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This is my life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
I thought you'd like to know that I'm pretty much using Facebook now. I have a habit of migrating back an forth between Internet forums, and the LJ is staying open, because I may come back to it. Same with People Covered With Fish.

This was mainly because when i started LJ, I had a lot of time on my hands because I was on shore duty. I have since gone back to sea and been deployed thrice with frustratingly slow Internet by satellite. Also had a kid and have another one on the way. Bought a house. You know, all the usual excuses for not blogging.

Anyway, I'm around, drop me a line if you feel like it.

Current Location: Watching Family Guy
Current Mood: sprained
Current Music: "Cowboy Butt Sex" by Peter Griffin

1 near-life experience or I want you to hit me as hard as you can
I dropped ten pounds in two days. That can't be healthy. That might explain why I feel like crap right now. Or it could be the chest cold I've been fighting. Or perhaps a hangover from hashing yesterday.

Who knows? It's a mystery.

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I want you to hit me as hard as you can

Isn't it interesting that now that I have been relying solely on the command to make me exercise, I actually failed the weigh-in? I think so, yes.

We use the BMI chart for judging whether a sailor is overweight or not. The thing is, and it seems even the Navy knows this, the Body-Mass Index is bullshit. The medical establishment admits it, though grudgingly and quietly. It makes lots of assumptions about you in order to neatly peg you as obese, overweight, normal or underweight. Of course, the Navy is flexible; if you are over the limit for BMI, they'll tape you - which allows even more error depending on where and how tight they put the tape. If you scrunch your neck down and suck in your gut, you pass. So naturally, yesterday, the Chief doing the taping had the tape snug around my neck and wasn't even touching my waist with the tape.

I know I'm carrying a bit of extra weight at 190 and 5'8" (up from 183 last deployment), but it's not as though I don't have any physical ability or endurance. In fact, the thing that has been most detrimental to my physical fitness over the last couple of weeks has been mandatory command PT. Everybody get together and do lame calisthentics, 100 jumping jacks, 100 pushups, etc. The pushups are really killing me with the tendonitis. The running in formation has given me a muscle strain in my knee and hastened the return of my shin splints.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that I was doing just fine before all this garbage started and now I'm concerned that if I do manage to pass the weigh-in by Friday, I may fail the physical test because I'm hurting so damn bad.

To dull the pain, I've been popping 800mg tablets of Motrin a couple of times a day, a couple Excedrin once in a while, a multivitamin and ginseng. I've also been taking fiber tablets to help with the poundage. Now, with two days to go, I've added a run at lunch every day this week and Hydroxycut. Good grief, I hope it works, because I feel like crap. Vision... blurring...

The good news is that the Physical Readiness Test is next week. Assuming I make weight Friday, it'll all be over by Tuesday.

This sucks. I like to run and lift wieghts and listen to my MP3 player. I enjoy a good workout - I always feel terrific afterward. In fact, I'm going hashing today.

If I'm borderline obese, as the BMI says, then I have serious doubts about claims that obesity is of epidemc proportions in America, especially given how we measure it.

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1 near-life experience or I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Happy D-Day.

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I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Good grief, it turns out I was a terrorist target:

Six foreign-born Muslims were arrested and accused Tuesday of plotting to attack the Army's Fort Dix and massacre scores of U.S. soldiers — a plot investigators say was foiled when the men took a video of themselves firing assault weapons to a store to have the footage put onto a DVD.

They also allegedly spoke of attacking a Navy installation in Philadelphia during the annual Army-Navy football game, when the place would be full of sailors, and conducted surveillance at other military installations in the region.

The guy giving the press conference just said they missed a golden opportunity during the Army-Navy game and that they were surveilling the ships inport. One of those was my ship. I hope it was our menacing force protection posture that discouraged them from thinking we were a soft target.

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1 near-life experience or I want you to hit me as hard as you can
OK, this is way over the top.

Matt Boyd, writer for the completed web comic MacHall, and now Three Panel Soul, was recently fired from his job where he was working under a government contract. He was overheard by a fearful coworker while discussing the purchase of a rifle for paper target practice, around the same time as the VT shootings. The coworker reported this and he was promptly fired, without even the opportunity to clean out his desk.

Three Panel Soul began a short series of comics about the events here.

