Sunday, October 30, 2011

Catch up. Buying a damned car

One of the things that hasn't changed over the years is car salesmen.

The majority of them are nothing but trouble. Buying a car is a miserable event in my life and I will go to lengths to put it off.

The ride I have now was pretty much an over the phone sale and even though I didn't get a good deal I was happy because I didn't have to deal with a salesman except to write him a check and pick the rig up.

During President Obama's little cash for clunkers dealiebobber a few years back the ride I had, the Silver Bullet went belly up on the annual safety inspection because of rust issues. I was actually elated because I was aware that Toyota would give me a pretty hefty chunk of change for it through their buy back program.

I took it to the dealers and started the process to have it taken back by Toyota and was promptly descended on by one of the salesmen. Whoda thought?

I told him what I was looking for and he said he didn't have it which made sense as all they had left on the lot were the gas guzzlers that were not eligible under the so called 'cash for clunkers' program. I told him that I had no plans whatsoever buying a larger truck and he got a bit snotty with me because it looked like he might have to do some work to find me what I wanted.

It might have taken him about five whole minutes on a computer or something like that. He'd find it, send someone to pick it up and make a small commission which would put meat and potatoes on his table. Of course it wasn't going to put his kid through medical school, but last time I checked one does have to eat.

Of course, he lied to me and told me that there wasn't a four cylinder manual transmission model to be had anywhere. Having dealt with these people before I knew he was lying to me because I know a little trick to tell if a car salesman is lying. You look carefully at his lips and check them for movement. If they are moving he is telling a lie.

I asked him to check with the sales manager and overheard the words 'One. Beckley, West Virginia' come from the sales manager's mouth. He returned to me and told me none were available anywhere.

I went home and got on line and in a few minutes I located my quarry. It was a couple hours south of my place in none other than Beckley, West Virginia. I got on the horn and bought it at slightly under MSRP over the phone and gave him a VISA number to take a down payment out of.

The following day I went to the bank and drew the figure he gave me out of the bank and had someone run me down to pick it up. I drove it home.

A couple of days later I had to go back to the local dealers to pick up my check for the Silver Bullet that Toyota had offered me 1.5 times Kelly Blue Book excellent, low mileage for. While there I mentioned to the service manager that sales had tried to take me to the cleaners and that I had just bought a new rig down in Beckley. His face lit up.

"Please follow me," he asked. I got up and followed him. He took me to the parts department where he called all hands over to the front desk. He addressed the entire parts department.

"Look carefully at this man's face and remember it," he ordered. "This is Mister Piccolo. He just screwed our sales dapartment. He pays only wholesale here from now on! Got it?"

They nodded.

We returned to his office. "Thank you," I said. "What's that all about?"

Apparently there was some kind of interdepartmental fight going on and he considered me some kind of hero for beating the sales department out of a sale. While I generally don't get involved in things like that I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

A few minutes later the woman from the department of whatever came by and gave me a settlement check for the Silver Bullet and I took it to the bank where I deposited it.

I think I might have been able to get about $1500 for the Silver Bullet if I had patched the rust and sold it on Craigslist, but after Toyota handed my the settlement check I some quick math and figured out that I had a brand new truck under my butt for a shade under ten grand and the Silver Bullet. I wound up getting about five times what I could have sold the Silver Bullet for from Toyota!

Not a bad deal any way you slice it.

The next truck I buy I think I am going to buy off of the internet or some other way even though it may cost me an extra couple hundred bucks or so because that way I don't have to deal with car salesmen.

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catch up post. Working at sea

One of the things that might make a person think that life out here is a bowl of cherries is the number of posts I have made throughout the years about some of the fun and mischief that goes on out here at sea.

From the posts I have made you would think that I ran away and joined the circus, but it really is not the case. I have posted a few of the more spectacular pranks that have happened out here over a lengthy career.

Out here this is pretty much a job where a bunch of men simply behave like men do when working together. There are quite a few that do not seem to have any time for dopey little things and there are some that probably have to be kept in check to keep the entire place from turning into a three-ring circus.

We are probably not very much different than our shoreside counterparts except that we are entrusted with the day to day opertions of some very expensive equipment and lives. We have to be responsible for it.

It should be duly noted that we are generally out of sight and sometimes totally out of communication with our shoreside supervisors for long periods of time. There have been times I have not seen a supervisor board a vessel for months.

You might think for a minute what kind of person they assign to a multi-million dollar piece of equipment, or at least in a supervisory capacity.

While I have seen (and been a victim of) a number of pretty spectacular pranks out here, they are nowhere as common as one might think, but from time to time, like topsy, they seem to occasionally appear out of nowhere. A few of them have been pretty elaborate.

There is another thing out here that is a bit over rated and that is the general attitude of what happens on the boat stays on the boat and to some extent that is true, but again it is quite a bit over rated as you should think for a second that when a ship's officer covers for someone (depending on the transgression) he is putting his job and sometimes license on the line.

While there are to be sure a number of small things that get glossed over with some regularity they are generally along the same nature of things that would be glossed over on any shoreside job. You have to remember that there has to be a level of sanity out here lest the entire place crumble into nothing. Still, some boats seem to have a mischievious air about them and the crews do seem to have a little more fun than others but when you get down to brass tacks even the boats with mischievious reputations manage to stay pretty professional.

Over the years there have been a number of attempts made by shoreside supervisors to try and crack the much over-rated 'what goes on here stays here' attitude because some of their imaginations have tended to run wild. A few of them picture a zoo scene of drinking and carrying on, unreported accidents and broken equipment which is generally nothing more than their imagination running wild as it really is pretty difficult to hide a whole lot out here. Word eventually gets out.

Still, a coworker recently related to me a funny story about how at his previous employer a new supervisor showed up and announced to the crew that 'The code of the boats' is over. He then passed out a bunch of little 'rat your buddy' out cards.

Men don't like being treated like little kids and the crew of that particular boat did just what I suppose I would have done in the same circumstances. Every one of the cards was filled out with stupid little things. "Bob put his shoes on the wrong feet one morning' or 'Larry walked past a piece of paper and didn't pick it up'. My favorite one was 'Curly doesn't comb his hair'. Of course, Curly didn't HAVE any hair to comb.

Then they sent the cards in over the supervisor's head and made a fool out of him when some higher-up looked at the cards. The supervisor had sadly thought that simply announcing that that 'the code of the boats' is over was going to change things. Fat chance.

I don't place my life in the hands of a shoreside supervisor. I do, however, place my life in the hands of a shipmate from time to time and when you think of it that tends to effect a person's loyalties. On the other hand when you place your life in the hands of shipmates you also tend to get picky about who your shipmates are. You do not tolerate substandard people out here.

This is an odd business, the only one I have ever been in where a man can be recommended for a position after having someone describe him with, "He's an asshole, but he's OK."

I ave actully used that term when recommending someone and I would not be surprised if I have been described as such. I can be annoying at times, but I do know my job.

While it certainly is my job to be loyal to my employer and look out for his interests I have to be sure to show a certain loyalty to my shipmates. They are human, too. The way that happens is that little problems are nipped at the bud and dealt with at as low a point in the chain of command as possible. Seldom is it necessary to bring a supervisor into something that can be simply and informally settled on board. The object isn't to subject a halfway decent member of the team to Draconian punishment as it is to prevent reoccurences.

A fellow captain had a minor problem to deal with once and I respect the way he handled it. An oncoming crewman came aboard with liquor on his breath. While he wasn't obviously tanked he was in violation of one of the more serious rules out here. There is no room for liquor or illegal drugs on board. The captain promptly put him to bed and 'counseled' him later that afternoon. He then put the incident behind him and said nothing to the office. It really didn't need mentioning at that point as he figured this was a good man and a one time thing.

A couple of trips later the same thing happened with the same guy and the captain simply picked up a phone. Adios, amigo.

I may tend to overlook a few small things like someone sneaking into a generator room for an odd cigarette or maybe one of the guys making up a line from the locker and giving it to a dockman to make his job easier. Much of this is nothing more than common sense good will and pays dividends in the long haul.

Smart supervisors know this and leave it alone.

Still, the basics are there and have to be dealt with. I am not going to cover up for buffoonery or incompetence because it is simply going to come back to me and haunt me. If a shipmate doesn't cut the mustard, he's gone and that is simply the way it is. I can't afford to risk a multi-million dollar piece of equipment because Little Jimmy thinks he is special so he doesn't have to leave his Bourbon ashore or thinks it's OK to smoke on deck while loading gasoline. Stupidity like that simply isn't tolorated.

These days I'm blessed with pretty damned good supervisors, thank God. Personally I think they are grateful that we do take care of small things out here and save them the trouble.

This past summer there were a couple of ten minute water fights between my vessel and another tied up alongside us at the company pier. Nobody said so much as a word about it because they knew that there was actually a positive outcome from it. Both crews were friends and it was really just a ten minute happy little venting of day to day frustrations. Besides, it was hotter than hell out and both crews were working outside on damned hot steel decks and a little hosedown also served the purpose of cooling everyone off.

As hot as it was that day you could consider a dopey little water fight to be in the interest of safety. No use becomming a heat casualty. Now that I think about it, it was more of a mutual hosing down disguised as a water fight. It was damned hot that day and we all needed it.

