Saturday, May 31, 2008

Discovery Is On It's way

A flawless launch! STS-124 is on it's way, a great American achievement.

I Don't Have A Dog

I took Bullwinkle to the pound today, to have him put down (killed).

It has been a terrible 5 months since his brother Rocky died. Bullwinkle had been getting sicker and sicker, covering my house with vomit and crap. His ability to walk had degraded to the point that he could barely get in and out of the house.

Now I have to clean up all the hair and buy new carpet.

God's speed you stupid lovable dog, it was a long and hard 9 years with you. Years you wouldn't have had if I didn't agree to take you from the very pound you died in today, way back when you were about 5.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harvey Korman, Dead at 81

That is a good long time to live. He was a funny man and was funnier playing the "straight man" than many who have ever tried. God's Speed..

He is in the chair here..

In the gray wig here..

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 13

One of the last things you do before a long deployment (besides banging your wife or girlfriend) is to load all of the supplies you will need for the trip (they are called “Stores”). Ton after ton of food (some fresh stuff too) and other supplies are brought on board, all manually.

All of the canned food comes in cardboard cases of 12 cans, about the size of a large Coffee can each. A case is heavy as hell. These boxes of various things are stored on the floor in the enlisted berthing compartments. It makes sense, but you lose a lot of head room, which there is not a lot of in the first place. The other catch is, as the deployment (Run) goes on, the cooks come and take boxes off the floor, so you never know when there is going be a spot where the floor drops out from under you when you are in berthing (which is kept pitch black when you are under way). Inevitably someone will trip and get a bloody nose or hit their head on a cable run and need a stitch.

The worst of the supplies to load are the Trash Disposal Unit (TDU) weights. Like everything else, you form a line of guys and toss the items from one to another, until everything gets to where it needs to go, below decks. The TDU weights were in much smaller boxes, maybe 8 or 10” square. These boxes weigh about 50 pounds each. The weights are used to ensure the trash cans ejected from the Boat when out to sea, sink all the way to the bottom of the ocean. No traces.

The fresh eggs, milk and vegetables are handled much more gingerly and rarely suffer damage on the way to their storage spots. These are like gold once the hatches are shut and everyone knows it.

Since the boxes are smaller and heavier, they are tough to handle, harder to toss. It’s a lock that one or two will hit the deck and break open, or go over the side and sink to the bottom right next to the pier. Everyone was sore after the job was done. It usually took a few days, depending on how long you were heading out for. Sometimes it just takes an afternoon.

One other thing you stock up on ahead of time is cigarettes. We got them “duty free”, which means we don’t pay taxes on them. Sweet! They all get delivered and you go pick up your requested order right before the Boat gets underway. The only catch with this system is; at least one jackass is going to try to quit smoking on this run and brings/orders none. I will get a little deeper into that situation shortly.

The day came and we headed out to sea, this would be the longest run I ever made and broke a record (for most of the crew) for time submerged, that’s no surfacing…period.

As the Boat heads out, a mission briefing is held on the mess decks. Anyone who can squeezes into the room. The briefing was vague and well…brief. That meant we were probably going to see some action. Soon after we crossed the deep water mark, we submerged. It would be the last time anyone got any fresh air on board for a long time. Where do the farts go anyway? I never thought of that till just now. There are air filters on board, silly thought.

The first thing you do when you are headed out on a long run like this is “Angles and Dangles”. The Dive Officer sends the boat into a steep dive, and everything not solidly secured, goes flying towards the front of the Boat. Then, after a few minutes, the Boat goes into a steep rise and everything that is already loose, shoots across the room towards the aft of the Boat. I was in the Control room and pencils, rulers, erasers, maps, books, and more were flying around from the Quartermaster’s station. I helped secure things as best I could. It’s always strange standing on a normally flat surface, leaning now 35 degrees forward then back. Some storms cause this too, more side to side though.

The angles went on for about 15 minutes. In berthing, the food cases on the floor were quite a hazard! Once the XO was satisfied things had enough time to shake free, he cancelled the maneuvers and we went quiet, just like that. We were in “Patrol” mode. We had to transit to our patrol location and did so VERY quietly.

The problem was; there immediately appeared a very loud sonar contact/target that we figured had to be very very close.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bit Torrent

If you have ever used a file sharing application, you know that about a year and a half ago, if you were in the USA, you were getting beaten down every time you fired it up. Guess where these attacks are coming from??? China.

I like to use this medium to preview an assortment of media, audio, video and assorted digital. If I like it, I buy it.

I also sometimes find things I can not buy, but like a lot. Read my blog from last summer about music. A lot of that is not purchasable in the USA.

I notice that now, when the Beijing Olympics are near, these attacks have waned sharply. I expect China is doing all it can to divert attention to it's governments gropings into the US mainstream society and overt hacking attempts of everything and anything US.

It is solid proof to me that they are behind all this Internet mayhem and should be held accountable, but the US and the UN have NO BALLS. Big fat Pussies.

Instead, we invite the Chinese to come to the US and get training on Navy and Army drills/technology. It's the exact same thing we did for a little country called Iran before 1979. It gets/got no press coverage and I could puke over it all.

The 3rd world war will be with China and the real scary part is that 1/3 of our enemies in this fight are already US citizens.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Burma Keeps Killing Me

For no good reason either.

He Wanted To Break The Skydiving Record

Right, let's do this! Only problem is, the balloon left without him.
Too funny.

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 12

We made it back to port without any further incidents. I spent most of the trip back tracking merchant ships and fishing trawlers. The two most typical ships you will encounter on any ocean. It was good training and I learned how to use the “Ouija Wheel”. It’s a device you use to calculate range, based on how many tick marks tall a target appears through the periscope. It might be hard to explain here, so ask me in person if you really want to know how it works.

After we got back and had everything secured, we got into the daily grind of maintenance, maintenance and more maintenance. It was pretty boring most of the time when you were in port, or under way for that matter. JT had a great idea one slow day and decided to pay a visit to the Museum up on main base. They had an older version of the MK 113 FCS up there and he wanted to get what we called “ready spares”. Spare parts.

The Museum people told him, as long as you don’t change the outside appearance of the equipment, knock yourself out. John came back to the Boat and got tools and Dyke, and headed back. Taking tools off the Boat was verboten, so he was taking a real risk. If caught, he could get busted down a grade. Keeping ready spares that were not procured though the purchasing system were also not allowed.

The Navy was cracking down on tool theft really hard at this time, because it had become such a major problem. They were even randomly searching cars leaving the base.

John did it anyway and we wound up with a nice pile of spares stashed away in the drawers under the benches we sat on. Much later on, the Weps saw the spares in the drawer and called John on the carpet about it. John told him the truth and the jerk was still pissed about it. John asked if he should trash the parts and the Weps backed down. The Weps usually did that.

The results of my advancement test came back while we were in port and I had passed. Others did not advance. Dyke was a little pissed that I had made it on my first test. I think it motivated him to get his 2nd Class on the next test, which he did. JT had me get my butt up to the uniform store and get my uniform insignia updated right away.

I picked up all of crap and took my dress uniforms to the cleaners just outside the base’s gate and dropped everything off to get the new patches put on. The dungarees used iron on patches, so I took care of those myself. The pay increase was miniscule, but it helps.

Kitchen Patrol (KP) was a job for any newbie enlisted men on board. My number came up and I was ok with doing my part…peeling potatoes and doing dishes. I thought it would be a good break from the daily doldrums of being in port. Someone made a stink about this, because I had made 2nd Class. The issue got escalated to the COB who put his foot down. “A 2nd Class Petty Office will not do KP.” He said. Some people on the Boat resented me for this, but I really had nothing to do with the decision, so that faded fast.

I began working on my Submarine Qualification (Quals). This program boils down to a card that has a list of every major system on the Boat. Next to each system is a space for a signature. You have to go around the Boat and learn every system, some more in depth than others, depending on your rate.

Only certain people were allowed to sign off on a system. A senior FT obviously had to sign off on the FT gear. A senior Sonar guy had to sign off on Sonar, get it?

This is a pic of an actual Qual Card (click to enlarge);

They are different on every ship and this one is from a Boomer (SSBN). The condition of the card shown is not typical, they normally get pretty ratty looking.

This is where things turn into a game, like on Survivor. Anyone you have pissed off, makes you jump through hoops to get the signature. And going to a different person in the Division is not an option, usually; you will almost always be directed to the person that hates you the most.

So I had to deal with Taco for my Torpedo Room signature. He wasn’t terrible about it, but he did hold me up for about a week, making me research some very inane things about the air systems. It was the way things worked, checks and balances that keep you in your place. The good thing about Quals is, you only have to do it once, unless you transfer to a different class of Sub or a Ship.

Although I was part of many deployments, I will consolidate almost everything I want to write about into one trip, which I will start next time. I guarantee some of the things I write about will curl your toes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 11 (Jam Dive)

Once we finished the certification, we had to go and load all of our live Torpedoes back onto the ship. No fun, of course. This time I was carrying the Belly Bands from the Torpedo Room up topside, which sucked ass. The trip up the mid-ship hatch was a bitch.