Some of his former coworkers saw these comics and called them in as a threat, and later Matt was visited by four police detectives at his home. The coworkers also claimed the woman pictured in comic #21 resembled one of them, apparently unaware that Matt does not create the art for the strip. The comics were called a borderline terroristic threat.

I'm sorry Matt worked with hypersensitive whiners, it's a shame about his job. Is this the sort of work environment people with real jobs deal with every day? I'm glad I'm allowed to play with multi-million-dollar weapon systems for a living.

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I want you to hit me as hard as you can
I can't help myself, honestly. There's only three new episodes of Heroes this season and I've started getting enthralled with all the Heroes 360 Experience content.

I think it's fantastic what many TV shows do these days with extra content for fans to discover by paying attention. I don't watch much on TV, but what few shows I do watch, I really like. Shows like Lost and Heroes have all kinds of cool interrelated websites and easter eggs which supplement the plot and depth of plot. I should start including easter eggs on PCIF.
What kind of an easter egg, I have no idea.
If you've never seen an episode of Heroes, NBC has them all online. If you've ever enjoyed any sort of episodic storytelling, I highly recommend you join me in my drooling fandom.
For more content, the graphic novels are terrific.
Besides, any show that has Malcolm McDowell pulling off a grandfatherly archvillan has got to be considered amazing by anyones standards. (Archvillain, of course. Grandfatherly? Wow!)

Could I write about current events that are irking me? Sure... as soon as I'm done obsessing.

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Current Location: The Intar-webs
Current Mood: geeky

I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Whew, the sure-fire way for me to beat a geekgasm is to venture into fanfic/'shipper's territory. I like to geek out on sci fi, but I've always stopped at that line. When I do creative writing, I invent my own characters and plot. Fanfic just ain't my thing... and 'shipping is kind of creepy. (Take Harry Potter 'shippers, for example.)
Anyway, I was reading the Intar-webs a few days ago, as I am wont to do from time to time, and I found this article at Michelle Malkin describing the Army's self-destructive policy toward blogging.

The original Wired article states:
The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.

Well, heck. I understand the need for OPSEC, honestly, but milbloggers are the best public affairs resource the military has. However, even the most innocuous information can useful to an adversary. I don't post future destinations or details about ongoing operations, but I write about day to day life here on the ship and it's available to anyone and there's just no telling what information could be of use to someone looking to harm U.S. servicemen or high-value targets. Somebody on my ship and another ship have already gotten into trouble for posting details about my current visit to Mayport and ships' schedules.

Everything I write here and elsewhere becomes open source, available to anybody at all that wants to look. Just in the last 100 hits on PCIF, I've got one from Malaysia, Argentina, India and all over the U.S. (including the Pentagon); I've also had hits from plenty of middle eastern and from China and South Korea. (All South Korean military officers are spies. No kidding.) Anything I write will be unclassified and if I am informed that my posts may be harmful to ongoing operations, I'll take them down. I post on a variety of topics, some of which are military-related and some that are tangetial to operations my ship participates in.

I don't think that silencing milbloggers is good, but we all need to realize the potential harm it could do. I think training and spotchecking will help, but milbloggers need to take personal responsibility for the information they put out there. It turns out that the Army actually is not restricting milblogs any more than they already do, but it's good for us to be reminded that the Internet is not a private medium and that it never forgets.

That's what I get for taking three days to post about breaking news.

I personally enjoy how my old friend Josh handles this. He's currently a reservist called to active duty in Iraq and his Iceblog is pretty entertaining. Wish him luck.

OPFOR - Aw Hell.
Coconut Commando - No More Blogging For The Commando?
Mary Katharine Ham - How to Lose the Information War for Good: The Death of Combat Blogging

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Current Location: Standing duty
Current Mood: vexed

I want you to hit me as hard as you can
I remember being annoyed with this particular idea while on shore duty, but appreciative of two things: that my command built time into the very tight schedule to allow students time to PT, and that physical training resources were available to those who sought them out.

