Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Make yourself valuable.

One of the things I see are some of the kids that get out of high school that go straight to the local fast food place to get find work. That's not really a bad thing as one has to get started somewhere and work is work.

It doesn't take a whole lot of smarts to work flipping burgers or whipping up Tacos at Taco Bell. Still, it's a job and a good place for someone to keep busy and make a few bucks while they are biding time.

These are called entry level jobs for a reason. It's where you enter the work force and get started. These jobs are not there to be turned into careers.

I just read where a bunch of employees are planning on striking unless their pay is doubled. These people are likely to put more work, time and effort into this than if they took the same time and effort and found a skill somewhere and a better job.

Fast food places stay affordable partly because they keep labor costs down and when a burger goes up to $10 or $15 people are just going to go down the street to the local buffet and get more food for less money. On top of that, they'll get a better, more balanced meal if they choose.

My first job was in a supermarket and from there I went to work in a concrete pipe factory for a while and then into the service. From there I got a job where I learned skills and became a pretty handy guy that never lacked work.

What these people that are planning to strike the fast food places ought to do is get themselves some skills someplace.

There are still a number of places willing to take a young person and train them to do something. There are still a few apprenticeship programs out there and there are still people that are willing to train someone.

A person doesn't have to make a career flipping burgers. People a year or so out of school don't belong in these places, anyway. They belong somewhere learning a skill, either in college, a trade school, an apprenticeship or doing an on the job training program. The fast food circuit is for kids either still in school of fresh out of it that are looking for something better.

While I worked in a supermarket I did everything I could to make myself more valuable. When a produce guy was sick I offered to pitch in there and busted my ass for a couple of days. Sure enough when someone in the produce department left, I got sent there and got a raise to boot.

I learned a bunch of little things like how to unjam the trash compactor when it got jammed. That helped make me more valuable.

When the frozen food guy went on vacation I offered to fill in there and inside a week I got useful there, too. After that I learned to work in the grocery department and worked there for a while.

After a while I didn't have to bag groceries unless the registers were jammed up with people. Then I'd pitch in there until things went back to normal.

It didn't take long before I became a lot more valuable than a lot of people that had been there longer than I had and my pay went up as a result.

The same line of thought and deed has followed me my entire life. When you get somewhere, make yourself valuable. Learn as much as you can and get good at it as fast as you can.

The other day I ran into a guy that I started in this business with and he is doing just what he did the day he was hired and making basic entry level wages. To tell the truth he's a little resentful of me. A few years back he gave me a ration of crap about being where I am and I told him to look at himself. We both had the same opportunities and he never took advantage of them. I guess the shock set him straight because he was cordial when we met the other day.

There's no reason a person should be stuck in an entry level job if they have even an inkling of brains between their ears.

Walking out on a entry level job or trying to act like it is a career and demanding skilled wages is just stupid. They can simply replace you with another school kid wanting a few bucks. Acting like flipping burgers is a career is a joke. 

The statement I have heard and use sometimes is that if you have a job you can be replaced doing by someone living in a mud hut then either get another job or plan on living in a mud hut.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

eBay bids are kind of a 'fire 'em and forget 'em' thing for me.

It is a simple process. I look at something and figure what it is worth to have in my hand, deduct the shipping cost and park the number for a minute.

Then I bid on the item and when the little box comes up asking me for my top bid I simply put the number in the box, click it and forget about it until my email gives me the results.

For example, if I think an item is worth $100 to me and shipping for the item is $10 I simply post a max bid of $90.

If I get it, fine. If not, that's OK because I didn't overpay. Sooner or later another one will come up and I can try again.

I get a hoot out of people that get carried away at an auction and pay well over New in Box price for something that is pretty beat up and used.

My favorite one was a guy that paid well over 100 times what something was worth. If I recall it was a used rifle sling and the damned things were going for about $4 in a shooting supply magazine somewhere.

Something like that makes no sense to me at all and I wonder what people are thinking when they do stupid stuff like that.

As I type this I have a bid on a microphone and we'll see what happens. Truth is I am not likely to win and I really don't care if I do or not. If I don't, another one is likely to come along.

One of the deals I got a while ago on eBay came because I intentionally mistyped the name of what I wanted in the search box.

I wanted a power supply and there were literally thousands to choose from and I narrowed it down to a few and saw they were actually a pretty hot item.

So I went back to the search box and typed in 'power suppy' and a handful of items appeared and I found one I wanted. I got it for $20 delivered. His mistaken spelling saved me about $75 which was a pretty good deal.

Anyway, as I type, this microphone is sitting there and may or may not being bid on. Most liikely it is.

I figured it to be worth $100 to me and shipping is $7.93 so I bid $92.07 on it. I doubt I'll get it, though but I might.

One of the things I get accused of is being a lowball bidder and I suppose there is some truth to that when you look at things. While I have nothing against paying a fair price for something, there are things that fall under the 'nice to have' category.

The 'nice to haves' are things I really don't need but would be nice to have. Yes, it really is that simple. Some things are just nice to have but to me are not worth spending a whole lot of money for.

Once someone offered me a pretty good rifle but I already had one like it so I told him I'd give him $50 for it and he got upset. I explained to him that $50 was what it was worth to me and he could certainly find someone else to buy it for a lot more than that. I even made a couple of calls for him and helped him sell it.

The rifle was only worth $50 to me, I explained to him while I was helping him get a better deal somewhere else.

He thought about what I said and said he understood.

About a year later he called ma and asked me what a set of wheels for the Miata was worth, and I gave him a price close to market value and we closed the deal. I wanted the wheels more than I wanted the rifle he had tried to sell me.

As for the microphone that I won't likely get, it's worth $100 to me. I doubt I'll get it because it's likely worth more to someone else than it is to me. Still, it would be nice to have and I've put a cap on what I will pay for it.

Update:  Missed it by $14.

No problem. There are a couple more there I can bid on. Things like this travel sort of cyclic. Demand is likely to go down and I will snag one at a good price.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

I guess I gotta crank out another post

which would be pretty good if I was getting paid for this but I am not. It is strictly a labor of love and I do it because something inside me tells me to. I do not know what it is but I do so I do it.

A few years back I was bored at my sister's house on a visit over some kind of holiday season. I actually forgot the event but there I was.

Actually it was pretty good having time on my hands as I wanted to research a relative that was KIA at Iwo Jima in 1945. I was lucky in that I was able to find three guys that knew him.

The relative was one of those young men of the period that ran down to the Marine recruiters to help get even with the dirty Japs right after Pearl Harbor and is pretty much a classic study of a youngster that was put into a position of responsibility beyond his years because it was wartime.

He did well at Parris Island and got held over and trained to be a drill instructor upon graduation. He was promoted to corporal and eventually sergeant. He likely could have stayed there for the entire war. Instead he put in for overseas service and was sent to the 4th MarDiv and battled the Japanese ant Roi-Namur, Saipan and Iwo Jima where he was killed.

Roi-Namur was sort of a relative cake walk, casualties were light (by Pacific standards) and he got through that one OK, but he got hit on the beach at Saipan pretty hard but recovered in time to hit Iwo Jima where he was killed.

