Saturday, June 30, 2012

The last time I drove US 250

was when I was in the shipyard getting the tanks on an 80,000 barrel clean oil barge coated. The barge was several years old and the tanks were starting to rust up and it was a now or never deal. Either coat the tanks now or just let the whole thing rust in peace.

The company I was working for spent a million bucks to get the tanks coated. I think it was a smart move as that was fifteen years ago and I saw the barge working last year.

I went to Pittsburgh from Norfolk to get home back then and I tried a gamble, I chose a secondary road because it seemed to be the straightest route. We are only talking about a small part of the route, the part from Charlottesville, Virginia to I-79 in West Virginia.

I was glad I did but it got dark on me and I realized I had missed a lot of it and I have always wanted to take that route again. I just got to after a decade and a half of wanting.

I got on it in Charlottesville and drove through tone of the prettiest towns I have ever seen. Words like 'manicured' and 'polished' should be used when describing that pretty, civilized place. There was not a blade of grass nor a leaf out of place. A lot of money is spent there keeping it up and now I know whay 45 years ago a neighbor said she could easily live there. The area is well tended and drop dead gorgeous.

The three most used tools in that town are the lawn mower, string trimmer and the paint brush.

Out of town I passed a couple of the bigger suburban homes and a couple of them had humongous front yards and every blade of grass was trimmed beautifully. They were of southern architecture and a guy in a white suit sitting on the porch sipping a mint julip would not be out of place there.

It was pretty much this way all the way to the West Virginia border. It seemed that the state of Virginia keeps the roadsides trimmed neatly and the people have a lot of pride.

Passing by Charlottesville, there were a couple more towns I went through before I hit the mountains and while they were not quite as impressive as Charlottesville, they were pretty well tended. I noticed that about all of the homes I saw along the way. Even an old mobile home that looked to be on it's last legs had the yard neatly tended and

A few miles after I left the last town I started climbing into the mountains and I could tell because the roads got pretty twisty. This is no longer pickup country, this became Miata country and although I was driving my Toyota pickup, I mentally geared up and down in the Miata, but kept my speed down in the pickup.

This part of the road is sports car heaven.

I reached the top of Shenandoah Pass and stopped for a bit at the memorial there and looked around a bit and gabbed with a pair of old guys from Ohio that were riding Harleys and enjoying the road.
There was a Civil War batle fought in this area and this was part of an area that had switched sides a few times and there was a nice memorial there.

I headed down the pass and there were a lot of straightaways as I headed to WV and after a while I crossed over and almost instantly I saw a few changes. The State of WV didn't spend the same amount of money to keep up the roadside but it still looked pretty nice.

WV advertises itself as wild and wonderful and it really is.

I was just outside a small town and as I was passing a convenience store I saw a couple hitchhiking. They looked halfway decent so I stopped and snagged them. They were a couple that seemed to be having a hard go of things and they were grateful for the ride. They had a couple of odd jobs to do in Elkins.

Work is pretty scarce in WV and they were scraping by doing odd jobs, mowing lawns, cleaning houses and anything they could find. Hard work was nothing new to these two.

She looked old and grey ahead of her years and I mentioned someone I knew from the old days when I mentioned his name they said he had been through a couple of run-ins with the law. I described my friend and I found out they were not talking about the guy I knew. They were talking about someone else with the same name.

It might prove to be my friend's son. I do not know.

I dropped them off and enjoyed the rest of the road until I finally reached I-79 and the drone of the Interstate. A couple hours later I was home.

I am glad I drove this chunk of the old US route and I feel the time to do it is in the fall becasue I just know the route is beautiful at this time of year.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Yret another day. I got home OK last night

but after the hell of 2 weeks at the shipyard, I am drained.

If I were to post anything it would not make sense.

Incidentally, the one liner of the whole tour I will remember for life came from either a welder of a shipfitter. While I did not hear what brought this out, it was the retort of a lifetime.

"Jesse Jackson?!?! I don't need his sorry ass for NOTHIn', man. I got me a TRADE!!!

I wish it were legal because I would have bought that man a beer.

my other blog is:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

at 1559 yesterday I turned the boat over to my relief.

At 0736 this morning she was refloated and rested well on her lines.

My relief took her for shakedown.

I watched her refloat and have headed home and am presently at a Donut Connection on their free WiFi

Yesterday afternoon three of the shipyard guys approached me one by one and shook hands with me and wished me well. I am humbled that they thought enough of me to do that.

I will wind through US 250 this afternoon and meet I-79 a little south of Morgantown, WV and take it north to my home. It is going to be a pretty day.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

still jammed up.

Hope to post before 2359 6-28-12

my other blog is:

too jammed up today

It it early and already I am sonwed under

my other blog is:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I am up early because

 of the racket the crane outside is malking because my mate has gotten up early to get things done to beat the heat.and the crowds.  I can not slight him for this. He manages to get a lot done before he calls it a day.

There's a lot to do today and as soon as I post this I am going to hit it hard. It is going to be another day of hard times and heat.

This is a pretty professional crew.

It is going to be a long drive home for me and I wonder if I can get off of this thing on time to take a side road I have wanted to travel  on for about 15 years. US 250.

It goes though the mountains of West Virginia and I traveled it about 15 years ago but it was mostly at night.

SHortly after you leave Charlottsville, Virginia it gets pretty and when I traveled it fifteen years ago I was somewhere in West Virginia when in my headlights I saw a guy in bib overalls carrying a rifle cross the street in front of me. I have wondered what that was all about for years. Maybe he was a moonshiner. WHo knows.

ANyway, it looks like I am going to get my chance to run off and see it this time by daylight unless something else pops up and things go to pot.

We'll see.

my other blog is:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Life on Karen Lee, my sailboat, was pretty good.

It cost me about ten bucks per foot per year in slip rent and that was only $250 bucks a year for a pretty good place to live.

It wasn't really legal because there was a rule against living aboard so I had a friend of mine rent me his couch for a buck a year and therefore I had a legal residence ashore. The truth is, the law was selectively enforced and was really on the books so the harbormaster had a tool to work with to keep troublemakers away from the docks. He really did like having good people on the docks because we could keep an eye on things and if we saw anything it was 'call in and observe'.

They monitored the marine VHF 24/7/365 so getting a harbor cop there was a snap.

The harbormaster at the time was a pretty easygoing kind and it was not known to many, but the harbor patrol were armed to the teeth but under orders they kept their arsenal covered up per the Harbormaster's orders. While I lived aboard I managed to be considered one of the good guys and because I was handy with tools every now and then I'd fix some little thing here and there and as a reward I got to use the shower in the harbormaster's office after I fixed it up and for keeping it clean. It was a secret and I never told anyone about it.

The harbor cops were a motley crew, ranging from younger guys in their twenties and a retired Coastie in his late 50s and there were a couple of female harbor cops. They were in a position with the local police department that is pretty unusual. In general the police let the harbor cops take care of everything and stayed well clear of the docks unless they were called.

The only time I ever heard of the local police storming aboard a vessel without the harbor cops was when a couple of them decided to make a drug bust on one of the boats. The policemen actually wound up being thrown over the side by the fishermen and the boat steamed off and shortly after was boardedby the Coast Guard who found nothing whatsoever, not even a single rolling paper.

The skipper and crew were promptly arrested by the local police department when they tied up later and they were charged with everything in the book and then some. The trial lasted just a few minutes because the skipper stood up and respectfully asked the judge if she had the authority to try the case and pointed out that the two poolicemen had boarded the vessel after the lines were thrown off.

Instant half-hour recess. The judge came back and said the whole thing was a federal beef and she could not try the case.

