Sunday, March 30, 2008

In The Navy (Sub School), Part 2

It seemed I had fallen through the cracks in someone’s plan, to me anyway. The first few days, I passed the time learning my way around base. I walked all the way up to the Hospital at the very top of the hill that is the Base at Groton. I found a path through the woods that took me back down the hill, very close to my empty barracks. I found the bowling alley, the PX (Navy term for on base store), the theater, the second smaller bowling alley and the Enlisted Men’s club. I wound up at the E-Club a few times, but got bored quickly, the same crap I saw at Great Lakes.

One afternoon I ventured off base. I walked along the outside of the long fence that separated the ball fields from the entrance road. Kiddy corner from the base was a restaurant, I don’t recall the name of the place, but it might come to me. It became a regular hangout much later. It was ½ restaurant and ½ bar. Pretty quiet during the day and the food was cheap. I hung out there a few times and got to know the owner, Milton fairly well. He was a nice guy, probably from Italy. The accent was thick and the English was poor, same with everyone who worked there.

Most days I would just grab breakfast at the chow hall and go back to the barracks. The weather seemed cooler here than it was in Chicago, so I would keep the windows open. I took a shelf out of a locker that was unused and put together a drawing board. I had brought a large sketch pad with me and with 17 hours each day to kill, I started drawing.

I was motivated by some of the work I saw my next youngest brother had turned out, when I was last at home. He was a genius, really. He had done some excellent portraits of rock stars; Pat Bennetar, David Bowie, David Gilmour and Jim Morrison. I never came close to reaching what he accomplished and probably never would, no matter how hard I tried. He had the gift, no doubt. I have several of his best works hanging in my living room right now.

I didn’t try to do many portraits, but let my imagination go. I did a Salvador Dali looking thing that was based on a woman’s face, some other Goth looking female characters that came out of my days playing D & D. I did do a caricature of Steve Martin from The Jerk, which turned out ok. These took days to complete and had a lot of detail, not your average boardwalk sketch. Few people saw them, even to this day, but for me it was a time of creative spewing, the likes of which I have never returned to. It was like the last drips from a dry hose, and then school started.

Hillary Should Withdraw

Miss Clinton had her chance and is losing handily, but will she ever quit? No, it's not like her to do that. I guess that is a good quality most of the time, like when you are washing your car on a really hot day. Or trying to dig a certain sized hole. Keep plugging away till you get it done, great.

Politics are very different. If you are losing, you drop out. Hill can't do that. She will pound away at Delegates to get their nominations and like a Pit bull, never quit. She just stamps her feet like a two year old spoiled brat and is annoying the hell out of me.

I think back to the 90's and the feelings I had at the tail end of the first Clinton Presidency and I cringe. I felt so sick to my stomach over the embarrassment they were to the office and America. I don't want that again.

Please enjoy your Senator-ship and drop out now Hill.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In The Navy (Sub School), Part 1

From this point on, I will be skipping over a lot of things that happened to me in my real life and immediate family, because some things are just, with it. I will say LOUDLY to anyone in, or thinking of joining the military in any capacity; Don’t get married!! If you are dumb enough to do that, then don’t have kids!! Enough of the useless early warning, I doubt I have many kids are reading this. It’s just something I wanted to pass on.

I ended my leave in Detroit and headed off to Sub School. I had seen most of my friends and things there were, for lack of a better term, the same. The flight(s) to Groton were bizarre. It was a regular jet (a 727 I think) to New York’s LaGuardia, no problem. Then I jumped a twin prop plane to some small island in Rhode Island. From there, it was another puddle jump to another smaller airport. I was getting airsick in this thing; it bounced around like bumper cars. We wound up at Groton Airport (a joke) at last, where we were met by a petty officer, there to take us to base in a stark white van. We had to travel in uniform, so we were easy to spot.

There were just four of us sailors on the last leg of the flight and we went together to the base, in the van. One of the guys had an “episode” because his bag had not made it to Groton. He was settled down when he was told it would show up tomorrow and make its way back to him. On the way to base we got to take in the main strip of Groton Connecticut, the beautiful Route 12. The place looked like a dump for the most part. Run down, dark, gloomy.

As we approached the base, everything became brighter. There were tons of lights around the ball fields as you approached the main gate. At the gate, we all had to show our IDs to the guard, the gatehouse looked brand new. This looked promising! Like a haven from the dreary town outside the base.

We were taken to a personnel building and given temporary living assignments, all based on our futures. The nukes (guys in the Nuclear Engineering or Electronics programs) all had their own barracks, nice ones too. The Machinist Mates had a different location. I was in the regular electronics pipeline, but I guess they were short on space. I was dumped into an almost vacant building and handed bedding. I was told to just pick a rack and there were dozens in the long uninhabited hall. I was left on my own.

The ceiling here had to be 12 feet high and the room was wider than the boot camp barracks. It had an echo. I was the only one in the place. There were bunks and lockers with actual doors strewn around the room. They weren’t lined up neatly or very clean. It was like the place was vacated for a reason, seemingly in a hurry. I picked a bunk near a window with a nicer looking locker. I didn’t really unpack anything more than I had to, at first. I stayed there for weeks that seemed more like months. I was in almost total seclusion. I had no roll call and slept in till whenever. The place was dead quiet except for my radio/tape player. There was NO mainstream radio to listen to in this place, but I did find a local New London College radio station that played a lot of off the wall stuff.

Anti Islam Movie Removed

Like I figured it would be. If you go to the original link in the post a few days ago, you can see the explanation.

Great world we live in. One group can say anything they want and the other side caves over some threats when they say something in opposition. Terror wins again.

