The Watcher’s Are Watching

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Catching Up, You Should Too!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

An Almost Late Murry Christmas

Before I type another word, I want to thank several of you who offered to send care packages my way. I truly (truly) thank you for this kind gesture. A very odd thing has been occurring out here with mail. It very often does not get to me. Several reasons, first it was the wrong address. (That tends to cause problems.) And then, with us being in port, I worked at an office for several months, so I was separated from the mail room. And now, I have no idea. Three (3) packages are out there, sent by well intentioned friends (or the random bike gear merchandiser that I could not ignore) and I have yet to receive them! And it has been multiple weeks. . .

So for all you of whom offered to send me something, please do not feel insulted that I asked for you not to. I am in a holding pattern with mail, hopefully it will get sorted out soon.

And to everyone else, who did not offer to send anything, what is wrong with you? Ha ha, just kidding. Merry Christmas and have a great New Year. Your Sailors (at not quite the tippy tip of the spear) thank you always for your support.

I would apologize for the lack of blogging, but you’ve got the calloused hands of Ex Bootneck, guiding you to great media nuggets. (And he posts pictures of his doggies!)

Chinese Chicken and James Kirk

In a forum on bike riding, a cyclist from Hong Kong wrote the following confession:

hi, i am a 36 years old Hongkongese living in Hong Kong. For cycling, I eat some chinese foods that you may find awful.

For example, chicken legs. Southern Chinese eat chicken legs. There are many ways to cook chicken legs. The chicken legs i eat are done in the way whereby you submerge them in vinega for a prolonged period of time so it is very softened. You take out the bones and you eat the whole of it except the crawls. It is said that it is rich in collagen and is good for your skeletal-muscular system.

Another thing is cow’s tendon. The usual ways people here eat cow’s tendon by boiling them in soup, and then serve with soup noodle. In chinese medicine theory, cow’s tendone is good for aerobic capacity, and the collagen is also good for skin and skeletal-muscular system.

I am not sure if they would serve it in your nearby china town (if you are intereted in trying at all). When i was studying London i could find them.

In Navy news, the skipper of the new USS Zumwalt is Capt. James Kirk. No really, Capt James Kirk. (Hand Salute for the link: Lauren. Thanks!)

The Latest, Promise

Catching up with some Watcher postings. Please enjoy the below links!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

The articles:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Not Quite the Latest

I am afraid I’ve fallen behind in my council postings:

Council Winners

Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote –

Non-Council Winners

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Getting Hammered with the Admiral

There is a house in New Orleans. . .

Just kidding, I always wanted to start a blogpost like that. And it is especially funny (or not) considering how infrequently I’ve been blogging recently. I can point to long hours, but the truth is my job requires me in front of a computer and then in my off-time, I don’t particularly want to sit in front of another screen. Strange that a shipboard job is so pc-centric, but that is how it is in the modern Navy. Those among you who have done military staffwork surely understand.

Okay, so let’s talk title. Yes, I was propositioned (can you use that word with alcohol?) by the Admiral to go get hammered with him. It was all the more hilarious because my boss, the Captain, walked in during our pre-brief right when the Admiral said: Lieutenant, you and I are going to have to get hammered together. 

Before I get into the bulldozing, and then the laying of iron rebar, and than the pouring cement, and then the framing of our little story here, perhaps we should do a historical stroll with modern major admirals to see who among them might have tippled a grog or three with their younger staff?

This naval forum had a list of the top ten admirals of all time. Sort of a Navy Hall of Fame:

1. Yi Sun Shin – Korea: Arguably one of the greatest admirals of all time; drove the Japanese out of their collective minds. Of the at least 23 major battles during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598), Admiral Yi gained victories in all of them; he never lost a single engagement and is the national hero of Korea.

2. Horatio Nelson – Britain: If you do not know who he is you have no business in these forums; I recommend that you try knitting sweaters instead.

3. Frank Jack Fletcher - United States: Admiral Fletcher was the operational commander at the pivotal Battles of Coral Sea and of Midway.

4. Gaius Duilius - Rome: He won a major naval victory over the Carthaginians during the battle of Mylae thus setting the stage for the decline of Carthage as as the per-eminent naval power of antiquity.

Don Juan movie5. Don Juan of Austria: The Victor of the Battle of Lepanto, the last major naval engagement between galley fleets; this battle set the stage for the decline of the Turkish Empire.

6. François Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse - France: Fought the British fleet to a standstill at the Battle of the Capes, and forced the British to retire without supplying Yorktown, thus forcing George III to give up his American colonies.

7. Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter - Holland: One of the most famous admirals in Dutch history. De Ruyter is most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French in these wars and scored several major victories, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway.