We were given another night off and wound up back at the same strip joint. The next day we set to Sea again. As we left I got to watch the Space Shuttle take off, through the Periscope. It was very cool to see and the shuttle moves much faster than you perceive when watching it on TV.

We were soon in deep enough water to submerge, to the hideous sound of the Dive Alarm.

On the trip back I was training on the FT watch and learned a lot about what to do when. I actually spent most of the time running for Coffee, for anyone who needed it in the Control Room. One Chief wanted 6 packs of sugar in his Coffee, so I decided to test him and only put in 5. He cussed me out after he tasted it, because there was not enough sugar in it. “Dump this shit and go get another one”, he ordered. That is what the life of the messenger is like. I was just filling in, because I was the new guy.

Later I was sitting there behind the Dive (the guys who are driving the Boat), just taking in everything, quizzing the Chief of the Watch (COW, and is rarely a Chief) about his console, when the Executive Officer (XO) walked into the Control Room from the forward door.

Without a word, the XO walked around the dive station, to right in front of me and lifted a foot and pinned the dive plane control all the way down. All he said was “Dive?” What he was doing was initiating a realistic drill. It is something every Boat has to work on, a case where the Dive planes control hydraulics jam and the ship is lurched downward. Obviously a bad thing!

Downward the nose of the Boat went, quickly too. We were angling down in seconds. “Jam Dive” went out over the 1MC. The Officer of the Deck (a-hole Weps) starts barking out commands… “All back full!”

The Helmsman sets a controller to what the Dive Officer orders. This info gets sent back to the Engine Room and they “answer” by setting the control on their end to what was ordered, then a red indicator in the Control Room moves to the spot they answered, so we up in the Control Room know they are making the change. All back full is a pretty intense thing for a Sub to do when it’s moving along at 20+ knots.

Back aft, maneuvering are disengaging the shaft and applying the brakes. Once it’s stopped, they can reengage and start the reverse. The Boat shutters and shakes once they start the reverse. We were at a precarious angle at this point and everyone was just holding on so they wouldn’t go flying across the room.

Meanwhile, on the mess deck, the fried chicken that was sitting in a pool of it’s own grease in the ovens, slid forward because of the sharp angle, and sent a shower of grease right into the convection fans, inside the oven. This caused a fine spray of grease to hit the heating elements in the oven. Guess what?

“Fire in the Galley, fire in the Galley!” came over the 1MC (the main communication circuit for the whole boat). The XO actually kept his foot on the Dive planes, until the Captain walked into the Control Room. It was no joke; smoke was filtering into the Control Room. The Boat was on fire, at least part of it. The COW sounded the General Alarm (a bute!) and repeated “Fire in the Galley” on the 1MC.

The General Alarm wakes up everyone on the Boat. Everyone has something to do, even me. I headed to the Torpedo Room, my station, which was not easy because the Boat was still pitched downward. With a General Alarm, you are not sure what the problem is until it’s announced (in this case I knew), but you don’t think and just get to where you are supposed to be, period. There were just lots of people running around, zipping up zippers as they hurried along, having just gotten out of the bunk.

The fire went out on it’s own after a minute or two (the smoke used up all of the oxygen in the oven). The Damage Control (DC) teams were still rigging hoses when the Galley reported the fire was out. Greasy smoke hung in the air for the rest of the day; it was not bad enough to surface the Boat and snorkel to remove the smoke.

That night we actually ate the charred Chicken, with rice. There was nothing else prepared. I think it was JT who came up with the name of the dish, “Jam Chicken!”

Phoenix Made It!

What a great triumph! A great accomplishment. Don't doubt the mad skills of NASA, you punks.

The Time Is Near

Phoenix is landing in a few hours (or crashing). It's a one way ticket with no second chance.

Friday, May 23, 2008

White And White

Man, I just saw a very unattractive gal (only from the back, but that was bad enough) wearing white shorts and a white tee-shirt walking two white poodles. Why would someone dress to match their dogs to go for a walk? Why two white poodles? Share the wealth bitch.

There is a poodle shortage you know. I hate poodles.

Mr. Negative

A gal at work started nagging me (they do that very well) to be more positive, so I dubbed myself "Mr. Negative".

I plugged it into a search to see if I could find a tee shirt and stumbled onto this. Nice pics. A lot of wide angle, which does not automatically qualify something as Art BTW.

Some interesting stuff. I like photography.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No-Duh (NOAA) Hurricane Prediction 2008

I LOVE the fact that they now “do not make seasonal landfall predictions”. They did last year, but the post has been “corrected” to not say they predicted 3-5 hurricanes making landfall in the US (I forget, maybe more). They have scrubbed the word “landfall” from the NOAA site, even historical posts. Funny!

The 2008 initial tea leaf reading is here; Or is that a crystal ball and tarot cards?

I love this; “Currently, La NiƱa seems to be waning, but its atmospheric impacts often persist even after Pacific Ocean temperatures have returned to normal.” Ok, NOAA was created in 1970! They are basing the tem “Normal” to 38 years of data on an earth that is billions of years old. Logic anyone??

Yeah, they boast they have data back to 1950; and look at how much worse 1950 was than all of the 1970’s, 80’s and this year. How can that be???

Smoke and mirrors I say. They have a big wheel they spin and when it stops they giggle, post the projections and cash the checks they get from our tax dollars. These people can’t predict the weather 2 days from now, and you think they project what will happen over the summer/fall or for 100 years??

Get real and stop this madness.

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 10

The certification exercise was a big deal and includes multiple boats and ships. All of the bigwigs (Admirals) come out to watch, some ride Boats and some on Ships. The Control Room gets very crowded, but since I was fairly new, I was placed in the Torpedo Room. I had rehearsed and gone over the whole process with Dyke and had the system down pretty good.

A game of cat and mouse is played out between the surface ships and the Boats. They try to locate us and we try to get into a good position to blow them out of the water. At a later certification exercise, I was in the Control Room, which I would call slightly organized mayhem. It’s a good feeling to be up there when you get a “kill”, though. Everyone high-fives and a cheer goes out from the Control Room.

The Torpedoes are exercise weapons, they have nothing that can go boom, except the fuel, of course. The nose of the weapon is filled with recording and sensor equipment, so the whole event can be analyzed later. There is also a special modification made to the weapon, so it will (if all goes well) turn away from the target before it actually hits it. This is to avoid Torpedo sized holes in the sides of the Ships and Boats. This feature did not always work and every now and then, a Boat of ship would emerge from the exercise with some damage. I heard that once, a Torpedo actually lodged itself into a Boat’s Sail Plane.

Meanwhile, back in the Torpedo Room….
So there I am with a headset on in front of the Launch Panel with a TM who is operating the tubes. Other TMs are loading weapons or moving them around the racks. The tubes are preloaded, so while we are still pretty far from the ships, we flood them and get the Torpedoes warmed up. Flooding a tube is pretty noisy, so you want to do that ahead of time, if you know you are going to be in a fight.

The cat and mouse part of this can take hours and these exercises go on 24 hours, there were a lot of Boats back then that had to be certified. So needless to say, people started to get sleepy after 15 or more hours of this. We would wind up laying all over each other, which in any other circumstance would seem a little gay to me, but when you are that tired and want to grab a quick nap and are secure in your masculinity and not a knob jockey, I think it’s ok.

During my last cert, I was just leaning back dozing and at one point and had someone’s head in my lap, Smitty I think. I was dragged out of my haze by a loud “Oooouuuuch! Shit!”.

I straightened up and looked to my right to see the TM LPO (lead dude, called Taco) soaking wet and trying to hold a Torpedo guide wire in his hand. He dropped it quickly because it was shocking him. There was a plume of water shooting out of the tiny (maybe pinky finger sized, if that) hole that you feed the guide wire though. Inside the tube the wire it connects to the Torpedo’s guide wire housing.

It was surrealistic really, almost 3 Stooges like. Taco had managed to screw up the grommet (a washer like thing) that holds the wire in the tube and keeps water out. So water is shooting across the Torpedo Room, because the tube is pressurized and it’s hitting Taco as he flails around grabbing the wire, getting shocked, (400 hz) hollered and then dropping it, picking it back up, getting shocked, hollered and dropping it again. It was hilarious to watch.

Laughing like hell, I didn’t even ask permission, I called in the headset, “Closing outer door, tube 2, we have lost the guide wire.” They knew it upstairs too; there were indicators, so they had already started to power down the weapon. Taco was pissed because he knew he would be in trouble, but I didn’t care. He would never have been able to reconnect the wire like things were. After we closed the outer door to the tube, the Weapons Officer (Weps, for short) appeared in the room, very pissed off like I had never seen him before. He was screaming at the TMs and at me. We drained the tube and Taco got the wire reconnected, which required opening the inner tube breach (the door). Then we closed the tube and flooded it again.

If you are interested, you can read how a Torpedo Tube works here; In short; it gets pushed out by the water flowing up behind it when a big air powered ram pushes a few tons of water into the back of the tube.