I want to see the statistics on number of workdays lost to athletic activities. I don’t know how well founded in reality my complaint is due to lack of ability to find the data. I personally have injured myself chronically while exercising, and so perhaps I expect that many others have done the same. I hurt myself due to lack of training and overexerting myself. Once I got on a program that a friend who is also a personal trainer helped me develop, I became better able to exercise without exacerbating my injuries. My tendonitis, shin splints and bad ankles will likely stay with me the rest of my life though, and get progressively worse.

My gripe with the Navy’s “Culture of Fitness” is that there is no training for anybody on how to achieve physical fitness or how to avoid injury. Just go do pushups. Go lift wieghts. Go run. Thanks for nothing. I am an advocate of personal responsibility, but one doesn't know what one doesn't know. If Big Navy wants to dictate PT three times a week, Big Navy better be prepared for the consequences of people not knowing what the hell they are doing.

My gripes with Command PT are several:

- Time taken away from work day. Today, we had Command PT. Liberty now expires at 0600 for all hands on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, in order to prevent lost work time. So I need to wake up at 0400, and leave my house no later than 0500. I got here today and the gate was still locked. It remained locked until after 0600 and after a couple of guys who were already onboard came down to the gate admonish the 100 or so of us (including the CO, XO and all Department Heads) standing there for not going around to another gate. This, after we had called the quarterdeck and said someone was on their way. In the time it took to get to the other gate and back, the gate should've been open and the majority of us waited.

So we started late, finished on time, but had quarters an hour later as planned. I had to wait half an hour for the shower (one for 25 officers, imagine berthing with 50+ guys sharing 3 showers).

- Personal Responsibility. What is the incentive for people to exercise on their own. I have several people who make a habit of working out in the morning who now have to cut their workout short to get to command PT. Others of us exercise later in the day. Why should I do that now? I've wasted enough time and have too much to do to be a gym rat all day long.

- Idiocy. If you're going to out in public and yell cadences and run in formation, at least you could try to run a huge group PT, you should have some idea what you're doing. I thought we looked ridiculous today. You have to go at a slowish pace so that everyone can keep up, but you call cadence faster than the pace you're going. Your guide goes into the middle of the formation where no one can see him, let alone guide off of him, and the whole crew accordions down the pier while other ships look on. It's embarrassing. Plus nobody sings cadences about the surface Navy. There's a reason for that.

Look, I understand that Command PT can build esprit de corps and camaraderie if done well. I have personally never seen it done well in my entire time in the Navy. Except in ROTC, when the Marines were running it.

Go figure.

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Current Location: One foot on the brow
Current Music: "Cool to Hate" by The Offspring

I want you to hit me as hard as you can
More so than who somes up with this stuff, I'd like to know how it permeates the Intar-webs to the extent that it does.

Oh, right, because I perpetuate it.

Ganked from deridere: Comment and I will give you 3 interests on your list and 3 icons for you to explain. Here's mine:

1. That's me at a Halloween Hash dressed as Authur Dent from "The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy". Or it could've been before going to see the H2G2 movie. Yes I dressed up, I've done it more than once, I was the only one and I'm proud of it.
2. This is the logo I designed for the as-far-as-I-know defunct Newport Hash House Harriers. I was the Grand Master as well as the Haberdasher at various times and I drew this to put on t-shirts. Sadly everybody stopped hashing when I stopped running things. I don't know why, they had been doing it for almost a decade before I got there, but there hasn't been much interest amongst the Newport Hashers lately, and they can probably satisfy their thrist for beer with tht Rhode Island H3 or other nearby hashes, or dare I say, even less sweaty methods.
3. Why, that's the Swedish Chef. I don't know, I don't get it either. Other than I'm somewhat Swedish. Bork! Bork! Bork!

1. sex on trail: Sex. While on trail. It happens sometimes while hashing.
2. katel keinig: Irish singer/songwriter, I used to play her album "Jet" on Radio K when I was a DJ and really liked enjoyed her music. Her song "Smile" is my favorite of hers. And she's a pretty lady.
3. scary-go-round: At the time I started doing LiveJournal I would spend half a day reading webcomics. Here's one I really liked with good plot lines and hilarious dialog. And, on occasion, zombies.
4. down-down: Traditional punishment/reward/salutation/etc. from a pack of hashers to a singular hasher or smaller group of hashers who has committed a transgression, or done something stupid, or simply been present. Typical accusations could be things like a hare laying a good or bad trail, a hasher using a cell phone on trail, sex on trail, pointing in the circle, first in, last in, forgetting your whistle, forgetting the words to a song, your birthday, you're a virgin, you're a visitor, or anything else the Religious Advisor feels like making you drink for. Boy I miss hashing.

