Saturday, May 31, 2014

I just saw an article that reports

 that there are more people collecting from the government in one form or another than are working full time.

I'm not going to get into the details except to say that full time working Americans have gotten to be a minority.

It is ridiculous.

We've gotten to the point where over half of us are dependent on the government and the remaining less than half are expected to have to bust ass to foot the bill. 


I stopped working overtime some time ago and contemplated taking a pay cut simply to cut down on the amount of tax I had to shell out every payday. It is simply my way of trying to help starve the beast.

Of course, we can see that the people dependent on the government are good with this because if they were not they would be on the work force.

Retirement is beginning to scare the holy hell out of me because I am rapidly seeing my savings being eaten by inflation. 

I also see that social security and various government pensions are going to be eroded by inflation in the future. It's likely to be a slow erosion at first, as it is now. Still it will not be long before the $500 you worked overtime to save and nest egged away for the future is only going to be able to buy you a loaf of bread.

We now have busted 17 TRILLION in debt and the president wants the debt ceiling raised even more.

Now there are two ways we can pay that debt off. One is by eliminating foreign aid, social programs and entitlements. The other is through inflation. We just inflate the currency and pay it off with cheaper dollars.

Of course, that ruins a lot of people that have busted their asses to save and get ahead but I suppose neither the government nor the Free $hit Army give a damn.

They've been too busy taxing the corporations into either poverty or into moving.

A ham operator, an American ex-pat a while back is in the telecommunications industry and was telling a couple of us that the telecommunications industry has taken billions out of the country. 

It makes sense. When you are talking about having to either take the money off shore somewhere or fork over a huge chunk to the government it's a simple no brainer.

You simply take the money and leave.

We, as a people have grown slovenly and dependent on someone else. There was a time not too long ago when as a people we were fiercely independent of government.

I guess that time is past and we have grown dependent on other people, but don't get too used to it. A system can't last very long unless a lot more than 49% of the people pitch in

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Friday, May 30, 2014

I got this as an email and I wish I knew who wrote it.

I'd buy them a beer and attribute it to them.

It's a slow day in the small town of Pumphandle and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody is living on credit. 

A tourist visiting the area drives through town, stops at the motel, and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs to pick one for the night. As soon as he walks upstairs, the motel owner grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. (Stay with this..... and pay attention). 

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill to his supplier, the Co-op. The guy at the Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on credit. 

The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel Owner. The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the traveler will not suspect anything. 

At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, picks up the $100 bill and leaves. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town now thinks that they are out of debt and there is a false atmosphere of optimism and glee. 

And that, my friends, is how a "government stimulus package" works!

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

What got me into ham radio.

I was looking for an old vintage Hallicrafters, Hammerlund, Collins of Drake receiver as a decorator piece for my man cave/bedroom and started looking around in various places.

I mentioned this on a ham forum and a few other places.

I was scouting eBay and one of the guys I ship with started looking around for the hell of it. He spotted a Chinese Army Vietnam era rig, complete with a hand powered generator. He pointed it out to me and said, "I can see you sitting on top of a hilltop with that sending out Morse code messages that you are a Japanese holdout in New Guinea that doesn't know the was is over!"

I was aware the the FCC had dropped the code requiremenfort licensing and looked at my smart-assed shipmate. "I'll bet I could get a license to run that little rig!"

He laughed.

It was early on the tour and we were not too busy so when I had time I took on-line practice exams and the day after I got off my tour I drove out to a town in Ohio and tested.

I passed the Technician and General tests and decided to look for a rig similar to the Chinese 102e rig my shipmate had teased me about.

The guy selling the 102e told me it wasn't a rig for a newbie so I went looking for other rigs.

I hit the lottery and found the Brits had just released their stock of PRC 320 HF transceivers and they were simple to operate. I did a little research, liked what I saw and ordered one.

After making contact with a few DX stations with the little rig I was hooked and put together a little barefoot home station and have been a happy camper. I now have 185+ DX entities logged and over 165 confirmed.

Not a bad side track for a guy looking for an old Hallicrafters to use as a decoration! 

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Taxation and business opportunity.

"We'll tax the hell out of it and make those people pay through the nose!" is a battle cry I have heard from time to time.

Yeah, right.

The entire moonshine industry is based on taxation. 

Moonshine is nothing more or less than untaxed liquor ranging in quality between total rogut and damned good hootch depending on the maker. I would imagine that if the tax on a bottlle of spirits dropped the moonshine industry would take a pretty good hit.

Sometimes I wish I knew which stump to put a couple bucks on, but I don't. The hootch I tasted at deer camp a while back was damned good stuff, as smooth as silk.

Americans hate paying taxes but, of course, it is a necessary evil. Nothing is free and the government doesn't have a dime to its name. They get their money from us, the taxpayers.

Governments create their own underground economies as i saw a while back in New York City. The industry was the cigarette industry.

In New York City a pack of cigarettes runs upwards of $14, figure about $120 or so a carton. That's if you go to a regular store.

One of the guys I work with gave me the inside scoop on this and how it works on the streets. You go to a certain convenience store and explain that you are a friend of Al. The storekeeper then reaches into a cabinet and fishes out a carton of one's favorite smoke and hands it to you and you hand him $90. He puts the $90 in his pocket.

If you don't know Al and ask for a box he charges you the $120 and it goes into the register. I asked the guy that took me there what tax stamp is on the smokes and he said it was most likely Delaware.

The scam is simple. You drive to Delaware and buy a case or three from a smokeshop there and pay full Delaware price. Delaware gets their tax money.  

You then stuff it in your trunk and drive back to NYC and drag it into your shop and sell them. The deal was on the up and up until you crossed the state line.

Delaware smokes for top brands run about $60 a carton so every carton the shopkeeper sells puts $30 untaxed dollars in his pocket. It adds up fast.

Of course, New York City never sees a dime of that money. For that matter, neither do the Feds.

The smoker and shopkeeper win and NYC loses out. Incidentally a lot of cops will turn a blind eye to this, especially if they are a smoker. Cops don't like taxes, either.

In short, NYC has created their own little crime wave.

This doesn't include the hijacking of cigarette trucks by mob guys, either. A stolen carton of smokes is 100% profit. When you do the math, the mob types can sell a stolen carton for $5 and still make a killing. At 60 or 70 bucks a box the money they can make is insane. 

I suppose the city will appoint a task force and a couple of shopkeepers will get pinched but they are pretty unlikely to end the black market on smokes any time soon because there is just too much money in it.

