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.)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Trip To Bangor

SubBasket and I flew to the Seattle area this week to see an old friend of ours take command of USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) (Gold). It was a really nice ceremony, and it was good being around submariners again -- in real life, that is, and not just over the 'net. Since I'm originally from Nebraska, I picked up quite a bit of stuff from the ship's store at the reception; while there, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow sub-blogger Nereus, who's back up and posting now that he's done with his PCS move to Bangor.

After the reception, we got to tour USS Maine (SSBN 741) over at the Submarine Base. This was especially nice for me since the Maine's current CO did his JO tour with me on USS Topeka. I make fun of boomers quite a bit on this blog, but the fact is that, if you have the space, the Ohio-class boats are the best-designed submarines in the world as far as being able to get repairs done quickly. They're quite impressive machines, and my friends are lucky to have command of such fine ships and crews.

Since my peers have been moving up to command over the last year or so, I've had a chance to think about whether or not I'm happy that I didn't stay in for command. I decided that, for me, moving on to civilian life when I did was the right option. Still, I found myself filled with admiration for the men who stayed in and achieved their goal of command. While I knew this new crop of COs when they were much less experienced, I still feel the same sense of awe in being around them that I did talking to COs when I was much younger. These men truly are among the best the nation has produced, and we're lucky they're willing to spend months away from their families to do the important work of defending our country.

That being said, it still took a direct order from the Maine's CO to stop me from telling his crew about that time in Tasmania that we...

Friday, March 30, 2007

It Can Now Be Told

The Navy finally announced that USS Nimitz (CVN 68) will be the carrier replacing USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Fifth Fleet AOR this spring. Excerpt:
The Nimitz carrier strike group will sail from San Diego for the gulf on Monday, a navy spokesman said. It will replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Strike groups typically include four or five frigates and destroyers and a submarine.
"You are looking at the early part of May that you would have the transition. It would be without any overlap. There is no plan to overlap them at all," Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said by telephone from naval headquarters in Washington.
Once again, we can expect those moonbats who think we're about to attack Iran to claim that this is the "final piece" to the attack puzzle (although, last fall, the Eisenhower's deployment was supposed to be the final piece). Expect that news of the Eisenhower leaving the AOR the same day the Nimitz arrives to be ignored or painted as a ridiculous "now the Eisenhower can attack from the Mediterranean" theory.

That is not my doing. I merely foretell.

(Bonus geek points to whoever can identify the source of the line above without Googling.)

Update 2326 30 March: And it starts...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Absolutely Brilliant LTTE

I genuinely appreciate sarcasm used artfully in political discourse; the thing is, I don't really have the cojones to pull it off all the way -- I almost always end up backing off of the sarcasm and making it obvious to all but the most oblivious observer that I'm "just kidding".

That's why I think the 3rd letter down at this link to The Idaho Statesman is so great. Check out what Cliff Weisgerber of Hidden Springs has to say about global warming:
Those of you who were convinced to acquiesce to Daylight Savings Time by being told that it was necessary for the farmers — the farmers need that extra hour of sunlight during the summer to get their work done — have now been duped into moving the change up to save energy. More sun per day, less furnace per day, less lighting needs per day. Pretty simple, eh?
The problem you are not thinking about here is global warming.
Global warming is nothing other than the planet's response to this additional sunlight each day during the warmer months. Global warming will increase with the recently added weeks of additional sunlight.
Of course, Al Gore likes and supports Daylight Savings Time as he is getting a lot of face time with his campaign for reaction to global warming. He's not about to admit that the human cause in global warming is the government's Daylight Savings Time conspiracy...
[Emphasis mine] Brilliant! Considering the number of equally ridiculous letters from non-sarcastic writers that come into the Statesman, this one makes its point quite well, and the writer never does drop out of character. Cliff Weisgerber of Hidden Springs, I salute you!

(Actually, I did consider the possibility that the letter writer was a complete idiot. However, a quick Google search showed that he'd previously written a letter opposing a local "Family Values" leader, so it was fairly clear that the persona he adopted for this letter was not actually his.)

Brits Release Their Evidence

The British MoD has finally provided evidence that the British Sailors and Marines taken by Iran last week were clearly inside Iraqi waters when they were captured. Excerpts:
"The Iranian government has provided us with two different positions for the incident. The first we received on Saturday and the second on Monday. As this map shows, the first of these points still lies within Iraqi territorial waters. We pointed this out to them on Sunday in diplomatic contacts.
"After we did this, they then provided a second set of coordinates that places the incident in Iranian waters over two nautical miles from the position given by HMS CORNWALL and confirmed by the merchant vessel. The two Iranian positions are just under a nautical mile apart – 1800 yards or so. It is hard to understand a reason for this change of coordinates. We unambiguously contest both the positions provided by the Iranians.
Here's the chart with the actual position of the boarding, as well as the two claimed Iranian positions:

The British government apparently waited this long to provide the information so as not to "embarrass" the Iranian government without giving them a chance to de-escalate first. The only apparent result of this patience from the UK has been for U.S. conspiracy theorists to decide that it took this long for the Brits to forge the evidence.

And have you noticed that we haven't seen the usual "progressive" suspects wondering why these particular prisoners haven't been made available for visits by the Red Cross?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Hey, Shipwreck" Now On YouTube

The best submarine-related viral videos I've ever seen have been made available on YouTube, including the new 8th episode that reveals the reason behind the Forward ET ratings consolidation and answers this vital question: "So, exactly what maintenance did the Quartermasters do?" Here it is:

You can still see (and download) the videos on the series' homepage, but if you prefer the YouTube format, here are the links to the first seven videos:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

On a completely unrelated "blog admin" note, expect posting to be light the next few days -- I'm flying to Seattle to see a buddy take command of a boomer crew on Thursday in Bangor. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up some good submarine stuff to bring home.

