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Hey folks. I wasn’t going to write any blogs – or at least not very many – but I simply couldn’t stand the cries echoing across the Gulf of Mexico from all my fans wondering what the hell is going on with me. Ok, the noise I heard was a seagull and nobody has said the first thing about me not writing blogs so this is all for purely selfish reasons. I am writing like mad on my book and got a little stuck. However, I didn’t want to stop writing heretofore I am presenting you with this new and original blog. (I have never used heretofore and don’t know if my usage is correct. I don’t think it is. I don’t care. I did it on purpose.)

The book is really pretty good, by the way. At least I like it. If I extrapolate the positive results I get from blogs as a ratio to the number of books that will be printed (I really don’t know if I that makes any sense either) then it looks like I will sell about seventeen novels. That’s not bad for a first book. I think Grisham only sold fifteen or so copies of A Time to Kill before he became famous with The Firm so that puts me right there in the meaty part of the curve.

Every now and then I go back and re-read some of what I have written and I laugh out loud at times and get a little choked up at times. I think that means it reads well. Of course, I am often the only one laughing at my jokes and cry by myself more than I care to admit. I guess my opinion doesn’t really mean anything.

Anyway, there will be a book in the next six months. I will either find somebody to publish it or you can send me $5 and I will print you a copy at Kinko’s. I am hoping for the published route. I really want to be on Ellen.

I don’t have much to write about so I thought I would take questions from my readers. Well, if anybody ever asked questions and those questions were the least bit intelligent, these are what they would be.

Q: What is it like when you first get on a ship? How long does it take to settle in?

A: Excellent question! The first week on a ship is basically spent shoving folded up pieces of paper and cardboard into all the little nooks and crannies that creak and rattle and make all sorts of annoying noises. I know, I know. The ship was built in 1998. You would think somebody would have fixed them all by now. Believe me, they have tried. The evidence of their efforts is all over every room. This is an ongoing battle that can never be won. It is like Whack-a-Mole. There is always a new noise popping up.

Q: Do you like working on an oil tanker?

A: Compared to having a real job on land? Very much so. Compared to working on a tramping cargo ship? No.

Q: Is there anything you really like about working on a tanker?

A: Right now I am lying in bed watching the Braves play. And the salad bar is always fresh.

Q: What sucks about working on a tanker?

A: It is loud. It is smelly. Everybody is all serious like if they accidentally crack a smile oil will dump into the ocean. It doesn’t go anywhere fun. You have to wear hardhats at sea. You have to wear long sleeves. The ship is chartered for $100,000 a day but the mattresses are so bad you can hardly sleep on them (I mean, seriously. I am all for making a profit but the little people who put in the work should be able to get a decent night’s sleep. I would invite the accounting department to spend a night on these devil beds.)

Q: What sort of work have you been doing?

A: Painting, painting and painting! Uggghhhhh… I hate starting off with painting. I usually like to impress people with how good I am at stuff before they see me paint and realize I am a retard. Yeah, I know it is 2014 and you can’t say retard. You know, I am not insulting mentally challenged people when I say that. That is an insult that people of my generation grew up using. I hate that you are an awful person because politically correct people have changed the language. I mean, God forbid you call somebody a faggot. I don’t refer to homosexuals that way. It is just an insult we used growing up and we didn’t even think of being gay when we used it. When I call a guy a pussy I am insulting him but guess what my favorite thing in the world is? That’s right – chicken wings. So you get my point.

Q: How is the crew?

A: They’re good. No problems. However, it brings up another thing I don’t like about tankers. You get the really weird sailors on deep sea ships and that is one of the things that makes this job interesting. Not that everybody on a tanker would be the most normal guy in the insurance agency, but you don’t get the super weirdos here. I like the characters. For one, I’m kind of messed up myself although I have the ability to disguise myself as normal. And they tend to be entertaining. But on a tanker you aren’t out of touch for months at a time, you know what is going on in the world and Wal Mart is never too far away. I think that keeps people a little more grounded. Plus, it is easy to fire a guy on a tanker because you are always in port. You can fire somebody on a deep seas ship but Captains are more reluctant as there is the problem of flying them home and flying the new guy out. And, if you’re in the middle of the ocean, well, it’s hard to get fired there. The point is my shipmates are fine guys to sail with but none of them will make it into my book.

Q: What will be the best thing about publishing your book?

A: Giving my parents the first two copies. There isn’t even a close second.

Q: What is the most screwed up thing about the Democratic Party.

A: Their deviousness. Look, I don’t want to argue politics with you and you may not believe this but I respect your opinions. I really do. If you believe in your heart that the path to a prosperous America is to tax hard working people at higher rates and redistribute that wealth, I disagree, but I respect your right to believe that. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you have put thought into your opinion and have some knowledge to back it up. But this is where the Democrats are really getting one over on the country. They have mastered the strategy of making people believe that they are the party that cares. “I don’t hate gay people because that would be mean and I am not mean. Therefore, I am going to vote with the party who loves everybody. The dems care about people and they are in favor of the Affordable Healthcare Act therefore I am in favor of the AHA.” So many people are voting against their core beliefs because they don’t want to be labeled as mean, hateful or uncaring AND IT IS ALL SO UNTRUE!! The perfect example of this is a situation where some idiot atheists forced some grieving people to remove crosses and other religious stuff that was marking the spot where their friend/family member was killed in an accident. I don’t care if you are an atheist. It is America, after all. But where did you get the idea that you have the constitutional right to never, ever see a cross or hear the name Jesus? You have the right not to be forced to worship Jesus. That’s it! Anyway, the poor family has to take the crosses down because these atheists just hate people, I guess. Now, there is no way, no way, no way in a million years that this represents the core value of your average American. We are a loving, caring, and yes – Christian! – people. We just are. Deal with it. But the atheist and freedom FROM religion thing is a left issue. Let’s follow the steps. “I think a grieving family should be able to mark the site where their son died but the atheists have rights too and I don’t hate atheists. I don’t hate anybody! They should have freedoms too! Who else supports what they believe? Oh! The democrats. Well, I agree with them so I also believe that the military should be reduced to pre-World War II levels, corporations are evil and the rich don’t pay any taxes. Oh yeah, everything is George Bush’s fault.” It is tricky, it is devious and it is wrong. I would just ask everybody to really look inside and get in touch with your core values and vote those. I will love you no matter what they are. I really will.

Q: How is a great guy like you still single?

A: Ummmm….I don’t know. The women that think I am great are women who don’t have to make the decision of whether or not they would date me – family, married friends, friends dating other people, friends with extreme age differences, etc. The women that could date me don’t want to. I guess that tells us something but I don’t know what. Generally speaking, I love the wrong women – those being the women that don’t love me.

Q: What are the best things about being a sailor?

A: So many things! No matter how much I screw up financially I can get on a ship and be debt free in a month. I get to see the world. I see stars at night that I didn’t know existed. Dolphins come and say hi to me all the time. It gives me stuff to write about. I am really good at my job and by the time people are getting tired of me, I leave! I don’t have to deal with any of the stuff that depresses me at home. Things that hurt at home don’t hurt quite as much out here. I am healthier out here. I am happy at sea. Lot’s of stuff.

Q: What do you hate about being a sailor?

A: Being covered with paint all the time. Having a tiny bathroom. No chicken wings. Sometimes I want a hug.

Q: How come we are not having blog music?

A: Well, I am not listening to any. Let’s do High in the Morning by Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers. I only pick this song because I wrote a song about six months ago to the tune of this. I might have used this before. It is better each time you listen to it, trust me.

Q: Are you going to watch The Masters even though Tiger pulled out?

A: Yeah, but I won’t like it.

Q: What’s better? Opening day of baseball or opening day of football?

A: Football is far and away the better sport but opening day of baseball should be a holiday. Baseball wins this one.

Q: Is this going to be a long or short blog?

A: Short! I just had an idea for my book!

Life is good on the ship. My body is hurting a little bit but other than that I am well. I guess I will see you guys in August or September. Whoever is nicest to me between now and then I am coming to see first. And we are going out for a really good dinner!

Stay safe. Vote your heart. Smile at strangers. Tell your loved ones you love them.

Russell Yale

 

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I’ve been all over the place with music lately so it is hard to pick a song for the blog.  I think you would agree that you can never go wrong with Eric Clapton.  Let’s go with Running on Faith

“Lately I’ve been running on faith.

What else can a poor boy do?

But my world will be right

When love comes over me.

 

Lately I’ve been talking in my sleep

Can’t imagine what I have to say

Except my world will be right

When love comes back this way

 

I’ve always been

One to take each and every day

Seems like by now

I would have found a love who would care…care just for me.”

 

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Every time I decide that I am simply not writing blogs for a while because I want to work on my book, spend time exercising, I am pouting because nobody reads them, or any other reason, a port like Douala comes along and I have to record it for myself if nothing else.

First, let me take all suspense out of the blog and let you know that pirate waters were dull in the extreme.  No attacks.  A few sightings but they were scared off by the sight of guns.  The most intense parts were the drills when I had to suit up in body armor, which I still think was pretty cool.  As much as I like exciting times and good stories I have to admit that I didn’t want to be kidnapped by Nigerians so I suppose I should be happy with how things worked out.