Friday, March 28, 2008

In The Navy (BE&E), Part 5

So I was again back on barracks duty. The Chicago area was now full into summer and it is immensely hot most of the days. Anyone with not much to do seemed to get themselves in trouble around this time. I don’t know if it was the heat, plain boredom, or a mix of the two. Since I was stuck on daytime duty, the mid day trips to the lake ceased, except on weekends.

Everyone had their doors and windows open in the barracks, except when it rained. This lent to two things; Invasions of privacy and disturbing the peace. It seemed there were two bands that met the approval of almost everyone in the barracks. That was Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin. I became intolerant of both bands within a week. These guys played the same tapes over and over and over. You would hear one song from one room, and a different song from another as you moved through the building. To this day either band’s tunes make my skin crawl. I went to the commissary and got some headphones to go with my radio/tape player. I think it saved me from utter madness.

Some guys were not spared madness, but it would probably be better described as a drug induced insanity. One night fairly late, there was a huge ruckus down the hall on the second floor of my building. Shouts were everywhere and people running around, soon there were sirens. One of the guys had gotten doped up on something and decided to jump out of his window. Not a long fall really, but he broke something in the process. The excitement passed and the Navy seemed to be starting to take notice of its drug problem. The Regan administration announced a formal Zero Tolerance policy very shortly after this incident, though it was due to many similar problems across the Navy. Drugs were rampant.

Since I was assigned to the barracks, I was assigned a full range of duties. We would meet in the break room each morning. I was on time always, but wound up waiting for the rest of the group and the barracks Chief. I passed the time playing the latest video game, Space Invaders. I got pretty good at it and soon was closing in on whoever had the top score. When I broke that record, I had three guys cheering me on, who I didn’t even know. Pretty cool.

One morning, when we finally got our assignments for the day, I was assigned to police the outside of the building. It was odd that the Chief actually accompanied us. We started at the front door and picked up the usual trash and bagged it. Then as we headed around the building, which had a two foot skirt of gravel on the ground, we started finding things…

It was apparent that all of the guys cleaning their pot in the barracks didn’t want those pesky seeds in their rooms, so they were dumping them out the windows. I had never noticed before, but guess what was growing all around the building? Pot plants! We were pulling up one to two and a half foot tall plants every few steps. We probably had two pounds worth of end product by the time we were done. A little scary and telling of the problems the Navy faced with its drug usage.

Barracks duty wrapped up after a few weeks and I had a bit of time back home, before I was to fly off to Sub School in Groton Connecticut. Leaving Chicago for the last time, I took in the orange glow that encompasses the heart of the city and the immediate urban area. I said goodbye to the city then, not feeling happy or sad about it. I have never been back.

I had never been to the east coast, so seeing it seemed intriguing. By the time I left Great Lakes, I was the only one left of my few friends and had already wished them all well and seen them on their ways to various parts of the country to start their real training. I was very ready to move on, but had no idea what was ahead of me.

Muslims Mad About Film

I guess they should be, but I saw the films of Muslims dancing in the streets after 911 and dragging Americans bodies through the streets and hanging from bridges. We need to all go sit in opposite corners and cool off. Eventually the oil will dry up or be replaced;

Then the Arab "power" is gone and they will slip into obscurity or join the rest of civilization. This fact must scare the hell out of Arabs.

I know I sound like a hate monger, but I am not. I have (and have had) very good Muslim friends who I respect a lot. They call their governments "crazy" and I feel sorry for their loss. I guess that's why they are in America now???

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In The Navy (BE&E), Part 4

Most weekends were filled with journeys and the most boring yet memorable, was a car ride up to Milwaukee. Why go into Wisconsin from Illinois in 1981? The drinking dummy. We got a few cases of the cheapest real beer we could find, because we were idiots and on a tight budget. Each of us chipped in the cash we had so we could load up a full case.

We didn’t wait to get back “home”, we started drinking this piss water called Red White and Blue beer while it was still warm. We collectively had never been so sick in our lives. We were sick from both ends, if you know what I mean? It was awful and the sickness lasted about a full day. I have never been able to touch a corn based beer again, like Milwaukee’s Best, which is just as crappy tasting. I guess my taste buds grew up a bit after that.

We went to see the first Indiana Jones movie one night and we all loved it, it still stands up today. It made us feel more like regular people to go to a theater and later dinner in our “civvies” (civilian clothes). It always made you feel like less of a “sailor” when you could go out while out of uniform. A bit more of a part of humanity.

In school, we had gotten up to something requiring some serious Algebra, triangles and I faltered (I hate Math). About 5 of us from our one class and the same from 3 others were all assigned to do a Saturday Math refresher. We went to a building on the very south part of the base right on the water. It seemed to be a lodge type location where they would have private parties. It was a strange place to have a class, but there was a room there with desks and we did our assignments. I got it eventually, but ask me about that crap today…well, good luck.

Transistor Logic was next and everyone in the class (even the instructors) knew this was just about the pinnacle of what we had to learn about. Apparently a lot of guys had real trouble with the concept. It was all review for me because I had learned it in High School. I was back at my room by noon that day and I pissed off a few of the guys in my class by doing so. They took days to get through it. I tried to help one of the guys I would hang out with, but he was having some real problems and had to ask the instructor for help.

School wrapped up and a few of us were again assigned to barracks duty. I will run down some of the more humorous things I witnessed while on the tail end my time at The Great Lakes Naval Training Center next.

Anti Islam Movie

This is very violent and graphic.

This web video will probably be removed fairly quickly. I guess it's hateful, but considering how much negative advertising I see from the other side, it seems fair to have the opposite view.

I am not even religious! It's called Fitna...
Personally I am not a fan of any organized religion, I find they speak love, forgiveness and tolerance out of one side of their mouth, and hate and intolerance out of the other.

