Wednesday, April 30, 2008
This is lost on most Americans. It’s sad to see the mimicry of American POP music leach across the globe like this. Just sad.
I haven’t heard this many over produced and harmonizer laden tunes, since 1995 (or later). I will comment on some of note, one way or the other;
Albania: Olta Boka is cute, but the song is over produced. She has a good voice though, no harmonizer.
Azerbaijan: That’s just gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Belgium: Traditional, not over produced a tiny bit. One of the few in the contest.
Bulgaria: Nice, Deep Zone & Balthazar brings it. A funky dance-reggae tinted musical freak show. I love it! They did not make the finals? How is this not on the air in the USA????? A SMASH I say! Stay with it for a minute, trust me.
Cyprus: Evdokia Kadi swishes up a great beat (stick through the first minute). Is that French? Simple spender.
Estonia: I started drinking after this one. My Mom said if I have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
Finland: These boys spend the money they save on shirts to have laser chest hair removal. Money Metal band.
France: I am glad Sébastien Tellier made the finals with Divine (um, didn’t get it here right?).
Some dummies in the French government raised a fuss because the song was in English and not French. Get with the times. It’s sweeping the globe! Funny video and catchy tune! I like the fact that he’s silly.
Greece: Hot, but over produced.
Ireland: Just silly, you guys! Funny
Israel: One of the few in the native tongue. Oh, I bashed that a second ago, right??
Malta: Morena is cute and a fun video, worth a watch.
Moldova: I couldn’t find it on a map, but not bad.
Netherlands: Cute, but again, over produced.
Romania: No Harmonizer, but very pompous. Too serious guys.
Russia; English?? They are still trying to invade the US, any way they can.
Serbia: Jelena is mostly simply sweet sounding.
Slovenia: Looks like a trashy Playboy shoot. Umm..
Spain: Roldolfo is funny, if you like it look up Group X on YouTube.
Ukraine: Pretty girl, looks like Kelly Rippa with tits.
UK: Nice and Funky! Nuff said.
The first face I recognized as a face and not just a shape was a nurse. She was close to me and calling my name. No sooner did I realize there was a person there, than I started throwing up, from the anesthesia. It was orange looking and tasted viler than your average vomit, bitter. The nurse was ready for it with some sort of bucket, so I suppose it’s normal to puke from the anesthesia. It was nasty, but it woke me up.
I was so dizzy that I was seriously disoriented. I felt hot too. Whoever was there started talking to me and I probably babbled back, but I have no recollection of anything that was said. I was just thinking, had survived the surgery? I didn’t feel any pain anywhere on my body, I was just hot. I was getting hotter too.
Apparently, they had shot me up with Morphine for the pain (I found out later). That explains the lack of pain and the fact that I felt so hot. It took a few minutes after I was awake for the nurse to notice that all of my skin was turning bright red. I was having an allergic reaction to the Morphine. It was fairly dim in the ICU, or maybe I was still in a fog.
There was a flurry of activity around me, loud hurried talking that I didn’t understand, or I should say, couldn’t. I found out later that they had to shoot me up with something to counteract the allergic reaction. Christ, they just saved me and now they try to kill me!
It was not the Hospital’s fault, how could they know? It was my first time getting Morphine, ever. To this day, I can’t get any doctor to give me ANY form of pain medicine that ends with “ine”, and that’s about all of them. It sucks because I have a bad back and when it flares up I am still left just taking aspirin.
I was eventually moved from ICU back to my room. Shortly after arriving there, a nurse came in to remove the catheter. She had me on my back with my knees up, like I was in stirrups. She was fiddling with something down there (I couldn’t look) and then told me she was going to take it out now. I felt a slight tug deep inside my gut, I figured the nurse had started taking it out. Then a second harder tug and then a third, even harder. It appeared to be stuck and she has been trying to just jerk it out. She tried again and I thought my bladder was going to get pulled out the hard way.
She went and got another nurse who came into the room and the new lady extracted the fluid out of the balloon inside my bladder that holds the catheter in place (I was sitting up now). The first nurse had failed to do it properly. I love that good ole’ Navy special care.
I was still on the IV for everything, water and food. After a day they let me try some Jell-O and juice, which was fine. Another day went by and I was eating soft solid food. I was recovering pretty quickly.
At some point the Doc came in and told me about the surgery. He said the abscess was the size of a softball and if another week had gone by, I probably would have died. Hmm, a week away from death? It’s no worse than driving is now on any highway around Washington DC. At the time, the news freaked me out a bit.
He said I should be discharged in a few days. That sounded great to me. My friends stopped by a day or two after that and actually snuck in some beer. There was no way I should be having a beer, but I did and it was great. It was a celebration that I had not died after all.
Everything had been so much out of my hands during all of this, that I still hate the idea of having my life in the hands of other people ever. I am a very self sufficient person and do everything I can to stay that way, but you never know when that will be ripped away from you.
It gave me a giggle.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I have a friend now who kicks out several stones per year and once it passes, it’s just a matter of clearing up the urinary tract.
Before the surgery my friends stopped by to see me.
My girlfriend of the time was there also, both before and after the surgery (with her mother), so I have to give her credit for that. This will be the one and only time I ever mention her in this blog. She later became my wife and after that, my ex-wife. That’s about it. Still single now, so that’s cool!
Just before it was time to go in and see the butcher, a Nurse showed up to insert a catheter, and shooed everyone out of the room. My friends just left the Hospital, which was fine.
I was provided a Foley Catheter; http://www.emedicinehealth.com/foley_catheter/article_em.htm. The key thing to realize and remember here is that the thing is held in the bladder (once inserted) by an inflatable rubber ball full of water. Whatever could go wrong!?
She tossed up the sheets and splayed the parts out across my legs. I tried to watch, but couldn’t hold my head up and once it started, I didn’t want to watch.
Having one of these things inserted into your penis while you are wide awake is fairly painful. I think I was being drugged as it started. I can only say I was glad it was not a cute nurse. It would have been embarrassing. There were not many of those in Navy Hospitals then and I expect now (no offence if you are a cute Navy Nurse).