We knew Cameroon would be a pain in the ass because all African countries are a pain in the ass.  The officials are so corrupt that they just make life difficult.  As we got close we were informed that there was port congestion and we would have to float on the hook, maybe for a month.  Yay.

Twenty four hours later some money must have changed hands because we got moved to the front of the line and were told to heave the anchor and head in.  You can only sail into Douala twice a day on high tide because some corrupt official had most likely made off with the money earmarked to dredge the channel and it was not quite as deep as a kiddy inflatable wading pool.

Luckily for us we had little cargo and were running high in the water with about the shallowest draft possible for our ship.

Not so lucky for the ship in front of us was the fact that they were sporting a healthy draft of 8.4 meters.  And while the Douala pilots said that there was plenty water to accommodate them, I am not sure that anybody actually bothered to check the tide table.  What I am sure of is the following:

The ship ran aground.

She ran aground right in the middle of the channel.

We were the next inbound ship.

You know, cruising up the channel to go to the dock.

With, as I have previously pointed out, a ship aground in the middle of the channel.

I don’t really know how to paint a clearer picture.

We hear on the radio that other ships behind us are being ordered back to anchor so the Captain tells me to bring her to the right so we can find a safe spot to drop the hook.  No sooner had we found our new resting place when the pilots came across channel 12 and told us we could head on in as there was plenty of water for us on the starboard side of the grounded ship.

The Captain looked back at me and I shrugged my shoulders.  I mean, these decisions are above my pay grade.  The Old Man thought for a second, told me to make a round turn and we headed back in.

We were inching our way up the channel with a wicked current coming on our port quarter.  The Captain would run without engines which meant I couldn’t steer because I had no water being pushed past the rudder.  Right when I would start to lose control he would kick it to dead slow and I would have control for a second.  Basically he was trying to give me just enough control to stay between the buoy and the grounded ship.

Just because things weren’t interesting enough there happened to be an outbound ship that was going to pass the ship aground right before we did.  They were passing on the port side of the ship.  Then we found out that our pilot was on that ship.  After passing the grounded ship he would get off onto the pilot boat and come over and join us.

The outbound ship past the ship aground and now was astern of us and we were probably three ship lengths from the grounded ship when our pilot came over the radio freaking out.  “What are you doing, Texas?!?!  No water on starboard side!!!  You must pass on port!!!”

That is exactly the opposite of what we had been told.

So, with the current pushing us to the right we had to swing the rudder hard over to the left, kick the engines on – but not too much because if we went outside the buoys on the other side we would run aground also – pass under the stern of the grounded ship by about 100 meters, hard back over to the right and then in a masterful display of helmsmanship I had to steady her up in a crazy current with no water under the keel, hardly any water flowing past the rudder and a big ship heeling over within spitting distance on my starboard side.

Whew!!!

I had just caught my breath when the 4×8 AB came to relieve me at the helm.  Of course he came just as things got easy but that is how it works sometimes.  Instead of getting a break I had to go out on deck and pull lines.  You see, most of our mooring lines are kept below decks on long sea passages so we have to pull them out the day before we get to port.  We didn’t pull them out early in Cameroon because in Africa they will sneak aboard your ship, tie off one end of your line to a little boat and race off with them.  We had planned on pulling them our last day at anchor but of course now we were going in with no notice so we were racing to get things set up.

We just barely had the lines in place when the Captain came across the radio to send the first line.  I am the one that throws the heaving lines so I got everything ready.  One problem – we had also not had time to remove the razor wire that was covering every inch of the fantail.  That meant I got to cut my arms to shreds as I tried to tie lines together and somehow throw the heaving line out through little gaps in the razors.

Somehow we got it done.

Naturally, because I am such a lucky fella, it was my watch right after we had tied up so I was on the gangway when every “official” in Cameroon descended upon the ship looking for a bribe.

First was Quarantine in their official looking uniforms.  Then Customs.  Then Immigration.  Then the Fire Brigade.  At least all these guys were in uniforms and had some sort of official purpose.  They would get all the documents they needed and then come off the ship 15 minutes later burdened with cartons of cigarettes and cases of soda.

If you are wondering why we give out cigarettes and soda, well, all I can tell you is that we would still be in Cameroon if we didn’t.

After the first gang of looters were done we soon got the second wave.  This is where it got suspicious.  Some guys would stroll up wearing a colorful African robe and flip flops and announce they were customs.  They would have one piece of notebook paper that meant nothing and insist they needed the Captain to sign it.  My favorite guy was a hugely fat man whose name was, I swear, Mo Mo Fatso.

Me – “We already had customs here.”

Mo Mo Fatso – “I am second customs!”

Me – “I think you ate the first customs.”

Mo Mo Fatso – “Funny Americans!  Hahahaha.  I must see Captain.  Very important.”

Me – “So, you work with the guys who were here before?”

Mo Mo Fatso – “Yes, yes.”

Me – “Or are you from a different agency?”

Mo Mo Fatso – “Yes, yes.”

Me – “You just want some cigarettes, right?”

Mo Mo Fatso – “Yes, yes.”

He only got one carton but also a case of Root Beer.

I got a break from the gangway to get some water and had to escort the Health Inspectors onboard the ship.  This absolutely kills me.  These guys who live in squalid filth, haven’t bathed since Jesus walked the earth and don’t even have a health code in their own country are going to come and inspect our ship for cleanliness.  They make the ship dirtier just walking aboard.

Well, the only thing they wanted to check was the galley and this was because they wanted ice cream.  I gave them each a Klondike Bar and Creamsicle which seemed to please them and then the Captain came down to sign their papers.  When they met the Captain they demanded cigarettes.  At this point of the evening the Captain was fed-up and pointed out that they already had ice cream and weren’t getting smokes.

One of the guys pulls out a white glove, puts it on, reaches under the sink, wipes his finger across a pipe or something, pulls his hand out and then almost throws up in disgust when he sees his finger has a smudge of grease on it.  He shows this to his companion who shakes his head in amazement that any ship could be so filthy.

“This is a big problem, Captain,” says the inspector.  “A BIG problem.”  Then they started pulling papers out of their briefcase and began proceedings to arrest the ship for being so disgusting.  Thirty seconds later they were happily disembarking the ship laden down with Marlboro Reds.

All told we gave out $1,100 worth of cigarettes, which may not sound like a lot until you realize that for us a carton of smokes is $14.  No tax out here, folks.  It is all such a stupid game.  It would be so much easier if we could just have $1,500 in cash at the gangway and hand it out before they ever got on the ship but everybody has to pretend like they are actually doing a real job.

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While I was at the gangway a steady stream of guys were coming up and introducing themselves as representatives of the Seaman’s Club.  I found this strange as I knew the Seaman’s Club was closed (I had been corresponding with the Pastor who runs the place via email) and they could not provide us any transportation to town at the late hour we would need it.

Basically, I got off work at midnight and we were sailing at 0330.  That meant that callback to the ship was 0230 which gave me (do the math) 2 hours and 30 minutes of late night carousing in Douala.  There was no way I was passing that up.

The Captain was none too thrilled I was going but he can’t stop me.  The Cadets begged to come along because they are too young and stupid to know better so I offered to let them keep me company.  The first order of business was finding transportation.

Well, these guys who had lied about being from the Seaman’s Club where actually just drivers wanting to charge us to have them drive us anywhere we wanted to go.  There was an all out brawl on the dock between the guys as they fought over our business but we managed to choose the oldest most trustworthy looking guy, which isn’t saying much.

His car was a small hatchback of indeterminate make and model that was minutes from totally falling apart.  Everything that could creak creaked.  Everything that could rattle rattled.  Everything that could groan…well, you get the point.  He seemed confident we would get to our destination, wherever that was, so we just let Jesus take the wheel and enjoyed the ride.

Here was our conversation on our short road trip.

Me – “We want to go buy souvenirs.”

Driver – “No problem.”

Me – “And postcards.  I want to buy postcards.”

Driver – “No problem.”

Me – “Do you know what the fuck a postcard is?”

Driver – “No problem.”

Me – “How much is it going to cost me to buy you a new car to get me back to the ship when this one falls apart?”

Driver – “No problem.”

Me – “Are we going to get murdered tonight?”

Driver – “No problem.”

Our fascinating conversation was occasionally interrupted by the 47 road blocks that materialized out of nowhere by people wanting bribes.  Our driver would scold them in whatever African dialect they speak and eventually we would be let through.  From what I gathered, we would pay him at the end of the trip and then he would pay all these guys off.

It didn’t take long until the car pulled into this street that lined with small bars, people cooking food on the street, little “casinos” where they just basically put a gun to your head and take all your money as soon as you walk in (the Las Vegas Gaming Commission has never heard of this place, believe you me) and people walking around with wicker baskets on their heads full of everything for sale from cigarettes to dead chickens.

The driver parked his already dying car on a heap of twisted scrap metal, hopped out, opened the doors and starting ushering us to the busiest of the bars.  “What about our souvenirs?”  I asked.

Well, he claimed that all the stores were closed (his English had improved immensely) and that he had a souvenir guy who was going to come set up shop at the bar, just for us.  I had my doubts but I am not one to turn down and adventure.

In the bar we walked.

