Showing posts from June, 2009

Musings From A Week Off

I'm back to work after having some much needed time away. Who knew when I left that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and even Billy Mays would no longer be with us when I returned? I found Billy's commercials to be the most annoying thing on TV but I didn't want him to die; just go away. He was the main reason for a mute button on my remote. We hosted dinner for Rachel's boyfriend and his parents Friday evening. Rachel and Josh have been dating since the early part of last school year and I think we parents thought it would be a good idea to spend some time together and get to know one another. I'd just put the steaks on when Meg and Wayne pulled up. Wayne hung out with me by the grill and we shared a bit of info about each other; the usual stuff; where we grew up; where we're working and such. It didn't take long for us to each telegraph to the other where we stood politically; maybe it was the Obama yard sign leaning against the wall inside

A Rite of Passage

Okay, I'll break from my Navy musings for a bit to ramble about some current life stuff. I'm in the middle of a vacation from the salt mine but I've got no plans whatsoever to go anywhere and more importantly, no place to be. I've got a to-do list of stuff I'm chipping away at though and I'm feeling a bit nagged by it but it's my own doing. Replacing several dozen feet of landscape edging and sheet-rocking the garage are both going to take more effort than I have motivation for. I often find myself imagining life once I'm retired and no longer under the gun to hurry and get things done before going back to work. That'll be nice. I've been getting out on my bike but not nearly as much as in years past. I've been filling in the gaps with my Rollerblades, our elliptical trainer, and occasionally our rower (trying not to aggravate my tendinitis) and enjoying the diversity of my workouts. My typical in-line skating workout is 15-17 miles . I&#

Prepare to Get Underway

This is a continuation of a series of writings about my time in the Navy. The first in this series of posts can be found here or go here for the most recent. The LST (Tank Landing Ship) was an amphibious assault ship used for attacking and securing a beachfront. Unlike most other ships it didn't have a deep keel to help it smoothly cut through the water. It had a much flatter bottom which allowed it to beach itself and more easily offload vehicles and troops . Out on the open ocean, we'd often take a beating in our flat bottom girl that other sleeker ships wouldn't. The most recognizable feature of the ship were the bow horns which protruded skyward and provided support for the bow ramp . When we were unable to get close enough to shore for the bow ramp to make contact, we'd assemble a series of causeways  (or floating road) sections strapped to the ship's side which could be lowered and put in place to connect the bow ramp with the beach. There was a huge

Request Permission to Come Aboard

This is a continuation of a series of writings about my time in the Navy. The first in this series of posts can be found here or go here for the most recent. My ship was still out to sea when I arrived at the base in Subic Bay so I was checked into some temporary quarters until she arrived a couple days later. Walking up the ship's brow and going aboard for the first time was certainly a bit intimidating. Much of what I'd been taught up to now would come in useful at some point but I knew little about actual shipboard life. I didn't even know if I'd be prone to seasickness; how could I? Remember to salute the Officer of the Deck and request permission to come aboard I reminded myself. That much I knew for sure. It would've been easier if I was part of a larger group going through the same check-in process but I wasn't. I was with one other guy, David Vernor, who I barely knew and once we got on board we'd see little of each other. The crew seemed ve

Continued -- Musings of a Seaman Apprentice

This is a continuation of a series of posts I wrote a few months ago. I left Boot Camp for two weeks of leave/vacation back home before returning to Great Lakes Naval Training Center and Radar A-School north of Chicago in Waukegan, IL in the spring of 1976; I was 18. We'd receive our instruction in buildings 310 and 311. The training would last a few months and teach us the basics of tracking surface traffic, vector analysis (maneuvering board) to be able to recommend heading and speed changes to the bridge to avoid shipping, plotting air contacts, and radar navigation. We'd all been screened for the course and I believe we all successfully completed the training. The phosphorous-like display of the radar scope with its ever-present rotating sweep has changed a good deal over the years in comparison to the digital displays we use today. Little did I know then how much a part of my life monitoring a radar scope would become. Gone were the days of living in a barracks with

A Monkey Off My Back

Charlie's kennel time has been greatly reduced the past couple weeks as he earns his freedom more and more by messing in the house less and less. He's still not quite there but he's real close. Neither Toby nor Allie have ever exhibited dominance over one another but I do sense that Toby is feeling challenged by Charlie. In the past, if Toby ever growled at Charlie, Charlie would back down but lately, he's been holding his ground and standing up to Toby. Tammy had to come between them last week as neither one was backing off. Last night they went at it again with Toby coming out on top; literally. He held Charlie down for a few moments when their tiff was over to make certain they both knew who was top dog. Charlie doesn't appear to be taking any of this very seriously though as he shakes it off and continues pestering them both . I took three days away from work this past week and used them to get a monkey off my back. My original thought was that I'd onl