Good Old-Fashioned Naval "Show Of Force"

According to a Fifth Fleet press release, we now have both CVNs in the Fifth Fleet AOR operating inside the Persian (Arabian) Gulf; this is the first time I remember we've seen two carriers inside the Gulf since 2003. While the press release doesn't say anything about it, this is clearly in response to the Iranian seizure of 15 British servicepeople last week at the northern end of the Gulf. (Exactly why the Brits allowed themselves to be captured is detailed here; apparently, their ROE is "very much de-escalatory". They might want to rethink that in the future.)

It interests me that we're going for a "show of force" option that tends to minimize our ability to actually conduct any attacks on Iran; this is good news for those of us who don't think war with Iran is the right option at this time. While the Kos Kids might think that this is a precursor to an attack on Iran, in actuality the absolute worst initial conditions for a U.S. attack on Iran would be to have both (or any) carriers inside the Persian Gulf - that's the only place where the Iranian forces could conceivably hurt our capital ships. For that reason, while a "show of force" has some public relations uses, I'm not sure it's the right move at this time from a strictly military standpoint-- the Iranians might actually be intending on starting something. (I don't think they are, but it's hard to read the mullah's minds.) Putting the carriers in a better position to defend themselves (i.e. pulling the Eisenhower out of the Gulf) would have sent a stronger message to the Iranian military -- at the cost of appearing "weak" to those who don't understand the military at a tactical level. On the other hand, this might be the Administration's way of being "de-escalatory" themselves.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Here's Something To Get Your Blood Pressure Up...

Randy Stapilus over at Ridenbaugh Press discussed some of the "splinter group" of protesters at the Portland anti-war demonstrations last weekend who caused the whole enterprise to get some bad press. While he said he had no reason to disbelieve the reports of protesters doing things like burning an effigy of an American soldier, defecating on a flag, and other objectionable things, he said he wanted more "substantiation" of the charges. I was happy to oblige with this video:

[Intel Source: Pajamas Media] For more substantiation, he can also go here to see one of the signs that didn't make it to the MSM coverage of the event.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Peyton Manning Public Service Announcement

Check out this "PSA" from Peyton Manning's appearance on SNL last night -- it's quite amusing:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jayhawks vs. Bruins -- Bear To Eat Bird?

In an effort not to jinx my beloved Kansas Jayhawks, I'll continue with my trend of picking them to lose all of their NCAA Tournament games. Thus, I think UCLA will beat Kansas later this afternoon when they play in the West Region Final.

The main reason I think they'll win is that the coach and the player who arguably are most famously associated with UCLA, John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, are both alive, whereas their counterparts on the KU side -- James Naismith (the inventor of basketball) and Wilt Chamberlain -- are both dead. Alive normally beats dead.

Next week, I'll be picking Kansas to lose both of their games in the Final Four.

Update 1923 24 March: "The Frogurt is also cursed."
Well, there's always next year...

Friday, March 23, 2007

HMS Tireless "Explosion" Details?

Reading the stories in the British press about the tragedy onboard the HMS Tireless in the Arctic this week, I've reached the conclusion that the Brit journalists are at least as sensationalistic as, if not moreso than, their American counterparts. Still, this article in The Herald seems to have some technical explanations for what happened that actually pass the initial "smell test". Excerpts:
Naval sources said yesterday the investigation team's initial findings pointed to a rapid build-up of pressure in the square-shaped Scog canister, which is designed to burn chlorate at high temperatures to produce lifesaving oxygen.
The sailors had set off one of the candles in the boat's forward escape compartment. The canister containing it blew up a few minutes later.
A naval source said: "These things are ignited by striking a primer and burn extremely hotly, giving off enough oxygen through vents in the canister to supply breathable air. A kilo of the chlorate releases enough oxygen to keep a man alive for six or seven hours.
"The chlorate candle is seeded with iron powder to bring the burn temperature to about 600C inside the container. It looks like the vents may have been blocked. It would go off like a grenade in that confined space."
The story mentions earlier that "SCOG" stands for "Self-Contained Oxygen Generator". After this fairly good start, though, it appears that the author of the article didn't quite understand his notes in one case:
The Scog system is used on exercises to produce oxygen when the attack boats are "running silent" to avoid detection by surface warships' sonar. The usual electrical air-conditioning system potentially produces enough noise to give away the submarine's position.
[Emphasis mine] It's a minor quibble with an otherwise good article (unless, of course, the A/C system aboard Trafalgar-class submarines also includes the "electrolyser" that seems to be the Brit equivalent of an Oxygen Generator.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

POD Items

1) NCAA Men's BB Tournament action picks up again today, starting with the Kansas-S. Illinois game at 5:10 MDT. As discussed earlier, I predict that Kansas will lose, because in the matchup of mascots, a "Saluki" (a breed of dog) would defeat a Jayhawk (from the Latin jayhawkus, meaning "bird that wears boots").

2) Duty Section training today will feature a couple of cautionary videos. First, go here to see a short clip on airbag safety, then come back and check out this video on the pitfalls of outdoor recreation (bad word warning if your sound's turned up):

Skater Face Plants Hard

3) An RN submariner has joined the team over at Zero Bubble (which has a new URL). Head on over an welcome SunDodger to the fold.