Two seconds later I had the unique, and surprisingly unpleasant, sensation of fifty women suddenly grabbing every inch of my body at one time.  My hand went straight to my wallet and I warned the cadets to secure their belongings.  The bar was about the size of your average living room and packed with about 20 dudes and 300 gals, all fighting for over the three Americans that had stumbled into their midst.

Our driver went over and started screaming at these three big, muscle bound scary dudes to give up their couch and surprisingly they did.  We sat down and within half a second had three women each in our laps.  Women crawling over the couch behind us.  Women touching every exposed area that they could get to.  Women were whispering in my ears that they wanted to do things I had never considered doing with a woman, and still am not sure if it is physically possible.

Now, I am a single guy and I can do anything I want on the other side of the world and not tell you or anybody else about it.  Having said that, the following is the truth.

Some of the women were pretty.

Some of the women were strikingly beautiful.

90% of the women had awful body odor.

I don’t know this for a fact, but in my mind 95% had AIDS, although at one point my driver told me he could provide medical records for the woman of my choice.  All part of the service, I guess.

Most importantly, I almost exclusively choose to be attracted to women who I never get to actually spend time with, who have given their hearts to other men, who live on the other side of the world or who simply don’t love me.  And I have found over the years that avoiding AIDS infested hookers causes them to love me just as little as they do now and for some messed up reason that system works for me.

This was the kind of place that I could have a great time if I was going to slam about 20 of the local beers.  If I could go in, drop what to these people is a year’s pay on drinks for everybody, dance on the table tops and in general make an American ass out of myself, then this might have been an epic night.

However, I really try not live that way these days and even if I did I was steering out of that tricky channel in two hours and being half in the bag on Cameroonian beer would get me fired with a  quickness.  The deck cadet couldn’t drink because of work and that left the engine cadet as the only one really having fun.  I basically just looked after the youngsters and made sure nothing bad happened them.

It came time to go and the souvenirs had never showed up.  We went out front and the crowd had tripled.  People were running all over the streets like wild animals and we were the only white faces anywhere to be seen.  Everybody was cool though, and I never felt in a bad spot.  At least until I got pissed.

I had told the driver I wanted to leave by 0145.  At 0140 I asked the driver to get our bar tab.  It was $105.  I had one bottle of water and bought one beer for a particularly pretty gal.  The deck cadet had two cokes and bought two beers.  The engine cadet had four beers and bought two.  For $105 I should have been able to buy the bar.

Whatever.  I gave the guy $120 and told him with the change we wanted some meat from the street vendors.  The next thing I know I see our driving heading off at high speed on the back of a motorcycle with our money clinched in his hand.

I was pissed.

I told the cadets we would give him till 0200 to make it back and then get a cab.  The women had chased us outside and I had gone from amused to annoyed.  I just wanted to be back on the ship.  Right at 0200 the driver shows up.  I all but yanked him off the moped and lifted him up by his shirt demanding to know where he was running off to with our money.  I don’t think the locals had seen too many white guys manhandling one of their own in the middle of a busy street at two in the morning.  They were a little shocked but fortunately found it amusing.  At least nobody came to his defense.  It turns out he was off changing our money to local money.  I didn’t feel too bad about losing my temper because I am sure he pocketed half the cash.  I told him we needed to leave now.

Just a minute he says.  He ran down the street and came back with a something wrapped in brown paper.  It was our street meat.  It was little chunks of what I thought was goat that you stabbed with tooth picks and dunked in a pile of spice.  It was ok.

As soon as all the women got a whiff of the meat they descended on it like ants at picnic.  It was crazy.  The drunk engine cadet was trying to fight them off but it was like trying to hold back the tide.  We finally just gave them the stuff, said hasty goodbyes and went back to the ship.

Man, I am getting tired of typing.

We made it through all the road blocks, and one stop at a gas station in the hood, without incident.

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Of course the trip wouldn’t have been complete without almost killing one of the Africans.  We brought up the gangway.  This is a big steel staircase thingy in case you weren’t aware.  When it is all the way up it is flush with the ship.  You put out hooks and tighten them with giant wing nuts to hold it in place.  I had put my hand out to put a hook in place when my finger almost gets ripped off.  I barely had time to say, “Owww!!” before I heard, “Boooom!!!!”   The gangway wire had snapped sending it plunging back to the dock.

Where it missed crushing a longshoreman by about two feet.

We had about twenty minutes before we would miss the tide so we had to frantically hook up a chain fall and sling to get it high enough off the dock to sail.  This is worth a more detailed telling but I DON’T WANT TO TYPE ANYMORE!!

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Just before casting off we made a tug fast on the stern and I was making turns around a bit when the tug took a strain on the line and almost removed my hand.

It was one of those kinds of nights.

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I rush to secure the stern for sea, cleaned up and went to relieve the helm.  As I took the wheel I got this feeling of Déjà vu.  There was a ship in the middle of the channel.  It was not going anywhere.

THE SAME SHIP HAD GOTTEN STUCK IN THE SAME SPOT!!!!!

An inbound ship was about to meet us at that exact spot.  Three ships.  One little spot.  Shallow water.

Good times.

It was the same thing in reverse that I told you about at the beginning of blog.

My fingers hurt.

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I hope everybody had a wonderful New Year’s celebration and that 2014 is a prosperous and healthy year for you and your entire family.

I wish I could hang out on the couch, eat some nachos and watch football with you cool cats tonight.

Stay Groovy.   Always.

 

Russell Yale

 

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Pasteurized cream and salt.  Those are the ingredients in the little butter packets that rest in a bowl in front of me as I sit and enjoy my meals aboard the M/V Maersk Texas.  You can’t convince me that a substitute containing 29 ingredients, some of them with names that contain every letter of the alphabet, is healthier than butter.

I like butter.  Maybe I will be the last one standing but if I do nothing else in my life I will continue to fight the good fight and slather everything in sight with real butter.

I was frying up some chicken wings one weekend back in the day when I was married.  My soon to be ex wife strolled in about the time I was whipping up some homemade wing sauce and was aghast to see that I was adding approximately a pound of butter to the mix.  You see, she was somewhat a health nut.  Well, that is if you don’t count a fifth of vodka a day.

Anyway, she never ate my wings again.

That marriage was doomed.

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I like my blog music to be original, mostly because I like to impress my readers with my wide reaching knowledge of the musical world.  The truth, however, is that the music that is currently tickling my eardrums sometimes inspires what I write and it would be less than truthful to try to sound cutting edge and funky when in fact I am enjoying an old standby.

I’m listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  Possibly this is fitting as a large part of my vacation centered around this album and I have yet to write about it.  I think I will be probably be blogging bits and pieces of my vacation over the coming months so I won’t apologize for setting the mood with a classic.

Tune your stereos to, “Hey You.”

“But it was only fantasy.  The wall was too high as you can see.  No matter how he tried he could not break free.  And the worms ate into his brain.”

Yeah….That’s my present state of mind.  You get it or you don’t.  As always.

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Nothing much blog worthy has happened on this ship as of yet.  I have a feeling it will only be a matter of time.  However, writing being somewhat like exercise I felt the need to flex my literary muscle and work out some of the kinks and get the soreness out of the way before the good stuff comes along and requires my “A” game.

I’m going to tell you a few things about my ship, share a few unsolicited opinions and give you a flashback to the early days of Rusty the Pirate.  Go ahead and get offended by the Rusty the Pirate poem.  It will save time later.

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Captain Phillips

Pretty Good movie.  I am glad that some light was shed on an industry I have grown to love.  Not only does it pay my bills but I believe in what we do.  I believe in doing it while flying and American flag.  I believe most of you have no idea what it takes to be a merchant marine.

I can’t stand people who think their job is so much harder than everybody else’s.  Jobs are called jobs for a reason and you receive a paycheck for going for a reason.  In some form or fashion, they suck.  Some aspect of your job is difficult, stressful or challenging.  You have a boss that is a douche bag or an employee that is an idiot.  You have customers that are impossible to deal with and vendors that don’t keep their promises.  If you get out of bed in the morning and do something to support your family and contribute to the economy then I respect what you do.

The difference with my job is that I think our unique challenges are unknown to the general population.  Even if you are not a nurse working in an emergency room you are aware that they have to work long hours, deal with difficult patients and more difficult doctors.  You don’t have to be a cop to know that they take a chance of being shot.  Not many people know that we exist, much less realize what we sacrifice for our jobs or what we contribute to our country.

I’ll write my ode to the merchant marines another time.  We were talking about Captain Phillips.  The Maersk Alabama was carrying food aid to Africa, among other cargo.  That ship doesn’t come back to the United States.  At least it didn’t back then.  The sailors signed articles and committed themselves to sailing back and forth in that shit hole for up to four months at a time.  There was no shipboard internet back then.  No cell phones.  They feed us well but fresh fruit and vegetables run out quickly.  You can’t go out to a restaurant, we are not allowed to have a cold beer after work and nobody is flying your girlfriend out for a conjugal visit.

On my first ship I was not too far from the Alabama’s location when I received word that my Peepaw had passed away.  I was very close to my grandfather.  I didn’t get to say goodbye.  I didn’t get to hug my dad and tell him I was sorry his dad was gone.  I didn’t get to cry with my grandmother.  I didn’t get to stand up and tell everybody what a good man I thought he was.  I just sat in my room alone for a few minutes and looked at the floor.  Then I went back to work.