I did get to swap emails with a couple of guys that knew him and of the three there is one of the old guys that swears that it was my relative, Jack, that kept him alive. This man was a replacement that joined the unit after Saipan. He told me that Jack wanted to use hie GI bill and be a math teacher when the war was over.

I eventually drove for a day to meet one of the guys that served with Jack and it was pretty neat. The man survived Saipan intact and was instantly sent over to help take Tinian where the Enola Gay took off from to bomb Hiroshima.

I had tossed an M-1 in the back of my pickup and when we met at his house I mentioned it and his face lit up. He hadn't seen one since 1945 and wondered if he still knew how to field strip it.

I hauled it in and it took him about ten seconds to strip it down and put it back together. I also noticed that when he closed the action he instinctively knew to put the heel of his hand against the op rod handle to keep from getting M-1 thumb.

We spent a couple of hours talking about my relative and I learned he was another patriotic kid of the time. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor, showed aptitude and was promoted well before his years. There were a lot of them during WW2.

He was a well liked squad leader in the 4th MarDiv and did what was expected until a Japanese machine gunner killed him along with the platoon sergeant. 

Anyway I digress. Back to my sister's house. When I sort of burned out on chasing all over the internet for information on Jack my sister walked over to my computer, sat down and set up this very blog page which I immediately reset the background to pink for reasons I have since posted.

"Here. This ought to keep you busy a while," she said. "Besides, I need the car and the liquor store is too far to walk." 

If you go back to the first post or two you will remember that my niece was there babysitting a bunch of little kids. I fiendishly gave each of the little yard apes a cold Coca Cola and two sugar donuts and hitched a ride to the liquor store.

I returned, had a snort and sat down to watch the masterpiece of squalling, sugared up three and four year-olds I had created.

This blog has and has actually helped me to keep my sanity because I get to rant and rave here, be creative and pretty much do what I want. The time I spend behind the keyboard is my time and it's good to spend some time each day doing something that gives me a place to vent or be mildly creative.

Right now I am behind for the first time in about a years or more because I am in a place where there isn't any internet service. Still, I will post these little items as soon as I get back to the world of the internet.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I just saw a TV ad

for what is often referred to as survival rations which tells me that things are changing in the country.

It was an ad with a basic soccer mom explaining that one ought to stock up on such and such a brand of long term storage food.

While she didn't seem to be preaching doom and gloom, the ad in itself struck me as interesting because stocking up on stuff like this is generally the realm of people that have underground survival bunkers in Montana or somewhere.

People used to look at these survivalists as nut cases but I think that may be slowly changing. Time will tell.

It strikes me that there are getting to be more and more people out there that are growing concerned at what the future is likely to bring.

It was either very late last year or early this year that I posted what I saw at the rifle range. I saw a couple of soccer moms learning to shoot ARs which I could have attributed to a couple of women wanting to enter a sport. What knocked me for a loop was listening to them talking about interlocking fields of fire. Soccer moms don't talk that way.

With ammunition and reloading supplies still pretty hard to come by and .22LR damned difficult to come by I suppose it makes sense that there are a growing number of people out there that are starting to become concerned about what the future will bring.

It just makes sense that people are looking at their larders and wondering what they are going to do if the local supermarket goes belly up.

When you think about it the average home probably does not have a whole lot of stuff in it because people have grown pretty dependent on the food supply chain as it exists now.

For decades the chain delivering food to the public has been damned reliable, only seeming to break down for brief periods of major storms or earthquakes. People have gotten used to watching weather reports and if a storm seems to be in the offing they store up on bread, milk, eggs and live on French toast for a few days until the supermarket restocks these items.

Stull, there seems to have been a very limited market for things like dehydrated foods and those users have generally been people like backpackers that buy the stuff because it is light and fairly easy to prepare.

Survivalists and hikers have most likely been a big chunk of the market but when I saw the ad it struck me that TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) preparedness is getting ready to go mainstream.

It strikes me that the ads were not just thrown out there on speculation. Advertising is expensive and generally the advertisers check to see if a market exists before they start advertising.

Apparently there is a mainstream market out there or else they would not advertise on the mainstream media.

These are getting to be interesting times we live in when soccer moms are being shilled to by the people that provide long term survival food.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The NAACP has sure slid down the tubes in the past several years.

The organization, the National Association for the ADVANCEMENT of Colored People sure seems to have slipped over the years and it is a shame.

Years ago it preached self-reliance, independence, education and fought for fair treatment and against racism. These days it seems to be fighting for governmental reliance, dependence and creating racism if you look at it carefully enough.

The organization that supported James Meridith registering and entering Ole Miss back in 1962 and fighting for the rights for blacks to enter schools and the workplace as equals has now reduced itself to supporting the actions of a violent felon that was shot during the commission of a brutal assault.

The logic of supporting such an individual does little but create a rift and create racism where it had once receeded.

It's a pretty long fall. It's also pretty sad when you look at it.

An organization that had once preached independence and self reliance appears to be making sure the membership gets their fair share of the welfare checks instead of an education. The education you used to preach would make it so people wouldn't need welfare checks. They'd be self-supporting and free.

This organization should be working hard to stop out of wedlock pregnancies and drug abuse in the community. They should be castigating deadbeat parents that allow their children to quit school and not get an education.

The organization ought to be quoting Henry Ford when he said that "Any man that thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian."

It should be telling parents to make their kids to pull up their pants, learn to speak the English language, get out there and study, do well in school and make something of themselves. Deadbeat parents should be pressured to teach their children that being an ignorant, foul mouthed thug with a chip on their shoulder isn't going to get them anywhere in the workplace.

They should be fighting against the people in the community that spread the scourge of drug dependence and enslave and poison the members of the community.

Instead of going to the support of people like James Meredith that wanted fair treatment in the educational system they seem to be supporting the right brutal assailants not to be shot during the execution of a felony.

What happened to the organization that preached to its membership the need of a work ethic and education as the road to self improvement? If they still preach it, I fail to see it.

Dr. King preached hard work, education and self reliance back in the day but these days his ethic seems to be fallen by the wayside. 

Why isn't the organization still preaching these ethics?

Maybe it's because you are not drawing a successsful crowd anymore. Back when the Montgomery Bus Boycott was going on you had a lot of people involved that were working and saw this as being worth taking time off from work to get involved. There were a lot of working class people involved in that strike because it was a truly worthwhile cause.

Take a look at your street gatherings now and you don't see a lot of successful people taking part. Likely it is because successful people couldn't be bothered with sticking up for the thug of the week you seem to support these days. They're too busy somewhere else being successful to bother.

These days NAACP gatherings seem to draw an awful lot of disemfranchised people that are on government assistance and ghetto rat troublemakers that have nothing better to do like go to work.

As I sit here writing and thinking about why things are the way things are inside the organization, I come to the conclusion that the organization has been bought off with liberal helpings of government assistance.

Which seems to put many blacks back where they were back in the old days, in slavery.

Of course, the old steel manacles have been replaced. As has the whip.

These days the manacles are the golden handcuffs of welfare, governmental assistance, set-asides and other programs which are an insult to an entire race. The whip has been replaced with a fear of losing the free lunch. It also fires the angry fires of racism that seemed to have died to fading, dying embers over the past several years.