Still, to the average landsman that walks in when something like a dopey little water fight erupts, he gets the idea that the entire industry is a bunch of lunatics that do little work and party all day. Either that or he is envious of the easygoing ways among the guys that doesn't exist in his workplace. Quite often I think it is the latter.

One of the things that happened to me about fifteen years ago is a pretty good example of the latter.

It was a crew change morning and the crews of both a tug and barge were getting off to go home for a well deserved rest leave as soon as the barge was tied up. The reliefs for the barge were waiting on the dock and the reliefs for the tug were waiting at the company pier about thirty minutes away.

Unlike most times when a deckhand and a bargee would tie the barge up, the entire crews, both watches were out on deck of the barge. Everyone was a bit tired and probably a little punchy. I know I was.

Anyways, someone started singing a dopey little song. It was an old Dr Hook song, "Cover of the Rolling Stone". It caught on and the entire group was singing along and laughing. Spirits were pretty high and the barge got tied up very professionally in record time.

The barges reliefs boarded and the offgoing crew (of which I was a member) hopped on the tug and off we went back to the company pier where we were met and hauled up to the office. Seems some stuffy suit on the pier had called and after hearing the singing he decided the entire lot of us were drunk.

We got kind of lucky in that the supervisor was one of those with something useful between his ears. He took one look at us and discounted any illegal use of alcohol or drugs and asked us what had happened. We were perplexed until he said the report was that we were drunk and singing ragtime.

"Big deal," said one of the guys. "We're a little punchy and we were singing. So what? We got the rig tied up profesionally in jig time. What's the big deal?"

"What do I tell him?" asked the supervisor.

"Tell him he's not one of the guys and never will be. He'll always be a damned pogue!" shot the Chief Engineer. "He's just jealous because he has a job that sucks and a wife that doesn't!"

The supervisor looked at me. I shrugged, hooked my thumb and pointed it at the Chief. "He put that one into the X-ring," I said, simply. The supervisor nodded.

"I'll take care of it," he said and we were dismissed.

When I returned to work three weeks later I passed the supervisors desk. "What happened?" I asked.

"I told his boss what the Chief said," he replied, with a somewhat sheepish look. "That ended it then and there."

One of the things that people never get to see is true professionalism out here and in a way that is a shame.

Some time ago two of us cargo types were riding as passengers on a tug when it got hit by lightning.

My mate and I simply went into the galley and sat down and awaited orders while the crew started dealing with things. When they wanted us, we pitched in and when we did what we were told we returned to the galley for reassignment. We did this to get out of the way as we were not a part of the regular crew.

The crew went into action and it wasn't too long before we were up and running, even though we were running at reduced throttle with limited control. After everything settled down it was determined that we pass the barge onto another tug ours had limited manuverability. It had to be docked and it would be safer if another tug did this.

My mate and I were put aboard the barge and handled the our small part of the operation and were treated to witnessing one of the smoothest operations I have ever seen in my career out here. Nobody got excited, nobody get panicky, it was just another day at the office. I actually remember watching the sleepy-eyed Chief yawn as he went about his business. The barge was swapped from one tug to the other underway and the operation went so smooth and flawless that it looked simple.

I wish the shoreside suit that called the office on us for singing had been on board when that happened because we could have used a little comic relief. It would have been funny to have watched him panic. Hilarity would have been certain to ensue.

Then again, maybe it would have smartened him up.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

I have been out of touch because I am working

on the part of the planet where there is no internet service. Still, I have taken time out to write at least something on a daily basis so that when I have the web back I will be able to catch up.

To me this is a terrible feeling because I have gotten quite used to making a post a day.

I do not know why this is but a day without a post is worse than a day without sunshine as I generally post regardless of the weather.

Sometimes I actually have something to say, others not so much but I still feel a need to at least make some sort of a post. Right now I am sitting on a tugboat off the shore of BFE where there is a lot of activity but no cell service I can get into and hence no internet. It is a frustrating feeling having a post ready and no way to get it out to the rest of the planet.

Sometimes I think that I do this because I am just another little guy that has no clout and no real voice. I am not alone, and I know it. To some extent our lives are controlled by big shots that are out of touch and I guess this blog is one place where I can speak out. Anyway it seems to settle me down a bit and that is a pretty good thing when you consider that like an awful lot of people out there I am not too happy with the big shots running things.

I guess that having a place to vent things like I do here is a whole lot better than carrying it around inside all bottled up. When people do that there is no wonder that they sometimes snap and go off the deep end. Holding too much in is just plain unhealthy.

I suppose that if I am running off at the keyboard here I am probably a lot healthier than a lot of people that are afraid to say what is on their mind so that's a good thing.
If this gets out it is because the deck hand has been successful with his attempt to get reception by doing something with tinfoil and wire.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

What are your services worth?

I get pretty fed up when I listen to people try and make you believe that their services are worth more than they are. This attitude seems to fall into just about every walk of life.

A while ago I had to listen to a person in the oil industry gripe and moan about how underpaid he was.

His job consists of hooking up a hose and sitting on his fat ass for hours on end. When he has loaded the vessel, if it happens to be on his shift he unhooks the hose. Generally he either hooks it up or unhooks it bacause it takes quite some time to load, say, 50,000 barrels of oil. He sits on his ass all day and makes damned good money.

I wonder how much money he would want if he actually had to work?

I just got lucky and hit a patch of internet service. Cool!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

for the next week-10 days posts(if any) will be spotty

We are headed to BFE shortly

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A trip to Louisiana proved interesting recently as an awful lot of locals

don't sound like locals.I kidded one guy and told him he sounded like a displaced New Jersey longshoreman and we talked about how regional accents are disappearing fast, especially in built up areas.

I think modern communications has a lot to do with that as it exposes everyone to each other. When you couple that with a rapidly moving society there are likely to be language changes made all over the country.

A couple of the people I was working with down there was greatly amused when I brought the subject up, having been born and raised there, yet a hitch in the Air Force sent him to Minot, North Dakota and another guy spent a hitch with the Marines and spent quite some time in California and although both of them sounded a little southern, neither of them sounded a whole lot like what you would see in some TV ad for 'visit Louisiana' with that thick 'Swamp people Okra and Gumbo' accent.

In a certain sense here Louisiana seems to be a place all of its own. Looking through a couple of navigation charts and reading all of the names of places makes you feel like you are in some kind of foriegn country or a French posession of some sort. It is rather odd. It is the only place in the States I know of where some of the geographical subdivisions are called 'parishes' which I am pretty certain is a holdover from the French and the Catholic Church.

Still, I would not want to live here because if I did I would dress out at about 674 pounds or so because the food is great. I like the way they cook here and it is pretty damned hard on the old will power to pass up yet another huge pile of shrimp.

One of the things I have noticed, like I said earlier is that an awful lot of regional accents seem to be disappearing and with it a lot of regional charm. Being able to see that over the past 40 years is something that I can say is a good thing about aging. I have had enough time under my belt to see things change that change slowly.

I will be out of internet range with no warning so when that happens, expect no daily post. I do not know when but it is very likely to happen inside the next few days.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If you are over 50 I woud bet you remember this ad.

If not, I would bet you didn't have a television.

You may have to cut and paste but it is worth it.

Normally I write my own posts but this popped up and I just had to pass it on. As kids we would shout when it came on so our brothers and sisters would not miss it.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

From the reports I get the Occupy Wall Street crowd is going the way of

the Tea Party, but they seem to be going the way a lot faster.

They are rapidly splintering, a lot faster than the Tea Party did.

The problem with the Tea party is that they started out trying to go after runaway Federal spending and increasing taxes. Now this was supposed to the focus of the group but it didn't take a whole lot of time for everyone and their cousin with an entirely unrelated gripe to try and add it to the issue.

From what a person from Fort Myers, FL tells me the entire issue the Wall Street people are fighting fight now down on Ft Meyers is that they are raising hell over being booted out of the park. It seems to be the only issue the Ft Myers people are fighting over right now and the corporate greed issue appears to have been set adide.

What will happen to the Occupy Wall Street crowd is that they will drag the usual riders like abortion, gun control, welfare, etc into the platform and the group will implode.

The only way any grass roots organization (of any type) is going to succeed is by focusing on one single issue.

One thing at a time.


Be advised. I am most likely going out of internet range soon and ill not be able to post daily or maybe even for a week or so. There will be no warning. Sorry about that but I have to eat.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Right now I do not have a clue as to what todays post is going to be

so let's look up at the TV for a second and get an idea.

A quick spin of the dial shows me a glimpse of wheelchair basketball and when I see ittle things like this I think of the Harlem Globetrotters because I watched a part of a game years ago when they played against a Marine Corps team on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Of course, the Marines insisted on a pretty good equalizer get injected into the game, all players were to play while wearing 40 pound packs.

It was funny watching the Globetrotters, normally known for their grace and style falling on their asses with the newly found weight. I remember laughing myself silly. The Marines, of course, were used to the excess weight and looked pretty good.

I also heard that the Globetrotters played a game in wheelchairs against a handicapped team. I wish I could have seen THAT game. I'll bet it was a zoo.

And now that I have given this some thought I'll continue that I have met a number of people over the years that I think had to be handicapped in some manner to be successful.

I worked with a guy that had never finished high school and watched him work his ass off to get ahead. He was constantly working his ass off to overcome his lack of formal education and certainly succeeded. He mentioned it quietly to me and I told him that the way I figured it is that if he had gotten a degree he would have probably wound up as just another Dilbert in a cubicle instead of a fairly competent mariner.

