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Ghost of Sam Post

June 2008 - Posts

  • I Talk To The Trees, But They Don’t Listen To Me

    Look at the title, can any of you tell me where the sentence is from and what it is? If so, the first right answer in the comment section will get a great prize! And, the more supporting information that goes along with your answer will earn you extra credit. Such a deal! I'll give you a hint: I didn't make it up; this is real. Ready, set, go.

    And now, an answer to my adoring fans (well, fan) out there in blogland. A question that was asked regarding my last blog concerning marbles, and the loss thereof. You see, "losing all your marbles", I believe, comes from the game of "marbles" wherein each player starts with a bag of marbles. A circle is drawn on the ground and each player places one of his marbles inside the circle. Each player then "shoots" his next marble using the thumb and index finger, and tries to knock the existing marble, or marbles, out of the circle. A successful hit will drive a competitor's marble outside the circle. The shooter now owns that marble and he continues to shoot until he misses, whereupon the next shooter takes his turn. Similar to popular card games, the tension builds as players win, or lose, money, or marbles. In the marble game, when you lose all your marbles, you have nothing to play with anymore and your stress levels undoubtedly are very high. So, to "lose all your marbles" could reasonably cause you to go insane. That's what I think anyway. Another related story concerns the seashore scenario mentioned in my last blog. This is a true story. There was an orator in ancient Greece (I'm not sure of his name) who would practice his public speaking at the seashore by putting pebbles in his mouth and then he would speak over the sounds of the Mediterranean Sea. He kept practicing with the pebbles because it was difficult to enunciate and this required him to form his words carefully to be understood. The sounds of the sea required him to develop his lung power so that he could project his message to the last person in the amphitheater. Thus, the orator, through this practice, was much sought after because he was able to relate his message clearly. Quite a commentary on the ancient civilizations. They used simple techniques and rudimentary speaking platforms. No amplifiers, speakers, or microphones. They used what Nature provided. They developed their talents; we "modern folks" waste our talents  and try to cheat by using technology as a substitute. Time to send my toga to the cleaners; beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here.

    And now, let's talk trees. This morning, before coffee, I stepped out into the backyard to let the dogs run and to admire our freshly cut grass. It looks like a golf green after it has been trimmed and I was satisfied as I viewed the sweeping vista before me until I turned to the left and saw a fifty foot tree broken in half and laying precariously in my yard. I didn't hear anything fall during the night so I was shocked to see this eighteen inch thick tree marring the landscape. Okay, a little background to help you understand the situation.

    My property line is next to a vacant, thirty acre lot. It's owned by a private person, but he's never done anything with the land. There are huge trees, some a few inches from my yard and some about ten feet from my house. Simple arithmetic will show that a fifty-sixty foot tree standing ten feet from my house constitutes a danger to my abode. Especially when this particular tree died from vines encircling it. It started to rot and to drop branches within a few feet of the house. I contacted the owner and informed him of what was happening to his tree, and the danger to my house. He was unconcerned. I then wrote a letter, certified, yada,yada, telling him that, if the tree fell in my yard, or on my house, that he was liable and that I would certainly sue him because he refused to do anything about it. I documented everything with photographs, put all my copies together, and forgot about it. This was about three years ago. About one year ago, I came home from work and discovered that a large tree, also next to my fence, but about a hundred feet away from the rotting tree, was cut down. I can't imagine why these morons cut down a tree that was no where near my house and left a rotting tree, which threatens my property, standing. I think the term "dumb redneck" aptly applies.

    Shortly after the time when I sent the letter to him, I sensed that he would rather be sued then to take care of the problem, so I opted to take some precautions myself. What good, I reasoned, is it to have the tree crush my house so that I would have to sue him, and of course we know that the courts are on the side of the criminals, so there would be no satisfaction, I would still end up with a crushed house that would have to be fixed. I thought it better to be proactive. I took a heavy rope and tied it about a third of the way up the tree and then secured it to another of his trees in such a way, that if the unthinkable happened, that the rope would cause the tree to swing away from the house. Well, the unthinkable did happen, and my rope worked perfectly. The tree broke and folded over itself. It even spared my four foot fence. Now, I'll spend the next two-three days chopping the vines and branches to clean the mess from my yard. But, at least the house is no longer in danger from this particular tree.