Then again, maybe the organization needs racism to have a purpose. I know that Al and Jesse do. If racism goes away completely those two will have to get honest jobs.

It's a damned shame to have to see such a once fine organization as the NAACP fall so far.

Incidentally, don't waste your time trying to pin a Klan jacket on me  for posting this because you will just look like a fool. For one thing it's true. The organization may have been sacred cow but it's gone down the tubes and someone has to have guts enough to speak out and tell the Emperor he has no clothes on.

This blog has over 1500 posts in it . Dig through and you will find that since I was a child I have supported Dr. King, fair play, decency and have no time for racism. I want minorities to be successful. If for no other reason that it is a lot cheaper to have people paying taxes than dipping out of governmental coffers.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting rid of things

 seems to be getting harder and harder these days.

It used to be that trash service consisted of hauling your trash out to the street and on trash day it would vanish. You could throw appliances or just about anything into the heap and it would go away.

Not so these days.  Now you are pretty limited on what you can get rid of.

Right now I have three trash cans, one for trash, one for recycling and another one for yard waste. Actually this makes sense. We probably should have been recycling things years ago. The city also maintains a compost pile that is open to the public.

Still, there are a lot of things that you can not put in either of these three containers. There are tires, car batteries, appliances and a lot of electronics that are hard to get rid of.

I've been lucky in that I have made a few friends and can get rid of tires and car batteries easily enough but when a basic computer bites the dust it can be difficult to get rid of. A television is a bit more difficult but a refrigerator or a stove is a royal pain in the ass.

Actually most of this stuff can easily be gotten rid of. The trash company will pick them up but it's costly as they send a seperate truck out for the stuff.

Some metal scrapyards will take a washing machine, dryer or stove but they're some distance away. It pays to call first as a few years back I discovered that not all scrapyards will take this stuff. I do not know why.

When replacing an appliance read the offer carefully because free delivery along with free removal is something to be taken into consideration. It's generally worth the extra few bucks they slip in on the purchase price.

Even a reasonable delivery charge is a pretty good deal if it includes removal of the old appliance.

I have been lucky as far as computers go. I didn't go the tower PC/moniter route. I have always used laptops and I have a couple of outdated onse sitting in a closet. Eventually I'll take them down to Goodwill and give them a few bucks to make them go away.

Incidentally, most people are unaware that one of the biggest expenses Goodwill has is getting rid of the mountains of junk that people palm off on them. Nobody wants to buy your torn, greasy coveralls or your 15 year old 486 computer. When you drop it off they have to simply get rid of it somewhere and this costs them money.

I suppose Goodwill does salvage the precious metals computers use, though, so some good comes out of it.

Considering the amount of junk people palm off on Goodwill it's highly likely that getting rid of the junk is a pretty costly for them and it would not surprise me that it is one of their biggest expenses.

Back in the day we had the good old fashioned city dump and no trash service. You just loaded up the pickup or the trunk and headed off there with anything you wanted to get rid of.

Car batteries? No problem. A transformer full of PCBs? Throw it in the pickup. Leftover lead paint? Go for it. Years back nobody gave it a second thought. I know I didn't. I suppose if I did this today I'd be in jail as an ecological terrorist or something.

Dumps generally started having seperate areas or bins for things that were harmful to the ecology but they still took aything. Not having been to the dump in well over a decade it would be interesting to see how thay have evolved.

One of the things I have noticed in Philly is the amount of stuff people simply ditch under bridges or along the sides of lightly traveled roads. TVs, computers, and all sorts of things wind up under bridges and strewn along quiet unused roads and while illegal as hell it makes sense that people would do such a thing.

Likely it's expensive as git-go to get rid of stuff in Philly or people wouldn't do this kind of thing. It's tempting to do this when you figure that it's going to cost you a hefty chunk of change to get rid of an old TV. 

A lot of our goods are pretty much throw away partly because they get obsolete so fast as technology is tearing along at a pretty good clip these days. It shows no signs of slowing down, either.

Some of this is created by the perception that the latest technology is necessary. I some instances it is not. My TV is well over 20 years old and is still going strong. My tastes are simple, though. I just use mine to watch basic TV on and feel no need for super-sound or anything else.

On the other hand, I only get a few years out of a laptop before it has to be upgraded just to be able to stay on line. Before I get rid of these I'm going to have to remove and destroy the hard drives, though.

I looked at the  requirements of my ISP and realize that some of my older computers won't even go on line anymore because they are so obsolete. The combat laptops I am using now are becoming dated and in a while I suppose they will have to be replaced.

Cell phones are another item that people seem to go through at a pretty good clip. I read somewhere that the average cell phone gets replaced every 16 months or so. I have a couple floating around in a drawer somewhere I've been meaning to get rid of.

Cell phones are not too bad to get rid of, though. There are places you can send them to and they recycle them somehow. Some of these places even will send you a prepaid mailer on request which is a pretty good deal.

Anyway, it's a lot harder to get rid of stuff today then it used to be and I can only see it getting harder and harder over time.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

I think that it was almost fifty years

 ago when some damned fool kids dumped several bottles of Joy dish washing liquid into a fountain on the lawn of a large funeral home. This created a monster mountain of soap suds and wound up blocking traffic on a major traffic artery for a couple of hours during rush hour.

Looking back on it one of the culprits learned a very good lesson on two different things. First he learned that Joy soap makes a lot more soap suds than he thought and secondly he learned that it doesn't take a whole lot to block off a major traffic artery.

The wind was just right and blew the billowing mass of soapsuds straight across the highway. The police instantly blocked it off until everything blew over which took a couple of hours.

My dad was on the way home from work and had to reroute a little to get past it. This was no problem as he knew the area like the back of his hand. He actually thought it was kind of funny but then again my dad knew the ways of kids and expected them to do a few dopey things while growing up.

To him it just meant he had to go around the block to get around it and he got an amusing surprise. It was pretty funny seeing a mountain of soap suds wafting across a main highway. Every so often a puff of wind would tear a chunk the size of a sofa off the sudsy mountain and send it floating off somewhere.

Then again he didn't know who was responsible or there would have likely been hell to pay.

On the  other hand maybe he did and chose to let one slide figuring that the lesson had been learned. He was a wise man and knew when to let nature run its course and knew that a kid with a sense of guilt would likely beat himself up and learn from experience.

Of course that was back when the world still had a sense of humor. My guess is that the cops grumbled about having to reroute traffic but had a good after shift laugh in the locker room.

Today it is likely there would be a major state and federal investigation.

Incidentally I did learn something from this and used it to my advantage several years later. 

A shipmate on the opposite relief took to stuffing all of his dirty clothes in a llaundry bag and leaving them unwashed under a bunk because he was too lazy to wash them before he got off.

When we discovered what he was doing we moved the bag to the generator room and cussed him out on his return but he didn't learn.

I got a couple of bottles of Joy and applied it to the dirty clothes liberally. It sort of dried out in the generator room, but activated up again when he tossed them into the washing machine as he wondered what the sticky stuff all over them was.

It filled up the laundry room with soap suds and made him into a changed man. He never did that again.