I think the biggest problem Muslims have with this is the cartoon drawing of Allah, of all things?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In The Navy (BE&E), Part 3

We were physically located just north of Chicago and I had my bored moments when I would tune my crappy transistor radio around the dial. I was always looking for new music and still do so to this day. Instead I found something I had not run in to on the Radio in a long while. A person caught my interest, a talk radio persona that I should have expected, but didn’t.

I started listening to Steve Dahl on WLS radio out of Chicago, most afternoons (drive time). He was a pompous and funny character and for that time, pretty raunchy. It was a rock format so I was digging most of their playlist too. I understand Dahl is still there now, but I never listen to anything but local DC radio on the internet or podcast feeds. Don Geronimo came on after Steve and is actually now on in DC on the Don and Mike Show. I have listened to them since 1987.

We (my few friends) took a few trips into Chicago and I experienced a real Rocky Horror movie with a full costumed compliment of amateur actors. Every major part was played out on stage in front of the movie. It was the “real deal”, with toast and rice flying everywhere…brilliant. We went back more than once. I also got to take in Rush Street, which I found to be over crowded and disappointing. Especially so when we took a wrong turn when leaving and wound up in a very bad neighborhood. Creepy and right next door!

Some weeknights on base, I would wander over to the “E-Club” (Enlisted Men’s Club) and see what was happening. Usually there was nothing good happening; bad repetitive music and a bunch of very drunk guys who just got out of boot camp (like me). A few chicks, but nothing available; ever.

The thing about the E-Club, was that the beer they served was called 3.2 beer and it sucked!!! Normal beer has 4.5% (or more) alcohol content, but this crap had 3.2%. The concept was, there would be less drunk sailors. People just drank more. It would give you a nasty headache and since you were drinking so much, you felt bloated. I got sick of the stuff pretty quickly.

I started heading out to the seedy bars just outside the base gate, not a log walk at all. I would just sit alone most of the time and knock back some brew and people watch out the windows. I figured out where people were getting the pot. Dealers hung out there and you could sit, looking out the window at the street and watch the deals go down. It looked like the bad side of Detroit. I didn’t get hassled, which was amazing. Some of the drunks and dopes would get pretty rowdy and I would bail out and go back to base, hopefully with a little buzz.

Shoot me if that bothers you, I was killing the time and fairly lonely. No harm, no foul.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hockey Is Funny

These guys should all be thrown in Jail. The goalies are funny.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In The Navy (BE&E), Part 2

BE&E (Basic Electronics) finally opened its doors to me, which was great. Of all my time in the Navy, this was the best and least stressful. In retrospect, that had to be by design. It was a chance to unwind after boot camp and get your head ready to soak in the basic knowledge you would need for all of the schools that followed. Makes sense to me now.

I stayed in the same barracks for the rest of my time at Great Lakes. The BE&E school was also a fairly new brick building right across the street from the barracks and was almost perfectly square, which I always thought odd. School was a little bizarre, but lent itself to the stress free atmosphere I mentioned before.

We (the class) would arrive in the morning and the teacher would lecture us on the day’s topic. We started with the bare basics, most of which I had already learned in High School. It was mostly review for me, which worked out great. Once we finished the morning lecture, we were left to complete a lab or test at our own pace, for the rest of the day. I almost always went directly to the test and completed/passed it on the first attempt. If you failed it, you got to go review the book and then retake the test the same day.

I had most afternoons off, because once you finished the test and passed, you were done for the day. I found myself in the company of a few guys who had basically the same prior education that I’d had and we were almost always done for the day around lunch time. We wound up friends and would head down to the Lake Michigan shore, a short walk down a hill, from the barracks. I wouldn’t say I made any great friends here, but they were good people and having someone to goof around with was cool. We would just go down to the beach and swim if the water wasn’t too smelly. Mostly we hung out combing the beach up and down as it paralleled the base itself. Bored.

Looking for chicks was a waste of time; you had to get off base for that. Then they were always skanks anywhere near the base. Once you got farther out, they were all jail-bait. All the older gals were off to college.

I did take my friends up to my secluded spot on the roof one day that summer. I was saddened when one of the guys pulled out a joint. It was forbidden in the Navy and they had this new “Zero Tolerance” policy that was rammed down our throats regularly. I think he smoked his joint alone, I know I didn’t partake. Pot makes me dizzy and sick to my belly. Where did he get it anyway??

NIH Pulls A Laptop Boner

It's funny that months ago the OMB mandated ALL Government laptops will be encrypted. Well, this guy got around it, somehow;

Funny. I used to work there and know a lot of the guys/gals who should have made sure this DIDN'T happen.

The Director who is ultimately responsible only had to report that they were going to ensure all the laptops are encrypted now, something I think they have been reporting as "completed" for months. No one asks that question...

Detroit's Mayor Is An Ass

I am from Detroit; Like the city doesn't have enough problems?

Kwame Kilpatrick can't keep it in his pants, like most people in a "dedicated relationship". Sad.

This broad is not worth it (on the right)?!

Dumb ass. Detroit as a whole, needs to close up shop and move south. Let Canada have it, we might make a few bucks. The economy there is dragging down the rest of the country, oh, include Toledo in that too.

This is the prosecutor on the case;

I feel like I need a shower, after looking at these pics.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

In The Navy (BE&E), Part 1

This will not be a long chapter, but there will be a few interesting parts, at least. BE & E (that is Basic Electronics & Electricity) only lasted 3 or 4 weeks, but I had some time both before and after where I was assigned to barracks duty, which I will go into. It’s a lovely option the Navy uses when someone is too early to a post to start the next available training class or assignment that they have to take. It’s usually not a long period of time though. It lasted a few weeks typically.

After boot camp I was temporarily assigned to a barracks there on the main Great Lakes Naval Training Center (it’s separated from boot camp physically). It was not terrible duty, but it was tedious. We would have a gang of guys that would meet every morning for an informal muster (sometimes the Chief in charge would have a hair up his ass and make us line up in ranks).

From there we would be assigned the morning’s duty which could vary greatly from day to day. Some days you would be stripping wax off a floor and re-waxing it. The next you might be randomly “policing the base” picking up trash. The next you might be dusting and cleaning the common areas. It was always random, but you would certainly become an expert at removing and applying wax to a tile floor and then be able to buff it to a fine shine once it dried. It was pretty much mandatory for enlisted men (I can’t speak for the women, but I expect the same).

The barracks itself was a fairly new brick building and didn’t smell at all. It was cramped in the small room that you shared with one other person, completely at random. Roommates came and went often throughout my time in Navy barracks. I was actually alone in my room for most of the 2 weeks before I went back to school, which was fine by me. The lack of distractions left me plenty of time to investigate the base, especially on weekends. I was creeping into every building that I could get into and some you shouldn’t, they were guarded because of classified documents most likely. Others were pretty much abandoned and I could wander long halls in silence, except my own trotting.

I found an excellent secluded spot in a cubby on the roof on one seemingly abandoned building that was shielded from the weather, but had a perfect view of Lake Michigan. I would climb up there any time I could and just sit and clear my head. I was soaking in the beautiful view like I did when I lived on Lake Erie when I was much younger. Staring at a large body of water, I find, to not be a waste of time, as it will almost always find some way to surprise you and show you something you have never seen before. Try it sometime.

The silence was always broken by some commotion on base big enough to echo up through my spire. Only once did I bring some friends up to see the location. More than once, I was almost nabbed by security who swept the building randomly. They were not too hard to evade.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In The Navy (Boot Camp, the end), Part 7

Nearing the end of boot camp, I did finally complete the run in time. I was given no praise and it was not pretty (I had to walk a bit in the middle to catch my breath). I made it though.

The marching was intensified now. I said before that the better marchers wound up in the right hand row. That was because during final review (as we pass the Base Commander and his party) during graduation, they really only see the right hand people in the formation. That’s where you want your best people. The band blazed during dress rehearsal, which I was present for.

Come graduation day, the Chief kept his word. I did not graduate with the rest of the company. I was stuck on watch in the barracks. I knew my family had come for graduation and I was chomping at the bit to see them. Shortly after graduation was over, I was relieved by one of the guys who had no family visiting. I ran as fast as I could to the graduation and found them. The event was over, though.

I met up with my Mom (HUGS all around) and one brother; we followed the rest of the groups and wound up at a really large restaurant/bar. We had drinks and the Chief actually commended me for passing after all. We drank more, then more…then more. I wound up lit, to say the least. Way to make Mom proud! It was not my finest moment.

I passed out in the Hotel she was staying at. She left the next day. I had my orders to report to Basic Electronics & Electricity (BEE) School in a few days. I made my way back to the barracks to gather my things. We were all marched over to a temporary barracks and dispersed from there. Some of the guys went on to be A-Gangers (look it up) and others went way away to Nuke school. Some of us (me included) shifted over to BEE to complete our time at the lovely Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

It’s interesting to me that the form you get when you leave the Navy (a DD-214) that lists all of the training you had taken, awards, rank and discharge status, does not list Basic Training. It was to me the most significant part of the whole package and the greatest single influence on any Sailor’s career and life. It should be recognized.

Friday, March 21, 2008

In The Navy (Boot Camp), Part 6.

The daily bedding problem stopped immediately when the Company Commander was removed. His cronies lost their power too, but they did try to challenge the others at first. It failed miserably because everyone knew they had no recourse.

We had no one leader so the Squad Leaders (SLs) actually worked together to keep the Company intact. While I was a Squad Leader we began doing these timed runs in the big gym building. It had a track and we had to do 2 or 3 miles in a certain time, 15 minutes I think. My smoking didn’t lend any assistance to my ability to make these runs in time. I would lose my breath and drop out ¾ through. Of course I was on the Chief’s shit list for it and lost Squad Leader quickly. At first I was made to do extra runs over the weekends, not much help…I wound up too tired during the week. Then I was sent to a glorious Saturday of Physical Training (PT) hell.

It was a fairly small building with a long thin room, where I was greeted by a few guys and one girl who drilled all of the flunkies from all of the companies going through Basic Training at the time. We asked each other “what were you in for?” like it was prison, when we had a break. It was actually very much like that, from what I have seen in movies…I’ve never been in prison myself. We were made to do musket training (ever seen a Marine do the gun tricks in Dress Uniform? Like that), but the guns were filled with lead. They weighed a ton. Every muscle in our bodies burned before we were done. We were put through all kinds of calisthenics (jumping jacks, run in place, pushups sit-ups, you name it. All the time keeping the rifle in hand(s). It was brutal. One word, sore.

After that, I started running laps on my own anytime we had free time, but it was not enough. I kept failing the full run which prompted the Chief to call me in his office and proclaim “You will not graduate with the rest of this company”. He called me a fag too. I thought I would have to take basic over again! I was waiting to be another disappearing act (we had a few of those, one guy even went AWOL and never came back).

I was assigned extra guard duty, which was mostly patrolling the barracks at night. You would have several buildings that you had to mill though. The empty ones were dark and creepy, but you could grab a quick sit down rest in those. You had to be very quiet when you patrolled a full room. If you woke people up, you might get an ass whooping. Trip on a trash can and you would probably be toast. You did get to sleep in the next morning, but all of the other noise around meant you rarely really slept.

Late into boot camp, we were made to watch some pretty nasty movies about VD. They depicted all types and included gruesome sores, rashes and madness. One had a catchy tune/jungle/lyric that went like this; “If there is a THING on the end of your THING, (now the singers…) then get on down to the clinic!” It was bizarre to say the least, but it’s still a funny tune to me. We also watched movies about the marvels of the US military. The big battleship guns, torpedoes, different weapons and some naval history. After each we had to answer questions about the topic.

Crucify Me?

Yeah, sure. Here in the Philippines...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wax Figures Can Be Creepy

This looks too live, very creepy to me.

It's even creepier that the kids seem to be really enjoying being there with the wax stump. They could have at least slimmed her down a bit, she looks 4 months along.

JustJared has all the pics;

In The Navy (Boot Camp), Part 5.

The Company was broken into several smaller “Squads” with Squad Leaders. A Company Commander was appointed, but not through any democratic process, he was chosen by the Chief. The guy we were stuck with was about the tallest of us all (I believe that is all it takes in the Military) and he annoyed the hell out of me. He had curly, near red, hair and was lanky. His voice, when he yelled, broke, like someone was grinding two bricks together. The power trip went straight to his head too.

This jerk had a few cronies who sucked up to him immediately, whom I also despised. They would go around and check the bunks after breakfast (proactively?) and rip the sheets off for no good reason. It became payback for not jumping too when they barked at us the day before. These idiots made life really hard on everyone and seemingly, just for fun.

Listening to him harp on us while we marched made everyone’s ears hurt. He would lead the chant and it drove everyone mad, except him. He would lecture us after the Chief had left for the day about doing better; even though we were doing fine. I began plotting with a few other disgruntled guys on how to best unseat this jerk.

We decided the best move would be to catch him off guard, when he was flustered and get him to totally lose it. We were practice marching one cold Saturday and myself and 3 others kept missing the command to turn left or right or about. It caused the whole squad to jam up and stop because we were running into each other. We were yelled at and everyone had to line up again and start over every time we disrupted things. We said we weren’t getting the instructions straight and asked the Company Commander to speak clearer (his voice was breaking like a kid going through puberty). At first he must have thought we really couldn’t hear him clearly, because he went back to it and actually did speak clearer, but we botched the moves again and again.

It worked. After the 5th or 6th time we had blown the moves, he lost it and punched a guy, which laid him out. It bloodied his nose, but the academy goes to you my friend! What an acting job. He stood up, which let the blood from his nose get all over the front of his uniform (a few purposeful smears helped it look worse than it was) and he started yelling back. Some MPs (Military Police) showed up and took the “injured” man to the infirmary. MPs were always milling around the base. They got the story (different versions with one thing in common, someone got punched) from a few of us.

This was the only time we ever saw the Chief over a weekend. He showed up at the barracks after we got back from dinner and took the Company Commander into his office. We just heard the muffled yelling. He came out with the Chief and went to the back of the room, nearly in tears. The Chief announced that there would be no Company Commander and for us to get the hell to bed. The job seemed to fall on the Squad Leaders, but it was reduced to just mustering the group and getting us to and from the mess hall in one piece when the Chief was not around. I served as Squad Leader for a while and that went fine. It served to foster some mild competition within the company.

Up next, how I lost the Squad Leader designation, mandatory movies and standing watches in the barracks.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In The Navy (Boot Camp), Part 4.

Navy training included learning all of the signal flags that the Corpsmen used to send messages, like a Flagship, Admiral on board or Divers down. You had to do a lot of memorization and were tested. The same was true with Ranks/Insignia (not just Navy, but all US armed services). We learned how, who and when to salute. The Chief had us consider him an officer for practice only. We were taught when to have our hats (covers) on and off, how to tie the kerchief you wear with your dress uniform, Morse code, basic knots, ropes and pulley systems. Pretty much every basic thing you need to know on a US naval ship with sails. It’s tradition.

One of the nastiest parts of boot camp training was the teargas shack. Everyone dons a gas mask and in single file we march up a ramp into a fairly small room/shack. Some guy comes in and sets off a teargas grenade in the middle of the room and shouts at us to march around in a circle. No problem, the room gets foggy, but the gas masks are working great! Piece of cake.

Now the twist, and there was no warning. The guy orders everyone to take off their gas masks and keep marching (of course he doesn’t take his off). We all do, but take a deep breath first and try to hold it. Good luck, we are kept marching in circles in the small rectangular room and since you have to look up to see when to turn again, you have to open your eyes. The instant sting is incredible. You begin crying immediately and involuntarily. Shutting your eyes makes it worse, because the residue gets under the eyelids and hurts like hell. Now you are forced to inhale because of the agony, your lungs are immediately on fire. Wonderful time! Your lungs wretch and you cough more violently than any time in your life, unless you have had some really rank weed. You exhale and suck in more and it continues. Your chest muscles start to hurt from the involuntary contractions and coughing. That spreads to your stomach and back muscles too.

After what seems to be an eternity, but was probably only a minute after everyone has had a few lungs full, you are let out. Several people puked violently, we all had tears streaming down our faces and snot dripping from our noses. That was all freezing up. The Chief is there watching us writhe. It must be inevitable that one or two guys manage to get through with their eyes closed or for whatever reason weren’t effected. Those guys were sent back in for a few extra minutes and eventually came out like the rest did.

We all had to wash everything were wearing because the gas permeates anything it touches (you are in a closed room, there are no windows). The showers we took that night were the longest in our lives. No one slept well or ate much the next morning. It took a few days for the hint of the stuff to dissipate fully.

A few weeks into training and we were gathered around the Chief like kids in kindergarten would be around their teacher hearing a story being read. We were all sitting on the cold bare floor, when out of the blue we were asked if anyone wanted to volunteer for Submarine Service. My hand went up without thinking. Don’t ask me why, but it did.

