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, February 28, 2007

When Government Officials Want To Satisfy Their Public Self-Abuse Needs...

... it seems that Idaho Falls is the place to go. From this weird article in the Idaho Statesman:
Boise International Airport Federal Security Director Doug Melvin resigned Tuesday citing personal reasons, the Transportation Security Administration announced.
Melvin's resignation follows an indecent exposure citation he received last week at an Idaho Falls hotel.
According to police reports, Melvin, 48, was cited for indecent exposure while staying at the Fairfield Inn on Feb. 19.
The report says Melvin entered the swimming pool area, removed his clothing, walked around nude and exposed himself to other hotel patrons and staff.
The report says Melvin reportedly masturbated while in front of pool-area windows directly in view of the main elevator.
Melvin was then escorted to his room where "he admitted to having a swimming suit, but failing to utilize it when in the pool area," the Idaho Falls Police Department report said.
And what could have caused this lapse in judgment?
The police report lists alcohol as a factor in the incident.
Do ya think?

An Update On PCU Hawaii

PCU Hawaii (SSN 776) is going to be commissioned in Groton on May 5th; this has some people in Hawaii, where she's eventually going to be based, wondering why she won't get out there until 2009. All of us submariners know that the answer is "PSA" (among other things), but this article makes for some interesting reading as various people try to explain what will happen between May and the boat's eventual interfleet transfer.

One of the better tidbits I got out of the article was the URL for the Navy League's USS Hawaii website. You can also see some USS Hawaii art on the CSP boat page, and some pictures (including a close-up of the obnoxious broom) here on the CSP website.

Crashing The Googleplex

It seems a guy from Boise decided to go on a quest -- pitch a business idea to Google without an appointment, and blog about the process while he was at it. Aaron Stanton left for California a couple of weeks ago, and he's heading back to Boise tonight. During the last couple of weeks, he's created his own quite impressive blogswarm -- pretty good for an Idaho guy. We don't know yet how he did after he got the meeting, but his blog makes for interesting reading.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Australia Needs Submariners!

Check out this story in The Australian -- here are some excerpts:
"The navy is currently experiencing a shortfall of submariners of about 30 per cent of requirement," a Defence Department spokesman said in response to questions from The Australian yesterday. "The shortage of submariners has meant there has been a reduction in sailing days..."
...But these missions are now threatened by a critical shortage of mechanical and electrical technicians, as well as electronic and acoustic warfare specialists...
...The navy said it was considering a range of initiatives to improve the pay and conditions of submariners and entice more sailors to join.
The navy last year allowed civilians to join the submarine arm directly without first serving on surface navy ships, as had been previously required.
It has also increased the size of the special submariner allowances, which traditionally mean pay of up to 20 per cent more than sailors on ships...
...The navy has repackaged its publicity pitch for submariners, extolling the virtues of being based at the fleet headquarters in HMAS Stirling in Perth.
"Nearby you can enjoy a round of golf, or take a peaceful walk deep into jarrah forests," the Defence website says, while spruiking local fishing, nightclubs, markets and water sports.
When discussing the submariner's training course at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, the navy promises that "despite the Hollywood stereotypes, there won't be gruff drill instructors screaming in your face".
"The type of people we are looking for are what we call extroverted introverts - people who get along with others but at the same time are mentally able to occupy their 'own space', even though others surround them," the navy says.
Collins-class boats have a crew of about 45, so the 30% shortage means that the Aussies need to find an additional 75 or so qualified people to be submariners every couple of years. Getting rid of the requirement that prospective submariners serve in surface ships first should help, as should the extra money. What they really need, though, is a good movie that shows submariners as the supermen they are -- virile, indestructible, and irresistibly desired by the opposite sex. (I would have said "women" instead of "opposite sex", but the Aussie Sub Force has female submariners -- they started training in 1998. This shortage of qualified personnel should put to rest arguments made by those who support opening U.S. submarines to women that we need to do this to ensure we have enough qualified applicants.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The 2006 MilBloggies

Now that the Oscars are over, we can turn our attention to the really important awards -- the 2006 MilBloggies. You have to register with the site in order to vote, but it's worth the effort -- there are a lot of good milblogs out there that could use your support before voting closes on Tuesday, Feb. 27th. I'm most excited about voting for submarine wife Wendy of All Ahead Full in the "Spouses" category; hers is the only submarine-related blog I could find among the finalists. In the Navy category, all the nominees (CDR Salamander, Neptunus Lex, SMASH, and Doc in the Box) are great, but the 'Phib got my vote. The Veteran category likewise has five great nominees, but I went for Blackfive -- partly because they have submariner Subsunk posting over there. For Military Supporter, my vote went to FbL at Fuzzilicious Thinking because of her work on Project Valour-IT -- although most of the bloggers nominated also supported this worthy cause. The other categories also have many worthy blogs to consider -- it's worth a couple hours of your time to check them out if you haven't read them before.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

SoCal Vacation Lessons Learned

As promised, if you click the "read more" you'll get my lessons learnt from our recent vacation:

1. Taking a family trip to San Diego and L.A. was a way better idea than my initial plans on how to spend my vacation. My ideas included:

a) Live-blogging my naps.
b) Wandering around town making fun of people who still believe that professional boxing is a real sport.
c) Coming up with a Mock Fantasy Draft for the family Fantasy Football League.
2. The vacation was successful because I got to go on my two favorite rides at Disneyland:

a) The Tram Ride:

b) The Alameda Police Golf Cart ride:

3. If your son watches The Colbert Report, he'll probably want to get pictures taken with celebrities:

I have no idea what the "thumbs up" means, but I'm sure it's obscene.