As for the rest of us, it gave us a pretty good sea story.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My old man was a pretty good navigator.

Back in the day there were no Interstates and although Eisenhower, who was president at the time, is responsible for the creation of the Interstate highway system they were far from complete when at the time.

I recall the trip to Michigan we made when I was little. I remember dad and I sat down with a couple of road maps and figured out the way through the hash of US routes built during the depression and the slew of state roads.

He wrote down a list of where to turn off of one road and onto another one and clipped it to the visor along with approximate distances so as to know when to start looking for the turn.

It was pretty much what you'd get today from a printed out MapQuest or Google map laying out a travel route, although unlike the computer printouts the milage dad used was estimated from the map's mileage scale. 

Driving with  him at the wheel was interesting, too and as a child I learned a lot from him. He apparently had taken his Air Corps training with him when he got out of the service because he had a pretty good eye for enemy fighters.

Every so often he'd point something out to me. "There's a pretty good chance there's a motorcycle cop behind that billboard," he'd say and quite often when we'd pass the bilboard he'd be proven right.

Back then they had motorcycles cops in places, riding huge Harleys. Sometimes you can see them on old movies.

One time my mother got a bit panicky when she happened to spot a motorcycle cop behind us with his lights on.

"Pull over, there's a cop behind us with his lights on," she said.

'Top of the world, Ma! They'll never take us alive," responded dad and mom turned purple with rage and fear with visions of all of us getting carted off to the pokey, She bit her lips.

When the cop got close dad pulled over to the right, slowed down and the cop whipped past us going like the hammers of hell. Mom was visably relieved.

I was leaning over the back of the front seat and asked dad how he knew.

"I saw the cop before your mother did," he explained. He was going like a bat out of hell and was hugging the white line. If he wanted to pull us over he would have likely been in the center of the lane."

"Gee, Dad!" where did you learn to talk like a gangster?" I asked.

"In a movie I saw as a boy," he replied. "I was just teasing your mother when I did that."

Later I saw the movie on TV. It was "White Heat" with James Cagney as Cody Jarret. It's a classic and I use the same line from it my dad used occasionally. A lot of people grin and pick up on it even now which is pretty amazing as the movie was made around 1933.

Incidentally by the time I got my driver's license a little over a decade later motorcycle cops had all but disappeared. I have never been stopped by one and rarely have I even seen one. 

Also billboard advertising went away to a great extent in the mid 60s under the Johnson administration. The country used to be plastered with them and although the eyesores still exist they have dropped way down to a trickle of what it used to be along the highways. I'll admit it's a lot nicer to look at. Back in the day they seemed to be every ten feet.

They also had Burma Shave signs which were a series of small signs, each of which was a single line of a poem of some sort. The last one said, "Burma Shave". Even then they were starting die out but there were still a few out there.

When we passed through occasional towns dad would drive carefully obeying all of the speed limits and would stop at stop signs and count to three out loud.

"That way there's no question, Son," he explained. "A lot of these dinky little towns depend on the money from tickets to run them and we're from out of state. Most people do a rolling stop and sometimes get ticketed for it."

I asked what being from out of state had to do with the way the laws were enforced.

"They know that if they give you a ticket you'll simply pay it instead of having to spend a couple of days in town waiting to go to court to fight it," he explained. 'It's a lot cheaper that way even though it isn't right."

I noticed that the air conditioning didn't work very well in big towns.

When we were out of towns and into open areas or farm lands he'd open things up a bit and make up for lost time. The air conditioning worked well when we were making up for lost time. 

Back then cars had what is now called the 4-50 air conditioning system. With four windows open at 50 mph you could stay fairly cool.

We were visiting his half brother who lived on somewhat of a horse ranch. A year or two early he and his wife had visited us, traveling all the way in a four-cylinder Jeep. The trip must have taken days, looking back on it. At 45 mph an old Jeep's engine would have been screaming.

Dad had planned the trip well and had tossed a couple of air matteresses in the back of the station wagon. My brother and I could sleep in back and my toddler sister was in a car seat. My two younger sisters had not even been born yet.

Every now and then he'd say, "Start looking for route such and such," and all available eyes would be peeled until a sign was spotted. 

Once I remember him turning at a signpost with no route number on it and driving a mile or so and seeing a route sign. 

"Someone knocked the sign down, so I guessed that one right," he said. He pointed at the chart on the visor. "See the number 4? It means a 4 lane road and the milage was about right so I figured it was where to turn. Besides it was about time."

He then showed me the little numbers he had put down to show how long each leg should take. He explained that the times were just an educated guess and explained that we'd be on our current leg for about another 45 minutes or so unless there was traffic or something. 

A minute or so later we were making great time, clicking away at a mile a minute or so.

Looking back on it, he had done his homework on that one.

Anyway, we got there intact and spent about a week and we had a ball. But looking back on it, I learned a lot as a little kid about navigating the nations's highways and byways.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A couple of days ago

I stayed out late with a friend which is rare for me. I called the neighborhood kid over to ask him to feed the cat later that evening.

"OK, Mr. Pic" he said. "And I'll make sure I wash the fork carefully before I put it back in the sink so your breakfast doesn't taste like cat food."

It is scary when you realize you have been pegged by an eleven year old kid.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

I try and think out of the box.

I QSO'd a guy in Tajikistan the other day and his QRZ page said that to get a card out of him you had to send a registered letter which popped up a red flag.

Sounds like mail corruption to me. 

I went to the USPS website and looked up what that would run and it is $7.95 but I cannot send any cash or anything to compensate him for return postage.

Generally when we want a QSL card from someone we stick between $1-3 in the envelope, depending on their postage rates. No return postage, no QSL card. It works unless you are dealing with a post office in Outer Slobovia where the postman has to ride a goat to deliver the mail and gets paid with what he can steal. This brings Tonga to mind.

I know nothing about Tajikistan except that getting a QSO from there is a rather rare event and I want a card to prove if for my DXCC award AND bragging rights.

I wondered how to get the job done and it occurred to me.

This is a job for the United States Marine Corps.

What? The Marines? How in hell do you figure the Marines are going to be able to help you get a QSL card from Tajikistan?

Simple. There is a Marine detatchment at just about every US embassy in the world.  There's one in Tijakistan.

It's actually pretty good duty and if you play your cards right as a good Marine you can wind up with a pretty good job at one of the alphabet agencies when you retire. 

I heard a Marine describe embassy duty as being one of the best kept secrets in the Corps.

Generally there is a Gunnery Sergeant on duty there and any Marine can tell you that if you want to get something squared away most riki-tik you see the Gunny.

It seems that Staff Sergeants are issued sticks to get the job done. First Sergeants are issued baseball bats. 

Between the two is the Gunny and he is issued a magic wand,

The Gunny should be able to get me my card in his sleep.

Of course, it's likely that he knows what's going to happen when I get the card and show it off at the club.

"It was a snap. I wrote the Marine detachment at the embassy and the Marines sent out a couple of rifle companies and 4 tanks to the guy's house to collect my QSL card. Didn't you see it on the news a couple of weeks ago?"


"Oh, yeah! A sergeant won the Navy Cross for delivering the card under intense small arms fire."