    The clean up will be long and arduous. I'll take all the refuse and dump on his land, of course. The base of the tree still stands about twenty feet high, and the rope is still supporting it, but it is angled severely away from the house, so I'm somewhat relieved.

    I have found that a two-handed axe is the best tool to deal with trees. If I had a heavy duty chain saw that would be a big help, but the venerable axe seems to be the best overall. Saws, especially in wet wood, bind terribly, whereas the axe has no such problems. Of course, you have to provide the horsepower from your muscles to be successful, no lazy way to use an axe. And, you would be surprised at how heavy wood can be. A tree of this size probably weighs close to two thousand pounds - more if it is saturated (it is). This means that I will have to chop it into smaller pieces so that I can carry each piece away. There are no shortage of vines; they cover every part of this tree and I think that they were holding the tree together for the last two years. I feel like Tarzan as I hack through all the branches and vines. This morning it took almost two hours to clear away the vines so that I could see the main trunk. Then I had to find what was supporting the tree and then I had to decide how to cause it to slow fall to the ground so that it wouldn't crash into the fence. Fortunately, I was successful with these things and the tree creaked slowly down to the ground. Then I started to clear the hundreds of vines still clinging to it. When I finally get everything cleared away, I will start chopping the main part of the tree that is sitting in my yard. The remaining part that is still standing on his side of the fence, I will leave there, hoping that it will fall one day, on his moronic, redneck head.

    It rained, no, poured, this morning, so I had to take a break. I didn't want my twenty foot aluminum ladder to attract any of those lightning bolts - my luck runs that way. And you can bet that I had an extra cup of coffee this morning. One should never have to do this kind of work before coffee. Nothing in life happens before coffee!

    Has anyone come up with an answer to my original query? Do you want another hint? He is very famous. Oops, I almost gave it away, I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise so I won't reveal any more hints right now. By the way, what do you guys suggest for great prizes? And, what about second and third prizes? In point of fact, I don't know how many blog readers we have out there. If I offer three prizes, then everyone might get a prize. Get it? Only three blog readers? Maybe I should require that everyone has to comment before I will grant a first prize. I know, I'll give the first prize to the longest comment, and of course, all blog readers in the office have to comment too. Oh yeah, no fair in cutting and pasting Bible Reader as your comment. You will have to come up with original comments to win. So, the rules are, everyone must comment and then the prize will go to the longest comment. Ready, set, go. Isn't this fun! So says Sam Post.

    Posted Jun 30 2008, 07:35 PM by Sam Post with 9 comment(s)
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  • Weather It Be

    I like weather. Understand that when a sailor says the word, weather, he is talking about bad weather. You know, storms and such. There isn’t much use in talking about a sunny day, that should be a default weather pattern. No, people who enjoy the sea must learn to accept all of Nature’s different moods. Not that we enjoy being blown around and drenched with waves, but we learn to accept whatever comes and to deal with it.

    And it is stressful. But it’s real stress, not the phony kind that we find living in a bureaucratic society like this one. When Nature starts whipping up the waves and making things uncomfortable, sailors must pay attention. No one should underestimate the natural elements, they will kick your butt! However, after the storm, there is serenity. If you have paid attention to what you should have done, then you reap the rewards of a triumphant victory. You get to pick up all the stuff that used to be on the shelves in your boat. I remember a day, maybe ten years ago, when I took a friend and her dog on the sailboat for an afternoon’s cruise. It was a little rough, but not too bad. The sailing was great because you need a good breeze to move the boat and we had it. Unfortunately, the breeze picked up measurably and the waves exceeded eight feet in height. The crests were no more than fifty feet apart. It became very uncomfortable. We were a couple miles from shore so there was no way I could just move away from the turmoil; I had to deal with each wave while I steered as much as possible to the shore. And it was growing dark. Fighting the waves is trouble enough when you can see them coming, but when it gets dark, you can’t anticipate when the next wave will pummel the boat and throw you off balance. I had the tiller in hand and was doing okay under the circumstances. My friend, however, had turned a very odd “green” color and she lay sprawled in the cockpit, wishing I think, for death to rescue her. The poor dog had sought refuge in the cabin below and had become so seasick that she vomited on the cabin sole. She was “green” too. The boat was pitching to and fro in a frightful manner. Everything that wasn’t lashed down was thrown about in the cabin. Even the table was torn loose and it was on the sole mixed in with the cabin contents and dog vomit. I couldn’t go below because I had to steady the boat as best I could while trying not to get seasick.

