station and report on things I see from such a vantage point and the fact that I can do this without AC power sounds pretty cool to me.

It ought to make for an interesting time, and I am seriously thinking of making a special QSL card for little ventures of this sort. Kind of an 'On the road' QSL card.

We'll see. It sounds like a 40 meter venture.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Today is a day of busy-ness

Shortly I will be jumping through my arse so if I don't get a decent post in that's the way the cookies crumble.

I MAY get time later

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to set up a ham radio tower in a residential neighborhood.

The first step, of course, is to simply set it up and leave it there for a month or so with not so much as an antenna or lead-in attached to it. This will give you a chance to listen to all of the neighbors that are jerks to call the various authorities and complain of all of the interference you are not causing and permits them to cut their own throats.

It also helps to shut down you rigs during the month so as to make sure they can't play the angle of "That damned tower is going to make things worse".

A month or six weeks is ample time for them to flap their traps and call the various city agencies and register their complaints and it is pretty likely they will as they really have nothing against ham radio itself. They just want the tower down because they think it is destroying the view or is an eyesore. A month or six weeks is ample time for them to cut their own throats and have the municipality see them for what they are.

As for the eyesore complains, paint a bunch of rocks white and encircle the base and put a pretty flower on all four sides. You can then say you have landscaped it tastefully. If they do not buy that, simply get an old bathtub and half bury it facing the tower and put a Virgin Mary statue in it with a spotlight shining down on her 24/7.

Tell them it is a religions shrine

It is necessary now make sure you have a friend or two that will testify that you have not even attached an antenna to the tower because it is likely that one of these idioits is going to call you a liar and you want to have a leg to stand on.

Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a fellow ham on the local police department that has been through this there is another tack to try.

Have him take any complaints from the neighbors and maybe you can get a scenario like this to take place:

"Officer, that man is causing interference to my TV with his radio station."

"Yes, Sir. When did this interference take place?"

"Last night."

"Funny. He was in jail last night. How could he have been on the air?"

"Uh...uh...Well... Well...Uh...Whatwasheinjailfor?"

"There was a brawl it the club last night and he put four Penn State football players in the hospital. We released him this morning as it was determined that he didn't start anything. He sure finished it, though!"

"Oh, FOUR Penn State football players? In the hospital?"

"Yeah. Multiple broken bones. It took six of us to wrestle him into the car. You really don't want to get the guy mad at you."

"Uh...uh...I guess the interference came from someone else..."

"Must have."

You are now free to install your antennas and lead ins and go on the air.

In the event you don't have a police officer, you can try plan 2.

Get a couple of big olive complexioned guys and put them in suits and rent or borrow a limo and have the pair visit the complainer.

"Mistah Piccolo is da bawsses FAVORITE nephew and da boss is glad to see him innerested in ham radio so he stays outta trouble. By da way, what sized cement shoes do you wear?"

There is another angle that can be played, too.

You act concerned and look thoughtful and listen carefully.

After they have voiced their concerns, you reply thoughtfully with, "I was afraid of that. Now I'm going to have to add another fifty feet to the tower to cut down on the interference that I am not causing."

All it takes is a little imagination.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Well, Casey Anthony pretty much got off the hook.

I am not going to gripe and bellyache about how she was probably guilty as all hell and the usual yada yada yada about how a murderer is walking the streets and so on. it really isn't fair as twelve good tried and true citizens of the state of Florida have said that she was not guilty of Murder one and most of the other charges.

What I think happened here is simply that the state over reached and tried to get a conviction on a capital case when they had no real hard evidence.

Several years ago there was a rape case that a friend of mine sat on a jury for. The jury failed to hand down a conviction.

A few days after the case was over I ran into him and asked him about it.

He looked at me and said, "Pic, that guy was without a doubt a scumbag that was guilty of something. He truly ought to be in jail so he can't infect the rest of the world. That being said, the entire jury simply felt that the state did not have enough evidence for us to hand down a rape conviction even though we all wished otherwise. We simply couldn't pin the rape charge on him."

I guess that is a part of what happened here, but only a part.

The other part is political. The DA wanted a high profile conviction and decided that a high profile conviction would look good on his record. The DA was likely thinking that a conviction on this case would further his career.

