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.)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sailor-To-English Translator

Greyhawk schooled us Sailors by coming up with a "preview" clip of what seems to be the most popular part of the new "Hey, Shipwreck" video series I discussed earlier this week. Here's the NSFW (even with -- or because of -- all the bleeps) clip of the "Sailor-to-English Translator" vignette:

Massive w00tness!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm In The Paper!

Once again, I'm "famous for Boise" -- I got a letter published in the Letters to the Editor of the Idaho Statesman, basically fitting this post into their 200 word limit. It's the 2nd one down:
Several letter writers have made fun of Congressman Sali's proposal to "reduce gravity" as a way of showing his belief that increasing (or even having) a minimum wage is against "natural law." While the concept might be funny, a careful reading of Rep. Sali's draft bill (just posted on his Web site at is even more humorous. In one paragraph he says: "The combination of caloric intake, busy schedule, sedimentary profession, and lack of exercise combine to result in an increase in weight in many Americans, including Members of Congress, expanding waistlines and bulges of various sizes and shapes."

Sedimentary profession? What does Congressman Sali have against geologists? Don't rock-hunters spend more time outdoors than members of many other professions? Seriously, is it too much to ask that a congressman who ran on a platform of making English the official language be expected to hire staff members who know the difference between "sedimentary" and "sedentary?" While Congressman Sali might think it's a good use of taxpayer dollars to have his staff write "bills" like this, it amazes me that he'd put it on his Web site as if it were something to brag about.
I was hoping they'd give it a cool title, like "Sali Off To A 'Rocky' Start", but no such luck. To Congressman Sali's credit (and assuming he actually reads the hometown newspaper), his staff hasn't tried to take down or change the offending document.


Monday, January 29, 2007

CO Of USS Newport News Relieved

In the continuation of a tradition in the Submarine Force, another CO whose ship suffered a mishap that made the press was relieved for cause today. From the Fifth Fleet press release:
Rear Adm. Douglas J. McAneny, Commander, Combined Task Force 54, completed administrative personnel actions involving select members of the USS Newport News (SSN 750) crew, Monday, Jan. 29, to include relieving Cmdr. Matthew A. Weingart of command due to a lack of confidence in his ability to command. Capt. Norman B. Moore has temporarily assumed command of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine.
CAPT Moore, the new temporary CO, had commanded USS Columbus (SSN 762) during his normal command tour. The statement in the press release that there were "administrative personnel actions involving select members of the... crew" indicates that more than just the CO went to the green table; normally, the names and specific punishments for those who aren't the CO won't be released, so we don't know for sure yet if they just got letters, were busted, or even got reassigned. All I've heard so far is what it says in this article from The Virginian-Pilot, that, in addition to saying that the submarine suffered damage to the VLS tubes and forward MBTs, also has some rumors about the other punishments:
McAneny's decision to remove Weingart - as well as issue him a punitive letter of reprimand, according to a Navy source familiar with the case - might indicate that the venturi effect was only partly to blame.
A "punitive" letter of reprimand is a fault-finding document, and it is stronger than a general letter of reprimand...
...Besides Weingart, three other sailors faced administrative charges for their roles in the Newport News incident. A source close to the case said charges against one officer were dropped, and two petty officers received "administrative actions."
This firing, coming on the heels of the CO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) being relieved, really didn't surprise me. Those submariners who have ever operated in shallow constricted waters like the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz probably noticed immediately that the reports of how the accident happened didn't seem "quite right" with respect to the boat finding herself in that situation. (Note: While we don't know the exact geometries or locations of the ship's involved in the collision, I don't have to mention that none of us should discuss on this open-source blog the things we noted that seemed "wrong".) I'm just wondering whether the decision to relieve Captain Weingart was due solely to his actions that contributed to the collision, or if it was the result of "discrepancies" noted during the after-mishap "investigation" of the ship's day-to-day operations. Since this accident didn't get nearly as much press as the USS San Francisco grounding, I don't expect that we'll see the Submarine Force go public with all their "damning" evidence like they did with the SFO. My guess is we won't ever find out if the decision to remove the CO was because of a "one strike and you're out" policy, or the result of noted problems in the way the ship was being run. I'm sure all of us will have our opinions, though.

Best. Submarine. Viral Videos. Ever.

Got an E-mail from an active duty reader who turned me on to the "Hey, Shipwreck" video series. The most recent one can be found here -- you'll then have to click on the DivX or WMV links. The first four episodes are linked from this page.

The videos are hard to describe. Basically, they feature a couple of animated "Halo"-type FPS video game characters with Navy crows and dolphins standing around shooting the sh*t on watch -- on a space submarine of the future that seems to be a boomer. The most recent one features a qual checkout and a s-t-s with "Sailor-to-English translation" provided. If you just close your eyes and listen to them, you'll think you're back on the boat. The submariner who makes them has a blog about the series here.

Oh, and it's definitely NSFW if you don't have headphones.

Update 2230 29 Jan: CDR Salamander likes the videos too, and comes up with the reason that they should strike a chord with most Sailors -- the conversation is pretty much exactly what you'd expect to hear on any midwatch.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Busy Busy...

Sorry for the minimal posting this weekend; I went to dinner last night with some Boise-area bloggers (I was the reason Adam had to put in the "non-liberal" caveat), and spent today at church, a nephew's birthday party, and doing my taxes. (Plus, I watched some golf.) Re: taxes, for the 24th year in a row I got more money from the federal government than I had to pay in, so I really can't complain.

I did have a little bit of 'net time, but I'm spending that in an interesting discussion over at Julie's place (who was the only one of what I'm pretty sure are the five "most-visited" Boise area bloggers who wasn't at the dinner last night).

Update 2246 28 Jan: While I won't complain about federal taxes, I fully reserve the right to bitch about Idaho state income taxes. While the property taxes here are (relatively) low, the income tax rate in Idaho is 7.8% on everything over about $24K. As a result, our state income tax liability is over half of what we have to pay in federal taxes. And yet, most of the complaining I hear from Idahoans comes from whining over property taxes...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Picture From Today's Anti-War Rally ("9-II Was An Inside Job")

One of the main problems that liberals have in this country (other than a myopic naïveté about how the world really works) is their failure to come up with a consistent message. Today's anti-war rally in D.C. might have been an opportunity for them to demonstrate some organizational skills; unfortunately, they couldn't quite figure out how to make themselves not look ridiculous on TV:

So why is the person who made the sign concerned about something called "9-II" being an inside job? (Even the DUmmies are upset about it.) And why invite Jane Fonda to speak if they hope to convince Middle America that they're not complete jerks?

Update 1441 27 Jan: While this isn't really related (other than belonging to the same general category: politics), and I don't think that has anything to do with her fitness (or lack of same) to be President, I figured I might as well post the video of Sen. Clinton "singing" the national anthem -- just because everyone will be talking about it later:

It sounds like she got the words wrong in one place...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When There's Nothing Else To Post...