Like I said earlier, governments create their own crime waves.

I suppose you could also say they create business opportunities, too. But not the kind they bargain for.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yesterday was NOT thank a veteran day.

Yesterday was Memorial Day and the usual group of people didn't get it and ran around thanking veterans and the usual things.

As usual it was good intentioned but they missed the point.

It's a day to remember the dead. 

If you want to thank a veteran, wait until November 11th.

As usual, the Duffel Blog posted a scorcher for Memorial Day and some people got upset about it. I'd just bet the guy that wrote it was pretty close to the tip of the spear at one time or another.

Duffel Blog Memorial Day Sale

It is a bitter, tasteless article and a lot of people were upset. I wasn't.

It was actually one of the best pieces of dark humor I have seen in some time. It stabs at American commercialism.

Wanna have a Veterans Day sale? 

Fine. Leave Memorial Day alone.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

One of my first childhood memories what back in 1956 when Etrusco ran aground

near the Cedar Point lighthouse in Scituate, MA.

I was a very small child and my parents had just bought the house I grew up in the next town over. The town is Marshfield.

Etrusco ran aground in March of 1956 and was stuck aground for several months until they managed to get her refloated after several Herculean tries.

If I am not mistaken, it was one of the last times the Coast Guard has used a breeches bouy to rescue anyone as they used one to evacuate the ship once she was firmly aground.

What interested me about it is that the people in Scituate opened their doors to these crewman, all of whom were Italians and practically none of them spoke English. 

One little old lady had been born in Italy and had naturalized so she was basically the interpreter for some time.

It took months to refloat her and they salvage crews included some of the people that managed to refloat out Navy after Pearl Harbor but they got her refloated again and took her to a Boston shipyard for repairs.

She went ashore St. Patrick's Day eve and was refloated on Thanksgiving, if my memory serves me.

Every so often I return to Boston's South Shore and stumble into Scituate harbor and look for things and notice the changes.

If I am lucky I meet someone I know and we chat. 

The last time I was there I met someone and their neighbor asked how long ago I used to live in the area.

I grinned and held up my hand and said I had laid it on Etrusco.

That unequivocally made me senior man there.

Etrusco was a WW2 freighter the Maritime Commission gave to Italy after the war to help the battered Italian economy get on their feet. When she was refloated she was renamed 'Scituate' by the grateful shipowners.

If you want to, you can Google around and find out all about her.

Try 'Etrusco Scituate'.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yesterday I crossed swords with the jerk down the road.


The first was in the morning while I was doing my annual spring planting. I was using a half-gallon Jim Beam bottle for my iced tea and he wandered by.

The kid across the street saw him first and came over like a shot because he doesn't like the old bastard, either.

When the old bastard was passing in front of my yard the kid picked up the Beam bottle and sucked down about 12 ounces of iced tea. The old man started to pitch a fit. He babbled all sorts of angry stuff about giving liquor to kids.

Of course, I told him that the poor kid was just trying to wash the dope out of his system and to give him a break.

He got angrier until I pointed out that the kid must have a hollow leg if he can pound down 12 ounces of 86 proof liquor without effect.

That's when he figured out he's been had and he walked away snarling.

The next time we crossed swords was a few hours later when I went out to pick something up. I was driving the Miata. I drive that slower than I do the pickup, especially on the street I live on. For what it's worth I drive everything slowly on that street because it is the responsible thing to do.

Anyway, I went around the corner and the old bastard yelled at me to slow down. I was doing a mile or two under the speed limit when he did this.

This guy is the older guy that mows his lawn about four or five times a week and has bugged me about joining the HOA which has caused sparks to fly. 

I stopped and approached him and he looked shocked. Most likely because every he has yelled at just kept on driving.

I got out and told him I was driving responsibly and if he didn't like it he should call the police and offered him my cell phone. He stood there not knowing what to do.

Then I hit a pretty sore subject. He gets hit pretty hard on Halloween.

I told him that the reason he wakes up on November first to having to clean up a mess of toilet paper, eggs and paint on his lawn is his own doing. He reaps what he sows. Then I pointed out that the Roundup people now have a defoliant that lasts for a full year and if he keeps being so cranky he's likely to wind up with half his lawn reduced to black, sterile earth compliments of the neighborhood kids.

He's not too likely to change but I would imagine he'll keep clear of me for a while.

Still, he's stupid. He'll keep after the neighborhood kids and wind up with another mess to clean up come November first.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Shot a match today

391 out of a possible 400 with a halfway decent X count.

I was sort of out of my league today because a couple of hotshots showed up with some pretty damned accurate and expansive rifles.

I did OK, though.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Yesterday I finished the yard work and had a few flowers left over.

I brought them across the street to my six year-old sweetie and we planted them in her flower bed. 

Kids at that age are a trip. She's both fascinated by some things and indifferent to others. She was fascinated by the planting. When we were done planting I told her to water them often. 

"If I remember," she said and shuffled off.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another overcast day and I wonder what the summer is going to be like.

We have just weathered a nasty, cold winter and this spring is just plain weird. It's been overcast the past few days. My flower beds were chock-a-block  crammed with thistle which is unheard of. It took a whole day to weed and clean them out.

I can't seem to figure it out.

In other news I replaced the toilet on the main floor. The old one worked great but it has a pressure tank in it and seeing how it is getting old there are a lot of recalls and warnings about it because the plastic tank gets brittle and can burst. I liked the toilet but I can't risk having a water damage situation on my hands.

The new one seems OK. Last night I ate an entire galley sink pizza and a couple of beers and this morning the new toilet passed the pizza and beer test with flying colors.

I'm not getting rid of the plunger, though.

A friend of mine is headed to Europe and asked me to make a metal pouch for his passport which I did. I used a piece of aluminum flashing. Apparently there are rumors floating around about some technology that can steal credit card and passport data. 

I can see going to Europe but I can not see landing in France for a 4 hour layover. It makes no sense to me at all. I really do not care for the French a whole lot.

My favorite French story is the one where French customs were rude to a WW2 paratrooper because he didn't have his passport out fast enough. The old coot pointed out that the last time he entered France that his passport was an M-1 rifle and there wasn't a single Frenchman willing to examine it.

There's really not much French customs could do but stand there looking stupid.

Somewhere along the line I read where the NAACP raised hell with the Disney people when they were going to re-release 'Song of the South' a while ago. I wondered about that. It made little sense to me because the Disney people certainly work hard at making wholesome entertainment. 