We give up a lot.  I ran away to sea because nothing else in life was working for me.  For some people it is in their family – their dad or uncle was a sailor so they became a sailor.  Some are just too weird to fit in anywhere else.  Some come for the money – I have no idea why.  We all have our own reasons but we have some things in common.  We serve our country.  We help the military.  We are often the first to answer the call when other countries are in need.

It is a good life but a lonely one.  People have asked me how accurate the movie was.  I have no idea.  I wasn’t on the ship when it happened.  But I can tell you that it was good to see my industry get some press.  People need to realize we are out here.

Hug a sailor today.  It helps.

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Obamacare

Seriously?  I have to address this?  What a joke.  Here’s the problem with politics in our country.  Yeah we have corrupt and lying politicians, out of control lobbyists, bills being passed with earmarks that have nothing to do with the legislation in question…ok, I’m getting a headache.  The point is that there is plenty wrong.  But I was going to tell you the main problem.

Us.  We are the problem.  Obamacare is a disaster.  It just is.  Sorry.  I know some of you wanted it to work.  Guess what?  It’s not working.  It’s not going to work.  It was never going to work.  It is a bad idea.  Of course conservatives like me are going to jump all over it.  That’s what we do.  Obama could say he was giving everybody free ice cream and we would scream that he was killing diabetics.  What we need are liberals to hold him accountable for his actions.

That will never happen.

We are such party line people.  If the Republicans could hold their people accountable when they are whack jobs or come up with ludicrous proposals (are you listening Marco Rubio and your ridiculous immigration reform?) then something might change.  Republicans don’t much care what liberals think – you aren’t supposed to like us.  But when the people whose votes they depend on point out their buffoonery, change may happen.

The White House doesn’t care that every Republican and their grandmother knows Obamacare is a joke.  We aren’t voting for him or his cronies anyway.  Sometimes, people, you have to admit that your guy is wrong.  That is the only way your guy changes.

Enough of that.

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I’m not worried about an asteroid smashing into the earth.  I don’t understand why people get so worked up over that stuff.

I could eat spaghetti for dinner and ice cream for dessert 13 straight days before growing tired of it.

This football season is a total write off.

If your kids were half as cute as my niece Izzy, you would have some pretty cute kids.

However, I hope for your sake that your kids are significantly better behaved than Izzy.

I’m growing a beard if anybody cares.

I haven’t been in a relationship since 2002.  I’ve probably spent 33% of that time with a broken heart, or at least a sad one.  That seems kind of fucked up to me.  And, yes, I realize it’s nobody’s fault but my own, in case you are reading this and think I am throwing darts, which I’m not.

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4 hours of bridge watch at night and it is freaking cold.

Me – “Christ!  It is some kind of cold on this bridge.”

3rd Mate – “Yeah and I forgot my hoodie!!”  He is Ukrainian so it is pronounced “hooowwdeee.”

Me – 1 hour later – “I can’t feel my nose.  I swear to Christ I can’t feel my nose.  Why is it this cold on the bridge?”

3rd Mate – “This is bad word ridiculous!  I’m going out to smoke a cigarette and warm up.” Go out to warm up???

Me – 2 hours later – “Brother, we are going to have to cuddle and share body warmth.  I can’t take anymore.”

3rd Mate – “You’re joking, right?”

Me – last hour of the watch – “Why is there no temperature control up here?  I can’t believe this is normal.”

3rd Mate – “Oh.  I can adjust the temperature.”

Me – “?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!  #$$^$#&$@#!%#@$#!!!!!!!”

3rd Mate – “Ummmmm…..yeah…….sorry.”

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Unless I have acquired some new readers, you all know Rusty the Pirate.  He is a scallywag.  I don’t approve of his actions or his morals but I can’t help by love him like a brother.  It is important to not get me confused with Rusty the Pirate.  I am a nice guy.  I am a momma’s boy.  I revere women, look both ways before crossing the street and wash behind my ears.

Rusty the Pirate…..not so much.

Before he was a pirate feared across the land and the Captain of his own sailing vessel, Rusty was a young deckhand on a merchant vessel.  He didn’t like being told what to do.  He didn’t like the way the world worked.  He didn’t like how women treated him.  He had thoughts about how he would like things to be.

This is a story of those times

 

Rusty the deckhand pushed his swab

He swiped it back and forth

He was enjoying cleaning the deck that day

As the ship was sailing north

 

Then some jerk-off officer wandered out

And gave young Rusty a hard time

He spit right on the fresh clean deck

And to the crow’s nest made Rusty climb

 

The young lad did just what he was told

But he wasn’t happy at all

Thoughts started brewing in his pirate head

And a new life was giving a call

 

“Ye tell me to swab the deck and empty the trash

And cook you fat boys a meal

Well I tell you what I’ll do it for now

But soon there will be a new deal.”

 

“’Cause nobody asked me what I want

So I’ll tell you loud and clear.

I’m gonna climb down this mast and bend you over

Then shove me swab straight up your rear.”

 

“I’m gonna take this ship and all your crew

Then send you walking down the plank

To Davie Jones’ locker yer gonna go

Beware this ain’t no prank.”

 

“I’m Rust the Pirate and here to stay

A deckhand I be no more

I aim to pillage and plunder and rape and steal

They’ll be fearing me from sea to shore.”

 

Rusty kept those thoughts to himself

And went on about his day

The ship made port in the Bahamas

And Rusty went ashore to play

 

He met a beautiful lass in a local whorehouse

And Rusty fell in love

He thought that she was perfect in every way

And thanked the Lord above

 

She told him of all her problems

And of the other men in her life

But Rusty didn’t get no sweet lovin’

And she didn’t want to be his wife.

 

Rusty was the best friend she had ever had

She couldn’t imagine messing things up

Our pirate friend pretended that was great

But started seeking comfort in his cup.

 

“You want to be my dearest friend

And come crying when he slaps your face

Take me hard earned money when you are broke

And then disappear without a trace?”

 

“Well you forgot to ask me what I want

So let me tell you how things will be

I don’t give two fucks about Tom or Brad

I’m leaving you for the sea.”

 

“I got just one use for that big mouth

And your opinion ain’t what I mean

So keep quiet for once for goodness sake

You make me ache from head to spleen.”

 

“I be Rusty the Pirate and love who I please

You can climb in my bed or get down on your knees.

But if whining or crying is what you need

There be the door, leave your keys.”

 

Rusty kept all these thoughts silent

But the pain inside him grew

And he was determined to be an outlaw

Just him and a murderous crew

 

And the day finally came

When Rusty drew out his sword

The Captain went down

Rusty had kept to his word

 

“Ye never asked me what I want

So I’ll tell you with me blade

This be my ship and my new life

Today a legend has been made.”

 

A new flag went up

On Rusty’s ship that fine day

It had a skull and two crossbones

There was nothing left to say

 

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Me?  I’m a lover.  A thoughtful, sensitive guy.  I don’t approve of rusty any more than you do.

You should take time today and appreciate the loved ones you have in your life.  Anybody who plays a part in driving away the loneliness is a special thing and should be revered.  I think we forget that at times.

Godspeed

Russell Yale

The first stanza of this poem is paraphrased from the fine song, “Coast of High Barbary,” by Joseph Arthur.  One verse from the song inspired me to write this so I wanted to give the proper credit.  The rest of it, as with everything else I write, is 100% original and 0% true.  The two-line stanzas between the asterisks are the chorus for the crew so feel free to sing along!

 

“A Look Into the Life of a Pirate”

 

No privateer, no merchant, no man-of-war is me.

I be a salty pirate from the coast of Barbary!

I rape and I pillage and take what I want for free.

I have my choice of ladies, I’m the pirate called Rusty.

******

Yo-ho…Yo-ho…Drink up me hearties yo-ho!!

He be a fierce and nasty pirate and that’s a fact that you better damn know!

******

Me and me crew drink rum and grog at every island bar.

We like to eat raw oysters but only in months that end in E  R.

When I steer my ship I drink me moonshine from a mason jar.

Then I sail into the sunset and watch the twinkling stars.

******

Yo-ho…Yo-ho…Drink up me hearties woo-hoo!!

If you cross Rusty the Pirate ‘tis the last thing you’ll ever do.

******

I like to bed the ladies who wear sexy high-heeled shoes.

I will steal your diamond necklace after I make sweet love to you.

I take – I do not bargain – ‘cause I ain’t no bearded Jew.

I be the one and only Rusty, best friend of the bear named Pooh.

******

Yo-ho…Yo-ho…Drink up me hearties for real!!

Rusty will steal your wife and then he’ll make her squeal.

******

I’m wanted in twenty countries and should be wanted in twenty more.

Sometimes I like Colombian coke but sometimes I prefer their whores.

I once smoked cigars with Castro but found him a commie bore.

I was accused of poisoning Chavez but that may be pirate lore.

******

Yo-ho…Yo-ho…Drink up me hearties yar-har!!

His fame grows every day – Rusty is feared near and far.

******

It’s me, me crew, me parrot Buster and me little dog named Groo.

We sleep late every day and then do whatever we want to do.