I get a pretty good feeling when I watch someone that is handicapped overcome the odds. This goes back to the time a neighbor I had as a kid growing up suffered permanant blindness in an automobile accident.

The man, a banker of some sort, was back at work in an incredibly short period of time and seemed to do quite well.

He raised his family and put all of his kids through college and did what he had to do. Later on as I was growing up he became a good friend I could go to for advice. Sometimes I did a few odd jobs for him.

He taught me a lesson about courage and persistance.

I was young when this happened and before his accident I didn't look at him as one of the guys I admired because he didn't do something cool for a living like run a boat of fix a car. He worked in an office.

As I grew up I realized that he had a lot more courage than most of the people I did admire. I suppose he could have gone out on disability or something and sat home and felt sorry for himself but he didn't. Instead he got back on the horse.

That in and of itself gets my utmost respect.

Yesterdays post seems to have drawn a few comments about sacred cows because I suggested putting Social Security, military pensions and medicare on the back burner for cuts.

I didn't say anywhere in my post that they these programs should not be looked at. Everything should. In fact I mentioned just that.

I simply said that before we start making cuts in programs that have required productivity to be eligible for that we should start making our cuts in programs that reward failure and bring the congressional gravy train to a halt.

After we stop reinforcing failure and simply giving money away (foreign aid and the like)then maybe then we should look into seeing if cutting programs that require hard work and paying into it is necessary.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

One of the things that is now on the chopping block are military benefits

which comes as no surprise to me because congress generally makes cuts to people that have actually do something with their lives.

There have been talks about cutting military retirement benefits, social security, medicare and other programs.

Now all of this is probably all well and good because maybe they do need examination and rethinking every so often (everything needs this) but it sure seems to me that they are looking to stick it to the producers one more time.

How about if for now we put the military retirement cuts on the back burner for a while and look at a few other places to make cuts first.

How about if we stop giving billions and billions away to line the pockets of foriegn dictators and tribal leaders by eliminating the bulk of foriegn aid?

How about if we bring the gravy train that our elected officials aare riding to a screeching f***ing halt. One term in congress and a free ride for life isn't what the founding fathers had in mind here, and besides most of congress really doesn't earn their keep, anyway.

How about if we stop generational welfare and make those that are too stupid or lazy to support themselves either smarten up, toughen up or starve instead of keeping them in cell phones and bling?

After we stop giving everything away to the lazy and stupid, quit giving away billions to foriegners who laugh at us for doing this and get congress to take their noses out of the feed bag and quit voting themselves raises then maybe we can look at cutting benefits to those that produce or have produces in their lives.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Things I should not do

As I have gotten older I have learned that there are l number of things that are not good ideas.

1. I will no longer list my mother's cause of death on medical forms as 'knife fight on wet T-shirt night at the strip club', especially if the nurse looks like she should be wearing antlers.

2. I will be patient wait until planting season before I mumble something around gossippy Louise about burying kids selling magazines in the back yard. Instead I will mumble something about grinding them up in the chipper/shredder and them for fertilizer.

3. When the results of my random drug test come in I will no longer open the envelope in front of the HR lady, furrow my brows and say, "What do you mean I am pregnant?"

4. I will no longer sharpen my Ka-Bar while leering at the ship's newbie.

5. I will no longer address deckhands as 'Hey, dumbass!". That form of address is reserved for the Chief Engineer unless the Chief is bigger than me. If he is, that form of address is saved for the captain.

6. A valve wrench is not a counseling tool.

7. If I am hospitalized again I will not tell the triage nurse that I insist on asking where the 'clean underwear checker' is so the doctor knows I come from a good family. Getting a wedgee from Big Olga is not fun.

8. When dispatch tells me to 'Start at the beginning' he does not mean for me to start reciting the Book of Genesis.

9. Practicing with Morse code buzzer while the crew is in the galley is not very smart.

10. Be sure to have biscuits and gravy Sunday mornings. Although mutiny is against the law, it still happens. See number 9.

11. Sneaking an MRE fork into a Chinese restaurant isn't necessary. If you ask, they will get you one.

12. Telling a doctor to quit being cheap buy his Big Nurse a set of antlers is risky, but only if she hears you.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yesterday was an 'abort mission'

and it is the first time this has happened too me in 20 years.

I had just gotten a couple of exits on the PA turnpike and got a call that things had backed up 24 hours. I whipped a 180 and returned home.

A night at home like that sort of sucks because I had, of course, ditched all perishables so dinner consisted of a pizza and 2 beers. That ain't right, but there was no use going shopping as I'd have to throw a lot of what I bought away.

I also had to call a couple of people to let then know I was home as they watch the place like a hawk when I am away. No use letting them see activity and call the police.
Seeing I had a little time yesterday when I got home I decided to see if I could dig up a 'Human Organs---keep refrigerated" box from the nearby hospital. I used the excuse that I wanted it for Halloween to put candy in for the kids.

The first person I asked had no sense of humor and I got a frumpy lecture but the doctor that overheard my request was on me like white on rice. He thought it was pretty funny. Then when I told him what I realy wanted it for (a lunch box) he roared. He tried to help because he thought it was pretty cool.

I guess the company that actually transports the various parts supplies most of the shipping containers so there were none to be had. Still it was pretty cool having a surgeon help me out.

It was there that I realized I had made another mistake by having the pizza guys schedule me a pie delivery. I had forgotten that you can get a damned good meal for short money in the hospital cafeteria. It would have saved me from a gassy bloated night if I had remembered that earlier.

I checked the cafeteria out and noticed that there were a few healthy choices but it seemed like there was an awful lot of grease on the menu. The fryer looked like it runs 24/7. No wonder so many health care professionals are so overweight.

Which reminds me of a cardiologist I had for a stress test a couple years ago. He had about 75 pounds of excess flab around the middle and a pack of Camel straights in his pocket.

I do not know why that is but it seems the majority of health care people do not look very healthy.

Most of the doctors, though are generally in pretty good shape. I wonder why that is?

Next time I get in a situation where I need a decent feed for short money I think I will sneak down here. I am not going to make a habit out of this, though because when you find a good thing and abuse it the good thing simply goes away. You have to be careful.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One of the things I could use comes from the hospital.

I could use one of the boxes they ship donor organs in to use as a lunch box.

"Human Organs---Keep refrigerated"

And there is Good Old Piccolo fishing something bloody looking out of it and chowing down on his front porch and washing it down with iced tea out of a Jameson's bottle.

If any readers know where I could get one of these please let me know and post it in the comments section.

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Back on the road to get to the water

OK, kiddies, fun's over.

Back to spin the wheels of industry and deliver oil so that people don't have to walk home and freeze in the dark.

Instead, they can drive home in a 4 mpg SUV, turn the thermostat up to 80, turn every light in the house on, tune in their TV in and than sit there and gripe about the awful oil companies.

Come Saturday they can go downtown to protest corporate greed and raise cain about that so that on Monday morning when they get back to work they can call the people that manage their 401s and gripe that the stocks in it are not doing well enough to make them happy.

WHile I am not going to say that corperations should be put on a pedastal like some saint, you have to remember that they tend to do what the stockholders want them to do which is make money for the stockholders.

There are an awful lot of 401K holders out there that have an awful lot of their money in stocks and I'd just bet that if they found that if one of the companies they have stocks in were spending money on humanitarian purposes (or whatever) that could have been dividends the CEO would be canned in a heartbeat.

If you took some of these people that bellyache about outsourcing and told them the company they hold stock in could give them greater dividends if they outsourced, you can bet you ass they would support it.

While I am not going to put the corporations up for sainthood, I will go so far as to say that they are simply following orders the stockholders give them.

I think an awful lot of the Wall Street protesters ought to look deeply at themselves as a part of the reason they are there protesting.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It is going to be a beautiful fall day

and I am going to enjoy a part of it.

I think I will get my household chores done early and then go and take the Mazda for a spin in some off the wall spot out in the boonies.

Still, there is lots here to be done. I have to whip this place into civilized shape and now I had better plan on starting to winterize things.

I looked out this morning as I do every morning to give thanks for being here and saw that my flowers are mostly dead. All of the zinniaa are brown and almost all of the marigolds on the western wall are brown, too but a few survive.

It is now fall and the leaves hhave started to turn and many trees are already bare. Soon it will be winter which is my least favorite season as I hate snow and I hate the cold.

Next time home I will fire up the snow blower and get that running. Ouch.

On the other hand, it beats shoveling that nasty stuff.

I think I am just going to post this and get about my business. I may add to it later.

It's later and the place got taken care of. I have the big set on now and I'm hanging out on a 40 meter net and just knocked another state off of my goal to QSO all fifty states. QSO Delaware. Cool.

Tomorrow I head off to spin the wheels of industry and I will likely be out of internet range for quite some time.

I'll have to play catch up. It sucks but I have to eat and that's where they are sending me, straight out to BFE.

my other blog is:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yesterday's little DXpedition to the water tower

I am seriously thinking of doing one of two things with my little PRC 320 forays. Either restrict them to places out in the woods somewhere or just keep letting things happen.

Yesterday a young Marine reservist and I decided to ake the 320 up to the water tower and try our luck. He's got a lot of technology with him so doing things like looking up call signs would be a snap. We could also fish for people to yak with via the web.