The Weps hung around for almost an hour before being called back to the Control room. He was nagging everyone about every little thing before he left. Quite the ass he was. The look we got as he left was not good. When the Weps left Taco came over to me, still soaking wet and put his finger in my face and started lecturing me loudly, so I lectured back loudly. He was a 2nd class PO and I was still a lowly 3rd class, but I didn’t care, I was right to do it. Things cooled off pretty quickly, and in retrospect, they always do, they have to. We are all stuck together in a tin can, with nowhere to go!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Carlos Mencia Is Funny (NSFW)

Thanks For The Support

I am hearing a lot of comments on the Navy Blog. Thanks for all of that! I am glad you readers like these posts and I hope the other posts are at least amusing or informative. Feel free to include an email address if you want a reply back, the anonymous comments are not posted on the blog and I don't advertise or spam people. I just like writing and sharing.

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 9

We spent the day mindlessly milling around town, beautiful place, Eh-Hem. We found the strip club waaaayyyy too early and went in. It was open. They had the “B” and “C” performers in there that early. We stayed for a while though. We eventually went wandering and found the beach. The beach was the widest I had ever seen and they keep it pristine, very spectacular. We milled around there for a while and worked on the sunburns. Eventually we got thirsty.

As I said before, Dyke likes Biker Bars. They have lots of those in FLA. We went into one that smelled of urine and I told Dyke I wasn’t staying. The place was nasty. I think we had a quick beer a game of pool and were off.

We found a bank and stocked up on cash for the night. I noticed a little lizard running around outside the bank. I was amazed, I had no clue they were everywhere down here. Mid afternoon there was a horrendous thunderstorm. Those are also everywhere down here in the summer, in the afternoon.

We killed the rest of the afternoon wandering in and out of different shops, then ate dinner. Now it was time to head to the club! We got there too early and it was dead, so we played some pool in a separate room in the bar. We would walk around a corner and see what was on stage and check if it was noteworthy. At this point, the waitresses were cuter that most of the dancers. Am I sounding condescending here?? Sorry.

Sure enough, guys from the Boat started showing up, mostly in little groups and a van must have come by, because one large group rolled in. There had to be ½ of the Weapons Department there. Everyone was in good moods and things were going great. As the night wore on, the top shelf acts started into the rotation on stage and the pool table was abandoned.

It was inevitable as the night progressed; someone was going to do something stupid. You can’t get this many sailors together in one place, that serves alcohol and avoid it…ever. A few guys did. One guy got escorted to the door, by the bouncers, for touching a girl on stage. A few of his mates trailed after them. I blew my share of singles at the stage and had a good buzz going.

Another guy tried to pick a fight with some locals and the whole group was shown the door. I don’t know what it was over, but it was probably something really stupid. I was getting to know one waitress a bit, a gal called Debbie. She had might as well be naked herself, dressed only in lingerie. She was pretty cute, but too chunky to dance, not fat, big boned I guess I would say. Again condescending…

I had been tipping Debbie pretty good all night (waitress/bartender training) and she was doing a great job of keeping Dyke and I lubed. Even so, I was keeping myself under control and not getting “faced”. Some of the others there were getting sloppy drunk. Staggering around and getting loud.

Eventually the girl Dyke and I saw at breakfast appeared on stage and took a lot of our money. Of course we flashed her card to the other guys who were still able to focus their eyes and boasted that we had met her that morning..we were invited! She was a class act, one of the rare really good ones...really good. I think after her second act, I was done, it was late and we had endured a long day. I bade Debbie farewell and dragged Dyke outside to wait for the van.

We poured ourselves into the van when it arrived and went a few hundred yards, when someone had to throw up (it may have been me). It was a long ride back to the Boat. In the morning, we were all saying “My head hurts.” Over and over.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 8

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 8

My first real cruise was a training “mission” to Fort Liquordale (Lauderdale). The reason was to certify the ship for action, weapons that is. I am not sure if we tied up at Coco Beach or Liquordale to actually swap out all of the live torpedoes for “exercise” ones. One of the two. Hell, that could be wrong too I suppose. Somewhere in FLA..

The first thing we do after we tie up is start rigging the Weapons handling system. I won’t go into details, but it’s like an erector set gone mad. There are lots a parts and things that have to be moved around, all so you can slide weapons up or down these rails between topside and the Torpedo Room. You basically slide the weapon under the cradle, gently drop the upper part of the cradle over top of the weapon and secure it to the bottom part of the cradle which are called “Belly Bands” from underneath.

Once secure, you can raise the weapon to about 45 degrees on a hydraulic lift and send it up topside on the rails you spent hours bolting into place. Then a crane latches on and hauls it over to shore. Since I was new, I had the illustrious job of taking the belly bands back and forth. It was not so bad when you were off loading weapons, because you had to carry them from the pier back down to the Torpedo room. It’s a different story when it’s the other way around and you have to lug these things (three at a time) up the ladder of the main escape trunk, two decks high. They were cumbersome, more than heavy. If they get grease on them (which abounds on a sub) they get very slippery. Whatever uniform you are wearing is trashed in the process, regardless.

Once you get all of the live torpedoes off, you have to load on all of the fake ones, it takes almost a full day to complete the whole thing, because there are a lot of torpedoes! Once it’s all done, you have to disassemble the whole weapons shipping system and stow it. It makes for a very tiring day for the whole weapons department, and everyone chips in to help.

Keep in mind we have to go through all this again when we finish the certification, a huge pain in the ass. The only relief is that we leave the topside cradle in port, fully assembled, while we do the testing.

We did have some time off during the whole cycle and Dyke and I headed out fairly early one morning, on foot. We got off base of, then hitched a ride with a passing van that also had guys on shore leave (we were too eager to wait for the van, till it was passing us). We got dropped off in town and Dyke and I headed off.

We came upon a diner and decided we should get some food in us. We went in and grabbed a booth. The place was spacious and bright, lots of large windows. One of us noticed a smoking hot blonde chick, alone, a few booths away.

We ordered our food and started eating, occasionally looking up at the girl, until she smiled at us. We didn’t know what to do. This girl was out of our league, she was out of everyone’s league! Then, it happened. She stood and slowly sauntered over to our table…my god she was hot.

She smiled at us both, it was like slow motion, right there in front of the table. She said “Come see me tonight.”, and dropped two cards on the table. We ignored the cards and just checked out her perfect ass as she walked to the door and left. We got a wink over her shoulder as she exited. Frankly, I was done, I felt I could go back to the Boat and call it a day. Dyke had a card in his hand and proclaimed “She’s a stripper!”

I had to pick up the other card myself, this chick was too pretty to be doing that, but I read the card and sure enough, she was just a stripper. It had her personalized picture and everything. The thoughts in my mind melted in defeat. She left us a calling card for work.

Needless to say, that night, we called.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just Shoot Him In The Head

I don't care if he did it or not, seriously. Just let the guy off the hook and execute his ass. I can't imagine living till 88. Think about what his underwear must look like each night?? If I live to 70, please assassinate me! It will be a huge relief.

This Isn't Good

It seems mixing animal and human DNA can come to no good. I watch horror movies and this is just a damn bad idea on every level. Have you seen Dawn of The Dead and Resident Evil???

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 7

Sub Safe was a Submarine Safety concept someone came up with after the Thresher sank A terrible thing for me to even think about.
I think that was when…

It was certainly an eye opening disaster that should have been averted. None the less, the Navy learns its lessons and imposes a thing called Sub Safe. It is really a common sense thing, like, “don’t leave a hatch open when you dive the boat”. Christ, you will all die, right? Not rocket science. Sub Safe was a bunch of extra checklists that we had to follow any time we touched any opening that breached the hull. I could probably research and find out what Congressman pushed it though, but I am not that interested. I just wanted to make the point to you that the Navy cares.

I was finally on board now and getting to know people, important stuff on a Sub. Then I got a real life lesson on PMS. You would think PMS would not be an issue on a Boat full of men, right?

PMS stands for “Planned Maintenance Subsystem”. It is a devious way that you can find out if the equipment you have purview over is working up to par. The tests were devised by the designers to identify anything (and I mean any-fucking ting) amiss in a certain piece of equipment. These were great for the simpler systems, like IC or navigation, but caused havoc on the analog side of the Mk 113 Fire Control System.

The aged synchro and servo equipment were impossible to tweak into specifications. Twist one synchro one way, and it threw another one out of whack, then another…you could not win!! We all racked our brains for hours on end trying to figure out what needed to be fixed to make these tests pass. I will speak only for myself and say that I signed off passing results that were really just barely (if) that. The tests were completely unrealistic anyway, at least the problematic ones were.

The one test that drove us mad was this one where a target and our boat start approaching each other from 10K yards, then we pass under the target and are expected to have no wild deviation in bearings. Um, the dials on the Attack Director are not so precise that a 1/32 degree wouldn’t occur. It pissed us off because we could never pass this test and even called in a Tiger team once, who blew it off like we did after a few days of scratching their heads.

For most of the Weapons System, these tests were straight forward. The LPO keeps a Calendar of which tests have to be performed when and conditions permitting, we would carry these out based on the steps listed on little pink or white cards. They were very detailed and told you exactly what settings to plug into the equipment, and what the results needed to be (often a “between” this and that.).