The Anesthesiologist came in at some point and had a fairly large sized cart with him (this is all hazy to me). He prepped a shot and as he began shooting it into my IV he asked me to count backwards from 100. I went “100…99…98…97…” then, was out cold. I don’t remember thinking it, but it had to be the best I had felt in over a month.
Monday, April 28, 2008
It's not at all unlike the US economic "stimulus" package that will give me $1200 that I will spend on Chinese goods and will be paid for by the US Government borrowing the cash from China. All is well here in the "good old USA". Better yet, I have to pay the $1200 back next year after income tax is removed for it. No one tells you that.
Sweden is looking better and better. We are soo doomed. Zimbabwe is actually looking pretty inviting too.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
They made a video too...
Not by me...
And all she had to say is "Sorry". If she can't conduct her campaign without dropping fibs and then getting caught, what do you think she will do if she's elected?
This is vunny; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHVEDq6RVXc&feature=related
Friday, April 25, 2008
I took the dog (15 years old +) to the vet today and $200 later, I had a doggie blood test and a box of (free to the vet) sample drugs to qualm the puking. I hate my vet and the dog. I know this sounds terrible, but I wish they would both die. You decide which wish is worse, I can't. I hate them evenly and will NEVER have a pet or vet again.
I just spent a 1/2 hour vacuuming the living room and the puke is fused to the carpet. It will take a steam cleaner to fix, but I hope to just replace all of the carpet SOON! I think you get the point?
Thursday, April 24, 2008
So I start watering the plants around the house and a few minutes after I water the Jade plant on the window sill in the Kitchen, my son notices a swarm of ants all over it. I was drowning them. Who knew?? I took it outside and watered it some more, a lot more. I don't care if it dies.
Why does this freaky crap always happen to me!!??
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
They had found an abscess attached to my right Kidney. If you are keen on medical terminology, read this and see how deadly these things are. In short, it's a big lump of infection.
I was scheduled for surgery a few days later to remove it. In the mean time, I was escalated from a star to the president of the patients in the Hospital. I had Doctors and attendees strolling in to just prod me, for the most part, about every 30 minutes. They were bringing in medical staff from other bases just to “feel” me, which I said before, hurt like hell. I figured it might help someone else down the road, so I didn’t complain too much. That was until some dumb ass oaf came in and dug his hands so hard into my side that I smacked him on the face, more of a closed fist slap. He left in a hurry, not saying a damn word after he looked at my face. I would have killed him on the spot had he tried to touch me again. I actually sat up on my own for the first time in at least a week, an adrenalin rush can do wonders.
I found out from my Doc that they only see one or two of these in a whole year on average, so it was really rare. He explained how it starts as an infection in the blood stream, from some foreign source and then as the kidney filters the blood, the infected stuff builds up around the area. He told me a typical cause is a wound like a puncture, which had me thinking about the beach.
We would often be running around barefoot on the beach and sometimes step on a buried fish rib bone, which could easily puncture the foot. He agreed that could definitely be the cause. Since then I always keep rubber sandals on at the beach, at a minimum.
My friends were very supportive at this point and if any of them ever read this, I love and miss you guys soooo much! Making the effort to visit a slobbering medicated twiggy looking guy who could barely talk was a wonderful gesture.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Why bother? It will come down to Iran nuking Israel and they nuking Tehran. Then everyone bombs each other and terrorist's spread across the globe. A bright future, to say the least.
The CAT scan was the most excruciating thing I had ever been trough in my life, probably because I was already so weak and hurting anyway. I felt like ass to start with, and being transported by ambulance (first and last time ever) in the hazed state I was in was awful. Being out in the cold fresh fall air did actually wake me up a bit, as I was moved from the Hospital to the ambulance and then to the Vets building after the trip over.
I had caught a second wind by the time we got inside and I was rolled into the CAT scan room. The technology in there had my interest and my adrenalin was up for sure. I was asking the tech there questions about how it all worked and what the end product was. The guy was Asian and didn’t have a great command of the English language. He looked at my forearms as he was strapping me onto the plank for the scan and commented that they were deformed, “Deformed eh?” That has stuck with me my whole life, thinking I have these deformed forearms. They look FINE to me, you ass!! Anyway, I was more alert than I had been in a week during all of this. I was doing great…until the shot.
They shot me up with a turkey baster sized syringe full of irradiated barium liquid, then some more. It’s still commonly used today. It makes the CAT scan turn out better visually. That crap they shot me up with was vile and in only minutes, I was nauseous. As the injection goes in, you feel it, the cold liquid at first, then the burn as it works it’s way up your arm from the IV. Then up to the shoulder and into your chest. Once into the heart, the whole body immediately feels like it is sinking, down, down…the center of the burning winds up in your gut.
I had lost over 20 pounds in about 2 and a half weeks. I was feverish, full of barium, sick, tired, but not asleep. I just wanted to die and be done with all this.
I was strapped down to a plank and fed into this noisy whirring doughnut. Anyone claustrophobic would freak out. I was in and out of consciousness, so I have no clue how long it all lasted. I don’t remember anything more really, until I was being put back into the van for the trip back to the Groton Naval Station Hospital.
I remember it was sunny and the air was cold, crisp and dry. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been in the sun and mentally paused to relished it landing directly on my skin, feeling the warmth of it. In retrospect, I would soon be going much longer periods of time without any direct sunlight. So that whole feeling seems kind of wimpy to me now. I had much yet to learn about isolation, but that will come later.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The opposition won and Mugabe is taking time to rig the votes. Go away old man. You have driven inflation in your country to the highest in the world. Africa is a danm mess.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
My friends took notice when I stopped drinking and slept pretty much all of the time off of school. They had good intentions and this one guy we played cards with sometimes decided I needed fresh air and exercise. He was into working out a lot and dragged me out into the cold fall air and we tried running up and down a long staircase between the upper and lower parts of the base, near the Sub School. It almost killed me. After a few times up the stairs I was throwing up (dry heaves) and collapsed. The guy was sincerely trying to help, I know that. He helped me back to the barracks and I dropped into my bed sweating, more from the fever than the exertion.