4. The new Submarine Ride at Disneyland isn't open yet...

...but it's a great place for bloggers with a nom de blog like "Bubblehead" to get their picture taken:

5. Universal Studios Theme Park in Hollywood is a good place to spend one day, but I have no idea what anyone would do there on the 2nd day of a visit. On a related note, the MWR in San Diego only sells two-day tickets.

6. Traffic in L.A. totally blows. We left Universal Studios at 5 p.m., and had gotten only 8 miles down the 101 during the next hour. The next 8 miles took a half hour, and we covered another 8 miles in the subsequent 15 minutes. After that (at 6:45 p.m.), traffic opened up a little, so we did about 50 mph until we got almost to Camp Pendleton.

7. I'll probably come up with more later, but now it's time to go watch the Oscars.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Iranian Propaganda Sounds Like Old Soviet Stuff

Check out this article on the Iranian reaction to recent U.S. submarine problems in the Iranian press. Excerpts:
Chemical and radioactive substances have leaked from a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine at the repairing site in Bahrain, an Iranian navy official has said.
The substances have leaked from the USS Newport News submarine which collided with a Japanese tanker near the Straits of Hormuz on January 8, Commander of Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral Sajjad Kuchaki said.
He added that the USS Newport News collision with the Mogamigawa has happened because of irresponsibility of officials on the American submarine.
"USS Newport News has suffered substantial damages, but Americans tried denying this," Kuchaki stated.
Saying that the submarine has been transferred to the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet, the commander added that although initial reports rejected the spread of chemicals, "Our news sources revealed that traces of chemical and radioactive leakage are evident at the Bahrain port where the U.S. submarine is being repaired..."
...Kuchaki added that Commander Matthew A. Weingart was relieved of command due to his recklessness and Captain Norman B. Moore has taken his position.
He further noted that the submarine was transited to Bahrain for temporary repairs, and it will return to the Port of Norfolk for a complete overhaul.
The commander raised the question of why Persian Gulf States and environmental organizations are being indifferent to this matter when they are very well aware of the environmental consequences of the incident.
"The Persian Gulf littoral states and departments that claim they are supportive of the environment, which often exaggerate the smallest oil spill, have not reacted to the spread of chemicals that threaten the region's ecosystem."
Kuchaki went onto say the USS Minneapolis (SSN708) left Norfolk for Europe and stopped in Italy and England for a week.
Four crewmen were swept overboard in rough seas as it pulled out Plymouth harbor in England. The incident occurred due to a hasty and poor decision by the commander.
Pointing out that the presence of crew members on deck is strictly forbidden at time of departure Commander of Iranian navy added, "How could the officials of the mentioned submarine not notice four of their crew members on deck, taking into consideration the importance of this matter, and then start departing?"
The commander expressed regret that American commanders did not value the lives of their soldiers. He was also surprised at how American families trusted such irresponsible commanders.
Kuchaki added that the U.S. commanders' incompetence and irresponsibility were the cause of this tragic incident.
"Countries in the region must not allow their waters to be the parading ground of such people. How can they maintain security in the region and control the flow of oil exports from the Strait of Hormuz with such reckless leadership?"
[Emphasis mine] The article is clearly intended to try to influence the Gulf States (Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE) in the same clumsy matter as the old Soviet stuff back in the 70s and 80s. What interested me in the article was how the Commander of the Iranian Navy may have inadvertantly let something operational slip out. Notice that he seems surprised that anyone would be topside on a submarine after it gets underway. While Western submariners know that we do this all the time, it appears to me that the Iranian submariners must not, which would explain RADM Kuchaki's surprise at this. Now, I'm not sure how we could use this slip operationally, but it's still a good lesson for U.S. submarine officers who talk to the press to take to heart.

Update 2248 25 Feb: Just to close the loop, this Bahraini story has the American denial of the charges -- as well as an interesting statement from the Iranian embassy in Manama that they hadn't heard anything about the Iranian admiral's accusation.

Update 0529 27 Feb: Vigilis has some of RADM Kuchaki's previous questionable statements.

Let's Make "American Geography" The Official Geography Of Idaho

An Idaho state senator has introduced a bill to make English the state's official language:
The Senate State Affairs committee voted 7-2 on Friday to debate the plan next week, with Republicans beating back an attempt by Democrats on the panel to kill the measure. The Democrats had argued it's divisive and would do nothing to change the existing situation, in which nearly all Idaho affairs are conducted in English in a state where the population is overwhelmingly white.
Sen. Mel Richardson, R-Idaho Falls, said his bill is modeled after laws in neighboring Utah and Arizona and would make English the state's "official language."
[Emphasis mine] Normally, I'm against bills that seek only to "make a statement" and not actually do anything, but if this bill could help state senators learn the meaning of the word "neighboring", I'm all for it. Maybe the bill could mandate that state senators answer a test question something like this, and anyone who answers "G" would have to take a remedial geography class:

Q1: Given this map, which is a neighboring state to Idaho?

A. Utah
B. Montana
C. Wyoming
D. Nevada
E. Oregon
F. Washington
G. Arizona

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back Home

Just got back home from vacation -- lessons learned document to follow. I was excited to find that my copy of the 2007 Submarine Almanac had arrived in the mail while I was gone, so I'll have lots of good stuff to read this weekend.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

MilBloggers At Work And Play

While I'm doing only minimal updates on this blog (we're done with Disneyland, and are heading to Universal Studios today), I haven't been posting at all over on the MilBlog Ring HQ. Luckily, that's a group blog, so there are lots of great milbloggers who've been posting over there regularly -- you should check it out if it's not already on your daily reading list.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Status Of Undersea Warfare Magazine

Ron Martini, normally a pretty good source of submarine-related information, has a post over at his BBS that seems to indicate that the Navy's official Undersea Warfare magazine may have stopped publishing (although it's possible that he was just asking a question). Since I'm on my laptop and forgot my password to log in over there, here are my thoughts on the matter.