Or this: Four reinforced rifle companies and six tanks battled their way up Khyber Pass along with a 113 years old swashbuckler. He was a retired college professor clad in a leather jacket and carrying a bull whip showing them the way to get the QSL card the the Tajikistani ham radio operator...

One can never let the facts get in the way of a pretty good story and I'll promise the Gunny that if he is successful getting my card by simple means that I will keep the truth to myself and that my lips are sealed. I'll tell everybody something that is befitting the Marines.

The likely scenario IS the Gunny will simply mail the QSL card to the ham in Tajikistan via local mail along with a prepaid return envelope to the embassy and will forward the card to me but you never know.

Anyway, I sent a package to HQ USMC to forward to the NCOIC of the embassy in Tajikistan and we'll see what happens.

This one may wind up being a pretty good tale or maybe HQ USMC might just say 'No dice' and return the package to me.

We'll see, but still it ought to be fun to watch what happens.

I'll keep you posted.

This was written about 3 or 4 weeks ago and HQ USMC has not returned the packet so I assume it is on the way to the embassy in Tajikistan.Actually it has been my experience that little off the wall things like this generally sort themselves out. The likely scenario in this case is that some corporal is likely to say, "Wait a minute...I met some guy that might know him when I was downtown the other night......"

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

I heard that George Zimmerman is going to change his name.

He ought to change it to Ben Ghazi so President Obama never mentions it again.

That's what I would do.

I am looking at my driveway which is not paved with concrete or asphalt. It is a pea gravel driveway with river pea gravel and looks great as it compliments the stone landscaping I have there. 

Gravel driveways require adding gravel to them from time to time as the gravel shifts around and gets mashed into the dirt beneath it over time and use. I just added some gravel and made out pretty well in the deal.

I've done business with the gravel supplier before and he like to do business with me as I am not too picky about things. I don't sweat the small stuff.

He had a pretty good sized batch of gravel he was trying to get rid of because it was a little dirty and not very pretty looking and he showed it to me. It did look a bit funky so I grabbed a nearby bucket, put some in it and headed over to a nearby hose and rinsed the stuff off a bit and looked at it. When it was cleaned up it looked pretty good.

"Give me $100 worth," I said. I knew I was going to get a lot more than that and I was proved right when the truck showed up and dropped it off. I got a lot more than I had bargained for which was fine by me.

When I got it spread out one of the neighbors commented that it looked a bit dingy and I told them to be patient.

There have been a couple of rainstorms since and as I had figured the grey dirt has been washed off of the stone and now it matches the other stone pretty well and looks good. 

Sometimes you have to look at what something is going to look like down the road. The rains have washed the gravel off and now it matches and the neighbor commented on how he didn't believe it. It looks great.

It pays to plan ahead a little and not worry about what something looks like when it is done, but what it is going to look like a little ways down the road.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

I got up late today for the first time I can remember

I got up late today for the first time in as long as I can remember which is OK and feel a bit sluggish but that will wear off fast.

Yesterday's mail saw the confirmation of Morocco and Guadeloupe on my DXCC project which puts me down into the single digits to go classification. I've had 100 countries logged since around Sept 2012 but confirmation has been slow. My WAS project was the same way. I Worked all fifty states rather quickly yet it took months to confirm them all. The last one to confirm was SD and as soon as I figured I didn't want to wait I went on the air and re bagged SD and explained what was happening.

He has suffered a similar fate and Two days later his card came in.

The cat is being a cat now and for some reason likes to nibble my toes when I sit here barefoot. It sort of tickles.

This isn't much of a post but it'll have to do for now as I am still sluggish.

In the background I hear a pile up on a 13 year old Japanese ham presently in Saipan. While I want Saipan bad, I know I have no chance of bagging it because the signal from Saipan is weak and there is a pretty hefty pile up. The kid is handling it like a pro but there are a bunch of grown men in the pileup that are behaving like a bunch of little kids. Some of them have never heard of the DX Code of Conduct and are simply repeating their call signs with one second intervals. They're actually walking all over the kid.

I wouldn't tolerate that. I'd simply make a list of the call signs and tell them that they could go to hell and not to come back until they learn the DXCC.

Part of the reason I do not have a log full of QSOs from all over is because I don't chase them all over hell. I snipe them.

Right now I am doing just that with Saipan. I am letting propagation get better so I stand a chance in the pile up. When propagation gets better I'll jump into the fray.

Of course, the other night I did the opposite. I got frustrated in a pile-up and took a different tack. I shut down the big 100 watt set with its 43 foot vertical antenna and went into the driveway with the PRC-320 and ran up the little 2.5 meter whip. This allowed me to change my call sign to QRP (reduced power)and when I went back into the fray the first time I gave that call I was rewarded with an answer. I bagged the United Arab Emirates with 30 watts and a 2.5 meter whip for an antenna! Outrageous!

The little PRC 320 backpack rig doesn't have a lot of power but as someone else said, it sure has the mojo.

Anyway, I just got word that the President of the United States wants to honor a violent felon. Why don't these people give it a rest? The Sharpton?Jackson/NAACP gang seem to have way overplayed their hand. People are getting sick and tired of the race card getting played and the NAACP is going to feel a backlash one of these days and will get no sympathy from me.

They ought to be working to free their people by instilling a work ethic and encouraging education to get people unshackled from the golden handcuffs of welfare and governmental handouts. Instead they have taken it upon themselves to glorify a violent felon and crucify a man  that defended himself against a violent attack.

I am half tempted to join the organization simply because it would feel so good to quit the organization in protest to this crap.

Mr. Obama sure seems to be doing a fine job of splitting the country instead of uniting it.

Don't make me president, but make me dictator for ten years and I'll plumb this place up. I'll turn welfare into workfare and then watch that go belly up and disappear as the people in it will discover that maybe a job in the private sector ain't a bad deal as it would prove better than cleaning grease traps at an army base mess hall or pulling KP there. I'd give them the crappiest jobs available and make sure they were done right or else they won't get paid.

Retired drill sergeants: Job opportunity here. Your skills at implanting a work ethic are needed.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

One of the things I fail to comprehend is how people can be so blind

Let's talk truth here.

Treyvon Martin was killed during the commission of a violent felony. His killer took his life in a clear cut case of self-defense and was found not guilty of any wrongdoing in a court of law in the State of Florida.

Yet the DOJ wants to pursue this and says that George Zimmerman violated Martin's civil rights.

There are a lot of people out there that want to see Zimmerman in court over this. It makes no sense and trying him would be a case of patent dishonesty on the part of the government. It seems that everyone here wants to go to the defense of a violent felon.

The truth is that we are making a bunch of excuses for a person'e inexcusable behavior.

I'm not saying that Zimmerman had the right to be judge, jury and executioner here. He didn't. Nobody does, but Zimmerman does have a right to live and has the right to defend himself against an attack and use whatever means at his disposal to stay alive and unharmed. That included deadly force.

If the attacker is harmed in the process than that is just too damned bad.

Zimmerman didn't want to kill Martin, he just wanted to stay alive and in one piece. This ins't anything unusual.

The truth of this is that the local chief of police had exonerated Zimmerman of murder charges in the days following and he was sent to go about his business.