Update 2034 22 March: Yippee!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Two British Submariners Killed Under Ice

Two submariners on HMS Tireless (S-88) were killed by an "explosion" of an O2 candle while the sub was operating under the Arctic ice during ICEX-2007. From the U.S. Navy press release:

The Royal Navy submarine HMS Tireless, participating in the Joint U.S. Navy/Royal Navy Ice Exercise 2007 (ICEX-2007) in the Arctic Ocean, experienced an explosion of a self contained oxygen generation candle that killed two crew members and injured one.
The explosion occurred at approximately 12:20 a.m. (EDT) March 21.
The injured member of the crew has been transported by an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 to Anchorage for treatment.
“I am deeply saddened at the loss of the crewmembers from the Tireless,” said Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly, Commander, Submarine Force. “Submariners are brothers at sea and we all feel the loss as if it were our own. We stand by to continue to assist in any way we can.”
ICEX-2007 and Royal Navy officials have confirmed that the Tireless is safe and operational and that a full assessment is being conducted.
This article from The Scotsman has more on oxygen (also known as "chlorate") candles as they're used on British subs:

Chlorate candles have been used to create oxygen on submarines since the Second World War, usually as an emergency measure if the vessel's rises to dangerous levels. According to the navy source, one such candle was ignited yesterday on board HMS Tireless, as a part of training...
...An MoD spokesman said the chlorate candles on board HMS Tireless had never failed before and, until then, had a 100 per cent safety record. Even so, their use on other boats had been restricted until safety checks could be carried out, he said.
A former sailor on British nuclear submarines insisted chlorate candles are known by crew to be dangerous. The mariner, who asked not to be named, said: "It's not a candle like you'd think - there's no open flame. It's ignited in a metal canister with a .22 bullet and they burn without any flame.
"Everyone on board will have been trained how to use them. They have definitely been known to explode before - high heat and oxygen is a combustible mix - but I couldn't imagine the force would have killed two men. Something else must have gone wrong.
"The candles line the entire sub and are used in an emergency. Next to each is a pair of asbestos gloves and a bucket of water. If you see the candle is starting to flame or burn, you simply put on the gloves and dump it into the water.
An explosion and/or fire onboard a submarine while it's under ice was always one of those "worst case" disaster scenarios you talked through during advanced damage control training. Luckily, the ice in this case was thin enough to break through, and the crew of the Tireless was able to skillfully make it to the surface.

Staying at PD...

Update 2029 21 March: Midwatch Cowboy has more on the story.

Update 2035 22 March: The lost submariners have been identified as Operator Maintainer Anthony Huntrod, 20, and Leading Operator Mechanic Paul McCann, 32. Sailors, rest your oars.

Behind The Scenes In Groton

The New London Day has an article about the decision to activate the USS San Juan's phone tree when the boat was "out of contact" last week. Excerpts:
The squadron command had activated the phone tree for families of the crew. Master Chief Petty Officer Tommy Vatter, command master chief for Squadron 12, had assembled the staff earlier that morning to review the list of all those on board left by the San Juan before it departed.
“We needed to make sure we had a complete list before we started calling,” Vatter said. “There was a lot of emotion in what we were doing.” Volunteer callers and family members were told a specific message that they wrote down. Then they called their assigned contact families on the list.
“Typically our phone trees are, 'Hey, guess what? The boat is pulling in. Yay!' ” Burianek said.
The Navy wanted to ensure that the families received accurate information from official sources first, rather than rumors or news reports, McBrearty said. “We have to be very careful about what the families are told,” he said. “Part of our job, especially here at the homeport of the submarine, is to make sure the families get the facts. That's our commitment to our families in good news and in bad news.”
But before the first message made it all the way through the phone tree, the crew checked in, around 5:45 a.m. “A lot of the wives were very happy they did not receive that first phone call — very happy,” Burianek said. The Navy called off search-and-rescue efforts after hearing from the crew. The crew confirmed that it did not fire a flare and did not know the San Juan was thought to be in distress.
“At that point, we took a deep breath and put out another phone-tree message,” said Capt. Marc Denno, chief of staff for Squadron 12.
The one problem I've seen with phone tree notifications is the tendency for the message to sometimes get "elaborated on" as it moves down the tree. One time when the phone tree was activated when I was a JO on USS Topeka when we were pulling back into base for a quick repair right after leaving on deployment in 1992, the message morphed from "the boat's pulling back in for a couple of hours, don't bother coming down to the base" to "meet right away at the McDonalds on base for a briefing from the Commodore".

This Story Makes No Sense

The Sub Report posted a link to a story from a Toledo TV station that makes no sense to me at all. Excerpts:
A local Navy seaman was injured in a submarine explosion this weekend. It happened in Germany where twenty-five year old machinist Michael Dayton was stationed...
...Drukemiller says her son was working on a submarine when he went to repair a pump belt. As he was working on the belt a safety valve exploded. Michael was in the direct path of the steam fueled blaze.
Drukemiller says flames ran up Michael's leg, neck and face. He has third degree burns, and is expected to make a full recovery.
The Navy will fly him to a hospital in San Antonio where he will be treated in the burn unit...
Why would a submarine machinist be "stationed" in Germany? Do we have submariners doing exchanges with the German Navy (like we should be doing with the Aussies)? And what the heck is a "steam fueled blaze"?

Disregarding the questions raised by the story, I certainly hope Michael Dayton makes a full recovery.

Bell-ringer 0535 21 March: An anonymous commenter has an explanation that makes a lot more sense:
He was onboard the Tender, AS-39, in Italy. Tender was U/W. He was conducting repairs in the bilge of the Tenders Engine Room. Steam Burns from LP steam relief valve discharge.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good Stuff At Pettifog

Chrys over at Pettifog not only has a handy-dandy reference chart for the candidates (and potential candidates) for the 2008 Presidential election, but also has a post about submarines!