...the enterprising submarine blogger can always find an upbeat submarine video on YouTube:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Navy Doing The IA Thing Better Now

Navy NewsStand has a story of the CNO dropping in on Individual Augmentee (IA) training at Ft. McCrady in South Carolina. From the story:
The Navy currently has more than 10,000 Sailors in IA duty assignments all over the world. Personnel officials estimate that nearly half the 4,300 Sailors serving in Iraq are IA’s. Mullen said he does not expect those figures to change dramatically in the next year or so...
...The Navy’s top leader described the positive attitude of IA Sailors he recently visited in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying they felt proud to be serving and knew they were making a difference. He also pointed out ways the Navy is trying to improve the entire IA assignment process.
The recently-established Task Force Individual Augmentation, for example, has increased notification time for Sailors ordered to IA billets from under 30 days to a high of 80 days in December 2006. The notification window begins when a Sailor receives written orders of IA duty, and ends when that Sailor leaves the area of permanent duty station.
The Navy also announced late last year a series of new IA incentives. These initiatives include flexible advancement exams and award points towards advancement. The Navy will also pay for families of Sailors deployed on IA duty to move from their area of permanent duty station to an area of greater family support during the deployment. These initiatives are designed to ease the burden of the family and Sailor during the separation.
I was one of the earlier IAs, and I sure didn't get 80 days notice. Back in August '03, they sent out the message that they were looking for someone on a Wednesday, and I was on a plane to Tampa the next Tuesday (the day my written orders arrived).

Please note that I'm not saying this to complain -- just to point out that the Navy is doing things better now. You see, I volunteered to be an IA. I had just transferred from Groton to be the AOIC of what was then NAVSUBTRACENPAC San Diego -- everyone still called it SubTraFac -- about three weeks earlier. I was pretty bummed; not because I was in San Diego, but because my career was ending in such a non-important job. [Short story: I'd had orders earlier in the year to be XO on USS Hartford (SSN 768), but lost them when I had to go see the Doc for a relatively minor but submarine-disqualifying medical condition. Since I wasn't on the first team anymore, the O-5 board was only too happy to pass me over -- although my 24% BF did make their decision a little bit easier.] The OIC of STF had let me know that he wasn't going to be having me teach any classes because of my weight -- after all , during the GWOT, it wasn't important that we be smarter than the enemy; it was important that we looked better than the enemy in uniform. (No, I'm not at all bitter.) When the message came out saying that NPDC had to provide an O-4 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom for CENTCOM, I jumped at it. I figured I still had a contribution to make, and going to Iraq would be the best way for me to make it.

It turns out that going to Iraq wasn't in the cards for me. I flew straight to Tampa -- they didn't start the Army-style training until about 3 months after I got picked up as an IA. (They did it in Ft. Benning then.) When I arrived, I asked when I'd be heading for Iraq; they told me that they decided they needed me to stay in Tampa. They set me up in a two BR apartment in St. Petersburg and had me take over the "Coalition Financial Ops" desk in the Iraq Coalition Coordination Center from a Navy CDR who was leaving in three days. As I was turning over, I found out that I was basically in charge of figuring out how to set up a system for handling over $500M of funds to help support the 30-odd countries getting set to provide troops in Iraq in August '03. I had a memo from Condoleezza Rice saying we could use the money, a four page memorandum of understanding between us and Poland that was mostly generalities, a slightly longer MOU between Poland and the other countries that had even more generalities, and an E-mail cache -- and that was about it. Needless to say, it concerned me a little that there weren't any procedures set up ahead of time, and I was even more concerned that a Navy O-4 with no real financial training was supposed to come up with these procedures.

It all ended up working out OK -- it turns out that I was a natural for the job. The Army and Marine colonels I was working for were scared to death of what I was doing (but even more scared of what would happen if I didn't get my job done in time -- the Ukrainians really wanted to be reimbursed quickly), so they basically signed everything I told them to sign and let me work in peace. While I was in Tampa, quite a few officers I worked with would get sent off to Iraq on short notice -- since they arrived about when I did, they hadn't gotten any special training. They basically went down to the armory, qualified on the 9mm, got issued a sidearm and some extra uniform stuff, and got stuck on a plane to the Middle East. (They lost their extra TAD money too, which sucked.) A buddy of mine from college came back and told a story of how they'd gone off on a beer run and gotten pinned down in an alley by a couple of guys shooting at them with AK-47s. Some of the guys who went to Iraq E-mailed that the Green Zone had been hit by mortar fire within a few minutes of them arriving. At that point, I decided that it was probably good I didn't get sent to Iraq, especially within a year of retirement.

My point? I'm glad the Navy IAs (including this submariner) are out there on the "tip of the spear" defending our freedoms. I'm also glad the Navy is doing a better job preparing the IAs for what they'll be dealing with, and the story is probably right that it will pay dividends by having more Sailors with "joint" experience -- as long as they make it home safely. Some don't, and they will be greatly missed.

Update 2239 25 Jan: Here's more on improvements being made to the IA process.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Smooth Criminal" -- NOT!

The criminals in Boise can compete with the best of them in the "dumbest crook" category:
Boise Police arrested a 22-year-old man for check fraud when he reportedly left his drivers license at a local store after a clerk refused to cash a stolen payroll check...
...Boise police were called to a undisclosed retail store at Fairview Avenue and Cole Road at 1:22 p.m. Tuesday when store clerk reported that a man tried to cash a payroll check and then left the store after the clerk refused. The man, later identified as Landell, left his real driver’s license at the store. Store employees watched the man get into the passenger seat of the car and drive away. That information was passed on to Boise police, who found the car at a nearby store. When officers walked towards the car, the driver, later identified as Smith, ran away and got as far as the WinCo Foods store at Cole and Fairview before he was arrested.
Landell was arrested inside a nearby store, police said.
Officers found 30 checks inside the car which were reported stolen from an undisclosed Meridian business. Police are still investigating how the men got possession of the stolen checks, according to reports.
The article also mentions how the driver of the car was wanted on an outstanding $750,000 arrest warrant for a failure to appear charge.

Based on the mug shot of Landell (Smith's is here) my guess is they were planning on using the ill-gotten booty for some acne medication.

(Completey unrelated aside: Whenever I use the phrase "ill-gotten booty" -- which is much more often than I should -- I can't help but remember Hawkeye's line from an episode of M*A*S*H: "I made it publicly known that there were fingerprints to be found on the stolen articles. Thereby tempting the criminal to repeat his crime...and retrieve his ill-gotten booty. Or, his ill-booten gotty.")

