Saturday, December 31, 2011

The mall wasn't too bad last night as

there were not a boatload of people hanging out in the middle of the night.

It's been a while since I made a PRC-320 QSO while having the rig out so I decided to do a little hilltopping last night. The mall was built atop a hill and it's a pretty good spot to use to grab a late night QSO off of the little backpack rig.

I also had my little 2 meter hand-held with me.

I had just put the 320 on the deck of my pickup bed when I saw the headlights headed my way and knew it was a cop. He pulled up and asked me what I was doing and I told him. He looked a little suspicious, which is to be expected because he doesn't meet a guy late at night packing a military radio every day.

I was polite and pleasant and he asked me several questions and I explained to him why I was using this particular parking lot. He nodded and agreed that it was a pretty high spot. He also suggested that sometime I try the water tower in a nearby park and I explained to him that in addition to the park being closed after dark that a lot of dirty dealings take place after dark up by the water tower. He agreed with me on this one.

By now I had the rig set up and I clicked the power on and turned and tuned the antenna and started combing the 40 meter band for activity and almost instantly found someone out there. It was an insomniac in Virginia calling out 'CQ', calling any station. I turned to the cop and told him I was going to answer the guy and he nodded.

I had a pretty good signal from the guy and the cop seemed pretty impressed whan I told him I was yakking with Virginia. I grinned and held up the hand-held and told him I was going to try and hit the International Space Station with it and his brows raised. He asked me if that was legal. I assured him it was.

What I am doing with these police officers is not what a guy usually does. Most people lay low and try and fly under the radar. I'm simply going to go about my business. I want them to see me and get to know who I am and what I am doing out there. It makes for good public relations.

While I'm sure that over time I'll be referred to by the police in that town as 'the radio crackpot', that's fine by me. They'll simply keep an eye on me to make sure nothing happens to me and in return if I see anything suspicious I'll phone it in.

I'll be hilltopping there from time to time and it is probably a good idea NOT to hide, but to simply become a part of the woodwork because when the police get used to something like this they'll simply drive by and wave instead of interrupting me.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post and I have decided to post a few things on etiquitte.

1. You do not eat peas with a knife. You mix them into the mashed potatoes and eat them with a spoon.

2. You do not show anything but respect to an older person. To do so might be painful. If it is a very old man wearing WW2 ID of any kind it will become VERY, VERY painful. While it is against the law to simply shoot you, this will not end well for you. You will probably either die or if you survive you will go to prison. Pick one.

3. Politeness gets you places. The other day a young man explained to me he was shopping on his lunch hour so I let him in front of me in line. He was polite. He also had a job and was paying for his purchases out of his paycheck which is nice to see in a young man in this day and age. This leads to...

4. If you are paying for your purchases with government assistance of any type, please go to the end of the line. After all the rest of us are paying for your purchases for you and we have jobs to go to so we can continue to pay for your stuff. Respect that.

5. You are responsible for the conduct of your children. I will not hold the precious little darlings responsible in any way. I will simply tase YOU until YOUR hair stands up and then we will discuss what to do about the misbehaviour of your child.

6. If your children are well behaved I will ask you permission to treat them to a candy bar or something along these lines. They are your children and you know what they can and can not eat.

7. (PA drivers take note) When it is your turn to drive, drive. Do not waive your right of way. It is your turn, take it. Many of us have learned to drive somewhere else where everybody takes his turn as a matter of custom. Although you are trying to be polite, don't. It scares the hell out of the rest of us that learned to drive in Jersey.

8. When it is not your turn at an intersection do not barge out there. Wait your turn.

9. When a person shows kindness to someone else do not assume he is going to do the same thing for you. You may be in for a surprise when you try and take advantage of his kindness and he painfully shows you that although he is kind, he is not weak.

10. Contrary to what you may have heard, there ARE stupid questions. Don't ask them. If you do and you don't like the answer, remember you have only yourself to blame.

11. I'm having codfish and eggs for breakfast. So what? I don't need your comments. If you don't like it eat something else.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

But it's ugly.......

I get a kick out of some people.

I wound up getting a nice Hard Dog roll bar for the Miata a while ago for a song. It came from a used car place and I got the story that went along with it. Some little chickiepoo was looking to buy a cute little Miata and the guy in the lot had just the cream puff for her.

When she saw it, there was the roll bar installed in it and she asked what it was for. The salesman told her that it could  save her life in the event of a pollover.

"But it's ugly!" she said.

So the salesman had it yanked and I wound up with it for next to nothing.

While I wish no evil on anybody, I can't help wonder what would be going through her mind as she was sitting in the cockpit of the little car all busted up after rolling it down an embankment.

There are a lot of tradeoffs in life.

Back in the days before cable TV one few choices for TV reception. If you were fairly near the transmitter you could use a pair of rabbit ears and park the unit on top of the set.

If you didn't live so close you put up an outside antenna. They were aluminum things and you can still see quite a few of them atop houses because they were a hassle to put up and once up things like that are seldom removed.

I suppose they are ugly, too.

I wonder how many women looked at them and got all upset and asked their husbands if here wasn't something else they could do besides set up that big, ugly antenna. Probably quite a few.

Of course after it had been up for a brief period of time it just became another part of the woodwork.

Over the years I have only seen one guy gripe about how something useful was ugly.

I had this old pickup and the guy actually said I ought to get rid of it. I asked him why and he told me it was ugly.

I replied, "You're ugly, too, but you don't hear me talking about taking you to Smokey's dump!"

The truck lasted me a couple more years.

Anyway, life is a tradeoff. The old TV antennas taught me that. If you want good TV reception you have to look at an ugly antenna sometimes.

As I write now I am looking at a small ground-plane antenna for a 2 meter rig I am planning on calling the International Space Station with. I guess someone will tell me that it is ugly so I better get ready to tell someone off. Oh, well.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I have cheated death again. I made it hoe.

For the first 40 or 50 miles the drive home last night was a but iffy because of what seemed to be a large number of drivers that did not know what they were doing.

In the beginning of my odyessy traffic was heavy, to boot.

After a while things thinned out a bit and I began rolling down the highway and the rest of the ride home was uneventful.

Before I left I heard a pretty good story from one of the guys.

Apparently a hooker set up shop in the motel we generally stay in and she was trolling. She made a mistake by asking Milt if he 'wanted any company'. While Milt is generally considered to be nowhere as mischievious as I am, every blue moon he comes out with one out of nowhere.

He politely refused her offer and she told him that if he changed his mind she would be in room such and such.

A few minutes later Milt was in his car getting something and saw a Monopoly game in the floor of the back seat that belonged to his kids. He grabbed it and brought it into his room along with his basic travel kit.

He then called his shipmate and grabbed the Monopoly game and the pair of them headed up to the room occupied by the hooker. Both of these characters are from the Carolinas and can turn on the Gomer Pyle/naive country boy act  pretty well when they want.

So the hooker answers the door and Milt in his naive country boy was said that it was a shame that such a pretty girl should have to spend the holidays alone and if she wanted company they would come in and play Monopoly with her.

I have to give those two credit because they played the innocent little country boy right down to the end and after the hooker finally spelled out her line of work to the pair.

They were all 'gosh-golly-gee-whiz, whoda ever thought?' about it as they shuffled off to head over to the diner to get something to eat.

I can picture those two. While Milt is seldom given to mischief, the other guy as great company. He's a First Class screwball. I can hear him in my head walking down the balcony saying to Milt, "My daddy warned me about women like that."