I braid me beard with rubies, ‘tis not a rumor I swear ‘tis true.

I’m a happy pirate living me life sailing the ocean blue.

******

Yo-ho…Yo-ho…Drink up me hearties yee-hee!!

His name is Rusty the Pirate, he’s the scourge of the seven seas.

******

My name be Rusty the pirate I’m the scourge of the seven seas.

Drink up me hearties yo-ho!

 

Russell Yale

 

pic1pirate pooh 2

I decided to check the news headlines the other day while I was in port in Galveston.  I like to stay on top of current events.  One of the headlines on CNN was a story about a woman who killed her boyfriend by smothering him to death with her breasts.  Turns out they lived in a trailer park.

The three thoughts that crossed my mind – in order – were:

1. Not a bad way to go.

2. This could only happen in a trailer park.

3. Will the jurors have a chance to see the breasts during the trial?  They’re evidence, right?

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Blog music is Goodbye Cruel World by Pink Floyd of The Wall.

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What did I feel when listening to the Presidential Inauguration?

Sadness, mostly.  I felt like the judges from American Idol when the voters choose to get rid of the person who is obviously the most talented and keep the marginally talented cute girl that all the teenagers are crazy about.  The judges look at each other in disbelief and then use their “save” and say, “You got this one wrong America!” and the good person gets to stay on the show.

Except this is real life and I am not a judge and don’t get a “save” so I was just stuck staring at the TV in disbelief wondering how you can get more then 50% of the American voters to ignore fiscal common sense and say to themselves, “Bankruptcy sounds like a neeto idea!!”   The President didn’t even talk about the economy.  How could he?

I wish we could have two Presidents.  Let’s have a fiscal President that nobody has to like.  He just has to know something about money and he can get the economy going in the right direction and we can all have a savings account and job security.  Then we can have a popular President like Obama and he can lead the masses in flushing common sense and the moral values of our country down the toilet, which is apparently what people want.

Then we’re all happy.

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Why do fat people hate skinny people?  Well, let me tell you.

It’s not that I wish anything bad happen to skinny people.  I have skinny friends and I have even been in love with skinny people.  Given the chance I would still like to make sweet love to a skinny lady or two.  The problem is that it is just so unfair that you get to be skinny no matter what your lifestyle or eating habits.

Let me be clear.  I am not talking about people who are nutrition nuts and hit the gym every day.  If you are putting hard work into something you deserve the results you get.  I am talking about most people who are skinny.  You know, the people who couldn’t get fat if they liquefied Big Macs and shot them straight into their veins.

I don’t drink anything with sugar.  Ever.  That means I have zero calorie intake through beverages.  I eat sweets once a week if at all.  I eat few complex carbs such as bread, pasta, rice or potatoes.  I don’t necessarily eat small portions but I load up on salads and vegetables before eating anything else to prevent gorging on higher calorie items.  I am no gym rat but I do exercise a few times a week.

In spite of this I am a fatty.  If I was the last woman on the face of the earth I would not have sex with me due to the disgustingness of hideous fatness.  When I got on this ship I looked in the mirror and grabbed two handfuls of fat on my belly and swore that I was getting rid of it.  I have lost 11 pounds and I can still grab the two handfuls of fat.

Skinny people may watch what they eat because they think they’re supposed to, but they don’t really need to.  If they decide they are hungry and want to run through McDonald’s for some chicken nuggets and a small milkshake, that’s what they do.  They enjoy their snack and when you see them later on and ask about their day they tell you about their snack and how much they enjoyed their milkshake.

You know what I do if I cave in and eat some chicken and have a milkshake?  I eat it in the car and then panic that somebody at home will find out.  Not that they care but guilt comes with being fat.  When I get home I remove all evidence from the car, sneak into the garage and bury the garbage at the bottom of the trashcan and then go inside and brush my teeth before I talk to anybody.

I would feel less guilt ridden walking into the house ripped on cocaine.

Last night I was hungry before going to watch at 7:50pm.  I never eat after 8pm but sometimes I need a little something before watch.  I try to eat something fairly healthy.  Last night the only thing available was leftover spaghetti.

I like spaghetti.  I LOVE leftover spaghetti.  I had not eaten the spaghetti for dinner that night.  I had just eaten a salad and a bowl of the meat sauce.  The cook had mixed the sauce and the pasta all together and left it out for night lunch.  That, of course, is the best way to eat it.  All mixed up.

I gave in.  I was good.  I didn’t eat the whole giant plate.  I ate one scoop in a little bowl.

And then I felt awful the entire night.  I hated myself.  I thought of nothing during watch except how fat that spaghetti was going to make me.  I didn’t enjoy the stars, I didn’t think about pretty ladies….nothing.  I was just mad, sad and disappointed with myself.

That’s why we fat people hate skinny people.  You don’t know what it’s like to have 4 hours of self-loathing over 7 bites of spaghetti.

Jerks.

You also know nothing about the horrors of shopping for clothes.  Clothes are designed for skinny people.  Fat people’s clothes are just larger versions of the same clothes.  Well guess what?  Fat comes in all sorts of different shapes and we don’t fit in that stuff.  Clothes never fit right!!!

I paid $250 for my last pair of jeans.  That’s a pile of money.  I didn’t pay that much because I had to have that brand of jeans.  I don’t think anybody I hang out with would recognize the brand name if I told them.  I bought those jeans because after trying on twenty pairs, they fit the best.  When I looked at the price tag I almost passed out because I didn’t know jeans could cost that much but I paid it anyway.  I just couldn’t try on any more jeans.

My cousin April is a smoking hot pretty lady.  She is skinny.  I am sure she likes nice jeans.  Put her in designer jeans and you would have a magazine cover.  But you know what?  Drag a pair of jeans out of the dumpster behind Walmart that are either two sizes too small or two sizes too large for her and she would look awesome in them.  She would look so hot that you wouldn’t even notice the stench of rotten garbage from the dumpster.

It just really pisses me off!!

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I’m outta here for awhile.  For several years I have slowly been piecing together a book.  I don’t know that I am any closer to finishing it today than I was one year ago.  It really upsets me.  It is hard to write a book.  If you don’t believe me, try it and find out for yourself.

I have limited free time on the ship and I spend a lot of it reading and some of writing these blogs.  That leaves nothing for my book.  I am going to try and spend at least 90 minutes a day working on my book and see if I can make some progress.

If something exciting happens I will write a quick blog and let you all know what is up.  However, there are not too many exciting stories from this ship.  The fact is we just run between Tampa and Galveston and that doesn’t allow for many adventures.

If you want to drop me an email on occasion I promise I always respond.  Personal correspondence is always fun.

See you when I see you.

Russell Yale

pic1

It was not originally my intention to steal the title of my blog from Jimmy Buffett.  As crazy as it sounds, I was standing watch and the title popped into my head and I thought it was original.  It wasn’t until I was ready to write this blog that I remembered the Buffett song.  I decided to keep it as a play on his song.  And although Buffett was not going to be blog music I will give him his due and make his song, “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” the song for the first section of this blog.

As a matter of fact it has inspired me to have a different song for each section of this blog.  On top of that, I will get fancy and insert links that you can click on and hear each of the songs.  Open them in a separate window and listen while you read.  It will make the blog more fun.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df1E4NJu7ng

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First, I promised my friend Brook a public apology.  He responded to my plea for contact information quickly and humorously.  He took exception to being lumped in with the non-responders I blasted in my last blog.  Brook, let me take this opportunity to…..

Wait a minute.  Last July I lost my phone and he didn’t give me his info then.  And isn’t this the same Brook that failed to lead a helicopter raid into Maracaibo and rescue me from Hugo Chavez?

Apology?  I got your apology right here, Brook “The Cat.” (You remember that?)

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I was born on January 15, 1973.  I never gave much thought to any particular age.  What are the big ones?  Well, in Louisiana you could drink at 18.  However, I started drinking a little earlier than that and had already graduated from my first rehab just before my 18th birthday.  I was actually driving a U-Haul truck to Chattanooga where my family was moving on the day I turned 18.

21 is big I suppose.  My 21st birthday was spent alone in my parent’s basement drinking a six-pack of St. Pauli Girl.  The only notable thing about this birthday was that it ended 3 years and 2 months of sobriety.  That may still be a record.  I don’t really know.  It is one of only two times in my life I have counted days.

Is 25 an important birthday?  Your car insurance rates are supposed to go down.  Mine didn’t, mostly because I didn’t have a car.  I had lost it because I pawned the title to pay for dope.  The twenties were bad for me.

30?  I have no idea where I was when I turned 30 or what I was doing.  I can’t for the life of me remember.  I think I used to know.  This is really going to bother me.

Oh well.  The point is that age and birthdays have just not meant that much to me.  I have been in rehab on birthdays, dumped just before birthdays, arrested on birthdays…you name it.  I just don’t give them much thought.  That is why it shocked me when I was in the shower at noon on January 14, 2013, some 39 years 365 days (last year was a leap year) after being born, and the crushing realization of turning forty hit me.

One second I was scrubbing my body with my poofy sponge.  The next I was crying.