    And now we come to the best advice you’ll ever get on not getting seasick. When on a moving boat (or any vehicle, for that matter) look at the horizon and never, never look away. If you do this, you will avoid the worst aspects of motion sickness. Do not look down, that’s the worst thing you can do. Remain looking at the distant horizon – no matter what – and you’ll fair well. Knowing this, I knew I had to look at the horizon and other distant objects. I did this. And then I did the next thing to allay sickness – I sang. Under the conditions mentioned you can imagine the noise and confusion of the situation. Since I couldn’t leave the tiller I had to make things as comfortable as possible. I figured this would be a good time to practice my singing. You see, one must be able to project one’s voice over any ambient noise and one must be able to concentrate on the vocal production, otherwise, in concert, you would not be heard. I began to practice show tunes and an operatic piece that one can never practice enough. I sang to the wind and waves; I sang to Neptune and Nature; I sang so I wouldn’t puke. It was good practice.

    There was a man who desired to speak publicly. He knew that he had to be heard over the crowd and that there would be no sound system to amplify his voice. He went to another famous public speaker and sought his advice. The mentor told him to go to the seashore with a bag of marbles. He told his student to fill his mouth with the marbles and to speak to the sea. He had to enunciate his speech so he could be understood in spite of the fact that his mouth was filled with the marbles. The noise of the waves on the sand only made this task more difficult. The student was serious and wished to accomplish what his mentor dictated. The mentor further instructed that on each day he went to speak with the marbles in his mouth that he take one marble out, so that each day there would be one less marble to speak through. “Then,” said the mentor, “when you’ve lost all your marbles, you’ll be a good speaker!”

    You are probably wondering what a stormy sea has to do with losing your marbles. Maybe only marble-less people like stormy seas? Could be. I’ve always liked the warmer weather; that’s why I moved to Florida from New York. Actually, the overall plan was to live on my boat in Tahiti. Florida was just a small first step. I still dream about living in Tahiti but I doubt that I’ll ever get there. I’ve heard that it isn’t as nice as it used to be. Forty years ago, when I first wanted to go there, the island was little touched by bureaucratic morons. There was a native culture; there were real issues, real living. Now from what I hear “civilization” has crept in to ruin the area. In the old days, you had to sail there. There was the feeling of accomplishment in just making the trip. Now you just hop on a plane, there is no feeling of accomplishment, unless you feel that buying the plane ticket is an accomplishment. The weather here in Florida is similar to the south sea islands (not exactly, but close) so I can find a palm tree and look out over the sea and pretend. So says Sam Post.

    Posted Jun 24 2008, 09:23 AM by Sam Post with 2 comment(s)
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  • View From The Scooter

    With the price of gas soaring into the stratosphere I am really happy to have purchased a 50cc scooter. Yes, it's hot out there, but when you're moving, it is very comfortable. When you stop for traffic signals, however, it's "instant sweat time". I can only get about 45 mph going downhill with a tailwind (not my own) but that's okay. I find that going faster than 45 mph is kind of useless on most roads anyway. The scooter is legal on all roads except I-10. It is not powerful enough for the big highways; it would need a larger engine to produce more than five brake horsepower. Fine with me. If I need to go on the interstate, I'll climb aboard my super huge pick-up truck and go as fast as necessary - while I'm burning about sixteen mpg. If I had my way, I would use the scooter for all my traveling while leaving the truck for the heaviest loads.

