The Navy, Some Pantyhose, and an Inconvenient Typhoon

Capt.Archibald JonesIn the Navy, during a brief, very often the term BLUF is used. It means bottom-line-up-front. As in, wot’s this all ’bout? So, here’s yar bluf: Pantyhose has many uses.

For the last six weeks, I’ve been working a job that folks in my career field fortunately (and medium-rarely) do not work. While I am in a technical track, this is more of a generalized job task. It has not been in any way enjoyable, but life (and the Navy) could be unpleasant at times. And I accept it as part of the job and adventure. If there’s been one advantage, it has been in interacting with Sailors that I might have not otherwise worked with.

The good news, I am all done with training. All I have left is a board, chaired by the Captain this Thursday. Last week, I took the “murder board” and it went well. I was supposed to receive my real board last week, but the Captain was out of town. (Argh, Captain!) And then my board was moved to tomorrow. Now with the approaching typhoon (yes, you read that correctly, typhoon, and not one of these bad-boys) it has been pushed back again.

A Ship CaptainToday, I caught the Captain at the vending machines and I could not help myself. With a concerned, studious look (that may be my actual look), I asked him: Any tips, sir?

About your upcoming board? Don’t be too confident, too meek. Be confident but not loud. And don’t hold back information if you know the answer. 

I nodded. Yes, sir.

And if you don’t know any of the questions, just say you don’t know the answer. Don’t try to bs your way through like some previous boardees.

Yes, sir.

You’ll do fine. And off he went.

500 yen coinI mulled his words while I tried to get my 500 yen coin (yes Virginia, there really is a 5 dollar coin) to work in the vending machine. I had a hankerin’, with all me studying, that only a Royal Milk Tea could baby.

Ladies and gentlemen of the blog, no arguments please – it is scientific fact. Royal Milk Tea is a near-magic soother of all that ails you. Truthfully, I’ve only recently discovered the stuff. It is like a magic potion. For all you borderline nerdish types, it gives you +2 on your charisma points*. Fact, I am standing up and walking to my fridge right now. To get my charisma filled up. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. +2.

Note to the wikipeadeans among/amongst you, consider putting this addendum at the end of the Royal Milk Tea section in Wikipedia: October 2013, amidst a very challenging typhoon, a recently quiet blogger discovered the magic of milk tea and was transformed back into his gregarious blogging self. He also took a shining to referring to himself in third-person, a fact that annoyed 42% of all people reading his post. Darn him. . .

kirin milk teaLet’s review the current info on said tea:

To make the tea, water and tea (about 1 to 3 teaspoons of tea a cup, depending how strong the drinker likes) are brought to a boil then simmered for about 3–6 minutes. The tea is usually put in a sackcloth bag before the water is added to the pot to filter it out or if no bag available poured through a strainer. Many people also remove the pot from the heat once it boils for about 3 minutes, then bring the pot to a boil again. This process can be repeated several times, intensifying the caffeine/flavor.

The key feature of Hong Kong-style milk tea is that a sackcloth bag is used to filter the tea leaves. However any other filter/strainer may be used to filter the tea. Sackcloth bags are not completely necessary but generally preferred. The bag, reputed to make the tea smoother, gradually develops an intense brown colour as a result of prolonged tea drenching.

dog in pantyhose

Together with the shape of the filter, it resembles a silk stocking, giving Hong Kong-style milk tea the nickname of “pantyhose” or “silk stocking” milk tea (Chinese: 絲襪奶茶). This nickname is used in Hong Kong but less so in mainland China and overseas communities.

Pantyhose? Pffffffft. (Computer screen suddenly covered in said milk tea!) Nevermind. Do NOT drink the stuff. It is poison, brewed by the locals with unimaginable, not-yet-discovered consequences.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming – once I am done with this board, I move onto my real job. This was just an extra qual to have me as a back-up watch-stander in case I am needed in a pinch. (Like on St. Patrick’s Day.) Welcome to the Navy, shipmate. Now get to work doing something not your job. Truthfully, everything in the Navy is “your” job. Or put more precisely, my job is exactly what the bosses tell me it is. Ahhh, no use bitchin’. No one will listen. . . Except you. . .

Warhammer OnlineBefore you high-jump and Fosbury Flop to any conclusions about Sailors** and role-playing games involving many-sided die or drawers of mini dwarves (figurines), know that a new friend over here in Japan, a Marine Captain no less, spent nearly a third of his last paycheck on Warhammer figurines, books, gadgets. I decided (very charitably) to tip him off to a bike his size being sold up in Tokyo for a ridiculously low price. Of course, it was Marine Corps olive green. And he went uptown and bought the thing. Score: Sailor cyclists 1, Jarhead nerds 0.

Sailor and Marine** It is a common psychological occurrence among certain bashful bloggers faced with the silky realization that they’ve been drinkin’ pantyhose-infused tea, to immediately turn and try to transfer their shame onto their lil sister service. This is called “saving face.” It has been known to work, provided the readers are not aware of its employment.

I shall keep an eye out for such a sickly and shameful man-ooooh-ver and inform you immediately if any transference occurs. Standby. Raised tea-pinkies at the ready. This will not happen on my watch. That much I can assure you. . .