Update 0800 24 Jan: Fixed the link to the main story, which now has less information than I quoted. The Idaho Statesman has an annoying-for-bloggers business rule where they pull the "breaking news" versions of the story from their website when they put up the version that actually goes in the paper, so we have to go back and fix the links the next day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Blue Monday"

Some psychologist in England decided that, because of unpaid Christmas bills, nasty weather, and failed New Year's resolutions, today was supposed to be the gloomiest day of the year. I read the story this morning, but knew that today wouldn't be gloomy for me, because a new episode of Heroes was going to be on tonight, and the almost two month hiatus was going to be over!

Unfortunately, it turned out to be the lamest episode of Heroes ever -- basically just a "reset" of all the storylines and some recaps to allow people who hadn't seen the first half of the season to catch up. Luckily, the day was essentially over by the time the episode finished, so I didn't have time to feel gloomy. (Plus, I got an E-mail from an old buddy who had found me through this blog, so I ended the day feeling pretty good.)

USS Perch (SS 176) Found In Java Sea

The final resting place of USS Perch (SS 176) has reportedly been found in the Java Sea by divers looking for the wreck of the cruiser HMS Exeter. The details can be found at the On Eternal Patrol website, along with several pictures (including this one):

Unlike with the recently-found graves of USS Wahoo (SS 238), USS Lagarto (SS 371), and USS Grunion (SS 216), the details of the final action of the Perch were well known. Perch was scuttled by her crew on March 3, 1942, after being severely damaged during a horrific depth charge attack two days earlier. The crew was taken prisoner -- six Submariners died during 3 1/2 years in a Japanese POW camp, but 53 survived.

Bell-ringer 0602 22 Jan: A commenter pointed out that I had the designation on the Perch wrong in the title to the post ("SSN" vs. "SS") -- it's fixed now.

Bell-ringer 0804 24 Jan: Here's a link to the post Anna talked about in the comments.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Those Who Unwittingly Interact With The Temporarily Stupid Are Also Punished

A few years back, I had an epiphany: since my sons and I had crewcuts, it seemed like a waste of $10 or so to go to the barber every couple of months when we could do just as good a job cutting each others hair with a set of $10 electric clippers. I bought said clippers, and since then I've saved a couple hundred bucks and we still had acceptable-quality low-maintenance, low-drag haircuts that make the ladies swoon.

That was until tonight. My oldest son, the Class President, asked me to cut his hair. I gave him the "#2 all over" look, and was down to the "final touch-up" phase. I noticed a tuft of hair sticking up on the back, so I went in with the clippers to take care of it... without remembering I had taken the guard off. Took off a swath of hair, boot camp-style, about five inches long and 2" wide, almost all the way to the top of his head. Uh-oh...

As I apologized profusely, we ended up deciding that a Marine "high-and-tight" would be our best shot of having him not look like a skinhead while covering up the visible evidence of my stupidity. Unfortunately for him, it didn't really work out too well. Maybe they'll let him wear a hat to school...

What Does Congressman Sali Have Against Geologists?

My regular readers will remember that I wasn't very enamored of the Republican nominee for Congress in my district last year, Bill Sali. He ended up winning the race with just under 50% of the vote, and is now in D.C. -- "standing up to the Democrats" by being on the losing end of every contested vote (frequently by large margins).

He made the news last week for getting up on the House floor to introduce a "symbolic" bill to reduce gravity; he intended to make the point that his proposal was as "unnatural" as increasing (or even having) a federally-mandated minimum wage. I suppose if he wants to waste his staff's time coming up with "humorous" bills like that, it's his right. But now, he's posted a draft copy of the "bill" on his website, and now that I've read it, I've got a bone to pick with him.

Check out this paragraph in the "Obesity Reduction and Health Promotion Act of 2007":
(7) The combination of caloric intake, busy schedule, sedimentary profession, and lack of exercise combine to result in an increase in weight in many Americans, including Members of Congress, expanding waistlines and bulges of various sizes and shapes.
Emphasis mine. Now, what evidence does Congressman Sali have that those in sedimentary professions are more subject to weight gain than other Americans? Don't rock-hunters spend more time outdoors than many others? Why does he pick on geologists, instead of lawyers or some other profession?

Seriously, I've complained before about Mr. Sali's staff not picking up typos on his campaign web site, but this is a little more serious. Shouldn't we expect someone who ran on a platform of (among other things) making English the country's official language be expected to use correct spelling in bills he submits to the U.S. House of Representatives? Couldn't we expect that a professional Congressional staff be able to recognize the difference between "sedentary" and "sedimentary"? (And I didn't even mention the badly written clause at the end of the sentence.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Bad Sailor"

Just a quick bookmark here (I haven't got a chance to read the whole thing) but it looks like this story in the San Diego Reader called "Bad Sailor" will be some interesting reading. It seems to be some sea and shore stories from a NavET on the Slave Labor Camp in the mid-90s. I think it might be for real, because I remember a Groton NEX clerk named Siobhan when I was stationed there about that time...

Update 0826 20 January: I finished the story -- it ends up being a downer. Still, I think most of us knew a sh*tbag or two, so you can read the story to see what it was like from their perspective.

Friday, January 19, 2007

MSP CO Relieved

Somewhat surprisingly, the CO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), CDR Edwin Ruff, has been relieved of command. I say "surprisingly" not because it doesn't fit in with the Sub Force's recent "tradition" of relieving COs whenever something bad happens on a boat that makes the press, but because it apparently wasn't done by the first Flag Officer in the chain of command. That officer, RADM Jeff Fowler, had recently issued CDR Ruff a punitive letter of reprimand, but didn't fire him on the spot. So, either RADM Fowler didn't coordinate the punishment with the upper brass ahead of time (highly unlikely), he didn't want his name attached to the action, the Sub Force doesn't want anyone not in a boat's "home" chain of command making these things happen, or the safety report came out with additional information that made VADM Munns (SubLant) decide to pull the trigger.

Staying at PD...

Update 2227 19 Jan: Here's the Navy NewsStand version of the story. Excerpt:
Following a review of the events in connection with a Dec.29 at-sea incident near Plymouth, England, Commander, Submarine Force, Vice Adm. Chuck Munns relieved Cmdr. Edwin Ruff, commanding officer, USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), and reassigned him to the staff of Commander, Submarine Squadron 6 in Norfolk, Va. Munns took this action due to a loss of in confidence in Ruff’s ability to command.
Cmdr. Chris Williams, Deputy for Readiness, Submarine Squadron 6, and former Commanding Officer USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), assumed command of USS Minneapolis-St. Paul Jan. 19.

"Navel" Officer In The Idaho Legislature

MountainGoat Report picked up on an interesting tidbit on the Idaho Legislature's website about one of my new state representatives:

Of all homonyms, I think people making mistakes with this one are among the most entertaining.