I had no information that doing it would be better or worse. I think I was just trying to look good by volunteering for something. It was a hugely pivotal moment in my life and I didn’t even realize it. By raising my hand, I had veered completely off the course my life had been on moments before. I would go to a different place than most everyone else around me; do things differently than everyone else.

I think there was one other guy who did the same, but I didn’t really notice it. I figured it was a throwaway gesture, but found out later, that it most definitely was not. You volunteer for the Navy, and then you volunteer again for Subs. Subs are a %100 a “double volunteer” force when there is no draft in place.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ice Melts

Big news from NASA. Run for the hills!

It's based on data as old as 1980. Wow! What a treasure trove! In the world's history, that is less than half a blink. I wonder what is was like in the 1940's when we had a terrible heat wave and drought? Oh, right, they don't know. It may melt like this on a regular basis..and they don't know.

RIP, Arthur C. Clarke

90 is pretty good, way over the average.

In The Navy (Boot Camp), Part 3.

Boot camp wound up being a lot of cleaning, running, marching, eating and classes. In that order. Cleaning was priority #1. Everything had to be spotless, including the bathrooms and our racks. No “dust bunnies” allowed. Dust bunnies are little loose balls of wool that collect together when you make the bed (rack) that had a cheap mattress on it. They all have cheap gray wool blankets and dust bunnies were abundant.

Making the bed was a meticulous task. You had to have the sheets tight with nurse corners. The Chief actually bounced a quarter off of one that was perfect and it bounced up a few feet into the air. The beds were checked every morning, to make sure the corners were neat and tight. If one was found under-par, the sheets and blanket were ripped off and thrown on the floor. Do it again.

We were perpetually sweeping, dusting, polishing (belt buckles, shoes, the fake projectiles in front of HQ, anything shiny). Polishing shoes was actually an art form. If you were good, others would come ask you for help. If your cheap black leather shoes or boots (we wore the boots more often) had a scuff, you were called on the carpet and reprimanded. “Suck on those shoes like you suck cock and they’ll sparkle!” was typical. The “suck cock” theme seemed to be the Chief’s favorite, but he had others.

Scrubbing the bathrooms was left to the slowest of the slow. Last out of Mess Hall, clean the toilets. Last finishing a class test, clean the toilets. I only had to do that a few times.

We took up marching right away. We had an order that we always stayed in so the people in front were used to that and same with those in back. Occasionally we were re-ordered so come graduation, those on the right were the ones performing best. I will explain why later. We marched all over the base, pretty much daily. We had a chant to keep time with, but I can’t recall what it was. We were encouraged to chant loudly while marching though, so we would drown out the other companies we might pass and always upped the volume when passing. By the end of boot camp we had a damn good march down pat. Most of the companies did.

A few times a week we would get to march over to the base commissary (more like a dollar store) where we could get replacement stencil pens, smokes, belt buckles or other uniform supporting items. No candy, no news papers, no magazines, nothing fun. As we were marched over we would have to under a road, through a tunnel. The Chief liked the acoustics in the tunnel, so we always sang Anchors Away as we transcended the tunnel, loudly and each way, there and back. It did sound pretty cool. During that march we would pass an A-6 Intruder Jet that was setup like a monument (it’s typical to have planes or mock missiles laying around on a base like that). It was my first time being that close to a real plane and it always caught my gaze.

This was also my first time being in a group shower/bathroom environment since middle school (which I avoided as much as possible then). It was uncomfortable to be around a bunch of naked guys, but you get used to ignoring it and just enjoy washing off the sweat and getting to bed. Some of the talk in the showers got pretty vile. Some of the guys in my company had very salty tales and spewed them in the shower, but I always wondered how true those were. I expect most were fables. Still, I would nod and listen, laugh.

The first few weeks in Great Lakes were miserable as far as the weather went. Windy, bitterly cold and snowing non stop. It got better as time went on and spring sprung. The barracks were drafty and the noise from the wind at night was relentless. In those first weeks, the lone wool blankets we were issued became our best friends, like Linus (from Charlie Brown) had his blanket. It was not always enough to keep you really warm though. Once you were outside in the cold weather, the coat you were issued is certainly not enough to keep you warm. We couldn’t wait for spring…

Monday, March 17, 2008

In The Navy (Boot Camp), Part 2.

So all of the hard stuff was done, I thought. We were mustered outside the medical hall in the early morning Illinois chill, sounding off as our names were called. It was just getting to be light outside and we all had our gear jammed into our issued duffel bags.

This was the first time we met the Chief. If he had a real name, I have suppressed it. To us, he became only “The Chief”. He quickly sorted us into two rows side by side and didn’t even bother trying to get us to march together. Two rows were hard enough. He led the procession of shaved head (yeah, they shave you) white and black q-tips down the road, staying at the front right of the pack. He herded us off to our Barracks. We were placed on the second floor of a long rectangular building made up mainly of cinder blocks. The outside had some insulation and a wood siding over top, all painted white. The place had that moldy smell too.

The Chief was about 6 foot tall with a dark beard and moustache, maybe dyed. If you ever met him out of uniform, you would think “This is a salty sailor”. He oozed that persona. He scared the hell out of everyone, quite by design. He immediately took to a few guys he saw to be weak or trouble and had them cleaning toilets.

We got our first trip to the mess hall, which was decked out in a serious 60s decor. Lots of plastic. The food was new to me. Ever cook a whole package of bacon with out separating the strips? It comes out ½ raw, half crispy. The eggs were always scrambled and the toast mostly burned. We ate it though, we hadn’t had a bite in what seemed a full day. A few guys that were probably soda junkies tried the “bug-juice”. This was a bit like Kool-Aid, but just a little nastier. Full of sugar though. I was never a fan of it and there is not a base or boat (ship if you like) in the Navy where you couldn’t find it. It was called bug-juice because if you spilled it, it attracted flies.