Admirl Togos8. Heihachiro Togo – Japan: The winner of the Battle of Tsushima Straits; historian Edmund Morris calls it the greatest naval battle since Trafalgar. It was the largest naval engagement of the pre-dreadnought battleship era and the only sea battle in history in which steel battleships fought a decisive fleet action.

9. David Glasgow Farragut – United States: On August 5, 1864, Farragut won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile was then the Confederacy’s last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico; when it was captured, it helped to set the stage for the final defeat of the Confederacy just as surely as the Battle of Gettysburg.

10. Isoroku Yamamoto – Japan: Planned the daring attack on Pearl Harbor thus bringing the United States into the Second World War.

Admiral Bull Halsey

Admiral Bull Halsey

Interesting, the poster goes on to say he did not place them in order of greatness. But he does take some heat. And a new forum member goes on to post this list (bear with me on the booze and el-tee thing, we are getting there, albeit in an Italian taxi cab kind of way.) New list:

1. Ray Spruance – TF-16 at Midway, TF-58 at Marianas Turkey Shoot.

2. Marc Mitscher – Ran TF-58′s carriers. Turned on TF-58′s lights so the Hellcat, Helldiver and Avenger aviators could find their way home.

3. William “Bull” Halsey – Aggresive patrolling after Pearl Harbor was immeasurably valuable experience for our inexperienced naval aviators. Ran TF-38 (same ships as TF-58). Halsey and Spruance rotated command…One admiral and his staff would run an Op while the other and his staff planned the next Op.

4. Tamon Yamaguchi – If he had been in Nagumo’s place at Pearl Harbor and Midway…1942 and 1943 would have been bad years for the US Navy.

5. Raizō Tanaka – If he had been in Kurita’s place off Samar…the Leyte Gulf beach head would’ve been clobbered.

Commodore Edward Preble

Commodore Edward Preble

6. Edward Preble – Technically a Commodore…the phrase “Preble’s Boys” says it all.

7. Alfred Thayer Mahan – Father of the modern US Navy.

8. Isoroku Yamamoto – One of the most brilliant naval strategists and a great leader. He truly was irreplaceable.

9. Heihachiro Togo – Tsushima…’nuff said.

10. John Henry Towers – Father of US Naval Aviation.

Should I go admiral by admiral and conjecture about whether these towering giants were on drunk terms with their staff? Probably more than half of them were. It was a different time, on different seas. Technology has changed business on the world’s oceans. So has culture. Now, 16 year-olds girls stateside are tattoo’d like Sailors of yore and us modern Navy-folk are less rough around the edges.

Okay, so I owe you a story. It is the afternoon and my boss grabs me in the p-way (short for passageway of the ship.) Hey, go up to the quarterdeck and greet the Admiral and get him back to our space for the brief.

Call football iiI jam up to the quarterdeck without going back to my office. Good call. The Admiral is ten minutes early. He gets gonged (ringing the bell thingy) on. And I take him back to our space. I had spoken to him once before, right when I checked into the command. And he and I share an alma mater. (Or in this case, considering our football team, the Cal Bears, perhaps I should be calling it the alma whatsa matter?)

Tough year for Cal football, eh, sir?

Hell of a year. We’ve gotten killed in every game. What are we, 1 and 9?

Something like that sir. I lost track.

USC put up 62 on us! More than a point a minute. 

It is rough.

Call footballI lead him into our space and we continue our bemoaning of our bad-news Bears. Finally, he ends with: Lieutenant, you and I are going to have to get hammered together. 

My boss, the newly-arrived-to-the-space-Captain, looks around the room at me first and then the other folks with a double-whisky-on-the-rocks-tango-foxtrot look. I tell him later what we were discussing. I figured it was something like that, he tells me.

Becoming a Military Linguist

Folks, as I still work the long hours of being deployed (no complaints), you might enjoy this email interaction I had with a prospective linguist as she looks to join the military:

So it started with a comment on the About page which I returned with:

You commented on my blog and I would be glad to answer any questions you had about being a Navy CTI (or the other branches for that matter.)

I enjoy the field immensely and like “talking” about it. . . I was an Arabic/French linguist, but am currently stationed in Japan.

And her questions:

Thank you so much for your willingness to talk with me about this.

I’m a 26-year-old college graduate with a degree in language (Latin
and Greek – useful, eh?) and I’ve been floating from job to job
halfheartedly since finishing school in 2010. I keep returning to the
idea that language is my one true passion, but I haven’t figured out
how to implement it professionally. I’ve at the same time been
developing a stronger interest in the military, and when I learned
that one can enlist as a linguist, I’ve been so thrilled at the
possibility. I do have an upcoming session with a recruiter, but given
that he will obviously be biased, I need all the advice I can get.

I’ve been told that I should enlist specifically with the army because
they’re the branch who will guarantee your placement as a linguist. Is
this the case? I’d like very much to ultimately work as an
interrogator, but I don’t really know the other routes that one can
take as a linguist. What did you do?