The next day I dragged myself up to the Hospital at the very tippy top of the base. That was a fun walk, I stopped and rested often. I got there and after some time was taken in to an ER like room. A Corpsman came in and looked me over. I told him my situation and he prescribed a regiment of Aspirin, of all things. It was for the fever. He figured I had a cold to get over.
I went back to the barracks and just stayed in bed. I stopped going to class and got worse and worse. I was not eating anything and just drinking water or juice. It went like that on for three more days before I asked my friends to take me back to the Hospital. They did, and this time when I was weighed I had lost 10 pounds in 3 days. The fever was no better, so they admitted me.
I won’t go deeply into the obvious treatments they tried, but for the next 3 weeks my condition deteriorated. Antibiotics did nothing to help, so this was obviously something worse than your average infection, flu or cold.
I became the Hospital’s star patient. Everyone wanted a chance to come pull some blood (which I needed more than them at this point), or take my vitals and say “Uh huh” while they checked my pulse or prodded me, which hurt like hell. I was getting worse. Still not eating at all and really just sleeping most of the time. I was on an IV for fluids and it was really great when they had to rotate from left arm to hand, then right arm to that hand with the IV. I couldn’t even go to take a piss on my own and had to be helped. Then a few days later it was a bedpan, because I couldn’t get up. I was literally dying.
I guess I have to accept that people just don't care and never will.
I had a fight with a thorn bush, which I lost miserably. Nature is a bitch sometimes, it is what I was there to help though.
I picked up 2 ticks in the process, so I think I will wait until we have had a freeze in the fall to do more stream work. Instead I will just clean up in the open areas in the neighborhood, proactively keeping it from winding up in the strean and eventually the Ocean.
Tick removal; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick#Removal
Thursday, April 17, 2008
If you remember, back when I first arrived in Groton, I was in a pretty much abandoned barracks. I found out why, shortly after “C” School started. They were demolishing two of the old barracks to make way for a brand new larger one. The dynamite blasting shook this whole part of the base, because the whole place sits on a huge granite slab. The blasting wasn’t real deep, but they obviously wanted a flat plain for the new building.
The blasting seemed to take a long time, but once the frame of the building went up, things moved really fast. It wound up being exactly the same design they used in the newer buildings back in Great Lakes. Red brick abounds.
We were now in the Regan Presidency years and over time we started receiving more and more protesters at the base’s main gate. They would line up along the fence adjacent to the base’s baseball fields, that leads to the gate. They had large posters of mostly carnage from the US nuclear attacks on Japan near the end of WW2. We would roll down the windows in the car as we passed the protesters and yell “How much for the picture!?”, or “I love that one, can I hang it in my living room?” Of course the protesters yelled back at us, calling us “war mongers”. It was cruel, but they were tremendously annoying and there at the base entrance always. The fact is, not a single US Submarine fired on a live target in my years in the Navy (that I know of) which was 1981 to 1987. This was the height of the Cold War though, and tensions were always very high.
Of course I had no idea about what was happening out in the submarine fleet while I was in school or before then. If you are at all interested in the subject of the Cold War and the part Submarines played in it, please to be reading “At The Abyss” by Thomas Reed. It is an excellent reference book, not a novel. Riveting and factual though.
In hind sight, I do now see the nuclear attacks on Japan as a bad thing, but at the time I understand their reasoning. I hope we are in a better world now, but I fear that’s a pipe dream.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
What is funny is; when this story was originally posted, they mentioned the glacial melt in West Antarctica and the glacial increase in Eastern Antarctica. The mention of an increase has been removed. I need a new news source.
Joey took me out to a huge club where he used to DJ. It was bitterly cold and snowing mildly when we headed out. He (of course) knew everyone there and I was a little left out to dry, but he had not been home in a while. I wandered around this club and was amazed at the size of the place. Giant speakers were littered around every wall and there was a large stage. It was similar to a gymnasium in size, but a big one.
The music was great too, so I listened and kept walking around. I wandered into an area I should not be in, near the stage and a couple bouncers came over and “collected” me. I told them I was with Joey and they took me to him in the DJ booth and he OK’d my presence. It was like he had the run of the place. He was spinning tunes and talking up the records. It was fun to watch him work the crowd and hear his voice banging out over the speakers.
After we left that club (around midnight, maybe later), we went to a restaurant where everyone knew him too and had a late dinner. It was real good food too! Joey flirted with the waitress and it reminded him of a story he had not told me before. Apparently he had a real hot girlfriend when he was in college. He was at some big wig function with her and one of Dick Van Patten’s sons (Vince) was there. So this guy starts hitting on Joey’s girl…hard, which Joey didn’t appreciate. I guess he made some dick head move and Joey just decked the guy. That’s a feather in his cap in my book.
At the end of A School, Joey disappeared, heading off to the SSBN (Boomer) Submarine world while Dyke and I stayed in the SSN (Attack Boat) side. I think Joey went off to Washington State to finish the rest of his training.
FT “C” School is next and it’s a bit like going from Middle School to High School, you look down on the guys in Sub or A School. There is no B School, ecause the Navy just can’t spell.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Most of the people in every class I took got along great. In “A” school there was this one guy named Anthony that rubbed everyone the wrong way. He was from New York City and had a tremendous chip on his shoulder. Most people in the class avoided him at all costs. Dyke was really annoyed by the guy, but I think it was more because they had a lot in common. I don’t mean to bash Dyke, he was a great friend and either of us would have done anything we had to for each other.
So…very near the end of “A” school, Dyke must have had a hair up his ass one day. We were all sitting there waiting for the instructor before class one day, when Dyke went up to the chalk board and drew a shape;
He didn’t say a word, just stood there for a few seconds, looking at the class smiling. I was just as perplexed as everyone in the room. There was a long silence and I spoke up and asked, “What’s that?”