Current Location: Leaving the brow
Current Mood: nostalgic nostalgic

5 near-life experiences or I want you to hit me as hard as you can

Henry Rollins Band - Liar
"Henry Rollins Band - Liar" on Google Video
I like angry. Rollins does angry well.

In case you were wondering.
I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Slow day. Tin Foil Hat Tip: ewin

What American accent do you have?
Created by Xavier on

North Central. This is what everyone calls a "Minnesota accent." If you saw "Fargo" or "Drop Dead Gorgeous" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Some Americans may mistake you for a Canadian.

Take this quiz now - it's easy!
We're going to start with "cot" and "caught." When you say those words do they sound the same or different?

No kidding.

Current Location: Welded to the pier
Current Mood: bored bored
Current Music: "Liar," Henry Rollins Band

I want you to hit me as hard as you can
So, I'm sort of on deployment right now, but not actually. The ship deployed as scheduled to perform Counter Narco-Terrorism Operations, and we were lucky enough to get a Caribbean port visit before transiting the Panama Canal in Cartagena, Colombia. Besides the liberty, an added benefit is imminent danger pay due to the presence of drug cartels and terrorists.

So we got to spend three days at anchor in Bahia de las Animas at the Colombian Naval Base. I only went out one night in the old Walled City, which has been turned into a plaza with lots of shops and restaurant. We ate at Cafe del Mar, which is actually built on top of the wall, overlooking the beach. We were able to sit at our table and watch the sun set. Since it was dark, I couldn't see my food when it came. It was come assortment of seafood, though and really tasty with that Chilean merlot. I bought a kilo of coffee, too, considering how fast I go through it. (I got a sweet new coffee maker in my stateroom with a timer and no pot, so I always have hot, fresh coffee available. It's all bungeed down and completely meets the requirements of my caffeine addiction.)

The second day, as I took over the duty, I got word from Doc that my Chief Electrician's Mate had broken an ankle while dancing. He's quite a character, especially on liberty, and has lots of stories about all the scar tissue he's accumulated over the years. He was out with some of the other chiefs and was bragging about what a good dancer he is, so they dared him to prove it. Except my Chief Engineman, who said he would leave if EMC started dancing. But, he saw EMC start to shake a little and they all cheered him on, told him to get on the dance floor. As soon as he went out there and tried to spin, he slipped on a loose tile and went down.

Naturally, they all laughed.

He hobbled all the way back, thinking he had sprained an ankle or torn a ligament and he refused to go to the hospital until the Captain ordered him to. Turns out he's broken his leg in four places, not his ankle, and he's going to need surgery and pins and two months of physical therapy at least. So we flew him home to Jacksonville.

The last day, I decided to stay on the ship. It's hot and humid and extremely uncomfortable if you're not into that kind of thing, which as a Minnesotan, I am not. We had to run all three air conditioning plants just keep it bearable inside the skin of the ship. I listened to a lot of "Weird Al" Yankovic, played some Civilization III, read some Ayn Rand, and went to bed at about 2300.

Around 0100 I started having this strange dream someone was pounding on my bulkhead and yelling, "Matt, there's a fire." Nobody calls me Matt on the ship, so I had to be dreaming the acrid smell of burning insulation as well. The quarterdeck watch rang the bells and called away a Class Alpha fire in the centerline passageway - That had to be a dream. Alpha fires are paper and wood and other similar combustible materials and there's no way anything like that was on fire in the certerline passageway.

Then I woke up. I was dizzy, I still wasn't comprehending exactly what was going on, except I saw smoke in my stateroom. I threw on my tennis shoes and said, "Air Boss, there's a fire!" Which was funny to him later, since he was the one pounding on the bulkhead earlier. I went out in the Officers' Country passageway and pounded on some of the other doors yelling, "There's a fire, get up!" and then out through wardroom into the cetnerline passageway, where smoke was billowing out of a fan room and filling the whole superstructure. I went out past the quarterdeck and down to CCS to get a handle on the situation. I was still a groggy from being roused out a dead sleep and there were a lot of conflicting reports about what was going on, so it took the watchstanders and I some time to figure out what was actually happening.