Enter Fat Al Sharpton and Brother Jesse, both of whom have built their careers on lies. They turned the incident into a major racial issue instead of what it was.

What gets me about the entire incident is  how people can be so blind as to see what happened here.

A violent felon attacked someone and died in the attempt. It is as simple as that and yet people want to defend the felon. Incidentally, don't tell me he was a good kid, either because good kids do not attack people. The other excuse I see often is 'He was coming around' which is another lie for the same reason.

The truth of this matter is that Treyvon Martin was a violent felon that died during the commission of a violent felony and anyone defending him is defending something that is indefensible.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

WHay did you even come here?

A Danish politician recently told the immigrant Muslim community that if they don't like it there they ought to find another place to live.

She's right.

A while ago a politician in Wyoming told a new arrival pretty much the same thing when she wrote him a letter griping about the way things were in Wyoming and he told her 'by all means, leave'.

He's right. She moved there from some liberal enclave in Pennsylvania and brought all her trash with her and expects everyone to adapt to her ways.

She ought to leave.

To me life really is that simple. If you don't like the place you moved to, either go back to where you came from or go somewhere else that is more to your liking.

YOU are the one moving into SOMEONE ELSE'S home state/country/whatever and YOU are expected to adapt to their ways and not vice versa.

I met a guy from India once in an airport bar and he was someone I liked right from the git-go. 

He was dressed in a western suit, with the string tie, boots, hat and big silver belt buckle. When I asked he said he was from Texas.

He had moved to the States from India for the  opportunities here and looked around for several months and decided to raise his kids in Texas because he liked the fact that the kids there are raised a little more mannerly.

My curiosity about how he fit in in Texas which can sometimes be leery of outsiders interested me. I asked him how he got along with the Good Old Boys down there.

He said that as soon as he let it be known he wanted to be a Texan he was accepted rather quickly. 

I teasingly asked him if he had a six-shooter and he grinned and said he had both a six-shooter and a Winchester but they were locked away  because he has small children in the house. He also admitted he didn't shoot them very well.

He also admitted sheepishly that he was afraid of horses. I laughed and surmised to him that riding a bull was out of the question without at least half a bottle of tequila under his belt. He chuckled.

The truth is that if you don't do your homework and decide to move someplace and start trying to force YOUR values and customs on everyone else you have no business being upset when people tell you to go back to where you came from.

I have no intention of living under Sharia law, for example. If you want to live under Sharia law there are a lot of other places you can move to. 

I'd just love to see a few American politicians stand up to the people that move here and gripe.

I'd just love to see a politician tell illegal immigrants to go back to where they came from if they start getting upset that they have a hard time getting government benefits or want the government to impose Sharia law.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I spent last evening with a couple of Marines talking about their futures

One is on active duty getting out, the other is a serving reservist and both of them are at a crossroads of sorts. It really is a stressful time for the guy getting off of active duty because for the better part of a decade Uncle has been his employer and now he's headed into the civilian sector.

It's a stressful time and I remember mine. At least this NCO has a job to fall into. I got out with nothing at all but 60 days of leave pay, a tipi and hopes and dreams. The first 14 years I was out I was somewhat of a mess, catching as catch can. Life didn't really begin to settle down for me until I was about 40 when I began a career as a merchant mariner.

My rise there was meteoric and I went from an ordinary seaman to an AB/Tankerman and licensed officer in less than a year, cashing in sea time from commercial fishing and sailboat deliveries toward a small license.

Although I think the guy getting out of the Corps will do well I wonder how his adjustment will be. I suppose he's going to have to learn how to be a little more of a politician than he was in the Corps, but that shouldn't be too hard.

It was fun cooking dinner for a couple of the guys, we had salmon and they snickered when I made sure the cat got fed first. Kitty always goes to the head of the chow line here. Partly because it is the right thing to do and partly to keep him from being a pain in the ass when I'm trying to eat.

I did suggest he stay in the reserves, though, as if he can retire from the reserves as a Staff NCO he'll be OK when he gets to be 60. Sometimes I wish I had done that but truth is my life was too unstable at the time.

I have to get things done today .

In other news I got a QSL card from Ecuador yesterday dated mid September 2012. I was glad to get it but in another way it irked me as I had given up on him and had QSL requests sent to another pair of Ecuadoran stations which was an unnecessary expenditure.

I would imagine that ten years after I am dead and gone that a QSL card is going to show up at this address as another ham reported that he had one finally catch up with him from over 15 years ago.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In this morning's paper I just read where Eric Holder is going to pursue the Martin case

which just frosts my ass to no end.

Treyvon Martin was killed during the commission of a violent felony and Eric Holder wants to get justice for the little thug.

Justice has already been served.  George Zimmerman lawfully defended himself and in the process killed Martin. I fail to see where dragging Zimmerman through federal court is going to do anyone any good.

Zimmerman has already been through enough. A jury of Floridians has acquitted him. Let it rest.

The one thing I can not understand is why so many people are seeking justice for a person that was killed during the commission of a violent felony.

I get sick and tired of watching people stick up for thugs. Both Jesse and Fat AL Sharpton are famous for it. I have never seen either of those two stick up for someone that wasn't dirty as hell.

Holder is going to have a pretty hard time because the FBI has already given Zimmerman a pretty clean bill of health. Holder has already had the G-men investigate the holy hell out of Zimmerman and found no signs of him being a racist. Incidentally, being a racist isn't a crime.

Still, I suppose the powers that be can likely trump up something and badger a jury into making something stick.

I suppose there is a federal anti-littering law and Zimmerman didn't police his brass after he fired the shot.

I just wish that people could see this for what it is. It is a simple case of a thug being killed in self defense while committing a violent felony.

If anyone ought to be tried it is Treyvon's parents for not raising him right in the first place.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

I have been asked for my take on George Zimmerman

which I really didn't want to delve into but I will for the benefit of the studio audience.

Actually what drove me to this is when I saw that some bonehead wants congress to enact a law honoring a thug wannabe that got shot while assaulting a neighborhood watch person.

You guessed it. Someone wants his fellow congresscritters to honor the memory of Treyvon Martin and encourage states from passing Stand Your Ground laws.

Screw that little thug. The entire trial never should have taken place in the first place and would not have if Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson hadn't stirred up the hate pot and turned a simple non-issue into a major media circus.

Please notice that Al didn't show up in town for the verdict as he didn't want any more egg on his face. Neither did Jesse Jackson. Both of those two professional hate mongers likely figured there was going to be an acquittal and didn't want to look foolish after they stirred the pot and forced the state to bring Zimmerman to trial simply for political reasons.

The chief of police of the community did his job. He investigated the shooting and the evidence was that Zimmerman had acted lawfully so he dropped the issue there and for doing his job he got fired. Several million bucks and months later an acquittal proved the chief right. He ought to be reinstated and given his back pay.

I suppose that the Martins will now sue Zimmerman because he wasn't tried under the Stand Your Ground law, but was tried for murder. Had he had an SYG hearing and gotten cleared he couldn't be sued but for whatever reasons his attorney team didn't request an SYG hearing.