Ron points out that the Summer 2006 issue was the last one on their website; however, this issue, in conformance with the Undersea Warfare magazine tradition, was put out pretty late -- in this case, in late November. The Spring '06 issue was actually fairly prompt -- it came out in July. Since I haven't heard that they've ceased publication, I'm just assuming that they're being late as usual and will sometime put out a "combined" two-season issue like they did in 2002 to "catch up" with the calendar. Has anyone else heard anything different?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Anyone who intentionally starts climbing a mountain in the middle of winter for "recreation" shall be required to sign a form prior to starting their climb stating that either a) they will pay for any rescue efforts made of their behalf, or b) they waive all rescue efforts.

New "Hey, Shipwreck" Episode Out

The 6th episode in the "Hey, Shipwreck" space submarine video series I blogged about earlier is posted -- check it out here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Got Skillz

We made it up to Disneyland today (after a detour through some dicier areas of L.A. when we didn't realize that I-5 was shut down and missed the Disney exit). There seems to be only one new ride since we were here last, but it's pretty good: the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride. It was fun for all, as this photo of me beating a teenager in a "laser"-shooting game attests:

If the teenager in question comes back with abuse for me about the alleged existence of some Space Mountain picture where he and everyone else in my family are looking all cool and I look like a cornered rat, don't believe him.

Bubblehead In The Mist

We went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park on Saturday, due mostly to my new philosophy of "Schedules are for people who aren't on vacation". I used to treat vacations like most other aspects of my life -- I'd come up with detailed schedules, work out contingency plans, and get frustrated when others didn't understand the importance of sticking with the schedule. Basically, I was a submariner. (I also packed way more clothes than I needed to -- I'd count the number of days, and multiply by two to get the number of separate outfits I'd need; after all, I might get wet on all of those days, and would need a change of clothes.)

Since then, I've bought into the theory that vacationing means a vacation from sticking to a schedule -- just do what you feel like doing at the moment. On Saturday, our plan was to get down to the Main Base and get tickets for the amusement parks we're hitting this week, and then go to the San Diego Zoo (because, as everyone knows, there's nothing in the world cuter than a baby panda). We ended up hanging out at the Exchange a little longer than expected, so we didn't get to the Zoo until a little after noon. It was a really nice Saturday at the beginning of a 3-day weekend, though, so it turns out that everyone else in San Diego had decided to go to the Zoo as well. After driving around in the parking lot for 40 minutes without finding a spot, we decided it wasn't going to happen, so that's why we headed 35 miles north to the Wild Animal Park.

It'd been 2 1/2 years since we'd been in San Diego, but based on the one data point of seeing freeway traffic on a holiday Saturday, and seeing more new houses on top of hills next to the freeways, I'd say the SD area continues to get more crowded. That doesn't mean that it's not still just about perfect.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

No One Can Be This Obtuse

My Congressman, Bill Sali, has an opinion piece in today's Idaho Statesman that explains why he's so opposed to Congress raising the minimum wage. His reason? It's unconstitutional. (No, I'm serious.) An excerpt:
Equally bad, the bill prescribes an action that simply can't be justified under the U.S. Constitution.
We all want our fellow Americans to live free and experience the American dream. Why wouldn't we want to see the lowest wage earners in society earn more? I do. You do. But I don't have the power to raise wages, because Congress doesn't have that power. It's not in the U.S. Constitution...
...That was the crux of my Jan. 10 debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. If we believe Congress has the power to determine wages, where do we go next? Why isn't Congress using its authority to bestow more goodness upon the American people? Because it would be unconstitutional.
As I read this, Rep. Sali seems to be implying that any action by Congress not specifically mentioned in the Constitution is, by definition, unconstitutional. I don't want to accuse Congressman Sali of being hypocritical, but I'm wondering where in the Constitution it says that Congress has the power to congratulate football teams, as it did via a resolution that he co-sponsored. Now, I'm not a lawyer like Mr. Sali is, but it seems to me that the part of the Constitution that says that Congress has the power to regulate commerce would seem to cover setting a uniform minimum wage among the several states. Legal precedent would seem to agree.

No wonder he didn't say anything of substance during the last few weeks of the campaign -- whenever he opens his mouth, he just seems to make himself appear even less qualified to be an effective representative in Congress than he already is. (Highlighting this was the fact that his side lost the vote on the bill to raise the minimum wage 360-45. Apparently, only about 10% of the House shares his views on this matter.)

Bubblehead's Vacation Rule #1

You can't go wrong if you start your vacation with the bare necessities: a semi-bitchin' rental car, cheap shades, and an old geezer ballcap:

Another important rule is don't spend your time worrying about your housesitters having a big party at your house while you're gone. There's nothing you can do about it anyway.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

On The Road Again

I've been through probably 40 airports in my day, but I've decided that San Francisco International has got to be the nicest airport I've ever gone through, as far as cleanliness and available services and shops -- although some of the books they have featured in the bookstore there would cause protests if they tried to sell those books in Idaho.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tragic Hunting Accident

Alan at IdaBlue has some strong thoughts on the story that everyone's talking about here in SW Idaho. Basically, an 18 year old girl (a high school senior) went hunting with her 23 year old boyfriend and one of his older friends without telling anyone where they were going. Their car got disabled in the mountains, and three days later the boyfriend made it to a road and brought back help; by this time, the young lady was dead. There are supposed to be conflicting stories about what went on from the two survivors, but there's no evidence of foul play. It just goes to show you that even nowadays you still have to respect nature.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blogging May Be Light...