Dyke answered, “This is Anthony’s head.” Circling the whole sketch with his hand and then pointing at the indents that are above where the ears would be. “And when his Mom was shitting him out, this is where she had a Rest Stop.”
The whole class cracked up for at least five minutes. Anthony sat there and just took it, chewing a toothpick. It’s so funny because he really had an odd shaped head that was pretty much the shape Dyke had drawn. He must have just had the idea, because I had never heard it before then. I doubt I am giving this justice, but it was the funniest thing I had ever heard live, to date.
The nick name stuck, we called Anthony “Rest Stop” whenever he started acting like a dick.
We had Advanced FT “A” School next, which was just 3 weeks learning some of the more advanced digital electronics. I won’t devote a whole section to it in this story.
At the end of Advanced FT “A” school, we were split up into different groups based on what weapons system they needed people trained on. The guys going to the newer Mk117 equipped boats went into one group of classes and those of us going the older Mk 113 route were split into a few groups too. It was like shuffling a deck of cards.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Again this bit of the story spans several years, but is compiled into one over arching subject.
The places (bars):
Rosie’s, A lovely low end Strip club, the closest to the actual base, right on Rt. 12. They occasionally had out of town or a national touring “big name” talent, but for the most part the girls (oops, should I say “dancers”?) were pretty skanky and looked like crack whores. We played pool a lot in the place when there and only went over to the stage if there happened to be a hottie there that night. It was a shit kicker joint and you were completely at the mercy of the dancers when it came to music. A lot of Rod Stewart and bad 80s metal bands. Fights were common and the smell in the place was not the best. Vomit and liquor mostly. The beer was fairly cheap when the dancers were not on stage though.
There was a “dance club” south of Rosie’s on Rt. 12, across from the lone movie theater back then. The name changed several times. It was a single level, over crowded, full of drunk married women (who’s husbands were out to sea) piece of crap bar. The drinks were expensive and the music was too loud. A lot of the guys I hung out with loved it, but I hated it. I would go and sit back and watch my friends get rejected when they asked a chick to dance, and laugh. Of course he would come back to the table and state the “She must be a dike” comment. Every now and again someone would actually get a girl to say yes and get a dance, but it was rare. For some idiotic reason we would wind up there early almost always and leave early because we had too much juice. They even did a “Ladies Night” from time to time and had male dancers entertaining the all female crowd. Once the male dancers were done (around 10 or 10:30) the ropes dropped and every drunken sailor that could still walk went on the prowl in the place. It was very insane, but funny to watch.
Just up or down the street and on the same side of Rt. 12 are two other bars, to the south was a hippy joint that played 60’s music and was rarely a venue for us. To the north was this place that looked like it used to be a restaurant and had been converted into a bar. It wanted to be a snooty upscale joint, so the drinks were expensive and we were out of there…
Almost across the street from the expensive bar was the “good old boys” bar/dance hall. Half the place looked like a barn and by 11:30 on any weekend, it smelled like one too. Just a whole lot-o country boys and girls just getting their “country” freak on. They had a smaller section of the place that was actually palpable. They played more progressive music and had some great main stream new video games (the original Tron) that sucked the quarters out of my pockets. It was always funny to wander over to the country side of the place late in the evening and see what’s doing. Those boys were too funny.
The bar at or near the corner of Thames and Pleasant Street (I don’t remember the dang name!) and I doubt it’s still there; It’s an ancient dive that I will wait until “C” School to “dive” into deeper. If I forget it, shoot me a message because this place was the best!
Bars in and on the way to Norwich:
Biker club 1 – This place was actually pretty well taken care of and fairly new. Dyke was a “Biker” and was fully at home in the place. If you know me, you know I am NOT a biker and stood out like a sore thumb. The joint was far enough away that we didn’t go often, but did know fairly well.
Biker club 2 – This club was actually in Norwich proper and one was what you would expect to find in Daytona during Bike Week. Very rowdy, noisy and playing a lot of late 60’s head music. Lots of fights and drugs. I was not a fan of this place at all and only went a few times. Dyke was funny though, once you got him into a place like this he would transform. He became an arrogant flippant biker guy, way too good (or maybe bad?) to talk to you. He would strut around like a bad ass with his chin up and a smoke hanging from his lips. The more he guzzled, the worse it got. It was a kind of freaky transition he would go through and more than once I left a bar without him when he got like that, because I couldn’t get him to leave.
Bar in Old Lyme
The spot we found there was very much like a VFW, but we had the run of the place. It was empty often and a good place to start the night before moving in to the “hot night life” of New London or Groton. Wink…
Bars in Mystic Seaport:
There were some very nice up scale bars/restaurants in Mystic (and yes, this is the place where the Mystic Pizza movie came from). In the summer, there were some that were open wide and you could take your drinks, walk out onto a large sloping lawn and actually go to another club. It was pretty nice and even though they had every right to be, the people were not snotty around here. I remember a cool night, late in the summer and there were all these fireflies outside. It reminded me of a JRR Tolkien scene at the Fairy’s part of town that I had read in Lord of the Rings, very scenic and serene.
There was a dance club out a little past Mystic that we went to a few times that was much better than the one in Groton. It was more open and less stuffy. Brighter, but still had the loud music. I suppose that’s mandatory for a dance club.
Other Strip Clubs:
There were others that appeared and disappeared within weeks. Someone found one VERY good strip club up north, just across the Massachusetts border that we went to a few time. It was too far to go too often, but had excellent “dancers” and was not too expensive.
I must sound like a drunken horn-dog. Um, I read books too.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Gotta have the Dolphin Boy..
We liked the west most part of the beach there because of some topographical qualities. There was a stream that we could easily wade through at low tide which separated us from the throngs of people/kids on the main beach. The stream caused an ever shifting beach front and some weeks would spill into a large pool, other weeks, be pretty straight into the Ocean. It was neat to see it change over time. If we were coming or going and the tide was high, it was not an easy task to cross the stream. Sometimes it would be up to your waist!