(I know this isn't Marv's fault -- from all I hear, he's a pretty good guy. I'm going to get word to him about the "error" so he can get it fixed...)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Strange Way To Find Out About Breaking News

So I'm checking my referrers log, and I found that in the space of 13 minutes, I'd gotten 12 hits from all over North America from people searching for "Bob Vern". There's nothing about "Bob Vern" on Google News, or even on some of the more active message boards. I found out I was fairly high up on the Google Search for "Bob Vern" because of a comment someone made in a post back in 2005. It gets me to wondering -- are they searching for information on Bob Vern the actor? Did something happen to him? Should I go out and buy the URL "" just in case it's about to become a household name? I guess I'll have to find out in the morning.

Update 2313 22 Jan: It turns out that all the simultaneous searching was generated by a card at the end of that night's episode of "Grey's Anatomy" saying "In memory of Bob Vern", who was the father of one of the screenwriters. She discusses it here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

PCU New Mexico Unit Crest Revealed

Last spring, I mentioned that the New Mexico Council of the Navy League was holding a contest for New Mexico residents to design the unit crest for PCU New Mexico (SSN 779). Well, the crew has voted, and the winning design has been announced. Here it is:

It is a very unique design; you'll definitely be able to pick it out of a crowd. The other finalists and semi-finalists can be found here; I admit to being partial to the more "traditional" designs (like the 2nd, 4th, and 5th ones down on the right under "Semi-finalists") but the one the crew picked is very nice. I'll even admit that it's far better than my suggestion -- although I hope that the crew is still considering my nomination for the ship's motto ("Slower Than A Seawolf"). I haven't had much luck in the past for getting my motto suggestions accepted, though; for example, my CO on Connecticut picked "Arsenal of the Nation" as our ship's motto, completely ignoring my suggestion: "We regret that our enemies have but one life to give for their country".
Update 0605 19 January: While some don't seem to like the New Mexico's new crest, I think we can all agree that it's better than USS Seawolf's "drowning dog":

Word on the street is that the first several crest designs the crew submitted to Big Navy were rejected for having the wolf look "too warlike" -- remember, this was in the late 90s.

So Much To Blog... So Little Time

There are quite a few interesting things going on in the submarine world today, and here I am without enough time to blog about them. Hopefully I'll get back to them, but until then, here are some snippets:

1) The CO and former XO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) received punitive letters of reprimand for the incident in which two crew members lost their lives when they were washed overboard late last year. From the Stars and Stripes:
Rear Adm. Jeff Fowler, commander of Submarine Group 8, conducted five nonjudicial punishment hearings Tuesday related to the Dec. 29 incident and issued letters of reprimand for the top two officers, said Lt. Chris Servello, a spokesman with Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet. Fowler dismissed charges against three other crewmembers: two officers and a chief petty officer, Servello said.
The sub’s commander, Cmdr. Edwin Ruff, took command of the Minneapolis-St. Paul in December 2004. Servello declined to name the former executive officer, citing privacy laws. Typically, information on nonjudicial punishment hearings is not released publicly. The former executive officer had been replaced because of a normal rotational cycle, not because of the incident.
“The decision made today was made in the best interest of crew safety and future mission success,” Servello said when asked why Fowler decided to keep Ruff as commander.
From what I've heard about the accident, this seems like a fair resolution. I knew then-Captain Fowler when he was CSS-3, and I always thought he seemed like an outstanding leader. This decision on his part bears that out, IMHO.

2) My "favorite" writer for Soldiers For The Truth, Lt. Raymond Perry USN (Ret.), is still writing about submarines -- in this case, the recent collision between USS Newport News (SSN 750) and a Japanese tanker. I haven't had a chance to really check the article for evidence of asshattedness (only for poor spelling in the first 4 paragraphs, like "contruction" and "quntity"), but I expect to find some soon.

3) Today's the 52nd anniversary of USS Nautilus' first underway on nuclear power. Here's what I wrote for the 50th anniversary.

4) Strategy Page has a story up on the recent submarine accidents and the Stand Down. Part of it says that " the admirals are paying more attention to the chiefs (Chief Petty Officers, senior NCOs) complaints about how much tighter things were back-in-the-day." Whenever I asked crusty old Master Chiefs what things were like "back-in-the-day", they talked about a lot more grab-ass and significantly easier drill scenarios. So what's the real story? (Personally, I think it's a combination of 1) operating a lot closer to traffic lanes, and 2) having every little hiccup make the press, that's making it look like the Sub Force isn't doing as well nowadays.)

5) A reader pointed out this photo in the SubSim coverage of the USS Texas (SSN 775) media embark last August; the caption says: "The COB dispensing liberty passes". Look at the photo in the link above and see if you can see "what's wrong with this picture".

Doesn't it seem like there are a lot of petty officers with dolphins lining up for liberty cards? Was that just a photo op for the press, or is there some new requirement for qualified NCOs to have liberty cards?

6) Almost forgot this one -- a former Russian admiral has an explanation for the USS Newport News collision:
Former Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral Edward Baltin said Tuesday that the presence of so many nuclear submarines in the Arab Gulf waters pointed to likely plans for a US attack against Iran.
Baltin, who was quoted by Interfax news agency, said the presence of US submarines in Gulf waters meant that Washington was contemplating a strike against Iran.
"The presence of the submarines indicates that Washington has not abandoned plans to launch a sudden attack against Iran," the admiral said.
He blamed Monday's collision between a US submarine and a Japanese sea liner near the Strait of Hormuz on the fact that US submarines needed to sail relatively higher than their usual depths to get clearer vision enabling them to zero in on likely targets.
[Emphasis mine] And this guy's a former submariner, too. No wonder we kicked their asses in the Cold War.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Stennis Deploying Today

My old aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) -- OK, it wasn't really "mine", since I was just a staff weenie, but I did do a deployment on her -- is deploying from Washington state today on her way to the Fifth Fleet AOR. She was originally going to do a WestPac, but got her orders switched last month; the Reagan will be handling her original WestPac responsibilities. Expect this news to touch off a new round of "we're about to attack Iran" nonsense. I blogged about this several times recently, but I'll probably look at it again soon. In the meantime, please feel free to discuss in the comments.

(Bonus fun skimmer fact: When I deployed on the Stennis, I found that the skimmers called a deployment a "cruise". How lame is that?)

Update 0017 17 January: Here's the Navy NewsStand article on the Stennis getting underway.

Update 2347 21 January: And here's the Navy NewsStand article on the Stennis leaving San Diego after picking up her air wing.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Submariner In Tijuana

Normally, I find my news stories about submarines from Google News (searching for "submarine"), or I just wait for The Sub Report to post them. Sometimes, though, the Google algorithm doesn't catch stories that mention submarines only obliquely, and I have to just stumble upon them.