...for the next week. Got things to do, big anthropomorphosized mice to see, trams to ride.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another Active Duty Sub-blogger least I assume he's active duty -- he put down "submariner" as his occupation in his Blogger profile. Head on over to Midwatch Cowboy and welcome the new guy to the fold.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This Just Sounds Weird

Check out this story in the Idaho Statesman; here's an excerpt:
A Boise man got a surprise early Monday morning when he went home and discovered a burglar inside his house who attacked him with a chair...
...The victim in the case told police he was returning to his home around 7:30 a.m. Monday and expected the front door to be open but got frustrated when he found it locked. The resident told police he kicked his door in and found a stranger inside attempting to steal his possessions. Two other strangers in the home, who were seen with drug paraphernalia, ran away, but the other intruder stayed inside.
The victim told police that man picked up a board and then a chair and attacked him, which started a fight between the two men...
...Police said they do not know why Pilcher chose that residence, and the victim told investigators he had never seen Pilcher or the other two people before.
This is just the first "breaking news" article about the story (and the link might be broken in the morning) but the whole story just doesn't make much sense to me. I mean, seriously, how many people have "kick their door in" as their first reaction when they find their front door is unexpectedly locked? Wouldn't most people maybe -- I don't know -- try a back door, or maybe a window first? And why would a burglar gang have one guy burgling while two others sit around and use drugs? As a cartoon character once said, "It does not make sense".

It's Good To Be CO

Navy NewsStand has a picture of the CO of my old boat USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and a guest:

From the caption:
Groton, Conn. (Feb. 6, 2007) - Cmdr. Daniel Christofferson, commanding officer of the fast attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) shows Miss Connecticut 2006 Heidi Voight the ship’s periscope during a tour of the boat.
My first two boats were the "tour boats" of their squadrons; Topeka because we were the newest PacFleet SSN for about a year, and Connecticut because we were the newest SSN period. Being the "tour boat" meant you had to keep the forward part of the boat "inspection ready" at all times, so that sucked, but I personally liked giving the tours. I've found that unless the CO is a suck-up like some I knew or heard about, he'll normally pass on the tour guide duties to the XO or Duty Officer unless it's he was ordered to give the tour himself -- or unless the guest is someone like Miss Connecticut. Captain Christofferson made a wise choice...

Badgers Down

The company commander of the three Idaho soldiers who were killed in Iraq last week has a blog. All Idahoans (and anyone else who would like to show support) should head over to Badgers Forward and thank him and his Soldiers for their service.

Idaho Vet Makes News In Britain

Because of the revelation that the airmen involved in a friendly fire incident in Iraq in 2003 were from the Idaho Air National Guard, a bunch of Brit journalists came to Boise and were hanging out in the pilot's neighborhood. This upset one of the man's neighbors, who decided to tell the Brits what he thought of them:

For those who didn't watch, here's some of what the neighbor said:
Eldon Anderson is a Vietnam War veteran and neighbor of an Idaho Air National Guard A-10 pilot thought to be involved in a 2003 friendly-fire incident in Iraq that left a British soldier dead. Anderson, interviewed in front of his West Boise home, told ITN television that his neighbor-pilot is a "hero and it's a damn good thing we have heroes like him in the United States to do the fighting that we've got to do against terrorists around the world. And you guys better get on board and that whole damn country of yours along with the rest of Europe.
"You are going to go merrily sucking your thumb like you did in World War II," Anderson continued. "We don't need your damn help. We need your cooperation, that's all we need out of you guys. It's hard even to get that. We know you can't shoot, move and communicate, but we'd sure as hell like to have your cooperation anyway."
Needless to say, the Brits were somewhat perturbed by the comments (as was Idaho blogger Adam). Now, Idahoans are starting to apologize to the British (as I would if I saw one, given that the Brits did a lot of Nazi-killing and no thumb-sucking in WWII) -- but this could end up causing more problems, given the stereotypical provincialism of some Idahoans. Here's what a Boise city councilman had to say:
"As a Boise City resident and elected official, I want to personally apologize to the English people for the inane and insensitive remarks given to the British press by Mr. Eldon Anderson regarding the ‘friendly fire' incident in Iraq. ... I can promise you that the people of this fine city are embarrassed by his tirade."
There's no word if the city councilman would also personally apologize to the Scottish, Welsh, or Northern Irish people who are also British who may have been offended.

Bell-ringer 2343 13 February: Here's a video of the follow-up story that has an explanation and apology from Mr. Anderson.

Monday, February 12, 2007

2007 Submarine Almanac

The guys over at SubSim have put out a Submarine Almanac for 2007 that looks like it'll be pretty good, especially for those of you who play submarine simulation games. My copy's on the way and I'll let you know what I think about it as soon as I read it, but for those who can't wait for my review, the ordering information is here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Those Wacky Revolutionary Guards

I figure it's gotta be a translation error, but check out this article on a statement by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards "commander":
"We have built birds without passengers [drones] that can carry out suicide operations on the US Navy, at any depth if necessary, to make them leave the region in disgrace," said Ali Shoushtari, deputy commander of the Guards' land forces.
So the drones don't have passengers, but they're conducting suicide operations? How do they do that? Does the remote drone operator have to kill himself in his command center after the drone hits? Do they think the drones themselves are alive? Or do the Iranians just realize that if they use radio waves to control a drone we'll be able to take out the source of the transmissions fairly rapidly?