And speaking of the '08 election, I just heard yesterday about an online initiative to "draft" a bipartisan ticket next year. (Like many new things in politics, I heard about it because a celebrity talked about it on TV.) While I personally like the idea of a bipartisan Administration to better prosecute the War of Terror (McCain-Lieberman '08!), I don't think an "on-line virtual convention" will be the way to get anyone elected. If it happens, it'll be because a major party nominee sees he (or she) needs to do it to win, and gets their nominating convention to agree (or, more likely, gets to pick someone on their own after the conventions are over because the original VP candidate has to drop out).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Internet-Sourced Update On USS San Juan "SUBMISS" Incident

There hasn't been much official put out since the initial reports of last week's incident involving USS San Juan (SSN 751). Unofficially, though, there have been some rumors. Rontini, who normally gets pretty good intel, had this to say about the incident (from an "anonymous" source):
...San Juan was playing Red "opposition force" against the Carrier Battle group, and had launched 4 yellow flares simulating a 4-unit salvo against the carrier - carrier said it saw 3 yellows and a red. San Juan thought the resultant fuss - PDCs et. al. were just Blue's flailing around after being "had" - doesn't sound as if the boat's in trouble with DevRon 12 or SubLant...
Normally, it's easy for us submariners to just go with a "blame the skimmers" mentality, but in this case it looks like everyone might have acted in accordance with procedures and with only the best intentions. Hopefully that will count for something when it comes time for Big Navy to assign "blame".

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Allegedly Stupid Should Be Punished

I'm all for assuming people are innocent until being proven guilty, so in this case I'll just provide some information from news reports about some active duty Navy people who've come under a cloud of suspicion recently.

First of all we have the CMC of Naval Base Kitsap, who's in the news because he was arrested for attempting to arrange to have sex with underage children:
Detectives alleged that Command Master Chief Edward E. Scott, 43, had been communicating over the Internet with someone he thought was a woman with 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl, but in reality was an undercover agent.
Over the course of a month, Scott used his computer at work to engage in chats that were sexually explicit and graphic in nature, Bremerton police Sgt. Kevin Crane told The Associated Press.
Eventually, Scott asked to meet the woman and her children and a meeting was arranged for 5 a.m. Friday at a Bremerton hotel, Crane said.
"Scott provided graphic detail of specific sex acts he wanted to perform, and which he wanted the children to perform as well," police said. He was arrested and booked into Kitsap County Jail for investigation of second-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
[Emphasis mine] I guess the Naval Base Kitsap webmasters don't work during the weekend, because Master Chief Scott's bio is still up on the base's web page. I guess they also don't do much in the way of monitoring people's web surfing on base computers. Please note that he is not a submariner.

The other person in the news is LCDR John Sharpe, Jr., a PAO on the USS Carl Vinson, has been relieved of his duties following accusations that he has been running anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying websites. He's also a 9/11 "the Jews did it" conspiracy theorist. (Some more on that particular charge can be found here.) While the Southern Poverty Law Center says that he's a "former submariner", and this alleged interview with Sharpe has him saying that he was the USW Officer on the SubGru Eight staff in the late '90s, he's clearly not a submariner any more. (Here's a picture of him, from this page, so you can know to avoid him if you see him walking around the base.)

But what do you bet both of these people got really good scores on their Physical Fitness Assessments? And isn't that really what's important in the Navy today anyway? {/sarcasm}

Submariner To Head Naval Academy

RADM Jeffrey Fowler has been nominated to take the politically-sensitive job of Naval Academy Superintendent:
Fowler, a North Dakota native, is up to the task, said Master Chief Petty Officer Evelyn Banks, who was a senior enlisted adviser to Fowler at the Navy's recruiting command in Millington, Tenn.
When Banks arrived at the recruiting command in 2003, she said, sailors were concerned about a number of sexual misconduct incidents, but Fowler “created an environment where everybody felt respected.” Fowler “put the sailor first” and considered the consequences his decisions would have on people's lives, she said.
During his career, Fowler has deployed to all four oceans, as well as the Middle East, and commanded a squadron of fast-attack, nuclear-powered subs.
Since July, he has been stationed in Naples, Italy, as the deputy director of the U.S. 6th Fleet in Europe and commander of allied submarine forces on the Mediterranean.
Vigilis adds his thoughts on the nomination here. I'm pretty sure RADM Fowler will be the first submariner to head up the Academy since ADM Charles Larson. I knew RADM Fowler when he was the Commodore of SubRon Three, and I think he'll do a good job. That being said, I'll be interested to see what CDR Salamander has to say about his performance a year or so down the line.

I Wonder Whose Side This Guy Is On?

Based on the title of this AP article, the writer sure doesn't seem to be on the side of impartiality:
U.S. Troop Deaths Show Sunni Resilience

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Sunni insurgents, resilient despite the five-week security crackdown in the capital, killed at least six more U.S. troops over the weekend. A Sunni car bomber hit a largely Shiite district in the capital Sunday, killing at least eight people.
I'll bet you dollars to donuts that he never wrote an article discussing how the death of Sunni insurgents demonstrates U.S. resilience.

Update 0911 20 March: Best of the Web channels Bubblehead! (See the 2nd item down) Of course, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be the only person to come up with this.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Now Is The Time On TSSBP When We Dance

I had a long post about the NCAA Basketball Tournament that just got eaten when my browser crashed, and I don't have the gumption to recreate the whole thing, so here's a summary of what I was going to say:

1) I totally rule because I correctly picked the winners of all 8 games today in my pre-tournament bracket, and I have the higher-seeded team left alive picked in all of tomorrow's games.

2) In the past, I've talked smack about how my beloved Kansas Jayhawks were going to win the tournament, and they lost in the first round. This year, I'm going to try to break the jinx by predicting Kansas will lose all of their remaining games. (I didn't do that in the 1st round, because they were playing a 16 seed, and that would have just been silly.)

3) I predict Kansas will lose to Kentucky tomorrow, mostly because Kentucky wants revenge for the 150-95 beating Kansas dealt them back in 1989 (in addition to the 73-46 thrashing we subjected them to last year).

Come back next week, when I'll predict that Kansas will lose to the winner of tomorrow's Va. Tech-S. Illinois game in the regional semi-finals.