I saw the movie as a small child but that muse have been well over 50 years ago and I do not remember a whole lot of the details.

My guess is that the NAACP is either simply looking for something to whine about or rewrite history.

Anyway, I found a copy on CD from a semi-underground source an I'm going to watch it and see for myself. 

I'll make up my own mind.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"If you are in your mid 20s and still flipping burgers and are NOT

either in college or some apprenticeship program that will get you a way to make a decent living then something is wrong with you."

So said a plumber I know.

It really makes sense. There is opportunity out there. 

I watched a guy get out of the Marine Corps a while ago and take a minimum wage job for a very brief period of time until he could get into an apprenticeship program. 

It didn't take a whole lot of time for him to decide that the apprenticeship was in a trade that was pretty seasonal and he decided to try for something a little better.

Right now he's in a training program learning to be a state policeman and I'd bet we're going to wind up with a pretty good state cop out on the streets when he graduates.

I'm getting burned out on hearing all of this raise the minimum wage crap going on right now. Old Jug ears in the White House seems to think that this will make everything all right.

Now burger flippers will be able to afford a house in the suburbs with a pretty little picket fence around it is what he seems to think.

Truth is the price of the house is just going to rise in proportion to the rise of the minimum wage and the minimum wage earners are still going to be living in the same place they are now.

The only thing that is going to change is the price of everything which will rise to keep things at status quo.

Of course the responsible people that saved will see the value of their saving shrink but that's to be expected. The responsible people in this country generally are the ones to get the shaft.

The truth of the matter is that it isn't the responsibility of the government to hand out pay raises by raising the minimum wage. It's the responsibility of the individual to take it upon himself to make himself more valuable.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another day another dime.

And spring has sprung but it is a chilly one and I have things to do.

I spent part of yesterday weeding and have more to do. Thistle has seemed it have invaded this year. It reminds me of the year we got invaded by chipmunks and I had to take them out with a pellet gun. 

I sat on the back porch one night and got nearly a dozen of them.

As I sit here there's a doe about 30 feet away munching on leaves and looking at me through the window. The doe is pregnant and will likely give birth in a spot about 40 or 50 feet from my house.

I do believe that if I worked at it I could get that doe to eat out of my hand.

What graceful animals they are to watch.

I was talking with one of the neighborhood kids last night and he was interested in learning celestial navigation so I said I'd teach him because he seems to be ahead in math.

He's also pretty solid in science so he'll have no problem with the mechanics of it.

Celestial is nothing more than spherical triangulation and it'll be a little advanced placement for a 5th grader but with some work I can teach him to at least use an idiot sheet.

Over the next couple of years I'll teach him to do it from scratch.

I think we'll use the air tables and kill 2 stones with the same bird. If he learns it with the air tables he can use it for a pilot's license and shoot for a navigator rating.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Damned hippie couple got on my nerves yesterday.

Which is par golf.

I like those fools. They make me laugh.

They run their mouths about this, that and the other and how evil General Motors is yet they are in college their father is paying for with money he makes working for GM.

In short, they are biting the hand that feeds them.

Anyway it was outside of Wallyworld and he was babbling about income inequity or something along those lines and I told him to get a job and earn a little income himself.

He told me that instant karma was going to get me.

I told him that instant karma was one of the problems we have now. Everyone want it now. I suppose we have microwaveable karma on the shelf somewhere. Let's see, now. There's quick karma, instant karma, microwaveable karma available but there are not a whole lot of people out there that understand Old School karma.

You make that from scratch and it takes a lifetime.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

I am still a Luddite

I have had a recurring nightmare over the years. It seems to have gone away except for very rarely. It usually happens after I have been exposed to an overload of technology or something along there lines.

I spent Friday at the Dayton Hamvention and thought it would occur Friday night. I was honestly surprised when I woke up yesterday morning that it hadn't happened again.

The dream is that I am in New York City of all God forsaken places. I do something that winds up being considered heroic even though it isn't and in the process my pickup gets destroyed.

The Mayor wants to make a big to-do and offers to replace my truck which I consider fair enough. I simply ask that it be replaced with exactly what I lost. I drive a 4 cylinder, manual transmission very basic small pickup, a Toyota.

Instead they try force-feed me with a humongous Dodge Ram with a monster V-8, an automatic transmission and everything you can imagine. 

It is the antithisis of what I am in this life. I am a simple person.
I refuse publicly and simply start to walk off. The humiliated mayor is aghast and cannot understand why I am not interested in 4 block long deer slayer/squirrel squasher. He stops me and tries to force me into accepting it and I flat out refuse. He is shocked and asks me why I don't want it.

I explain that I can't afford the gas, I can't afford the maintenance, the thing is too big for me to comfortably drive. Parking it is a major chore, I don't know how to use half of the accessories and don't want them to begin with.

Accepting it will put me in another tax bracket, the insurance will be astronomical and I'll need a step ladder to get into it.

So the idiot mayor decides that maybe if I had a better job I could afford it and he offers me a job in Manhattan, making the situation worse when I refuse. If I had wanted such a job I would have gone to college and gotten one. Manhattan is the LAST place I want to live or work.

So now they decide something is wrong with me and I wind up talking to some shrink that comes to the conclusion that nothing is wrong with me at all. I'm just a simple, basically happy person.

The mayor finally gives up and gets the Toyota dealer to give me what I want and I drive off in a 4 cylinder, manual transmission, roll-up windowed Tacoma. The cheapest, simplest pickup on the lot and I get into it and haul ass out of New York, never to return.

Anyway, I just left Hamvention in Dayton, Ohio after spending a day rooting around it a world of technology and felt overwhelmed. I suppose a guy can set up two transceivers on opposite ends of the planet and a computer in the middle and talk to himself if he wants.
The technology there was overwhelming and I was astonished.

Much of this is the antithisis of what I want out of the hobby. I am basically a Luddite as far as things go.

Still, I managed because my Handy-Talkie was broken and I have to send it out for repairs and I bought one of those new to the market Chinese HTs to replace it while mine is in for repairs.

I was afraid of programming it, but decided to figure it out. 

Programming it by hand is a bitch so I spent the extra couple of bucks for a programming cord and downloaded the programming software and managed to get it up and running in a little under an hour.

That's not bad for a Luddite like me.

When I got the original HT I had someone program it for me. I had tried for hours and offered some beer to anothe ham. He set it up for me. 