We whipped into the parking lot and noticed there were an awfull lot of cars on one end so we looked up at the lodge house and saw quite a few people. It took a second but it registered;there was a wedding going on.

We figured that if we stayed on the fringes of the parking lot we'd be all right.

Out cane the slingshot and I tried to snag a line up to the top railing of the water tower but it was about three or four feet too high. A cursory check saw there was a monster steel door keeping us from going up the stairs to the top.

Of course, the pair of us figured out how to defeat the door in about six seconds but decided against it as we had no rope save some 550 paracord.

Over to the nearest tree. Blap! the first try netted a pretty good place for the antenna. We spooled out all 46 meters of it and tied the other end off to a fence. We backed the truck up to the end of the wire set up the 320 and attached the antenna. A quick tuning of the antenna for 40 meters and we were now on the air.

I looked toward the lodge and noticed that there were an awful lot of people lined up and it looked like pictures of some sort were being taken.

Seeing we had an audience there was no use letting it go to waste. Sergeant AJ had not emptied his truck completely since last weekend's reserve meeting so I snagged his flak jacket and K-pot and donned them.

Right about then I got a pretty solid QSO from a ham in Missouri which is a state I need for my 'worked all states' project. Cool! When I told the 'Show me' stater there was a wedding nearby he laughed and said something to the effect 'it really isn't a whole lot of fun unless someone gets wierded out'. Sergeant AJ and I laughed at that one.

I also switched the set to low power and Missouri reported little change in signal. QSO with Missouri using only 3 watts! Outrageous!

As I was yakking with the man from Missouri, I noticed something that made me realize that even though we were well out of the way we really should not have set up.

We were a distraction.

While every set of female eyes were aimed at the photographer to insure the wedding pictures came out all right, every single set of male eyes were focused on us. The wedding pictures were probably going to show this.

I seriously doubted that any of the guys were going to break ranks and walk over to see what we were doing as their womenfolk would raise holy hell. However there was an off chance that perhaps the mother of the bride or someone might come over and say something. I mentioned this to AJ and he asked me how to handle it.

"If she comes over and tells you we have crashed a wedding, simply say something like 'Cool! Got any good stuff to eat?'"

We laughed.

While we were not in the way of the wedding I suppose we were a minor distraction and possibly a welcome one from the point of view of the menfolk who generally hate weddings anyway. I suppose had I been at the damned wedding I would probably be going nuts trying to figure out what two guys were doing out in the parking lot. I'm no different than any other guy.

Then again, this is a public park and these people had probably been warned that although they had rented the lodge there was the possibility of an overlap of activities so there was really nothing we should be worried about.

Still many of the menfolk were curious. We could tell that from as far off as we were. They were looking at a guy a couple weeks shy of 60 with a winter beard half grown in wearing a K-pot and flak jacket running an obviously military radio set. It was obvious that he was communicating with someone somewhere and their natural curiosity was killing them.

Something had to give.

There were a couple of cars nearby and something did finally give. One of the men cracked and found some kind of excuse to sneak back to his car. The curiosity had gotten to him and he just had to check out what was going on.

As he neared his car I turned off the rig and picked up the handset. I spun the tablet around and looked at it.

As he got within earshot, I put the dead handset to my ear.

"Danger, close!" I said into the dead handset. "H.E. fuse quick. The lieutenant will adjust after this. Tell him he's got a golden ass bringing 155s in this close to his position!"

I listened for almost a minute.

"Roger that." I said. I looked at the tablet. "Next. There's a cave at three O'clock. That's the one... When you get a chance have an air asset stuff a couple into it and I'd just bet you'll get one hell of a secondary out of it. You guys are going to have to quit yanking me out of retirement. I'm getting too old for this! I shoulda resigned my commission instead of retiring it!"

Mister Nosy must have had an infantry background of some sort and decided to fall back on Rule One of basic survival. It is doesn't directly concern yoy, leave it alone. He opened the door to his car, grabbed whatever it was he came there for as an excuse and fled back to the wedding.

AJ looked at me. 'What are the cances of the cops showing up?"

I thought a second. "Slim to none. I think he took the bait hook, line and sinker. If it was a she instead of a he, I'd say we ought to unass the A.O. because women panic, but I think the guy figures we are something legit like a National Guard training exercise or something along those lines."

"He'll go inside and tell his wife who will tell everyone else and it'll settle everyone's curiosity." AJ said.

"Yeah, and in ten years with the retelling and retelling they will be talking about how two guys during their wedding won the war from outside in the parking lot." I said. He grinned.

"Hey," I asked."What would you have done if the guy came over and started running his mouth?"

AJ grinned. "I would have told him that my Uncle Pic's Agent Orange disease was kicking up again after he ate six hits of acid." he said. "Happens every year about this time. Just leave him alone and he''ll get over it."

"Good thinking," I said.

AJ is going to make a pretty good QRP partner with thinking like that!

my other blog is:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It is a Sunday morning and that means

Buscuits and gravy.

I just got up and have decided to have my all time favorite this morning.
I am presently trying to get some QSL card printed up for use specifically with the times I take the 320 with me to odd places. For those of you that don't know what that is, after 2 stations make contact if they decide they need confirmation of contact they swap QSL cards. Both senders fill out the information of the contact on the back.

Some guys have really colorful cards, and virtually all of them have their state and county on them I am going to leave the state and county off of th ones I am making for the 320 as I do not know where I am going to be sending from. Instead I'll write it in on the 'remarks' section.

In the space for the state and county I am simply going to have them put BFE which you can Google if you do not know where that is. Either that or check it out on the Urban Dictionary.
I think today will be a job of womanly chores because my mother isn't here to pick up after me.
Someone recently asked me how I managed to get so much out of my army hitch of a scant three years. The answer is simple, really. I put in for just about anything that I was eligible for. I'll write about that some time.

In short order I am returning back to work and from what the Jungle Telegraph tells me I AM heading to BFE for a tour and internet will be spotty. There will be days I will NOT be able to post but as I generally do I will catch up when we get into range.

my other blog is:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Late start today

I had breakfast with a friend and just got back.

Last night I took the PRC 320 to a local park as I didn't feel like wandering around and crashing through the boonies in the dark.

I got the rig set up and was trying to punch through somewhere on low power with the whip antenna which sometimes is an exercise in futility.

Anyway, out of nowhere a drunk came out of the darkness and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him I was Boris Badenoff, Russsian agent calling Fearless Leader to tell him of my plan to kill Moose and Squirrel.

He took off and I figured I was in for smooth sailing. Wrong.

About ten minutes later a car pulled up behind me and the person in it asked me what I was doing and when I told him, he said that he figured it wass something like that and proceeded to tell me that a few minutes ago a panic stricken drunk had beat on his door and demanded he call the FBI and Fish and Game because there was a Russian agent trying to kill a moose.

I got into this radio business to stay out of trouble and it seems that all it has done is to get me into trouble.

Still, this morning it now seems pretty funny. If nothing else it give me something to post here.

my other blog is:

Friday, October 14, 2011

One of the things I have gotten pretty good at in my life is


It started as a kid playing the various games we played as scouts and after school. It later helped me in the army.

The army in its infinite wisdomm once sent me to a SERE course where I was supposed to evade the hunters. Of course the hunters knew the area a hell of a llot better than the trainees did and it was generally conceded that virtually every evader would be rounded up, which they generally were.

I decided early that I really didn't want to go through the prisoner interrogation stage of the course which is what happened after you were captured so instead of following the herd I took off on my own.

I had gone about a quarter of a mile when I found half of a GI steel pot.

Half a helmet? Wait a minute. You found half of a steel pot? How could that be?

To this day I don't know how it had been done but somehow some private had managed to snap a USGI steel pot helmet clean in two. The break was almost perfectly fore and aft. Looking back on it I suppose it should have been no surprise. The American GI is capable of anything.

If you put a pair of privates in a room with a pair of bowling balls and orders to leave them alone, you will come back to find one missing and the other busted in half. Of course, neither of them will know what happened.

Anyway, near the helmet was a small depression that looked like it had been a foxhole or something back in WW2 or Korea. I could lie down in it so I used the helmet and gathered up a bunch of dirt and some tumbleweeds and buried myself, covering my face with a rag so I could breathe and simply waited until well after dark.

It was a long day and I heard people nearby. I suppose they were looking for me but I can't say for sure. Twice they passed by close enough so I could feel the vibration of their footsteps. I don't know how close that was, though because I kept still.

After dark I was up and moving. I'm pretty sure everyone else had been caught by then.

With no compass I came across a road and found a ditch until a likely looking vehicle passed by. I flagged it down and hopped in. It was a Deuce 'n half from a grunt unit and I found out it was headed into garrison.

The driver was a good guy and dropped me off near the Academy Boulevard gate and because it was well after duty hours I hitched a ride home and got cleaned up.

The next morning I reported for formation as if nothing had happened and the First Sergeant 'bout like to have a cow. I was hauled straight to the Battery Commander for interrogation.

After I had explained how I had manage to evade capture I looked at him and stoutly said, "Sir, it is the duty of the soldier to evade. If he is captured it is his duty to escape."

He looked up sharply. "You're right," he said. It was then I knew I was off the hook.

He called Battalion S-3 and spoke. The major he spoke with apparently went nuts.He had played hell getting slots in that school and he had expected good little soldiers to complete the course.