Update 2323 18 March: Well, Kansas somehow managed to beat Kentucky, so that provided some good news in a day which saw me go only 5-3 and lose one team I had bracketed out to the Final Four (Wisconsin). Kansas will be losing to S. Illinois in the first game on Thursday this week, and then will lose to the winner of the UCLA-Pittsburg game on Saturday.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Lawyer's Wet Dream

The biggest news in the Boise area this morning: Who owns the winning $1 million lottery ticket? Some excerpts from the story:
The story of what exactly happened with Saturday's winning Powerball/PowerPlay ticket is a complicated one. Wade, a Maverik clerk, printed the winning ticket for a customer early Saturday evening. But she mistakenly printed the wrong kind of ticket, and the customer returned it to the store in exchange for a different one. To add to the confusion, there's at least one Treasure Valley man, Tom Park, 34, of Eagle, who said he believes he was the original purchaser of that ticket and is thinking of trying to claim the winnings.
Idaho lottery law states that once a ticket is printed — even in error — it becomes property of the store that printed it. It cannot be cancelled, but it can be sold to another customer until 7:59 p.m. the night of the drawing. That didn't happen in this case, and on Sunday morning McCollough discovered the winning ticket when she came to work.
According to court documents, she checked the numbers and determined it was a winner. She then paid the store the price of the ticket and agreed to split the winnings with her manager, Dennler...
...McCollough and Dennler filed with the Idaho Lottery Monday morning to claim the winnings. But on Wednesday, so did Wade, the clerk who mistakenly printed the ticket. Later that day, Maverik Stores did, too...
...Enter Tom Park of Eagle, who said he originally bought the winning ticket at the Maverik station on State Street. But he wanted 20 plays for $20, and the clerk instead printed out 10 plays with a multiplier, which also costs $20. Park said he refused that ticket and instead took 20 new plays. But he said after he left the store he was hit with a feeling that he should have had that original ticket.
He said he went back into the store, stood in line and paid another $20 to get the original ticket back. He said he doesn't think he got the right ticket though. He said the clerk gave him a different ticket that time around...
My prediction: the combined lawyer's fees will far exceed the $600K+ after taxes that the ticket is worth.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

That's A Long Overhaul

USS Bremerton (SSN 698) is in the Navy News for finishing sea trials after a three year (!) refueling overhaul. Here's a picture of her pulling into Pearl Harbor Naval Station:

Three years seems like a long time for an ERO; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been doing them in under two. Hopefully the crew didn't go stir-crazy in the yards. (I spent quite a bit of time in the yards during NewCon, but never three years -- and most of the time, I didn't have RadCon to worry about.)

Here's to the crew of the Portsmouth Bremerton -- splice the mainbrace, men; you've earned it.

Bell-ringer 1531 17 Mar: Edited to correct the name of the boat, as pointed out by a commenter. However, that doesn't mean that any former USS Portsmouth crewmembers shouldn't still feel free to have a drink.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Anyone Hear Anything About This?

During my visit to Democratic Underground for my morning giggle, I ran across a post that sent chills up my spine as I started reading it. I know that unsourced claims on DU are about the least-reliable "news" source around, but this one was so specific that it made me think the poster didn't just make it up. Basically, it said that the Navy had initiated SUBMISS procedures for USS San Juan (SSN 751) last night, but then she showed up this morning off the coast of Florida. Was this DUmmie just having an acid flashback when posting?

Update 0841 14 March: It looks like the DU poster wasn't on drugs. Here's a "Breaking News" story from The New London Day:
:Overnight, the family of crew members on the Groton-based USS San Juan got a scare when it appeared for a time that the submarine might have sunk.
Lt. Mark Jones, spokesman for Submarine Group Two, said this morning that the submarine and its crew are safe, but that during the night there were indications that the ship was in trouble.
The San Juan went out of communication while doing training exercises off the East Coast, and a flare was spotted, prompting the Navy to start up its rescue process and notify families.
Jones said that it is Navy policy to keep families informed and to make sure they are the first to know when something might have gone wrong.
Ships and aircraft from the Enterprise Strike Group searched the area where San Juan had been operating.
The sub established communications in the early morning hours today and indicated that there were no problems. The search-and-rescue operation was then canceled.
Thank God the ship and crew are safe.

Update 1921 14 March: Here's an official SubLant statement on the incident. Excerpts:
During the early evening of March 13, units of the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) received a series of indications that USS San Juan (SSN 751), a Los Angeles class submarine conducting pre-deployment training with the Enterprise CSG, was in distress.
Fortunately, the submarine established communications in the early morning hours of March 14, and indicated that there were no problems; hence, units were able to stand down from the search and rescue that was already well underway.
Losses of communications, followed by the reported sighting of a red flare, are distress indicators. These indicators, combined with establishing communications with only two of the three submarines operating with the Enterprise CSG, was sufficient information to activate missing submarine procedures.
Ships and aircraft from the Enterprise Strike group immediately commenced a search of the area where San Juan had been operating.
Many submariners are probably wondering if the surface ships in the area may have chosen to practice Functional Area A085 of the STG Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards. Depending how close they were to the Florida coast, though, the water may have been too shallow for that particular skill to be practiced effectively. Still, I'd assume that they would have used other FXP-1 methods to attempt to contact the San Juan. The San Juan's CO, CDR Mike Martin, was a Nuke School classmate of mine, so I hope nothing bad happens to him, career-wise, because of this.

As always, The Sub Report has the best links.