We had weapons simulators that we would have to plug into the inside of the Torpedo Tube Breach (the door on the inside of the Boat). This connection required an over ride of several safety locks that are built into the Torpedo Tubes. A little scary thing to do.

The Subroc simulator was the largest and actually served as a bench in front of the Weapons Launch Console, there in the Torpedo room, when not in use. It was a bitch to move and get hooked up. It used all 3 umbilical cables that connected it to the inside of the tube.

The Harpoon, Tomahawk and Mk-48 Torpedo Simulators were all rolled into one unit (If I recall right). It was much easier to use, regardless, as it was pre wired. Anytime we used the simulators, we had to have one person in the Control room and one in the Torpedo room. You would have to put on communication headsets (stinky things with worn rubber ear and mouthpieces). You had to follow all the steps (including aligning the monstrous Switchboard for the specific weapon) of making the weapon ready to launch and sending commands, before and after the simulated launch.

Like I said, most of this was pretty routine stuff, especially testing the Digital components of the system. They never failed at all. Burnt out indicator light bulbs were the most common thing we had to fix. The unusual problems were the most fun, as we were technicians. We were meant to fix problems.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nail The Hackers

All good news!

These assholes and so many others (China) ruin the Internet for everyone.

Panic At The Disco

Their new album is being compared to The Beatles? You decide;

I haven't heard the whole album yet.

Friday, May 16, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 6

John (my LPO), who we called JT most of the time, had one really funny story from the cruise I had missed. The Boat was at Periscope Depth (PD), which it did several times a day, to get or send messages. I guess it was foggy out and out of nowhere, JT saw these giant letters appear through the scope and he started reading them off..”T-O-Y-O…”. He called for Emergency Deep (which means sink the Boat really fast!). It was a Toyota car carrier cargo ship and the Boat was about to smash onto it. They missed.

Those kinds of accidents are typical ones for Submarines. You may recall the Boat that hit a Chinese Trawler a few years ago? Coming to, or near the surface on a Sub is a precarious thing to do, because if a ship is up there with its engine off (sometimes on) it can be missed by passive Sonar. Then there is a “clunk”.

One myth I want to dispel; is the stupid sound effect you hear in the movies whenever a Sub is under water. You hear a ding, ding ding sound the whole time. That is supposed to represent either a fathometer, which is really only used when you are in shallow waters, or active Sonar pings. Active Sonar sends out a high frequency pulse of sound that will bounce off a target and bounce back to the Sonar Dome, so you can get a good range and bearing. The problem is, either one will give away your position to the “target”, because it’s noisy! In the real world, US Subs rarely use active Sonar. Not true for USSR ships and Subs though.

Back in the barracks, I was saddled with a very odd room mate. His name was James, but everyone called him JB, his initials. He was a tall lanky southern guy, maybe a few years older than me. Someone skewed his initials into “Mai-Me” which he would answer to also (maybe a stupor thing??). Short crew cut blond hair and a bit of a southern drawl. He was a Nuke (worked in the Engine Room), so I rarely saw him on the Boat. We never became friends, but we were friendly towards each other. He knew if he needed something, he could count on me and vice versa.

JB had a habit of chasing “fat chicks” and even participated in contests with other guys to see who could bed the biggest on any given night. I only got to see him doing this for real, one time and completely by chance. My friends were winding down one night and we found ourselves at the big Country place close to base. I wandered over to the Country side and grabbed a bench against the wall once I spied JB. He was a different person in here and I was far away enough to take in the whole thing, without him noticing me.

He was at a large round table with two other guys and four “stout” girls. The girls were all smiles and giggles and had no idea that this was all a contest for the guys and had a fairly large payout. That night JB won, and it took every bit of moral strength in my being to not die laughing as he left the place with this huge woman. I knew then, that I would not be going back to the room, most likely. He would have her there.

When we bailed out for the night and got back to the barracks, I propped myself up in one of the lounges with a few beers (available via vending machine right there in the barracks). I was watching MTV, which was all the rage, just down the hall from my room. I don’t know how JB snuck this woman in, but some hours later, when I was dozing on the stiff couch in the lounge, JB woke me as he was taking his girl out and told me the room was free. She was hanging at the door to the lounge, looking happy.

So they left and I crashed, some nights you wind up sleeping in the lounge all night. Ask any Sub sailor and you will hear a similar story. JB didn’t get back till very early in the morning. He told me he had won big, a couple hundred bucks. I think he enjoyed the whole thing and the money was a bonus, but I couldn’t say for sure.

Any time JB had too much to drink, he would wake up the next morning and utter over and over “My head hurts, my head hurts, my head hurts”. He would change the inflection of the sentence so the vocal range would be high to low, then low to high and emphasize a different word each time. It was hilarious. He would utter the same thing all the way down to the Boat on Monday mornings. Everyone raided the huge Aspirin bottle in the Doc’s office on Mondays.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Obama Is A Liar

NOOO way this gal is a sweetie!

I think he was being nice, considering?? She admits she has been called worse, so why is this news? She should be flattered and I am oficially an asshole.

Zimbabwe Is Rich!

Yep, 500 Million dollar bills! These are worth $2 in US currency, which is itself not worth much more than toilet paper. Keep printing more money dumb asses! With no capital behind it, toilet paper is truly worth more than th cash there. Can I have a few million? I gotta go...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 5

The rest of the crew was support staff that I didn’t often interact with. The Yeoman I had already met. The Deck Division were the guys who had not scored good enough on the entrance test and came to the Boat right after Sub School. They had a tough life, mostly chipping paint and applying new paint (while in port). The cooks were ok for the most part.

I always hear people say “The food on Subs is great”, well, no it is not. Maybe in the Ward Room (the Officer’s palace), but not out on the Mess Deck. I will say they did the best they could, most of the time. The Interior Communications (ICs) guys were very cool and I immediately got along with them, which turned out to be a very good thing (I will explain later). The Machinist Mates (MMSs) were indifferent and Red was the “character” of the bunch. I won him over like I did the unfriendly Torpedomen, but he was a person like none other I had ever met. I thought he belonged in the movies, because he was bigger than life. He was wild and crazy and smart and a little scary. His blond hair and wild blue eyes were hard to overlook. When you talked to him, he always paused and looked at you, before he would answer and you would be wondering if he was going to just answer, or kill you.

My first trip out of the river came a few weeks later. We had a “Dependents Cruise” to do. This is a quick trip out to sea where you load the Boat up with all of the wives, girlfriends and family that cared to come. I had no family along on this trip, or ever. It was kind of cool to have a bunch of civilians on board, though. I remember looking at some of the women and wondering, “What is he doing with a girl like that? (or vice versa). It was interesting to watch the officers get VERY pushy with their families around. You wanted to smack them up side the head more than usual.

We brought the civvies in through the Weapon Shipping hatch, as it had the shortest ladder to get up and down, about 8 feet. We always stationed people topside and below to assist. It was always needed.

The Boat undocked, which is an interesting procedure to watch. The first thing you have to do is get a line over to the Tug Boat so they can latch onto the Boat. This is started with a device known as a “Heavie”. A heavie is just a rock (I think it’s a rock?) tied up securely with a light rope and that hangs off a long length of the same light rope, about 3/8” around. The idea was, you twirled the heavy weight around (almost like a Cowboy’s Lasso) and once you had it spinning fast enough, send it in the direction of the target (the Tug in this case). The trick to the Heavie is letting the rope you have curled up on your arm go out so it doesn’t slow down the weight. Once you got that line over, you would tie your end off to one of the Bull Nose’s on the Boat and the guys on the Tug would pull tie a heavy metal cable to the line you tossed over. Then we would haul the cable over to our Boat and secure it to one of the Boat’s Bull Noses. There are multiple bow and stern lines that you have to undo once the Tug is firmly attached (or as it is hooking up).

Once the Tug is secure and the regular lines are free, the Tug takes over and guides you down the river to the Long Island Sound and then departs. We sailed past Fishers Island and into the Block Island Sound. Once we got out there into deep enough water, we submerged to Periscope depth. I had never seen the ballast tanks flooded, so that was cool to see. A huge plume of water vapor shoots up as the air is vented from the tanks both forward and aft. Once the Boat goes under, they close the control valves and stop the sinking. I was under water for the first time on the Boat and had that first feeling of helplessness creep over me.

Now the fun starts. A line of civilians forms in the Control Room so everyone can take a turn looking through the periscope (scope for short). A lot of the equipment in the Control Room was covered up because it’s “super fucking classified” (look it up). I was busy tracking contacts near and far, trying to make sure we don’t get hit by anyone, or do the hitting. One of the other FTs was on the second older scope keeping a watch and barking contacts out. Once every booger eating kid and wife/girlfriend had their turn looking at water and sailboats, we surfaced, which is pretty cool too.