It turns out that the turbocharger on one of my ship's service diesel generators failed, causing extreme heat in the turbo and exhaust. That heat ignited the lagging on the exhaust designed to contain the ordinary exhaust heat and started a Class Alpha fire in the overhead of the diesel enclosure. That fire also burnt a lot of wiring inside the enclosure and caused other damage, not to mention the damage the seawater we use for firefighting caused.

We thought we'd be able to get patched up in Panama, but our Big Navy boss told us to go directly back to Mayport. So we went home two weeks after we left to get repairs done and get back out to sea as soon as we can. We got back Wednesday. It was a rough week. The fire happened on my birthday, too, which added to the fun. I can't wait to get back out there and run down some cocaine smugglers, but right now I'm just concentrating on getting my stuff fixed.

Current Location: Pierside, Mayport
Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Go to IMDB, pick out five favorite movies, and then click on the "plot keywords" section. List three of the keywords for each of the movies, and see if people can guess which movie you're talking about.

(1) Space Opera, Katana Sword, Cannibalism
(2) Breaking the Fourth Wall, Dystopian, Fisticuffs
(3) Anterograde Amnesia, Insulin, Polaroid
(4) Librarian, Mad Scientist, Janitor
(5) Interocitor, Pick Axe, Puppet

Have fun!

Current Location: Duty. Mayport.
Current Mood: Feh.
Current Music: The comforting hum of ventilation.

6 near-life experiences or I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Though I am fundamentally puzzed by people need to blame people other than the perpitrators for the tragic events they cause, I understand that those people are somehow trying to extract meaning from the meaningless. In my experience, this results in confusion and misinformation more than anything else. The Cynical-C blog pretty much says it all on the VT massacre, as far as I'm concerned .

It was like blaming KMFDM for Columbine. I dig me some KMFDM, and I don't even own a gun, much less feel like shooting people.

"Now Sid, don't you blame the movies, movies don't create psychos, movies make psychos more creative!" - Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis in Scream
I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Well, the grout in the new sunroom is sealed and between that, planting my palm tree and cleaning the garage I'm thinking about this Walter Reed thing.

I'd like to qualify what I'm about to say with full disclosure: I have no idea how real hospitals are run. What you are about to read is largely anecdotal, constructed of my own opinions and philosophy... kind of like everything else I write.

Since I earned my commission in 1998, I've been part of the military heath care system. I've handled the inefficiencies and frustrations by not being sick, though that doesn't always work. I've been lucky enough to never have been hospitalized for anything, but Red started dealing with them during her pregnancy and now Jack's got pediatric appointments. The bureaucracy is no different from any other administrative machine the Navy concocts, as far as I'm concerned.

There is a running gag that a corpsman treats everything with Motrin. To be fair, they're 800mg Motrin tablets, so they'll cure what ails you, as long as it's not a sucking chest wound or something. I've had a corpsman operate on an ingrown toenail during a deployment, but it grew back just as bad. Sick call is quite different from the type of treatment you get if you go to an actual Naval Hospital. When I did, a doctor took care of that toenail and it hasn't bothered me since.

Of the two Naval Hospitals I remember dealing with, only one had a campus full of old buildings, but there weren't any patients living in them as far as I knew. I suspect there are many military hospitals like this - they've been updated and remodeled, but still have old buildings that have not yet been taken care of and that aren't normally used. Heck, most military bases are like that.

I imagine a place like Walter Reed is bursting at the seams and the staff are trying their best to keep up with demand.

From the original Washington Post article:
Vera Heron spent 15 frustrating months living on post to help care for her son. "It just absolutely took forever to get anything done," Heron said. "They do the paperwork, they lose the paperwork. Then they have to redo the paperwork. You are talking about guys and girls whose lives are disrupted for the rest of their lives, and they don't put any priority on it."
Welcome to socialized medicine, Mrs. Heron. I've lost count of the number of times I've needed to reproduce documentation that's been lost by administrators, updated information that was subsequently not updated in the "system" or changed to something entirely different from the information I gave them. It's frustrating and a part of life when you allow the government control of it. What I've described here are minor annoyances - the military health care system only has to provide for members are retirees of the U.S. military. Imagine the magnitude of problems a system required to provide for 300 million Americans would have. Universal health care, indeed.

Now, I've received decent care most of the time. Jack's pediatric visits go well, though we've had issues with his doctor being available and have been seeing a nurse practitioner alternately. The hospital and the doctor keep telling us that he doesn't need a nine-month "well baby" appointment (whatever that is, Red was expecting to have one), while the nurse practitioner says that he should have one. Well, there's nothing wrong with the boy, but I'll go along with having one.

When Red was pregnant, she had to see all the pre-natal physicians because most of them were being deployed to Iraq and there was no telling which one would be available when she had the baby. As it turned out, a civilian doctor at the Newport Hospital delivered Jack and was there while Red was in labor, the Navy doctor got there right when she was ready to go into the delivery room.

Based on my experience, I'm inclined to believe Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, chief of the Army Medical Command:
While acknowledging "pretty distressing" conditions in some rooms at Building 18, Kiley said the problems were neither widespread nor symptoms of a system that allows soldiers to languish. The building is not "emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families," said Kiley, who was commander at the hospital before becoming surgeon general in 2004.

"I want to reset the thinking . . .," Kiley said. "While we have some issues here, this is not a horrific, catastrophic failure at Walter Reed."

I have no idea how this compares to private medicine, since this is the only experience I have. I'd venture to assume that other than being able to pick your doctor, and being much better at managing processes and capacity, it's probably not much different.

The key is process and capacity management and the ability (or lack thereof) to handle it. I would argue that a privately run hospital, operating as a business would have the ability to use cash flow to add to capacity and invest in process improvement as it benefits the hospital. Military hospitals are run using tax dollars, and let me tell you, things are tough all over, if you're not on the ground in a combat zone. From the second story in the Washington Post series:
The conflict in Iraq has hatched a virtual town of desperation and dysfunction, clinging to the pilings of Walter Reed. The wounded are socked away for months and years in random buildings and barracks in and around this military post.

The luckiest stay at Mologne House, a four-story hotel on a grassy slope behind the hospital. Mologne House opened 10 years ago as a short-term lodging facility for military personnel, retirees and their family members. Then came Sept. 11 and five years of sustained warfare. Now, the silver walkers of retired generals convalescing from hip surgery have been replaced by prosthetics propped against Xbox games and Jessica Simpson posters smiling down on brain-rattled grunts.
The point is that Walter Reed ran out of capacity to accommodate demand 10 years ago, and has been deteriorating ever since. Now that its been put on the chopping block by BRAC, do you suppose it was on the top of the list for expenditure of your tax dollars? Not until the Washington Post story. None of the repair that Building 18 needs are free, just like none of the health care my family and I receive is free. The money has to come from somewhere.

I'm not defending anyone involved here. I think the conditions that some of the soldiers and marines lived in were deplorable and the fact that it took the Washington Post, the resignation of the Secretary of Army and... was there a General?... just ridiculous. If there's one thing I've learned in my eight-and-a-half years in the military, it's that if you make a mistake, or if you know of a problem, do not be the senior man with a secret. Tell your boss, try to resolve it, have a plan. It's clear that someone did not follow that rule.

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Current Location: Home on leave, for now
Current Music: The dishwasher

I want you to hit me as hard as you can
There's a bunch of stuff going on in the world, so I hear. I saw something about Hugo Chavez granting himself power of decree, which annoyed me at first, and then I remembered the only people he's a threat to is Venezuelans. My focus has been largely inside the lifelines over the past few weeks and will continue to be until the end of the month.

It's funny that I listen to the news every day and nothing quite spins me up the way it used to, when I'm more concerned about keeping this ship afloat for the next five or six years. Lately, it may as well be a fact that the world will cease to exist after March 2nd, since that's really as far out as I'm planning anything at the moment, due to our upcoming visit from the Board of Inspection and Survey.

I've posted about it before, but it's the most painful inspection that any ship goes through. It happens every five years and the really bad ones can get Chief Engineers and Commanding Officers fired.

Anyway, I know that we are going to be ready and it won't be pleasant, but we'll make it through. Deep down, however, there's that creeping fear of failure. That's been why this blog's been deader than I'd like since I got back off deployment in December. What little time I don't spend on the ship, I spend at home getting as much time as possible with my family before I deploy again - in April.

The operational tempo has been unusually high lately, due to world events and what have you, in all the services. It's been nowhere near as high for me as it has been for others, but as far as the Navy goes, this is pretty high. It's rough on families - to give you an example, I was underway for Red's birthday, I will be underway for my anniversary, and for my and Jack's birthday's. That's all after returning from our last deployment.

What have you been up to?
I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Keep waking up. Still congested. Heartburn. Nosebleed.

2 near-life experiences or I want you to hit me as hard as you can
Still fighting this crud I got last week. Light-headed and headachy, coughing fits last night, fatigued, lovely stuff. (ooh! I think my ear just drained!) I'm on a 24-hour SIQ chit, which means I go to the clinic tomorrow to get another one (*sigh*). This did not preclude me from standing my duty day yesterday or getting some work done today. Nor will it mean I won't be working tomorrow, so I don't honestly know what the point is.

Therefore, I blog.

During our Scotland port visit in October, I was lucky enough to be able to take a couple days leave and visit my best friend havenstone. Havenstone and I have known each other for 15 years and he's currently married to a lovely British woman and living the dream in London as a struggling writer. Well, he doesn't stuggle too much, as his wife is paid in British pounds.

Frigates nested
When I left the ship, it seemed like the first time in months I had been free. I walked down the brow in the early morning while everyone else was getting ready to go to conferences and straight out the nearest gate of Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, Scotland (about 20 yards from the brow). As I hiked down the road to the Garelochead train station, I got this picture of my ship, USS HALYBURTON, nested between USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (outboard) and the Turkish FFG GOKSU (inboard - formerly USS ESTOCIN).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting My view of Garelochead. It's a little town at the head of the loch (go figure). The train station was up on the hilltop overlooking the town and the base.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingThere's Havenstone, standing in front of beautiful downtown Oban after we got off the train. Oban is the largest town in the western highlands and known for its whiskey distillery, among other things. We tried to get on a tour, but we missed the last one by 20 minutes. The whole area surrounding the distillery smelled like a smoky single malt. Luckily there was a cafe across the street where we could enjoy that, plus all the bars in town were well-stocked with Oban. I highly recommend it if you're a scotch drinker. Or if you'd like to be.

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Havenstone, having done this sort of thing a bit more than I have, found us a great hostel overlooking the waterfront and sitting on top of a pub. Perfect!

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Interestingly, many of the pubs in town (and presumably the rest of the U.K. prohibit football colors from being worn inside. This is to prevent the inevitable bloody and literal violence that ensues when football fans of opposing teams converge on the same location. I was worried about that when I walked into one wearing the hat you see here. The fellow who drove the ship's poop truck gave it to me in exchange for buying him two ship' ball caps. Luckily, it turns out that this is a 2003 Rugby ball cap. I don't know if rugby fans are similarly violent, but I wore the hat anyway. Here, we're hiking to an abandoned castle.

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There wasn't a walkway, but it's not as though the traffic was so bad we had to walk on this rock ledge. We just did. The castle is in the background. I have some pictures, but not readily available. We had to hike up a muddy, rocky slope to get there. There are so many old castles in Scotland and England, that I guess not all them qualify as historic or worthy of being preseved of sending tours through.

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Just a neat picture of the harbor entrance.

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This shot was taken from the top of what became a running gag for the entire next day, a former sea cliff. Havenstone and I, being best friends, naturally come up with in-jokes that no one else would get unless they were there. ("When I think about you, I touch myself! *CLICK*") Rumor has it he does this with other friends as well... When sea levels were higher, the area you see here was underwater and most of Scotland's low-lying coastline was underwater. Now it's low areas surrounded by steep cliffs shaped by water and glacier erosion. I know, I know that still doesn't explain it. It was funny at the time, I guess you had to be there.

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The view out of our third-story hostel window before heading to the Isle of Mull for the day. Not as great a picture as I thought it would be, but there was a terrific view of the harbor and nearby islands (part of the Inner Hebrides). Of note, our room was a four-bed (two bun-beds) dorm-sytle room. We checked in early and went out for a few drinks and some dinner, then came back and met our roommates - two 20-year-old American college girls studying abroad in London. Unique for me and a little awkward for two 30-year-old married guys, for a moment, anyway. We all got along just fine and there wasn't a bit of impropriety. In fact, we hardly spoke, all they seemed to want to do was sleep. They did end up on the ferry to the Isle of Mull with us the next day and we ran into them a couple of times throughout the day.

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On Mull, we did a walking tour of the castles there. Rather, our intent was to tour multiple castles, but they were a lot farther apart than we thought. The only castle we physically toured was Torosay. The one you see here, I shot from the ferry on the way to Mull. It's called Duart Castle and it's much older and across the swamp from Torosay

We hiked toward Duart Castle after touring Torosay and realized that it was a lot farther than we thought It also started raining off and on. But it was a pleasant walk through the sheep pastures and provided Havenstone and I more opportunity to catch up and espouse heady thoughts at one another. ("Boy are there a lot of sheep," and "Hey, do you think we can hitch a ride on that helicopter?") We also got to see a rainbow and were in a perfect position to photograph the castle through it. Castle Duart

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To save ourselves some walking between the ferry terminal in Craignure and Castle Torosay, we rode the miniature railroad, which is, not surpsingly, really small. Not small enough to be uncomfortable, just small enough to be novel and make you thankful that the ride was short. Apparently, there are a lot of weird train-related hobbies in Britain. I'd heard of trainspotting, but not touring the country to ride tiny trains. BloZep, any insight?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I'd like to point out here that Havenstone is around six feet tall and I folded myself into the same train car with him. And our backpacks.

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Havenstone and I parted ways on the train back to Faslane. I got underway the next day for Neptune Warrior and had to deal with this. Just for frame of reference, this is a picture out of the port bridge wing door of my ship in 30-foot seas.

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Yes, it was beautiful Scottish weather the whole time. Hope you enjoyed the pictures, I know I enjoyed the visit.

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Current Location: Home. On the couch.
Current Music: Hannity

2 near-life experiences or I want you to hit me as hard as you can
No kidding.

I may be a bit behind the curve on this; mostly because I don't read Time, and I haven't listened to the radio or read the news that much over the last half year (what's all this about the Democrats controlling Congress?) However, I am pleased to inform those few loyal remaining People Covered in Fish reader that I (and all of you) am the 2006 Person of the Year.

This, of course, is my second time winning this distinct honor, and I'd like to thank all the little people I stepped on to make this possible. Excuse me while I update my resume. Here's a list of the notable people I share the honor with.

All sarcasm aside, it's an interesting choice, if really lazy. Everybody wins!

It's not all of you, really. Well, it is all of you, and every goofball with a MySpace account, etc. In my twelve years on the Internet I've left a pretty big footprint (much to my chagrin). But my grandmother has had little impact on the information age. She's afraid of the Internet and won't buy a computer. Good for her, I say. Somebody's got to hold out.

Sick day today, Rogue won't stop sitting on me and giving me head butts. Let me tell you about sick days in the military. You report to work as usual and then go to sick call. At sick call the corpsman tells you

1) Yes, you're sick, now get back to work.
2) Yes, you're sick, you get a 24-hour SIQ (sick in quarters) and then you need to come back in every day to make you're still sick until you're not sick any more.

I took the Robosquirrel option in which I attempt to go to the naval hospital closest to my house at which point they tell me to go to sick call at Branch Medical where they tell me to drive an hour back to Mayport to go to sick call there. And then I go home because I'm the boss, it's Christmas stand down, and I've already got all the work covered for the day. Though my option was more of hassle, I prefer the end result.

For the rare person who would see fit to cast aspersions upon the quality of my service, let me just say that I am working while at home today, by phone and email. This has also happened to me before: I had mononucleosis once as a division officer abotu four years ago and the same thing happened. I was forced to drive to work while half-conscious just to prove I was still sick and be allowed to drive back home. I get this sick once a year, tops. The rest of the time I just power through. Those few times I don't, I've proven to be a danger to myself and other and nearly killed myself in two separate incidents of driving while ill.

Screw it, I'm Person of the Year, I earned it.

Current Mood: wrecked

1 near-life experience or I want you to hit me as hard as you can