The DA's office overreached a bit and decided to turn this into a high profile case instead of simply plea bargaining with Anthony. Had they done that they would have probably been able to put her away for a while. Instead they decided to turn this into a high profile case and try and convince the jury that she was guilty with a bunch of junk science and circumstantial evidence instead of coming up with hard evidence.

The DA's office rolled the dice and lost.

Incidentally, the day after I spoke of the rape case with my friend the defendant ran into him and started to thank him for letting him off. My friend spit on him and told him he wished the state had done a better job of proving the case. Unfortunately a fight did not break out. The defendant did the smartest thing he ever did in his life. He took off like a shot.

As to what will happen to Casey Anthony?

She'll most likely do something stupid and get nailed the next time. With any luck the state will pull its act together and win a conviction and she'll probably get put away. We haven't seen the last of her.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What kind of people work on the water

People sometimes ask me about what kind of people go to sea.

Of course, what I give for an answer depends on who is asking because even if I tell the truth there are a lot of peole that do not believe it. Then again, more often than not people do not believe the truth anyway. I suppose that truth is stranger than fiction and people tend not to believe strange things.

Anyway, the people around me are a complete hash. They come from all walks of life and enter this business from all sorts of places.

Educationally, they range from having master's degrees all the way to not even finishing grammar school.

Backgrounds vary to extremes and reasons for working on the water are the same. They vary from individual to individual, too.

The merchant marine is sometimes thought of as being a place that harbors criminals. Years ago that may have had a little truth to it, but these days that really isn't true. For one thing, the mandatory drug testing programs have done a fairly good job of keeping the druggies out of the business and for another the Coast Guard does a pretty good job of investigating backgrounds. In the computer age there really is little chance of hiding out here.

WHile some of us may have criminal backgrounds behind us, and I know of a couple, it generally is not of a very serious nature. Again, the computer age has made it easy for law enforcement types to keep an eye on things.

There is really no rhyme nor reason to why a person would make a career on the water.

One thing about it, though, it's pretty performance oriented and all of the shoreside crap makes little difference out here. I've seen tug skippers that have little or no formal education nestle a 250,000 barrel oil barge alongside a dock so gently it wouldn't break an egg. I've seen King's Pointers do the same thing.

I've also seen the inverse, too where the guy with all the paper credentials in the world can't even seem to anchor a barge and tug rig in a mill pond without a major three ring circus taking pace. Guys like this, no matter what their background, get weeded out pretty fast. There's just plain too much money at stake here to permit a Captain Crunch to tear things up.

One of the things about this job is that even though you may not have a lot of formal education you can still go places in this industry. There are more than one person out here that started as an ordinary seaman mopping decks and cleaning heads that have worked their way up to running the entire boat.

While it is still true today, recent rule changes have begun to make this scenario a little more difficult because the requierments for licensing are changing. Still, though, if a man wants to work at it he can come out here and go as far as his brains and drive will take him.

This business attracts a somewhat odd breed, and the one thing I seem to see out here is that most of the guys simply do not like the idea of living a 9-5 life on the beach.

I guess the truth of the matter as to what kind of person is out here and why is that there are about as many reasons as they are people. Still, we're an odd breed.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Today is the Fourth of July.

Yesterday a shipmate asked me when they were going to mail a parcel for me from the United Kingdom.

"Tomorrow", I replied.

"But it is a holiday," he replied. "It's the Fourth of July."

"It's not a holiday in the United Kingdom," I replied.

He looked at me. "Oh, yeah. I forgot. They don't have a fourth of July over there."

"Right," answered. "They skip that day."

I got a pretty sheepish look for that one. "OK, Mister Smarty Pants, they DO have a fourth of July over there, but it isn't a holiday."

"That's why they can send me my parcel tomorrow," I replied.


That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

My shipmate has been watching the Casey Anthony murder case in Florida as I have mentioned previously.

One of the my shipmate has pointed out to me is that the story keeps changing constantly and the defendants parents and yada yada yada.

From what little I have seen of the case because it is on the tube in the background for the past few days makes me think that the defense is playing the game of every time the prosecution pokes a hole or two in the defenses arguement, they change the story.

It sure does not make the defense look very strong in this case and it puts them on the ropes.