To surface, you blow high pressure air into the ballast tanks, which forces the water out the bottom; and the Boat gets lighter. So we surfaced and headed back to meet the Tugboat. Tying off to a Tug out to sea is harder, because they don’t get too close, so it’s a much farther throw with the Heavie. We did it and made it back to port unscathed. This was one of the few times I had nothing to do and put on a Life Vest and got to go topside while we were actually underway. The view on that sunny day as we passed under the railroad and New London Bridge was spectacular.

Well, I Guess I Am About 1/3 Gay

Yes, a recipe...

Usrke (Polish dumplings)


For the dough
225g/½lb plain flour, 1 egg and water to mix

For the filling
450g/1lb of dried mushrooms, soaked according to instructions (or fresh)
1 onion 25-50g/1-2 oz and pepper. You can add any spice you want really, basil, oregano, garlic...go nuts).

1. Chop everything up and fry the onion in a bit of Olive Oil. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt (opt.) and pepper to taste (try Hot Shots if you like the spicy, but use whatever you like in the filling). Mix the beaten egg into the flour. Add water and mix to a soft dough. Roll out the dough (yes, instead of using it as a weapon, flatten the dough) to a tad over 1/8" thick and use a glass or section of 3 inch PVC pipe to cut into rounds. Wash the glass or pipe.

2. Spoon a tsp of the mushroom/onion mixture onto each round and pat into dough balls, or better, be creative you fag.

3. Cook in boiling water (add a bit of Olive Oil to avoid sticking) for five minutes, drain and spoon onto a plate just before serving. You can make a real easy sauce with Cream of Mushroom Soup, made thicker than the directions call for (use the low salt version and add pepper!). Serve with Chicken, Chops or Kielbasa.

This is traditionally served with beets and no sauce. Um, no thanks there.

Please mail my "Officially Gay" card to #2 North Pole (right next to Santa's). I will get it.

Take Me To Your Spiritual Leader...

Yep, the Pope is cool with Aliens. They would have had to eventually own up to this fact. It used to be a big fear that if Aliens were found, it would debunk the whole "God created man and earth" thing, but they now have a work-around policy in place. God created Aliens too!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 4

My Boat did eventually return from its cruise. They kept getting extended over and over. I found out later, that being extended is VERY MUCH the norm and how much that sucks.

I went down to the pier to meet the Boat when she returned. I thought it odd that a local Sheriff was there waiting too. So as to not bash all of the “great” Navy Wives out there (and there are some, I suppose), I will only say that the Sheriff waiting when a Boat pulls in was typical. He was there to serve divorce papers to some unsuspecting guy, just coming off of a long ass haul under water. It was never pretty. Many of the sailors being met by their wives or girlfriends were in the dark about what antics their women had been up to while they were “out”. That’s what they called it, being “out”, when you were off serving your Country and praying your woman would be at home keeping her skirt pulled down. I guess this all gets back to my plea to anyone in the service to say single. I watched people get crushed.

I suppose the women might have been wondering what their men were up to too? I can answer that ladies. Those men were under water. When they came up and it was not home, 99.9% of them just drank too much, they might have looked, but the huge vast majority never touched another woman. They were too drunk!

Now that the Boat was back, I began my assimilation into the crew. I got to know the Quarter Masters (QM) quickly (we work right next to each other) and the Chief QM scared the hell out of me. He was deeply critical and always seemed demeaning and un-trusting. Kind of mean.

The Navigation Department Electronic Technicians (Nav ETs) were real nice guys and helped me learn about what they do. I found everything on the Boat ties into or supports something else. It’s all very complicated and I won’t try to relate everything together here, but some of them might come together as the story goes on.

I got to know the Sonar team pretty well, but the rivalry between us was very evident. I got to spend some time in the Sonar Shack and learned how the system works. I learned how they interpret the waterfall display of everything the “passive” Sonar Dome is feeding into the computers and how you can tell a contact from biologics (fish or shrimp often).

The “jog” in the middle of the screen is because the boat changed course.

You would be amazed at how loud shrimp are!! Listening to the Whales sing was very cool, and other species were easy to identify too, once you knew what you were listening to.

The Torpedomen (TMs) were a split of nice guys and real jerks. I made every effort to get along with them all, because we worked hand in had a lot. I learned quite a bit of social skills in getting the jerks to think they had it over on me and they then eventually accepted me as a co-worker. I had never bothered to do such a thing before (I just ignored the A-Holes normally), but I really felt it was required here. We would be locked up together, after all. I let them take me around the torpedo room and I would ask the stupidest questions to make them feel oh-so knowledgeable. Then I would Ohh and Ahh at the answers. It was funny to me and a bit sad, that it was so easy. The TMs that were not jerks actually complimented me in my success, I loved those guys (not in a gay way). The jerks coddled me mostly, almost like I was their child.

The Torpedo Room was a mass of shiny steel rails, water pipes and tons of hydraulics, with some high pressure air thrown in for good measure. BORING ALERT!! The steel rails held the weapons as they were moved from place to place by the Hydraulics. There were two sections of floor that could be raised up to let you move weapons from the center stows, to either the port or starboard sides. There was an upper and lower row of weapons. Most were Torpedoes and the rest could be Tomahawks or Subrocs.

It was a fascinating system of rails and deadly weapons, all working in harmony to fill the torpedo tubes as fast as possible. Really, it was a wonder to watch this place in action. I wish I could find a picture.

I will meet the rest of the crew next and take my first real ride out to sea.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sick Dog

The other dog, Bullwinkle, is very sick. Mt Vet (I like the term "Hack") has found nothing wrong with the beast, which has cost me over $1600 US dollars in a week. Looking at the cost/benefit model I have going for this, we are pretty much done here.

I don't love or hate the beast...I have been tolerant of it. It's not "my dog". And I know $1600 is only 750 Sterling, but that is a lot of change too.

I expect he will walk that Green Mile before the week is out. He won't be going back to the Hack.

Burma's Leaders Are Criminals

It sickens me to read that countries just NOW want to air-drop aide inside Burma. The whole situation is like the New Orleans debacle, times 1000.

Uh, it's too late for aide, send body bags, you foot dragging "diplomatic" idiot. David Cameron is an ass who is a week late. Junta = Death. Stop that and stop the madness. It's something I would personally devote the US military towards, but we are too busy in Iraq.

This Is Too Much

Getting murdered, bad.

Stuffed in a luggage bag, worse.

Then lit on fire, What the fuck?

How bad do you have to hate someone to do that?

Have you met my Ex?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 3

I had seen pretty much all of the Weapons Division so far (Sonar, Fire Control and Torpedo Room). I didn’t get into Engineering (the aft ½ of the Boat) till much later.

I found a cool picture/cutaway of a 688 Submarine, similar to the one I was on. Please to be noting that the Vertical Launch Tomahawks up front and the Forward (Bow) Planes were not on my Boat. We had planes on the Sail (the thing sticking out of the top) and all of the weapons we shot, went out of the Torpedo Tubes! My boat was later outfitted for this configuration, a huge waste of money.

I found out early on about a guy that had briefly been my room mate back in Sub School. Apparently he was gay (I figured he was back then, but he never hit on me, so whatever…) and after getting to the Boat, he decided it was not for him. He had a Polaroid taken of him sucking on something (guess what?) and walked up to the Captain, handed him the pic and said he wanted out.

This was fine by the Captain, so off he went to civilian life and later appeared, working at the base Bowling Alley. I never approached him or talked to him, but I knew who he was and so did everyone on base. It was just creepy that he did that to get out of the Navy, but stayed around base. I have no problem with homosexuals, I have had friends who are gay and had no trouble at all, as long as they are not hitting on me. I don’t roll that way.

The Boat was about to deploy on a “Med” run (Mediterranean stint). I was politely told to stay home and was assigned to Squadron HQ for a while. It was pretty laid back there and I got to hear a boat load of fantastic stories about the Chiefs prior experiences on Subs. I also got lectured on how to behave onboard in tough situations, which sank in well and I carried the knowledge forward with me.

I did a 3 week class in a maintenance school for the only real Nuclear weapon my Boat could carry, the UUM-44 Subroc.
The class was interesting, but the 3x2x2 foot simulator for this weapon was a huge challenge to learn. While it was similar to a Mk 75 Attack Director, it was also very different. It was different in both operation and instrumentation. It was a whole system unto itself and was very complicated. Missiles are tough science!

The days at HQ were mostly filled with running mail and running coffee for about everyone, I was still only an E-4. I often wondered what the Boat and Dyke were up to and eventually got a few updates on their progress (classified).

I don’t remember the whole circumstance, but for some reason, my Boat had to head to Faslane Scotland. On the way into port, they hit some terrible seas and had a “malfunction”. I was told the weather there was legendarily bad, I found out later first hand that it is true.

For whatever reason, the outer Weapon’s Shipping Hatch had been lost. It was probably not latched (dogged as we called it) down all the way. These things are really tough steel and can withstand a lot of anything. I heard later from people who were there, that the sound of that lose hatch slamming open and then shut was deafening, until the hinges broke loose and the hatch sank to the bottom.