Such was the case for this Reuters story about the recent crackdown on drug gangs in Tijuana. Here's how the story ends:
Chris Williams, a 24-year-old submarine officer in the U.S. Navy who was making his way from bar to bar under green and red neon lights, sympathized with Calderon.
"I can understand the reason for this battle," he said. "You don't want your people corrupted in the street."
It did my heart good to see a submariner described as being concerned about the sociopolitical background of the liberty port he was visiting. I realized that, since it was a Reuters story, this person might not actually be a submarine officer -- he may have said he was a submarine petty officer, or a petty officer who worked at the Submarine Base. I also realized that, since it was a submariner, it could have easily been someone who gave his division officer's or department head's name to a wandering reporter as a prank. Still, "Chris Williams", we salute you for doing the Submarine Force proud.

Somewhat related personal story: So there I was, in Tijuana with my family (visiting from Nebraska) in about 1992. We were looking for good fireworks, so we stopped by a corner store that had a small "Firecrackers" sign in the window. Here's the exchange:
Bubblehead: We'd like some fireworks, por favor.
Shopkeeper: (Pulls out box of inch-and-a-halfers and bottle rockets)
Bubblehead: No, we want bigger firecrackers! (Moves arms in the universal "bigger" motion)
Shopkeeper: Si! (Pulls out another box) We have cherry bombs, M-80s, quarter stick of dynamite...
Bubbleheads's Mom: We are not buying dynamite!
Rest of family: Awwww...
In my limited experience, Tijuana seems about as close as you can get to an Asian liberty port as there is in North America.

Lack Of Sunday Blogging

Sorry for no posting yesterday. Had church in the morning, and then started watching football. I was going to post about how the Chargers kicked the Patriot's pasty butts all the way back to New England, and how living in Groton all those years made me really sick of the Patriots and I was glad they lost so we wouldn't have to spend another week hearing about how perfect Tom Brady is and how Teddy Whatzhisname is the greatest linebacker ever and how if the guys on TV could just lick the lint from between Bill Belichick's toes they'd be the happiest sportscasters in the world... and then the Chargers go and lose! That pretty much wiped out whatever motivation I had yesterday. Much better now, though.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Movie Review: The Curse Of The Golden Flower

I saw The Curse of the Golden Flower last night and... wow! I've always been a sucker for Asian period pieces about high-level politics and intrigue, so that might explain why I like this one so much. It's pretty much Hamlet with kung-fu, with the Battle of Cannae re-fought in the Forbidden City thrown in. Even though it's done in Chinese with English sub-titles, I still felt I understood most of the character's motivations better that I do with most Hollywood movies. Gong Li, in particular, gave an incredible performance as the Empress. Chow Yun-Fat was good as the Emperor; I think there's some sort of law that he has to star in all Chinese dramas that come out in the U.S. While there wasn't as much traditional hand-to-hand combat as you might expect in such a movie, the incredible set design and totally sweet combat scenes will make it worth your while if you like Chinese films at all.

Overall, I give it four incredibly beautiful Chinese palace servant girls with hypnotically distracting decolletage out of five.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fat Cat Hercules

I haven't done any Friday cat-blogging in a while, but since I'm getting so many hits from searches for "Hercules fat cat" (they're looking for information on this cat that's been on CNN), I figured I should provide an update on our favorite blanket-molesting cat. He's still molesting blankets, as this photo of him with one of the boy's Christmas presents shows:

I realized after my son took the picture that, in addition to demonstrating that Hercules has no shame (in that he'll continue molesting his blanket even with people nearby), this picture shows that trying to give a cat "rabbit ears" is really kind of pointless.

USS Newport News Makes Bahrain

The USS Newport News (SSN 750) made port in Bahrain after her collision with the Japanese tanker M/V Mogamigawa. The linked article confirms that the damage to the sub is confined to her bow. Word on the street is that there's less damage than might have been expected, which is good news. Of course, if the stories are correct, and the Newport News got sucked up into the tanker's screws, one might expect that the 12 hatches on top of the forward MBTs may have taken some damage, and working around their payload may increase the complexity of the repair job.

In response to the recent accidents onboard the Newport News and USS Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Submarine Force commanders have ordered a week long force-wide Safety Stand Down (some background and additional information are here). Vigilis has general thoughts on the purposes of such actions here, and PigBoatSailor makes some really good points about this particular stand down at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. (I tend to agree that it seems to be a reflexive CYA reaction at this point, but maybe they'll make it really worthwhile.)

Update 1031 12 Jan: It turns out the "Safety Stand Down" is just designed as an admin drill. From this Navy Times article:
All submarine skippers worldwide — including those on ballistic missile submarines — will spend the next week conducting thorough reviews of past operations and future plans, according to a Jan. 11 news release from Naval Submarine Forces. They've also been ordered to "evaluate areas of risk and risk management."
The reviews will be sent up the chain of command, and submarine squadron and group commanders will review the data "to improve routine efficiency."
The Submarine Force will also use the findings to "better prepare commanding officers with tools and techniques that foster good judgment, technical and mariner skills," according to the release.
“It’s clear that a common thread through recent problems has been errors conducting normal routine operations,” said Vice Adm. Chuck Munns, Submarine Forces commander .
Normal operations will continue until the reviews, due Jan. 19, are complete. But crews will also need to take time to conduct reviews and evaluations, according to Lt. Cmdr. Chris Loundermon, spokesman for the Atlantic Fleet Naval Submarine Force.
Emphasis mine. From the looks of the announcement, it looks like they're setting up to blame the CO's ORM Review process for the accidents on the MSP and Newport News. Basically, everyone will have to cram in a "politically correct" review into their normal work- and drill-days. Hopefully, the Force won't decide to punish any CO and crew who takes this seriously and actually does report improvements they could have made in the past.

SubLant Battle "E" Winners

I posted about the SubPac list a few days ago; now, the base newspaper at Subase NLON has the list of SubLant "E" winners:
SUBRON 2 - USS Albuquerque (SSN 706)
SUBRON 4 - USS Seawolf (SSN 21)
SUBRON 6 - USS Norfolk (SSN 714)
SUBRON 8 - USS Hyman G Rickover (SSN 709)
SUBDEVRON 12 - USS Alexandria (SSN 757)
SUBRON 20 - USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) (Blue)
Special category submarine - NR-1
Interestingly, USS Newport News (SSN 750) earned the SUBRON 8 Tactical Operations White "T", so that's more evidence that they're a pretty good boat. Also of interest was the fact that only two of the six Battle "E" winners also won the Engineering "E" -- the number's normally higher than that. Maybe it's taking more than being a good nuke to win the Battle "E" nowadays. (Being an Eng-type myself, I'm not sure I like this trend...)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Guess This Is How Diplomacy Works