Thirty minutes later the entire thing was thrown out because the boat was a US documented vessel and when underway could only be boarded by the Fish and Game people or the Coast Guard. The judge suggested that the local police get with the Feds and see if they could do sommething that way. I later heard that the local cops could have been charged with unlawful boarding so the whole incident went away.

WHat is really sad about it is that the police could have found out it the boat was deaing drugs simply by asking the harbor cops because they knew everything that was going on.

Anyway, I was pretty much on their good boy list and that was good.

There were all sorts of liveaboards in the harbor and most of them were characters with different dreams and plans in their lives. It was pretty much a collection of people that were taking the road less traveled and looking back on it it was a truly dynamic community where everyone looked out for each other.

Life was a series of trades as the barter system was in full swing and while little money changed hands, it seemed that an awful lot of good did. I swear the first requirement to being a liveaboard is the inability to walk past a dumpster without looking in to see what is in it. We were all scroungers and dumpster divers.

I remember seeing two or three skates of halibut groundline in one and instinctively snapping it up and simply tossing it on the slip next to some guy's boat and walking off. Two or three days later I found a six-pack of Rainier in my cockpit so I suppose he had figured out where the groundline had come from.

Once I came home to find a parachute, complete with shrouds stuffed into a bag in my cockpit. I scouted around for about a day to see where that came from and one of the guys told me he had scored it and figured that maybe I could use it to make some sort of sail with.

I took it straight to the local bar and with the OK from the bartender I snapped a few chalk lines on the floor and laid out an improvised spinnaker and then took it to a friend's house and she ran a couple of quick seams for me and using the 550 cord shroud lines I managed to make sort of a purse type spinnaker that served me well even though it looked kind of funky.

I later entered the boat in a race and on the downwind leg I popped the homemade 'chute and an awful lot of people looked at me and wondeed what the hell kind of spinnaker it was but when it was over and done with even the mose dubious admitted that it seemed to work pretty well.

Once in a while I would come home and find a duck, some fish or maybe or some venison in my cooler, and often some beer and once in a whiile if I was lucky a bottle of pretty good scotch if I had done something special for someone.

There were also a number of 'community jobs' that we would share. Swamping out one of the local bars was a pretty good deal. The owner was generous and paid a pretty good little chunk of change for an hour or so's worth of work and if there was a beer delivery, it paid a lot more than that.

The bar owner once said to me that while he never knew which one of us would show up, he knew that someone would.

One of the canneries sometimes would call the harbormaster's office and the harbormaster would either send word out on the VHF that the cannery needed a few people that day and sometimes he would send one of the officers to look around and find one of us if they cannery simply needed a watchman.

It is getting late and maybe I'll continue later.

my other blog is:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sailing partners.

One of the things I liked about having a sailboat was taking people out that simply liked sailing.

I'd take out a lot of fishermen because they made their living on powerboats and were curious about it. They were pretty good people to take because they brought their fish boat manners along with them and would help you put everything away afterwards.

Then there were a couple of guys that were more trouble than they were worth because they would hop off as soon as the boat hit the pier and leave me with a bunch of stuff to put away. While I could do all of it alone, it was easier to furl a sail with two guys.

While quite often I would go it alone, the octopus trips I made to keep the boat on a commercial fishing status (and hence a lower slip rental rate) were generally a crewed deal and it was a lot of fun that way.

I actually paid crew shares, and I was considered one of the more generous skippers because I paid 1/3 off the top. Actually it was a joke because I think the most I ever wound up paying was a tad under $10. I would cash the check I got from the cannery and meet my deckhand in the bar and pay him there publicly just for the yuks.

Most of the other fishermen in the bar would hoot and whistle at the exceptional generosity I would show payig 1/3 of the catch to my crew and chuckle at seeing my deckhand for a day get something like $6.32 for a day's work of sorts.

I would actually take 1/3 of the catch up to this old Native woman and she would pickle the octopus and split it with me so I actually simply split the payment I got from the cannery down the middle.

I never wanted for crew on these trips because they were really about having a little fun on a nice day and the cannery I sold to was pretty good to me simply because they would do the paperwork and all and actually pay me for such a small amount. I generally times my delivery with another bigger boat delivery so to make it easier for them seeing they would have a crew standing by for the big boat's delivery.

Sometimes I'd take a date out for a few hours or a moonlight sail. That was a lot of fun. There were also a couple of fisherman's wives that had a sailing background and asked me to take them out for a day sail. I can think of three and I was reluctant with two of them because I was looking out for two things, their reputations and I didn't want their husbands to get the wrong idea.

The third one was in a very solid relationship and was pretty much teflon as far as her reputation went. She was very much married but was one of those few women that really enjoyed being around men so that was no problem. Rumors were afraid of her.

The other two I wound up taking after I was approached by their husbands and they both expressed a desire to take their wives out for a day sail because there were few sailboats in town and they had sailed when they were younger. All three of these women were great company. I attributed this to two things. They were good sailors and enthusiastic and because they were married there was really no sexual tension to deal with.

One of the wives asked me if she could bring her friend along, another woman and that was a great evening sail. It was a bit blustery and we smoked up and down the Kalsin Bay as fast as that little boat would go. It was a pretty wet, wild ride. As sailors, both women helped clean the boat up when we tied up and furl the sails. Because of that they were welcome any time and from time to time the three of us would go for evening sails.

I remember two things about her. One was that she was a pretty looking blond haired lady that looked like a stereotyped Dutch girl and the other thing is that here husband, a burly fisherman saw me one day and said, "Thanks for taking my wife sailing! She hasn't been able to do it here and she grew up with her own little sailboat."

Genreally when I took her and her friend out, her husband would sit at the bar. He said he spent enough time on a boat. Being a fisherman, I could take his point.

The worst ones were the little chickees that seemed to gravitate toward sailboats because they expected to be passengers and have everything taken care of. They were a pain in the ass and seldom did I take any of them twice, although one little bimbo came aboard and told me she knew all about sailboats and instantly started taking her clothes off. We wound up sailing for hours and the boat never left the dock that afternoon but later that evening we went out and she surprised me by being damned competent at the helm.

She was pretty good, both at sea and ashore and she was always welcome whether we left the dock or not.

Just about the time Zero tolorance started, I decided that nobody could bring pot aboard no matter what because if they found one small joint they would impound the whole boat. Of course, one guy did bring some smoke with him. I didn't know it until we were underway. When I started to protest, I got a bunch of the usual 'be cool' crap.

We were going by a tied up Coast Guard boat, really close and I saw several Coasties on deck and when we were about ten feet away, I gave the jerk a shove over the side and shouted "Man overboard" and sailed off without him. The Coasties fished him out.

There was later a stand-up row in the bar over this and I stood my ground and told him it was my boat and I made the rules and I wasn't going to let any pothead have the Feds take my boat from me just so he could smoke a joint.

It was just about to come to serious blows when his skipper got in between us. He asked me politely to sit down somewhere and told the bartender to give me a beer on his tab and said to me, "Dope, huh?"

Then he turned to the deckhand and said, "We're going down to the boat and taking your gear off right now. If you can't keep the weed off of his boat for an afternoon sail, I know for sure you can't keep it off of my boat. Adios."

With that, he marched the guy on down to his boat and offloaded all his gear.

The following day I ran into one of the Petty Officers that fished the guy out and he started to lecture me. I told him he got the boot for bringing drugs aboard. "Nobody said nothin' about THAT crap. You coulda lost your whole boat over that!" he said, and the lecture ended there.

I had a lot of fun taking people out when I had my sailboat and it was also a pretty nice place to live.