    I haven't ridden a bike in forty-three years. I expected it to be somewhat arduous when I straddled the scooter for the first time, but, as people have always said, "You never forget how to ride a bike." It is true. As I moved the scooter I felt as if I had no break at all in riding motorcycles. It came back as naturally as breathing air (mixed, of course, with carbon monoxide and other poisons that we've polluted our environment with - don't get me started!). I was delighted to find that my body fit right in with the leaning and balancing and general feel of riding. Nowadays, I wear a helmet and goggles all the time; safety is very important. In the old days I wore a black leather jacket (with all the zippers) and a black beret and sunglasses so that I would look as "cool" as possible. Helmets were only for the track. I don't feel the need to impress anybody these days - or to compete. Now I just enjoy the ride, get to my destination (slowly), and take comfort in the fact that I'm getting a little over a hundred miles to the gallon.

    Just a quick note on alternative power sources: if I ever put together another bike to utilize something other than gasoline as a fuel, I will only make one. It would be impossible to invent and develop something that could be used for the public because the government (which includes the major car manufacturers) and the oil industry, would squash the idea. Let me give you a couple examples. First there was Preston Tucker. There's a great movie, based on his life, called: Tucker, the Man and his Dream. It recalls the life of this innovative man as he comes out of the second world war seeking to start a company to help the public. During the war he produced vehicles and gun turrets for the Army. After the cessation of hostilities he turned to making automobiles. He designed and built better cars than were available at the time. In fact, in today's cars they are just starting to include features that were standard in a Tucker. His work was done in 1948. He built fifty cars. Then the government and the big three auto makers shut him down; they couldn't compete with him so they put him out of business. Out of the original fifty cars, there are about forty of them still operating. There is a green Tucker in the Tallahassee car museum if you want to see one "in the flesh". He had many better ideas - that worked - so why didn't everybody support him? They didn't because the government doesn't want competition. They would rather keep constant control over the public - even if their antics kill the people, which they do.

    More recently, when everybody was talking about building electric cars, a problem developed in the prototypes of most entries. The batteries just couldn't hold enough of a charge to let the cars have adequate driving range to be practical. There was a man in the northeast who developed a better battery, it could hold a charge longer. It was the "answer" to the overall problem. What happened? He was shut down by the government, his tools, plans, and prototypes were confiscated and he was told that he was not to build anything more.

    There is a documentary called, Who Killed The Electric Car? It tells the story of a manufacturer in California who produced a number of electric cars and then leased them to people to see how they would work. The people were delighted with the cars. At the end of the lease agreement most of the people desired to pay the agreed upon amount to purchase the cars. They were denied. They tried legal means to force the company to comply with their contract. Nothing worked. The company recalled all the cars, including stealing some of the peoples' cars who refused to turn them in. The company took all of these cars to a wrecking yard and crushed all of them into junk. The people tried to block the trucks, they carried signs, they did whatever they could think of to try to keep their electric cars. Evidently, these cars were excellent and the people wanted to own them. Guess who ruined this good deal. Watch the documentary. It illustrates that the blame is spread out in several different areas: the government, the major auto makers, the oil industry, and several others.

    Okay, so that wasn't really a quick note, but, I told you not to get me started! It really annoys me that people, like Uncle Bush (actually, it's all of the politicians) get richer every time we drive one of our gas guzzling vehicles. That's bad enough, but, as the preceding paragraphs point out, they refuse to let people do anything to help themselves. If you want to build a better mousetrap, build it for your own use and don't let anyone else know about it. Sounds a lot like a communist country, doesn't it?

    Back to the scooter. It is amazing that, from the vantage point of the scooter, I notice more of the cars and trucks that are constantly whizzing by me. The majority of them are huge, gas guzzling SUV's and pickup trucks. I feel like I'm in the middle of Detroit. The cost of these giant vehicles is enormous and they get terrible gas mileage, and they are always going fast, which means they are burning even more fuel. With the escalating gas prices, wouldn't we expect to see more scooters and other economical vehicles? Instead, we are seeing more gas guzzlers. In spite of the fact that the car companies are having a more difficult time selling Hummers, SUV's, and other impractical vehicles, the roads seem to be clogged with them. No matter, I travel at thirty mph, enjoying the scenery, being safe, getting a hundred miles to the gallon. I wonder if the gas prices will keep climbing. If so, it will be interesting to see what the automobile manufacturers will do in response to people not buying the gas guzzlers. Will we see GM and Ford producing scooters? So says Sam Post.