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The next blog song is No Reason to Cry by Tom Petty.  How many great songs has this guy written?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80MUFBP8Y94

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I have written before about crying over stupid movies, crying when I eat good chicken wings and crying because people don’t email me enough but the truth is I don’t cry.  I do get choked up at some movies, and some songs but that just makes me human.  I don’t, however, sit around and cry.  I’m not a girl.

But I broke down in the shower.  Out of nowhere.  And you know what?  It’s not an age thing.  I don’t even feel 40.  I have lots of friends who say, “I don’t feel 40!”  Guess what?  You’re 40.  You have kids, mortgages, relationships, PTA meetings, real jobs and all that crap.  That is what people over 40 have.

I have nothing.  I float around the world getting into trouble because I have no reason to be responsible.  I don’t have kids, a wife or even a hamster.  Sometimes I have a small pile of money in the bank and spend it like I’m rich and then I go back to work when I’m broke.  I don’t have any idea what a gallon of milk cost, although I would guess it is between $2 and $5.  I can think of at least 15 Winnie the Pooh items in my bedroom right off the top of my head.  Hell, my room is painted Pooh Bear yellow.

I talk to my momma every day that I am not at sea.  If momma would let me get tattoos, I would have “momma’s boy” tattooed on me.  That and I would have Pooh Bear wearing pirate clothes tattooed on my bulging bicep.  But momma doesn’t let me have tattoos.

Before you make fun of me because I still have to follow momma’s rules, let me tell you that I am a big boy and can do whatever I want.  The only rules I have are no tattoos and I have to be home before midnight.  Momma says nothing good happens after midnight.

Other than that I can do whatever I want.  Leave me alone.

So, I don’t feel old.  What hit me that moment in the shower was what I had just wasted.  If you aren’t one of those people who are just skinny no matter what (and if you are, know that I hate you) you have probably been on a diet before.  If you have been on a diet you will know what I mean when you cheat and then tell yourself you will just start over tomorrow, or Monday and it will all be fine.

That is what I have done with my life.  I kept advancing my start-over point.  Now I’m 40.

40 years down the toilet.  In 40 years I have never had a successful, functional relationship.  I have never had an extended period of financial stability.  I have made so many mistakes in my life, some that I may never be able to accept.  At 40 I am where I should have been at 20.  I am a heartbroken, lonely sailor just trying to figure out where he belongs in this world.

It is true that I have made strides the last 5 years of my life.  I am not trying to deny the things I should be grateful for.  I am just saying that at that moment in time in the shower I was overwhelmed by the totality of the failures of in my life.

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Ready for some new blog music?  Let’s go with Cocaine by Eric Clapton.  We’re going to talk about drugs for a bit.  Don’t worry – this blog isn’t go to be a long pouty poor me blog.  We’ll touch on drugs, mention women and then look forward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRCkWsoJzZo

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I’m not going to tell a bunch of war stories here, but I can’t think about my twenties and early thirties without thinking about drugs.  They are what defined me.  I spent all my money on them.  I did things I can’t forgive myself for because of them.  I am convinced I have done damage to my brain.  You know how smart I am but I truly believe I have lost about 10% of my brain power.  If it wasn’t for drugs I would have invented a floating car by now.  Plus, my hair wouldn’t be falling out.

Of all the stuff I have put in my body it is cocaine that really got a hold of me.  For one simple reason – I liked it.  I liked it a lot.

I’m not in the mood to write funny stories and sad stories about drug use.  I’ll write about those some other time.  I will touch on addiction for a second.  Addiction is a truly horrible thing.  Let me tell you a rehab story.

I was in a hospital in Huntsville, AL.  Some of the stuff in rehab is stupid, some is ok and some of the stuff you do has some merit.  I am not sure where the meeting I am about to describe to you falls, you can judge for yourself.  A group of about 10 of us were in a meeting and the idea was to share something that you were deeply ashamed of.  Because you were surrounded by other addicts who would presumably understand how you could do such a thing, this was a golden opportunity to get it off your chest, have people tell you it was ok and move on with your life.

Well, some things are harder to move on from than others.

A young lady, whose drug-of-choice was crack, told a story on how she stole Christmas from her children.  Basically, all the Christmas presents for her two children had already been purchased and it was just a day or two before Christmas.  She went on a crack binge and spent all her money.  Out of desperation she returned all the presents.  What makes this story disturbing is the explanation she gave her children for the lack of presents.  She told them that they were bad and Santa crossed them off the list of good boys and girls.  Therefore, no presents for them.

Take a minute to digest that, especially those of you that have children.  The easy initial reaction to have is disgust at the woman.  I concur.  Anybody would.  She was disgusted with herself.  What she did was unforgivable.  I have told that story more than a few times and have never heard much sympathy for the woman.  I would like to submit that if you understood a little about addiction, while you might and should still think that the woman committed a horrible deed, you might see that it was not because she is an evil person but she was a person with an addiction problem.

When I met the lady she was clean from drugs.  She was cute, charming and funny.  When she told the story she couldn’t hardly get through it.  She was suicidal at times because she couldn’t forgive herself for what she had done.  And you know what the worst thing was?  When asked why she did it, she couldn’t answer.

Addiction makes you do things and leaves you without answers.  You are responsible for your actions.  Bottom line – you did it, you own it.  However, I would not have done the things I did and she would not have done what she did had we been clean.  The easy solution to that is not to use, right?  Well, of course.  And that is what makes addiction so evil.  You can’t just stop, even when you want to.

The most popular theory is that addiction is a disease.  It is just something that people like me have and if we choose (and it is a choice) to give in and use then the disease will make us powerless to stop.  Some people will say it is all just a matter of willpower.  I don’t know.  I really don’t much care.  I do know that it’s real.

The only reason I am mentioning addiction is that is has ruled about a third of my life.  If I look back at that time of my life I have to quickly look away as if I just seen a horrible car wreck.  Thoughts of what I did will pop in my head when I am staring at the ocean and I will have to make sure that nobody is watching me because I will have tears of rage leak from my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is not all bad horrible stuff that I did.  I did a couple of bad things in my life and I have done why I can to atone for them.  It is the thoughts of the way I acted, the dishonesty, the lack of self-confidence, the way I let people take advantage of me and the lost opportunities that haunt me.  And while I have some issues that I deal with, most of it was because of drugs.

I heard somebody say in an NA meeting once that addiction is the hardest job in the world.  I kind of liked that.  You have no idea how hard it is to live like that.  Nobody would voluntarily live like that.  It is a fulltime job.  And the strength it takes to break out of it is something that a lot of people don’t possess.

So when I was in the shower the day before my birthday and thought about how I had given 13 years away and how those decisions still affected where I am today, well, it hurt.

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The fourth blog song of the day will be Little Black Submarines by The Black Keys.  Let’s chat about women for a minute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wklgehHnDE

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I didn’t date until my senior year in high school when I became not the first – nor the last – guy to fall in love with the first woman I went out with.  I was young, naïve and stupid.  Add whatever adjectives you want.  I was blind to what was going on with her the summer leading up to college and ended up asking her to marry me the next year after having been cheated on more times than I can remember.

Not to say I was a prince.  I was fresh out of rehab and I was a young judgmental guy who had just been given all the answers and was ready to tell her how she should live her life.  I was really a pain in the ass in some ways.  But I was also very loving, loyal to a fault, doting and stupid enough to believe we would be together forever.

I believed it until she disappeared at Christmas and just didn’t come back.  How do you do that to somebody?  You spend two years cheating on me and then when you decide to leave me you can’t even tell me to my face?  I still don’t understand.

I don’t think about her much.  I don’t have any hard feelings.  It has been too long.  But when I do think about her, say at a time like this when I am purposely writing about it, I still don’t get it.  I might have deserved to get dumped, but I don’t think anybody deserves how it happened to me.

There were three women of consequence in my life during the time I lived in Chattanooga after that gal dumped me.  Two of them were never more than friends but we were as close as a man and woman can be without being a couple.  Not to say that there wasn’t attraction on both sides, but my life was a mess and I think they were too smart to get involved in that.  I know it made at least one of them sad that the opportunity was lost because of how dysfunctional I was.  I loved both of them very much.  Again, I don’t think about them much but when I do it makes me sad that I lost the possibility of something good because I was screwed up.

The third gal chose drugs over me.  I cleaned up for a year.  She decided to start using again.  We actually talked it out and remained friends.  It tore me up.  I really liked her.  She really liked me.  She loved cocaine.  What are you gonna do?

I moved back to Florida, took an ill-fated job and started messing around with a lady at work.  Somehow we ended up getting married.  I was talking to my momma the other day about this.  I have no idea why I got married.  I am a loving guy.  I love people more than they want me to love them.  My wife?  I don’t really remember being all that much in love.  Maybe because we were so drunk all the time.  I don’t know.  I am not saying anything bad about her.  I just don’t know why we got married, or how we made it for 18 months.  And to be totally honest I was 100% messed up at that point in my life.

I have had one “relationship”, and I hate to use that word, since I started sailing.  She lied to me, defrauded me and stole from me.  I acted like a pathetic spineless asshole.  It was a hard lesson to learn.  I hope she’s doing well.  That’s all I have to say about that.

To recap, I have never had a successful relationship in my life.  My choices of women have been poor, to say the least.  The women I have dated that I didn’t mention above left me with less than glowing opinions of the opposite sex.  And the good ones, and there are some really good ones, that I have liked have not liked me in the same way.