Senator Obama Off To An Interesting Start

I was very impressed watching Sen. Barack Obama tonight on 60 Minutes. The interview, coming on the heels of his official announcement that he's running for President, didn't have any really tough questions, but he handled himself very well -- he even admitted that he inhaled. It looks to me like he might have a legitimate shot at the Democratic nomination, or, failing that, the nomination for VP.

Personally, I don't think he has the experience needed to be President, and most of his policies are too far left for me, but I admire his openness (unlike Adam, who seems to let his dislike for Sen. Obama lead him to stray into territory that comes uncomfortably close to seeming to say something bad about Abraham Lincoln). I'll be interested to see how he reacts to problems, which I predict will come first from his decision to allow random yahoos to put up "blog posts" on his official campaign website. How he reacts to the firestorm from the right when someone posts something on the order of "All white southerners are racists" or "the Jews did 9/11" or "Bush/Cheney killed Sen. Wellstone" -- and how he reacts to the subsequent whining from the left when he's forced to remove and/or apologize for said posts -- will tell me a lot about the man.

Regarding the campaign overall, I'm looking forward to seeing how Democrats who, in 2004, claimed that their candidate was the best because he had combat experience, will explain how they changed their mind if the Republicans nominate someone like Sen McCain or Sen. Hagel who are war heroes (considering that none of the main Dem candidates have that particular block checked).

Update 0610 13 Feb: Speaking of Democratic candidates, it looks like Sen. Clinton is going with the "I didn't know I was voting to go to war" excuse that Sen. Kerry popularized in 2004. However, since essentially everyone (except apparently a few Senators) knew that the vote was an authorization for war, this means that Sen. Clinton is either 1) not telling the truth, or 2) so demonstrably naïve that she's not qualified to be President.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

From The C-SPAN Archives

Wendy at All Ahead Full dug up a Nov. 2000 "Online Town Hall Meeting" on C-SPAN with a submarine Master Chief and his wife; it was part of C-SPAN's two day visit to USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) as part of the Submarine Centennial celebration. While a little bit dated, the transcript still provides some good information for those who want to know more about submarines.

One thing that disappoints me is that the many video clips on the site seem to be lost; I was really wanting to see the one called "Tour of ship's office". ("Here's my desk, and here's my computer, and here are some binders...") Of course, since it's a boomer Ship's Office, it wouldn't have been as pointless as a similar video for a fast boat. The site does have some good photos, though, including this one of boomer racks in a 9-man:

Just look at all the space!

Homework From Ninme

Actually, not from Ninme herself, but from one of her commenters. Ninme had a post about semi-submersible cargo ships, and one of the pictures in the link was of one of them hauling a submarine:

The question is, what type of submarine is that? It sure looks like a Russian boat, but what class? An Alfa, maybe?

I Like New Coins And I Cannot Lie...

The Bubblehead family has had a good time collecting the 50 State Quarters (although we're having a hard time getting the ones from the Philadelphia mint out here in Idaho), so I was excited to hear about the new "Presidential $1 Coins" that were coming out this month. According to this article in USA Today, the official launch date of the first coin in the series, with George Washington on the "heads" side, is going to be February 15th.

That's why I was surprised when my youngest son showed me a coin he had gotten in change at his school cafeteria today. Here are the two coins he got:

That's the new Washington dollar on the left. As advertised, it's about the same size as the Sacagawea on the right, but it seems a little more "silvery" -- although that might be just because it's not tarnished at all. One unique thing about it is that it has the year and mint mark, "E Pluribus Unum" and "In God We Trust" printed on the edge of the coin.

At first I was wondering a bit how it got out of the Federal Reserve 6 days early; I thought, "Maybe I should sell it on E-Bay." Then I actually looked on E-Bay... I guess the "launch date" is more of a PR thing. Still, it's a nice coin, and hopefully it'll get the American public to accept the concept of the dollar coin.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bookmarked For Possible Later Abuse

Some yahoo over at The Huffington Post held forth on why he thinks spending money on new submarines isn't very "progressive". He's an idiot, of course, but I don't have time to quantify his idiocy right now; all of you are of course invited to start while I do the "dinner and a movie" thing.

Off topic, I just switched to "new Blogger", so if the blog looks or handles differently somehow, that's probably why.

I Guess It's Been Snowing In Groton

Navy NewsStand has some pictures (here, here, and here) of submarines covered in snow in Groton earlier this week, including this one:

In the background is my old boat USS Connecticut (SSN 22); the boat in the foreground is the newer but slower USS Virginia (SSN 774).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hey, I Know These People!

Over at The Sub Report, I clicked on a link to a story called "Mom writes book about submarines for kids" and started reading:
When Alex Zerphy was a toddler, his father, Matthew, would give him a big hug and kiss before he left for work and tell him to mind his mother. But unlike most dads, Alex's dad didn't come home every night. Matthew, a lieutenant in the Navy, had his office aboard the USS Connecticut, a nuclear submarine that would deploy for six months or longer.
"It was difficult to explain to a toddler where his father was and why he wasn't home every night," said Jeni Kocher Zerphy...

At about this point I realized that I'd just read "USS Connecticut" and remembered, "Hey, I was on that boat...", so I went back and actually read the people's names, and sure enough, Matt Zerphy was one of my JOs when I was Eng on Connecticut. They lived just up the street from us when we first lived in base housing and everything.

I guess the children's book "Submarine" just got added to my "gotta buy" list.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm An Equal Opportunity Mocker and Belittler

Long-time readers of this blog have noticed that I enjoy mocking and belittling various "progressive" moonbats who say stupid things with an utter disregard for facts. While most of my abuse is aimed at the left (because they seem to be the most unaware of how the world actually works) I occasionally point out when those on the right (especially my Congressman, Bill "Sedimentary Profession" Sali) say dumb things.