The Boat was not going to be able to submerge until the hatch was replaced, so they called back to Groton and had the hatch on whatever Boat was being constructed at Electric Boat Shipyard at that time, cut off and flown to Scotland. What a trip! The cost of doing all this was immense. There is a Sub-Tender there in Scotland, so they had most, if not all of the tools ready to make the repair. We always swore that the hatch just wasn’t “right”, because it was from another Boat. It also never seemed to fit right and was hard to get closed. We considered it a bit of a jinx and guys on Subs are VERY superstitious (writings on the wall) Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Here We Go In Lebanon

Iran needs to get its damn fingers out of the rest of the pot that is the Middle East. We have given Saudi Arabia a ton of arms, why don't they use them to stop this? Right, Syria is in the way.

I Like Kubb

I can't get their CDs here in the US for less than $30! Crap.

Kubb - wicked Soul

Fields Are Good!

Interesting video.

Chromeo Is Funny

Not that the music is necessarily funny, it's just funny to see a dorky looking white guy doing funk.

Billy Talent, Not Bad

They remind me a little of Greenday, a little.

You can hear a few tunes here;

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 2

I settled on one of the benches while people rushed around getting the “Maneuvering Watch” set. I sat at a booth and watched a few guys of the crew get suited up for a DC (Damage Control) party and they talked with me. I was able to ask a lot of questions, which went over well, considering my situation.

The Boat was only being moved from one pier to another, by Tug Boat and the Boat’s EPU, emergency propulsion unit (a small electric motor driven propeller), so it was no big deal. They always setup for the worst though. If the Boat happened to smash into something and catch fire or start to sink, the DC Party was there and ready to Rock and Roll.

It was strange to be in a floating tin can and feel it move for the first time. It was similar to that little tug you feel at the start of a Roller Coaster ride. The whole thing went OK, until we hit hard into the pier we had to move to. It shook the whole Boat and I heard shouts filtering down from the Control Room.

I found out later that the Tug had pushed a little too hard, but nothing was broken because of it. While we moved I imagined in my mind how it was all going, as if I was watching from the pier. I was feeling the slight changes in direction and speed and tried to judge what was happening.

It took well over an hour.

After we tied up at the new pier, the Maneuvering Watch was “secured”, which means you are done with it. I stayed put on the Mess Deck and just waited, taking in the flurry of activity around me. Eventually someone came down to get me and we went back up to the Control Room.

I had my first chance to take in the place that would be my main station while I was on the Boat. The FT gear was on the Starboard (right) side of the Control Room and took up the whole wall. There were the very familiar Mk-75 Attack Directors and the Mk-81 Attack Control Consoles. The Weapons Launch Console and the test equipment was all there too. Benches were hooked into the floor in front of each piece of equipment. These could be unlatched at the base and slid forward or back a bit, basically like your car’s seats.

Dyke took me on a quick tour of the front of the Boat, we went to the Sonar shack first. I got to meet the guys there and they seemed indifferent to me. I found out later, that there is a major rivalry between Sonar and FT guys. Even though we depend on each other, both (like testosterone fueled idiots) think they are better than the other.

It’s these rivalries that actually motivate almost every part of the military. Sonar over Fire Control, or reverse. Nuke ET over Navigation ET, or reverse. Sub Navy over Surface Navy, or reverse. Navy over Marine, or reverse. It’s what really drives military people to do their best at the job at hand and causes a lot of mischief along the way.

The rivalries were rampant, but when it came to doing the job (especially in an emergency), everyone always dropped that crap and worked together.

I got to see the Torpedo Room and was amazed at how many weapons they squeeze in there. It was my first time seeing a “Live” weapon and was pretty exciting. The smell on the lower decks was new to me. It is caused by the bilges (the lowest part of the boat), which collect any liquid that might be spilled, peed or condensed outside the normal water, hydraulic and waste systems.

It collects there in the bilge and gets pumped overboard with the other waste. It is not a pleasant smell, ever been in a street sewer?

Phoenix Landing

No, not more UFO crap. It's a NASA mission to Mars (you know, that planet we will eventually need to move to, when the Sun gets hotter).

The landing is on May 25th. It's very complicated;
Aerobrake with heat shield
Deploy parachute at 900 miles an hour (what could possibly go wrong?)
Fire engines to plop safely on the surface

They made a pretty cool video

It's scary because if any one thing goes wrong, it's another embarrasing crashed probe and a total waste of time and money, so cross your fingers on the 25th!

Criminal Imigrants

Yeah, lets let them all come over, great bunch of guys and gals.
sad thing is, the leaders are probably already here in the US and are orchestrating what is happening in Mexico.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Turin Brakes

Just so you know, this is something you should really hear...
Tracks 8 and 9 are MANDATORY LISTENING! A few of my top 20 tunes ever. Zero air play in the USA, sad.

Their newest CD has media here;
Not bad, but I think they peaked with Ether Song.

Socialized Healthcare Is A Mess?

Yeah, what retarded nurse shoots an epidural into an IV? Um, pretty basic differentiation and I know about nothing about medicine, but I can tell a line running into someone’s arm from their back.

Is this what we have to look forward to???? It’s actually not much worse than what we have currently in the USA, so what the hell.

Hercules and Love Affair Suck

Um, my mommy said if I have nothing nice to say...say nothing.

James Yorkston And The Athletes

Not a bad diddy.

Enable popups if needed, it's safe.

The second song here is really low energy. Valium anyone?

Great Tits Like Global Warming

I don't write this stuff.

People Ask Me Why I Am Single???

Nuff said?

Ready For Another Lebanon War?

It's going to be a summer on, a summer off. This one is going to be "on". Syria and Iran need to be stopped cold in their tracks, which is up to the people of Lebanon and the Israeli Army, I guess. It will make for some spectacular video, like it did last time. Israel needs to move to New Mexico and end this madness. I see a New Bethlehem possibility, that would resolve this whole mess?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

In The Navy (On the Boat), Part 1

It’s a little hard to figure out where to begin here. I left school and had to move to a new barracks first. Then I reported to “Squadron” (headquarters) HQ. There was probably some time off in-between, not sure, not much if there was.

HQ is on “Lower Base”, a fenced in area that runs the length of the base near the river. There are a lot of buildings down there! Who knows what they do in most of them. I know some are maintenance (or “Tiger Team”) buildings where these guys who are really good at fixing things can come over to a ship and solve problems that the regular sailors can’t figure out. I have to say they kick ass, I have seen them at work.

I went to Squadron and must have been given a choice of commands (boats) to be assigned to. I picked the same one Dyke was already on. As I mentioned before, I will not give out the name of the boat, because of security concerns. I can mention the name of the Squadron though. It was Sub-Dev-Ron-12, or SUBDEVRON12. They have a web page. I see they only have 5 boats in the Squadron. I won’t say if my boat is on the list or not.

They don’t say much on the web about what they do, but the name gives that away. “Development”. They develop/test things that the Navy “might” use down the road. Many of our deployments were termed “Training Missions”. Ha ha! Of course I can’t go into what we were “training” on, for the most part. I will certainly hit the high spots along the way, but dates and locations will be omitted or be very vague, like “North of the equator in the Atlantic Ocean”.

My first day to the Boat was very awkward. I showed up and had to be escorted down to the Yeoman’s office and drop off my orders. Of course a few of the crew members realized I was new and tried to scare me with crap like, “Oh, a new girl?” I wasn’t amused or threatened and that was a plus, once the dummies realized they were wasting their time, they left me alone. One thing I noted (which kind of dates my arrival) was the use of some crappy computer that used big 8 inch Xerox floppy disks, in the office. I am sure it was “state of the art” for the navy, but I already knew the smaller 5-1/4” floppies were a standard and immediately realized how far behind the Navy was technologically (that would haunt me the whole time I was in the Navy, how far behind they were). I was sent off to meet my LPO (Leading Petty Officer.).

I have to explain the LPO here; most divisions on a Sub have a Chief. If for whatever reason (lack of retention?) there is no “Chief” for a division, the highest ranking Petty Officer is deemed the LPO. My LPO was JT, or John (I don’t want to use full names). He was a “Qualified” Second Class Petty Officer, shooting for First Class. He was fairly short on words and long on tales, in the right situation. He was a bit shorter than me and had a Southern drawl to his speech (Carolina’s). He was salty and to the point. It took me a while to figure out when he was kidding or not. I liked him for the most part.

I met him in the Control Room, which was a little aft and up a ladder from the Yeoman’s shack. He was there with Dyke and Dave, doing some kind of prep or maintenance on the equipment. Dyke just winked at me. Someone in the Control Room squawked on the 1MC (the Boat’s overall intercom) to post the maneuvering watch. I didn’t know what to do and was shooed down the aft Control Room ladder to the Mess Deck (where people eat food) and was told to grab a seat and stay put.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 13

The instructor walked into the room silently and wrote the following on the board;

San Diego
San Diego
Groton (Tender)


Everyone was looking at each other in a bit of a shock. No one told us this was going to be a life changing day! God, give us a bit of warning!!

This was it, we had to pick where we wanted to be assigned after school. In retrospect, a Sub is a Sub is a Sub, so that didn’t really factor into it. This was all location, location, location!