That was the second thing that kind of hit me pretty hard in the shower that day – failed or lack of relationships.  Usually, thinking about women in the shower is more pleasurable.

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Final song of the blog is Rewrite by Paul Simon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UygiBWXTO0

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Well, that’s one side of 40.  40 years defined by addiction, poor decisions and bad relationships.  I had a nice childhood, but take that out of the equation and you have a wasted 40 years.  It hurts.  It hurts a lot.

I get mad at God sometimes.  I get mad at Life at a lot.  Life has smacked me around.  Life has bloodied my nose and beat me up pretty good.  If my first 40 years was a twelve round fight between me and Life, I am pretty sure that the judge’s scorecards show Life winning every round.  The fight should be over.

I have been knocked to the matt more than once.  There have been a few standing 8 counts.  As much as my family and friends love me, there has probably been a time when the people in my corner were ready to throw in the towel.  I have failed in every way it is possible to fail.  To put it simply, life has kicked my ass.

I started over about five years ago.  You know what starting over means?  That doesn’t mean you have a clean slate and start everything from ground zero.  Starting over means you are at the bottom of a pit and are given the opportunity to claw your way out.  Well, I did.  With Life kicking me in the face at times and shoveling dirt on me at others, I made my way out.  I built a solid foundation.  I am on solid ground and ready to go.

You know where you fucked up, Life?  You taught me I could take a punch.  You taught me I was strong.  You taught me I can fight back.  And guess what?  It’s not just one 12 round fight.  I have at least 12 more rounds in me, and I’m ready to go.

I may not have much, but I have parents who love me more than anything in the world.  Maybe I was knocked down on the matt but their love gives me strength to start to pull myself up.  I have a sister who understands me.  I have my Auntie who supports me no matter what and is always there for me.  I have cousins who love me.  I may not be a dad, but I’m a pretty good Uncle.

I don’t have a wife but I am blessed to have the most amazing women in my life.  When I need the strength to stand up I remember my friend Michelle who for some reason thinks I am a really special guy.  Or my friend Scottie who may be the most compassionate person I have ever met.  I think about my friend Jennifer who can write a one sentence email that makes me laugh three different times and it changes my mood from sad to happy just by seeing her name in my inbox.

God has blessed me with all of those people who have given me the strength to stand up again.  I am shaking off the past.  I’m ready for you, Life.  You won the first fight, that’s true.  But it’s time for a rematch and I know all your tricks.  This time is mine.  Of that, I have no doubt.

Live on pay-per-view, Life vs. Russell Yale.  $99.95.  Call your satellite or cable provider.  No holds barred cage match.   And I’m gonna kick some ass.

When I am stooped over in the shower at 80 I will break down and cry once again.  It will be tears of joy at the amazing 40 years I have just lived.  You can’t stop that from happening, Life.  You have already thrown your best punches and I have proved myself too strong for you.

“I’m working on the rewrite, that’s right.  Gonna change the ending.  Gonna throw away the title, and toss it in the trash.”

I’m changing the story.  Get ready for something exciting.  I’ve got my gloves on and I’m ready to fight.  Somebody ring the bell.  Life and I have twelve rounds to go.

I’m working on the rewrite.

Let’s get ready to rumble.

Russell Yale

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I’ve been a little bummed lately.  I’m fat and I wish I was skinny.  I am not crazy about this ship I am on for another 4-1/2 months.  People don’t act the way I want them to.  The Bucs didn’t make the playoffs.  The Tigers…. Let’s not go there.  My phone broke (we’ll get there in a minute.)  And the truth is I just get down sometimes.  That’s really the problem.  Me.  Sometimes I just get down.  That’s how I am.

So, there I was sitting in my chair watching TV when a commercial comes on for the ASPCA.  They are asking for money to save poor neglected doggies.  I really like doggies.  One of the saddest things about being a sailor is not being able to have a doggie.  Well, it turns out that for $.60 a day you can help prevent doggies from being abused.

It got me to thinking.  I have blown over $3,000 in a night of partying.

****Flashback****

I had a little gambling problem in my early twenties.  The thing you should know is that you do not develop a gambling problem if you never win.  Winning is really the worst thing that can happen to you.  When you start to lose, and you will always start to lose, you remember when you won and you believe it will happen again.

Of the handful of times I gambled on football and walked away with money my record haul was $3,200.  It was the most money I had ever seen.  Let me tell you, having somebody stick $3,200 tax-free in your hand is a good feeling.  My night started at a nice restaurant with my friends.  Scotch, wine, after dinner drinks and all that good stuff.  Then I went to my favorite pool hall where I lost some money gambling on pocket billiards.  I dropped a pile on party favors.

To cut to the chase – I woke up the next morning with about $80.  I can’t tell you for sure how much I had, but I definitely remember it wasn’t as much as $100.

Apparently, I had more than just a gambling problem.

****Flash forward to the present****

If I can drop $3,000 and not even know what I spent it on (for the most part) then why not help out these doggies?  And on a side note, do you have any idea how much time I have spent adding up how rich I would be if I could have all the money back from nights like that?  I think it is somewhere between $100,000 and four gazillion dollars.

I am now helping out doggies for $.60 per day.  It made me happy.  But I am not telling this story to let you know what a nice guy I am for helping doggies.  I saw a commercial the next day for UNICEF.  They wanted $.50 a day to keep kids from starving somewhere or another.  That really shocked me.  It is cheaper to feed starving kids than to help doggies?  That just seems odd.

You want to know the best deal out there?  You can give money to the WWF and help Polar bears for only $.23 per day.  That’s a bargain.

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My bad word phone!!  This is the fourth phone that has either broke or been stolen since I started sailing.  It’s devastating.  Only a sailor can sympathize with how awful it is to have your phone taken from you, no matter how it happens.

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Blog music is obviously Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin.  You should have known that already.

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If you land people have something bad happen to your phone you go get it fixed.  Maybe you get frustrated because the store is busy and you have to take a long lunch.  Maybe you treat yourself to a day off and have a nice lunch while your phone is worked on.  Maybe you just wait till the weekend.

If you phone dies on a ship you stagger like somebody has just punched you right in the gut.  You collapse into a chair and stare blankly at the floor.  You try to turn your phone on again because you are in denial that it isn’t working.  You begin to feel rage and want to punch something.  Then you feel sad and want to cry.  Next thing you know you walking in circles trying not to throw a punch because everything around you is steel and would break your hand and holding back tears because, well, you just don’t cry on the ship.

It’s awful.  Not only is my phone gone but I use the mobile hotspot feature so that is where I get my wifi.  All communication – gone!  Internet – gone!  Pictures – gone!  Can’t pay your bills, look at your bank account, check Facebook, write your blog…nothing!!  And your contacts….

Bad word my life.  I can’t believe I lost my contacts again.

But wait!  I have a fancy android phone and an android phone backs up all your contacts to a gmail account.  I know this works just fine because I went through this same scenario in July (I go through about three phones a year.)  I was on a ship and my phone died.  After my little temper-tantrum finished I tearfully emailed everybody to send me their contact information.

My Auntie did, because she’s good about that stuff.

There’s really nothing else to add to the above.  I eventually got the rest of the information I needed, or at least most of it, but it was like pulling teeth.  Let me rant for a minute.  And please, nobody get your feelings hurt because everybody who knows me knows how much I love my friends and family, but you all suck when it comes to replying to an email requesting your contact information.

I have had a lot of problems in my life but I have never been a stalker.  I have never peeked in people’s windows, burned down somebody’s house, sent a letter bomb or given a friend’s information to the police resulting in said friend’s arrest.  I don’t call your phone and hang up or leave nasty voice mails.  I have had your info before and I am only asking for it now because I might need to contact you, or want to contact you.  Hell, I might just want to send you a balloon some time and let you know I care.

Christ!!  Send the bad word email with the info.  I just don’t understand what is so hard.

(I actually wrote this nine days ago, and a few more people came through.  I’m still going to leave this in the blog, though.  I just don’t get why you can’t hut reply as soon as you read the email.  I just don’t.)

Ok…I apologize.  The most frustrating thing is the contact information you cannot replace.  The tour guide in Israel.  The cab driver in Antwerp.  The Miss Universe contestant in Venezuela who could put her ankles behind her head (I am not sure if that was real or if I dreamed that.)  And because it is so frustrating that you cannot replace all this stuff it just makes it worse that it is so difficult to get the information that you can replace.  I didn’t mean to shout.

Well, I pieced together my friend’s and family’s info.  Because I am an idiot I didn’t do what I swore I was going to do and write this stuff in an old fashioned address book.  I just left the messages in my old mail folder.  I hate being such an idiot.  If you knew how high my IQ is you would wonder how I can be an idiot all the time.  I don’t know.  I have this friend who is like the best copy-editor in the world.  She is super-smart and I can figure out the appropriate tip on an order of beignets like ten times faster than she can.  That’s how smart I am.

Long story short, I sailed into Houston and activated a new phone.  I signed into my gmail and all my contacts appeared!!  Woooohooooo!!!  In your face people who are too busy to answer my email.  What a wonderful technological advancement.  I was so happy.