After a while I wanted to add a couple more channels so I bought the cable and software and re-programmed the whole thing. It programmed fast and easy using the laptop.

Still, if I had to program something like that by hand I would be lost. Much of this menu driven ham gear these days is terribly complex to set up. Long time HT guys told me that they program 40 or 50 channels when they get the unit and a couple months later after they want to add another channel or two they have to get out the book and start at Square One again.

I'm just glad I was able to get mine programmed with the laptop. I'd still be trying to figure it out.

Any you guys used to think that setting a clock on a VCR was bad.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rolling home today after spending the day at Hamfest, Dayton

I'll catch up then.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Rolling today


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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig

I took the scenic route and it took a while but I was glad I did go that way.

Crew change was early for a change and there were choices. I pretty much set the GPS to avoid highways, tolls and U-turns and wandered through the state that way.

I got to roll through a lot of Pennsylvania Dutch country and from time to time had to adjust my driving to the local condition of having horse and buggys to deal with. 

I'm protected by about 2 tons of steel but a Dutchman is protected by about a quarter of an inch of plywood. 

There have been automobile/buggy discussions before and I have never heard of a Dutchman winning one.  Generally they take second place and are lucky to be alive afterwards.

Having to put down an injured horse isn't and fun to watch, either. 

I stopped in Chambersburg when I saw a barbershop and decided to get my hair cut as sort of a break. Pompy's barbershop. Great place, great haircut. He appeared to cater heavily to Hispanics, at least when I was there.

Pro tip: If you want an excellent haircut by a real artist then generally a shop that caters heavily to Black and Hispanics is the place to go. Many minorities take haircuts very seriously.

Some to the point where they want their initials or some other design or logo cut into their hair. It's a pretty big thing.

Someone explained it to me as part of the $300 pair of sneakers mentality. Appearance is everything.

I watched the barber cut the head in front of me and he was an artist as opposed to a tradesman. 

Of course the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about 2 weeks. I suppose in a couple of weeks nobody will know the difference. Still, it was good getting the ears lowered in that place.

Incidentally I did not know that Chambersburg has such a large Hispanic population. 

I suppose some people would be uncomfortable in a situation where they were the only white guy but I certainly wasn't. I told the story about speaking High School Spanish in mexico and trying to order a steak and fries only to have the waiter cart over a baked stuffed elephant.

The guy I told the story to told it to a Mexican kid who spoke no English. The Mexican kid said something to me that was translated. He offered to let me join the local Liar's club.

When I told him I would if they'd let me tell my tale last because the first guy at a Liar's club meeting to tell his tale doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. When it was translated to him he thought it was a pretty good answer.

I ate at a pretty good diner along the way and I can't tell you where it was. Just somewhere between Chambersburg and Breezewood. Pretty good eating.

Outside of Breezewood I saw a sign advertising maple syrup and stopped. It was a Pennsylvania Dutch family, not Amish nor Mennonite. The maple syrup stand was a sidebar of a cabinet shop.

These were plain people, but were permitted the use of electricity but no radio, TV, home phone or internet.

The young man I spoke with was actually the son of the homeowner and a couple of his kid sisters wandered by and were kind of flirty shy that all little girls display. They were cute and I noticed they were wearing home made dresses but in printed patterns. True Amish wear plainer clothes.

Amish women are for the most part damned clothes makers.

I didn't have enough loose cash to snag any syrup and they didn't take VISA but I didn't leave empty handed. The Dutchman gave me some maple spread to try out. In return I'm supposed to drop him a line telling him if it is any good or not. He said it was an experiment.

After I left there I noticed that time was getting away from me so I changed the GPS to simply 'avoid toll roads and U-turns' and ran home from there.

I generally do well being an easy rider type traveling through small towns and places and find it enjoyable. I never know what I am going to find next. I'm glad I decided to avoid the turnpike for a while.

Incidentally, gas was a wash. I figured that the slower driving between towns made my mileage a little better because I wasn't moving as much air out of the way that I do running 70 mph plus on the pike.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Big day coming so here's tomorrow's post an evening early.

As I write this I am sitting here watching my mate make the usual crew change preperations. We're getting ready to go home and have a long day ahead of us. Well be on the move the entire day.

Right now he's making a gargantuan breakfast that should hold us until well past noon. We're talking hash and eggs here, and the size of the plates is humongous.

There is not a whole lot that is better to have on the onset of a long day that is better than a pile of hash and s couple of eggs. The only thing I can think of that lasts longer is biscuits and gravy the way I make it. One of the guys calls my recipe 'buscuits and glue' because it stick to your ribs.

Still, a mountain of hash should serve well.

The mate has already made the usual crew change sandwiches made. All hands get three sandwiches that they take with them for the ride home.

Most of us in this business have long rides ahead of us.

The mechanics of this crew change are that the oncoming crew will be taken to New York by van where they will be taken by launch to the vessel. We will simply do the reverse.

When we are returned to headquarters we pick up our vehicles or get transportation to planes, trains or buses. 

A small handful of guys are home within a short period of time. Most of us have longer drives. Mine is between 5 and 7 hours depending on any number of variables.

These days I take a route across Pennsylvania other than the turnpike because when you couple costs, construction zones, a $31 toll and general aggravation it is worth the extra 45 minutes driving time.

The 45 minutes driving time is often a misnomer anyway because it is based on GPS calculations the don't take construction and other factors into consideration.

Adding a $31 toll into the factor for the privilige of driving on the worst turnpike in the country makes it worth the extra three-quarters of an hour.

In short, I have a long day ahead of me and I'm damned grateful to have a pretty good partner.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

I have written that every Alaskan bar had a cribbage board in it

 and I remember the time a woman was waiting for someone to show up. Bars were and likely still are popular meeting places on the Last Frontier.

Anyway, she saw me sitting there and asked me if I played cribbage and inside a couple of seconds cards were shuffled we were playing cribbage. She introduced herself as Jinka which much later I found out was a childhood nickname she preferred to be called.

It was nothing more than a couple of people whiling away a little time while they were waiting for something. I was waiting for my friend, Doc to show up and she was waiting for someone she was hiring to do some electrical work for her to show up.

She seemed to be an attractive, intelligent, decent woman that was quick to laugh and seemed to have a pretty good droll sense of humor.

Anyway, we were sitting there playing cribbage when her ex husband walked in. I knew him somewhat. His name was Mike. I did not know Jinka was his ex-wife. He was a halfway  decent guy sober but when he got toasted he was a loudmouth and often a jerk.