The Washington Times is reporting today on a November meeting between our Pacific Fleet commander, ADM Roughead, and Chinese military officials soon after a Chinese Song-class diesel submarine surfaced near the USS Kitty Hawk. As near as I can tell, the Chinese were surprised to be asked about it, and responded in a quite... interesting way. Excerpts:
The Chinese responded by claiming the Song-class submarine that surfaced near the USS Kitty Hawk on Oct. 27 was there by accident, and that it did not shadow the warship before making its presence known, the officials said.
Defense officials familiar with reports of closed-door military meetings in Beijing, Shanghai and Zhanjiang privately doubted the Chinese explanations and said it is more likely the Song-class diesel electric submarine was practicing anti-aircraft carrier operations...
... The Chinese told Adm. Roughead that it was a "chance encounter" and that China's military had no intention of stalking the Kitty Hawk. They also said the submarine surfaced deliberately to demonstrate that it had no hostile intent, the officials said.
"The Chinese also claimed they did not want the U.S. Navy to mistake the vessel for a submarine from Taiwan or Korea," one official said. China has a large fleet of submarines that seldom operates so far from China's coast, such as the deep-ocean encounter near Okinawa.
Another explanation from the Chinese military officials was that the submarine surfaced because officials were worried that being detected so close to the carrier would lead to a confrontation.
The story goes on to say the Chinese are against entering into an INCSEA agreement with the U.S., similar to what we had with the Soviets. I expect that this was just a face-saving measure for them, and they'll enventually see that having such an agreement is in their best interest. The fact that the Chinese couldn't seem to agree on a party line indicates to me that there might be a division within the military on the advisability of a more "aggressive" naval posture. It also confirms my suspicion that the submarine didn't intend to surface -- they just screwed up. After all, the Chinese lied about everything else; why tell the truth about "deliberately" surfacing?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

USS Newport News Collision: The Ultimate Zoof ?

The Navy has apparently come up with an explanation for how the USS Newport News (SSN 750) hit the Japanese tanker M/V Mogamigawa that actually makes some sense and may spare the CO his career. From The Virginian Pilot:

The submarine Newport News was submerged and leaving the Persian Gulf when a mammoth Japanese oil tanker passed overhead at a high speed, creating a sucking effect that made the sub rise and hit the ship, the Navy said Tuesday.
That is the preliminary finding of Monday's collision between the Norfolk-based submarine and the Mogamigawa, a 1,100-foot-long merchant ship displacing 300,000 tons.
Both were southbound, crossing the busy and narrow Strait of Hormuz while heading into the Arabian Sea.
"As the ship passed over the sub, it ended up sucking the submarine into it," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Loundermon, a spokesman for Submarine Force in Norfolk.
"It is a principle called the venturi effect," he said.
I'm sure they'll have to do some calculations to make sure this is plausible, but if the ship reported they weren't trying to come to PD, and assuming the ship control party didn't just randomly lose depth control at the worst possible time, this probably sounds as reasonable as anything else. There are lots of forces involved in operating a submerged submarine, and an upward force from the venturi effect is one submariners don't practice a lot in the dive trainer. (My old boat once popped to the surface because we hit a patch of colder water due to hitting the boundary where a river was discharging into open ocean, but that's another story...)

Assuming this explanation is true, the question now becomes: will the CO and crew be exonerated? The Sub Force has already shown that uncharted seamounts aren't a justification, and they do always warn you about the dangers of being "zoofed" -- submarine slang for having a surface ship pass directly over your position. The reason I always learned was that you didn't want to have someone above you in case you had to emergency blow, but it could be that there's a warning about the Venturi Effect buried in some tech manual. If there is, the CO is probably sunk. If this truly is a "first time we've thought of it" thing, though, the CO and crew might be fine -- unless, of course, all the "helpful" squadron, group, and force types who pour onboard a boat after an incident find anything that shows the Newport News wasn't operating completely in accordance with approved procedures...

In any event, the sub is apparently heading back to Bahrain for an inspection. If the boat really was sucked up into the tanker's stern, and if the tanker's propellers got ahold of the sonar sphere, we could see some interesting pictures.

Staying at PD...

Update 2014 10 January: Skimmer Dave over at The Galloping Beaver has a great explanation of the Venturi Effect near the bottom of this post. An excerpt:
I've handled a VLCC tanker. They leave a huge hole in the water, particularly when loaded to the marks and up to a typical service speed of 17 knots. That hole gets filled with water rushing into the cavity created at the stern of the ship. In simple terms the water filling the cavity rushes down from three sides and creates a force which moves in the same direction of the ship and operates like a swirling vortex, sucking everything from both sides of the ship down, once it reaches the stern and up and towards from the water column below. At the risk of over-simplifying a description, it's very much like effect of a vacuum cleaner nozzle.
A submarine too close to that vortex, with little warning, would be sucked into the filling cavity and propelled in the direction of the stern of the surface ship. The thing about it is, I've actually seen it happen...
You'll have to head over there yourself to read about what he saw.

Update 0903 15 Jan: Since Subsunk at Blackfive was kind enough to send readers here, I figure I should be helpful and direct them to my other posts on this topic as well -- here was my initial post on the collision, and here's my follow-up post to this one.

Monday, January 08, 2007

USS Newport News Collides With Japanese Tanker

Updated information on the collision can be found here.

From a Fifth Fleet press release:
No US sailors or merchant crew were injured when a US Navy submarine and a commercial cargo vessel collided in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday evening January 8, 2007.
The collision between USS Newport News (SSN 750) and the Japanese-flagged motor vessel Mogamigawa occurred at approximately 10:15 in the evening (local time) in the strait of Hormuz while the submarine was transiting submerged.
Overall damage to the USS Newport News is being evaluated. The propulsion plant was unaffected by this collision.
The incident is currently under investigation.
USS Newport News is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment to the US Navy Central Command area of responsibility conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO).
Other reports are here and here, but none of the press reports I saw had picked up that the Newport News was submerged at the time of the collision. If so, this eliminates any question on who had the right of way (as we saw in the USS Philadelphia vs. M/V Yaso Aysen collision), since a submerged submarine is always required to stay clear of surface craft. I obviously haven't heard any details yet, but expect to hear people wondering why a submarine couldn't avoid such a huge ship as the M/V Mogamigawa (a 317m supertanker, pictured below):

Believe it or not, the bigger ships are sometimes more difficult to avoid; you can hear them, but the relatively greater depths of the propellers tends to muffle the sounds, and makes them sound further away (although reports that the Newport News hit the tanker's stern make it harder to explain away). Reports indicate that the tanker was outbound from the Gulf, so she would have been fully laden, and drawing about 100 feet at the keel. So, it's possible the Newport News wasn't even at PD, and just clipped the tanker during normal submerged ops.