After we ate we were kind of marched back to the barracks. We sat down in front of our Navy gray painted metal bunk beds and began the arduous task of stenciling our names into every bit of gear we had been issued. We did this one item at a time and with total/complete direction from the Chief. He told us where to stencil precisely and wandered around watching over everyone as they completed each item. More than one of the recruits had a problem with his white or black ink pen (these things were shaped like a sharpie, but the tip was a ball point and prone to jam/clog). The ink, which is more like paint and has a distinctive latex paint like odor, would clog or jam the pen head.

The Chief would get furious with whoever was last to finish an item and berate them with things like “Can’t spell your own name you maggot?”, or “You been suckin’ too much cock to learn how to write?” It was pretty devastating when a pen clogged or dried up, but I think it was by design too; provides the opportunity for the Chief to strike fear into the hearts of the whole group.

I was lucky to not have a very long last name, the shorter the better in this case. Mine was still pretty long and I found the cardboard stencil getting soggy after a while and had to be very careful not to let it tear or fall apart. It was all a test of nerves really.

The first night was surreal, every person in there had to be thinking the same thing I was, "hat the hell am I doing here?"

Not more than a day later, the Chief began calling us the “Saginaw Queers” and daring us to do our best. I don’t think we were the first Company to have that moniker.

Like an idiot, I started smoking in boot camp. Great idea, considering I had had Pneumonia years earlier, which scarred my lungs to some extent. Some donkey offered me one when we had a break and me trying to be cool, took it. I had tried smoking tobacco a few times in Middle/High School, but never liked it. I was hooked in two days and still smoke today.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

In The Navy (Boot Camp), Part 1.

This is a re-post, a long one. I am editing as I go, so there will be some new bits.

One thing I will say the Navy taught me, was that every major problem people face is caused by other people. Even devastating natural disasters are infinitesimal in this perspective. I have watched this fact play out in every part of my life, so it isn't unique to the Navy, that is just where I was at the time.

- - - - -

It was 1981 and I was ready to get out of Detroit. I graduated High School ½ a year early and never made it back for Graduation in June, so in my senior yearbook I was listed as “un-pictured”. It didn’t bother me at all then and doesn't today. I didn’t like the majority of people at the school and had a small click that I hung with while I was there.

I was out of school a little after New Years day and worked out a road trip to Florida with two friends to be our last “ho-rah” before we all went into the service. That trip will be a separate story. We made it back from that in one piece and very shortly afterward, I was due to show up at the AFIS center in downtown Detroit on March 18th 1981, the day after St. Patrick’s day.

I kissed my (weeping) mother and father good by and jumped into a friend’s car for the ride downtown. I was the first of all my friends to actually report for duty (most of us had tentatively signed up). I had scored better than average on my recruitment tests, so I was destined to not do much paint chipping or barnacle scraping, which sounded great to me. I was interested in Electronics and that was the path they laid out for me. Once there at AFIS it was pretty much like going to a new bank to open a checking account. Check my ID, take finger prints, take the oath..blah blah. At the time it was actually kind of moving to take the oath, but as my Naval service wore on, it seemed lackluster. Not because of the promise, but some of the jackass people I saw around me.

I was assigned to a special group of lads, all a party designated to be representatives of a B-League Hockey Team called The Saginaw Gears (remember that name). I had never heard of the team before, but we were all stuffed on a real nice bus and went up north to watch a Hockey game. That was cool, me like Hockey. At one of the breaks in the game, we were announced over the PA and asked to stand up. We had a smattering of applause and some “boos”, but it was still nice to be recognized. The group got to know each other a bit during the whole thing, which was good.

I don’t know if that applause was for us getting out of the state or for serving the country. The economy around Detroit at the time, was dismal (still is). The early 80’s saw the introduction of Toyota and Honda cars in the country, and they were selling great. The big 3 (GM, Ford and Chrysler) responded to the invasion with some of the cheapest piece of crap cars ever let loose on America’s roads. It went on for almost ten years like that and when the Japanese companies started opening their own manufacturing plants in the central US (smart eh?) the big 3 had to regroup and find a better solution, or sink. All 3 sank to some extent and still are. The market went from 3 to 5 big companies really fast.

After the Hockey game we were again stuffed on the bus and headed south to Interstate 94, then due west towards Chicago. We were to be the guests of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for the next few weeks (8 I think). From the looks of the web site, the place has gone co-ed. I don’t remember any contact with any female sailors the whole time I was in boot camp.

On the Bus ride through lower Michigan, Indiana (for a bit) and into Illinois, it was snowing..a lot. We pushed through and never stopped. I had never seen Chicago and shortly after the point where I94 hugs the bottom curve of Lake Michigan and turns North West, it came into view. I was wide awake at that point and soaked in the orange misty hue of the city, tons of lights. It has it's own aura. We arrived at Great Lakes very early the next morning. No one had slept well on the bus, so we were all very tired and a bit smelly when we arrived.

We were hustled off the bus and into a plain white building. This is where all of the military boot camp cliche's you see in the movies came to reality. It’s a single line procession as you get your uniforms (they measure you), you get a ton of shots, some basic medical tests, sign more papers, shave the head and finish up with a shower and change into a uniform.