Maybe I'll post what it was like to be a liveaboard sometime.

my other blog is:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Almost thirty years ago I had a wonderful little Honda 9.9 horse outboard that ran like a top.

 It was the auxillary power for my sailboat.

The only thing that was wrong with it is that for some reason it would break recoil starter ropes which I took to replacing with halibut gangion line because it was a whole lot cheaper than factory ropes.

The recoil starter was held in by three each 10mm bolts and I could pull it off in a few seconds and somewhere along the line I managed to scare up another recoil starter so I could swap them out in less than a minute.

When I broke the starter rope and swapped the unit out I would take the unit with the broken rope and leave it on the deck in the galley where it would constantly get in the way and get kicked around until the rope was replaced. Only after the rope was replaced would it be put back in the drawer it was stored in until it was needed.

After the first couple of times you kicked the starter you got mad and fixed it. I had to change it out a couple of times when I had other people on board and they would see me put it on the cabin sole and put it back only to find it on the sole again and they would put it away again only to find it on the sole again.

They would complain that it was in the way and that was why they had put it away. I pointed out that it wasn't to be put away until it was fixed. Some people got it, some didn't. Some people simply sat down and fixed it to get it the hell out of the way. These people were generally invited back.

One little chickee I was seeing at the time asked me, "But Whyyyyyyyyy? It's in the wayyyyyy!"

If I remember right I told her that it was so she could cut her big toe open and give me something bloody to suck on or some damned thing. She left on the spot in a huff and when she was still within earshot, I shouted "Next!!"

The woman on the boat beside me heard it, knew what it meant and came over to my boat like she had been waiting her turn. She was my friends girlfriend but had a great twisted sense of humor. She came below and we ran quickly to the porthole to watch the rejected little chickee gape and quiver her lower lip when she saw that she had been replaced instantly. We both laughed.

I didn't see her much after that and in the long run it was certainly for the best because the last I heard she married some guy and promptly decided they needed a family vehicle and spent an ungodly amount of her new hubby's money on some monster luxury car without discussing it with him.

He was lucky, he cancelled the order and promptly proceeded to immediately divorce her because he was smart enough to know that you can't fix stupid.

I put it the starter on the sole to make damned sure that it got fixed and I would have it good to go when I needed it. When you put something like that in a drawer it is out of sight and out of mind and is often forgotten about.

It generally didn't last on the deck too long as it was aggravating as all hell, and I'd fix it inside an hour or two. Sometimes I liked to go barefoot on the boat but when I put the starter on the sole I would put on shoes at once as there were a lot of toe-cutting edges on it.

Looking back on it, I know that putting the damned thing right smack dab in the middle of the way was the way to go because I do not remember getting stuck with haning no spare starter on hand. Not once.

I do things like this even now. Right now there is a large note on the keyboard of the ship's computer reminding me to do payroll and there is a box at the top of the ladder landing that should not be there but is because it has something in it I need to remember to install.

There is also a note on the dash of my pickup reminding me to pick up a few easy to forget things next time I go out. I need bathroom tissue and a couple of cans of deodorant and also some laundry soap.

Another thing I do to make my life easier is when I buy things like bathroom tissue of depdorant I load the hell up on it so I don't run out and when I finish a roll of bathroom tissue I put the empty roll core up in the shelf above the toilet. It serves as a reminder because when I see a bunch of them I put the stuff on my list and do not throw out the roll cores until I have brought a couple of new packages home.

I work pretty good whan my list of things to do is literally in my face or underfoot.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Welcome to the Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck Show

Parental warning: Some people might find this disturbing. Parental discretion advised.

I just saw a parental advisement disclaimer on a show about some kind of ghost story and I kind of kept an eye on it and saw little if anything on it that I would find a parental discretion disclaimer necessary. It is getting ridiculous over what some people might find disturbing or offensive.

Everything is offensive to someone so get over it. While I am sure there are Japanese that would simply find the history of the Enola Gay flight over Hiroshima to be offensive, there are likely Japanese that would find it interesting because it is common knowledge that the Japanese government glosses over WW2 in their educational institutions.

What the Enola Gay did was plainly and simply history and history is just that, history. It can't be changed. Many people find it to be a pretty dry subject because of that, but I can't say it is offensive.

Still, there is nothing to be offended by when you are talking about the historical truth, and generally speaking there is nothing to be offended by in anything that says 'Disney' on it.

Yet there are a few people that can find something wrong with anything. Someone will find something to whine about in a Mickey Mouse cartoon. It's just the way it is. No matter what, someone is going to be offended.

I think it is time to take a big step backwards and just stop worrying about what offends who and just go back to plowing straight ahead.

Like I told someone that said he didn't like my blog, Rocky, Moose and Vito ain't gonna break your legs if you don't read it, so if you don't like it, don't open it up.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

One of the things Americans are

 forgiving of are expensive mistakes, or even a fast one if the dirty deed doer comes clean when they are caught.

One of the things Americans are not forgiving of is a cover-up when the mistake is discovered.

Eric Holder has been directed by Congress to turn in a lot of paperwork in the 'Fast and Furious' operation and has refused to do so and now stands in contempt of Congress. Apparently President Obama has taken charge of the cover-up using an executive order to keep Congress from getting ther paperwork.

It is going to get interesting pretty soon.

Maybe we will get lucky and get rid of both of them come November.

I met a guy that I knew from my early days out here and he has gotten old and gray unlike me who still looks like a teenager. At least that's my opinion, but I have been wrong before. It is interesting where our lives have run parallel and where they haven't. I guess he works shoreside in the office sometimes which is good for him but I would not last an instant in an office. I am a field guy.


I got to see another piece of fine steel work today and it made me grin. There was some pitting on a piece of steel that had to be mended so one of the master welders added steel to the piece and then ground it off flat. Besides being good with a welder he is an artist with a grinder because when he was done it looked like a mirror and when I ran a straight edge over it the entire thing was a perfect plane.

When I see some guy in New York spatter paint on a canvas and has his showing and has babes in long dresses sipping champagne and oohing and ahhing over this guy's masterpiece it makes me wonder about the values of the huan race.

If the welder gets caught smoking pot or something, he goes directly to jail and does not pass 'Go' and collect $200. If the artist gets nailed, he generally gets sent to rehab for a couple of weeks and gets a deferred sentence, etc.

Then a couple of months later he spatters more paint on canvas and has another show and everyone there oohs and ahhs about his latest artistic accomplishment and how he overcame substance abuse to really show the world how wonderful he is.

Meanwhile the welder sits in the can until his sentence is up and if he is lucky he finds another lower paying job than he had when he got popped.

Speaking of art, what's wrong with this picture?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Marvel Mystery Oil

Marvel Mystery Oil seems to have changed their label a bit which sucks.

It's been there since 1923 and the old cans were cool. I can understand switching to plastic, though but they have changed the label a bit and it just doesn't seem to be as neat as the old label was. It used to have pyramids and all sorts of cool old style symbols on it but I bet someone complained or something and they caved in to being politically correct.

Without the pyramids and stuff, Marvel Mystery oil just doesn't seem as mysterious.

Aunt Jemima changed a few years back and the older one was a lot better. The new Aunt Jemima looks like she has a degree in dietary sciences from Johns Hopkins and wants you to eat tofu for breakfast or some such crap. I'd bet she couldn't cook for sour apples.

The old Aunt Jemima looked like she could whip a breakfast up that would both fill you up for a long day and plug up your arteries. She looked like one hell of a good cook.

I imagine someone like Fat Al and Jesse Jackson raised hell with the people that make it and called it demeaning, which it certainly was not.

I will say the one before her back in the 30s was demeaning, though.