When the new phone crapped out I was pissed but at least I knew I would eventually get my contacts back.  The biggest problem was finding the time to get to the Sprint store.  When I made it to the store they informed me they had to order a phone and they could only deliver it to the store.  However, I was about to sail back to Galveston.  Uggghhh…  I would get my phone one day.

I finally got my phone.  I logged into my gmail account and…….no effing contacts!!!!!!!  I can’t believe it!!  Why didn’t they download?  You want to know why?  I sure as bad word did!  Because they disappeared!!!  Nobody has any explanation.  I have talked to Sprint techs and gmail techs.  I have prayed to God and fasted.  Ok, I didn’t fast.  But I did pray.  Well, I kind of yelled at God a little.  Does that count?

You know what I really love?  The people who have the advice about what you should have done before your phone broke.  These are the same people who tell you they knew the bad lady was going to take all your money.  Of course, they tell you AFTER she takes your money.  Or the people who have endless advice on how to fix the problem and know more than the technicians who work on this stuff every day of their lives.  I hate to break it to you all.  Nothing you said works.  It just doesn’t.

Or what about the people who reply to your email requesting contact information and express sympathy that you lost everything.  But they don’t include their contact information in the email!!!  Are you bad word kidding me?!?!?!?!?!

I don’t even know what I’m writing about anymore.  I wanted to express how hard it is to lose your communication when you are a sailor.

It’s hard!  I guess I could have just said that.

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I slept through dinner the other night.  I am pretty sure that is a first for me.  I was disgusted about losing my contacts, tired and had a headache so I just turned off the lights, set my alarm for 7:20pm and slept till it was time for watch.

The results were pretty predictable.  When I left watch at ten till midnight I had quite the rumbly in my tumbly.  I try to never eat after 8pm but I was hungry!!  Walking down the stairs I decided I would make a sandwich and just live with the guilt.  Then I remembered that there was a plate of cake donuts left out.  For some reason that sounded so good.  I knew that eating a donut before bed was unacceptable but I could not get it out of my mind.

I walked down the stairs going back and forth between donut and sandwich, donut and sandwich.  Somehow
my thoughts merged and by the time I got to the galley I was thinking about a donut sandwich.

No, I didn’t eat a donut sandwich.  Don’t be stupid!  But I was munching on a donut as I slathered mayonnaise on my ham and cheese sandwich.

I wonder why I am fat.

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It’s question and answer time!!!  As always, these are questions that I would expect my audience to ask if anybody ever took the time to email and ask any questions.  Since you are obviously too busy to care about what is going on in my life, I will answer the questions that you would ask if you weren’t so self-involved.

That is sarcasm.  Have a sense of humor.

Question – How do you feel about the GEICO commercial where the pig is on the airplane paying his insurance on the smartphone app?

Answer – Mostly, I like it.  I certainly like the pig.  Now, we can all agree that there will never be another pig commercial as good as the original where he goes weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee all the way home.  That was a classic.  But I like the pig.  I don’t have a problem with the pig being on a plane.  I would rather sit next to him than most people I have gotten stuck with.  It is certainly realistic that he is being forced to turn his phone off.  What I question is how can he use the phone to begin with?  Does a touch screen react to his pig-paws?  How does he even hold it?  If he was Bluetoothing – fine.  I can accept a pig with Bluetooth.  I just don’t buy the touch screen.

Question – What do you think about Pakistan vs. India playing cricket on pay-per-view TV?

Answer – Well, I don’t even believe cricket is a sport, that’s for starters.  If I was going to watch a pretend sport it wouldn’t be Pakistan vs. India.  And can somebody please explain how these Pakistanis and Indians have free time to play make believe?  If they have all this time on their hands they should pick up some of the garbage covering their countries.  I wouldn’t watch this crap for free.  If you paid me $100 and gave me free chicken wings I would pass.  Thanks for asking.

Question – Do you cry every time you watch What Happens in Vegas?

Answer – Yes.  Every time.  The scene where Ashton Kutcher (sp?) goes to Cameron Diaz’s office party to sabotage her but ends up helping her and they have their first dance as husband and wife.  Oh my…  Cameron is so beautiful and when Ashton holds her she gives that sensual shoulder shake dance move and then they hold each other and each of them has the look that says they are finally realizing they are in love.  Then I think I will never have that moment in my life.  And it makes me sad.

I found this low quality link to the scene so you could check it out.  Yes, I cried again when I watched it.  Screw you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-5-UX1rNXc

Question – What do you think about LSU being projected to open the season #14 in the country?

Answer – I think this will go up after signing day.  Then we open the season with what will be a highly-ranked TCU team and after we crush them LSU will be top 10.  Look – LSU is going to be fine.  Most of the players who went pro were not a surprise and LSU was projected as a top 3 team.  Then we lose to Clemson in the chicken sandwich bowl – a game that nobody was motivated for – a few more players go pro and  all the sudden it is doomsday.  Tharold Simon is the only one that really upset me.  Do we have that many good corners?  I dunno.  Ok, I was thrilled about Kevin Minter either.  Still, LSU will be in the SEC Championship game next season playing Florida.  I will watch it with my dad and we will most likely not speak to each other after the game.  You heard it here first.

Question – What is the best sandwich in the world?

Answer – That is a tough question, and a good one.  You would think we would be talking about the best chicken wing ever.  Well, I won’t answer that question until I have the opportunity to eat wings in Buffalo.  The problem with the sandwich question is that they all so different.  I can think of so many.  But you asked so you deserve and answer.  If we can agree that a sandwich is anything between two pieces of bread, excepting a hamburger which is its own category, then the winner is…….The Darryl’s Special!  This is a poboy served at a little bar named Darryl’s in Lake Charles, LA.  It is simple wonderful.  I even wrote a poem about it.  If you want to read it, email me.  If I get so many as two request I will publish it.

Question –Why is it so hard to find the perfect woman?

Answer – It’s not.  It’s hard to find the woman who thinks you are the perfect man.

Question – Well, what constitutes the perfect women?  Nobody is perfect.

Answer – Nobody is perfect, but the woman who in spite of her imperfections is the last thing in your heart at night, is the first thing in your heart in the morning, and makes you want to be the perfect man….that is the perfect woman.

Question – Are you still watching five minutes of soft core porn every night?

Answer – No.  I can’t take it anymore.  The stories, which were humorous to me at one point, now just annoy me.  The women who once seemed beautiful now are unattractive.  There seem to be two groups of soft core porn stars.  One set of movies have super skinny heroin addict types with perfect fake boobs.  It doesn’t look right.  The other movies have truly attractive women, but I don’t even care.  The movies are just awful.  And call me a homophobe, but I don’t like watching naked men.  Sorry.

Question – Speaking of homophobia, what do you think about the evangelical pastor who backed out of praying at the inauguration because of comments about the gay lifestyle he made 20 years ago?

Answer – I guess my answer would be – why is there an evangelical preacher praying in Obama’s inauguration anyway?  What, are you going to try and find an evangelical preacher who makes pro-gay comments?  They don’t exist.  And if they do, they are not doing their job.  Look, evangelical preachers, Catholic Priests and most religious leaders speak out against sin.  The sin that I commit (which is way too much) the sin you commit and yes, homosexuality.  I am not saying it is a sin.  I am saying that is what the bible says.  So let me ask again – why was this guy scheduled to speak in the first place?  The people elected Obama as President.  Give them what they what.  Have some new-aged, tree-hugging, the-universe-is-God transvestite priestess give the prayer and in four years we can get back to what made this country great.  I just don’t care about this.  I don’t care about anything that happens with this administration.  My New Year’s resolution was to remove buffoonery from life.

Question – Why are you such a homophobe?

Answer – First, I hate the word homophobe.  I have yet to meet the homosexual who scared me, although I have met some gay dudes (and at least one lesbian) who could kick my ass.  Second, I like homosexual people just fine as individuals.  I really think one of my greatest strengths is how I have always judged people as individuals.  What I don’t like is wacko activist bullshit.  I hate stuff like gay day at Disney.  Let me tell you homosexual community, this is why people get mad at you.  I don’t, and I don’t think many people, care even a little about your lifestyle.  Do what you do.  It’s America.  But leading up to gay day at Disney you will see all these billboards on I-4 that are drawn cartoon style of flamboyantly gay people going to Disney and enjoying Disney events.  I am not even going to write about how mad it makes me.  I don’t care if gay people go to Disney.  But people are not bringing their families there to watch you try and prove a point by being flaming gay at the most magical place in the world.  I don’t bring my political issues to Disney.  I would appreciate the same courtesy.

Question – What do you think about the CNN story this morning complaining that only six of nineteen top cabinet members are women?

Answer – I don’t talk politics, so this is the last question like this I will address.  The answer is – I don’t care.  I don’t care.  I don’t care!!!  Why is this a story?  Why can’t we just hire the best person for the job?  I don’t care if every appointee is a woman.  I don’t care if they are all men.  I told you I was removing buffoonery from my life.  I am not talking about this nonsense.

Question – How is match.com going?

Answer – I TOLD YOU I WAS REMOVING BUFFONERY FROM MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!

Question – Is Contraband the worst movie ever?

Answer – Without a doubt.  It is so bad that in my next blog I am going to break down the movie for you.  Right now I am tired.

Bye

Russell Yale

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