The BC got him setled down by pointing out that I had done my job. I had evaded successfully and I couldn't be slighted for that. After he finished with S-3 the phone rang.

It was the SERE school people. The BC asked them if they were looking for one Sergeant Piccolo and they were. He informed them I was in front of him.

I don't know what the other end of the conversation was but the BC said to him, "Apparently this sergeant is a magician of some sort and a magician never tells." Chuckles.

He looked up at me and shook his head.

"I see no point on sending this man back,: he said. "This little weasel would probably escape ten minutes later and disrupt your entire program. As for the survival portion, that too would be a waste of time. When this guy forgot his lunch money last week he simply pulled a rabbit out of his hat and ate it."

Chuckles followed and he hung up.

I went back to duty in the battery.

A couple days later at morning formation the BC came out and pointed to me.

"Meet me at the motor pool after lunch," he said.

I was worried and after formation I asked Top what that was all about.

He gave me a very amused look. "You're going to Camp Red Devil to pick up your diploma," he said, shaking his head.

After lunch the BC and I hopped in a jeep and went to Red Devil where. I got my diploma, but only after some other captain grilled me. It was really a trade of sorts. I had to explain how I successfully evaded in return for the diploma.

On the way back, the BC told me to go straight to the S-3 shop and have a copy made for Battalion files as it would get the S-3 major off of his ass. Having the diploma would mollofy him as it would serve as proof that one of our guys had passed a school they fought to get slots in.

So how does this all fit in now?

I'd love to take my PRC-320 and be the hunted in a fox hunt by the local ham radio club. I'd just bet I'd manage to get away from them by being quick and moving pretty fast and popping up in unexpected areas.

It would be a blast to be chased again.

After all, someone as to chase me as at my age I am too old for the ladies to chase me anymore.

Or maybe I am not, but it would be fun to be chased.

my other blog is:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do it ....or else.

Or elase what?

WHen someone (and I do not care who it is) says to do something 'or else' the first words to come out of my mouth instantly are, "Or else what?"

I do not care who,what,when,where, why or how you are. If you tell me to do something or else I am instantly going to ask 'Or else what?"

I do not know why this is and to be honest I am surprised that this hasn't landed me in prison. I am not talking county cooler or overnight local slam here. I mean prison.

For a policeman to use 'or else' to me is pretty unprofessional. It make him sound like a mall cop like the one I got into with a few years back at the local mall.

I was waiting for my SO and the mall cop saw me standing there. I admit I looked pretty scruffy but he came up to me and told me I had better move 'or else'.

"Or else what?" I shot back. "Or else you're going to have to walk away and pretend you didn't see me? I'm waiting for my wife. She expects me to meet her here. Now beat it!"

I'll admit I looked scruffy and he probably figured I couldn't articulate a single sentence and I caught him off guard so he shuffled away.

WHen a policeman says 'or else' it makes him sound like Barney Fife.

I had a Philly officer once tell me to move my pickup'or else' and in true Pavlonian behavior I asked him, "or else what?"

He snapped at me "Or else you'll spent the weekend in the can!"

At least I now knew what I was up against and I replied, "I'm outta here!" and took off. The man had instantly transformed himself from Barney Fife to a bona fide police officer simply by specifying what the consequences of my actions would be instead of some vague mushfaced third-rate hokus pocus.

I was surprised he let that one slide and I swear it was Pavlovian. I simply reacted to it instinctively.

The germ for todays post came from a thread I read yesterday about some poor bastard that didn't want to join a Homeowners Association. I guess the big shot trying to organize it had a 'join...or else' attitude.

I had something similar happen to me years ago and the feud still runs. SOme jerk down the street tried to get our end to join the HOA and told me I was going to join 'or else'.

It has been about a decade and he will not walk his dog past my yard because every time I see him I keep asking him, "Or else what?"

He could stop this simply by telling me what the consequences I will face(or would have faced) are (or were)and I'll stop asking him but he has simply chosen to avoid me which I guess is OK. I have him on the shag and I'm going to keep him there. He's a pest.

"Or else" is the threat of the weak in my eyes. It means there is nothing the person can do and they are trying to pull one over on you. They want you to fear some horrible consequences or just generally intimidate you.

Smart authority figures, police officers, NCOs, or other officials know this and generally specify what the 'or else' is to avoid looking like they are trying to pull one over on someone.

They generally specify what the 'or else' is. "Get that pickup out of the way or I'll run you in!" is not a problem. Invariably I'll move it." I had a platoon sergeant tell me to get my people up the hill or he'd have my ass. I moved my people instantly. At least I knew the threat wasn't an empty threat.

I had a young lieutenant out of West Point once that made me an 'or else' threat and of course, I asked him what the 'or else' was and he told me that I would probably wind up with an Article 15 non-judicial punishment. Of course I instantly obeyed the order. Because I liked the guy, a couple of hours later I bought him a Coke and told him that 'or else' made him sound about as effective as Gomer Pyle.

I never heard of him doing that to anyone again except me and that was a little buzzword the pair of us shared. He did it to me sometimes to tease me a little and grinned when I'd answer 'Or else what?'.

If you are going to make a threat or advise someone that they will face negative actions at least tell them what they are up against.

I know I may come across as a somewhat belligerent old man but I am not. I am one of those souls that if I got a call from the police department telling me that there was a warrant out for me accusing me of murdering 37 people and asking me to turn myself in I would probably reply with, "I'll be down in a few minutes" and hop in my truck and head straight to the station.

I am that kind of guy. I just hate vague threats, that's all.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It is a rainy day and I have nothing planned

I got the outside stuff done and that is good. I just looked outside and the scud is moving pretty fast so it might clear up soon.

Last night I heard that another guy out there bought a PRC 320 probably because he figured out I was having so much fun with mine. (The fool.)

I'll keep tabs on him and see how he makes out.

Like me it is his first HF rig but I knew what I was getting into as I pulled a hitch with Uncle Sam and remember GI radios. I was also an SWL for years. I also have pretty good instincts with GI equipment.

My guess is that this guy is either going to be completely elated with the little rig or severely disappointed. Time will tell.

I went into the military radio game KNOWING that I was going to be going into it under gunned. I knew the rig was low power and had has no cool ham radio features like being able to scan a band. You have to go straight to the frequency you want and have to know in advance because if not there are 6 dials and finding action on a band is an awful lot like trying to open a combination lock by trying all the possibilities.0-0-1,0-0-2,0-0-3, ad nauseum.

You have to do your homework with a rig like this.

Of course in this day and age it is not all that hard if you are on line. Let's see here. Google. 40 meter's one, the SSB old geezers net, meets at 0100 utc. Cool!

But you also lose out of being able to scan a band easily and find individual hams out there with less hassle.

I knew all of this going in and decided to go the route aware of the frustrations because I like entering things with a handicap for some perverse reason I can not seem to figure out.

Maybe it makes the victories sweeter. Who knows?

Yesterday I witnessed the new trash system in action and it looks to me like it is going to take some diong to train the new guys. It is a mechanized system. The removal of yard waste was interesting. Instead of dumping the can directly into the truck it gets dumped into a hopper in front of the truck where the driver inspects it and then dumps it into the truck.

I got that one figured out.

You put the old deer carcass (whatever) on the top of the bin and when the driver empties it into the hopper the leaves etc cover it and than he dumps it into the truck.

Trash itself is not going to be quite as big a hassle as I thought. The can is big enough and goes directly into the back of the truck and if you don't overload it with concrete so the bottom falls out it looks like you can stuff just about anything you want into it with no problem.

I suppose you can just cut tires in half. The new code is now 'some disassembly required'. I guess if it fits into the can it is good to go.

Still, I already miss the old guys that used to haul anything I put on the curb away with no second glance.

One of the things I have learned to do is open packages outside. I have done this ever since I got a soccer ball off of eBay for a nephew and it arriced wrapped in 12 layers of bubble wrap and stuffed into a box stuffed FULL of packing peanuts. Why people do this is beyond me because the instant my nephew got the damned ball he booted it forty yards.

Still, when I opened it the insides about liked to explode and I suppose that if I look hard enough I'll STILL find an odd packing peanut somewhere.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yesterday while I was running the gas out of my lawn mower

another do-gooder saw it and looked around. She saw me in the garage and approached me to tell me my lawn mower was running unattended.

"Yeah, I know. I'm running the gas out of it." I said.

"But you taped the handle. That's a safety device. Some kid could get hurt!" She said in a worried tone.

"DOn't worry about it," I answered. "That's what a BB gun is for. ANy kid gets inside of 25 yards of it gets a shot in the butt. They leave."

The look of shock was pretty funny to see and just then a kid about ten or so wandered past, took a passing glance at the running mower and kept going with no change whatsoever of course or speed.

I pointed the kid out. "He took one in the tail last spring and you'll notice he didn't pay the mower more than a passing glance."

"You shot that kid last spring?!" she asked, clearly upset.

"I think Neighbor Bob got him," I said, casually.

"You could get sued if a kid got hurt," she said.

"Nah. Ain't no biggie," I said, casually. "Just hack the little whelp up with the chain saw and run him through the chipper shredder. Use him for mulch."

"WHat? What do you mean run a kid through the chipper?" she asked.

"Sure. How do you think I got this beautiful garden to grow so well this year? Remember those kids that were selling magazines? Great fertilizer."