Also, I’m wondering about the experience of being a woman in this
position. I think we’re all familiar with the horror stories of women
being constantly assaulted – is this something that in your mind is
overplayed by the media, or is it as rampant a problem as we all hear?
As a man in the military, what are your thoughts on whether women
belong there? What have you observed about the general attitude on the
part of men toward their female counterparts in the service? Feel free
to be as un-PC as necessary :)

Lastly, what work opportunities are there for a linguist after your
term is complete? I’ve again read many horror stories about
high-ranking veterans failing to find work after leaving the
service….but it seems like there should be a fair number of options
for an American who speaks Arabic, no?

Honestly, anything you can tell me about your experience would be
extremely helpful.

Thank you, thank you!

I always get concerned when folks are joining the military with no good sources of inside information. They (understandably) have to rely on the press, who has an agenda of their own. My response:

Wow, okay! Let’s do this. I understand your position very well. I was a UC Berkeley grad when I enlisted and got a couple of raised eyebrows.

I understand your concern about recruiters. Don’t sign anything and you will be fine. I had a somewhat shady interaction with the Air Force recruiter; it really turned me off to that service.

I also love languages. I speak French and Arabic. The first I got when I was young and then I learned Arabic at DLI, the military’s school in Monterey, California. (I also took Greek in college. Kalimera!) I am stationed in Japan and tomorrow I go to my first Japanese lesson. Can’t wait. . .

You got bad gouge about the Army guaranteeing you a job. The Navy can too, provided you get it on paper. I entered the Navy with my job as a linguist guaranteed. The only thing that would have stopped me- if I had not passed my security clearance or had failed out of DLI. Trust me, I’ve seen both. It is a little scary, but you will be fine. (Provided you don’t have too many skeletons in your closet. . . (Grin.) One guy had a vindictive girlfriend who lied about him and drugs, so he never completed DLI.)

Ah, women in the military. Okay. Whatever you’ve heard was bs. Look, I am a Berkeley grad, so I think I have a little bit of an outside perspective that may grant a stranger a little credibility on the matter. It is nonsense that women get constantly assaulted. I will say, it is more dangerous being on a college campus, at frat parties, etc, than being in the military as a woman. Obviously, I am a man, so take my opinion as that. Sadly, there are folks who score political points by taking us down in this respect. Do women get assaulted? Yes, tragically. But at a lower rate, I would argue, than the civilian world. I would be glad to forward your email to friends of mine who are female. And you can hear it from them. . .

Do we joke around? Yes. It can be a little like a locker-room sometime. We are a different kind of job after all. Truthfully, the filthiest I’ve ever seen a Sailor/Officer in a group setting was a tie between two women officers. They were x-rated in their wardroom banter. It was kind of shocking, but no one said anything to them because they were female. That all said, thousands of female service members are fine. A couple of tips: Don’t get repeatedly, fall-down drunk with your shipmates. Don’t walk around in a bikini at parties. Etc. . .

Last thought on women: I really appreciate having females in the Navy. And on the ship. (Even subs if you guys want to. I certainly don’t want to be in one of those sinkers.) Trust me, the Navy is like a really cool, slightlllllllllllly miserable club where you work hard. Or sometimes, you completely screw off. (Don’t tell anyone about the last thing.)

As far as jobs go after the service, I am in for 20 or more. But there are plenty of opportunities for folks who speak languages. Google Titan, L3, SAIC, Booze-Allen-Hamliton, etc for military contractors offering job opportunities.

Interrogators? I ran the linguist shop down at Gitmo when Gitmo was Gitmo. You can go that path, but the Army seems to have a far more robust program than the Navy. My friends who did the job were known as 97Es. But now I think they may be known as 35Ms. It is an interesting facet of linguistics.

I’ll stop rambling. I think you have valid questions, but don’t buy the media bs about the military being hard on females. My boss right now is a female Commander and she would undoubtedly say that the Navy is a fair organization that values hard work, talent, and dedication. (Phew, I sound like a commercial.)

Let me know how I can help. Your three next steps are: visit the recruiter (Go Navy!), take the ASAVB, and then take the DLAB. (A test that sort-of “explores” your ability to learn languages.)

Can I post your email and my reply on my blog? I will eliminate any identifying material, of course. I think it can be helpful to other folks…

Take care and fire away with more q’s,

Ah, one of my favorite topics – joining the Navy. To be continued. . .

The Noms and the Wins

First, the wins:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

And now the noms:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

‘Tis a Navy Life for Me

My life has been owned over the last couple of months by what is affectionately called a qual in our gentle seagoing service. I sat in, as a trainee, and learned a new job. No, it is not my permanent position out here in beautiful Japan. I simply qualled to serve as a back-up in case I am needed. (Sort of like a male Supreme to the Diana Rosses we currently have on staff. . .)