If it had been me, I would have steered pretty clear of the hooker. Although what Milt and Company did was pretty  innocent fun, about half the hookers in Philly are not hookers. They are police vice stings and they have a bad reputation for simply hauling in people for nothing just to enhance revenue. The best policy in Philly is to simply say nothing at all to hookers and just keep moving.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Time to write the congressman

The first thing I am going to do when I get home is write my congressman and find out why the United States Army is still painting the Red Cross on their dust-off choppers.
The Taliban forces simply use the red crosses as an aiming point and shoot at them with impunity because they know that they are unarmed. The Geneva Convention states that any vehicle bearing the Red Cross must be unarmed. All this is well and good except for the fact that the last time I checked the Taliban do not observe the Geneva Convention.
In order to be able for a dust-off to do their job it means that the Army has to field an Apache to escort it and that means the logistics required to send out two choppers has to take place.
The Air Force and Marine Corps do not play this silly little game, nor do the Brits. Their medevac choppers bear no such markings and are armed to the teeth. Generally the Taliban are more likely to leave these birds alone because they bite back, and they bite hard.
While the average dust-off crews are equipped with brass balls and would cheerfully land in the middle of the flames of hell to pluck out a wounded GI they are discouraged from landing in a hot LZ unless the Apaches are up overhead.
The helicopters flying dust-off flights should be armed so well that they gird our forces inside a doughnut of nice, sticky burning napalm about a half-mile wide so they can land to pick up our wounded with impunity.
Another thing the Army seems to forget is that putting a red cross on a chopper is much like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It is the symbol of the Infidels that tried to wrestle the Holy Land from them back in the 11 and 1200s. I would not be surprised if the good Afghanis were somewhat offended by this.
The delays caused by politics and the resulting delays like this does nothing more than costs GIs their lives.
Sending these dust-offs out into the middle of a fight unarmed emblazoned with a red cross is nothing less than criminal and as far as I am concerned, the officers that are keeping these policies going are guilty of manslaughter. At the very least they should be tried for conduct unbecoming an officer and cashiered out of the service.
Of course the guilty officers supporting marked unarmed medevac flights are going to give a bunch of mush-mouthed excuses about the political end of things and in my opinion that is no damned excuse whatsoever.
We’re talking about the lives of GIs and not the opinions of a bunch of old men sitting around in some safe haven creating enough hot air so that we will have to listen to Al Gore warn us about global warming all over again.
It is a disgrace that a 60 year old former GI should have to write about this simply because it should not be happening.
The troops deserve more.
Arm the dust-offs to the teeth and take that damned red cross off of them.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Being the oldest

One of my shipmates is about my age and had a number of siblings that he had to share things with as a kid.
I am the oldest of an entire generation and had, in addition to four siblings had a busload of younger cousins to rain God knows what down on.
I got kidded a couple of years back about the time I took one of my cousins for a ride in my MGB. I was about 17 at the time and he was about 10 years younger. He asked me how fast we were going and instead of pointing to the speedometer, I pointed to the tachometer and told we were going 350 mph or something like that.
It was funny watching the wide eyed cousin tell my uncle that I had driven 350 miles per hour. My uncle suppressed a smirk and said, “Three hundred and fifty, huh? That’s pretty fast!”
My cousin then ran around to all of the other cousins bragging that Cousin Pic had driven him around the block at 350 mph.
My shipmate recalled the time he was watching ‘Lassie’ with his sisters and of course Lassie was in hot water. His weepy-eyed sisters were sobbing that some cougar was getting ready to eat Lassie when he came to the rescue.
“Next week they’re going to show how Timmy trains the mountain lion that ate Lassie,” he explained, in a particularly evil tone. Of course the girls burst into tears.
I remember telling my kid brother the day before he started first grade that if he didn’t behave himself that he’d get beaten by two big guys in the office. I think I was going into third grade at the time.
He got scared and went to my father and asked him and Dad set him straight and found me and whacked me for doing that.
He then gave me a lecture on how I should encourage my brother and so on.
A minute after my dad left my brother happened by. It took more than a whack to make me contrite.
“It’s really three guys that beat you,” I whispered. “Dad just doesn’t want you to be scared until you get there.”
He was pretty shaky the first couple of days at school but he survived.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Looks like Santa got through all right

Well, Santa made it OK from what I gathered.
The Air Force probably gave him an air-to-air refueling of milk and cookies over both the Atlantic and Pacific crossings and he managed to avoid a couple of surface-to-air missiles fired at him from Tehran by the idiots there using the time honored trick of using tinsel as chaff.
I guess the Air Force gave him an escort through some of the rougher zones and it would not surprise me to hear that the troops in Afghanistan were standing by in case he was forced down there.
One of the neat things the Air Force does is that every year NORAD tracks Santa and fields calls from kids. It’s also a pretty good deal for the taxpayer because it doesn’t cost us anything. One of the phone companies sets up the phone network as a donation and all of the phone answerers are off duty volunteers.
I’d like to see how that works because I’d just bet that for the day the Airmen do this little labor of love that rank just disappears. It very well may be one of those little things that happens in the military every blue moon where you see a young airman teaching a couple of colonels and majors the ropes because he did it last year.
I’ve seen things like this happen at Camp Perry where you have an Army brigadier general in the pits pulling targets for a Marine corporal and another time I saw a Sp/4 look at a major and say, “Nyeah, nyeah, Sir.”
The major blushed a bit at having been beaten by the Sp/4 but you could see that there was something between the two that transcended the difference in their ranks.
There is a lot of good natured kidding that goes on at an event like that and it actually serves a pretty good purpose because an awful lot of officers and enlisted get to see each other as human beings. For that reason alone the program should keep going on.
I have heard a couple of pretty good stories come from the event and they made me grin.
One Airdale told a little kid that Santa had passed him but would turn around and get to his house if he went straight to bed. He was treated to hearing a phone receiver hit the floor followed by a few little thumps that sounded an awful lot like little feet. A second later he was treated to a father picking up the phone and asking the Airdale what he had told his son.
“I’ve been trying to get him into bed for over an hour,” replied the amazed father.
Besides the camaraderie that takes place at this event it should be noted that the world has gotten to be a pretty dangerous place. I suppose Santa can use all the help he can get these days. I know if I was some kind of communist off-brand type that thought of going after Santa I would think twice knowing the Air Force is guarding him.
Thanks, guys.
This is my third Christmas at sea over the past four years and because I am out here some father can be at home with his kid which really is where fathers belong.
I actually volunteered to work over a few days for my relief because his son is home on leave but I guess he’s coming back to work on schedule because of scheduling and crew change transportation reasons. It’s a shame but that’s life at sea.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wanna buy a watch?

Back when I was living in Alaska I had a cohort living in Seattle and to make a few bucks in the winter I would get some pretty good produce flown in every so often and peddle it out of the trunk of the cab I was driving at the time.
It wasn’t illegal and even the police bought a few things here and there.
A few months later when the weather broke and things were looking pretty good the world caved in on me and I was back in the cab. My friend in Seattle sent me a HUGE supply of inexpensive digital watches and told me to move them.
He got them pretty cheap and I could make a pretty good profit selling them for about five bucks a pop out of the cab.
On one of my days off I noticed there were supposed to be about three or four cruise ships in and I decided to see what I could do with an All-American cliché from more Hollywood movies than I can recall.
The watch salesman.
I got myself a fedora and long coat from the Goodwill store and a couple of packages of drapery hooks from the hardware store and installed the hooks inside the jacket and hooked the watches onto them.
About the time the cruise ship docked I parked myself downtown at a heavily traveled street corner and used the oldest hokey Hollywood line in the world.
As someone would pass by I would whip open the coat and ask, “Wanna buy a watch?”
The watches sold like hotcakes and when I ran out of them after a few hours my take was about $400 if my memory still serves me.
I was surprised until I thought about it a while. I wondered why a person wearing a Rolex or Seiko watch would cough up twenty scoots for a dollar store watch until it hit me.
They were not buying the watch; they were buying the story that went along with it. They only bought to watch as proof that they really did meet a character with a long coat with a bunch of hooks in it selling watches.
If you are over 70 right now and bought a watch from a guy wearing a long coat full of hooks on the inside with a bunch of watches hanging from the hooks, that was me.
I’m still alive and doing well and I’m glad I helped make your vacation a little more memorable.

my other blog is:

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Festivus!