Her sarcasm meter kicked back on and she gave me somewhat of an embarrassed look but said nothing. Just then the mower ran dry and quit. It was now ready to be garaged for the season.

"Why do you do that?" she asked.

"So it will start easy in the spring. The gas won't shellac up and plug the jets through the winter." I replied.

"My mower never starts in the spring," she confessed.

"There it is. Before you garage it for the season run it out of gas." I said to her.

"I suppose I could," she said, "I guess I'd have to put a couple of bricks on the seat to keep it from shutting itself off."

"Before you do that, come and see me," I replied.

"Why?" she asked.

"I'll loan you my BB gun to keep kids away from it. We don't want our neighborhood children to get hurt, now, do we?"

my other blog is:

Monday, October 10, 2011

I finished up the back yard as far as knocking everything down goes

and now I only have a couple of hours of work left.

I have to pile the brush up and run the pile over about 5 or 6 times with the lawn mower. I''ll get to rake it all downhill as it was mainly the hill that needed tearing up. Not too bad.

The brush cutter died at the perfect time yesterday; it died as I cut through the last weed. Talk about luck!

After I finished I showered and put on a pair of slacks, a shirt, a mismatched tie, a tweed sport coat and a tweed snap brim cap. Dressed like an Irish squire of some sort I went for a gentleman's ride in the country.

If you ever get a chance drop into Volant, PA. It is an interesting little town.

I almost stopped at a place for a Guiness but because I had not eaten in a while decided against it. A single beer on an empty stomach can make a guy get pretty borderline fast.

One of the things that happens when you are dressed like a country squire is some people treat you differently. I noticed it yesterday and this reminds me of a night school class I took back in the day.

I was framing houses and often came to class right from work. One time curiosity got the best of me so I went home a little early from work and put on a jacket and tie and wore it to class.

Even the entire class saw how differently I was treated that night.

That was a pretty good class, the guy teaching it was a retired NYPD detective. Interesting man. I remember when class ended and I was getting ready to head to Alaska. He and I talked and I think he knew even then I was one of those people that was taking the road less traveled.

I wish I could have run into him after a couple of years in Alaska. It would have been interesting.


Yesterday I was in a shop scouting around. A little kid about three was standing in front of a counter but could not see over it. He was bouncing up trying and I looked at him.

"Want to go up?" I asked.

"Uh huh," said the kid.

So I looked around and saw his mother and nodded. "He wants to go up," I said and lifted him up grabbing him under the arms.

The kid saw what he wanted and when I put him down he said 'Thank you' and shuffled off. He was a good looking kid and it was refreshing to see good manners aat such an early age. SOmeone is doing their job well.

There were a couple of reenactors in Volant yesterday on some kind of a Lewis and Clark type of trip. One of them didn't know how to keep his mouth shut because you do not talk about poaching deer in PA unless you are Robin Hood and this guy wasn't.

Sometimes I think that if a guy just knew when to keep quiet he could get away with just about anything. Over the years I have asked a couple of cops hom many criminals talk themselves into jail and they all have had the same answer: Most of them.

Of course when this guy eventually gets popped he will wonder why.

Someone asked me if I would like to be young again and I said certainly not. Forty? Maybe but no younger than that. Then again, at 60 I suppose 40 is young. Who knows.

my other blog is:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

boots and utes and other various topics

Boots and utes yesterday and probably today.

I got the majority of the acreage done yesterday but now comes the weed whacker part. We'll see what happens today. Maybe a little chain saw madness.
Last night a guy was walking his dog and he grinned at me. "Hey, tough guy," he said.

I grinned and said, "Hey there, Pard."

I met him a few weeks back and it was kind of funny. I saw him walk by and he made me smile.

The guy was huge, and was wearing some sort of Harley biker vest and had pretty close to sleeves as far as tattoos went, yet he was wearing baggy shorts and flip-flops and was walking the sissiest looking dog I have ever seen. The dog looked like it belonged on the lap of a 96 year-old lady yet it was being walked by a huge biker type that I would have expected to be seen walking a humongous primoral beast of some sort.

When he was walking by the first time I saw him first and decided to have a little fun with him. I snagged my pink sweatshirt and donned it.

As he passed, I looked at him and smiled.

"We're kindred souls," I said. "In fact, you kind of remind me of...ME." He looked perplexed but was not unfriendly.

"How's that?" he asked.

"We're both tough guys. You seem to have adopted the biker lifestyle and your dog tells me you're a tough guy. I'm a merchant seaman and by definition as a Popeye/Barnacle Bill Old School sailor I'm a tough guy."

"I grow these flowers and sometimes wear this pink sweat shirt. When you are a tough guy you do what the hell you want. You can walk any kind of dog you want." I continued. "Here, have a beer." I handed him one.

"Thanks, Man," he said. He laughed. "I guess you CAN do what you want when you're a tough guy."

We chatted a bit and he moseyed off.

It was fun seeing him walk his little dog tonight.

In Philly a week ago or so ago I had to do a quick bit of shopping and at the meat counter there was a PETA activist putting stickers on the meat. I ignored her and picked up a package. I said nothing.

"That meat's diseased, you know." she said.

"Worse. It's dead," I replied, dryly.

She didn't know when to quit. She just had to say something.

"You're an ugly, horrible person,"she said.

"You're stupid. But if I get a makeover I will become a kindly handsome prince. But you can't fix stupid," I shot back.

What could she say?

It's stuff like that that makes me hate Philly.
I got busted.

Yesterday morning when I went to snag a couple items one of the employees asked me when I was going to put 'for rectal use only' stickers on the cucumbers again.

I didn't know it but he saw me when I did it quite a while ago but said nothing and enjoyed watching the people get wierded out. I guess working in a supermarket needs a little help every so often.

I might do it again for him, though. He's a pretty good guy.
One of the things that is a pain to deal with while growing my winter beard is that I have to shave my neck daily until my beard is almost fully in. If I don't I look like a bum, yet if I shave the neck it simply tells the world I am growing a beard and that's a whole different picture.

I made my first Carribean QSO last night on my little 30 watt manpack rig. Puerto Rico.

Pretty neat.

It is starting to get dark early and I think some night I am going sneak out and run an antenna up a neighbor's tree and see if I can get a few QSOs. I guess you can figure out which neighbor. The one that reported I was jamming her TV BEFORE I bought my rig.

There are just some things a man has to do.

I always like the way some people think.

Back when I was driving a cab while I was too injured to fish years ago I had a woman and her son get in to go home after shopping.

While we were tooling along the mother looked at her son and told him that if he didn't do well in school he'd wind up driving a cab like me.

The kid ignored his mother. "Don't ignore me," said the mother.

The kid looked up at his mom and in an 'Oh, puhleeze, mother' tone of voice said "At least he has a driver's license because he doesn't drink and drive."

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

An interesting day in rural Pennsylvania

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of boots and utes as the back yard needs its annual mowing over.

I wanted to get to it but too much piddley stuff came up and I figured that if I didn't get started by noon it wasn't worth starting so when I saw it was noon-thirty and I wasn't quite finished with the piddley stuff I decided not to even bother.

Instead I opted to work in the driveway and the garage polishing up the powerpack I built for the PRC-320 radio I have. I now have a 12 amp-hour power pack. The issue batteries are 4 Ah batteries.

I installed a little voltmeter I snagged on eBay to keep an eye on the voltage and put a push button switch to be able to turn the meter on and off. The meter was covered with a piece of plexiglass and the push button was set into an old whisky bottle cap I have been saving for that purpose. The cap is to keep some ham handed oaf from accidentally turnint the thing on by mistake.

I also used a small trailer hitch plug to the power line to the radio to keep someone from plugging the thing in backwards and reversing the polarity and frying the set.

After that I saw it was a little late in the afternoon and the sun was going down so I decided to go for a glorious little end of the season run in the Mazda. The Miata, as many know has had work done to the suspension and is a joy to drive on country back roads.

I fired the little autocross rig up and headed to the Interstate to simply get out of the burbs and about twenty minutes later I was off of the rat race freeway and entering semi-rural Pennsylvania.

I kept heading north and the roads started curving a bit and were fun to drive on and I spent quite a bit of time booming and zooming my way deeper into the more rural parts of the state.

Most of the route I followed is the route I generally take a bunch of kids on for a ride in the bed of my pickup on a sultry summer night. It's illegal as hell, but there are a few things that every kid should experience and a pickup ride on a sultry summer night is one of them, state law be damned. I've posted this before as even though I have no children I am an associate member of the Grandfather's club. It really isn't a club, but three of us older guys. The other two have grandkids and I have a pickup truck. You figure it out.

Anyway, I neared the Mercer area tooling through the farm country enjoying the sights and smells and gearing down and up through the back roads and it occurred to me that it was probably time the Amish would be starting to come in from the fields and that the Dutchman that put my roof on lived a few miles away. I took a hard right and headed his way and when I arrived at his farm I saw sure enough that he was leading a team of horses to the barn.

I wanted to thank him for doing a first rate job on my roof and see how his life was going and see his sons. I consider these guys to be interesting people and his sons are old enough to be considered young men.

During the lunch breaks I chatted with these guys and I was straightforward in answering their questions. They sensed I was open and frank so they took advantage of it and had a number of questions which I answered and they answered mine. All in all it was interesting.