While I sort out my thoughts on the process, I must offer you the following:

-Jason P Brown was a Marine Corporal during the Los Angeles riots and he offers an amazing first-person account of the affair.

-Cornel Hrisca-Munn is a drummer. And here, he covers the Foo Fighters song, Everlong. Cornel was born with a certain disability that makes drumming impossible. Or nearly so.

-Direct from WIkipedia: Norval Sinclair Marley was a Jamaican of English descent, notable for being the father of the reggae artist Bob Marley. Who knew?

-Cimorelli is a girl group made up of Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren, and Dani. Here they cover Lorde’s RoyalsWith all that estrogen in one family, I wonder if their dad was a Navy pilot? Strange thing, but there’s something about flying. . .

-Rugby can be rough, watch Gareth Raynor knocking out Sam Tomkins.

The Army Unveils New, California-Friendly Uniforms

Every 18 months or so, each military branch unveils a new uniform change. Just this last week, I was told that my coveralls (that I got back when I was enlisted) would no longer be a valid Navy uniform. Apparently, we are moving to a non-flammable coverall. (Which I intend to blog in, to prevent vitriol generated by this post from harming me.) That said, I think the Army is taking the “let’s-recruit-the-heck-out-of-San-Franscico” thing too far:

Baltimore Raven fans at their Super Bowl victory party on the field.

Baltimore Raven fans at their Super Bowl victory party at M&T Stadium. (Not in the Navy or Army.)

Just kidding, this is a shot of Baltimore Raven fans celebrating their Super Bowl win. (Got ya for a second.) Go to the link to hear Ed Reed belting out Eddie Money’s Two Tickets to Paradise.

The Rescue Dogs of the World Trade Center

Please dig for your hanky and then read about this, a reddit link on the cadaver dogs used during the search through the rubble of the World Trade Center:

-I’m not a dog trainer, but I remember that search and rescue dogs that were searching for survivors in the World Trade Towers after 9/11 would become depressed when they started finding more bodies than survivors. So people would volunteer to be buried so the dogs could “find” them to boost their morale.

-Seriously? That is beyond beautiful for people to do this for the dogs amidst such tragedy for the humans. Is this true or you just pulling my leg?

-It’s absolutely true. I train tracking dogs, which is different from search and rescue but we hang out together – my kid volunteers with the local SAR. Essentially SAR dogs are trained on finding live people. That’s what they are rewarded for and learn to find rewarding. Most of them will indicate a dead person, but it’s not what they are looking for, and they get upset. Particularly in earthquake recovery, it’s fairly common to have another handler hide and do a successful search just to give the dog a successful outcome.

Cadaver dogs, OTOH, are trained to find, well, dead pigs, to be honest. Find dead pig, get rewarded=find dead person, get rewarded. The dog has had a successful outcome, is rewarded and is happy with that.

I love it. The whole post was on a new book called Trident K9 Warriors (by Michael Ritland with Gary Brozek and Thea Feldman.) In other dog news, I have no idea what I’m doing…

Pickles in Mayo

(Commence old grandpa voice) There is a certain joy in working with them young fellers. They know how us ol’ codgers work and sometimes they tell tales they know are gonna to crack us up. Like this complaint about a Fire Controlman (FC):

Sailor 1: Would someone please talk to FC2? He is sitting on the floor of berthing in his tightie whities, dipping pickles in mayonnaise and eating them!

Sailor 2: In his underwear?

Sailor 1: That’s what I said. That guy looks like a wolfman he is so hairy.

Sailor 2: Pickles in mayo, that doesn’t sound good.

Sailor 1: Yeah, he stores them in his wall locker.

Sailor 2: I’m no doctor, but doesn’t mayonnaise go bad pretty quickly?

Sailor 1: Whatever, I don’t care. I just want his fatass to put some clothes on.

Very quietly I laugh to myself. The Navy’s a chuckle a minute if you listen.

Sigma Lens for Sale

Do you need a camera lens for your Canon? I found this ad intriguing for several reasons:

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II for Canon

It has been well taken care of, kept in a Tamrac camera bag during ownership and rarely used. The lens is great on a crop sensor, I used it with the 60D and with the 5D mk3. I’ve never noticed anything negative about it, auto focus is fast even in lower light. I compared it to a Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS and this is sharper than the L version. It is not my main lens so it is ok to sell, I have some serious emergency expenses and do not have a choice about selling it. It is in mint condition. Feel free to test it.

Also, if you know any of the highly respectable Yakuza who would like to make a small loan, please have them contact me directly. I was robbed by the police in shinjuku and need to raise emergency money.

Hmm, nevermind. The lens would have worked for me, but I am allergic to drama.