I'll wait for more information before making any more guesses, but based on initial reports, I don't think this will be an easy one to defend for the Submarine Force. (And having it be a Japanese surface ship just makes it more embarrassing -- although JDS Asashio's recent collision with a Panamanian-flagged tanker may make the Japanese more understanding of the difficulties of avoiding surface traffic in a submarine.)

Staying at PD...

Update 2254 08 January: This Reuters story has confirmation from the tanker's owner that there were no injuries or oil leak from the M/V Mogamigawa, which is good news.

Update 2248 09 January: Not much new information today. I realized I mis-read the stats on M/V Mogamigawa, so while her "depth" is about 100 ft., her "draught" (draft) is only about 65 feet. Therefore, it's likely the Newport News was actually on her way to PD when she hit the tanker. There's also this "analysis" piece from ABC News that has such important information as, after mentioning that the sub was submerged, that "(t)he submarine's radar was probably turned off, and its sonar was most likely in a "passive mode" — set to pick up echoes from other vessels, but not to send out any signals of its own." I love how the press always seems surprised that submarines don't operate their radar underwater. (I also love the concept of passive sonar picking up "echoes" from other ships -- so what's generating the initial noise that "echoes" off the ship? Why not just say "noise"?)

Also, Lazlong has a good post on this collision, as well as the 2nd anniversary of the San Francisco grounding from one who was there.

It's Battle "E" Time

SubPac was on the ball and put out a Battle "E" press release in the 1st week of January:
Three Pearl Harbor based nuclear-powered attack submarines were selected for the award, including USS La Jolla (SSN 701), from Submarine Squadron One, which received the award for the second year in a row. USS Chicago (SSN 721) and USS Tucson (SSN 770) from Submarine Squadron’s Three and Seven, respectively, were the other Pearl Harbor-based winners...
...Other Pacific Fleet submarines receiving the Battle “E” were USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) and the Floating Dry Dock Arco (ARDM-5) in San Diego; USS Houston (SSN 713) and USS Frank Cable (AS 40) in Guam; and USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) and USS Nevada (SSBN 733) in Bangor, Wash.
The Battle “E” award recognizes sustained superior performance in all areas of combat readiness. As part of the competition, ships compete for command excellence in four combat areas; maritime warfare, engineering/survivability, command and control, and logistics management. To receive the nod for battle efficiency, a ship must excel in all four areas.
Congratulations to all the winners! I admit I'm surprised not to see my old boat USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) on the list -- I guess, alone among the SubPac squadrons, SubDevRon 5 didn't give one out this year. SubLant's announcement will hopefully be coming to the 'net soon; it came out on January 17th last year. If anyone has a copy of the UNCLAS message announcing the winners and wanted to forward it here, it'd be put to good use.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

From The MSP Wives

I got an E-mail today from a wife of one of the officers on the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul; as you'd expect, the MSP wives are coming together to take care of their own. They've set up trust funds for the children of the fallen Sailors at Navy Federal Credit Union -- you can make contributions to the "Michael Holtz Memorial Fund" and the "Thomas Higgins Memorial Fund" at any NFCU branch. (If you don't live near an NFCU, E-mail me at joel(dot)bubblehead(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll send you the snail-mail address for the Funds.)

The E-mail I got also says this wife is putting together a Memory Book for each family. Any old shipmates who'd like to send remembrances, or anyone who'd like to send condolence letters, can send them to me at the E-mail address above and I'll forward them, or I'll send you the direct contact info if you need that.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

One Reason We'll Win The Long War

Got one of my kids an X-Box 360 for Christmas this year; he was always going over to a friend's house to play "Halo 2", so we figured we'd keep him at home some. As I was picking the game system up, I was wondering why the game system came with a headset. I soon found out why...

Over X-Box Live, it seems like a good percentage of our teenage boys are practicing small-unit combat while playing these "first-person shooter" video games. They talk back-and-forth with their team members over the headsets, coordinating their attacks. For the select few that go into the Army or Marines, they'll have been practicing squad-level tactics for most of their teenage years. I don't think it's a conspiracy by Bill Gates or anything to militarize our children, but I don't think the Pentagon could have planned it any better if they'd wanted to. Now, if we can only put export controls on the games so teenage wannabe jihadis don't start doing the same...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Navy Admiral To Head CENTCOM

Admiral William J. Fallon, currently in charge of Pacific Command, will soon be nominated to take over U.S. Central Command. He will be the first Admiral to command CENTCOM, the geographic command charged with running the Iraqi and Afghan theaters of the War on Terror, and will try to fill the large shoes of his predecessors -- including Generals Schwartzkopf, Franks, and Abizaid. Interestingly, ADM Fallon never commanded a ship; his major "at-sea" command was of a Carrier Air Wing, which is considered equivalent to commanding a carrier for the Navy aviation types as far as "checking the box" goes, career-wise.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

From The SUBVETS Groton Base

I was passed along this E-mail written by the Base Commander of the SUBVETS Groton Base regarding the loss of the two Sailors from the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), and wanted to share it with you:
I'm sure that by now all of you have heard about the unfortunate accident onboard the USS MINNEAPOLIS ST PAUL (SSN 708) where two Shipmates were lost over the side. It was a very unfortunate accident. If you haven't heard of this tragedy there is lots of information all over the internet and there is no need for me to repeat any headlines here.
Many of us who worked topside have been in those same circumstances and it could have happened to any of us. It is up to us as SUBVETS to perpetuate their Memory. The two who were lost are the COB ETCS(SS) Tom Higgins, and STS2 Michael Holtz.
I have held off on sending an email about this waiting for word of any Memorial Services, but at present they are still just in the planning stages.
I personally passed on my condolences on behalf of SUBVETS Groton Base to Admiral Haney and SUBLANT Force Master Chief Dean Irwin.
When I hear word of the funerals I will pass that along so that if you are in the area you may attend.
ETCS Higgins was stationed in the Groton area for many years prior to his assignment on the MSP. He was known my many people as a Good Chief Petty Officer, and a good Shipmate. I had the pleasure of working with him on the Sailor of the Year program the last 3 years. I have received word that a local Memorial Service will be scheduled at some point down the road. As soon as I have any confirmed information on the date and time I will pass that along.

There is a port of no return where ships may lie at anchor for a little space. And then some starless night the cable slips leaving only an eddy at the mooring place. Gulls veer no longer. Sailor rest your oar. No tangled wreckage will be washed ashore.

Shipmates Higgins and Holtz . . . Rest your oar.
Here's the latest news on the investigation into what went wrong from Stars and Stripes.

Update 0809 05 Jan: Here's the latest article from The Navy Times. Also, Navy NewsStand has a couple of pictures (here and here) of a memorial service the MSP crew held in Rota, Spain, where they pulled in after leaving England.