We chatted and one of the two sons was out hunting whch may surprise some, but many of the Amish are hunters. It is a common sight to see them in gun shops in Pennsylvania checking out hunting rifles and buying ammunition. Too bad, I missed him. He seemed to be the troubled one of the pair and I sensed that maybe he resented being Amish because I saw something bothering him that I couldn't quite figure out.

The other one had married last January and had the farm down the road. Time flies. Married.

The Dutchman and I chatted and swapped a few ideas about what to do with his beautiful slate roof as he was considering changing the ridge line. I suggested using copper as it would turn to copper oxide and some of it would sluff off and keep the mold from growing as his house was in a valley of sorts. Bottomland, fertile, fertile bottom land.

We looked at a shed he was building for some of his horse drawn machinery and I laughed. A lot of his income comes from carpentry and the shed looked like it was going up slowly and was sort of a spare time project. "Cobbler's children run around barefoot," I chuckled.

He looked mildly amused. He was too busy doing other people's work to get his shed built which seems par golf no matter if you are Amish, Jewish or Irish.

I think part of the reason I dropped by was to reaffirm that even though we all may be different, we are still all alike and I found an awful lot of common ground with this Dutchman.

He saw the Miata and asked me a couple of questions about it and when I mentioned ham radio he told me that there was a guy down the street from me that did that and he seemed mildly interested in the mechanics of being able to communicate with people from all over.

Funny, here he was asking me about radios and sports cars and I was asking him about horses. His work horses were smaller than the Belgiums and Percherons, but seemed like they got the job done. They were wet and tired from an afternoons work and he had to put them away so I took my leave and hopped in the Miata and slowly left and headed down the road.

As I passed the next Amish farm I looked and saw a familiar face behind a trio of Belgiums and it was the Dutchman's oldest son. I stopped and when he saw me his face lit up.

He was planting grain for his own use as feed for his animals.

When I was in Alaska the question I was asked by someone that wanted to hire me for something is "Are you busy?" It was a way of asking me if I had time to do something for them. The context of it was simple.

Are you busy? It covered both working for someone else and doing a project of your own. It took into consideration the fact that a person had his personal life and his professional life.

This young man was working for himself now, meaning his grain was for his own use and wasn't going to market.

He's 21 years old, married and is running a farm. That's a lot of responsibility.

I looked at him and smiled. "Looks like you survived rumspringa," I said. "Now you're married. Any kids on the way yet?"

"Not yet," he said.

"Start making one," I replied and watched him give me a mildly foolish grin in return.

I looked at his horse drawn machine and comented that it looked well used but simple and durable and briefly showed me how it worked. I think it was as old as I am and it looked like it is sure to outlast me.

His English (non Amish) counterpart at the age of 21 generally knows nowhere near the responsibility this young man has unless he is in the service somewhere running a government machine.

The average college kid has no clue as far as responsibilities go, and yet here was a young Amish man at the age of twenty-one running his own farm.

He was busy so I took my leave and boomed and zoomed through some more of rural Pennsylvania and saw where the sun was and decided to head back for the barn.

In the way I saw a parachute in the sky and my second look I saw it was a para-plane. I crossed it's path and shut the Miata's engine off to listen to the little engine powering it, then I fired it up again and off I went headed for home.

While I respect today's top gun fighter pilots, I have a very special place in my heart for the crackpots and dreamers that fly primitive machines like that. It is aviation at its most primitive form. It's dead simple seat of the pants aviation. I wonder if the hotshot flyboys would be comfortable in a rig like that.

I drove on and retook the interstate and as I was getting off of it the cell phone rang. It was Neighbor Bob.

He said he had a pizza and he'd meet me in my garage when I got home.

The sun was now down as I pulled the little car into the garage. The day was over and although I didn't get the project down back done, I had used the day well. It hadn't been wasted.

We ate pizza and drank a beer and sat in the garage and another neighbor dropped by for a drink and shortly thereafter I went upstairs and did a little paperwork.

The day was over and I felt pretty good about it.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

So Prince Harry is coming to the states for training. Cool!

WHile I have not paid a whole lot of attention over the years to the Royals, I have sort of kept an eye opene here and there because I find Harry and his brother William to be somewhat interesting people.

None of the Royals really have it as easy as a lot of people think. One thing they get little of is privacy. The poor bastard can't even go to the loo (to use a British term) in peace without some jerk trying to snap a picture of him sitting on the pot. Every single thing he does is subject to scrutiny and conjecture.

Harry is OK in my book.

He was on the way to pissing his life away and decided to step up to the plate and he entered Sandhurst where he seemed to have done well. He served with distinction in Afghanistan as another pair of boots on the ground and I heard somewhere he was a damned good platoon leader.

Now hw has qualified for Apache training which I imagine is a gold plated son of a bitch and has landed a slot for training here in the States.

I don't have a problem with that. I think he's qualified. He's probably one of the UKs better new pilots and I'd bet he's earned that on his own.

Naysayers ought to think for a minute. You don't think anyone is going to put Prince Harry in a situation where he is likely to fail or get killed. Attack helicopter training is risky enough as it is and sending someone underqualified into it for social or political reasons is sheer stupidity.

I'm sure he knows what he is doing.

Welcome to the desert, Harry. Good luck.

Learn your lessons well because I'd just bet you're going straight into combat in Afghanistan. I wish I could give you my old .45 in case you need it.

Thank you for your service.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm home, a day late

Yesterday I was busy loading a hazardous cargo and had only time to post a placeholder.

The load was a last minute deal and it was of a nature that put me wearing a respirator on deck and I had to pay a little more attention to detail than usual. Truth is it felt a little spooky.

I got held over until the completion of the looad and didn't get back to my vehicle until the wee hours of the morning. I decided that it might be a good idea and overnight at a motel. Of course, when I got there the place was full and rather than play around I decided to run for it.

About an hour away from home I started getting sleepy and decided to hit the ditch and bag a few zulus which I did for about an hour, arriving home a little after 10.

Anyway I am home and the first thing I noticed is that there are not a whole lot of my flowers left as they are dying off with the onset of fall which seems to have fallen.

I noticed a lot of color in the trees on the way home and I wish I had time to make a cold weather Miata run through Vermont as it is drop dead gorgeous there this time of year.

Anyway I am home and I am alive.

Incidentally the word has it that next tour I will be in a remote place and will have either little or no internet access so that is going to make keeping this blog up a little iffy. Stay tuned after this message.

Pic, out

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jammed up at work. Not a lot of time to post today.

I am supposed to get off this slab in the AM but probably not.

I might be able to post, we'll see.

Pic, out

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There seems to be a considerable amount of whining over the way we nailed Anwar-al-Awalaki.

I have thought about it and have come to the conclusion that for possibly the first time in recorded human history I am going to have to back up President Obama on this one as much as it hurts me to do so. I suppose that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.

The crime committed by Anwar-al-Awalali of treason is one that would subject him to being subject to being arrested by members of the Justice department. Had they apprehended him first he should have baan draggede back to the States for trial.

On the other hand the instant he took up arms against the United States from his overseas location he became a bona fide military target and simply became subject to the rules of engagement.

In short he became subject to two very different Federal authorities, the Justice department and their rules and the military and rules the military plays by.

Had the Justice Department sent some kind of hit squad to nail him there is a very good chance I would be raising holy hell over it because of the slippery slope such a doing might lead to. Like a lot of people I expect te government to at least play lip service to the rules regarding the rights of American citizens.

I would not have condoned this man being eliminated by the Justice department based on the citizenship of the deceased.

However, the Justice department had nothing to do with the elimination of Anwar-al-Awalaki. The military did. They eliminated a bona fide military target. Big deal. It is what the military is supposed to do to keep us safe, eliminate enemy military targets. They did just that. Where is the problem?

It is as simple as that.
Somebody recently asked me what I would do if I won a huge lottery jackpot.

I told them I would teach that rookie Charlie Sheen a couple of things.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

The blind date. Long before the era of the Seeing Eye Cat.

Several years ago a friend of mine got four tickets to the Boston Pops which was pretty cool. He was planning on taking his girlfriend and asked me if I would double date with a coworker of his.

I was living in Alaska at the time and happened to be visiting the family and was staying at the family manse with my folks. If I recall it was just after my dad had died and it was just Mom and I.

Apparently the coworker was new and I think he was just seeing what she was made of.

"Blind date, huh?" I asked. "Do I need a white cane?"

He broke up and his girlfriend, who was standing there, said "That's a great idea! Show up with a white cane and pretend you are blind!"

"Let me borrow one from my neighbor," I said.

When my mother saw me in the sunglasses carrying the white cane I had borrowed she asked what I was doing. I told her I had a blind date that night. She laughed, and shook her head. "Jiminy Cricket!" she said.

The evil conspiracy was planned and off we went.

I went to the door led by my buddy to pick up my date and she seemed surprised to see me in sunglasses and a cane but I'll admit she recovered pretty fast. Still, the look she gave my buddy told me an awful lot about her. She was a severe bitch in camoflauge.

I took her arm and she led me back to the car and we got into the back seat and my friend drove us to the Pops. The seats were great, on the champagne esplinade and we ordered a couple of bottles of champagne, none of which I partook of in compliance of our evil plot. The girls started swilling the stuff down and I guess by the time the show was over and it was time for us to hit the road, they were giddy.