Neither of us noticed that he had walked in and I suppose neither of us cared as we were busy counting cards.

Then he went to the bar and said something to the bartender.

Jinka heard it and softly groaned. 

A second later he spotted the pair of us from across the bar and looked at me.

"How do you like that worn out old thing between my ex-old lady's legs?" he shouted over to me. It was a truly vile thing to say.

"Wouldn't know," I replied, dryly. "Haven't had the honor, but if I had to venture a guess I wouldn't have a very hard time getting through the used part." Then I returned to my cards, ignoring him.

It took a second or two to punch through his alcohol induced fog and I'm sure it was aided by the laughter of the entire bar which had several patrons in it at the time. Several of them later told me they had never seen Mike speechless before.

His jaw hit the floor, he turned purple. He headed toward me.

"Everyone here now just thinks you're stupid. Now you are coming over here to prove them right," I said.

I got up and faced him. He was coming around the bar and when he saw me he decided that all he could do was make things worse for himself. I guessed he knew he had already made a damned fool of himself and was just making it worse.

Instead of turning right toward me, he turned left and walked out the main door.

I returned and continued the card game and saw the look of absolute gratitude on Jinka's face. We continued the game and when we were dealing up the next game she told me that I was invited to dinner at her place the following evening. I accepted.

She told me I was one cool hand. The game was fortunately  interrupted by her electrician showing up and they left. That's when the shakes started. It took a couple shots to settle down. That guy could have easily taken me.

After dinner the following evening I found out that one of my guesses the previous day at the bar had been spot on.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Monday, May 12, 2014

With all this talk about the disparity in income

 going on I suppose I ought to enter the fray.

A lot of fools want the minimum wage raised and I've already pointed out that that is no good and I won't repeat myself here.

A lot of people gripe that CEOs make too much money or are overpaid. I don't think so.

Listen to this.

"The damned overpaid CEOs make too much money," babbled a liberal a while ago.

"They're worth it," I countered.

"How do you figure that?" the liberal answered.

"The shareholders vote to pay it. If the guy wasn't worth it the shareholders wouldn't pay him that kind of money." I answered.

"Yeah, but...." he stuttered.

"Look, the CEO of GM keeps 219,000 people working not including the God knows how many subcontractors they have making stuff outside of assembly lines. How many people do you pay weekly paychecks to?" I interrupted.

"Uh, I work for someone," he said.

"None. You don't have one single employee to keep busy. Not one. Yet the CEO of GM has 219,000 paychecks to write every week. He's responsible for that. He's worth every dime he gets." I said.

"How do you figure that?" he asked again. Looks like we're going around twice.

"He has agreed to work for that amount of money and the shareholders have agreed to pay it," I said. "Sounds fair to me. Just like in your case. You get paid what you do because you agreed to work for it and your boss agreed to pay it."

"Yeah, well, I'm underpaid," he said.

"No you're not. If you were you would be working somewhere else," I replied.

"Jobs in my field are hard to come by," he said.

"Because the market is flooded," I explained. "If you chose a different major in college you would be making more money. I just watched a young girl graduate and start off at about $75K last spring. She chose her major wisely."

"It's still not fair," he said.

"Look, you're worried about what the CEO of General Motors is making and you don't have any right to say a damned thing about it because you're not involved in any way. You're just running your mouth," I said.

"What do you mean by that," he snapped, indignantly.

"You have nothing to do with GM whatsoever except maybe you drive one of their cars. Nothing. You're just sticking your nose into someone else's business."

"Why isn't it my business?" he asked.

"Because you don't own a single share in General Motors. If you did you would be able to go to the stockholder's meeting and suggest the rest of the stockholders vote the CEO out and replace him with someone that would do the job for $75K a year," I said. "Then you really should sell your shares after you do that because your stock investment is going to tank pretty fast. Good leadership costs good money."

"But...but," he stuttered.

"But if you don't like what the CEO of General Motors is making then buy stock in the company, form a consensus among other stockholders and can him. It's as easy as that. If not that stop whining," I shot back.

I suppose he didn't like that very much but that's not my problem. The CEO of a large corporation earns his money with his skill, talents and drive just as the guy working at a minimum wage job earns his.

There is nothing stopping the guy flipping burgers from finding something else more profitable to do. A lot of pretty wealthy people started their working careers doing something like that and decided to do something better.

The differences in our incomes is actually a product of our talents, drives, skills and ability to market ourselves. Personally I'm fairly content where I am because if I wasn't I'd be doing something else.

I know I do not have the talents to run a major corporation and that's OK. I found a niche where I am content. I pretty much have what I want. If I didn't I'd have likely found a way to get it.

I suppose someone is going to say the Feds ought to put some kind of cap on someone's income. That's pretty stupid because if they do the people that are worth it will take their skills somewhere else and start clobbering us from overseas.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Sunday, May 11, 2014

About 8 or 10 years ago I saw an interesting

 gun transaction take place.

The buyer was an old man and he was buying an Arisaka, a Japanese WW2 bring-back from the Pacific. The gun store actually had three in stock.

The older guy was a veteran of the Pacific and wanted one to make a hunting rifle out of. He was a retired machinist and over the years had made a number of them for some of his grandchildren to hunt with.

One of his grand daughters wanted one so he decided to build her one. We got to talking and he said he was going back home with his new purchase and offered to show him one of the hunting rifles he had made out of one of the Japanese bring-backs.

Normally I am no fan of butchering historical military rifles but this guy was an exception and had talent as I found out when I followed him home. He showed me a beautiful hunting rifle in caliber .308 and unless you saw the Japanese markings on the receiver you would have had no clue that it was an Arisaka.

He had stripped the rifle to the bare action and gone from there, reworking everything and turning a basic WW2 souvenier into a fine unting rifle. It was simply amazing.

He said this was going to be the sixth one he had built.

Most shooters think that the Japanese Arisaka was a piece of junk and in many ways they are probably right. Still what they do not know is after the was the Army ran tests on several and found the action was exceedingly strong.

An ordinance officer ordered a 6.5mm Arisaka chambered for the American .30 cal cartridge and test fired. A 6.5mm bore is about .256 in diameter and the .30 bullet the American army used has a diameter of .308.

They expected the Arisaka to blow up. It didn't. They fired several more rounds through it before the bolt locked up too tight to open. The internal ballistics must have been horrendous.

The old man knew of this which is why he wasn't afraid to turn the old Japanese riflles into modern hunters.