A link to a satellite picture is below;
http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=1&z=17&ll=41.30183,-72.115642&spn=0.00328,0.006512 Zoom in and out to see more.
To the right of the frame is the mansion. At the top is a parking lot that they installed right before I left town, it was a dirt lot before. To the lower left is the stream and beach. If you want to you can zoom out a few times, then pan right till you get to the Thames River (the big one) and follow the right bank of the river north and see the General Dynamics boat Yard (before the bridge) building something. Pan farther up and you will see the base and all of the piers. The site used to not let you zoom in too much because it’s an active base. It’s classified info when you talk about what boat is at any given place at any given time. Later on I will drop providing any dates, when I start talking about my time on the boat. I don’t want DOD coming over and knocking on my door.
This beach was our main hangout for the two summers I was in school. We would start going in the late spring and be there most weekends till early fall and it got windy. More than once we went to the beach too late in the season and froze our butts off.
We would bring hotdogs, buns and of course a large cooler of beer. We would hunt up and down the beach and gather dry driftwood for a fire. It was a short walk over the dunes to gather enough dry beach grass to get the fire going. We were very good at the whole beach fire thing and I guess it was legal, because we never got basted over having a fire going.
We would walk farther west (left on the picture) if we wanted to get away from the crowds even more, or even just have some time alone, to think. It was much less crowded the farther you went. If you just kept walking that way, you would wind up in New York, but that would take a long time.
If you go back to that map and zoom out, you can see the Islands to the south that we could see from the beach most days and pondered going to visit some day. We always wondered what was on them and someone spewed a rumor about an abandoned old Navy base being out there, or a Nuclear Weapons storage site. None of which are true. We never bothered to actually go to any of the islands.
Fall began to wear into winter and our days at the beach would be over. So we regressed into playing cards in our free time (Study for class?? Yeah right!). We would also go out on the town more in the fall/winter, which I will reluctantly dive into next.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I would think we in America know where these bad spots are and can proactively attack them. Over 400 kids rescued, mostly girls. Where did the boys go? I am afraid to hear the answer.
If I were president, I would evacuate all the women and nuke all the men. Sick ass bastards. Why Texas?? Clean this crap up "dudes".
The show was on WAVA then, which a few years later switched format and the show disappeared for while. They re-emerged on WJFK, where they stayed until yesterday. They had been part of my life for 21 years.
The last show was very emotional for me and the way each member of the show left as the broadcast progressed was moving. It was just Don left for the last two segments and he just talked about his life, time in radio, thanked a lot of people and said good bye. Very classy. They took no phone calls and had no guests.
Mike will come back next week with his own show and I hope it does well. I will listen, but it won’t be the same, which is what had to happen. Safe home Donni G!
You can actually listen to the show here; http://www.wjfk.com/Don-and-Mike-Show-Comes-to-an-End/1953962
Thursday, April 10, 2008
My friend was apartment shopping in New London, so I offered to tag along as it beat the concept of walking back to base. The first place we went to was decrepit and we didn’t stay long. The next place was right up the street. It looked nice enough, but smelled moldy. I sat on the arm rest of a couch while he got the short tour. I was sitting there for maybe 30 seconds before I noticed a small sting on my hand and looked down to see a small black speck bounce off me into the air. I looked down at my legs and noticed what had to be hundreds and hundreds of tiny black specks, moving. Flea infestation! I jumped up, grabbed my buddy by the arm and dragged him out of there. Just writing this has me itching…
I stood outside and shook my whole body off. I took off my coat off and shook it for a long time. I got down to my bare feet and shook out my shoes and socks, with my bare feet on the cold concrete sidewalk. It was disgusting. We went back to base and I took a long shower, but didn’t see any more fleas. Maybe it was the cold outside that drove them off of me?
I actually stayed away from New London for a while after that episode. It creeped me out completely.
Changing gears now…
Another thing about joining the Sub force is medical related. This probably all happened in Sub School, but I just thought of it now. You have to go through a battery of sight and hearing tests that were new to me. The vision test was not too different from the one you get for glasses, but it was new to me. The hearing one was kind of neat. You get placed in a sound proof booth and they play different tones into this stereo headset you have to wear. The do left and right randomly changing the tones up and down each time. You have to raise the corresponding hand when you hear each tone. It goes really high and low, it’s a very extensive test. I must have been borderline, because I had to do it twice.
If you fail either the vision or hearing test, then “see you later”. You are sent off to a shore job or a Sub Tender.
This next bit is a little gross, so if you are squeamish, please read on…
The next thing they do is remove those pesky old wisdom teeth, REGARDLESS OF THEIR CONDITION. The dentist who did me was actually sad and called over the Chief dentist to look. He was arguing that my wisdom teeth were completely crowned and had come in better than most regular molars on the average person. The concern was a wisdom tooth getting infected while someone is out on a run and a Sub having to surface to get the guy home. It’s an understandable concern, and I hear it used to happen fairly frequently.
I had all four pulled in one sitting. I was given some Novocain and out came the plyers. I felt the physical grinding as each tooth was wobbled side to side to break it loose (crunching all the way) and then the pop as it was pulled out. It didn’t hurt till later that night. I spit blood all night and woke up shortly after getting to sleep to throw up because of all of the blood I had swallowed. I felt like a vampire gone wrong.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
FT “A” School was a 12 week long dabble into one of the most complex systems I have ever been introduced to. It should have been mind boggling, by any stretch of the imagination. A Weapons System on a fairly modern Submarine is one of the most insanely/brilliantly designed things you could possibly encounter. If you think about it, every other part of a Submarine is there for one reason; to support the Weapons System. It relies on or ties into everything inside the hull and is the one real reason you are out there on the water in the first place.
This is a classic argument between Sub Weapons Division personnel and guys running the engines. The engineering guys say the weapons are crap if the engine can’t get them to where they need to be. The weapons guys say we wouldn’t need an engine at all if we didn’t have the weapons. Of course, they need each other, unless neither is needed.