A million things raced through my mind because I knew I would be one of the first people picking an assignment. Hawaii was at the top of the list because, well, it was Hawaii for Christ’s sake. It was the obvious choice, right? It was warm, friendly (thoughts of Elvis movies played in my mind) and I wouldn’t be stuck on a Sub in the snow and ice of the northern east coast of the US in winter.

I was called on, second I think, to pick my assignment. I waited while the instructor crossed off the first Hawaii on the board, which was chosen ahead of me. Only one of those left now. I thought about getting to see my family and friends back home and Dyke who had stayed here in Groton, it would be much harder on friends and family if I was in Hawaii. In slow motion, I spoke the word that changed my fate to this day. “Groton”.

I had gotten back together with that girlfriend, so that might have been a factor too.

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. The guy who picked next said “Thank you” to me and picked Hawaii without thinking.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

School was finally over and I was assigned to a real live submarine. I will not give you the name of the boat, because if I did, I couldn’t tell you other things about what we did, it would be classified. If anyone out there in the DHS/DOD happens to be reading this, please send me a message so I can clear these blogs through you first.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 12

Breakfast out after drinking all night was always an adventure (even when Dyke and Joey were around). You never knew what was going to happen, but it was a given that someone would cause a commotion and that “someone” seemed to rotate between us. More than once we were asked to leave the place. We always tipped good if the service was good though.

One time, it would be hitting on the waitress. The next would be a food stunt that was always messy for the stuntman, but funny. There were often incursions into another group of people at the restaurant; those sometimes lead to almost a fight. It was always an adventure and you never knew if it would be you playing the entertainer on any given night. It would just happen.

Sometimes we would play really stupid music on the table Juke Box (a system you never see any more). It was great to see the looks on people’s faces as they tried to figure out who played that crap. All of the tables had to hear whatever was queued up. It was funny to us.

I did mention before that Dennis was a charmer, which always made breakfast interesting. He would immediately start flirting with the waitress, no matter what she looked like. He could be condescending with a smile and if the girl was not hot he would just talk and smile as if she was pretty. I never saw it pay off for him much, while we were in the Navy anyway. I wound up working with Dennis for a while after we were both out of the Navy and he hadn’t changed a bit. Except now out of the Navy, he seemed to always have a pretty younger girl on his arm. Smarmy…

As “C” school was nearly drawing to a close, I arrived one day to have everyone I ran into, telling me to go to the school’s Commanding Officers (CO) office. What the hell did I do now? I went into the classroom to drop my books first and the teacher was there (uncharacteristically) to sweep me off to the CO’s office. I walked through the door of the office and had a phone handle put into my hand. Everyone else left the room.

I have to give the Navy credit for being really good about getting major family news to their sailors.

My Dad was on the other end of the line; he said hi and then told me my brother had died. He had taken his own life, deep in depression, I found out later. I didn’t go to class that day or out drinking later, even though my friends wanted me to. I walked alone and crying back to the barracks and shut myself in my room. I could have gone home for the funeral and it was probably a mistake that I didn’t.

I decided since this was my second time through this school and it was almost done, that I didn’t want to have to take a break now and risk having to start over yet again. At least that is what I tell myself, even today. In reality, I suppose I just ran away from the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my brother and had more in common with him than my other siblings, which I think made it harder. I understood his choice to do what he did, even thought I didn’t know the circumstance. It still tore at me.

For a few days, everything was difficult. I had to excuse myself from class from time to time. For a few weeks, I avoided my friends and would go out alone to the one bar everyone hated, because I could be alone in the crowd. I would typically down several dry Martinis and head back to my room before they fully kicked in, then pass out. Denial, you think?

Eventually I returned to normal, as much as I could and finished school. The day after our last test we all piled into class and sat for a long time waiting for the instructor to come in. He did and just silently walked in, no greeting, with a piece of paper in hand. He walked straight to the chalk board and started writing….

Burma Really Is Trashed

22,000+ dead and 41,000 missing?? I would say anyone still alive needs to head for high ground and stay there.

Monday, May 5, 2008

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 11

I was in night school now and it was a pretty big adjustment, but we all survived. Class started at 3:30PM each day and typically ran till 11PM. Since this was my second time though the class, this was all review (for a while anyway). I was acing my tests regularly and didn’t have to study much at all for class, in the beginning. It was a good thing, because I was up to advance to E-5 (Petty Officer, 2nd Class).

I realize I had not covered how you advance rank in the Sub force. It’s different than the Surface Fleet; everyone enlisted starts at E-1, which is a nubbins rank, nowhere to go but up. After boot camp, anyone who had a rate defined ahead of time was automatically promoted to E-3, “Seaman”. Once you finish “A” School, you are promoted to E-4, “Third Class Petty Officer”. So I was at that rank back before I got sick.

The way these promotions work is, the Navy has a set number of openings (they call them Billets) for a given rank and rate. The highest test scores (there may be a bonus for time in Rank) get chosen first to fill those billets. The strange thing about the FTG rate was that we had to learn both Submarine and Surface FTG information for the test. I was studying to calculate how high to point the gun on a battle ship, when I would never use the knowledge on a submarine. I hear they separated FTG into two rates, but I am not sure.

I took the test right at the end of school and felt I had done well. It takes a while to find out the results of the test. I didn’t get the news until I was actually assigned to a Boat, so I will wait till I get to that part of the story to revisit this.

By now though, Dyke and my other friends were gone, assigned to a Boat and out of our barracks. I befriended a few of the guys in the new “C” School class. First was Dennis, a smarmy guy around my age. He was the equivalent of an Arabian snake charmer, very captivating. He was certainly the leader in the class. His friend Bob was always at his side. Bob was older, maybe 30 or 35 years old, and reminded me of my Uncle Harvey. He was worldly and contrived, always. He took things slow and always thought before he spoke.

Bob had a funny habit of putting his school books under his pillow. If asked, he would say he was learning by Osmosis. It was funny, but I think he really believed it. Bob and Dennis both had a very sharp wit and I always thought they should not get along because of it, but it was never the case.

We started going to the Bar with the Shuffleboard table after school got out. We would jog down the hill to the barracks and change into our civvies as fast as possible, then pile into a car and head out. Since we didn’t have to be up early, we almost always closed the bar at the end of the night and then went out for breakfast. This tail end of the night was always the most amusing part of the evening.

Burma Destroyed

Estimates have the death toll at over 10,000 for now. The government isn't letting aide workers in, what a mess. The UN needs to step up here and end this madness. They won't because China has huge interests in Burma.

I have decided to not fly my American Flag this spring/summer in protest of the inability of my country to do something that actually matters. Maybe in January 08 I will

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Global Cooling?

Umm, WTF? It isn't a "trend" if you predict it's going to get cooler for the next 10 years. It is dumb ass "scientists"covering their asses. They DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 10

Just to clarify one thing, I had broken up with my girlfriend at this point.

The lass (I couldn’t give you a name if you held a gun to my head) and I went to the Hotel and it turned out I had just enough cash to get a single room, just barely. The Hotel was a pretty nice one, but we got the “hairy eyeball” from the desk clerk. Give me a break; this was a first for me!

We went to the room and did what two single people do in a situation like that (did you think I would go into details?). I will say one thing about it and I don’t mean to slight anyone, but “the bush needed a trim”. There was so much foliage, that I was actually sore afterward. Then we slept.

In the morning, she wanted to go at it again, which we did. If I thought I was sore before, now I was chapped. It hurt so bad I actually faked the finish (yes, usually the girls do that, but guys can too). We dressed and I set off with her in the passenger seat, to her home in South Lyon. She gave me directions as we went, which I needed because I had never been in this part of town. We got to her Mother’s place and went inside.

The house was pretty old and had creaky floors. I think I had some coffee and a kiss goodbye. I did get a number, but didn’t keep it. She was a few years older than I was (I found out 4 years) and a long distance relationship with a chick in Boston was not appealing. Besides, how many other times had/would she jump into the sack with a total stranger she had just met? It was what it was, a one night stand.

This is damned embarrassing and funny too. Before I walked out to the car, I knew it was on fumes and I had no cash or credit card. I had to ask for a few bucks to get me home. She gave me a five dollar bill and off I went. It’s not like I hadn’t laid out the cash the night before for drinks and the room. It was still embarrassing to ask for money though.

I went to the nearest gas station I could find, it was early in the morning and some places were closed. I put in the $5 worth and hoped it would be enough to get me back to the barracks. Remember I have a gas-hog of a car?

I did make it back and my friends wanted the whole story. They died laughing when I told them about how sore I was. It actually hurt for a few days. That part of the male body seems to heal quickly.

Some time before the one night stand I had resumed “C” School again. This time I was going to night school, instead of the daytime course, which was interesting. We started at 3:30PM and went till 10:30 or 11PM. I will get into the whole new circumstance of night school next….

Saturday, May 3, 2008

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 9

My Mother was keeping a close eye on me while I was at home, so I was covered. After leave, I went back to the Hospital to get the staples and the tube removed. That was fun!