    Posted Jun 15 2008, 10:30 AM by Sam Post with 3 comment(s)
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  • Biker Days, Past and Present

    I’m feeling a little nostalgic today so I’m going to depart from my usual subject matter and speak about activities dating back to the early 1960’s. Things were much better in those days. A person was free to think and to create. Things and people mattered, there was a measure of pride in a job well done. Talent was recognized and revered. A person could make plans and dream as big as they wanted and you could, if you put in the blood, sweat, and tears, make those dreams come to fruition. When I was in high school my mode of transportation was, like most kids, a bicycle. Of course, like most kids, I sought to improve my mode of transportation in terms of speed, power, and accommodation. I saw an article in Mechanix Illustrated (that’s a magazine devoted to inventions, neat ideas, tools, and innovative thinking) that showed how to take a regular bicycle and a lawn mower engine and make a scooter. It had ten inch wheels, simple construction, and it could go about thirty mph. It was called a “Beats Walkin’.”

    I built this scooter and learned many things about welding, metallurgy, sprocket ratios, calculations to determine speed, and that I had become public enemy #1 as far as the neighbors and cops were concerned. Nobody wanted to hear the lawn mower engine going up and down the street on the numerous test runs that I made. Undaunted, I continued to build more small bikes until I started to design my own. The culmination of the designs resulted in a racing minibike that I took to the dragstrip where I succeeded in beating a Willy’s jeep in the quarter mile. Now that I had a taste for speed, and by now I was nineteen years old, I purchased a series of motorcycles that led to my fastest bike, a Harley Sportster. After some motor work (It was bored, de-stroked, altered racing gearbox, custom made carburetor, custom valve lifters, custom made rear wheel. I know somebody out there is going to ask about the motor work) the bike set track records in its class. On one day I actually got Top Eliminator, meaning that I beat all the bikes and all the cars running that day. The final run was against a “rail job” (That’s a slingshot dragster. You know, long chassis of thin rails, giant engine, huge wheels with slicks on the back, loud enough to wake the dead). Initially, I had no chance of beating this car because he was turning times and speeds that no street machine could achieve. But, as the Christmas tree lights came down, and we were allowed to go, his car “blubbered” off the line, giving me a slight edge. If I did everything perfectly – no mistakes – I had a chance. It worked. The race track gods were smiling on me that day, and I came home with two trophies, one mounted on the handlebars (like Marlon Brando did in The Wild One) and the other strapped to my back. I was happy that day.

    Then the Army intervened. They wanted me to go to Vietnam. The bike went into the garage to wait the two years that had to transpire before I could get back on the block. When I did come back I had a family, a cat, a dog, and a mortgage. No time for riding. I needed to go to work forty hours a week. There was a weekend gig too. Bills have to be paid and work has to be done to pay them. The bike collected dust until, finally, I sold it to a friend of mine. Parting with it was like having a member of the family move away. In time, the pains of separation waned, but I still have the memories, the newspaper articles, some photographs, and, until recently, a room full of trophies to remind me of those great days of riding and racing.

    Since those good times in the 1960’s I’ve not ridden any kind of bike. Now, though, Uncle Bush has caused the gas prices to go through the stratosphere. Driving a regular car has become outrageously expensive. It’s time to revisit some of the things from my past. I’ve got ideas from back then to create minibikes with alternative fuel sources. I didn’t pursue these ideas in the past (gas was about twenty-four cents a gallon) but now it seems almost a necessity. Until I do decide to dig out my plans from the old days, I’ve made a rash decision. We will purchase 50cc scooters. This we did about a week ago. They are slow but that’s okay, the main thing is that they get great gas mileage. From my initial calculations, we should see about 135 mpg. That is very good and it will take “only” about six dollars to fill the tank (it only holds about one and one third gallons). In the old days it would take about thirty-five cents to fill the tank. As I said, things were much better in the 1960’s. So says Sam Post.

    Posted Jun 04 2008, 10:12 AM by Sam Post with 1 comment(s)
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