And the aluminum pole is up and I am wearing my yarmulke and having breakfast.

Happy Festivus to everyone!

This holiday scratches my itch.

my other blog is:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On a whim yesterday I called the guys that sold me

the Combat Laptop and explained what happened. I was promptly floored. They told me to send it back to them and they would replace the hard drive for little more than the cost of shipping.

That ain’t a bad deal in this day and age and as soon as I can get ashore I’m going to stuff it into a box and shoot it off to them. There are not really a whole lot of people out there that would do that for an old surplus rig like that.

I attribute their willingness to do this for me to the fact that I dealt with them with no indignation or anger and because I had reasonable expectations.

First of all, I bought the rig pretty much with no guarantee other than it would not be dead on arrival and therefore had no leg to stand on. I didn’t call them up a-spittin’ and a fumin’ and ranting and raving. I simply called them up and told them what happened and asked them if they happened to have another hard drive for the rig in stock.

I also told them that I was not holding them responsible because I knew it was a surplus rig to begin with.

I simply wanted to buy the necessary parts and information necessary to repair the little rig.

Then on a whim I asked him how much he wanted to repair it and he quoted me a price that was little more than the cost of shipping. You can’t beat that.

I’d have to buy the parts AND snag an operating system disc to get this going and then download a slew of drivers and on and on. It would probably take me a day if I was lucky.

Of course, he has all of the tools so he can do the job in a few minutes.

Needless to say I have not even sent the combat laptop in yet so I really do not know how this is going to work out but as of now it looks like the old warrior is going to be back on line soon.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how this works out and after it is all said and done with I’ll write a little review on how this worked out.

If it works out you can bet that I will name the company and recommend them highly as good people to do business with.

It is the least I can do if they treat me as well as I think they will.

I’ll keep you posted.


Several years ago I bought an AR-15 rifle set up in a National Match Service rifle. When I first got the rifle it shot dime-sized groups at 100 yards but after a little more than 1000 rounds the groups opened up. I also noticed that the float tube was not concentric with the barrel as it was when it was new.

I had expected to get between 3500 and 5000 rounds before the groups started to open up which is about the norm for the type of barrel I had purchased.

I also noticed that the float tube was well out of concentricity.

Now I was aware of the fact that many rifles are sent back to the factory simply because the owner can’t shoot straight so I handed it off to a Master class shooter who confirmed that the rifle was not up to snuff.

I sent the company a letter along with the rifle telling them that I was having problems with it and shortly after got a phone call from the company problem solver.

I confessed that I had altered the trigger and had shot little but handloads out of the rifle. Both of these voided the guarantee of course, but he didn’t try and pull the cheap shot and bail out of his responsibilities based on that because neither of those had anything to do with a faulty float tube or a shot-out prematurely barrel.

I was forthright and honest and he decided to look into my problem because it seemed legitimate.

I had also done MY homework in that I had gotten a box of Black Hills Match ammunition, which is an industry standard of sorts and handed the rifle off to a Master to shoot to back my claims up.

I also didn’t have unrealistic expectations from a commercially made rifle, either. I did not expect it to shoot as well as a hand-fitted custom rifle because it wasn’t. It was a factory made job and when I got it back everything was up to snuff.

In fact it was more than I had bargained for as they had taken the liberty to install many of the new modifications that came with hand fitted custom rifles along with a letter explaining that they had since improved their products.

The rifle shot as well as many custom jobs and stayed in tune until the barrel wore out after about 5000 rounds.

I attribute this to making it easy for them, being pleasant and simply not being an indignant jerk and expecting too much.

It is surprising what you can get by simply being patient with people and giving them the opportunity to do the right thing.

While there is certainly no shortage of jerks out there who would rather cheat someone out of a quarter than make an honest dollar, there are a lot more people out there that are willing to bust their ass to do the right thing if you approach them decently.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Combat Laptop is down

I face the keyboard every single day I can and am glad to do it but now I foresee a problem coming up because I think the hard drive in the combat laptop just crashed and I am right now writing this on a borrowed machine until I can get ashore to get things squared away.

For the next couple of weeks I am going to have to play catch as catch can and see what I can do.

I have a very old laptop that I can cobble together when I get home and if it will work I’ll be in a more relaxed position because I’ll be able to keep on keeping on while I figure out what to do to replace the venerable old warrior.

One of the things I have noticed about technology is that it really is pretty throwaway. Cell phones last only about 16 or 18 months before they get replaced. Mine is coming on either two or three years now and I am mildly surprised it has lasted this long.

I have been getting about a year or so out of laptops that I drag around the boat which, while it makes the tool a throwaway I suppose it isn’t all that awful bad considering the beating they take out here. God knows they take a pretty good beating with all of the vibration that happens on a tank vessel, or a tug for that matter.

I suppose part of the problem lies in the fact that I have been using surplus/MilSpec stuff for years but as I have posted before MilSpec stuff is pretty good stuff as a general rule.

I do what I can to snag gently used MilSpec gear but you take what you can get. I know the DoD requires either a wipe or a destruction of all hard drives which makes a lot of sense. I would imagine that the hard drive for my now dead unit was yanked and I believe the company I bought it from said they replaced it but I wonder what they replaced it with.

I would imagine the hard drive they put in it in lieu of the original was whatever they could dig up somewhere. After all, I’d bet the original cost a pretty penny.

All in all it is aggravating but when you consider that buying a MilSpec laptop brand new from the original government contractor is pretty damned steep, as in thousands. This boots it out of range of the working stiff.
I now have a new inexpensive little netbook coming and I’m going to stuff a briefcase with foam rubber and make a rubber pad to rest it on and see how that will work out.

Anyway, I’ll be doing what I can to keep this blog rolling on a daily basis.

Wish me luck.

If there are any Itronix GoBook 3 tech types out there that know how to replace a hard drive, please give me a shout!

my other blog is:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Festivus is coming

Festivus is coming up in a few days and I am ready for it.

Last year a day or so after Festivus I knew I would be at sea again for the holiday which I had mistakenly attributed to a Jewish guy who had made the holiday up.

I decided to log it as a Jewish holiday and decided that a yarmulke would be the appropriate headwear for the holiday so I went on a website I am a member of and asked if anyone knew where I could buy a yarmulke, preferably one with ‘Happy Festivus’ embroidered on it.

The thread almost turned into a train wreck as a number of gentiles came charging in telling me I was being offensive to the Jewish members, but I had done my homework. I knew in advance that not a whole lot of Jews were likely to take offense.

Instead I was asked by a number of Jews for my mailing address and when I got home there were several yarmulkes in my mailbox, including one that had been embroidered with ‘Happy Festivus’. In a few days I will wear that one with pride.

A few minutes before I sat down to write this I Googled the holiday up and was surprised to find out that the actual originator of the holiday is a man named Dan O’Keefe which sounds pretty Irish to me.

I suppose that means I ought to wear a tam or something else, but I do not think I will, or at least this year. I think I will stick to the yarmulke. Maybe I will wear a tam next year. I’ll think about it.

A few years back one of my nieces asked me what it meant to be Jewish and I told her it was kind of like being Irish but they Jews do a better job of corned beef. My sister started to open her mouth to answer, but stopped and furrowed her brows for a second.

“You’re right,” she said. “They do a better job on corned beef.”

I have known this for decades and generally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by getting my corned beef and cabbage at a Jewish deli somewhere in the form of a corned beef on rye and a side of slaw.

I hate that boiled corned beef and cabbage Ma used to make every March 17th and after I left the house every St. Pat’s Day she would ask me if I had gotten my corned beef and cabbage.

One year a Jewish fish buyer overheard me on the phone telling my mom that I had gotten my corned beef and cabbage and chided me for telling my mother a fib. He treated the crew of the boat I was on to corned beef sandwiches and slaw. A new St. Patty’s Day custom was born.

When we thanked him, he laughed. “Anything to keep you Irish bums from lying to your mothers,” he said.

There are a couple of yarmulkes at home that are basic black and maybe what I’ll do in the future is to put a shamrock on one and wear it on St. Patrick’s day in honor of the Jews that have kept me from lying to my mother all of these years.

This really isn’t too good of a time for me and I generally do not do well over the holidays but for some reason I look forward to Festivus. I have written this post to thank a few people.

First I’d like to thank a certain someone that snagged me a nice piece of aluminum pipe that we use as a Festivus pole.

Then I’d like to thank a couple of Jews that have a pretty good sense of humor and sent me a few yarmulkes, especially the guy that sent me the one with ‘Happy Festivus’ embroidered on it.

Thanks, guys for brightening up my holidays.

my other blog is:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Generally all you have to do is ask.

Generally all you have to do is ask.

I was buying a telegraph key on eBay the other day and some or another kind of gremlin hopped in and caused a doubletap on the 'buy it now' button. I found out that I had bought two of them in error. I promptly paid for the first one.

I then immediately got in touch with the seller and simply explained what happened and he cancelled the second transaction. I didn't try any funny business, nor get upset or threaten to drag eBay into it, I simply fessed up to my mistake, explained what happened and asked him to fix it.

I suppose he looked at the pair of transactions and saw what happened, shrugged and cancelled the second transaction. OK, a customer made a simple mistake. Quick fix.

There was no drama, no ruffled feathers, no nothing. The guy at the other end sat down at his keyboard for a minute and fixed my mistake.

Most people you deal with are not fools. They want you to be a satisfied customer and to be happy because if you are you will continue to do business with them.

It seems to me that most of the drama in this world is generally made by people that do not have anything worthwhile to do but create problems for themselves. Instead of simply explaining that there was an error an awful lot of people simply refuse to fess up and admit their mistake and wind up in the middle of some sort of spitting match where nobody wins.

My telegraph key has been shipped and if it is even a halfway decent key than this guy is going to get some serious good feedback. If it is a serious piece of junk I will probably note it, but I will make a very pointed note that this guy is a decent guy to work with. Fair is fair.

Of course, I could have wound up getting stuck coughing up for two keys if the seller wanted to be stubborn and greedy about it but most serious sellers have found out over the years that it is best to make an effort to keep the customer happy. For one thing, it is simply good business.

Over the years, just like everyone else, I have run into my fair share of jerks that want to play hardball over some dopey nickel-dime thing. If it is a cheap enough deal I pay the bill and simply consider it to be a tip-off that the person is a jerk and sooner or later they get what is coming to them. Word gets out and they seem not to stay in business for very long.

A business deal is a two way street and you have to take some initiative, too and if something isn't right you have to make sure the other person knows what is going on.

I'd bet this seller is one of those guys that wants to stay in business for a while because he appeared interested in keeping his customers happy.

My item has been shipped and I am expecting a reasonably good quality for a reasonable price and it's a pretty good bet I'll get what I expect.

As for the seller?

I see a couple more odds and ends I will probably be able to use.

my other blog is:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I could find a parking space at the Super Bowl

I have pretty poor luck with getting around because I always seem to take a route that has had something wrong happen to is just before I leave home. I swear that I can have to make six detours just to get to the nearby 7-Eleven about a half mile away.

What seems to more than make up for it is my insane abilty to find parking spaces right where it is easiest for me to park. Black Friday? No problem. I'll find a spot forty feet from the door.

I swear I could pull up to the Super Bowl ten minutes before game time and someone would be pulling out of a the spot closest to the entrance I was planning on entering the game and I'd just park it and hop out and walk right in.

Then again I would have to leave long before the game, though because I'd have a hash of construction and accidents delaying me all the way there.

I guess it all comes out in the wash.

my other blog is:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stop whining about the holidays if you are not religious.

I have never had a Jew, Muslim or Hindu admonish me for wishing them a Merry Christmas and have yet to have had one bellyache to me over a nativity scene. Not one.

I have has people of other faiths wish me good tidings on their holidays and I take no offense whatsoever. In fact I am flattered that they want to share their holidays with me.

I do not say 'Happy Holidays' or whatever politically correct comes down the pike and I refuse to cop to the Gods of Political Correctness'. I say, "Merry Christmas". If you do not like that, please remember that Christmas is the time the mistletoe comes out and feel free to use mine. I keep it clipped to my shirt tail.

However I get pretty upset when someone comes along and tries to desecrate a religious holiday. Any religious holiday.

About thirty-five years ago I put on a uniform to defend the rights of everyone to practice whatever religion they want to if they want to. I have believed then and believe now in freedom OF religion and not freedom FROM religion.

If you do not have a religion, that's fine, too. Simply have the common decency to allow the rest of us to practice ours. Nobody is forcing anything whatsoever on you. You have the right to be what you want. It is part of the reason I put a uniform on all those years ago.

One of the things that seaman practice is tolorance because the world on board is a small one. We all have to work together and we all need each other. This is a big part of why I prefer to spend Christmas at sea. I spend it with men that respect one another enough to simply be big enough to share the holidays with one another with little care if the holiday they celebrate is the one they grew up with.

Generally speaking at sea, Christmas is celebrated with a big dinner and maybe a few little things because for the most part, most vessels are crewed with a majority of Christians. However, generally if there is a Jew on board the guys will wish him a Happy Hanukkah and mean it from the heart. The rare Muslim is given respect, too, as would anyone else.

One of the things I notice that is rapidly going downhill fast in this country is a basic lack of respect for the other person'e beliefs. Years ago trying to sour someone's holiday generally resulted in a pretty smack upside the head. It wasn't brutality, it was simply education and the person that received such a lesson generally manned up and took it. If he had half of a brain he learned and didn't do it again.

To those non-believers, I put the uniform on so you could continue to be non-believers. I will treat you with the same courtesy and respect you treat others with.

To those whiners out there, simply stop whining, no matter what you believe in.

Merry Christmas.

my other blog is:

Friday, December 16, 2011

A fifty year old guy learns to read

While I have seen a lot of interesting things in this business and one of the all-time coolest things I have ever seen here is the time a guy decided to learn how to read.


This goes back about twenty years ago and I look back on this and smile when I think about it which is fairly often because it makes me feel pretty good even though I didn't see it firsthand. I had met the main character a couple of times, though. He was quite an interesting person. I am going to change a few names here to protect people's privacy. Some of the guys are still out here and decency requires this.

The man had a 1600 ton license and knew his job and knew it well, but he could not read.

What? He couldn't read?

Nope, he couldn't read. He could sign his name, but the written word made no sense to him. He was, however, highly skilled. He knew men and he knew boats and could nestle a 500 foot long barge up against a pier in 30 not winds and a foul tide so gently that you could put an egg between the dock and barge and he wouldn't crack it.

The guys covered for him over the years by taking care of the paperwork for him and he managed to take his Coast Guard tests orally as there used to be a provision for that. There may still be a provision for this but I'm not sure, but still, he was licensed.

Before I ge a whole lot further you have to stop and think a minute about a guy that can not read and write, yet had a nice home, a good, responsible job, and a wife and kids. The man must be awfully intelligent to be able to pull such an act off.

He also must have had quite a sense of frustration, too because it finally got to him and he decided to do something about it. One day when they changed crews somewhere he was headed off with the deckhand and the chief engineer and stopped at a liquor store and bought a couple bottle of some pretty good hooch and handed a bottle to each of the two guys.

"Next trip you guys are going to teach me to read," he announced.

Now we are talking about a pair of tugboat guys here with no teaching credentials and probably a couple of basic issue high school diplomas on a tugboat that was generally out in BFE most of the time. There were no video teaching aids or whatever they use these days to teach kids to read, just a couple of guys with whatever they had to work with and an eager student.

The three of them went at it and the guys taught their skipper his ABCs and how the different letters represented different sounds. It didn't take long. By the end of the three week tour he had enough background so that he could look at written words and figure a lot of them out.

The chief had also heard of a new program that was out called 'Hooked on Phonics' and managed to bring the program back to the boat for the next tour and things really took off. It wasn't long before the skipper was running around with a headset on and whatever apparatus that he needed and was buried himself completely into the program.

In a few months the skipper was reading on a college level and from then on you could find him during his off watch time with his nose stuffed into a book somewhere.

This was before the boats had computers installed so I would imagine they were using cassette tapes but I might be wrong. Like I said, I was not there to witness this self-made miracle.

It didn't take long and pretty soon the skipper emerged from the darkness of illiteracy and into the world of the literate. He eventually got his GED and the last I heard is that he was taking courses at his local community college. I guess he worked something out with them to permit him to take the classes around his schedule and make up what he missed. I don't know how it worked, but apparently he managed something.

Dragging a man out of illiteracy didn't take the services of a college educated teacher, nor did it require all sorts of high tech costly equipment and a huge building and a multi-million dollar budget, it just took a couple of guys with high school diplomas and a willing student. The tools they worked with were what they had kicking around the boat.

My guess is that his primer was not something designed by some hifalutin' educator. It was most likely an old dog eared Louis L'Amour western someone found under a bunk somewhere.

While I am not against education in any way, when you see something like this happen your mind thinks of quite a number of different things. You question the schools that keep justifying huge expenditures that cost us millions yet do not seem to make things a whole lot better for our kids.

You question the requirements laid out for teaching credentials and start to think about the degrees and huge salaries we pay for. In my case I look back at some of the best teachers I ever had, army NCOs. some of which probably had pretty dubious formal educations.

But the biggest thing I seem to think about is the joke about how the Dalai Lama changes a light bulb.

He doesn't. All change comes from within. The light bulb has to want to change itself.

Some years later I was in a supermarket and some hippie chick saw me looking at a tabloid. I was looking at an ad for 'hooked on phonics' and smiling as I recalled hearing of that skipper learning to read. The hippie looked at me and interrupted my warm thoughts by telling me in an incredulous tone that Rush Limbaugh shilled for the program. Her tone of voice made it clear that she couldn't fathom why Rush would shill for such a program.

I looked at her and told her that Rush was a believer in self help and keeping the government out of as much as possible and that the Hooked on Phonics program was about as much self-help as you could get. Then I briefly told her about the guy I knew that used it to teach himself to read.

When I told her about the way the Dalai Lama changed a light bulb she blushed.

While I don't think she went straight home and unbraided her armpits, shaved her legs and traded here sandals for a pair of stilettos I do think she stopped and thought a minute. That in itself says at least something.

my other blog is:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strippers, Klansmen and do gooders seem to attract to me

I do not know why it is but I seem to be a magnet for certain types.

While hookers generally give me a pretty wide berth, strippers tend to draw to me. There is a convenience store I hit every so often next to a strip joint and if there is a stripper in it either going to or leaving the club she will approach me for something nine times out of ten. I do not know why this is, but it happens.

It really isn't all that complimentary, either as strippers are generally not that attractive or bright even though Hollywood portrays them as such. So I really can't say I'm bragging.

I am not really the strip club type. I find them depressing places, probably because I worked in one about thirty years ago. The last time I was in one was a few years back when I got a call from someone to help him scrape a couple of people up. When I got the call to help him out I cringed.

Sure enough, during the ten or fifteen minutes I was in the club it seemed that every one of the strippers approached me for something or another. I must have something tattooed on my face or something. Who knows?

I sure the hell can't seem to figure it out.

The next group that seems to approach me and try and take me under their wing are either the racists or anti-semites. God knows why as I am a very hard nosed straight down the line non-racist person you can imagine.

Still the Klansmen seem to come out of the woodwork and try and take me aside and drag me into thair brotherhood. The next step is generally when they find out I ain't gonna cop to that crap and they instantly turn on me. When they do that they generally assume I am some sort of a weakling and start in on me.

They generally find out otherwise. A while ago I had one try and take me under his wing and when I set him straight he turned on me with thinly veiled threats which I quickly quashed by simply asking him which lung he wanted me to install a nice, painful sucking chest wound into. That got his attention. I Then I gave him my name and address and begged him to show up at my door. I pleaded with him until he got a bit freaked out and left.

Anti-Semites seem to pop up every so often, but these are pretty much the easiest ones to get rid of. I simply show them my JPFO card and it scares the hell out of them. There is nothing that scares the hell out of an anti-semitic bigot worse than an armed, well trained Jew. While the bigot is a bigot and by definition he is stupid, most of them are not stupid enough to know about the Israeli commandos.

I generally don't whip the JPFO card out until after I've played with him a bit first, though. I hear him out and listen to his grand conspiracy theories, generally they end with 'the Jews stealing all the gold' and sometimes I play along if the guy is gullible and add a few details.

My favorite was the time I convinced one guy that the Jewish conspiracy was responsible for sinking Titanic. "Plotted by a Rosenberg, financed by a Goldberg and sunk by an Iceberg," I told him.

The best part was that he believed it. I later heard he added that to his anti semitic crap and started telling other people and making a fool out of himself.

While I draw more than my fair share of strippers and bigots, the biggest pains in the ass are the do-gooders that I seem to draw like a magnet.

These are the ones that Treat me like a small child that can't take care of himself and these are really more aggravating that the strippers and bigots put together. I hate being treated like a small child and these are the ones that think they're so much better than anyone else.

They are really the easiest of the others to leave stuttering, though because if you know how to count you can generally boggle their mind. Do gooders are generally of the mind that it's OK for them to spend someone else's money. WHen reminded of this they generally go a little slack-jawed.

On course when one approaches me with a right idea I generally extol all of the wonderful virtues of their creative and innovative idea and then ask them how they intend to finance this wonderful idea. It generally leaves them stuttering.

While I find the strippers mildly amusing, the bigots to be mildly annoying, embarrassing the Do-gooders seems to give me the most satisfaction.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

COld weather is here and all it means to me is aching bones and more work

And that is all I have to say about that.

This is when I wish I lived somewhere warm.

That's it for today because I am running around today.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SOme people shouldn't be allowed to use a can opener

One of the things I see in the power tool world is that they are constantly adding things to make things safer for the user.

I figure that a lot of this is to make them a little less scarier to the guy that really isn't a tool guy and to decrease the liklihood of the user getting hurt.

HAH! Fat chance!

The first rule if making something fool proof is to not even bother wasting your time. Fools are the smartest people in te world and they will out think the safety people and find a way to hurt themselves every single time.

Of course, they will blame the tool company. Legal action is sure to ensue.

The truth of the matter is that people have to learn their own limitations. There simply are a lot of peolle out there that shouldn't be allowed within rifle shot of a Handy Andy child's tool box and that is simply the way it is.

I'm pretty handy with tools but I pretty much know my limitations and know that care must be used at all times and that a single second of inattention can bite me pretty hard. I also know that there are tools I should simply stay away from. The radial arm saw is one of these. I do not own one, although I have.

I got rid of it years ago because my instincts told me that it was just a matter of time before it bit me.

On very, very rare occasions I wind up having to use one and I am very careful when I do. For me it is one of those tools that I simply do not like so I stay away from it.

This is probably pretty odd as I use quite a number of tools that some people consider a lot more dangerous than that.

I have built a number of houses over the years and there are not a whole lot of tools I can not use. One time at a shipyard a machinist let me turn a piece of scrap steel into a pretty good Fourth of July cannon that I used to use until recently. The neighborhood has changed a bit so I only break it out on the Fourth, but I digress.

When I asked to use the lathe I had the machinist give me a crash course and I took my time and when I had a question, I simply turned the machine off and got my answer before I resumed. I guess I did OK because I have a pretty good cannon and I didn't break anything so we can say I did OK.

The lathe was pretty intimidating because it was big enough to be able to sell rides on at an amusement park.

Anyway, back to the tool companies that are marketing tools designed to be used by people that imply should not be using them. They do this by installing safety devices that keep the user from getting hurt and in the process makes the tool a lot more unusable.

Right now an awful lot of chain saw sellers put a tip guard on the saw that precludes using the tool to make plunge cuts with. Mine had one and I yanked it off there the minute I got it home. I know how to make plunge cuts safely.

I look at things a little differently. I would rather they make tools the old fashioned way that did the job more efficiently and did away with the Joe Homeowner safety gizmos and made Joe a little more responsible for his actions.

Then again, the courts and legal eagles have seen to it that the companies are forced to make things inefficient because Joe Homeowner is a crybaby and doesn't seem to think it is his responsibility to think before he uses something. He thinks it is the responsibility of the toolmaker to make it safe for him to use.

Perhaps it is because of the way I think that I keep getting booted off of jury duty because I am not willing to cop to the mentality that product makers are responsible for making foolproof tools. Making a foolproof anything is an impossible task because sometimes fools can be the most ingenious people in the world. Out there somewhere waiting to strike is someone that can find a way to screw up a P-38 can opener.

In fact, I am somewhat surprised that there isn't a civillian version of the P-38 can opener out there that has a guard of some kind attached to it.

my other blog is:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another tale of shopping for a boat

A couple of people the other day commented on my post about rude people I met while shopping for the boat. There is also another side to this.

Most people do not shop for two or three weeks at a time, as they simply have the ability to run down to the nearest store when they feel like it. The crew of a work boat doesn't really have that option because it is quite a chore to strap a couple of canoes to your feet and walk down the coast to the nearest 7-Eleven.

When someone shops for a boat they generally have one opportunity to get every single thing they will need for the entire tour unless they luck out and get tied up somewhere near a store of some sort. While this happens from time to time, it is something that can not be relied on.

Every little thing has to be remembered and one oversight can spin the entire boat and crew into chaos. Picture seven men on a boat with no bathroom tissue and a marine sanitation device that can not break down paper towels. I've seen it happen once, it ain't pretty. (Looking back on it, it really does make for a pretty good sea story)

Anyway, most landsmen do not have a clue and it generally draws a lot of attention when people see one or two guys with several carts stuffed chock-a-block in a supermarket. More ofthen than not it either draws comments or questions.

Most men that ask about why so much grub generally ask if it is for a logging camp or a construction site. When I tell them it is for a work boat, they generally nod and understand. They might ask how long we plan on being out for. When I tell them they generally nod and either shuffle off or maybe they'll make a fairly pertinant comment about how how keeping a crew well fed is a herculean task.

Although there are a few men here and there that don't seem to get it, the majority of the dumber questions come from women as many of them do not seem to understand thing like this unless you spell it out.

Of course, this is a golden opportunity to have a little fun.

The most frequent comment I get from women is, "My goodness! You must have a large family!"

Rather then explain things I often decide to have a little fun.

"Yes, Ma'am. I have seventeen children. I come here every week."

"Seventeen!? How did you have seventeen chilldren!?" is the general reply.

"Didn't your mother ever have a talk with you and tell you where babies come from?" I reply.

They sometimes turn beet red and run off like the devil himself is after her to impregnate them, but not always. One peppery old woman looked at me and snapped, "Yes, I know where babies come from, but seventeen of them is insane! Your poor wife! You know, it's OK to do it for fun every once in a while!"

I'll admit, I laughed. I like people like her. She was a fiesty old broad.

Then I quietly explained to her that I was shopping for a boat and told her that telling women I had a big family saved me a lot of lengthy explainations. She gave me a thoughtful look. "You're probably right," she laughed. "It saves you a lot of time."

Sometimes if I am in the mood I'll play with some of these people a little bit. Some of the women will ask me questions about what it is like to raise 17 children. "After the first ten or twelve or so, you get used to it. After I get the groceries loaded I have to go to the school and defend my sixteen year old 110 pound daughter."

A comment like this is bait. Generally a nosy woman will take it.

"Why? What did she do?"

"She just beat the captain of the football team senseless for putting Ben-Gay in her kid brother's jock strap. I guess he's in the hospital now and is going to miss a few games. Oh, well. My kids stick together pretty much, and that little girl of mine can take real good care of herself. This isn't the first time she's gotten me dragged into the principal's office, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last."

"What's going to happen to her?" They will inevitably ask in a shocked voice.

"Probably nothing. She warned football player after the first two times he picked on her kid brother. The schools don't police the football team like they should and let them get away with murder," I explained. "I'll just go in and tell them if they don't police the football team they can expect another lawsuit. After I cleaned up pretty good on the last one, they pay attention. Besides, there isn't a football player on the planet that would go to court and have to admit that he got his jaw broken in three places by a little hundred pound girl in a leotard and ballet slippers. I won't have any problems."

Another woman that took the bait once asked me indignantly where a little girl learned to fight like that.

"She took a couple years of ballet," I replied.

"Ballet?" the woman looked confused.

"Yeah, four, five years of ballet and about four or five months of martial arts. You'd be surprised at how easy it is for a tiny little ballerina to kick a big man in the jaw." I replied. "That's generally what Sissy does when she gets her dander up. She's really a dainty little feminine thing but when someone picks on one of her siblings all bets are off. She's really quite maternal with the way she looks after the younger kids. She's going to be a wonderful mother when she meets Mr. Right, assuming she doesn't beat him up too bad until after they tie the knot."

Sometimes they ask me about my wife.

"Oh, Christy? She's SUCH a sweet young thing! I met her when I was about 35 and giving driving lessons. The first time I saw her I knew she was the girl for me! The day she turned sixteen we eloped to Tennessee and got married by a Justice of the Peace and we've been making beautiful babies ever since! Hey, she's pregnant again! We're gonna have number eighteen!

That's a pretty good shocker. Most guys that happen to hear this watch the look of shock on the woman's face and do their damnedest not to bust out laughing and ruin it for me. For some reason guys know what I am doing, although one guy that overheard actually believed what he heard, interrupted me and called me a few choice names.

"You're just jealous," I shot back. "Because my little Christy still looks hot and your wife has gotten old and hasn't given you any in the past ten years and I'm gettin' it every night!"

I thought the guy was going to turn purple on me. My shipmate, standing several feet away and looking like he didn't know me had to run down a grocery aisle to keep from busting up and ruining everything. That one went through the fleet when we got back to the boat.

Another question is how I afford so many children.

Answers here generally range between criminal and sheer luck. I told one woman I had won the lottery early on, another one I remember telling I had won a huge lawsuit. Shortly after the financial balloon burst a few years back, I told another woman I had made a killing making sub-prime bank loans to people to buy homes.

The latter got her pretty upset and she chewed me out for being irresponsible in lending money and responsible for Fanny Mae going down. I shrugged. "A man with seventeen kids has to do something," I muttered."What do you want me to do? Rob a bank? How about the bank YOU keep YOUR money in?"

My favorite of all time is when I told a woman I smuggled back a bunch of gold and antiquities back from Kuwait after Desert Storm and as soon as I heard Clinton was putting 100,000 more cops on the street I invested the money I made selling the antiquities to private collectors into doughnut futures which quadrupled overnight. The best part is she actually believed me. (Apologies to good police officers here.)

I have to admit that shipmates enjoy going shopping with me. They tell me I turn a miserable task into a lot of fun. Why not? It's a whole lot better to be happy and have fun when you have to do a miserable job like shopping for a boat.

I ought to take a Craigslist ad out. Picture this.

Wanted: Woman, mid-thirties to go shopping with me. Every month I shop for a tugboat crew of seven and people keep asking me if I have a large family. I generally tell the nosy people that ask me why I am buying so much food that I have seventeen children.

Your job would be to play along as my wife and talk about 'our children' to get the neb$hits off of my back.

Must be able to walk in cold weather barefoot and dress a bit raggedy. Pregnant a BIG plus.

my other blog is:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grub shopping at WallyWorld is a thing

I have to do for the boat every so often. It's a pain in the duff, but during the holidays it is a bit worse. Checking out is the worst part of the process because sometimes people that do not understand what is going on try and cut in between carts, of which I sometimes have several.

While I try and keep them tightly together to make it clear it is one order, I can't always because I am boxing groceries up at the same time. SOmetimes it gets a little chaotic.

Truth is I shop for the boat at WallyWorld because I save a bundle for the boat guys but sometimes it is a problem. WHen you add that on top of grub there are quite a lot of bulky items like paper towels I buy it is no wonder I sometimes wind up with three or four carts of stuff.

The WallyWorld people are pretty good about letting me stash my filled carts but checking out gets to be a hassle. I do my damnedest to try and make things pretty easy for people behind me by explaining that the process is going to take a while. Most people are grateful to be forewarned; they simply use another aisle. However, there is always some dope that can't seem to figure it out.

I had just finished ringing up two carts of grub and was headed the entryway of the checkout aisle to get the next pair of carts when some jerk barged in and put his four items on the conveyor belt and looked at me.

"I'm in a hurry," he said.

"Then you might want to use the other aisle," I said. "I'm only halfway done ringing up my order."

"But you can..." he continued.

"Cash out now and restart?" I interrupted. "No way, I only have one check with me."

"But I'm in a hurry," he repeated.

"Then go through another aisle. I'm not done yet," I repeated. "Now either please take your items or I'll buy them to get them out of the way."

He stood there with a stupid look on his face.

I looked at the man's four items. Under ten bucks worth. I made a decision.

I picked up the items and scanned them and reopened a fruit box I was boxing the grub in and placed his four items in the box. The clerk gave me a serious look, but said nothing.

"What are you doing with my stuff?" he cried out, excitedly.

"Not your stuff, MY stuff. I just bought it." I replied, simply.

He went into shock and after a few seconds angrily told me he was going to get a manager.

"Fine," I said. "Seems like you're in a hurry but you have enough time to kill getting a manager and starting a protracted argument, Right? The smartest thing you can do is get another four items and find another register. I told you several times I wasn't done ringing up my order. I told you it was going to take a while."

The last two carts actually went fast. They took only about a minute because they were mainly paper towels. By the time the guy returned with a manager I had handed the clerk my check and he was putting it into his drawer.

"What's going on here," asked the manager.

"This rude and stupid man barged in while I was halfway through ringing up my order and demanded that he get his four items rung up." I answered.

The manager looked at the clerk. "Is that true?" he asked.

"Yes, it's true," I interrupted. "The man is rude and stupid."

The manager looked at me. He clearly didn't know whether to laugh or chew me out. He turned to the clerk, who nodded.

"And the man's items?" asked the manager.

"Not his items, MINE. I have paid for them and they are mine. Every item in these carts and boxes has been bought and paid for." I said, conversationally. "I explained to him that he was interrupting my order but he didn't seem to get it. I simply bought the stuff he put on the conveyor to expedite things. Just another bump in the road."

The manager turned to the man. "I guess you're just going to have to get another four items and wait in line. he said, simply. Then he added, "Try not to cut in line," with a little snide edge in his voice.

Then he turned to me. "Need help getting your groceries to your car?" he asked, waving his hand to someone who came over. He looked at the teenager. "Help this man get his purchases out to his car."

my other blog is:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Neighbor Tom, who is not Neighbor Bob pulled a pretty good one last night.

I was over his place for a bit and he mantioned having something wrong with him that made the doctor recommend drinking a lot of cranberry juice. He poured himself a pretty good sized glass of it and left about 1 1/2 inches of the top of the glass empty.

"Cranberry juice is good for the liver," he said. "Alcohol in not."

With that he filled the rest of the glass with vodka.

"Time to slap the hell out of the liver, make it do flip-flops and show it who's boss," he said, downing a healthy dollop.

I like that. I might have to add that drink to my list except for one thing. It is a sneaky drink. It goes down like water and sneaks up and wallops you from behind.

In New England they call it a 'Cape Codder' and in Kodiak they call it a Kiska. Still, no matter what you call it it is a pretty good way to wake up wondering what the hell happened last night si while I am not going to add it to my list of favorite beverages, I will keep it in mind for those times when it is a good idea to make the liver do flip-flops.

After all, sometimes you do have to make sure the liver knows who is boss.

my other blog is:

Friday, December 9, 2011

At the Post Office.

So I had to post a package to a guy I know and when I was done as I was walking off, I said to the postal guy, "Stay off the streets and out of the pool halls and make sure you set a good example for our children."

He grinned, but the nebby lady that was behind me didn't.

I do not know what is wrong with me but I seem to draw people like that like the moon draws water. They come at me out of the woodwork. Maybe it is the season, but she stared at me. "I suppose you think you're real funny," she said.

This was completely unsolicited. I was talking to the postal guy, whom I have known for years, and had never said a word to this woman.

I was having a pretty good day. My brain today was not running in analog. The mental hard drive was running at about 5 gigs and there were no errors occurring that would require a mental reboot. It took a nanosecond to plot a solid firing solution for this one.

Firing solution plotted. Outer doors open, tubes flooded. Fire tubes one through four. Fish in the water running hot and straight.

There was an excellent combination of ingredients in my voice as I answered. There was Captain Kangaroo for warmth, Andy Griffith for a touch of country boy naitivity, Mister Rogers, explaining something to small children for clarity and humiliation to an adult. To this I threw in a dallop Sergeant Joe Friday for seriousness and sterility. I also threw in just a little taste of John Belushi for transparency.

"Ma'am," I said, facing her and looking straight at her seriously. "I was advising the postmaster here to stay on the straight and narrow and set a good example to the children of this fine community. I slipped about three years ago after I inherited a million dollars from my favorite uncle and foolishly blew half a million dollars on hookers and blow. Then I wasted the other half. These days I go to school classrooms and show our fine children what happens to people that get led astray. If you look carefully at me you will notice the lines, crow's feet and gray hair. I'm going to be twenty-six years old next week and look at what happened to me when I fell off of the straight and narrow!"

The place was a bit crowded and nearly everyone seemed to be highly amused.

I turned to walk out, then spun back quickly and looked at the postmaster, "Kit Kat club tonight?" I asked.

"Not tonight, I have a date," he replied. He was sharp, he squirmed out of that one and saved face at the same time. He's a clever animal.

More laughter.

It was when I got outside I got my real payment.

A couple was following me out the door a couple of steps behind me.

"Hey, sir," said a man's voice. I stopped and turned.

"You handled that neb$hit woman well," he said. "Thank you for making my wife and I laugh."

"We've had a few rough times lately and we needed that," added the woman. "You made our day."

Hearing that made mine.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

I am getting a little closer to my newest goal of talking to an astronaut

Yesterday my little 2 meter rig showed up and I am looking forward to another adventure in ham radio. I want to communicate with the International Space Station.

Everyone with the exception of a couple of other hams I have talked to goes completely aghast. The most common thing I hear is, "You can't do that! Those are special military frequencies!"

Well, guess what? You can and it is 100% legal and to a certain extent it is encouraged.

Most of the astronauts have ham licenses from either the FCC or their respective countries and there are a couple of 2 meter rigs in the ISS just for astronaut use.

There really isn't a whole lot to do while you are off-watch on the ISS. You can't just climb into a space suit and spacewalk over to the Kit-Kat club for a beer and a lap dance. Hookers and bllow are in short supply in space so for entertainment a lot of the guys tinker with the 2 meter rig and field calls from earth.

I imagine NASA encourages this, too for PR reasons. It gets us earthlings involved with the ISS and I suppose they also learn a few things from it.

Anyway, this is my next project.

I am what hams would call an HF guy in that I simply use a basic rig in the 2-30 Mhz range and communicate long distances using various skywave and groundwave methods. The signals in this particular band will bounce off of the earth and the ionosphere.

Two meter is a bit different in that it is pretty much line of sight as the signals do not readily bounce very well on a regular basis.

I am going to have to pick a time when the ISS is above the horizon.

I am also going to have to learn to use the 2 meter rig and it is far more complex than the standard HF rig I have been using. My PRC 320 is a simple, straightforward no frills rig designed to be used by soldiers. The 2 meter rigs seem to be chock full of complicated features and programs. There is also a different protocol in using them.

Much VHF communication is done by repeaters, which is a whole new thing to me.

Anyway, the neat thing about my plans to communicate with the ISS is that I can shoot my signal to them direct and not have to involve repeaters and things of that nature, It's pretty straightforward.

I am sixty years of age and unlike a lot of younger people I remember the beginnings of the space program and the excitement that went with it.

Incidentally, the guys that made Project Mercury work did so without the use of computers. No calculators, either. Just a bunch of guys with pencils, papers and things called slide rules. The latter is a tool which I doubt there are more than eleven people under the age of fifty that know how to use.

The calculator that I bought the other day for two bucks would have started a fight of epic proportions among the engineers, each fighting for the use of it! Yes, it was that primitive.

There were a couple of Italian guys that were busy during these fledgling flights that were monitoring both the American and the Soviet space programs using a bunch of surplus things they had put together, including a special antenna.

Most people never heard about them but they fascinated me, but because they were not picked up by the media I learned little about them except that they had some sort of evidence that one or more early Soviet astronauts died in space.

Apparently the Russian program was a lot riskier than ours was.

Anyway, these Italian guys did something and I'd just bet their recieving equipment was about the size of a two-car garage and the vacuum tube technology made an industrial electric meter spin like a top when they fired the unit up.

Nowadays under $150 buys a rig that can not only listen to astronauts, but it can actually talk to them and it used about as much electricity as two or three light bulbs. Incrediible!

That's pretty cool if you ask me.

Anyway, this is not going to happen inside the next few days as I have to go back to work soon and when I get back I have to set this rig up.

I'll keep you posted.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This is a bad time for paramedics and police officers

It is that time of year again and while there are a lot of people out there that love the holidays, there are quite a few that do not handle the holidays well.

While I am on the latter group, I have learned over the years part of why some people hate the holdiays.

For one thing they take place in the winter in the northern hemisphere. The days are short and sunlight is pretty important for keeping a person's sanity. There have been a number of tests made over the years and the amount of sunlight a person recieves had a direct bearing on their outlook and basic ability to deal with things.

Any cop that's not still a fuzz nutted rookie can tell you that the holidays are a time of stress and tension to a lot of people. Stress levels are high and there is often bickering among couples

One person in the couple might spend too much and be carried away with the Christmas spirit and find themselves being chastised for putting a serious dent in the family budget while aother couple might find themselves bickering over not spending enough to keep up appearances.

Much of the pressure often gets dropped on the breadwinners and when you have some poor bastard with a couple of kids that is working his ass off for short money he's going to feel a lot of pressure when his wife and or kids mention that the guy down the street has just bought his kids some pretty expensive things.

Especially if he is finishing up on a pretty rough year and is lucky enough to have a few bucks to buy the family a decent meal and a few toys to put under the tree.

When it's like that, most couples can easily handle it if they work together and treat each other with respect and have realistic expectations.

It's when one of them says or does something thoughless that starts it.

Some poor slob that has had a bad year and thanks God that he has enough for the makings of a decent Christmas and would have probably coped with things easily is apt to snap if his partner asks him why he didn't take her to Jareds.

Cases like that I really sympathize with the poor slob that snaps. Add a couple of good stiff drinks and then watch out.

One of the things I have noticed about a lot of holiday domestic problems is that an awful lot of them could be avoided if someone simply keeps their mouth shut.

I remember hearing my late mother-in-law talking on the phone with a friend of hers after Mrs Pic and I married. My mother-in-law laughed and said, "Now that I am a mother-in-law I guess I am supposed to keep my wallet open and my mouth shut!"

While we never asked her for money, I was pretty damned grateful that she kept her mouth shut. She was pretty good around the holidays because her expectations were not unrealistic. I have always been very grateful for that.

Police officers and paramedics generally have to clean up a lot more messes than usual this time of year and I'm sure it is no fun. This is not the time of year that beng a cop or paramedic is fun.

To those police and medics out there, stay safe.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

in defense of NASCAR fans

NASCAR fan types often get sold short by the uppity set.

NASCAR started informally as races between bootleggers and evolved into what it is today. It is truly an American sport. The fans are generally basic Americans and most likely there are a larger percentage of them from the south than from the north.

The original cars were basic off the shelf cars that had been modified to both carry the extra weight of moonshine and go like hell to get away from the revenue agents. It wasn't long before the drivers of these bootlegger rigs started racing against each other and the sport took off. I'd bet the first generation of races were pretty wild informal events and I would like to have seen the circus that must have been.

The fans quite often get a bad rap as being a bunch of hillbillies and other uncivilized types.

While I am not going to charge in and rush to the defense of the stereotype NASCAR fan as there probably enough that fit the stereotype. Besides, I am really not much of a race fan.

On the other hand the other end of the so-called social spectrum impresses me a whole lot less because of their lack of courage, moral fiber and basic decency because they are always willing to bite the hand that feeds them.

The average NASCAR watching redneck type gets up in the morning and goes to work making something or fixing something or doing some kind of thing to make a living. These are the basic working people of this nation of ours. They provide us with an awful lot of goods and services.

These are the people that fix the limosines of the rich because the rich do not know how fix their own. When a redneck's 20 year old pickup dies he stuff it into his garage and breaks out the wrenches and fixes it. Many of them can easily rebuild an entire engine or transmission in their garage.

Over the years an awful lot of things that have made outr lives a little easier have come out of the garages of some of the more creative members of the NASCAR set, too.

I really have a lot more respect for a person like that can take care of himself and his machinery then I do for some hifalutin' muckety muck in a Ferrari that has to have it taken to the dealer to have his oil checked.

While an awful lot of so-called polished people of the white wine set spend an awful lot of time playing the politically correct game, there are an awful lot of rednecks that simply do not have time for that kind of happy horse $hit. They'll tell you what they think in a New York minute and if you don't like it, that's just too damned bad. Truth is, I admire that kind of blunt, brutal honesty. A person knows where they stand right off the bat.

There's a lot to be said for that.

There's also an awful lot to be said for the NASCAR set in other ways, too. These are a pretty damned good sized segment of the country that supplies manpower for just about everything, including the armed services.

You don't hear of a lot of members of the white wine set putting their lives on hold for a hitch in the service, they think they're too good for that, yet I'd bet that the percentage of NASCAR fans that have served in the military is a wole lot higher than you'll find in the white wine set.

If you dig a little deeper, these NASCAR types that have served generally have not taken administrative jobs, either. Nope, when a redneck serves he generally signs up for a job where he does something and probably winds up in harm's way. Rednecks generally don't supply the services with a whole lot of clerk-tyists.

Truth is I get pretty sick and tired of people making fun of the people that are the grass roots of this country.

I wrote this a couple of hours ago and just had a thought about the snoots that look down their noses at the NASCAR set.

I'd bet that Prince Harry would get along pretty well with an awful lot of NASCAR fans. He's a Harley-Davidson sort of a guy and by all accounts a pretty good soldier. He's also been known to pull a cork once in a while. If word got out that he was in Afghanistan giving support for US troops the fans there would probably like him back.

He'd probably get a warmer greeting than Michelle Obama and Jill Biden did.

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