We dove into very complex “component level” trouble shooting. That means we learned how to figure out what Diode or Transistor on a certain card might be blown out. The hypocrisy of this level of training is the fact that we had no way to actually replace an individual “component” on a circuit card in the field (except maybe in the most extreme situations) and would normally just trash a bad card and plug in a replacement.
We were the very last class of MK-113 students (or so I was told) for the US Navy, so we were the last guys being trained like this. Someone had figured out that it was a waste of time to teach to the component level and with the new MK-117 there were just cards to swap out anyway. The MK-113 systems were all being replaced.
One of the most difficult parts of the class was learning how to handle the monstrous Analog equipment that was part of the system. The MK-113 (Mod 10, which I was learning) was a mix of archaic Analog and new age (for the Navy) Digital technology.
The MK-75 Attack Director was a fascinating piece of equipment. The reason it existed was to track a single target’s course, speed and range, so you could kill it. It was taller than a man, steel frame, heavy, always hot and very quirky. It was water cooled like much of the electronics on Subs of this time were. It’s easy to chill water down and dump the hot excess water overboard. It had 3 sections, which we were taught one at a time. If you opened the top or bottom section it looked like what you would expect the inside of Robby the Robot would look like. It sounded like a symphony of humming frequencies, anywhere between 60HZ and 400HZ. It was a just a big ass maze of gears, synchros and servos.
The rest of the Weapons System was mainly complex switching equipment, less the one Digital component of the system. The MK-81 Weapons Control Console looked a lot like a first generation Atari game screen, it was monochrome, black and green. It really had one purpose and that was to backup the MK-75. It was all digital and the FTs spent a lot of their time getting the Computer guys to restart the UYK-7 Computer which fed the MK-81 data. Windows 3.1 made this thing look like a tinker toy, for a lot less money.
We learned all about digital logic circuits (AND, NAND, OR, NOR etc.) and how they worked. It was a great experience and the technology basics we learned are still very practical in digital circuit design and software design, even today. But the fact remains, the weeks we spent tracking ones and zeros through digital circuits was an utter waste of time to us all, once we got to our boats.
Some of the training was learning how to replace bad pins or sockets in connectors (a common problem). Hardware stuff. We also learned all about safety while working on the equipment, which was interesting. We learned that you shouldn’t touch someone being electrocuted and to instead, use your belt to yank them off or just drop kick the effected person out of harm’s way. I never had the occasion to use either technique in real life, but have never forgotten them.
I wish I could find pictures of the equipment to get the point across of how big and bulky these things were, but I haven’t been able to find a single snippet.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Stunning female, I can't resist.
In short, the EAB is a mask that you plug into a valve that feeds air into the mask, pretty simple. The OAB is a device that uses a chemical canister to generate oxygen which will feed into you mask. The OAB is very bulky because the chemical reaction in the canister gets really hot and needs a big metal plate to protect you from getting burned. The OAB also has a time limit on how long the canister lasts, so you have to watch an indicator dial. The advantage is that you are not plugged into a stationary air connection.
We learned the basics of how all of a Submarine’s systems work. Hydraulics, Ventilation, Ballast Tanks, High Pressure Air, Electrical, Nuclear, Propulsion and all of the ways these have backup or cross connect abilities were taught. It was a lot to swallow and the final test was hard. If you failed, you had a chance to retake it. The US was in the tail end of the Cold War with Russia and they needed Sub Sailors. New boats were still being cranked out by General Dynamics at break neck speed.
The SSBN (Nuke missile carrying, or “Boomer”) Michigan class boats were at the top of the bill. I never set step on one, but compared to the SSN 688 attack boat I did serve on, it was massive. Right around this time the Russian Typhoon Class boomer was confirmed to be real. It was the first time a production Submarine had twin reactors (there was an American sub that tested the concept years before, but it never went into production).
When Sub School ended it was sad to see a lot of the people I had gotten to know leave for other destinations. Most went off for Torpedoman, Sonar, Machinist Mate, Electrical Technician, Quartermaster or Internal Communications (IC) schools. Some of these were on the base, some were at other locations, but I would never see most of them again.
Dyke, Joey and I had all struck (you “strike” for a certain type of position on Subs, it’s like picking a preference) FTG which stands for “Fire Control, Guns”. On a surface ship the FTG rate manage the big guns and the Torpedo Tubes/weapons and launch systems (yes, many Navy surface ships have Torpedo Tubes).
On Submarines the FTG rate handles the entire weapons system, less the torpedo’s themselves and the launch tube. On most current subs, they have a Tomahawk Vertical Launch System (VLS) that also belongs to the FTs (short for FTG, because we didn’t consider the torpedo tubes to be “Guns”). At the time they just had one FTG rate for the entire Navy, but by the time I was about to get out of the service, there were rumors that they were going to separate Sub and Surface rates.
All of this babble plays into what classes we were headed to next. The training program was modularized into common elements as much as possible. There were “Core” classes for individual systems. On Subs at this point in time there were mainly two Weapon’s Systems, the older MK-113 (with variations) and the MK-117. Dyke and I wound up in the pipeline for the older MK 113 system. Joey was in the MK 117 pipeline. You don’t get to pick, you are assigned.
It was nice that the core of my friends stayed together at this point. We are now headed into FT “A” School which lasts 12 weeks! This would be the longest period of time I have spent with any group of people in the Navy, before actually reporting to a Submarine. We were to forge very strong friendships during this time and I expect many of the sailors going through this class did the same. More on that next…
I think I need to move south??!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
The Damage Control trainer is an enclosed room that is designed to mimic the machinery and engine rooms of a submarine. Its water tight, cramped and poorly lit. The class is filed into the room. Behind a window, several Chief’s monitor the whole event and will grade the participants.
You get introduced to some pretty interesting wooden blocks and cones that you get to use to try to plug up the predrilled holes in the pipes. It seemed very unlikely to me that this was going work at all. You also get to handle these metal bands that you are supposed to use to strap coverings over the larger holes. These metal straps are sharp as hell and handling them while your hands are wet, it’s just a matter of time before you get cut. The tool you use to tighten them is clunky too and not very easy to use.