Bell-ringer 0522 15 March: This story from The Day confirms that the San Juan had not actually fired off a flare, red or otherwise. Since the San Juan was providing OPFOR duties for the Enterprise Strike Group, the ESG staff wouldn't have know where the San Juan was supposed to be at any given time -- the SUBOPAUTH who was helping coordinate the exercise, along with 2nd Fleet, would know, however. I'm betting it turns out that there wasn't very good coordination in correlating the place where the flare was reported to come from with the San Juan's assigned waterspace. (If it turns out that San Juan did actually miss an assigned comms window, though, the boat still isn't off the hook.)

Speaker Pelosi Fails To Understand The Process

The press has been full of reports about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Peter Pace, saying that he personally believes homosexuality is immoral. While he has admitted that he shouldn't have brought his own feelings on the subject into the public eye, he has correctly declined to apologize for having this belief. (Note that I'm not necessarily saying he's correct to have this belief; I'm saying he shouldn't have to apologize for the fact that he has this belief. This post isn't about that.)

Not surprisingly, several politicians have jumped into the fray, none more unsurprising that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. What she said specifically, though, left me wondering how much she really understands the military. Her comments (you can see video of them here):
I was disappointed in the moral judgment that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs made this morning, or whenever it was, reported this morning, and I was more interested in the statement made by Gen. Shalikashvilii, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, when he said that, “If America is ready for a military policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, the timing of the change should be carefully considered.” I think the military should carefully consider changing the policy. We need the most talented people, we need the language skills, we need patriotic Americans who exist across the board in our population. We don’t need moral judgment from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
[Emphasis mine] As ArmyLawyer pointed out at MilBlog Ring HQ, the military doesn't really have a choice in following the policy -- they are bound by oath to follow the laws passed by Congress and signed by the President, of which "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is an example. Speaker Pelosi also failed to consider that the UCMJ, which is also a part of the U.S. Code that needs Congressional action to change, has a statute against "sodomy"; I'm not the expert, but I'm pretty sure that any male homosexual act would fall into this category. (As I understand the process, female homosexual acts don't necessarily require "penetration, however slight", so they might fly without a change to the UCMJ.) So, if Speaker Pelosi wants the military to "consider changing the policy", it seems like she has some legislative work to do first.

Of course, this isn't the first time a well-known liberal had problems understanding the legal basis behind the military's policy on homosexuality. Remember then-Vice President Gore's statement that in a New Hampshire debate that he would "require those who wanted to serve in on the position of--on the Joint Chiefs of Staff--to be in agreement with (his policy of overturning DADT)". Left unanswered were what other laws a (thankfully hypothetical) President Gore would require his JCS nominees to disagree with.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Black Helicopters Over The Idaho Statehouse

It looks like the forces of the New World Order were thwarted yesterday from carrying out their evil plan to hand over our sovereignty to the United Nations by the brave action of the Idaho House. {/sarcasm} From this article in the Idaho Statesman:
The Idaho House passed a memorial this morning asking Idaho's congressional delegation to oppose a proposed highway from Mexico to Canada.
Lawmakers said they fear the superhighway could threaten national security and border security, and hand import and export business from American ports to Mexico.
Plus, the agreements between U.S. agencies and foreign governments have the powers of a treaty but were never presented to the U.S. Congress, some said.
"It appears to me to be an end-run around the Constitution," Athol GOP Rep. Phil Hart said.
For those readers who haven't heard of the "proposed highway", it's a big deal over on the "black helicopter" side of the 'net, as part of the "North American Union" being created from the framework of the "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America". You can Google either linked term to get more "information" on the extent of the conspiracy; it's basically an opportunity for a "perfect storm" of crackpots from both sides of the political spectrum to join together -- be they anti-immigration and anti-UN types from the right, or "Bush will do anything that is evil" moonbats from the left. (Both groups seem to be represented by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's both a "Bush probably did 9/11" and "the UN wants to take your guns" guy.) I think the only reason this conspiracy theory hasn't gotten as much traction as it probably should is that the underlying assumptions (President Bush wants to turn over American sovereignty to an international organization, for one) are so hopelessly foolish that even the most jaded newsperson can't bring themselves to keep a straight face when mentioning it. Of course, that doesn't keep the Idaho House of Representatives from buying into it.

Here's what's really happening. The Council of Foreign Relations issued a paper in 2005 about how it would theoretically be nice for North America to go in the direction of the EU. This paper mentioned a 2005 initiative between the leaders of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that created the Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America. It was the creation of this organization that "some said" in the article about the Idaho House was an agreement "between U.S. agencies and foreign governments (that has) the powers of a treaty but were never presented to the U.S. Congress". Actually, this is one of those initiatives that are required by tradition to come out of every major meeting between world leaders, which is announced with great fanfare, then sits there and does nothing until it's eventually cancelled in a cost-cutting move a few years down the line. Looking at the SPP website, it looks like the main thing they're doing now is coming up with a repetitive FAQ explaining why they aren't a threat to American sovereignty. ("Ah-ha, the New World Order is trying to fool us!", the black helicopter types will say while adjusting their tin-foil hats.) Here's what they say about the "proposed superhighway":
Myth: The U.S. Government, working though the SPP, has a secret plan to build a "NAFTA Super Highway."
Fact: The U.S. government is not planning a NAFTA Super Highway. The U.S. government does not have the authority to designate any highway as a NAFTA Super Highway, nor has it sought such authority, nor is it planning to seek such authority. There are private and state level interests planning highway projects which they themselves describe as "NAFTA Corridors," but these are not Federally-driven initiatives, and they are not a part of the SPP.
Even the aforementioned Rep. Ron Paul admits that Congress has only "provided small amounts of money to study the proposal". Now that the Idaho House has spoken out, though, the project is sure to fail!

As long as the black helicopters don't get the Idaho House members first...

(Edited 0907 13 March to correct typos put in by the New World Order)

Update 2212 13 March: Here's the text of the House "memorial". Note that it's essentially all about the SPP.