Of all the things you do initially, the shots are the most interesting. They have mattresses laid out in a maze pattern in a large room that you have to follow to different stations. Some of the shots are air injection, some needle. You get one and go on to the next. The need for the mattresses became evident when people in the group started falling over unconscious. Some of the guys didn’t like needles and would topple over like a half frozen flounder. I actually got a little dizzy, but I think it was from a group effect, we were all tense. I would note something here that followed me all through boot camp. The building smelled old, moldy, like an abandoned house would smell, musty. Almost every structure I entered during boot camp had that same ancient odor. I knew it well from my many adventures as a child in Canada. All of the buildings there at boot camp, except a few newer brown brick ones, had the same smell.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Interesting place.....
Rising above religion for money. Capitalism at it's best, or worst. Depends on if you are paying or being paid.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My X Emailed Me

I hate it when she does that. She is "worried" about her son, all of a sudden. I told her not to worry, I have him covered. I do. I am happy to say that that chapter of my life is closed, over, done, Fin, geliefert sein, completely. I never have to talk to her again. :) Fantastic!

Iran Is Funny

What exactly does "If we have not focused on problematic parts of that report so much so far it has been because we have not intended to ignore its positive points due to the existence of its weak points." mean? Uh, is it a translation problem or confusing and ducking the issue of their Nuclear programs?

From the IRNA Web site;

I don't make this stuff up...

I love the fact that Iran has disqualified any rational candidates for President because they were not "Islamic enough". It would be like US telling a candidate that they were not "Catholic" enough. We wouldn't mind that, would we?

I feel so sorry for the majority of the people of Iran. I know several Iranian Americans and they praise the culture and beauty of their country. I don't doubt them a bit, but I am baffled when they say the "government is crazy".

They need another revolution. The question is, who bank-rolls it?

Clean Up The Atmosphere

I know I gripe a lot on this blog about the panic of "Global Warming". I just hate the panic these people cause. I am glad to see the EU and earlier this week, the US agreed to new air/smog standards. I am all for it.
I just hope we don't screw the economy any worse than it has already been bashed. I know the al-Qaeda build up happened under a Democrat, but the economic screw job happened under a Republican.

In the long run, I wonder which will result in more deaths? We will probably never know, because no one tracks suicides or deaths of the homeless. But the filthy rich are richer and don't give a damn here in the US. Nice place.

Rugby, TSB, US Banks And A Miracle...

There are a bunch of blokes playing Rugby out in the field behind my house. Thats's a first. I don't know the rules, but it looks more violent than NBA play (a non-contact sport). They even have their own uprights. Hardcore. I will have to look up the rules if they show up again, so I know what I am watching. Right now it just looks like a lot of shoving.

If you live in the USA and want to look up reported defects with your car, go here;
To get the full TSB details, you have to go to NHTSA and pay for them. These should be free god damn it! They are cheap though, but so am I!.

I am seriously thinking of converting the majority of my savings in the bank to gold and locking it up at home.
This is getting NO AIRPLAY in the USA. Wonder why? Don't panic, yeah right.

Some good news..
How rare is that? Alive after 3 weeks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Bad Are Condoms, Pope?

Chlamydia is nasty, I hear. The Herpes is forever and people with it {ironically} call it "The Happies". Dumbasses. You girls need to get your shit together. I guess the boys too. Ymm, yeah, boys too.

So It Continues

Bush's people are bailing out faster than an inner tube full of Cubans with a leak (no disrespect to any Orientals).

The good news is that the replacements are all first rate Nazis. Ten more months.....

Monday, March 10, 2008

What A Douche Bag Eliot Spitzer Is!

This guy Eliot Spitzer, has a hot wife (though she is a bit haggard in the video, wonder why?) and he is Govenor and bangs a hooker? Disgraceful, he has to go away now.

What a Stain...

Bye Eliot Spitzer.

Waste Of Time And Money

It amazes me how god damn stupid world Governments can be.

How Do We Pay For This??

Upgrading the Polish Military?

It's one thing to plop a radar station in a country and tell them they will be safer for it, but upgrade their Military? What is that. How can we pay for that? Bush is running the US of A into the ground, then he will leave. What a legacy, breaking everyone except the filthy rich, who just keep getting richer.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Have No Kids

My youngest son turned 18 over the weekend. I am no longer over the barrel of being responsible for kids! They are both adults now and on their own, well kind of. The youngest is still in High school, so I won't kick him out yet. I actually expect to help him a lot with College and his first car, two things I never had help with myself (which is fine).

I took him (center) and 2 of his friends to Dave and Busters. There's $110 I will never get back.

His older brother stopped by a few minutes ago, but the boy is off playing video games at a friend's house. Nice to see the oldest son in person. Seems he's doing well.

Man I feel old, as does my back; after picking up dog crap this afternoon. Time to get that new Will signed, removing my X completely from my life :)!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Vampire Weekend (update)

My friend Laura let me borrow her copy of the debut CD from the band, uncannily a few days after I had first checked them out. The CD is phenomenal! I will return her copy and buy my own (support your bands!).

Listen for yourself...(don't pass over M79 or Cape Cod Kwasa Kwasa!)

A little Paul Simon-ish, when he was in his African groove (way before Peter Gabriel copied the idea).

How's Your Economy??

The US Department of Labor makes it really hard to figure out how bad off the country is. Some facts/figures I find disturbing;

265,454 people were laid off (extended) in the 4th quarter 2007.

"Effective with the release of data for January 2005, BLS began publishing seasonally adjusted monthly MLS [Mass Layoff] series." (they don't clearly publish raw data anymore).
What happened in 2005 to warrant this? Oh yeah, Bush's "tax breaks" started tanking the economy! We have to make us here look good, see?

I asked them if they could provide totals on individuals receiving Unemployment and/or Welfare each month. I doubt we will ever see those figures, but damn if we won't pay for them and also bail out all the A-Holes who took out sub-prime mortgages.

Cross Italy OFF My List Of Places To Retire

Why is it only women who get the right to lie???? And this is their "highest" court? I shouldn't bitch about that considering here in the US we are interrogating Baseball players.