Maybe it was a year later I was in the same store and was talking to the owner. I asked if he had heard from the old guy that built the hunting rifles out of Arisakas and he grinned.

The old timer brought his finished product in and was looking for another Arisaka to build yet another hunting rifle for a grandson.

The rifle he had built was a thing of beauty according to the shop owner. Having seen his work before I could just imagine.

He had also taken another Japanese rifle and reworked it for another shooter to use in a military bolt action rifle match at Camp Perry. He had just polished up the parts and did a trigger job on it. 

The shooter had taken it from there and it was reported he did fairly well with it. He had made brass out of 30/06 casings.

The reason I wrote this is because the subject came up the last time I went to the gun store. Apparently he is still doing gun and machine work and spending time with his grandkids.

It strikes me that spending time with a grandparent actually doing something with him or her is rare and one of those things we ought to see more of.

It's kind of nice watching someone retired do something useful.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Getting greedy seem to be the norm in this country.

It seems that every time I hear a story about someone that had a good thing the story ends with "Then they started getting greedy..." and then a story of success turns into one of epic failure.

It's true in the criminal world and it seems to be true in government.

I'm not going to get into details but I know the brother of a guy that had a pretty good thing going with being able to sell some leftovers from jobs. His boss was letting a couple of the guys sell unused materiel from jobs and over time the two guys were making a pretty good chunk of change on the side.

This would have gone on for years as things likely would have panned out.

But then they started getting greedy and started ordering more than they needed to do the job and they got caught. The boss not only fired the pair of them but he filed charges against them and they were convicted of theft.

I think the same thing is happening in Colorado after they legalized the sale and use of cannibis.

One of the things that convinced the Colorado government to legalize cannabis is that it would likely take a bite out of illicit marijuana sales.

Most likely it would have but then they started getting greedy and slapped a 25% tax on the stuff.

So you now have a $200 bag of legal pot and after the tax is added on it's now $250 and that's before sales tax.

The sales tax in Colorado runs between 2.9 and 10.4% depending on locale.For sake of argument let's call it 5%.

Your $200 bag of pot is now $260 and that leaves a lot of room for illicit sellers to undercut the legal sellers. When you consider that dealers will deliver to regular customers it means that not only does a user get their pot tax free they also get it delivered to theri door.

Colorado might have gotten away with charging a 1-5% tax but they got greedy and seem to be losing a lot in tax revenue as a result.

Same seems to hold true in New York with cigarettes. They want over $10/pack.

Enter the cigarette smuggler and he's likely making a killing and every smoker just loves him. I'd bet that a pretty good sized chunk of the NYPD buys their smokes from smugglers.

Moonshiners have stayed in business simply because they don't pay taxes on their illicit product. 

Incidentally people that are not in the know think that moonshine tastes something like gasoline. I suppose some is pretty rotgut stuff. Still, several yars ago at deer camp one of the guys showed up with a jar and passed it around. 

It was a lot smoother than a lot of legally distilled liquor on sale in stores. It was some damned fine hootch.

I'd be soley tempted to buy a jar or two but it isn't worth the risk this far down the line. Besides, I don't know the shiner.

The reason moonshiners are in business today is simply because Uncle Sam got greedy and slapped too high of a tax on liquor.

Or to paraphrase what I have said before, "Then Uncle Sam started getting greedy..."

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Friday, May 9, 2014

We are going broke

 because of all of our wonderful social programs and the fact that so many people are out of work.

I suppose there is a solution and it's going to be pretty painful but over time it will work.

Eliminate ALL federal social programs and allow the states, counties, towns or even neighborhoods to implement them if they so desire.

Social Security and Medicaid should be phased out over the next two or three generations and welfare should be phased out over the next few years. All of it. Every single dime.

Social Security should be phased out because Congress has proven too many times that they are not responsible to handle people's money. They have a history of reaching for every pile of money thay see and stealing it.

Social Security was stolen from the public in the sixties to finance the Vietnam war and the Great Society programs. Both of  these were a waste of time, money, and lives.

Eliminate the minumum wage so as to make it easier for businesses to start up. Reduce taxes on small businesses so as to help then get started, up and running and be successful. Money paid in taxes can not be used to hire help and build an economy.

Reduce unemployment benefits from their present two years and this will force people to take jobs. As it is now two years of sitting around waiting for a job that was as good as the one you lost is a joke. People are just going to have to get over the fact that they have to start over again.

One of the things government does is to do their best to create a defeated mindset. They probably have to to justify their existance. It is a divide and conquer mentality. 

What we have to do is realize that we don't need government to try and help us out because they are really incapable of helping us out. They're generally not the solution, they're either the entire problem or a big part of it.

One of the things I notice at certain travel plazas are people from all walks of life, of every color and nationality simply getting along together and being polite to one another.

My guess is it won't be long before Big Brother appoints a political officer to make us know how different we are and make sure the burgers are sold in the proper order to make sure everything is fair. 

Right now I picture the poitical ossifer telling some poor slob trying to order lunch something like "Ya can't order a bacon burger until we sell them at least two more Jews and three muslims. It wouldn't be fair because they don't have their fair share of the available bacon."

You'll play hell trying to get a ham sandwich anywhere with rules like that. Still,it sounds exactly like something the government would do under the guise of trying to be fair.

You may get lucky some time. There very well may be a Jew or Muslim that will take your money, buy the damned thing and hand it to you just to piss the political officer off. Don't plan on it, though.

Besides someone will likely gripe that THAT isn't fair and Congress will pass a 'you buy it, you eat it' law just to keep that from happening. After all, can't allow the people to work and help each other out, now, can we?

Of course the Republicans are not a whole lot better because ever since they teamed up with the so-called Christian coalition they seem to be spending more time worrying about making sure penises only enter vaginas for the purpose of reproducing. It would be a damned shame if someone did it for fun once in a while.

Barry Goldwater once said that when the Republican party let the Christian coalition in it would be the end of it and it looks like he was right. 

Needless to say, the TEA party decided to add the Christian coalition values to its plank and they went down the tubes almost as soon as they started. The original plank of financial responsibility got watered down as a result of it.

We now have one party that thinks abortion is a holy sacrement and the other that wants to force rape victims to carry their assailant's child to terms and keep women in the kitchen.

How about simply telling the Christian coalition to take a hike? Tell them that it isn't the job of the government to get involved in personal matters and that it is between a woman, her physician and her maker.