From time to time companies change logos in an effort to improve sales and I wonder if it does any good.

I think Marvel Mystery oil is still going strong after all of these years so I wonder why they bothered changing the label on the can.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When I meet my maker I want to go peacefully in my sleep the same way my late Uncle Fred did.

I do not want to go out screaming, weeping and all panicky the way my Aunt Louise and three cousins did as the car Uncle Fred fell asleep at the wheel of went hurtling over a cliff.


Today I told the tank cleaners that for their good work I wanted to treat them all to a night of hookers whisky and blow.

Of course, their faces lit up until I told them I could not afford to do such a thing and then they all looked somewhat hangdog.

It was then that I pointed out that at least I was thinking about them and wished I could reward their work which is a lot more than most people that take these guys for granted.

They agreed on that to the man and said I was one of the few that appreciated their efforts to try and do a good job.

While it isn't a sure thing, it is likely that the crew will do a little better job knowing that at least someone appreciates them. The investment of being nice to people costs nothing and generally pays pretty good dividends.

This holds especially true to guys like tank cleaners who have a truly nasty, hot, dirty and miserable job to do.


I am beat. It has been a long day but a lot got done.

Anyway, I am going to be a sore puppy tonight but will wake up refreshed because tonight I am eating a steak for dinner.

Belay that. Looks like a pizza. It is quick and fills the belly.

One thing that has made my day is that I did not have to deal with any stupid today. None.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

One of the things that happens in the shipyard

 is that a whole ringtailed passel of inspectors show up and we got lucky. Most of them showed up at once.

It is my responsibility to give them a safety briefing and to tell the thruth it is an omni-domini type of thing. I explain that various hatches are open and so forth.

I had another thing to explain to them. I pointed at one of the crew.

"That man served in the United States Navy. Please return his salutes and under no circumstances are you to stand still near him for more than three seconds. If you come in here covered in haze grey paint expecting sympathy I will laugh at you. You have been warned."

Most of them looked confused, but it was a Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer that busted out laughing and looked at me. 'Old school sailor?" he asked.

"Right, Chief," I replied.

The Chief looked like he had started his career on the old pull boats in the Lifesaving Service. This is the type of man that admirals look to with respect.

He explained to the others and entoned solomnly. "The man in question has been trained that if it moves you salute it. If it doesn't, you paint it grey. Do not stand still near that man. You will be painted grey if you do."

The Chief turned to me. "Thank you," he said. "This has been an excellent safety briefing."

The truth is that while the officers are the people that have the clout and fill out the paperwork, it is the Chiefs and other NCOs that do the hands on work and give the officers the information they base thier reports on.

We'll do just fine.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

SHipyard workers are an odd lot

One of the things the public is likely unaware of is shipyard workers, the welders, fabricators and laborers of the shipbuilding and ship maintenance industry.

They are an odd and interesting, and very rough looking lot of people. Scruffy and rough looking almost to the man they are likely to be looked down on my a lot of people. This is an interesting industry, and it is not uncommon to see the rough looking man running a million dollar project hasn't shaved in days, weeks or even months and looks like he just got out of the joint a while back.

When you enter a shipyard and look around you would swear that you are looking at a bunch of thugs and convicts because they look that rough. It can be intimidating at first until you look beneath the surface and start looking at the talent that this business requires.

These are an odd lot of men that have to work out in the sun or in sun heated tanks and create things of utile beauty. These rough looking people are quite a paradox. Shipwright work is not a science, it is an art and the artists are a joy to watch if you have an eye for such a fine art. It is a strange art.

There is not a straight piece of steel on a boat, a level or a straight edge is about as useful to a shipwright as a bicycle is to a fish.

Every piece on a boat is unique yet a good shipwright has an eye that can look at a piece and fabricate it. Watching such a talented person and trying to figure out what his thought process is as he makes another piece will drive you nuttier than a cuckoo clock factory at midnight.

This is a business where formal education really isn't a requirement but talent surely is. An awful lot of these people are truly talented.

I got to watch such a guy today for a few minutes and as usual this drove me nuts trying to figure his mind out as he whipped up a piece of a nearby vessel being worked on. At first he looked through the scrap pile for a piece of 3/4 inch thick steel and than tool it to a shear and lopped off a chunk and trimmed it down to a useful size and then took the piece to a humongous press and bent it to an odd angle. He checked it carefully with a square, but not to see how square it was, but to see how far OUT of square it was.
He then picked up an oxy-acetelene torch and shaved it here and there until it was to his satisfaction.

He hauled the heavy piece to the vessel in question and horsed it into place. Three of the six sides fit perfectly and looked perfect.

He tack-welded it into place and inspected his work. Satisfied, he then welded it until he was happy it would take a beating and then heated the bend with a torch until it was cherry red and then took a big hammer and beat the end until it hed worked itself into place.

When he was finished pounding he grinned, knowing he'd done it again and picked up the 'stinger' and started welding.

I had to get back to what I was doing so I left but a couple of hours later I went back and looked at his handiwork. In addition to his welding, he had taken a grinder and ground his weld flat. A thin coat of spray paint and the weld would disappear. Then my curiosity overwhelmed me and I ran my fingernail over the fresh joint and it didn't snag at all. It was that smooth. I was impressed.

The man had just done a piece of piano quality craftsmanship with the equivilent of a chain saw.

Shipyard workers are a paradox. They look like barbarians, yet the good ones are true artists that will never have a showing in a New York gallery. Then again, their artwork is too precious for that. Their fine unsung artwork will take merchant seamen all over the planet in safety.

They never cease to amaze me.
If your daughter brings home a rough looking character that is a shipyard worker, do not dispair. Sometimes a knight will hide his shining armor under greasy coveralls. He will likely make a pretty good paycheck and will likely impart a pretty good working ethic on their children.

my other blog is:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I bought a new 'work out in the sun' hat which lookes like something Audrey Hepburn

would have worn but like the last strat colored one that came with a pretty lavender bow to tie around my chin to keep it on in the wind, this one is neon pink. It looks like something a fat lady would wear to the beach.

I think I paid $2 for it and it is the best think I have found for painting on deck. It keeps me cool and I do not burn in the sun. Anyone that has worked in the sun knows how useful a wide brim on a hat is.

A contractor came aboard, a woman with a neon pink hard hat and saw my lovely beach hat and smiled.

She said, "You wear that color because people look at you and think there is something wrong with you so thay stay away from you. That way you can get some work done."


Someone gets it.

She also told me where I can get a neon pink hard hat.


my other blog is:

Friday, June 15, 2012

I now have a shoe full of paint.

What? A shoe full of paint, you say? How in the hell did that happen?

Simple. I was painting and I have little talent in the painting department. Most green ordinary seaman are neater painters than I am and someone commented a few years back that given the choice between watching the Three Stooges or watching me paint, they would watch me paint something hands down.

I will admit that I am not a Rembrandt, Michaelangelo,or a Picasso. Nor an I a Dali that painted melting clocks. I am not an Andy Warhol that painted soup cans.

I am a Piccolo and sometimes I paint steel decks which is what I was doing earlier today. I had a 5 gallon can of haze grey and I was moving it when the damned can hit a stanchion and slopped a huge dallop of haze grey popped up, splashed out of the pail and covered the entire outboard side of my calf and it ran down my shoe and practically filled the damned thing up.

Painting steel decks is hot messy work for me. It is hot clean work for a lot of other guys because they seem to have the knack for it and I clearly do not. Some guys can paint an entire whatever while wearing a brand new suit and not get a single drop on them, but I am not blessed with this knack.

I can simply LOOK at a sealed can of the stuff and sure enough I'll find a spot on me somewhere.

Paint, however is not the worst thing I can work around, though. That prize belongs to roofing tar.

All is not last, though. While I am done painting for the day I have taken the culprit shoe off and scraped out the bulk of the gooey grey mess and with any luck it will dry overnight and I can resume painting tomorrow.

I went looking for my Topsiders after I parked my shoes and found I had left them home. A deckhand laughed and then cheerfully offered me a spare pair of work shoes that he said didn't fit him very well. I took him up on his kind offer and now I am shod in a pretty good pair of work shoes that he has informed me he does not want back.

They are the slip-on kind and I do not think I am going to paint in them, though because they look like they can hold 2 quarts of paint if I screw up again.

my other blog is:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Of Nazis, nuns and German Shepherds.

A tug pulled alongside.

"Hey, Pic! Got any good porn I ain't read yet?" asked a skipper I have known for years.

The question startled the hell out of me because he's a pretty straight arrow and actually a pretty religious guy. I looked up sharply at him and he nodded toward his green deckhand. I knew what was up in a heartbeat. The skipper didn't want any porn, he wanted me to get the newbies eyes to pop out of his head.

"Got a new video," I said. "It's pretty good. These Nazi SS officers take over this French cloister and make the nuns do all sorts of stuff with their shepherds. You'd like it, Tommy. Lotta riding crop action. A couple of scenes a couple the nuns get torn up pretty good. I'll send it over."

Of course the kid turned beet red and I casually ignored him.

The tug came alongside and we made lines fast to her and she went about the business of docking us. The deckhand came aboard and got ready to dock us alongside the quay. While we waited to approach I bent his ear with the imaginary contents of the nonexistent porn video I was not going to send over to the tugboat like I was describing the most wonderful thing in the world. All the time while watching the kid turn beet red. I described some pretty sick stuff and I won't get into it here.

When he was done docking us and we were tied up I sent him on his way with his brains dribbling out his ears. He took off for the tug like a shot and before I went to throw their lines off I grabbed a tired, well watched DVD from our galley and shouted to the captain and when he popped out of the wheelhouse I tossed it to him.

"Thanks, Pic. I'll check it out!" he shouted up to me with a knowing grin on his face. Here's a pretty good one for you. Wait one!"

He clambered below and grabbed me one of his old DVDs and threw it up to me. "Have some Bettie Page bondage!" he shouted.

"Cool!" I said.

Of course when I looked at it it was nothing smutty at all. It was an old Henry Fonda movie that I have not seen in years and I knew I would enjoy. It was "The Grapes of Wrath".

I wonder why the skipper had me bust the kid's chops. I'll have to ask him the next time I see him.

What is odd about it is that while I am sure there is a certain amount of porn out here, I don't see the amount of it that I did years ago when I first got into this business. I still see an occasional Playboy but generally the raciest stuff I see out here is a copy of something like GQ or Maxim, both of which are somewhere between PG or low level R rated stuff.

My guess is that the skipper found the kid had a little smut with him and wanted to really bust his chops a bit, but I don't know for sure.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I just heard the news about the hoax

 that was perpetrated on the Coast Guard regarding the yacht explosion that was reported seventeen miles off the Jersey coast. An awful lot of tax dollars got spent sending resources out on a wild goose chase.

While I am an admirer of the harmless hoax or the wild rumor, I have no patience with someone that would pull a stunt like that. I hope they nail the bastard and force him to repay every cent that was spent by the Coast Guard. Force the twisted little geek into moving under a bridge under I-95 and make him live on McDonald's hamburgers, Ex-Lax and Spam until the bill is paid.

In other news, a couple of days ago I was at the counter at Pep Boys asking a question about inverters, which I was looking for. A woman came in looking for a battery for her car. Her hubby had sent her to pick one up because the one in the older of their 2 vehicles had out and out died.

She was asking something or another about a 10% off coupon that she had forgotten to bring with her.

I caught the clerk's eye and was feeling a little flippant. Besides, I wanted to get her out of the way. This looked like she was going to go through the pouty act to try wheedle a 10% discount. "Give her 10% off based on my good looks," I said.

The clerk grinned and told me he ought to charge her 20% more because of my bad looks. Then he looked thoughtfully and had an idea.

"I can do that," he said. "I can peel 10% off."

At that point the broad should have simply said 'thank you' and shut the hell up but there are an awful lot of people that do not know when to quit while they are ahead. She's apparently one of these.

"How about MY good looks?" she asked. "Is that good for another 10%?"

The clerk didn't look too pleased because he didn't like the position she had put him in. I figured that if I had gotten him into the situation, I should get him out of it. I put on my best Bogey voice.

"Shister, in thish town you ain't nothin but jusht another pretty face," I said.

What I wanted to say is that she was butt-ugly but that would not have accomplished anything but to piss her off and make everyone around uncomfortable. She deserved it for being greedy. She had transformed herself from looking like a fairly intelligent woman to just another dumb broad in a second simply by opening her mouth.

So I was tactful. She didn't feel too insulted and the clerk didn't have to refuse her.

I knew what the clerk was going to do. He was going to simply write the sale and make it look like one of the small garage owners that have an account there had come in and paid cash for the part. This is actually a win/win for the small garage owner as at the end of the year it will make him look like a bigger customer than he really is.

She paid for her battery and someone went to get it and I got my answers about the inverter and headed outside. I was in the open Miata and parked right outside the door. I hopped in and the guy carrying the battery and the woman was behind him.

I figured she'd at least thank me for getting her about ten bucks off but instead she looked at me and asked me why I interrupted her when she was trying to get another 10% off.

"Lady, you do not know when to quit," I said. "When someone gets you a deal, simply say 'thank you' and shut up about it. The clerk was NOT supposed to do that but he did. You put him in a spot when you got greedy. I got him out of it and you still got your 10%. Be grateful that you got that. After all, he's not the one that forgot your coupon."

She started to look like she was going to get uppity but thought twice. I think she sensed correctly she was going to be eaten alive if she did get uppity on me. She changed her mein instantly.

"Thank you," she said, simply.

"You're welcome," I replied.

Some people just do not know when they are ahead and when to keep their mouth shut.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What do you expect?

When you ask someone for something what do you expect?

A while ago someone bought something 'surplus-unissued' and raised holy hell about the storage marks on the item. The way the buyer carried on made me think I should have sold him a ticket to the Eastern Wall of the Old CIty of Jerusalem, otherwise known as the Wailing Wall. The gnashing of teeth was heard well into the darkness.

Of course, the item was just as advertised, it was unissued and it was surplus. It had most likely been sitting around in a government warehouse being moved around from time to time and in the process got a few storage marks on it, nothing worth mentioning that would effect the use of it.

I suppose the guy was expecting 'retail-new' which means the item was in perfect shape in every way and came wrapped in bubble wrap.

That's hardly fair at all. Unissued surplus means just that. Did the buyer think he was going to get something pristine when he was paying 25% of new retail?

The same holds true when you contract for services. Your expectations have to be real.

I just had 4 trees removed a while ago and when I did I came home to find a little chainsaw dust around the area which is to entirely be expected. I live in a normal house in a normal plan and not some kind on manicured estate with a Rolls out front. I figured that after I mow the lawn a couple of times the sawdust would disappear. It did.

The guys did a job worthy of the neighborhood standard. The trees were gone, there were no branches kicking around and the area had been raked. I was happy. The job was about what I expected.

Enter the woman down the street that can't seem to find anyone to do anything for her because she expects to pay what I pay and in return have the crew out there with tweezers picking up every single grain of sawdust. It doesn't work that way. You get what you pay for.

For some reason most of the very few people I hire from time to time seem to like working for me because I make it easy for them. I tell them what I want in clear terms and pay them when they are done. My expectations are reasonable.

Over the years I have had a couple of guys try and give me the once over but I calmly just explain that I am not a chump and expect them to do their job as we had agreed on. I've only had one that got in a hurry and I give Mrs Pic credit because she simply told them to either make it good or she was going to hold out the last payment on them.

When the guys tried to make an issue out of it, she simply stuck to her guns and held out the last payment. Of course, I wound up doing the rest of the job but that's another story.

The truth is that these clowns didn't live up to reasonable expectations. Their basic work was First Class but their cleanup work was much to be desired. I wound up raking and reseeding a lot of ground. Of course, these guys were the exceptions.

Most businessmen want repeat customers and give fair measure.

Still, both parties have to have reasonable expectations.

Anyway, I am going to be pretty busy for a while and the next several days maybe my posting will be sporadic.

Take care, and God Bless.

Pic, out

my other blog is:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Last night's pizza was a flop.

I burned it so we just ordered out.

A friend of mine dropped by and helped me with the last 45 minutes of yard work and we tried to do a pizza on a grill thing. I tossed the pizza stone on the grill and let it preheat for about 10 minutes and then tossed the pie on and covered it. I had figured 20 minutes would have been about right for a frozen D'Geronio but I was wrong. The bottom was burned to a crips so I tossed it. Next time I won't preheat the stone and will try maybe 15 minutes and watch it a little more  carefully.

I still have yard work to do, a vet appointment and a meet-up with the Friendly, local neighborbood ARRL QSL card checker to get my WAS award which I want to shut up a couple of the guys at work.

ANyone ever notice that the guys with the biggest mouths are the ones that do the least?

These are the guys that are first to say that trying to cook a pizza on a grill won't work and they are the first to gloat in anothers failures and are the last ones to try anything because they are afraid of failure.

Ain't one of them willing to try anything new aor do anything that hasn't been done before and when they see someone that took a chance and came out on top their mouths run about how it was nothing meore than sheer luck.

One of the things I miss about Alaska are the crackpots that would risk huge sums on an idea. While an awful lot of guys lost an awful lot of money trying something, there were a number of guys that came out on top.

In Alaska few people looked down on the guy that lost 50K on a venture, instead he was respected for having thr guts to try something different.

Here, a lot of people will look down on you for that and say theat you should have played it safe and how dumb you were to try something.

Yesterday's little thing cost me a $5 pizza which is nada. The end result is that even though the bottom of the crust burned, the top was downright delicious. Now all I have to do is figure out how long to cook it for and maybe it'll work out.

ANyway, I am going to make a copy of my WAS award and hang it on the wall of the boat I run next to the picture of me standing beside the Stearman I took out for an afternoon a couple of years ago. A lot of people think I was nuts for that but I enjoyed a very delightful afternoon in the old biplane.

Actually I have few problems with the naysayers these days because I have made fools out of them a little too often over the years.

Still, back to the drawing board with the pizza

my other blog is:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This is an interesting night.

I am on a PRC-320 group and I got an email from a newly licensed ham in Australia asking me if I would like to do a PRC-320 to PRC 320 QSO and I said I would.

There are a few problems that had to be dealt with and the first one was time. SImple fix. All times in UTC which is also known as GMT. It is the time of Greenwich, England.

We agreed on 0530Z, meaning 0530 UTC and that soleve that problem. For me it means 0130 in Pittsburgh and it doesn't really matter what time it is in Australia because I will be where I am supposed to be and he will be where he is supposed to be and that is good.

The next question was what frequency to use and we both agreed that instead of posting what the real frequency was going to be we decided simply to use the PRC-320 knob settings. We are both setting our knobs to 14.332 which in reality is 14.320 because for some reason the Brits mad thses rigs with a 2Khz offset on Upper Single Sideband.

I am as I write standing by on 14.320 Mhz (actual, 14.322 on the setting knobs) and I guess I have an hour to kill which why I am writing this now.

I really hate late nights but that is the way it is. If I want to try and bag me a Digger for my QSL collection then I generally have to work around either propogation or work around someone else's schedule.

The guy on the other end says that he gets pretty good reception on 20 meters at whatever time it is in Australia and here the band is pretty dead for the most part, but I am starting to hear a few DX stations on it from time to time.

I posted what I am up to on another web site and one of the guys tried to raise me and I got him with a 2x2 and he said I busted through his noise level and got him 5x5 which is wierd as the PRC-320 is only 30 watts.

Earlier today (yesterday by the time you read this) I broke out the charcoal grille and whipped up a bunch of ribs that wwere pretty good considering I didn't parboil or bake them first. The old Weber kettle did a good job and I think that I am going to experiment.

Tomorrow I am going to try and make a pizza on it.

It's been a while since I have cooked on charcoal and I used to be
pretty damned good with both the Weber and a Dutch oven. My plan is to put a pizza stone on the grate and preheat it and then plop a frozen pie on it and see what happens. If I can get a pizza to cook well I'm going to try 'whomp 'em' biscuits. Whomp 'em are the kind you whomp on the counter to get to open. Pillsbury makes them.

If the whomp 'ems come out OK I suppose when I go to Perry I will be able to make biscuits and gravy for breakfast but I'm going to have to scrounge up a pan of some type somewhere as I won't bring my well seasoned cast iron skillets out of the house.

Kitty seems fine and I suppose over time I will see him get over his fear of daylight. He's been out and peed for the first time today and as is his custom it was well after dark.

Incidentally Mrs Pic told me to try and use this new kind of litter made out of ground up corn cobs and it works well. It clumps nicely and is easy to scoop. She put one in the X-ring when she told me to try that stuff.

I just checked my email and the guy in Australia got on early. He emailed me that 14.320 is full of Russians and he's right because I heard them here, but figured they'd be off by the time we were scheduled to connect. I simply told him to go up 5 khz and we will soon see what happens. Maybe we will QSO. I hear someone tuning an antenna.

So far no dice. If I get him I will add it to this post.


my other blog is:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The cat is a bit odd

because he is so damned nocturnal. A lot of cats tend to be this way but this one takes it to a whole new level which is interesting.

I think that when the little guy was running free he had a couple of close calls with hawks or something because he is always looking up and can't stand being out in the open during the day. He always heads to dark corners. I can't even put him down at his bowl in the mornings because the minute I put him on the ground in front of a plate of salmon he bolts back to the cover of darkness and perceived safety.

Come sundown he gets active.

There is a shelf, actually a very wide window sill I put at the foot of my bed for Tokie and then Blacks used if. It is a little over a foot above my bed and being where it is the sill causes no interference with my feet when I sleep.

The nearest to an open space the little guy will go to an open space is under the sill on my bed if I put the covers around it to make sort of a little fort for him. He'll sit there for hours and go nowhere until sunset.

I have never seen this in a cat and it is going to be interesting to watch to see if I can get him to get over his fear of being out in the open.

I've already figured out a little bit about his routine. He holes up by day, that is now somewhat of a given.

We sack out together and then he comes and goes and eats and uses his litter box. and returns to bed with me and come sunup he retreats from the bed into the cover provided under the couch.

When I wake up I lift the end of the couch and he bolts back into the bedroom, leaps on my bed and ducks under the shelf where he is now and will likely stay there most of the day, occasionally shifting furtively from dark corner to dark corner.

I just put a couple of wine boxes out for him to hide in because I am hoping to keep him from hiding beneath the couch. We'll see what works out.

Mrs Pic calls me a 'cat whisperer" which may or may not be true. The truth is I simplly observe the animal and instead of trying to out and out make it do something it does not want to do, I simply work with him.