I get frustrated when people, because of either lazy or non-existent research or a deliberate attempt to deceive, put out information that's just plain wrong. Such was the case today when I was over at submariner Dale's fine Idaho website, and I found a link to a post at the "Idaho Values Alliance" website by their Executive Director, Bryan Fischer. About halfway down, I found this surprising little tidbit:
Two Pennsylvania grandmothers are facing 47 years in jail for spreading the gospel because of a state “hate crimes” law that is nearly identical to a federal hate crimes law that was re-introduced in Congress in January.
[Emphasis of verb tense mine] Now, this surprised me when I read it; I like to think that I keep a pretty close eye on the news, and something like this is something I would have remembered hearing about. The post had a link to this article at WorldNetDaily (home of the "Israeli submarines off the Iranian coast" idiocy); here's an excerpt:
Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Lynda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk in Philadelphia, Pa., USA. They faced 47 years (the rest of their lives) in jail for spreading the Gospel because of a Pennsylvania "hate crimes" law...
Notice the difference? Just a little bit of research on my part found "the rest of the story" -- basically, the grandmothers were arrested in October 2004 when they went to a gay rights march to protest (or "preach the Gospel", depending on how you want to spin it). There was a confrontation, and 11 of the Christian activists were arrested, for charges involving failure to disperse and incitement to riot, as well as under the new Hate Crimes laws. Soon afterwards, the charges against the grandmothers were completely dropped; therefore, they are not "facing" charges, as Mr. Fischer claims; nor were they facing 47 years in jail just for Hate Crimes law violations, as WND would have you believe. (The article linked above says that 5 of the 11 were still facing charges; however, all those charges were dropped about a week after that article was written, in February 2005.)

Here's my point: I don't like Hate Crimes laws; I don't think an assault on a minority should be treated any differently than a similar assault on a straight white male -- if the Equal Protection Clause means anything, it should mean that one adult crime victim is not "more worthy" of increased justice than another. But, when people who try to argue against them just make stuff up, it doesn't do anything to help their cause, and eventually will hurt it because people learn not to trust what they have to say anymore.

Update 2353 08 Feb: As Cartman once said, "This has gone from weak to super-weak". After Dale at Right Mind let Mr. Fischer know about the problem, they changed "are facing" to "faced" in the post at IVA, and didn't even say that they edited it. I know that it's only an unofficial rule of the Internet that if someone catches you in an error you're supposed to indicate this when you make the correction, but I think it's still a "rule" that people should follow if they want to be taken seriously.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New Shirt Design From My Old Boat

Over at Rontini's BBS, one of the posters got a new T-shirt that was apparently put out by the crew of my old boat USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23):

Does that kick ass or what? I totally need one of those. (Luckily, I'm going to Bangor next month for a change of command, so I'll probably be able to pick one up.)

Also, speaking of things that submarine crewmembers generate (how's that for a smooth segue), some crewmembers from USS Augusta (SSN 710) have started a blog that's worth a visit or 10.

And speaking of submarine-related websites, a Submarine wife has a newish blog that's pretty good.

(The last two items were found at The Sub Report.)

What Is It With The Russians Having Subs Under Tow Sink On Them?

First we had the old November-class SSN K-159 that sank under tow in the Barents in 2003 (resulting in the loss of nine crewmen) and now we get word that an old Whiskey-class SS being towed to Thailand just sank in the North Sea off Jutland. While this almost assuredly wasn't a military tow job, it seems like the Russian Navy would have at least checked out the condition of the tow before they gave them permission to leave. From the AP article:
There were no people or weapons on board the Whiskey-class submarine when it sank Monday in an area known as Jysk Reef, about 34 miles off the coast of the Jutland peninsula, the Danish navy said.
A tug boat was towing the vessel when it started taking in water, forcing the crew to cut it loose for their own safety, navy spokesman Klaus Randrup Rasmussen said. There was no risk of pollution because the submarine was not carrying any fuel, weapons or other hazardous material, he added...
...It was not immediately clear where the submarine was coming from. Skov said it was being towed to Thailand, and that the Thai owner was planning to salvage it...
...In Thailand, the owner of the Jesada Technik Museum in Nakhon Pathom Province told the Bangkok Post last month that he had bought a Russian Whiskey-class submarine for the museum. Danish authorities could not confirm whether that was the vessel that sank Monday.
I'm sorry, but this is just pathetic.

Monday, February 05, 2007

This Can't Be Good PR...

...for either NASA or the Navy. From this CNN article:

A NASA astronaut was arrested Monday on battery and attempted kidnapping charges after allegedly trying to subdue a romantic rival with pepper spray and abduct her from a parking lot at Orlando International Airport, police said.
Navy Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak, who was a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery in July, and Colleen Shipman were both reported to be "in a relationship" with astronaut Bill Oefelein, a Navy commander, according to a police report of the incident.
Nowak, 43, has been charged with battery, attempted kidnapping, attempted burglary to a vehicle and destruction of evidence. Police have recommended Nowak be held without bond...
The rest of the story explains how Capt. Nowak, married with three children, used or planned to use pepper spray, diapers, and a CO2-powered BB pistol.
Here's Capt. Nowak's official NASA biography (read it soon, before it gets taken down). I guess even the best officers can crack sometimes...

(Cross-posted at MilBlogs Ring HQ)

Just Because I Can...