Everyone is in regular navy issue dungarees (pants like blue jeans and a pale blue polyester shirt), but we got to wear sneakers, like you would be underway on a real sub. It was a chilly day and chilly in the trainer. That should make it interesting.
So everyone gets ready and we decide quickly who’s going to do what. I luckily (so I thought) was one of two assigned to do support work, grabbing tools, plugs and bands. Then it started.
https://www.npdc.navy.mil/slc/nss/dct041901.htm (you may want to mute the sound after a few seconds)
The Chiefs in the control room start feeding water into the smaller lower level pipes and water starts shooting across the room in various directions. I start unpacking tools and supplies that I estimate appropriate for the size of the pipes that are spewing, then hand them out. A few on the team are over anxious and drop things, and they get even more panicked. I’m staying pretty cool and we actually get a few of the smaller leaks plugged.
Moments later, the next level of pipes starts dripping. Slow at first and then more avid, very quickly. The pipes at the lowest level were quickly under water and pretty much impossible to plug. One of the guys tried though and was ducking his head under the water and trying to finish off one of the leaks. He was the first casualty. He had over tightened a band and it snapped, whipping back at him and sliced his hand deeply. He was quickly removed and now we were short handed.
Since I was a little farther back from the action, I had to dodge the streams of water shooting across the room and try to negotiate them as I brought tools and supplies up, to be used. We were making little headway at this point; the velocity of the water is so great that we can’t get the patching materials in place to even start to get the bands around them, to hold them in place.
The lower level is completely under water now and the second deck was awash. It was at this point that I realized, this test was not one that anyone has probably ever conquered. I think we were meant to fail because every time we got one pipe patched, two more would open up. Finally a large 6 inch pipe near the ceiling started to gush. The hole in the pipe is so large that the water can’t shoot across the room, just pour down the side. We were quickly up to our knees in water and anyone on the middle level was almost up to their necks.
I was struggling just keeping the supplies moving up above water. Then it ended, a buzzer went off that was not too far removed from a dopey game show. The lights brightened a bit and the water slowly stopped gushing. It got quiet, except for one guy still tightening a band over a patch, which was possible since the water had stopped. Over the PA we’re told the test was over. The water slowly started to recede and everyone took a minute to catch their breath.
I guess we passed, but we did a lot more class work on Damage Control. Duh, on the boat, you would want to isolate the leaking pipe (close the supply valve) before you try to patch it if possible. We never had that option in the trainer.
In my next post I will wrap up Sub School. I did mention that we played a lot of Spades, right?
Saturday, April 5, 2008
We went and got the big ass garbage bags and went down to the stream. I immediately noticed a woman's purse at the spill way that feeds the branch of the stream. We set it aside, to see if we could return the sand filled pouch to it's owner later.
Plastic bags were everywhere, along with a multitude of recyclable bottles and cans. I set my kid to one side of the stream and I to the other, he collecting recyclables and I the trash. I tossed bottles/cans over to his side and he tossed plastic bags to my side.
We cleaned up about 60 yards of the stream, just what we could see, who knows what is buried. It took less than an hour. The next nice day we have, I will be back cleaning another 60 yards of the stream. It's good exercise.
I called the cops to come get the purse after we had dragged the bulging bags of trash (and separated recyclables) back to the house. I got my exercise for the day and we did some good in the process. Try it where you live, look and you will find little streams. The Plastics entering our Oceans from these places scare me way more than melting glaciers. Way more.
http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/6262/divetowr.jpg (yeah, a really old picture, but the tower is still there)
The photo below is older, before they enclosed the walkways to the Elevator. I pity the poor bastards that had to walk that plank in the winter, soaking wet.
It’s a cylinder around 25 feet across, except at the top, with a stairwell winding up the outside and an elevator to come down on. At the top is a platform that rings the cylinder, which is filled with water. There are two pressure equalization tanks/entrances to the cylinder at about 20 and 50 feet from the top. The class was broken up into small groups and each marched up to the 50 foot depth tank entrance. We all had our Stanky Hoods (I didn’t make up the name) which is a plastic hood that you strap on when you get into the tank.
I think the hoods got the name because they were reused over and over in the trainer and got a bit smelly. They start equalizing the pressure in the tank with the water inside the cylinder. The tank also started to fill up with water. A last check was made of each of our getups by the instructor who was also turning valves to adjust the pressure and flood the tank. It’s so cramped and dark that anyone, I repeat anyone, who has an ounce of claustrophobia would crap his pants. Thus, the value of Sub School is realized.
We were taught in class what to do once they open the door and we swim into the cylindrical main tank. We were to not speed swim to the surface, but rather float up. The whole way up we had to repeat “Ho Ho Ho” over and over. If you failed to do so, the air in your lungs would expand and you would probably wind up in the Hospital. The depth was not great, but it was enough to significantly compress your last breath of air quite a bit, compared to the air at the surface. The hood provided an air bubble for you to keep your head in, I think to just help prevent panic.
So we were all set, and lastly told, once you get to the surface, give a thumbs up so they know you are ok. The door swung open and the first guy stepped out, you had to duck your head under the water to get through the smaller hatch. Once he stepped out onto the even darker main cylinder tank, he pushed off the edge and floated up. I may have been the second, I was certainly at the front of our group. It was pretty scary and I was consciously trying to keep calm and breathe normally.
I stepped into the void and pushed away from the edge toward the center of the tank. I had to fight the urge to kick my legs and arms to swim up. I started the Ho Ho Ho and looked up. I seemed very deep in the water, certainly a personal record. The upper front of the hood was clear and I saw several divers at various depths that were monitoring us on the way up. That was actually pretty soothing and I even smiled. Later I imagined why these guys were needed. Someone must have panicked in the past and gotten hurt, freaked out and maybe drowned.