The small talk I made with my date, while civil, lacked any depth, and well it sounded warm and friendly the undertones told me otherwise. I know she actually believed I was blind because of a few of the looks I got from her. I think she was quite resentful over having to spend an evening with someone she probably regarded as a cripple. I was somewhat resentful of this, too as the man I had borrowed the cane fron, although blind, was anything BUT a cripple. He was a man I considered very courageous and damned smart.

When we got back to the car, my pal pointed out that we really needed a designated driver as getting a DUI was pretty serious and he suggested that I drive as I had not imbibed.

My date went straight through the roof!

"The man's blind!" she screamed.

"Yeah, so?" I said, conversationally.

My buddy and his girl got her settled down a bit.

"It's OK," they explained. "He'll sit in front and give him directions. They do this all the time."

It took quite a bit of doing but finally we had her convinced enough to get into the bac seat of the car.

"Well, OK," she said, dubiously. "But if I don't like it, I'm getting out and catching a cab!"

I got into the driver's seat and with my pal giving directions, off we went.

'Little to the right...little straighten 'em out. Slow up and stop here. We're going to enter traffic and you're going to have to make a right...not yet, GO! Right, more right...straighten 'em out."

It was like this through the streets of Boston until we got to the Mass Pike and then things relaxed a bit. He didn't have to give as many directions. Occasional glances into the rear view mirror let me know my date was terrified.

We came to a rest area and we decided to snag a cup of joe and my pal directed me to pull in next to the parking space reserved for the State Police, which I did and as luck would have it, as soon as I shut the car down, in pulled a Statie. I got out and got a 'What the hell is this all about' look from the officer.

I faced the officer with my back to everyone, lowered my shades and with a stifled smirk I gave him a sly wink. My date got awfully nervous.

Whoever says that some police officers don't have a sense of humor is wrong. The officer gruffly asked me if I had a license and I produced mine. When he asked why the State of Alaska had issued a license to a blind person I told him I had suffered my accident about a year ago and my license had not expired yet.

Feigning anger, he said to the other three that while he didn't like it one bit that there was nothing he could do about it because my license was still good. He gave me a very slight tinge of a smirk and followed us into the coffee shop. We grabbed a to-go order and off we went.

After I dropped my date off the three of us laughed ourselves silly and wondered what she was going to say at work the next day and they dropped me off at my folks place where I was staying.

The next day I chartered a small plane and the pilot and I buzzed my friends place of work and put on a mini air show for a few minutes. About an hour later, I went into my friends workplace, clad in sunglasses, a flight jacket and carrying a clipboard and flight computer.

"Hey, Ace," said my pal. "Was that you?"

"Yeah. We also flew the length of the Cape Cod Canal," I replied. "Under both the Bourne and Sagamore bridges!" This was years before the railroad bridge was built over the canal. I hadn't done this, it was BS between friends.

"They'll yank your ticket for that if they catch you...Hey are you thinking of flying Skyraiders for the Navy?" he asked. This was a bunch of crap. I have never been in the Navy but with last night's date listening from the next cubicle I guess my pal wanted to lay it on a little thick.

"Gotta catch me first," I said. "Navy's going with jets for ground support now. No slots open for me. They closed the program some time ago."

My date of the previous evening was sitting in the next cubicle and the look of outrage on her face followed by her becoming obviously silent made me think I should keep my mouth shut, but I felt the need to be at least civil. I looked over at her.

"I had an interesting time last night," I said.

"You're a real jerk," she snipped.

I looked at her thoughtfully. "Who's the jerk? Character is what happens when nobody is looking. You thought I couldn't see and I the looks you gave me last night said quite a bit." I could tell that that answer really stung.

Obviously she had no sense of humor and I left, noticing the amused looks I got from everyone else in the office. I imagine that at break she had told everyone about being driven around by a blind chauffeur and now she felt more than a tad foolish. She didn't have the common sense to simply fess up and admit she had been fooled by a couple of professionals and get it behind her.

Her coworkers probably would have respected her for that.

My friend later told me that a couple of weeks later she left the company and went somewhere else.

That evening when I returned the cane to my neighbor and told him the story he about laughed himself silly.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Special guest post.

Last night I was surfing the web on a site I have long been a member of and saw a post by someone that I kind of liked. I asked him if I could post it here and he agreed.

I know nothing of this person save I like his post. Here it is.
By SigP226 from ARFCOM

Give this guy a guest shot on the blog

I hear this more and more, everywhere I go. I run into 7-11 for coffee in the morning on my way to work.

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you.

I park my bike in the park to enjoy a sunny morning.

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you.

Years ago, I used to feel bad, knowing that I had a full stomach and this person was crying hunger, even though I knew that whatever money I gave them was going straight to the nearest Stop and Rob for a some cheap beer or right down to the river for a joint. But I felt a little guilty with my cold six pack, my smokes, and pizza delivery on the way, so I tossed them a couple of bucks.

That was a long time ago and even then I knew it was wrong.

I got my first job when I was fourteen, running the supply shack at a boarding school. It was a school for troubled kids and I was one of the troubled kids. The supply shack was a shithole and the last kid they put there told all the staff to take whatever they wanted while he watched tv and got high. Guess what happened to him. There were three rooms full of supplies thrown on top of piles of trash and birdshit from the birds that came in through a hole in the wall and nested there. Out you go. There was an attic, too, and if I was a serial killer I could have stashed the bodies in that place for years.

It took me three months to clean that place up and get rid of all the refuse. When I was done, I asked my boss if someone from maintenance could fix the hole to keep the animals out. I learned my first lesson in bureaucracy when a month went by and nothing happened. It seems the maintenance director didn't like the facilities director and a turf war was in progress.

One day I found one of the maintenance guys and played dumb. I asked him to come look at a problem and he was bored, so he went to look. I opened the door and invited him in. He had seen the place in its previous state. He stared, then he quietly said, "No shit."

Then he said, "That attic is pretty messy, you know. I'm going to have to go up there to fix the hole." I put an old ladder up to the attic entrance and told him that I thought he'd be able to get at the hole. He opened the panel and took a look.

"I'll be back in a few minutes," he said. He came back with another guy. They cut a piece of plywood and fixed the hole. Then they pointed at the windows. "I know these windows are pretty old," he said. "I think we can make them a little easier to open. I know it gets pretty hot in here." They straightened the window frame and sprayed some lube on the track. The other guy went out to their truck.

"We got an extra one of these," he said, and gave me an old box fan that fit in the window. It was dirty and it didn't work on high, but it was heaven compared to August in the side of an old barn with no cross ventilation. After a year. they gave me two other kids who were supposed to help me. I think they were supposed to see my example and learn from it, but they wanted to watch tv and sneak out the back to get high. By that time, I was writing purchase orders for a boarding school and I was fifteen. Guess what happened to them.

Years later I was on my own. I lost my job, which I wasn't really good at anyway. I also couldn't pay my rent and I ended up sleeping on my friend's couch that night. I was hungry, and I wanted a cold beer more than anything in the world. The next day, I got up, walked into town, and started looking for work.

There was a guy remodeling an old building in the middle of town.

"Are you hiring?"
"What can you do?"
"I can shovel up all that broken concrete you've got in that pile and get rid of it."
"Be here at 7:30."

I was at it for a couple of hours when he came by and asked me if I wanted some coffee. I didn't have any money. He pulled out a ten dollar bill and told me to get coffee for him and the other guys, and myself, too. I got it and went back to the pile of broken rocks, He bought me lunch every day that week, too. There were guys who would get high and avoid working while they laughed at the little shithead with the long hair who was sweeping the floor and humping commercial sheetrock up to the top floor. Guess what happened to them.

I learned how to frame a house, hang windows and doors, install siding, tile, shingle, drop ceilings, stairs, sheetrock, spackle, trim, and the proper way to evaluate tits according to an Italian contractor. I was sad when the work ran out, not just for me, but for my boss who was going to have to scrounge and find a job working for somebody else. We had a couple of beers at the Valley Pub and pronounced ourselves experts on the subject of tits.

From there I got my own house, became a volunteer EMT, became a paid EMT, went to school, ran a business, ran my friend's business, and took whatever lumps came my way. I got in the gun business seventeen years ago and found something I really liked. I had an old boss who knew everything there was to know about guns and he knew plenty of other stuff, too. He was a great and generous teacher, and a great boss. I miss his company very much. He was also an expert on the subject of tits.

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you.

The reason I can't help you is because I've been watching you for the last 34 years and I've noticed that there's a reason you can't feed yourself. Either you spent your money on beer and pot, or you refuse to do any work and you haven't got any money because of it.

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you.

See, I have a cart full of groceries. The reason I have it is because I worked fifty hours last week and I spent time when I was off to make sure I was up on what's happening in my industry. The reason I worked fifty hours last week is because even in a down economy, I've got people calling me up and offering me jobs.

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you.

I can't teach you that when someone hires you to work for him, you need to actually work. I'd fire you, too. The reason I'd fire you is because I've heard that story before when I had to fire some idiot that didn't understand that part of working is in fact, working.

"But I need this job."
"But I need somebody who will do what I ask and that's not you."

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you.

You could have offered to wash my car for twenty bucks. You could have offered to help me with the bags of stuff that I had to carry. You could have even offered to show me your tits and I, being an expert on the subject of tits, might have gone along with the gag.

"I'm hungry. Can you help me?"
I can't help you. You're the one that's overweight and begging for money in a parking lot at 9:30 on a Saturday night. You can't help yourself.

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