I'm planning on live-blogging tonight's episode of Heroes when it airs here in the Mountain Time Zone on my new laptop. Those of you who are on PST or west of that, or Tivo'd it, shouldn't hit the "Read more" if you don't want lots of spoilers. (I'm not sure how this is going to work; the last time I tried to live-blog something, it didn't work out very well.)
The big question for tonight is "Who's Claire's daddy?" I'm guessing it's her "dad's" boss, who's probably some government bigshot. Having it be the crooked Vegas mobster, Linderman, would be too obvious.

Update 2003: Started off with Invisible Guy agreeing to teach Leachboy how to control his powers. That was OK, but then they switched to a Psycho Mom scene -- bor-ing! Luckily, they switched to Sylar beating up Claire's dad and locking him in the cell, which raises the bar immediately on the "this is going to be a really kewl episode" scale.

Update 2013: Having Mr. Sulu as Hiro's dad is way sweet casting. Druggie Painter is a lot better character since he's not stoned all the time. Now that Psycho Mom has apparently killed the psychologist, hopefully she'll get beat to death by the jail guards and we won't have to deal with her anymore.

Update 2023: Ando totally has the hots for Hiro's sister Kimiko. Getting ready for Claire to meet her Mom.

Update 2034: I'm totally going to see the Reno 911 movie. Back to Heroes, I don't see how Sylar's home invasion of Claire's house can turn out good.
Oops, spoke too soon; the Haitian showed up with Claire's dad. Of course they immediately went to commercial.

Update 2049: Crap, now Nikki's out of jail, so we'll be seeing more of her. Seeing Leachboy get thrown of the top of the building was cool; I expected him to fly, but having the healing power work was kind of a surprise (except to my boys, who called it while he was in mid-air). For tonight's "surprise" finale, one son is predicting that, in addition to finding out who Claire's dad is, Ando will get a power. That'd rule.

Update 2058: The license plate on Hiro's dad's car was NCC 1701.

Update 2101: Having Jumps High Politician be Claire's dad is totally lame, IMHO. Ando, on the other hand, was way cool in going in for the hug from Hiro's cute (and rich) sister.

Regarding the "overall storyline", I've decided that Sylar absorbs his powers the same way Leachboy does, except he's already learned to control them. Invisible Man said he taught someone before, which was probably Sylar, and that's why he said that Leachboy had to "forget" everything -- that's the way Sylar does it. Overall, it was a very good episode, right up until the very end.

I've also decided that live-blogging one hour TV shows really blows; I'm probably not going to try again. Still, I got the sig on the "Great Qual Card of Life".

USS Honolulu Submarine Video Slideshow

Via Myron's blog, here's a video slideshow from the guys on USS Honolulu (SSN 718):

An Old-Time Submariner Speaks Out

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] A Florida newspaper has a profile out on an old submariner that's a fairly interesting read (even if it's clear a few of his memories have been "enhanced" a little by age); these older guys don't worry too much about being PC, it seems:
Among the interesting things he discovered while serving in the No. 2 capacity at sub school was: "People whose names end in vowels didn't usually finish qualifying for submarines. We had a very high dropout rate.
"When we investigated the dropout problem a bit more we discovered that along the East Coast of the United Sates, much of the population were Italians, Polish and Portuguese. Many of their names end in vowels. They'd come to our school in New London and proceed to drop out or flunk out. Either way they thought they would be reassigned to a base along the East Coast close to home.
"Another thing we learned: Sailors from the Midwest and California were more likely to graduate in the upper percentage of submarine school," Bauer said. "They qualified quicker on submarines than any other segment of the country. What we discovered is that the Midwest is basically an agricultural area with lots of pumps and motors, and sailors who grew up there were likely to know more about pumps and motors than the rest of the country. The kids in California were into cars. These two groups were very mechanically inclined which is a big requirement aboard a submarine."
Personally, I never noted that much of a regional difference between submariners, and I knew a lot of good guys whose names ended in vowels.

Idaho High School Hit By Fire

Middleton High School, just northwest of where I live here in the Boise area, was gutted by a fire that destroyed 70% of the building on Thursday:

The community has really come together after the fire; luckily (and because of the skill of the firefighters) there were no deaths or serious injuries. Despite the loss of the major portion of the high school, the community was able to look for other resources to ensure the 750 students could continue attending school without having to go to a different district:
Before Middleton High's fire subsided, Bauscher and his staff were working on a plan to keep the estimated 750 high school kids at the school complex instead of sending them to other districts.
Students will be housed in a district fine arts center, additional portable buildings the district intends to buy, parts of the middle school, high school rooms that were not affected by the fire and a nearby The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints multipurpose room. The church's stage will become a temporary theater for the high school's drama class.
Anyone notice a potential "problem" with that last paragraph? Anywhere other than Idaho, you'd probably have the ACLU up in arms about having public school children being sent to a church building for school. Here, though, the Idaho ACLU doesn't really seem to do very much. I fear a bigger threat to this common-sense solution to the district's problem will come from the anti-Mormon right; they've been telling their kids that Mormons aren't Christians, and aren't going to want to be answering questions like "why does that church that you've always said isn't Christian have all those pictures of Jesus up on the wall?" It'll be interesting for me to see how it turns out.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Joe Buff Speaks The Truth