Monday, March 12, 2007

This Guy's Making All Other Guys Look Bad

Check out this picture and story of how a LT aboard the newly-commissioned USS New Orleans (LPD 18) proposed to his girlfriend.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's Tournament Time!

It's one of my favorite times of the year -- the brackets have been set for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and my alma mater Kansas hasn't been upset by some low-seeded team yet (like they were in the 1st round the last two years).

To celebrate this most wonderful time of the year, I've set up a friendly tournament for mil-bloggers and milblog supporters -- there's more information over at my post at MilBlog Ring HQ. If you're a mil-blogger or supporter, drop me an E-mail at joel (dot) bubblehead (at) gmail (dot) com, or just say "I'm in" in the comments, and I'll have an invite sent to you.

Idaho Cats Gone Wild

Here's a story from Idaho that's making its way around the "News of the Weird" circuit today:
HAILEY, Idaho (AP) -- A house cat attacked its owner, sending her to the hospital by ambulance with more than 20 bite wounds.
The cat, a black and white domestic male, went on the rampage Wednesday when a neighbor showed up at the door with a different cat, mistakenly thinking it belonged to the woman.
"She went to the door, and her cat went berserk," Jeff Nevins, assistant fire chief for Wood River Fire and Rescue, told the Idaho Mountain Express.
The woman in her 60s was taken to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center with what Nevins described as "pretty serious puncture wounds."...
Here's the original story from the local newspaper in Hailey (which is close to Sun Valley). It includes this additional information:
The cat was not taken into custody, but this is allegedly not his first offense.
"I think the owner said she was going to take it to the shelter because that's not the first time she's been attacked," Nevins said.
It must be something in the water here that makes Idaho cats do stupid things.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Movie Review: "300"

Here's how the CNN review of "300" begins to sum up the movie:
Nevertheless, it's not so much the body count or even the blood lust that's disturbing. It's that the film, with its macho militarism, seems out of step in a war-weary time.
Big surprise there -- not! The mainstream press has been finding an "anti-war" message in all recent movies about war, even in "Letters From Iwo Jima" -- to me, the message in that film was "hopeles, pointless war is bad" rather than "all war is bad". "300", a graphic stylization of the Battle of Thermopylae, is just about the ultimate "guy movie" -- lots of limbs being hacked off and male bonding in a not-really-homoerotic way. The movie itself is visually stunning; it was almost entirely shot in front of a blue screen, with the backgrounds inserted digitally with a surreal color palette. (This Time magazine review has some of the details of how the movie was shot.) Here in Boise, the late showings on the digital screen were sold out before the early evening showing started -- it looks like the marketing plan worked pretty well for this film.

Bottom line -- if you're looking for a guy movie with lots of violence and some sick humor, "300" is a good choice. On the other hand, if you're looking for a realistic portrayal of ancient battles, try The History Channel. I give it 4 gratuitous decapitations out of 5.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Swastikas Deface A Boise Mosque -- Newsworthy?

The question in the title of this post is rhetorical -- of course such an event would be newsworthy, as this AP report demonstrates:
BOISE, Idaho -- A few swastika-emblazoned stickers have been left on a mosque and another building in town, prompting a police investigation, officials said.
The stickers were reported Sunday as children arrived at the Islamic Center of Boise for Sunday school, said Furqan Mehmood, the center's education director.
The stickers were left on a door and other surfaces, apparently on Saturday afternoon, officials said...
...The stickers promoted Combat 18, a loosely organized neo-Nazi group that likely originated in Britain, officials said.
While it's excusable that the AP didn't pick up on this police report from Sunday until Friday night, I'm wondering why the local Boise paper, the Idaho Statesman, didn't bother to report on it. (I just checked, and there's still no mention of the incident on their website.) Can someone who's more familiar with the Statesman's history of failing to report on important news stories fill me in on why they let this one slide? (I'm assuming here that the Statesman has someone go check the police logs every morning... maybe that's not the case.)

A New Sub-Blogger On The Blogroll

I'm not sure how I missed this, but Matt from North Carolina has been posting great submarine stuff on his blog Torpedo In The Water since November. Head on over and see what he's been writing, if you haven't been there already.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bubblehead's Early Take On The 2008 Election

Given that the upcoming Presidential election has generated unprecedented attention this early in the election cycle, I thought I'd look into my crystal ball and see what I think might happen in the next 20 months.

The most important development is that all candidates will be aware of the existence of The Daily Show even at the beginning of the campaign, so we'll miss out on a lot of humor opportunities.

More seriously, it's pretty clear that the Democratic nominee will be either Sen. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Sen. Barack Obama, or Al Gore. I don't really expect Al Gore to run, but I do expect him to continue refusing to officially say he's not running, which will tend to keep some money from the other candidate's coffers in 2007 -- he's that much of an egomaniac. Seeing that Sen. Clinton has been the most moderate of the bunch, I'm thinking that the Democrats are missing out on a pretty good chance of winning the election by not rallying behind an electable candidate, like Gov. Bill Richardson.

The Republican nominee will be one of these three: Sen. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, or Mitt Romney. The evangelicals will shoot themselves in the foot by continuing to agitate for candidates who have no chance of winning, until the eventual nominee will realize he doesn't need them to win -- this will actually help the Republican candidate, as moderates will be more likely to vote for someone the evangelicals can't stand. The thing is, they should like Gov. Romney; they just can't get around their "Mormons aren't really Christians" bias. (One good side effect of this campaign will be that as people ask questions about Romney's religion, they'll begin to realize that us Mormons really aren't that much different than anyone else -- just ask any of my wives.)