Mrs Pic put the litterbox in the bathroom which makes sense to people and the little guy would pee in it religiously but insisnted on pooping in the darker hallway. Quick fix, I moved the litterbox and the problem was solved. Now we have 100% compliance.

Truth is I simply observe and make a few small changes here and there and it doesn't take long before things.  In a month or so I will move the litter box and he will likely follow it.

I'm also going to get one of the covered kind so he'll feel safe when he does his business as I'd just bet he holds things until nightfall.

You have to work with animals and especially cats. Cats can be trained and taught things to a point but you have to be a lot more patient.

It is going to be a long time before I can walk this little guy on a leash but maybe if I can get him over his fear of open places I'll manage.

Time will tell.

In other news, I met a cop at Lowes. He was catching up on paperwork in his car. I pulled up next to him.

"Hey, you know the Most Interesting Man in the World? The guy that sells beer on TV?"

"Yeah," said the cop, grinning. "He bowls overhand."

"Well, they say that police question him often because they find him....interesting." I said.

"Yeah, so?" asked the cop.

"What's so interesting about him?""' I asked.

The cop grinned broadly. "We can't discuss that," he replied.

Go figure.

(Great answer, really.)

my other blog is:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Well, the cat got neutered OK

and for some reason he seems to be adapting to his surroundings and appears to be coming around which is good. He just needs to know that he's found a gravy train and that nobody here will hurt him.

He's an interesting animal and I think he had a close call with a hawk or something as he always seems to look up and prefers places to park that have overhead cover. I suppose I'll go to the liquor store and snag a couple of wine boxes for him to hole up in.

I think he's going to be all right. I had to give him antibiotics this morning and he gave a little token resistance but took his medicine which means I have already gotten the little guys trust.

In other gnus I have a lot to do today and the hits just keep on coming as there is a tree down back that needs to be bucked up and made to go away. I want to do this while the thing is still green and soft and will saw up easily. Spruce dries out fast when it is cut down so I want to act fast.

Of course, when someone else says that the tree is not a priority because they have other things slated for my time then a disagreement occurs. Inevitably someone thinks that the priority is to make sure the inside of the linen closet gets painted.

That linen closet isn't going to go anywhere. Nobody is going to steal it nor is anyone likely to break in and paint the thing the wrong color. It can stay there forever and be ready to be painted when things are favorable.

However, the tree will dry out and become more difficullt to deal with. It's best to deal with it pronto.

Getting someone to understand that is difficult for some reason and generally it gets dealt with using the old reason of "Because I said so' and this causes noses to get bent. I hate doing this but I hate having something turn into three or four times the work even worse so I guess I'm just going to have to do what I have to do and become the bad guy again.

I try and deal with things logically and therein lies the problem. People are emotional and when that linen closet gets stuck in their mind they will generally carry on until it gets painted. The shed could catch fire and if you are painting the linen closet yu might just as well let it burn or else face moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Anyway, happy Sattiddy mawnin".

Pic, out

my other blog is:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another day of chaos

It used to be that when you rescued a cat you took him to the vet for a check-up and or neutering. SImple. It is no longer that way and like the old saw that no good deed goes unpunished it now costs a fortune to be a nice guy.

Kitty is being neutered as I write this.

I got my first ticket in years the other night on the way home just as I was getting ready to pull off the turnpike.

The 'what can I do to get out of this' set is going to tell me I amm an idiot but when the officer approached me I told him I was going too fast and that I was in a bit of a hurry to get home after a long trip to sea.

He looked thoughtfully at me and said he had to write me because he had a partner in the car and said he'd do what he could. A few minutes later he came back with a ticket for failure to obey a posted sign which was true in that I was speeding in a reduced speed area and it was posted as such.

This meant a smaller fine and no points off my  license.

ANyway, I got off fairly light considering that I was going like the hammers of hell.

When he issued it he commented that I seemed to not be too upset and I told him that as I have aged I have learned that an awfully lot of people talk themselves into jail and the besrt thing to do is simply shut the hell up and if there's a disagreement than you simply take it to court.

I then asked him what would have happened to me if I had argued with him and he grinned. "It would have simply cost you poits and more money."

There it is.

Anyway, I have to take care of that today and it is simply a case of writing a check.

my other blog is:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A poor arrival home

I do not want to discuss it.

I met the new cat and right now the entire mess of if I am going to keep the poor little guy is up in the air.

It is now 1300 and the day has already turned into one of those days that you would like to celebrate by chugging a quart of cheap bourbon and passing out.

The entire place is a shit house and it will take me quite some time to pick this mess up.

The cat is not responsible for this mess.

I'm going to take a shower and a nap and start cleaning this pig sty up.

my other blog is:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

87th Day at Sea

is a pretty good title for this post even though it has nothing to do with the ocean or boats or anything else along those lines. It's just a good eye catching title. I think I'll run with it.

One of the things that I sometimes have to deal with is people that are not flexible. When you couple that with stupidity all bets are off because stupid people ruin things.

Over the years I have managed to learn how to get some of the shoreside people we deal with to do us a few favors. Gaugers are one of these shoreside people. We meet one every time we eithe pull in to load or discharge cargo. Often called inspectors, these people are hired to make sure everything ison the up and up and that the cargo is transferred properly and in the correct amounts.

The show up at the beginning and the end of every transfer and if you are even halfway decent to these guys you can get them to run a few errands for you.

One time I had a deckhand that asked me to get the gauger a couple of packs of smokes. I did and when I reached for my wallet. I knew I would collect from the deckhand. The gauger was was quick to point out there was a chance he would not be there for the close-out and he would pick them up and collect from me when he arrived. Cool.

Now to someone that has never smoked cigarettes are pretty difficult to pick up because there are not only so many different brands but a huge number of sub-brands. For example there are Camel straights, filters, lights, menthols,100s, Wides and a few others. It can be a gold plated sonuvabitch to get things straight.

Of course the gauger got it close but not too exact and when he arrived the deckhand popped by and immediately started grousing.

I looked at the deckhand and explained that the smokes were for me and simply paid the gauger and put the smokes on the counter.

I certainly didn't want the two packs of smokes but was wise enough to know that it is stupidity like this that ruins things for everybody else because when it starts to cost a person money to do favors they generally stop and returning 2 packs of cigarettes to a convenience store is likely not going to happen and it is also a pain in the neck even if you can.

I paid the man because I didn't want to have him upset and stop working for us. After all, he isn't getting paid for helping us out, it is a courtesy.

I also knew I would not be stuck with the cigarettes for very long.

When we left we had a couple of day run and the deckhand would run out of smokes and I would have an opportunity to teach a little school.

Sure enough the deckhand came by blubbering about being out of smokes. I asked him why he didn't offer to pay the gauger and he told me that the cigarettes were the wrong brand. That's when I handed out the textbook and began the lecture.

1. Beggars can't be choosers. You took a chance that he'd get the right brand but you have to settle for what you get.
2. Courtesies dry up fast when good deeds are punished for.
3. When you get a reputation for ruining things for everyone else you generally wind up pretty miserable as you tend to lose a lot of friends.
4. Paybacks are a bitch and people will get even with you for ruining things for them.

Of course, lectures and talk is cheap. I wanted this lesson to sink in. I decided to hit this guy hard right smack dab in the wallet. I waited a while until his nicotine addiction was at its peak before I sold him the smokes.

I won't tell you what I charged him for the smokes but I ought to go to jail for it.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Well, this trip is running into overtime and is drawing to an end.

I am going to have a cat to come home to and hopefully there will be a six-pack of beer to go along with the carry-out pizza I will likely snag on the way home so I can have a dinner and breakfast when I arrive. I'll have cold pizza for breakfast on my first day home, which I consider a treat.