Truth is the Martins don't deserve a dime. They did a pretty piss poor job of raising their son and it doesn't make sense to reward bad parents for bad parenting. Good parents don't raise children that turn into violent felons which is exactly what Treyvon Martin died as.

The reason a lot of states have passed Castle Doctrine and SYG laws is simply to prevent criminals from gaining from their crimes. Over the years I have heard of numerous cases of burglars suing homeowners for injuries sustained while burglarizing someone's home.  The SYG laws were passed so that a person lawfully defending themselves couldn't be sued. It makes a lot of sense when you think of it.There's no reason that the victim of a violent attack should be victimized twice, once by a thing and again by an attorney.

As for those that fell for the wonderful angelic pictures of the little thug that were taken when he was 12, snoop around on line and I'll show you some nice pictures of a wonderful kid that delivered newspapers and played baseball in the vacant lot a couple of doors down. His name is Charles Manson.

As far as I'm concerned the wrong people were put on trial. They should have tried the Martins for bestowing the nation with another thug to deal with.

The fact that some congresscritter is trying to have Martin honored by congress is proof positive they don't have a clue. If they do that they ought to do the same thing for Charles Manson because Manson at least did the nation a favor.

Manson at least saved us from having to deal with a bunch of second rate movies with Sharon Tate in them.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

I just heard George Zimmerman walked.

As he should have.

This should not have come up on the first place.

Martin attacked Zimmerman and Zimmerman defended himself. Where's the problem?

In fact if you want to place the blame you might as well look at the Skittles Kid's parents. If they'd have raised him right the Skittles Kid would still be alive now.

This world needs more George Zimmermans.

And that is all I have to say about that.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

weeding came to a screeching f***ing halt yesterday

after I tipped over a yellow jacket's nest. I got stung once and beat a hasty retreat and plotted.

I was out of lawn mower fuel so straight to the gas station and I filled up an extra 2 liter pop bottle and plotted my revenge. I returned home to recon the area and located the underground hideaway.

I stuffed the neck of the bottle down the hole, let it empty and struck a match ending the reign of terror of Local 16, Amalgamated Yellow Jacketed Stingers of the Ass of Humanity.

Today my hand is a bit swollen but going down so it's gloves and weed removal time and a quickie re-graveling of the gravel driveway. That won't take too long as 95% of the work will be done by the guy delivering the gravel. He'll spread it for me to a certain degree and I'll fine tune it.

I am scheduled tonight to set up a rig in the front yard and let the kid across the street learn to run it. He's a sharp kid and old enough to get a license. Part of being an old man is making time to teach the younger ones and this kid should make a pretty good radio operator. He's the kid that sometimes drinks iced tea out of my half-gallon Jim Beam bottle and gets Nebby Larry all upset.

I also get after his father to teach him to shoot, which he is learning to do. I'd like to steal the kid and take him to the Small Arms Firing School at Camp Perry. Liberals be damned.

I got into hot water with a liberal yesterday that had decided to take on the cause of the poor. I told her the poor do nothing for us but drag us all down and that there was enough work out there so they could take care of themselves. She got pissed off but it is true.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Yesterday was post 1500. Pretty neat.

Last night I could not figure out why I was alert until almost midnight but I was. Then I zoned out for the night.

Finally back on schedule which is good. I have things to do today. There's some weeding to take care of and maybe mow the lawn. 

Yesterday I had a friend of mine tell me about meeting with another friend and having the relationship sour because the friend grew nasty in old age.  I'm getting old, too but last evening I took some time out to watch a couple of kids wrestle and I coached them a bit. It is part of the duty of being an old man and it's kind of fun. I tried to teach the kids balance and leverage. 

In other news, Denmark QSL'd me finally and that's another one off of the list. The date of contact was Sept, 2012. Why things take so long is beyond me as the postmark on the envelope was less than a week ago. Nine times out of ten I send my QSLs out as soon as I get them. If I open a card and it asks me to return the QSL I simply pick a card up, fill it out, stuff it in an envelope and off it goes the next morning.

I have a number of Arab countries logged but only Saudi had confirmed me and his was a pretty quick turnaround. His manager is a Spaniard that seems to be on his toes.

The Toyota has disappointed me as the verdict is the A/C pump is shot which sort of shocks me. Toyota generally doesn't make junk. It is very possible that I simply didn't use it enough as I am an open window kind of guy. The prices to fix it range between a grand and two grand, depending on if I use the dealer or a local mechanic. The local mechanic is actually a mechanic as opposed to a parts installer/thief. He actually knows how to fix things.

I am NOT going to fix the damned thing because it makes no sense to do so at that price. Air conditioning is something I wound up getting stuck with in the first place as I had to buy at a lousy time.

Old Jug ears had just rammed the cash for clunkers program through and there wasn't a 4 cylinder base model to be had anywhere. I located one that wasn't too loaded in West Virginia and bought it over the phone.

I generally keep things simple because if a vehicle doesn't have something the something it doesn't have won't break.

Well, I got air conditioning and it broke. It's going to stay broke and I am seriously considering pulling the whole damned thing out, pump, condenser, everything.

That damned cash for clunkers did the poor quite a disservice when you think about it, not that I spend a whole lot of time worrying about the poor. The program made an awful lot of inexpensive used vehicles disappear off of the market. 

It also drove the price of 4 cylinder vehicles through the roof. I wound up paying damned near MSRP for the rig which in reality wasn't all that awfully bad.  

In '00 I bought my first new vehicle. This '09 is my second. Before the price of used jumped so high as to make buying new worthwhile I used to buy two years old - three model years, actually and pay about half of the new price and run them into the dirt.

I'd shop for the simplest rig I could find as fewer parts mean fewer repairs.

I had a chat with a guy that had recently bought a Jeep and had refused delivery because it had extras he simply did not want. He was a kindred soul because he gave a very Piccolo-esque argument with the sales guy.

He said they wouldn't charge him for the power windows and he shot back that the whore he had picked up four months earlier didn't charge him extra for the dose of clap he wound up with and he damned sure didn't want that.

I see his point simply because he pulls the doors off of the Jeep often in the warmer months and to do that with power windows means unplugging a plug which soon wears out and leaves him unable to open his windows.

Years ago when I was driving beaters I fixed a broken power window with a brick and a piece of tarp.

To me power windows are a joke anyway as I can lower them faster with a hand crank and I have never gotten a hernia or other injury while doing so. In fact, my mother in law was 90 and opened them more than once without a second thought. Her car had them and she didn't think it was such a big deal and wasn't worth the money.

I think I'll write Toyota and see what it would cost to simply yank the A/C system. If I am tactfully pissed off they might give me a pretty good deal. We'll see.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

It was a hard trip with no respite two very short breaks,

The second break came at the perfect time of crew change and facilitated us getting off smoothly which was a joy.

I left but had to return just after I got out the gate because I was and airhead and forgot to turn my paperwork in. Fortunately I hadn't gotten very far, just a couple hundred yards out the gate.

Anyway, the drive home was uneventful and I have to run the pickup into the shop today as I am having a belt problem of sorts. Rare in a Toyota.

I paid the neighborhood kid off for helping out while I was away. He's a good kid and when Mrs. Pic has to tend to relatives he comes in and spends some time with the cat and does a few other odds and ends. Incidentally when he snagged the mail the other day he separated the First class and junk nicely.

Generally making the schedule switch isn't too bad as I generally force myself to stay up to about 2200 and have a shot or two and in the morning I am good to go.

Last night was different as my ass was dragging to much and I sacked out way too early. I woke a little after midnight and that's it. I'm up and it is going to be a 21 or 22 hour day to put me back on schedule. It's a rough switch-over and rare for an old salt like me to have problems swapping schedules.

I came home to a stack of QSL cards and a local shootin' match schedule. The cards I checked off immediately and found I was about a half-dozen DX entities to my DXCC award. But there was one special prize.

Cuba DIRECT.  Complete with a Cuban stamp on it. THAT'S a keeper for sure as Cuba direct is hard to get. Most Cuban hams have QSL managers in Spain and it's generally a given that everything coming in from the States gets pilfered and while he may be able to get a card you can bet that any $1 bills or IRC coupons won't reach the intended ham.

In the card was a note mentioning that another ham in Cuba got clobbered by Sandy and lost everything. They asked if I could PayPal $5 to his Spanish QSL manager to help get him back on the air. I figure it's a worth while cause because I think I read somewhere that this guy was very active during the Haitian earthquake when Arnie Coro got the Cuban hams organized and did relief work there. Besides $5 ain't gonna kill me.

Incidentally I am pretty sure this guy's place was right smack dab in the center ot Sandy's path as I looked it up. Ham's homes are spotted pretty accurately on their QRZ page.

I also got a card from Saudi and one from Egypt, both of which are pretty cool. Cards from the Arabic countries vary in one of two ways, generally. Either they are a pretty scene out of the desert or they are a picture of the skyline of the capital city.People forget that places like Saudi, Kuwait and Oman have very modern cities in them.

Of course, everyone equates these people with what they see in Indiana Jones movies.

When I spoke to a Kuwaiti I had to hold my tongue because sometimes people don't pick up on my humor quickly. Face to face is different. People can see the look on my face when I play dumb. I wanted to say "What? You don't drive a camel to work? Whoda thought!" but without facial giveaways I could have easily been mistaken if I said that.

Incidentally, do not sell the hams in the Arabic countries short. Every one I have spoken with speaks better English than most Americans, It is clear, unaccented perfect American English with no noticeable regional accent. It tells me that these people have most likely been to the States. These are polished, educated men.

QRZ pages tell me that these guys have huge, 1500 watt stations and rotating beam antennas. They obviously have money and are far from being the stereotypical Ahab the Arab on a camel like some people think. They also have a pretty much encyclopedic knowledge of the States.

Anyway, so much for all of this. I am ashore and have to get the rig up and running and some ammo reloaded and keep after the few countries I need for my DXCC. QSL is a slow process.

I don't remember if I posted this, but I QSO'd Tajikistan and there seems to be a hassle with mail theft there so i was advised to send my request for QSL via registered letter which I looked into and found I'm not allowed to send $2 for return postage as they forbid the mailing of currency.

I found out we have an embassy there and the Marine Security guys assigned there are pretty active in the community. I send a small package to HQ USMC to forward to the NCOIC there to see if he can get me my card via local mail and pass it on to me. It was a complete package and HQ USMC hasn't returned it yet so likely it has been forwarded.

I'll keep you posted but this may take months.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dateline 9 July

I hear a lot of liberal hogwash about leveling the playing field.

OK, let's level it. Let's do away with all of these governmental set-asides and do the minorities a big favor and force everybody to perform at the same level.

That's fair.

The difference between a lot of liberals and Piccolo is that Piccolo has faith in people and their abilities to get things done. Piccolo knows that people of all races, creeds, colors have brains and if encouraged to use them they will generally perform.

Apparently a lot of liberals don't because if they did they would hold everyone to the same standard, which is one of excellence. They make excuses for poor behavior and sloppy workmanship, especially on the part of minorities.

If they did that the playing field would be level and there would be no excuses for either higher costs or sloppy workmanship.

It would be nice to look at a beautiful building and ask the city father the racial makeup of the people that built it and simply be told it was built by Americans.

Unlike a lot of liberals out there I am one guy that still believes in the 'I Had a Dream' speech Martin Luther King made at the Lincoln monument in Washington when I was a boy.

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Dateline 8 July

My neice has a pair of daughters and they were asking about me today and want to know when I am coming to visit next.

I just saw them a couple of weeks ago at my nephew's wedding where they were the flower girls. They were my dance partners at the reception as it is the duty of old men to dance with seven and eight year old flower girls at weddings.

Even though they are seven and eight I could see the two of them taking careful mental notes because I knew that both of them are already planning their own weddings. It is in the female DNA unless something comes along and pushes it out of kilter somewhere along the line.

I know of an older woman that was raised by her father that seems a little different but maybe she planned her wedding as a small kid. Then again, maybe not.

So anyway, I think that in a couple of months I'll go pay them a visit as I'll get to meet my sis again and pick up a brand new used TV set from my nephew that just got a brand new new TV set. I think my old one is well over 20 years old by now. It may even be over 25 years old for that matter. I suppose his throwaway is only a couple of years old.

I'm actually grateful for those two little girls bailing me out at the wedding as I do not really enjoy dancing because I am not very graceful anymore. I simply danced with the flower girls a couple of times and got people off of my back.

The maid of honor had told me at the rehearsal dinner that she wanted to get me out on the dance floor. I told he there wasn't a whole lot of chance for that as I had too much steel holding my battered body together and the doctor told me I was restricted to dancing with girls under the age of 12.

I knew a Ginger Rogers when I saw one and I know that I am no Red Adair. In addition to being a lousy dancer I can't put out an oil well fire, either.

So having the two of them to get people off my case was a pretty good deal.

After the next tour or two I am going to go up and pay them a little visit with a twist. I generally overnight at my nephew's but this time I think I'll sack out at my niece's as the two girls would get a boot out of that.

It might even be good for me as I tend to imbibe at my nephew's as I can sleep in there. I won't be able to imbibe at my niece's though, as the girls will be getting me up early.

There is nothing worse than having two little kids that want to play with you before you have had a chance to pop the nasty blisters on your brain.

The only thing that I don't like about going there is the long drive either up there or going home. It's over 10 hours one way and is not only somewhat expensive but it's boring as hell. Last time I drove it I went straight through, dropping my other niece off along the way. I gassed up there and didn't stop until I had to gas up again about 7 or 8 hours later.

When I have a long haul like that I just bring along something to eat and when I stop for gas I make sure it's at something like a WaWa or a Sheetz so I can refuel both the pickup and my belly. I also make it a point to go very easy on the liquids to cut down on the number of emergency pit stops. I will confess that I have traveled with a couple of quart plastic milk jugs, though.

I guess I get this from my father who used to get into a car and not stop driving until we got where we were going. As a small child I remember going from our home south of Boston all the way to my uncle's in Michigan and if I recall we didn't overnight. Mom slept in the front seat and spelled dad for a couple of hours.

I think I got the ability to sleep from him, too as I can generally sleep anywhere if I want to.

Still, I don't like long drives very much.

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