I reported for duty and was told I was scheduled to repeat “C” School in a few weeks. I was put back on barracks duty. Same boring crap…1/2 days of cleaning and then watching TV. Some nights I had to stand watch which was more boring than you can imagine. More often than not, the person who was supposed to relieve me (or anyone on watch really) would not show up. You would have to go down to the duty desk and find out what room the A-Hole is in and go wake him up. It was never fun to go through that. The guys you had to wake up were always asses and often drunk.

Dyke was still there for a while, taking some other classes specific to certain weapons. I would later go to those too. We found (I won’t take credit for the find) a new hangout in town. It was the one I mentioned before near the General Dynamics shipyard there in Groton. It was almost empty most nights, which meant we had the run of the place.

We quickly befriended the bar-keeps, some very salty “older ladies”. They loved the dirty flirty talk and we all poured it out when we were there. We became the regulars quickly, which was probably a bad thing, but good for the bar. We were having fun though. There were some other regulars that we got to know too, almost all were nut jobs.

The place had a “regulation” sized table Shuffle Board setup. We got someone in the place to show us how to play and we immediately went into “competitive” mode. I have never played real shuffle board, but the basic play is two teams of two each, throwing puck sized things across a wood board and getting as close to the far edge, without dropping over the edge.

We played Shuffle Board a lot (because it was free) and there were a few unkempt Pinball machines that we beat up on too. Outside of that it was just smoking, drinking and talking. Besides the wenches behind the bar, there were rarely noteworthy women in the place. I say rarely…

One Saturday night we are out at the bar and it was still fairly early. Unbelievably, three fairly attractive women came into the place and ordered drinks. We kept playing Shuffle Board and didn’t talk to them at first. We weren’t lubed enough to be that bold. There was the occasional eye contact, even though they were at the bar with their backs mostly to us.

After a while both Dyke and I had said hello to the girls when we went up to get a drink at the bar. One thing leads to another and we wound up sitting with them in the row of booths against the wall across from the bar. Long story, short, the cutest of the girls seemed to like me. She was in Law School in Boston and was home to visit family. She was Jewish, something I had never been exposed to.

She seemed nice and not all drunk and falling down, like the gals you would find in most Navy or dance clubs. She didn’t want to go home when the place closed though. We went to another Bar that was actually in a Restaurant. I had eaten there before (pun intended), but never hung out in the Bar. It was open about an hour later than the other place. We danced, which I am terrible at and talked some. Then that one closed.

We had nowhere else to go, so I went parking under the bridge to New London. We talked and made out, but she didn’t want to fool around in the car. We decided to go to the nearest Hotel, but I was concerned about the cash situation.

Burma's Constitution

My neighbor is from Myanmar (Burma). I heard there was a new Constitution being voted on and asked him what it was all about (he has contacts). In short, it gives the Military complete control of the Country and the "government". I told him I was glad he was in America now. I know he would rather be home fighting the oppression though. Or at least getting the news out, like he risked his life doing when he was younger.

So much outside interest, so much strife. It's a condition that saddens me every time I think about it. It is more sad to me that most Americans DON'T think, or even know about it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Iran Is Funnier

Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader) says to the kids of the martyrs (those dead terrorists) "Iranians continue way of martyrs to achieve national ideals and objectives."

Nice rational thinking, right?

They (the freaks) have a list of ideals;

1. Obliterate Israel.
2. Obliterate USA.
3. Obliterate Israel.
4. Allah is great.
5. Obliterate Israel.

I feel so sorry for all Iranians (Persians) that think their own corrupt "elected" (ha ha) government is rubbish. Get a Visa and let me know if I can sponsor you in the USA. I know enough real Iranians to decide I love them and their culture. What is happening there now is not right.

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 8

I grew up in Michigan and have been driving in snowy conditions many times. When I had my very first car and was in my very first snow, I went to a large empty parking lot, just to learn how a car can lose traction and go into a spin. It was fun!

So I am there on Interstate 90 (The NY State Thruway) and still making OK time, even though I am in snow. Most of the drivers are keeping a steady pace around 50MPH as we head due west towards Syracuse.,-76.970215&spn=3.594097,6.646729

A side note here; if you like landmarks, double click Buffalo (to the left) on the map above until you see Niagara Falls (just above Buffalo). Then Double Click Niagara and then click the Satellite button and zoom in to see an aerial view of the Falls. If you are really interested, zoom out a bit and look to the left to see the canal that lets ships (and there are some big ones pictured) that make their way up and down the lakes, around the Falls. You can get all the way to Chicago and Duluth, if that is your destination. If you go the other way from here (with the flow of the river), you can head east and north through the St. Lawrence Seaway up and over Maine and Nova Scotia to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a very historic part of the colonies.

Sorry, back to the story…

So I am tooling along, passing through Utica (which takes about a minute) and I come up on some cars going about 35MPH, that’s way too slow. The bad thing was the guy behind me got out in the left lane first and started to pass, I had to wait. Right on his heels, I drifted the car into the left lane to follow him. I think it was a combination of the lane change and the draft of the car that just passed me, that destabilized things.

My majestic white Grand Fury went careening off the road, going into a spin as I progressed. I clipped a mile marker, which snapped off easily as the car passed over its space. There was a fairly large median between the two sides of traffic, so I wasn’t worried about hitting anyone coming the other way. The spin was disturbing, because again, I had no control and just took my hands off the wheel and braced for impact. The median sloped down from both sides to a dip in the middle, a small trench. I hit the trench and the car finished its last spin and wound up facing the opposite direction I had started in.

I killed the engine and I was fine, just shaken a bit. I stepped out of the car and saw how the tires had dug in as the car came to rest. The ground under the snow was not frozen solid down in the trench. I gave the car a few minutes to recover and then started it back up (it took a few tries). I tried driving it out, but just slung mud all over the white paint and myself.

It was certainly lucky for me that a tow truck showed up almost immediately. He walked down and I found out he was off the clock, working free-lance. We agreed to $40 cash and I slapped two twenties into his palm. He hooked me up and had me up on the road’s shoulder right quick.

Looking up the road, had I wiped out a ¼ mile farther on, it would have been trees instead of the dip in the road. That would have been bad.

I had to wait for a wide opening in the traffic to get back on the road. I made it into Buffalo and then Niagara Falls fine. The snow was letting up a little. I stopped right at the bridge to the Canadian side of the falls and had to take a leak. I walked down the hill and under the Rainbow Bridge (it was dark) and took care of that. I stood there alone for a few minutes looking at the Falls, lit up in a rainbow of colors.

The ride through Ontario to Windsor went fine too. It was a short ride from that point, 4 hours to get back into the USA, Detroit and finally home. It was really early in the morning when I got in the door.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Clinton's People Are Cheating

Again,NPR is the only one I have heard this on. Of course I would NEVER accuse a Clinton of themselves cheating, they would NEVER do that.

In The Navy (FT “C” School), Part 7

So the hole in my right side is about 5” long and a tube is sticking out near the middle of it. The tube is for drainage, smells nasty too. The stainless steel staples that held my side together were becoming, I thought, of the monstrosity that “was” this whole ordeal. The worst was over though.

I was soon able to walk (more a hobble) on my own in the Hospital, still strapped to my IV and in my “gown”. If I walked down to the communal TV lounge, I never knew if anyone could see my ass crack if the dumb gown was not fully closed. It’s a risk I took to just get out of the room.

I was released into a brisk, cold, sunny day and I remember the sun hurt my eyes at first. It felt good to get out of the Hospital though. I was taken via wheel chair to Dyke’s waiting car (it may not have been his, but he was there). We went back to the barracks and I had to walk up the stairs to the room. I went about 4 steps up and almost dropped right there.

I had not counted on the muscle loss due to being bed ridden. I had to be helped up the stairs, not carried. My body felt twice the weight it really was, to me. In fact I had lost over 30 pounds during this whole thing and my clothes hung on me like a clown suit does. At least my shoes still fit, but were a bit loose. I had to tie me belt tight and fold the pants at the hip to even keep them on me.

I spent a day or two in the barracks walking as much as I could and purposely trying myself on the stairs. I was able to eat real food now, not a lot of it though. Once I felt I was ready, I decided I would take the remainder of the 3 weeks convalescent leave I had been granted and head back to Detroit.

Because I am not following a strict timeline, I have to let you know I had purchased a car during an earlier visit home and had driven it back to Connecticut. It was a Grand Fury III, 1976, if I remember right. It was all white and had served some police officer well. It was an ex-Michigan State Trooper Interceptor. What could possibly go wrong?

I packed up some clothes and changed into some fresh bandages. The tube in my side was weeping “fluid” always. I plopped into my beast of a car (don’t ask what the EPA mileage rating was) and headed off north west towards Hartford. From there, it’s due north to Springfield Massachusetts. A jog to the left and I am headed off north west again, towards Albany. I made good time until I got through Albany.

Once I hit Albany central, I hit a major “Lake Effect Snow”. This is snow caused from winds moving south out of Canada, across the Great Lakes and picking up moisture on the way. On the other side, it snows. Pretty simple concept, but suck-ass conditions for driving.