Sure the Christian coalition will likely bellyache and moan a lot but you can most likely bet they're still going continue to vote conservatively. Besides, when abortion was illegal it didn't stop anyone from getting one that wanted one. Just like the laws on drugs have not stopped anyone from getting drugs.

Of course, drug laws have done nothing to solve the drug problem. They haven't even created a drug problem because if they had then getting drugs would be a problem. Truth is, there is no drug problem. Anyone can get any kind of illegal drug they want. No problem there!

The truth is that we ought to throw both sides out on their respective asses and start all over again with the original Constitution and add a few more things to it to limit the powers of government.

They should also make damned good and sure that the additions to the original document keep the government from opening the treasury doors for the purpose of buying votes which is exactly what FDR and Johnson did and created this mess. Government should just go back to doing what they were designed for and do things for the people that they can't do for themselves. Things like international airports, Interstate  highways and supply us with an honest,  inflation free currency and insuring the states don't rob the people of their individual liberties.

If they do that and stay out of our hair you can bet that the people will most likely take care of themselves which is what we were supposed to be doing in the first place.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Thursday, May 8, 2014

One of the coolest things I have ever seen

 was a guy meet up with his estranged daughter.

Apparently the wife basically moved out of state and spent the next two decades telling the daughter what a jerk her father was and how he never paid a dime of child support.

The first meeting was in a public place and the daughter was very cold and made it clear she didn't want a whole lot to do with him. He  handed her a thick scrapbook and told her she ought to read it and he would be be at the same restaurant at 0900 the following morning. She coldly took it and walked off.

When he walked into the restaurant at 0845 he saw his daughter waiting and when he approached he she broke into tears and said, "I never knew!"

The scrapbook he handed her had clippings from the local newspaper of every little thing he could find that she had done while growing up. It also had every single reciept for child support he had paid since Day One, given to him from the court because he had opted to pay his child support through the court system.

There were also college tuition reciepts in it. He wasn't liable for these but had quietly paid them anyway. He had put her through school and hidden in the background.

I suppose the wife figured she had gotten revenge with him for divorcing her by turning the daughter against him and leaving the state but that changed in an instant. She became her father's daughter in an instant.

All it took was the truth to come to light

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One of the last cool things I did with my mom

 was when I was sailing my boat from Kodiak to Friday Harbor, Washington.

We agreed to meet in Vancouver, BC and go through the Expo Mart together. It proved to be a pretty good time.

Dad had been gone a couple of years and mom had accepted it and decided to do a few things. She flew into Vancouver, BC and I met her at the airport. We went there to my boat where I simply threw a sleeping bag at her and pointed to a rack and said it was hers. She laughed and shook her head and made her rack up.

I think dinner that night was fish and chips from a stand on the docks about 50 feet down the dock.

We both agreed that full days at the Expo would be a burn-out so we made plans to see it between about 9 and 3 and then spend the late afternoon and evenings doing local stuff.

It worked out pretty well because the area around the Expo Mart was commercialized heavily and overpriced. Even something like a simple hot dog was a pretty penny.

Instead after seeing the sights of the Expo Mart we'd scout out little shops and places to eat. I remember one little Italian restaurant that looked like a quaint scene out of a movie and the meal cost very little. It was excellent.

I told my mother "Order the veal. It's the best in the city." She laughed and asked me where she had hear that said before. 

When I told her it came from 'The Godfather' she smiled and said, "Oh, I remember!" and shook her head. 

The little place was one of those places that had daily specials of one sort or another and when I asked my waiter he told me what was fresh that day. I wound up with a seafood plate of some sort. Mom had the same.

We wandered through the streets of Vancouver and stopped off at a little place near the docks full of fishermen and had a drink before returning to the boat. Ma asked about my shipmate, Ari. Ari was a recently discharged Israeli para that was traveling through the States. I had met him in Kodiak and offered to take him for a sail.

He jumped at the offer because he was an adventurer at heart.

When we were on the docks again I briefed Mom on toilet facilities and where the showers were and a few other things.

I also warned her that my shipmate was likely to pop in during the middle of the night and not to be alarmed. He had agreed to try and crash somewhere else if he could but agreed if push came to shove he'd always have a rack.

That part of the conversation was pretty funny.

"If he drops in, he most likely will be half in the bag," I said.

"Where's he going to sleep if he's not at the boat?" asked Ma.

"He'll likely use his charms and find himself a warm bed somewhere," I replied. 

"I don't like to put anyone out," she said.

"Don't worry about it," I replied."If he doesn't find a place he'll slip in and grab the quarter berth."

The next morning Ma asked me how the shower worked. I told her to grab her clothes, towel, soap and the ship's bag of quarters and head on up and she did, returning cleaned up. When she returned I grabbed the bag of quarters and noticed it was heavier. That figured. Then I grabbed my shower kit and went and got cleaned up.

Then we cooked breakfast and took off for the Expo Mart. On the way we met my shipmate, Ari. Mom was concerned and asked him where he had spent the night. I interrupted and told Ma it was really none of her business. Ari was a little red so I knew I had saved him from hemming and hawing.

After we did the second day at Expo Ma wanted to go back to the dock area and do a little shopping. I had some boat work to do so that was fine. Mom returned with some groceries and went below after telling me she was trying some sort of a new recipe. She told me to try and find Ari and have him in for dinner. 

I went up to the bar at the top of the dock and told the barkeep to send Ari to the boat if he saw him and he said he would. I went back to the boat and went back to my splicing.

Suddenly a hatch opened and her hand stuck up and threw a handful of fish skins over the side. When I saw that I knew she had adapted and shortly afterwards dinner was ready.

About 5 minutes before dinner Ari appeared out of thin air and looked at me. "What, Kapitan?" he asked. I told him he was invited to dinner.

We ate and after a respectable time passed Ari retured to where he had come from. Ma and I talked and then turned in fairly early.

It was pretty late when I heard the hatch slip open and Ari started to ghost his way into the salon. Ma heard it, too.

'What's that?" she asked.

'Ari," I answered.

"Oh, good," said Ma.

"Not good," I said. "He's half in the bag and being chased by a jealous boyfriend. I'll be up all night with the shotgun standing guard."

"What?" she asked in a worried tone.

"Go back to bed, Ma," I said.

She laughed. "You two characters," she said and inside a minute she was out like a light and started sawing wood.

Ari was in the quarter berth and out like a light in an instant, too. He needed no lights to get to bed.

The next day she announced she was getting a room and would do so every other night. On the first late afternoon I borrowed her tub for a long soak. We grabbed a fast light supper togetherand caught a movie and laughed ourselves silly. It was "Crododile Dundee."