If I were on the jury and was watching the constantly changing story I would not think too highly of the defense.

Now, I have never claimed to be a candidate for sainthood, nor have I any plans on running for Pope, but over the years I have gotten off the hook once or twice by simply telling my story and sticking to it.

I have never had any serious charges brought up against me, but several years ago there were a few tiffs involving a previous employer and a jerk for a supervisor. We had an air conditioning unit replaced and a couple of weeks later, long after we had disposed of the broken unit, the company decided we ought to turn it in.

We hadn't ditched the unit in a dumpster, but had given it to a dockman to tinker with to use in the dock shack and stay comfortable with if he could fix the darned thing. He eventually did mend it and it was actually a win for our company from a public relations point of view. He was good to us from then on and probably saved us fifty times the cost of a brand new unit because he gave us great service from then on.

Anyway, the jerk supervisor came aboard and asked about it. I told him that it had been stolen by a short little man in a green shirt and blue pants and a pointy little beard and he had run off with it.

It was a ridiculous story and of course, he didn't believe it for a single second, and I didn't expect him to believe it. I got away with this silly tale simply because there was no way he could refute it. Of course, the supervisor was not a popular person and a couple of people came to my aid and substantiated my story, but still, I have to say that the reason I got away with is is because I simply stuck with my story.

For the next couple of weeks I was questioned, requestioned, hassled and pestered over this and I simply stuck to this ridiculous story and bided my time until he found something else a little more worthwhile to waste his time on and he finally went away.

Of course, we are not discussing a murder trial here, only a piece of broken equipment that was going to be thrown out anyway. Still, the constantly changing defense sure doesn't make things look good for the defendant.

She'd have been a whole lot better off simply sticking to her original story and passionately defending it even though the prosecution poked a couple of holes in it here and there.

After all, in a court case it is generally pretty simple. All the defendant has to do is poke one hole in the prosecutions case. The prosecution has to present an airtight case against the defense in order to secure a guilty verdict.

The prosecution can poke all the holes it wants to in the defense's case and unless their case is airtight they probably will not secure a conviction. The burden of proof is on the state.
---------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------

It is now a little later and I have been watching a little more of the case and the judge is an interesting part of this case. He is a serious, no nonesense type which seems to be hidden by his speech and manner.

He is not a polished speaker by any sense of the imagination. His speech is far from the articulate speech you tend to associate with a judge. His lack of articulation sort of hides the fact that he is as sharp as a tack.

He seems to keep things running on track which is good, of course and he makes sure that both sides present things to the jury in a way that they can easily understand and lets neither side hide behind a snow job or a bunch of ununderstandable gibberish.

The other day when he gave the misbehaving youngster 6 days for contempt of court it showed me that he was thoughtful and not just some guy sitting there awaiting retirement.

I guess this is a case of judging a book by its cover. The judge does not really carry himself as being the sharpest person I have ever seen on the bench, but when you watch him for a while you see that he's pretty damned good at what he does. There's a lot to be said about this guy.
One of the things I see happening in high-profile court cases is a District Attorney that wants to win at any cost and it galls me to no end.

I am not being a bleeding heart for some mother accused of killing her kid. If she is in fact guilty, they sure as all hell ought to make her pay, and from what I see of her defense attorney and the way he is playing closing arguements I sure would not want to be in her shoes. It sure seems that the woman is going to get some serious time or even lose her life.

Her attorney acts like he is on the ropes and is just hemming and hawing and blowing up a big smoke screen. If he had any real fact she would be a lot more sure of himself. Instead all he appears to be doing is trying to blow a lot of smoke up the ass of 12 jurors.

The thing I happened to think earlier about is that the DA probably doesn't give a damn if the accused is guilty or innocent. He just wants to win the case.

It makes me wonder how many DAs over the years have either hidden or failed to disclose evidence that might make an acquital possible.

I look at a criminal case not as an opportunity to hang someone or let someone go based on the arguements of two adversarial attorneys. I look at it as a search for truth.

This is the reason I am against the death penalty. There are an awful lot of liars in this world.

At least if somewhere on down the line they find out that the DA was less than honorable you can at leat release the poor bastard and compensate him somehow for his time. You can't do that to someone if they are dead.

One of my shipmates is a former police officer and he has seen a lot more time in court than I have and his opinion is interesting.