I performed well and once I broke the surface, I gave the thumbs up and lugged myself to the edge of the pool. It was a little hard to swim in the getup. I was given a pat on the back and moved to a side wall out of the way, while everyone else came up. We had no incidents and on the way down in the elevator, we all smiled at each other and had a few high 5s in celebration. Everyone was glad to have that over.
Two of three contests done, and passed!
Friday, April 4, 2008
First was Joey, who was a short stocky Italian guy. He had a great laugh and used it often, he was really fun to be around. He seemed to be able to bring out the best in anyone. Joey was a few years older than me and was a good person to talk to about life’s ups and downs.
Sub School was a lot of rubbing shoulders with new people and almost every day had a twist, like a game show. It was at least interesting. This was also when I first briefly met Dyke, who I will go on about later. At first I thought him a cocky a-hole and to this day, I expect anyone meeting him for the first time would think the exact same thing. It is a façade.
Joey loved playing Spades and taught me how to play (he had no problem taking my money while I learned, of course, because we always play for overall team points). I still love playing today, but it’s hard to find a good group of people to play with. By “good”, I mean competent. I hate playing with an incompetent partner. I learned fairly quickly and the finer nuances of the game were picked up soon. We had a good core of players and played often, when we weren’t going out to clubs (which meant we were broke).
I know it sounds pretty pitiful, but we would gather aluminum cans from dumpsters or trash cans in the barracks (a valid worthwhile pass time if you were on watch in the barracks and were roaming the halls anyway). We would clean out the cans, which often had cigarette butts in them (nasty business). We got a nickel for each can…so we would need a lot of them to get enough cash to get a case of beer. A few times we bought real cheap wine instead, which I didn’t like at all.
We would play spades till the wee hours of the morning on Fridays and Saturdays if we were house bound. It was always funny to see the play get sloppier and sloppier as time passed each night and we got lit. I was usually less influenced because I was pretty much a lightweight and drank my beers pretty slow.
Since we couldn’t have fridges in the barracks, once the weather got cooler, we would stack the beer in between the window and the outside screen to chill it. More than once in the winter, we would forget about the beer at the end of the night and wake up to frozen shattered bottles.
Going to the clubs was wasted on me, I NEVER liked the crowd or noise. The only real fun was getting the dumbass DJ to play one of OUR tunes (The B-52s Rock Lobster was a favorite). Then we would run up to the dance floor and like a bunch of idiots dance with each other. Gay, but not too gay…..
There is too much lunacy to go into about going out to the clubs in Groton, so I won’t dive into it too deep. I will say we took trips east to Mystic (same place as the Mystic Pizza movie) which was really nice, because it was a more mature crowd over there. Somehow we managed to fit in. There were a few bars peppered between Groton and Norwich (about 10 miles north) that were hit or miss. We fanned out even farther north of Norwich and just found dives and Biker bars. Nothing but trouble there. We never got lucky and to the best of my recollection, no one I was with ever got a number or a date, or got laid from an excursion. Maybe it was just me???
The next of the 3 great challenges was the Dive Tank.
It will be interesting to see what they get sentenced to.
I want to reiterate that I don't hate Muslims. I hate terrorists, extremists and those who pervert their religion. Just like the Catholics did during the crusades. I am not even religious, for christ sake.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
So we are crammed in there like sardines, shoulder to shoulder. They start slowly raising the pressure inside by releasing high pressure (HP) air into the chamber from an external tank. There is a gauge that shows you what the equivalent depth would be. By the time we passed 200 feet, it became noticeably a bit warmer. The pressure kept going up steadily. At 500 feet it was like a sauna in this thing, and it only took about 15 minutes to get there. Down, down down, we virtually continued. One guy (or more, inevitably I am told) popped an eardrum and had to be bailed out into the adjoining chamber to decompress immediately and head up to the Hospital. It seemed very painful.
We reached a max depth of 750 or 800 feet and everyone was sweating. We got a quick refresher in “clearing our ears” which is a divers trick where you pinch your nose shut and close your mouth and then push from the diaphragm. It forces your ears “pop” like they do when you are flying in an airplane or going over a large hill in a car, which equalizes the pressure on both sides of the ear drums.
All the way up, we all kept popping our ears. It started getting very cold now and at one point, the water in the air actually turned into little snow flakes and fell to the floor. The windows of the tank were frosted. As we neared normal atmosphere, they slowed the pressure release. It seemed to take forever. We had no one bail out because of claustrophobia, but I hear it’s a common occurrence. If you do bail out, you get a ticket to the Surface Navy (no offence…really).
Getting shipped off to the Surface Navy was the same thing that happened to guys that failed the now mandatory piss tests we had to take “randomly”, based on a letter in the last name.
After the Tank, we were warned to not take any flights for a few days, because we had been subject to more than enough pressure for a while. Apparently it’s bad for the heart. I unfortunately had a flight booked to go back home for the Labor Day long weekend and I went anyway. I can report that everything went fine.
So the first big test was done, we had two more to go through, the Dive tank and the Damage Control tank. Each one was a very serious test that could seriously hurt you if you freaked out and panicked. Even though they take safety precautions, this is not kids play.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Sub School lasted six weeks. In the beginning, you filled out a lot of forms and listened to lectures about Naval Submarine history. I think the lectures were meant to impress us with the importance of the job and the great history that had happened before. We were actually tested on some of these lectures, so you had to pay attention.
Soon, the large big class was broken into two smaller classes, maybe 25 men each. Oh, did I forget to mention that there were no women on US Subs? As far as I know, that has not changed to this today. It was then late in the summer of 1981 when the Navy decided to pop the question; would you push THE BUTTON!? We all had this form to complete and we had to answer the question of whether we would shoot a Nuke if ordered to do so. I assume if you answered No, you would be removed. I pondered the question briefly, since we were given no warning it was coming. Would I??
I answered yes. Under the right circumstances, I certainly would. I understood the concept of mutual self destruction very well and have always hoped it would never come to an all out nuclear war. So far my own country is the only one to have actually used a nuke on people, something I still battle with my self-conscience about.