Ari and I holed up together on the boat and Ma would be there as we crawled out and she'd board and cook breakfast.

The three of us spent a day together and went for an afternoon sail in the Fraiser River. We kind of got fogged in and for about an hour as it was getting dark and it was touch and go as huge freighters passed us by.

I remember Ma looking up at a huge moving wall of steel thirty feet away from us and looking scared.

We got back in OK and tied up.

All in all we had a pretty good time and spent a week together.

She remembered that trip until the end. According to a number of people the memories of it were one of the last things Alzheimer's took from her years later.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kodiak wasn't all fun and games.

I had to deal with a fisherman's wife's worst nightmare more than once. This one comes to mind.

The boat had gone down. That was already established. I walked into my bar-room office and found out that one of the bodies had been recovered which wasn't all that common. 

Fisherman more often than not went down with their boats.

Bill was dead and she had been notified and was sitting face on the bar passed out. She was a mess and I can't say as I can hold it against her.

Her husband had been good to me and so had she. I'd done a couple of odd jobs for them and they had paid me well and had given me a few odds and ends and now it was time to repay the favor.

I just walked over to Louise and threw her over my shoulder and put her face down in the bed of her pickup, went through her bag for the keys, fired the rig up and took her home to her kids.

Then I hauled her in, parked her in her bed face down and gathered the kids. I told them that their father's body had been recovered and would be brought back to town in a couple of days for burial. Then I put the oldest one in charge of his mother to insure she didn't vomit and choke on it. He was maybe 12 years old.

I looked at the other two and decided to make sure they were fed and headed over to the refrigerator and opened it. Pretty slim pickin's but I knew I could make do.

As I was figuring out what to make those kids there was a knock on the door and I recognized a woman I knew named Jinka. We were friends of a sort. A couple of years earlier her ex husband had tried to publicly humiliate her. I stepped in and left him the humiliated one.

Jinka was carrying a casserole and most likely saved those kids from the hideous fate of my slap-up cooking.

While Jinka and I were feeding the kids I handed her some cash and asked her to run down to Kraft's and get some bacon, eggs, spuds and pick me up a couple of packs of Camels. She was back in a half hour with the goods and a bottle of brandy. "The brandy is for you," she said. "You ought to spend the night here. Camp on the couch."

"Jeez, Jinka, This town can be vicious. I can't handle somme jerk like Joanne starting dirty rumors," I said.

Jinka thought for a second. "Joanne would do something like that. She hates you after she humiliated herself at the raft race. She blames you but everyone knows better."

Small town problems.

"Look, Pic. I'll overnight here, too. There's one couch and you take first watch." She got up made a couple of phone calls and that was that. 

I wandered over to the window and opened it and lit a Camel.  Bill had been a smoker so this was not an issue. 

"Jinka, I gotta have a talk with Louise tomorrow morning and let her know her first responsibility is to those kids," I said.

"I was thinking the same thing," she said. "We'll both take care of it tomorrow morning. It was pretty decent of you to scrape her up and make sure she got home OK. Your friend Blaine let me know you had her taken care of."

Over the next couple of hours a few other people showed bringing the obligatory gifts of food. One person brought over a bottle which I immediately put in a cabinet. Louise didn't need any more booze that night.

We left the bedroom door where Louise was open and told her son to get the other kids together and clean up the place. It really didn't need it but we figured we ought to give them something to do. The youngest one climbed up on me and held me.

Jinka poured me a brandy and I sat there with a kid falling asleep on my lap as I had a drink and smoked a Camel. It was one hell of a way for a kid to doze off but when she was asleep I put her in her bed.

For a few hours Jinka and I took turns checking on Louise and around midnight I started to hit the hay. As soon as I laid down the youngest came out of nowhere and climbed onto the couch with me. There really wasn't enough room so I threw a pillow at my feet and the child slept head to feet with me until I woke up to pee. Then I returned the child to her bed.

I woke to a start at about 0300 for no reason and saw Jinka crashed out on a Lazy Boy. I started to get up and Jinka heard me. "She's OK," she said. "Go back to sleep."

About 0630 the kids slowly began to stir, one by one. I started breakfast and made coffee.  When the coffee was brewing Jinka entered and poured herself a cup and commented that it was pretty strong. We agreed to let Louise sleep in, of course.

Then we fed the kids and made the command decision that they would go to school that day based on the reasoning that they should stay busy. The littlest one wasn't of school age yet so we parked her in front of the TV as best we could and waited for Louise to stir.

She woke up foggy but ravenous and wolfed down the breakfast we put in front of her. I was never able to figure that one out.

After breakfast we both had a serious talk with her about what was going to happen over the next few days and we both knew the drunkeness displayed the day earlier had passed. It wasn't likely to be repeated. She knew the kids came first.

I left, Jinka hung out a while longer and the next time I saw Louise was at the funeral. She was very grateful to Jinka, myself and all the neighbors that had helped her along.

This was not the first funeral or memorial service I attended in Kodiak nor was it to be the last. During my decade in Kodiak I went to about fifty of these and only went to three or four weddings. It was one hell of a way to live.

There is a fisherman's memorial in front of the harbormaster's office. To get your name on it you pretty much have to have been born in Kodiak. Every year a couple more names get added to it.

It doesn't cover the majority of fishermen that are lost fishing out of Kodiak. It omits the summer kids, the resident non-locals, the part-time residents and others.


Jinka instantly put word on the street that I had been good to Louise and had taken care of the kids when she had been notified of her husband's death. A lot of people looked at me in a different light after that and I found myself being brought into a circle of friends that were not just barflies.

Joanne tried to make a dirty comment about me a couple of weeks later and was instantly rat-packed by a large number of fisherman's wives and fishermen coming to my defense. She faced a lot of well deserved vile language. She steered well clear of me the rest of my time there.

The children always were grateful to me for the rest of the time I lived on the Rock. A couple of years later my kindness was repaid by the oldest when he told his neighbor how I had helped his mother. The neighbor was selling a Dodge pickup and knocked $300 off the price. I got it for $100. He also found me some teak and mahogany when I was setting my boat up for open ocean crossing.

The littlest one always gave me a hug when she saw me.

Almost twenty years later I got a phone call from someone out of the past. We chatted and in the course of conversation I found that the oldest son had followed his father's footsteps and became a fisherman. He was lost at sea and left a widow and three small kids. He was 29.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY