Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Fails In House

While I believe that the Congressional leadership of both parties will, within a couple of days, get their sh*t in one sock and deliver the votes needed to pass the Bailout, I admit I was kind of surprised that it failed today. Many Congresspeople, including my own, are claiming they're against it because the public seems to be against it. A quick look at some representative people for and against the bailout tells me all I need to know.

Michael Moore: Against the Bailout
Warren Buffett: Supports the Bailout

I think I'd rather take my economic advice from Warren.

Update 2226 01 Oct: As I figured they would, the Senate easily passed a "sweetened" version of the bailout tonight; I predict the House will go along (but by a closer margin) when they vote on Friday. The "sweeteners" should be enough to give cover to some of the previous naysayers who looked into the abyss on Monday afternoon and finally realized the potential hazards of failing to act. For those who say that we shouldn't do anything at all -- that we should just let the market run its course without government interference -- we pretty much tried that once already, from November 1929 to February 1933. Pure capitalism would be good in theory if everyone played nice; the problem is that human nature doesn't really allow for that. I think only the most ardent Ron Paul supporter would say that the government shouldn't step into the marketplace for the good of the whole, either by regulating monopolies, ensuring product safety, or -- as in this case -- keeping the economy from going into a 4- or 5-year long deep recession if it's preventable without too much irreversible long-term damage.

Well-meaning people can disagree on whether or not this particular bailout is the right way to fix the problems in our economy, but it seems to me that it's the only one that could have passed, and that we had to do something. To advocate doing nothing in the face of potentially severe society-wide dislocation for the sake of adherance to a philosophy that doesn't have any real-world applicability is, to me, the worst kind of politics. (Especially when, like one Kooky Local Simpleton, you simply refuse to face the facts as they exist.)

Update 1142 03 Oct: It has happened as I foretold; the House voted by a substantial margin for the bailout with the added sweeteners.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Submarine Force Legend Passes On

Chester M. "Whitey" Mack, best known as the CO of USS Lapon (SSN 661) in the late 60s/early 70s whose exploits were documented in Blind Man's Bluff, passed away earlier this week in Florida. From his obituary:
Chester M. "Whitey" Mack, 77, of Englewood, Fla., passed away Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008.
He was born July 20, 1931, in Glen Lyon, Pa.
Whitey and his beloved wife, Joan, moved to Englewood in 1995 from North, Va. He was a highly decorated U.S. Navy captain with 20 years of service. He had a chemical engineering degree from Penn State, and master's degree in international law from Georgetown University. He was a member of the American Legion, Military Officers Association of America of Sarasota, Fla., and the USS Lapon Association; and a life member of U.S. Submarine Veterans.
Whitey will be greatly missed by his wife of 53 years, Joan; daughters, Karen Mack of Montclair, N.J., and Valerie (Mark) Sadler of Odessa, Fla.; son, Brian (Karen) Mack of Louisa, Va.; three grandchildren, Victoria Rose, Kristen Nicole and Brianna Leigh; brother, Simon Makarewicz of Virginia; and sister, Barbara Makarewicz of Pennsylvania.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care, 12050 N. Access Road, Port Charlotte, FL 33981.
Arrangements were made in Port Charlotte, Fla.
A larger-than-life man, Whitey Mack was immortalized not only in Blind Man's Bluff, but also with his very own Wikiquote and this song from Tommy Cox:

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Navy Wife Radio At Tonight's Debate

Big news! Navy Wife Radio will be broadcasting live from the campus of the University of Mississippi tonight just before the Presidential Debate! They love to hear from Submariners, so give them a call or Yahoo IM with your thoughts from 1900-2030 EDT.

(Unfortunately, I won't be watching the debate live; we'll be at the Eagle-Mountain View football game here in Meridian, where the #3 Mountain View Mavericks will spank the #1 Eagle "Rich Kids" on Homecoming night. Massive w00tness!)

Submarine Food "Rejected By Prison"?

Over at the always excellent 7th Fleet-centric Navy blog FEWL.NET, one of the commenters, claiming to be the wife of a "submarine rider", mentioned that her husband had told her that he'd personally seen food loaded onboard his boat that was stamped "Rejected by Illinois State Prison". (Her original comment is here; scroll down from there for the rest of the thread.) The owner of the website wondered if I'd ever seen such a thing; I hadn't, so I'm opening it up to you guys.

All of us know the Submariners are told that we get the best food in the Navy; we also know that there's almost nothing we like better than bitching about the food. (The "Beef Yak" and "Fried Rabbit" are among the foods I specifically remember with less than fondness.) Still, it sounds to me like an Urban Legend that any prison would have a specific stamp that says "Rejected by Prison" -- why not just stamp it "Rejected" like everyone else? Why would they feel the need to be so specific? It sounds to me like either the commenter's husband was maybe telling his wife an embellished "sea story", passing on something he'd heard during a shoot-the-sh*t as something he'd actually done, or was the victim of a humorous SK prank from someone in Supply.

Have any of you seen or heard about submarines getting really bad food? What are some of your favorite complaints about submarine chow? (Mine mostly involve the food running out during the Great Topeka Food Depression of 1992.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Boat Dreams

I know there's nothing more boring than listening to a story about someone else's dream, but I'm gonna write about one I had anyway. First, some background...

At work this week, I was almost late for passdown because I had to perform MRC PM D-1R; for various reasons, it's important in my civilian job to get that taken care of whenever you can if you think you might have to "use the facilities" anytime soon, 'cause otherwise it takes several minutes (involving some not insignificant contortions to get "un-bunny-suited") to get to where you need to go; even more if you can't walk correctly because of... well, you know. Anyway, this got me to thinking of one of my old Engineers on my first boat. He didn't stand OOD very often, but when he did, I'd get called at least 90% of the time within the first 10 minutes of his watch to come give him a "short relief". I never liked taking the watch without a complete tour, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Eventually, whenever I saw that he was on the OOD watchbill, I'd end up touring at the same time he did, and following him up to Control.

Which brings me to the subject of my dream I had back then. I think one of the reasons why I didn't like to give "short reliefs" as OOD without a decent turnover was that I had a dream during the time when I was working on my ship's quals where I found myself in the Control Room of the the good ship Topeka, but didn't know why I was there. Soon, it became obvious that I was the Officer of the Deck, but I didn't know our course, speed, depth, or position. I casually went over to the Chart Table to see where we were, but I couldn't quite see it. Same thing when I went to look at the SCP; I couldn't quite see what our course or speed were, and I sure didn't want to make people think I didn't know what was going on. Suddenly, I came to the most shocking realization of all -- I didn't even know if we were surfaced or submerged. I woke up instantly, in a cold sweat. I've never forgotten that dream.

So do any of you have dreams about submarining that you'd be willing to share?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maybe He's A "Flat Earth" Believer...

Kooky Local Simpleton Bryan Fischer today displayed his ignorance of either geography or the concept of "the Earth rotates around the Sun and has an axial tilt, resulting in different seasons" when he said this at the bottom of today's IVA Daily Update:
More bad news for global warming hystericists. Early snowfall blanketed a number of areas in southern Africa late last week, and on Friday Durban experienced its coldest September night in recorded history.
"Early" snowfall, Bryan? Just a quick geography lesson here, although Fischer probably won't believe it because it doesn't say it in the Bible -- South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so at the same time we're having summer, they're in winter. Since it was still summer here in the Northern Hemisphere last week, it was the very end of winter in the Southern. Unless Fischer thinks it only snows in the Spring, I'd say the issue was a late snowfall, not an early one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tragedy Onboard USS Nebraska

Details are still sketchy, but the Navy announced that a Sailor aboard USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) died accidentally on Saturday while the sub was operating submerged off the coast of Oahu:
Lt. Kyle A. Raines said in an interview the crew member was mortally injured while the sub was beneath the surface of the ocean. He was given emergency medical treatment on board the sub and was placed on a medical helicopter. but Raines says he died before reaching a hospital.
Raines says there was no indication that a mechanical problem or malfunction was involved, nor was anyone else injured.
The prayers of Submariners everywhere are with the men and families of the USS Nebraska.

Staying at PD...

Update 1533 22 Sep: I haven't seen any additional press releases from the Navy, so the Sailor's identity is still being withheld pending notification of next of kin. Based on the comments on this article in the Kitsap Sun, the Nebraska's Blue Crew has the boat now.

Update 1724 23 Sep: Still no public identification of the identity of the lost Submariner, but as the Navy Times reports, the Naval Safety Center did announce that an "MM3 died after becoming entangled and pinned in rudder ram aboard submarine while cleaning" aboard USS Nebraska on 20 Sep. The ship and crew pulled into Pearl Harbor, and remained there at least through yesterday while the investigation proceeds.

Update 0940 24 Sep: The lost Submariner has been identified as MM3 Michael Gentile, originally from Maine. He had joined the Navy in July 2005, and had previously served on USS Alaska (SSBN 732).

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Update 0750 26 Sep: Here's an account of the memorial that the USS Nebraska Gold Crew held for Petty Officer Gentile at Bangor. It sounds like the boat is back out to sea after it pulled into Pearl for the investigation.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dolphins Riding The Bow Wave

Check out this video shot from the bridge of USS Helena (SSN 725):

I always loved watching dolphins ride the bow wave, as I discussed earlier. For you OODs out there, remember that about 12 knots is the best speed for giving the dolphins a nice long ride without tiring them out too quickly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meridian, Idaho: Land Of The Dueling Corn Mazes

Here in Meridian, we have not one, but two corn mazes just south of town to choose from for our autumn entertainment. That's just the way Idaho rolls.

The most well-known of the two (because it used to be right in the middle of town, next to the high school my kids attend, until two years ago) is Idaho's Original MAiZE; here's their design for this year:

This design is timely, but it looks like it doesn't have as much of a "maze" aspect as our favorite, the one at Linder Farms:

(Disclaimer: Our youngest just started working there, so that's one reason we like it better.) The more famous, and better advertised "MAiZE" has one problem; its new location is quite a few miles south of town, and they never say anywhere what crossroads it's near on the Meridian-Kuna Road; additionally, last year they didn't put up any signs saying "X Miles to the MAiZE" or anything. Linder Farms is a mile off the main drag, but closer to town. The smaller business takes advantage of that by putting up signs at their turn saying "Turn right for the Corn Maze"; I've got a feeling they (deservedly) snipe a lot of business from people thinking their going to the "MAiZE".

Anyway, if you're here in SW Idaho, I'd recommend taking the family and enjoying some traditional fun, at either one of the mazes. If you go to Linder Farms, make sure to look for the tall, handsome young man who works there, and tell him that Bubblehead sent you.

Another Year, Another Blogiversary

Welcome again to my annual self-indulgent post where I spout some statistics about TSSBP, and, most importantly, thank all my readers for making this blog what it is. It was 4 years ago tonight that I started The Stupid Shall Be Punished; since then, I've made 2,100 posts, and logged over 830,000 visits and 1.6 million pageviews. Somewhat surprisingly, I find that the number of visits I get has gone up as my number of posts goes down; extrapolating from my blogiversary post last year, I generated only 305 posts in the last 12 months while getting over 330K+ visits and 650K+ pageviews. The increased writing that's going on here is all due to my great commenters, who've made the comment sections here a self-sustaining community. Thanks so much for all that you add to this blog, dear readers... I couldn't do it without you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sailor, Rest Your Oar

The Submarine Force lost a great leader, and I lost a good friend, with the passing Saturday of CDR Michael Scott Harrington. Here's the message about his untimely demise that went out Forcewide yesterday:

Commander Michael Scott Harrington died Saturday, September 13, 2008, in St. Louis after a courageous battle of cancer. Born April 1, 1963, in Norman, Okla., to W.G. and Sandra Cannon Harrington, he graduated from Lahoma High School in Lahoma, Okla. in 1981, and attended Oklahoma State University before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1983. After being selected for the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program in 1985, he obtained a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas, and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1988. His sea commands included USS Kentucky, the USS Salt Lake City as the Engineering Officer, and the USS Chicago as the Executive Officer. He also served at U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska, during which he earned a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and on the Pacific Fleet Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board and Chief of Naval Operation's DEEP BLUE staff. In 2006, he graduated from National War College with an Masters of Science Degree in National Security Strategy, and was then assigned to the teaching staff at Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth.
Surviving him are his wife, Brenda Bergdall of Meno, Okla., married since May 24, 1987, and daughter, Haley; his parents of Lahoma, Oklahoma; a brother, Robie of Blanchard, Okla.; a sister, Stacie Schultz of Lahoma, Okla; an uncle, Charles, Lawton, Okla.; and four nieces and two nephews.
In 2006, Scott and his family moved to Lawrence, Kan. During the past two years, he was able to see his beloved Kansas Jayhawks in action again, lovingly restore his home, and enjoy all that is Lawrence. Scott was a larger-than-life, funny and caring person who had a smile and a story for everyone he met. His energy and quest for knowledge were boundless. He will be deeply missed.
Memorial service for Commander Michael Scott Harrington, 45, Lawrence, will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 20, 2008, at Ft. Leavenworth Memorial Chapel.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary. Online condolences may be sent to Subject: Harrington.
I first met Scott when we showed up at the University of Kansas together in 1985 courtesy of the Enlisted Commissioning Program (Nuclear Option). Scott was one of those larger-than-life individuals who gave you his undivided attention when you were with him, yet found time to accomplish things most of us can only dream about. We drove down to Oklahoma for Scott and Brenda's wedding in 1987; he told me that he knew he'd found his one true love, and I could see in his eyes that he was telling the truth. After we graduated, he ended up one class ahead of me in OCS and Power School; even with a new group of friends, he always found time for his old college buddies.

The Submarine Force has a way of separating friends to different homeports, then bringing them together at unexpected times. Scott and Brenda's daughter was in the same Obstetrics Ward as my oldest son, having both been born in New London only a day apart. When I was on the Carrier Group SEVEN staff aboard USS John C. Stennis in 2000, Scott came aboard as a member of the NPEB at the end of the deployment -- even though he was busy, he found the time to look me up and share some old memories.

Scott was the kind of leader all of us wish we were. He was sent to fix the Engineering Department of USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) after their infamous watchstanding problems, and was XO of USS Chicago (SSN 721) out at the tip of the spear during the first days of the Global War on Terror. More than a leader, though, he was a good friend, a loving husband, and devoted father.

After I retired, we got in contact again through this blog, and wrote back and forth occasionally. He told me about his illness, but never complained -- he seemed accepting of the cards life had dealt him, and didn't try to blame anyone for the unfairness of it all. I can only hope I can have a fraction of his courage and dignity when my time comes.

I'll miss you, Scott...

Update 1830 25 Sep: Here's coverage of the Memorial Service that was held for CDR Harrington at Ft. Leavenworth last week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Unidentified Submarine In Japanese Territorial Waters

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces reported that one of their destroyers spotted the periscope of an "unidentified" submarine in their home waters between Kyushu and Shikoku islands yesterday:
Japan's navy tracked a submarine that intruded into its waters for nearly two hours Sunday and then lost track of it without identifying its nationality, a military official said.
Naval vessel Atago spotted the submarine in Japanese waters at 6:56 am (2156 GMT Saturday) but the craft did not raise a national flag or surface, breaching international laws, a defence ministry spokesman said.
Atago, an Aegis-equipped warship, chased the submarine off the coast of Kochi prefecture in western Japan, facing the Pacific Ocean, until about 8:40 am (2340 GMT), he said.
"We have not identified the nationality of the submarine and we are still searching for it," the spokesman said.
Using sonar, Atago confirmed that the submarine does not belong to the Japanese navy nor its ally the US navy, he said.
We last heard about JDS Atago (DDG 177) earlier this year when they bumped a fishing vessel. While the unidentified submarine could be Russian or Chinese, past history would indicate that China is the most likely violator. The main evidence for that is fairly obvious -- if the Japanese destroyer was able to "confirm" that the sub wasn't from the U.S. with sonar, that means if must have been loud enough to be heard by a skimmer's sonar, and that's a distinguishing characteristic of Chinese SSNs.

Another College Road Trip

Sorry for the "no post zone" weekend; we went off on another college road trip with the boys (including the oldest one who was recently named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist -- w00t!), this time to Provo, UT, to tour BYU.

Considering that we're Mormons, we've spent surprisingly little time in Utah, so this was really my first time seeing anything more than a mile from the Interstate. I've heard from several non-Mormons that Utah seems very unwelcoming to those with a more "secular" outlook, so I wanted to see what made Utah (especially outside of SLC) so non-Mormon "unfriendly". Some initial observations:

1) We saw an abandoned building from I-15 that was covered with graffiti, just like you'd find in most other states; then we noticed that all the paintings were of the "Welcome Home Elder Soandso!" variety.

2) We pulled off the Interstate in West Jordan, and quickly saw both a "Hooters" restaurant and a Kwiki-Mart that advertised beer prominently.

3) There were stores open on Sunday morning, but they seemed to have minimal manning and not many customers. (We normally don't buy anything on Sundays, but figured that since we had to buy gas anyway for the trip home we could make an exception; we were looking for Rock Band 2 that just got released yesterday. Ended up buying it at a WalMart in Burley, Idaho, when we stopped for gas.)

4) The locals in Provo were decidely unfriendly to a group of visitors from California on Saturday.

5) Provo has an "underground music scene" -- two clubs a couple doors down from each other in the "old" downtown. The place we went into (to see SubBasket's cousin) had fairly clean bathrooms, so it wasn't really that "underground" in the traditional sense. On the other hand, a group of about 10 young people dressed as zombies did bike past us as we were waiting to get in.

Bottom line -- as a Mormon, I couldn't really tell if a non-Mormon would get an "I'm not welcome" vibe, but my feeling (as a former non-Mormon) was that if you were really looking for someone to disapprove of you, you'd probably find it. I'm sure you'd find that in most other states as well if you went out of your way to display your differences from the prevailing culture. Utah may be as close to a theocracy as we have in the U.S., but it's a benevolent one.

As far as how the "college visit" part of the road trip went, our youngest seemed to like BYU a lot, but our oldest boy is still leaning towards Washington State. We've got a few months left, though.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Dedicated

President Bush today dedicated the Pentagon Memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks in D.C.; the memorial is centered on 184 benches, one for each of the victims. Its beauty is in its understated symbolism:

Here's a view of the memorial at night:

Steeljaw Scribe has a powerful essay on his memories of that day that's well worth a read.

As the motto of the newly-christened USS New York (LPD 21) says: "Never Forget".

Update 1112 11 Sep: The COMSUBFOR PAO office released a picture from today of the officers and crew of USS Newport News (SSN 750) honoring the fallen of seven years ago:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Idealistic Realist's Lament

My whole life, I've been a fairly moderate Republican, and I've always voted for the Republican for President. (The one time I didn't was in 1992, when I was at sea and didn't get my absentee ballot until 2 days after the election; I would have voted Republican had we gotten the mail in time.) I was never a doctrinaire Republican, though; I've always considered myself a realist with a Machiavellian perspective. I'm actually fairly idealistic about my realism.

Due mostly to good staffers who understood how the world really works, Republicans always seemed to be much better at getting elected and governing. (While many don't like our current electoral system, I actually think that the skills needed to win an election translate fairly well into what's required to run a government.) That theory worked fine until the mid-90s; since then, the Republican Party has been taken over by Evangelicals whose idea of good staff work seems to have been "pray harder". President Clinton had generally competent staff, but then the Gore and Kerry campaigns were so badly run that I started to despair that realists had been forced out of government service into the private sector for the foreseeable future. I hoped that the nominations of the best two candidates from both parties this year would show me things have changed. So far, I haven't been too impressed.

Up until the conventions, I noted that Sen. Obama's campaign was much better run than the McCain effort; Sen. McCain would repeat gaffes from one speech to another, and his responses to attacks by Sen. Obama seemed pretty lame. I was at the point where I was about to move from the "leaning McCain" category to "Undecided" or even "leaning Obama". During the last three weeks, however, things seemed to have changed -- and not for the better. While Sen. McCain made an inspired choice for Vice President (really, the only one that would give him a chance to win), the reactions of the Obama campaign show that they're going downhill rapidly, and the staff work for the McCain camp hasn't really gotten any better. (Examples: Sen. Obama comparing apples to dump trucks when talking about his "executive experience", and Sen. McCain turning Gov. Palin's E-Bay comment from something that was "technically true" to an outright falsehood.)

Sen. Obama's loudest supporters, on the other hand, have gone from bad to really bad since the Palin nomination. While modern "hatred" of politicians seems to have really taken off with the hatred of many conservatives for the Clintons, I believe the Left has surpassed that with their barely restrained, yet unacknowledged, hatred of many Republican politicians. (The haters on the right seem to be willing to freely admit their hatred for Sen. Obama.) It came to a head with many normally reasonable progressives showing themselves ready to believe even the most fantastic rumors about a woman they'd never spent a minute thinking about up to a few days before; that, I believe, it the epitome of hatred. Why is this important? Because these people are going to have a voice that will be heard by a future Obama Administration, and I've become much less likely to support Sen. Obama knowing that his most unrestrained supporters are so full of hate. Sen. McCain, as a moderate through most of his career, seems to attract more realistic and reasonable supporters (as evidenced by so many Evangelicals threatening to sit the election out if he was nominated). While I think Sen. Obama himself has remained admirably above the fray (notwithstanding his peevish "outrage" at Mitt Romney saying "...there has never been a day when I was not proud to be an American" while refusing to admit that the McCain attack on him for his "lipstick on a pig" comment had just as much viability), his supporters have sunk to a new low, and I think it'll be hard for him to get the debate back on track.

That being said, I think the election is still Sen. Obama's to lose. I think that Gov. Palin will exceed the very diminished expectations of her in the debate and set-piece interviews, but that Sen. McCain's age will show in the Presidental debates, and Sen. Obama will be a clear winner in those. That, plus all the new voters being registered by Democrats, will tip the scale in Sen. Obama's favor. I actually wouldn't mind that outcome too much, as long as the Republicans can keep at least 41 Senate seats. I think a McCain Presidency with a Democratic-controlled Congress would be the best outcome, but any outcome that doesn't hand complete control of the agenda to one party (and includes Walt Minnick beating my Congressman, Bill Sali) is OK with me -- the country is strong enough to survive 4 years of an Obama Presidency. His hate-filled supporters will unintentionally help make sure that he's not re-elected unless they quickly learn that such hatred doesn't play outside of their own echo chambers.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Annoying Phrases

Lately, as I've been doing my TPS reports at work, I've been using the phrase "charted data" in certain situations, because it's the most accurate and concise description of what I'm working with. Every time I typed it, however, the hairs would raise up on the back of my hands and I'd feel as if I was in a classroom with dozens of lions running their claws down the chalkboards. Last night, I figured out why that was.

There are certain overly pretentious phrases that just rub me the wrong way. Being a nuke Submariner, I found a lot of them in my work life that I learned to loath whenever people said them; a frequent example is "threaded fasteners". ("Why can't you just say 'nuts and bolts'!" my internal monologue would shout whenever I heard my XO or an ORSE Board member use those words.) My least favorite phrase, though -- and the one whose similarity to my new work term set me off -- was that old block to check off on a Training Assessment sheet: "Logs and Plotted Data". Argghhh!!! It still pisses me off just to type it. My ex-ORSE Board member XO would ask about it every time he sat in on training. ("Where were your Logs and Plotted Data?" he'd ask whinily, with each word capitalized in the inflection of his voice. "Are you just an unthinking robot? There's more to good training than just mindlessly checking off a bunch of boxes with phrases taken from one sentence of the EDM", I'd scream silently in response, wondering how "Logs and Plotted Data" would help in an RC Div Troubleshooting Seminar.)

So, are there any submarine phrases that set you off like this one obviously does me?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Excellent LANTFLT Training Opportunity!

It seems like everyone is saying that U.S.-Russian relations are going downhill since their invasion of Georgia, and that's undoubtedly true. An example of the deteriorating relations was the cancellation of the FRUKUS combined naval exercises in the Pacific last month.

Now, it appears the Russians are making unilateral moves to re-establish good ties. At their own expense, they're sending two skimmers (plus auxiliaries) all the way down to the Caribbean in November:
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser "Peter the Great", one of the world's largest combat warships.
Moscow's most modern destroyer, the "Admiral Chabanenko", will also steam to the Caribbean, along with other ships, including a fuel tanker, he added.
What an excellent training opportunity for our Atlantic Fleet! We'll be able to shadow two of Russia's most "capable" and "newest" (only about 13 years old!) warships without having to steam several thousand miles. A Kirov-class cruiser and a Udaloy-class destroyer are hard enough to find out at sea separately -- getting a chance to track both of them together will provide some of the best training the 2nd Fleet has gotten in quite a while. Thanks in advance, Russian Navy!

Friday, September 05, 2008

SubGru SEVEN Guys Climb The Mountain (x4)

The intrepid adventurers from Submarine Group SEVEN I posted about earlier have completed their quest to climb Mt. Fuji 4 times in 24 hours; they completed the Herculean task in less than 22 hours! From this Stars and Stripes article:

Five men from Yokosuka instead opted to put the "labor" back into the holiday by climbing Japan’s highest mountain four times in a row.
The "four in 24" challenge was a success, the climbers reported this week. They trekked to the top of Mount Fuji four times in a total of 22 hours and raised $10,935 for charity.
"By the end of it, we were almost laughing from the pain," said Lt. Doug Szwarc who coordinated this year’s climb after a triple summit feat up and down the 12,388-foot volcanic peak in 2007. Even on Thursday, stepping up stairs was "not the most fun," Szwarc said.
Starting at about 5,000 feet below the summit, the group set out at 5:45 a.m. Monday and finished up at 3:44 a.m. Tuesday, Szwarc said.
Climbers consisted of Submarine Group Seven’s Szwarc, Lt. Rob Lovern and Lt. Justin Hoff; Public Affairs Center Chief Petty Officer Michael Raney; and Luke Nelson, Yokosuka MWR fitness programs coordinator.
All, with the exception of Lovern, whose injured feet caused him to miss the last climb, logged a grand tally of 20,000 feet up and 20,000 feet down the mountain.
A truly inspiring feat. BZ to all involved!

There's lots more information and pictures from the climb at their "Fuji Challenge" website. And I'm sure they're still accepting donations on behalf of their charities.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"What Happens On WestPac..."

With the media looking into the potential past misdeeds of the various candidates (Gov. Palin being the most obvious example right now) us Sailors can't help but wonder if anyone is going to try to dig into Sen. McCain's liberty visits to various ports in the Pacific before he was shot down.

Everyone knows the old saying that "What happens on WestPac, stays on WestPac". Here in the age where even the most ridiculous conspiracy theories can get immediate and wide play, I'm wondering if the Democrats will try to pull out some of Sen. McCain's old squadron mates to "break the silence" about what guys who were risking life and limb every day did to unwind when they pulled into Subic. I really hope they don't -- if there's anything that has no relevance to how someone will do as President, it's a bunch of questions about if they ever played "Smiles" in Olongapo.

Personally, I never pulled into the P.I., so all the stories I've heard are second-hand. Likewise, I'm sure none of you ever did anything bad on liberty during WestPac, but I'm sure you witnessed or heard about some behavior that might shock and awe the people back home. What are the most interesting stories you've heard about from liberty on WestPac?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Submariners And Home Repairs

As my "Honey-Do" list starts to get longer and longer, I found myself thinking about how Submariners make such great husbands. (Hey, it's a less taxing use of my time than actually finding the short in my sprinkler system controller or fixing the leak from the hot water chamber of my water cooler.) And why is it that Submariners are such a catch, husband-wise? It's because, generally, we're much better than average at fixing things around the house. At least, in our own minds we are.

Enlisted submariners and LDOs, I've noted, tend to be really good at home improvement projects. Us officers, though, are probably another matter. I can't speak for everyone, but I've seen more "amateurish" home "repairs" in officer's homes than most other places. This comes from one of the cardinal rules of nuclear submarining -- if you ever see an officer with a tool in his hands, there's something very, very wrong going on. Because we can't fix things on the boat, we tend to try to overcompensate at home. I put in some ceiling lights and fans at our first house in Connecticut, and they worked great; luckily, the home inspector for the buyer never looked closely at the wiring job I did in the attic, because I'm sure it wasn't up to code. (One of the lights was off center in the room, 'cause I kind of put my knee through the ceiling when trying to get where I wanted to go, and put the light in that hole.) I recently replaced a garbage disposal in our sink (up-check), then was surprised when the dishwasher didn't drain anymore because I hadn't read the directions and knocked out the plug from the dishwasher connection (downgrade). Luckily for our wives, officers make quite a bit of money, so we can hire professionals to fix our mistakes before we have to sell the house. (That being said, I think even officers are better than the general public at fixing stuff around the house.)

How about you guys? Have you ever done a home improvement project that actually increased the value of your home?

Monday, September 01, 2008

I Believe Bill Sali (This Time)

Long-time readers know that I'm not a big Bill Sali fan; I think my Congressman is among the most inept in the country and is mostly just an embarrassment to Idaho. This weekend, however, there's a new story that came out about his campaign, and I've gotta say I believe his side of the story.

The story in the Idaho Statesman discusses how the 527 group "Freedom's Watch" is running campaign commercials against Walt Minnick, Sali's moderate (and better funded) opponent in this November's election. The ads say that Minnick is opposed to more drilling; in fact, Walt supports more domestic oil production.

The controversy comes from who funds "Freedom's Watch". The founder of the group is Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul who got a lot of his money from starting up gambling businesses in China. While it might seem like a conservative like Rep. Sali wouldn't necessarily want Chinese money supporting his campaign, his spokesman says that it's not really an issue. Despite the fact that Adelson was a big supporter of China getting the recent Olympics, there's no word yet on if famous local China-disliker Brandi Swindell will be protesting at Sali HQ against this source of support.

Normally, when you read about a 527 group "independently" helping out a campaign by attacking someone's opponent, people roll their eyes when they read about how there's "no coordination" between the campaign and the 527. In this case, however, I believe Congressman Bill Sali's spokesman, and here's why: I can't imagine Sali and his campaign/congressional staff (they seem to be one in the same) successfully coordinating a game of 3-on-3 basketball, let alone a major ad buy throughout the district with another group. In this case, I think Sali and his "crack" staff are telling the truth.