It isn't so much the night when I arrive home as it is the first morning back. My body has to go through a few changes and get used to things ashore again and it generally runs about 36 hours until everything gets back to shoreside normal. I'm not along.

Several shipmates report the same thing. If they get home on a Tuesday they usually chill out on Wednasday and are good to go by Thursday.

I don't have any problems getting used to life at sea, though.

A post or two ago I mentioned wondering if I was going to eat the spaghetti hot or cold. I ate it cold and it was delicious that way. I suppose it would have been good hot but I was in the mood for cold spaghetti.

I think I am going to have to snag another case of those quarter pints of Jim Beam that I keep around the house as little bribes and treats. I think I am running low on them and I'd just bet when I get home I'll find my lawn mowed so I have to make sure I restock the cabinet under the porch. There's still enough gin there so when the other neighbor mows my lawn he has a treat.

We're having 5 trees felled and cut up by a local pro the day I am slated to arrive home. All of them are Norwegian spruce and are too damned tall for safety. Conifers do not have a very good root structure and the winds just knock them down. The trees which provided privacy and shade have become a dangerous liability and a storm knocking them down could really damage a house.

It is better to get someone that knows what they are doing on a job like that then to try it yourself and either destroy a house or get hurt. While I am still most likely spry enough to do the job it would take me days or even weeks to get them down and chipped up and a pro can get in and out of there in a day and take all the wood with him.

There's really no easy way to get rid of pine or spruce bolts as they produce too much creosote when burned and cause chimney fires. I suppose a handful of people can use it at camps or something but I'd bet they'd turn getting rid of it into a chore because while they want the wood they do not really need it so they would not be in too big of a hurry to haul it off.

Besides, my chipper/shredder is getting tired and there's no use killing it on a major project like these trees. I can't see getting a new one at this stage. I hope that I get home in time to pay the man as I hate chasing down people either to collect or pay money. Oddly enough, I hate collecting it more than I hate paying it. Probably because paying is easier than collecting. I have never had anyone gripe about receiving money yet. Sometimes collecting it is like pulling teeth.

Anyway, that's all for now as I am going on watch soon.

Pic, out.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Besides the news about rescuing an orange cat,

 Mrs Pic informed me that my QSL card just came in from South Dakota which is aggravating as hell because I busted my ass for a couple of weeks until I finally found another SD ham to QSO with and who send me a card. The one that just got here should have arrived months ago.
I could have had my WAS award some time ago but I had to chased down SD again.

Of course, this is to be expected. I figured the guy from SD was going to send me a QSL eventually but certainly not until well after I had made another SD contact. Guys like him irk me because I fill out my QSL cards as I go along and before I turn in for the night they are stamped and ready to go out in the morning mail.

My next project is to start DXing (Distant eXchange) and see if I can get 100 countries which will be a long, ardous, expensive task because in order to do that I am going to have to send these International Postal unit dealiebobbers with my cards.

I have a couple and at least Brazil, Northern Ireland and England were with my PRC-320 field radio which is a feather in my cap. I bagged Alaska and Hawaii on the little field set, too. Pretty neat.

Overseas postage is expensive and simply asking a foreign ham to send a QSL card is like asking a stranger to give you 2 or 3 bucks.

While most hams worldwide are not tightwads with things like contact confirmation, the price of postage has gone up over the past few years and is now a serious consideration. When you bring the fact that some of these hams from overseas create pileups and are fielding calls at the rate of sometimes over 100 or more an hour that adds up fast.

While I could likely eQSL and get an award from the eQSL people it is not the 'official' association of the hobby The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is and they either accept their own electronic QSL or paper QSL cards.

Some foreign hams either do not have internet access or are not ARRL members so I guess I'm going to have to go the paper route. Frankly the ARRL makes signing up for their electronic QSL bureau a pain in the neck. It is an ardous task and I suppose they are using the utmost in security to make sure nobody cheats.

I wonder why they go through all the security stuff to do that because even PayPal and eBay can accept a sign up in a few minutes. The ARRL makes you wait until the secret code they send you on a postcard arrives before you can get the program on line.

This isn't money that someone would steal, and we are only talking about a hobby here so relatively few people that would lie. On the other hand I suppose there ARE prizes out there so that likely changes things. Still, you can sign up for financial things with a whole lot less. Whatever. It's their bureau.

As usual things here are screwed up. The weather has screwed up our schedule and I'll be getting home off schedule which is no really big deal. Only newbies and dumbasses schedule things for the day after they are supposed to get off. One thing about being a seaman is that you have to be flexible.

This tour I come home to a vintage backpack, 500' 0f antenna wire, a pair of canteen cups and a wall mounted bottle opener. The latter of which ought to save me a little grief. Next to the under the porch reefer I have a nail with a bottle opener hanging on it but everyone and their cousin keeps moving it and keeping tabs on it is a pain in the neck. After I bolt the thing to the wall with a couple of TapCons I won't have to chase all over hell looking for the damned opener.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

So Mrs Pic called me and told me about the cat she rescued

and will be living with me.

He's an orange male and needs to be neutered. She reports he's a little on the wild side, but I ought to be able to get him settled down pretty quickly.

I seem to have a way with cats for some reason. Often when I visit someone they will tell me that their cat is shy and hides or doesn't like strangers only too find the little feline comes up to me or sometimes to their astonishment will jump up on my lap. I do not know why this is but it is what it is.

 I suppose it is a 2 way street as they seem to come into my life at odd times. Tokie was a lot of fun but he kept me from going nuts. The Black kitty that we lost last spring was a pretty good cat, but for some reason the basic Orange cat seems to do well with me.

We were in a fishing port a while back and as a fishing boat ghosted by my shipmate asked me if I missed commercial fishing. I told him I did not. I do not like the smell of Icy Hot and Ben Gay on young men that have beaten their bodies numb.

I suppose it is like the attitude an awful lot of WW2 vets had until the day they died. "I'd never want to do it again, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

There is a pretty good looking plate of spaghetti sitting in the reefer waiting for me to eat it. My shipmate made a huge bunch and it looks good. He told me to help myself. My dileimma now is whether to heat it up or eat it cold. I like cold spaghetti for some reason. I used to make it at home sometimes and not even bother eating it when it was hot. I'd make it for breakfast the night before and chill it.

Still, hot spaghetti sounds ok, too.

You have to figure that life is pretty good when all you have to worry about is if you are going to eat a pretty good meal cold or hot.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

I am going to be very busy

But I figured you guys ought to know that Mrs Pic DID snag me an orange cat. SHe reports that is seems like a real keeper.

Perhaps someone could pass word to the website I visit daily.



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Well, I am at sea and Mrs Pic just gave me a call and told me she has just spotted another stray orange kitty.

 She asked me if I would take care of it if she rescued the little guy

Of course, I said I would as there has not been a cat in my house in over a year and a cat is a good thing to have for a guy like me. I like having one and orange cats and I seem to get along quite nicely because of their nature.

They are smart and affectionate and every now and then they cop a pretty good kittytude.

The last one I had would walk with me on a leash with dignity and I would don a pair of sunglasses and a white cane and pass him off as a guide animal. I would post some of the adventures we had much to the amusement of others. It is astonishing how many people actually believed that the little guy was a bona fide Seeing Eye cat and make total fools out of themselves.

A couple of times I would play the part of a blind man and ask people for directions and things and have them explain things to the cat. Several people did and a lot of other mischief ensued, too.

Things tend to come in threes and I have had two orange cats so do not be surprised when you start reading about Piccolo and his new cat.

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