Go read what he has to say about the usefulness of nuclear submarines in the 21st century. Excerpt:
Yet some pundits continue to label the latest U.S. nuclear subs as nothing more than extravagant Cold War relics, as obsolescent and hyper-expensive solutions in search of a problem they can't really solve. Occasionally these domestic anti-submarine word warriors go so far as to insinuate that Silent Service leadership is inventing major contributions to the War on Terror that never took place, using a cloak of secrecy as a lame excuse to hide their budget-seeking deceit. Since nothing could be further from the truth, one has to wonder if those making these statements have been asleep for the past fifteen years, or if the only undersea warfare publication they've ever read is the classic but now historical novel, The Hunt For Red October -- which was first published in 1984. As a group they appear to fail to appreciate that events in Iraq and Afghanistan are heavily influenced by Syria, Iran, and Pakistan, all of which have long coastlines where nuclear subs with assistance from SEALs can conduct persistent electronic espionage, peering hundreds of miles into those nations' interiors and deep into their rulers' and rank-and-file Islamo-fascist minds. These same pundits also don't seem to grasp how much of the wider War on Terror is an information and cyber war, and a line-of-communications surveillance and interdiction battle, in which coastal zones and maritime routes will probably be decisive to who wins and who loses.
He also makes an excellent point regarding the Russian and Iranian "supertorpedo".

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I Got A New Toy!

The Bubblehead family finally entered the last half of the Naughties and got a laptop with wireless Internet access -- and a built-in webcam. Here's a picture of me blogging from my kitchen table:

In answer to CDR Salamander's earlier query, no, we did not go in the Apple direction; we got an HP Pavillion with Windows Vista. So far, I like it OK; it seems faster (but that might just be because we got 2 GB of RAM).

Next I have to go find some coffee shop and see if the 'net works from there, or if I have to do something with getting a Wi-fi ISP.

My Head Isn't Really That Big...

...and my home office is a little bit bigger than a cubicle, but other than that, this is pretty accurate.

Also around the 'net, CDR Salamander devotes his "Fullbore Friday" post to USS Tang (SS 306) and her skipper, RADM Dick O'Kane. O'Kane was clearly one of the greatest wartime submarine COs in history, probably due in no small measure to the influence and teachings of the man he worked for when he was XO on USS Wahoo (SS 238) -- CDR Dudley "Mush" Morton:

It was O'Kane to whom Morton delivered his most famous piece of advice: "Tenacity, Dick -- stay with the bastard till he's on the bottom."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ever Get The Feeling...

...that you've bitten off more than you can chew?

(Nothing related to my life generated this thought; I just really like the picture. Plus, it's Friday night.)

USS Seawolf Returns To Groton... From WestPac

USS Seawolf (SSN 21) returned to Groton yesterday after a six-month Western Pacific deployment; this is the first time I can remember since probably the 70s that a LANTFLT boat did a complete WestPac and returned to her original homeport. [USS Boise (SSN 764) is apparently doing the same thing right now.] Although I haven't seen any confirmation, it's likely that Seawolf did a circumnavigation of North America during this deployment -- through the Arctic to get there, and through the Panama Canal on the way home. (Of course, they may have done the Arctic route both times; if they did, and they went through the Bering Straits in January, I'd say that's pretty good evidence of global warming.) The New London Day has an article on the homecoming:
Commissioned on Sept. 1, 1997, the Seawolf, which is the lead ship in its class, made ports of call in Japan, Singapore, Guam and Hawaii in its latest deployment.
The fast-attack submarine's Pacific deployment was the first of its kind for any of the three Seawolf-class submarines; other ships in the Seawolf class include the USS Jimmy Carter and the USS Connecticut...
...The Seawolf will now be put on a “surge status” for the next several months where it will be “ready to go at a phone call's notice,” according to Navy spokesman Lt. Mark Jones. Once that period ends, the submarine will undergo an extensive maintenance cycle in preparation for its next deployment.
The Seawolf received above-average marks on its operational reactor safeguards examination, a test that evaluates a crew's performance under a variety of live conditions. The sub also received what is known as a “Battle E” — a decoration the Navy awards annually to one ship per squadron for overall excellence in preparation and training.
I guess by saying "above average marks" then they can skirt the "ORSE grades are classified" requirement. Anyway, welcome home to the officers and crew of the Seawolf -- and if anyone tries to call your ship the "Pierwolf", you have this blog's permission to kick 'em in the nuts.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Know What I'll Be Doing In 170 Days

I'll be waiting in line at a bookstore just before midnight on a Friday night to pick up a few copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows":

The final Harry Potter book will hit bookstores July 21, its U.S. publisher announced early Thursday.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," by J.K. Rowling, will be the seventh and final book in the best selling series of children's book of all time. Scholastic (Charts) said the previous book, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was the fastest-selling book in history, selling 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours.
The book will cost $34.99 in hardcover...
Yeah, the price is highway robbery, but I don't care. I expect to find out sometime late that Saturday night that I'm right and the doubters are wrong...

Dumbledore lives!

I Bet This Was A Fun Maneuvering Watch!

Check out this picture of USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) after a recent mooring in Groton:

Notice all the white stuff on the sail? That's ice. I remember quite a few very cold surface transits in the Long Island Sound, but nothing where I saw this much ice. There was this one, though, when I was a NUB on USS Topeka back in early '91, where I was manning #1 periscope on the surface during an outbound transit (as Contact Coordinator U/I, if I recall correctly), and every couple of minutes a wave would hit the optics of the raised 'scope -- followed a couple of seconds later by a huge slug of water coming down the bridge trunk and hitting the bear trap. Someone suggested we shut the lower bridge hatch to keep everything from getting wet, when someone else remembered a story of a boat that did that, and then had the bridge trunk fill with water and then something clogged the drain valve, trapping the OOD and lookout on the bridge. We ended up moving the OOD below and navigating the rest of the way out to the dive point at night, with reduced visibility, and no one on the bridge. I wonder how that would be looked at in today's ORM-centric environment...