Going out on a limb here, I think it'll be a Clinton/Edwards ticket for the Dems vs. a McCain/Giuliani Republican slate. (As much as I'd like to see a McCain/Lieberman "national unity" ticket, just because it would tick off the Kos Kids and DUmmies so much, I don't think it'll happen -- I could see Sen. Lieberman being offered SecDef if McCain wins, though; this has the added benefit, for Republicans, of turning his Senate seat over to the GOP.) McCain should win the general election by about 5% in the popular vote, and should hold all the 2004 Bush states, plus Pennsylvania.

As usual, I reserve the right to change my predictions as new information becomes available.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

MRC Computer A-1R

All my computer time tonight was taken up with annual software maintenance, so for actual sub-blog content you'll want to head over to Chap's place for the story of submariner Ken Joyner.

Remember The Good Old Days?

Remember back when TV shows made about 24 episodes a year, and they ran them all back-to-back, and then ran them all again during "rerun" season? I was thinking about how nice that was when they announced at the end of "Heroes" last night that they wouldn't have new episodes until April 23rd, immediately after showing what was probably the best individual cliffhanger episode ever of any TV show. Of course, the "sweeps" concept is to blame -- the networks need new shows in both February and May, so we end up having reruns of everything in March and April.

Of course, this could encourage me to go out and get a life -- naaahh, too much work. I'll just sit around and look at this picture I took of what appears to be the Heroes soundstage at Universal Studios:

Monday, March 05, 2007

Submarine Week On The Military Channel

For those of you who get The Military Channel (it's Ch. 287 on DirecTV), this week is "Sub Week". Every night at 8 p.m. ET/PT, they'll be showing a submarine-themed show, starting tonight with the premiere of "Top Ten Submarines". The 10 "finalists" are shown in this slideshow; while I'm personally inclined to pick the Seawolf-class subs (since those are the ones I know best, having been initial manning Eng on the last two), my guess is that they'll end up putting either USS Nautilus (SSN 571) -- the first "true" submarine -- or the Gato-class boats in the #1 slot. Unless, of course, the slideshow is already in the order they've picked, in which case they incorrectly selected the Type VII U-Boat for the top of the list. While it was undoubtedly an efficient weapon, I don't think that a boat design that had about 80% of its copies lost in combat should be considered the "best" submarine.

Update 0702 06 March: It turns out the slideshow I linked to above does put the subs in their countdown order. It's hard to compare WWII subs to other submarines that haven't been proved in combat -- while the Seawolf-class boats are clearly the "best" submarines in individual combat capability, we'll (hopefully) never find out in actual combat if they live up to their capabilities.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Fascination Continues Here In Idaho

One of the best stories to come out of college football this year was the exciting and heart-warming end of the Fiesta Bowl, in which underdog Boise St. beat Oklahoma, and the star running back proposed to the head cheerleader right after the game ended (you can see a quick video of the proposal here). It seems that the people of Boise haven't tired of hearing about the cheerleader, based on this story in today's Idaho Statesman. (It's at the top of their "most popular stories" board tonight.)

Chrissy Popadics, the cheerleader, will be marrying Ian Johnson, the running back, this summer in what promises to be the most-covered wedding in the history of Idaho. Hopefully, the NCAA won't mar the festivities with investigations into gifts the couple receives. Until we get deluged with snapshots from the wedding, here's a picture of the bride-to-be from this photo gallery:

So who do we think should play her in the inevitable movie? I agree with this guy and say it should be the cheerleader from Heroes.

First North Pole Skipper Passes Away

CAPT William Anderson, the CO of USS Nautilus (SSN 571) during her first visit to the North Pole, passed away late last month at 85. A true submarining pioneer, he went on to serve four terms in Congress after retiring from the Navy. Nevertheless, he will always be best know for his feat of leading his ship and crew to the North Pole in 1958 -- an event Anderson wrote about in his book "Nautilus 90 North". The boat's triumphant return to the U.S. is shown here:

[Note: This picture came from this page of photos from the CSP Arctic Submarine Laboratory page.]

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chinese Submarines Are Coming!

It looks like it's time to start a new budget hearing cycle, so word's getting out about the future threat of Chinese submarines. I really don't have time to analyze it right now (I just got back from seeing the Robert Hanssen-inspired movie "Breach", which was pretty good), so for now anyone who's interested can discuss Chinese subs in the comments. My initial take is that, while China is our most likely long-term rival with the potential to develop advanced weaponry, I personally don't see the Chinese leaders as being interested in military confrontation with the U.S. in the foreseeable future. They're smart guys, and know that doing something stupid like attacking U.S. assets is the only real way they could lose power.

Friday, March 02, 2007

When You Don't Know The Answer... can't hurt to try to hope the grader has a sense of humor. Clayton Cramer has some good examples of students who tried this approach during exams, with limited -- but funny -- results. An example:

Bothenook Tells A Sea Story... only he can. Head over there right away, especially if you've ever been a nuke in the shipyard.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Seventh "Hey, Shipwreck" Episode Posted

Over at Tube Daze, they've posted the 7th episode of the "Hey, Shipwreck" space submarine video series. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure it's very good.

NR-1 In Texas

The nuclear-powered deep submergence vessel NR-1, the Navy's oldest active submarine, arrived in Galveston this week in preparation for "an expedition to survey the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and other sites of interest in the Gulf of Mexico." Here's a picture of her leaving Groton earlier this month:

Some other pictures of her taken recently are here, here, and here. The expedition starts on Friday; much more information can be found here and here.

I'm hoping that someday they'll open up the NR-1 for filming so the public can see what a remarkable piece of engineering she really is. I took a tour when I was in SOAC, and I can tell you that she's quite cramped. The only picture I could find from inside the boat was from this page (which also has a diagram of the compartments on the sub -- note that the RC is aft of the Engine Room); the picture shows the Ship's Control Panel, and also shows that the OIC's underway rack is right behind the shipdrivers:

Good luck to everyone involved in the expedition! (Maybe they'll try the infamous "Twinkees At 2900 feet" experiment again.)