Update 2342 05 Jan: Here's another update from Stars and Stripes; it lists what it says are all the cases of Sailors falling overboard from submarines in the last six years. It only lists one case of someone falling off a moored submarine, but my guess is the Navy only mentioned those were a safety report was filed.

Also, here's a really good article from the Guardian. While the writer doesn't capitalize COB (understandable, considering it's a Brit paper), he has some pretty good insights that make it worth a read.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Boise Fiesta

As you might imagine, about the only thing people are talking about here in the Boise area is the very exciting Fiesta Bowl game, in which Boise State beat Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime. For those of you who missed it, here's a 2 1/2 minute clip that shows all the important plays from the last 1:30 of regulation and overtime:

As you can see, it was pretty exciting, especially considering that few people outside of Idaho gave BSU a chance to win. The win set off a great outpouring of pride among the local fans, as well it should have. Originally being from a traditional football state, I've found I have a hard time keeping quiet when some BSU fans, a little over-exuberantly, tend to engage in a little hyperbole when describing the game. Some, including fellow submarine blogger Dale over at Right Mind, and Cameron at Magic Valley Mormon (which is where I found the video above) have been calling it the "greatest game ever", which is clearly ridiculous -- while it was exciting, it was also fairly poorly played (seven turnovers, of which only two were due to outstanding defensive plays). College Football News has it just about right in calling it the 4th best bowl game ever. You also have people like Idaho Statesman sportswriter Chadd Cripe, in discussing the trick plays BSU used, saying idiotic things like:
The Broncos fought back with the kind of plays you just don't see in the Big 12, the Southeastern Conference or the Big Ten.
Stupid statements like that only serve to make it look like BSU fans like him haven't ever seen a college football game that didn't involve the Broncos. (Of course, had he added "...when the game is on the line" he would have been pretty much right.)

Almost as heart-warming as the game was to BSU fans (and Oklahoma-despisers like me) was the story that started up right after the game. After star BSU running back Ian Johnson scored the winning 2-point conversion, he proposed to his girlfriend (the captain of the BSU cheerleading squad) on national television:

A lot of times, people in football town will hear stories about what a jerk the big football stars are. By all reports, though, Ian Johnson truly is the All-American boy they made him out to be on all the morning shows today -- he really is a nice guy who everyone likes. He, and BSU's win over Oklahoma, are what make college football great.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bubblehead's Computer Tip O' The Day

Have you ever wanted to put funny characters into your blog comments, but didn't want to search the 'net for an example to cut-and-paste? Well, it turns out that there's an easier way -- just use the "Alt" key. It turns out that if you have the Num Lock on, you can hold down the "Alt" key on your keyboard, and then type in numbers on the number pad (the numbers at the top of your keyboard won't work) -- when you then release the "Alt" key, a funny character may appear! Here's what you get for 1 through 31:


Numbers 32 through 127 are for normal keyboard keys, and you can get more funny symbols by typing in 128 through 256. For example, the "infinity" symbol is 236: ∞
(You can find out what you'll get for 128 through 256 on this page. The symbol associated with 176 is really weird: ░ )

Have fun in the comments!

Quick Updates On MSP And Frank Cable Accidents

Stars and Stripes has an article with some "information" on the status of the investigation of the loss of the Sailor from the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul last week. The suggestion that the two lost submariners weren't attached to their safety lanyards doesn't make much sense, though, considering the reports of how strong the winds and seas were; if they weren't attached, it seems unlikely their bodies would have stayed near enough to the boat to easily find.

There's some good news regarding the survivors of the USS Frank Cable steam leak -- the prognosis for eventual recovery appears good for all five, although it sounds like their rehabilitation will be very involved due to the nature of their injuries.

Bell-ringer 2229 03 Jan: As a commenter points out, either I didn't read the MSP article very carefully, or they changed it after I posted without indicating an edit. The article says it's the men who either weren't attached to lanyards or had a longer line who survived; if that's the case, the one not in a harness was probably the safety swimmer. Not being attached to the safety track, he would have been able to swim clear, instead of being pushed against the hull by the storm. The same may be true for the other survivor if his safety line was longer.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Last January 1st, I came out with some predictions for 2006 -- it's time to see how I did. In reverse order:

6) Britney Spears and Kevin Federline will have marriage problems.
That one was too easy.
5) With all the documents being leaked, among those that won't be leaked will be the initial OPLAN for Operation Iraqi Freedom, since it would show that the current timetable for the drawing down of the occupation is essentially following the original plan.
I kinda got this one wrong, although it wasn't "leaked" -- it was put out in the Iraq Study Group Report. No one really noticed, though.
4) The Democrats will gain a few seats in the 2006 mid-term elections, which will be the most expensive and nasty mid-term elections ever. Despite the fact that the party in power essentially always loses congressional seats in the 6th year of an administration, the MSM will portray it as a referendum on Iraq.
Another one I didn't really get right, although I think the effect of conservatives voting against Republican candidates for reasons other than Iraq was more important that it was made out to be. I was right about the Dems gaining seats, and the nastiness and expense, but those were pretty much givens.
3) Despite the dire warnings of the German press, the U.S. will not invade Iran.
Not only was I right, I'm making the same prediction for 2007, and I'll still be right.
2) Despite the hopes of moonbats everywhere, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not be impeached.
See #3 above.
1) Somewhere, a submarine will make national news. It won't be for something good.
This is another one in the "not really right" category, but it requires some explanation. The hazing scandal on USS Columbus and the recent tragic deaths of submariners on the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul weren't good, but they didn't really last in the national news more than one news cycle. (Surprisingly, the USS Columbus story didn't really hit the national press at all, which was nice.) The two stories about submarines that seemed to make the biggest impressions on the national media were the commissioning of USS Texas (SSN 775) and the Chinese submarine getting close to the USS Kitty Hawk. The story about the Texas' commissioning was undeniably good, and the Kitty Hawk story put the Chinese submarine and her crew in good light, so I'd say I wasn't completely right on this one either.

For 2007, in addition to predicting (again) that the President and Vice President won't be impeached, I'm staying with my prediction that we won't go to war with Iran. (For the last one, I do need to add a supplemental prediction: if we do start fighting Iran, someone will come up with a novelty song called "Bomb Iran" that's sung to the tune of "Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys.) For another easy one, I predict that the 35% of people who apparently think the draft will be reinstated this year will be wrong. On the local front, I'm pretty sure that newly-elected Idaho 1st District Congressman Bill Sali will say something stupid that makes the national press. On the submarine front, I predict that no major publication will pick up on the importance of the upcoming shift of a large number of LANTFLT submarines to PACFLT -- namely, that this is a tangible indication of the evolving national recognition that as the 20th Century was dominated by our relationships with our Europeans allies and adversaries, the 21st Century will be similarly defined by how we relate to our allies and rivals across the Pacific.

Have a great New Year, and thanks for continuing to visit TSSBP.