Had the woman simply drowned the little girl and called 911 and turned on the waterworks and stuck to her story this woud now likelly be behind her, she would have probably gotten probation and counseling and be free to party her life away.

Accidental drownings of children happen quite often in Floridian swimming pools and the system that would, of course, investigate the case probably would not have spent millions on theinvestigation and she probably would have gotten away with it.


The Jury is now out on the Casey Anthony trial and now the media is scrambling to fill in air time and discuss what everyone is having for lunch and a bunch of other worthless crap.

Why don't they just show a Bugs Bunny cartoon or something worthwhile?

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

In and out of internet service today.

Today will be a day of in and out internet service which is fairly common out here off the coast. We go in and out.

It is one of those irritating things that make you think about things a bit.

Generally I get pretty frustrated when I have a tool or piece of equipment that works when it feels like it. Some years ago I had a radial arm saw that did that and it got to the point where it was so frustrating that it became out and out dangerous so I turned it into a reliable piece of equipment by working on it with an old fire axe. When I was done working on it it could be counted on to do absolutely nothing but sit there and occupy space.

The internet situation here is a little different.

Allthough you go in and out of the signal periodically you can still at least get a few things done.

This post has been written on WordPad and as soon as we get back into range it will be posted in the period of just a few seconds.

Oddly enough, we get TV reception out here and a shipmate is glued to the Case Anthony trial which is a Florida case where a mother is accussed of murdering her child. He has been watching it since it started because he finds it interesting for some reason or another.

I do not find the trial interesting at all, really but my shipmate brought my attention to an interesting little sidebar in the trial.

Apparentlly there was one of the spectators giving the prosecutiors the finger and making faces at them.

The judge brought the entire trial to a screeching halt and hauled the young man up to the front, sat him down and brought him up short. The lad got six days in the slam for contempt of court.

For a minute or so I thought that it was a bit light, but on second thought that is probably about right. The kid got slapped down and will get a week in the cooler to learn that there are consequences to his actions. It will serve as a wake-up call for him.

It was a stupid thing for the kid to do and the kid gets an early lesson in life that stupid hurts.

I don't have a problem with that.

I'd just love to hear what the kid's parents have to say about that. I'd just bet they are moaning and wailing and carrying on about how the kid has First Amendment rights.

OK, the kid has First Amendment rights. Take them outside. You do not disrupt court when a woman is on trial for her life.

Back in my time if I had gotten six days in the slam for contempt of court it would have been the longest six days of my life because I would have been sitting in my cell contemplating the worst part of the punishment which would take place when I got released and my parents got ahold of me. Dad would have blown the whistle and thrown out a penalty marker for a stunt like that.

Anyway, it looks like Casey Anthony is going to draw the 'Go to jail' Monopoly card. She won't pass 'Go' and she definitely will not collect $200.

Of course, that is a guess based on my shipmate's guess as I have seen very little of the trial as I have no real interest in it.

ANyway, that's my post for the day and as soon as we get back into range it will be posted.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

My first QSO. With apologies to the Brits.

The rig had arrived the day earlier and I had gone through it like a kid with a new toy.

I checked everything out and went carefully through the manual and set everything up. I installed the generator which I had snagged somewhere else along the line, and hooked up the necessary ancilleries.

Having planned on trying it out that night, I was disappointed a bit to find my schedule was jammed up pretty good and by the time I had gotten everything done it was really a little too late, but I went to bed knowing the following evening was free.

During the following day I had a bright idea that made me grin. I decided that seeing it was a British rig, I ought to do it up right and dress the part. Never mind that most Brits don't dress or act like I was going to, nosiree. As many Hollywood types have said before, "Let's not let the facts get in the way of a good movie!"

Hollywood time!

As the sun went down I got dressed and set up the rig. I was dressed for the occasion in a pith hemet, khaki safari jacket, matching shorts and knee socks standing by my rig holding a glass of quinine water with a slice of lime in it. To top it off, there was a Webley MkIV strapped to my hip.

Ramar of the Jungle!

Ok, Ok, so I really needed a pencil thin moustache to be Ramar of the Jungle, but close enough.

My neighbor saw me setting the rig up and wandered over.

"Ah, Francisco," I said. "Perhaps you could send me over a native boy to turn the generator?"

My neighbor, Frank, smirked. I seldom address him as Francisco unless I am either up to mischief or being sarcastic or theatrical. He picked up on it at once, wandered back home and returned with his son.

The boy was wearing one of his dad's khaki shirts, and around his waist was a towel. The shirt was so big on him that the tails stuck out below the towel wrapped around his waist. As he approached, I saw there was a chicken bone taped to his upper lip.

"The bone is a nice touch," I said. "Costuming is excellent."

They both grinned and the father said, "You don't think I was going to ram the bone through his nose for this, do you?"

"Certainly not," I replied, in a hokey David Niven voice. "He looks good enough as it is. Besides, it would clash with his red hair and freckles."

I showed the boy how to crank the generator and explained to him to stop when I told him to.

"If I get an Academy Award for this, I'll drag you along as Best Supporting Actor," I said to the kid.

"Mr. Piccolo, sometimes you're a nut," said the kid.

All three of us laughed.

Just then my cell phone went off. It was Neighbor Bob, and his timing could not have been more perfect. The ringtone I have on the phone for when he calls is the Tarzan yell. All three of us howled with laughter. Frank and I instinctively started looking around for the elephant herd to come charging through the neighborhood. We both grew up on Tarzan movies.

I fired up the rig and went on 40 meters and tuned the antenna. Then I put on the headset and started calling on empty frequencies, "CQ, CQ, CQ," I said, following it with my callsign.

No answer. Between tries the kid spun the crank. After a while I saw him grow a little tired.

"Cut!" I said. After all, I'm the one directing this little make-believe movie. Then I spun the crank for a while. The kid deserved a rest. I did, however, call him a barmey little savage in my David Niven voice. He looked up at me with somewhat of a hurt look. I grinned at him.

"It's in the script," I said. "The Great White hunter always abuses the natives."

"Why is that?" asked the kid.

"Because it makes him look like a bigger jerk," I replied, and the kid looked relieved.

"Unless, of course, he is Ramar of the Jungle," I added. "He's always a good guy and treats the natives well."

"Why him?"

"He's the hero of the show, and besides he has one important thing; He has a pencil thin moustache."

Frank snickered at the look on the boy's face.

"The Boston Blackie kind?" Frank asked.

"You got it", I replied.

"Who was Boston Blackie, anyway? I just heard of him in the Jimmy Buffett song." asked Frank, making me feel as old as I am.

"A black and white TV era detective," I answered. Suddenly I felt ancient.

Finally after a few tries on 40 meters I heard voices and realized I was on some sort of a net. I waited for my turn and when it came I checked in with my call sign and got his. I explained that this was my first QSO to the other ham and he sounded delighted to hear it.

He told me he was in Leesburg, Virginia, over 200 miles away!

I fished a pen out of my safari jacket pocket and scribbed down his callsign, the frequency, time and a little other data and signed off the net.

Then I shut the rig down, picked it up and brought it inside. I don't believe in pushing my luck.
I also put the Webley back where it belonged. Firearms and gin do not mix well.

When I came out I had two gin and tonics and a coke. I handed the boy the coke and the drink to his dad. We sat and I have to admit I savored the moment.

Then I looked at the boy. "You can take that barmey bone out of your nose now," I said in my David Niven voice.

The kid untaped the bone and threw it across the garage and it went straight into the trash can. It was a pretty good shot.

"Thanks, Mr. Pic, it was getting kind of itchy," he replied.

I looked at Frank, "Whaddya think? The boy deserve a Best Supporting Actor award?"

Frank looked thoughtfully, "He did well," he said.

"Maybe sometime I'll teach you to make a crystal set radio out of a razor blade, a safety pin and some wire," I said to the kid.

"He can do that, Dad?" the kid asked his father.

"He sure can," answered his father. "He did it a while back and I heard it. It's pretty neat"

It was a fun night in the Piccolo residence driveway that night and some day soon I'll make a foxhole radio for the kid. There is nothing in the world more satisfying than seeing the look on a kid's face when you see the look on a kid's face the first time he hears something on a crystal set.

Then again, maybe the boy got just as much of a thrill seeing the look on MY face when I made contact with Leesburg.

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