For Your Next Two Hours

As usual, the blog collective known as WoW has some great material. Please take the next two hours and enjoy:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Liberal, Seize, Pour Quoi, and Sempre

When Japanese marketers pick brand names and label names, sometimes they don’t think it all the way through. I was reading the Newsbusters article on Tavis Smiley and they were advertising a bumper sticker that read: Not a Liberal, from And the bots that inhabit my ‘puter then sent me ads to this site, advertising Japanese clothes for women (obviously due to the liberal keyword):

LIberal, Seize, Pour Quoi, and Sempre
Liberal, Seize, Pour Quoi, and Sempre

I know where I’m not gonna be shopping. (After all, those are not men’s clothes.)

A Classic Liberal in the Navy

Recently, I was working the night shift at work. (We are in port, but we still stand watch.) And I had several interesting conversations. Like the shipmate who told me he was a classic liberal. Not a liberal who likes the classics, but a Classic Liberal:

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanizationin the 19th century in Europe and the United States. It advocates civil liberties with a limited government under the rule of law, private property, and belief in laissez-faire economic policy. Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, such as selected ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on a psychological understanding of individual liberty, the contradictory theories of natural law and utilitarianism, and a belief in progress. Classical liberals were more suspicious than conservatives of all but the most minimal government and, adopting Thomas Hobbes’s theory of government, they believed government had been created by individuals to protect themselves from one another.

Now that is classic. . .

Opening Up Your House to. . .

I have to wonder what the conversation was when these Afghani men and women left the White House:

From left to right: 1. Unknown; 2. Unknown; 3. Ronald Reagan; 4. Gust Avrakotos; 5. Omar Babrakzai; 6. Mohammad Suafoor Yousofzai; 7. Habib-Ur-Rehman Hashemi; 8. Unknown. Original caption: “C12820-32, President Reagan meeting with Afghan Freedom Fighters to discuss Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan. 2/2/83.” — Ronald Reagan Library
From left to right: 1. Unknown; 2. Unknown; 3. Ronald Reagan; 4. Gust Avrakotos; 5. Omar Babrakzai; 6. Mohammad Suafoor Yousofzai; 7. Habib-Ur-Rehman Hashemi; 8. Unknown. President Reagan meeting with Afghan Freedom Fighters to discuss Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan. 2/2/83.

Of course, I also have to wonder what the follow-on conversation is in Japan when some American does something that is not easily understood by the locals. Like the guy who yelled eff over and over again outside my window last week. As in: eff you. . . I especially appreciated the sirens that followed his performance.

Walking Bloody Around the Navy Base

Good news, I finally have a dependable internet connection! So that means more bloody good stories. Bloody as in real blood, not bloody as in jolly. Read on for more details.

So I am walking across base to grab breakfast with a Marine and a prior enlisted Marine, now naval officer. And the current Marine turns to me at the breakfast joint with a look of amazement and says: you know you are bleeding?

I glare around and sure enough, blood is dripping off my uniform sleeve. Flowing blood is not a positive thing for the Navy, but the Marine looks at it with approval. I glance over my body and can’t figure out where I am leaking.

Your knuckles, your knuckles are bleeding.

I look down at my hand and sure enough, I’ve been whipping blood all over myself. I must’ve rapped my knuckles on some furniture and not realized it.

I wrap my hand in napkins and we trudge back to work with our large breakfasts. And just as I am opening my small, single-serving butter cup the size of a coffee creamer, I get distracted. I forget that it is still quite warm out and my butter may not be solid. Indeed the spread is liquid; it spills all over my crotch. My suddenly greasy, bloody uniform which I drag (along with me) to the bathroom for a little rub-a-dub-dub. Can’t take myself anywhere. . .

The Runners and the Winners

I’ve been awfully busy out here and have not had the chance to post last week’s Watcher’s Council articles or the winners. So here are both, the runners and the winners:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Shore Duty Versus Sea Duty

In the Navy, we generally have two different kinds of billets, sea duty and shore duty. I just switched over to the former and it is demanding. What I am trying to say is that I may be posting (as you can surely tell) in a drastically scantier (word-wise) fashion. Ex Bootneck and America’s Sergeant Major are doing a bang-up job in my absence. So much so that surely one or five of you must be thinking I hope that Navy guy stays away. Sort of like the substitute teacher thing in grade school. As usual, thanks to them and to you, for visiting.

Looking for Something to Read?

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Speaking in Japan to. . .

. . .a First Class Petty Officer. You decided to lay your cover right on my backpack. I am not sure why, but I would’ve gotten a good chuckle from seeing myself walk out of the building with a First Class cover on my head. Because it happened. And then, as I was getting ready for work the next day, it took two seconds to put the story together when I found your cover (very clean, thankfully!) with my uniform. All the Sailors on my next day shift laughed about it too. I accept my part in the mix-up. It is a good thing I got a lift home that day and only walked about fifty yards with your cover on.

. . .a waitress at Red Ramen, a popular Yokosuka dive. Argggh, so sorry some Sailor stiffed you on the bill. By the time I figured out what had occurred, they were gone. The whole, we don’t even know that guy, despite him sitting at our table, was a very poor excuse. I tried to pay for him, but you refused. We can do better and you could not have been nicer about it. . .

. . .a Third Class Petty Officer on my shift. I held my tongue when I overheard you talking about gun control. You said we are turning into a nation of John Waynes. And that only the police should have guns. That we should be more worried about getting killed in a movie theater by a guy trying to kill a mass shooter, than the mass shooter himself. Next time, I will squash that sort of speech though. Political yammering has got no place in uniform.

. . .the base internet provider. How is it that the service is so poor? Often pages never load. Is someone downloading a lot of content? Why not use a governor (guvernor) to mitigate their usage? I work very odd shifts currently while we are in port and sometimes I have a good connection. This tells me someone is overdoing the legal/illegal downloads.

. . .a certain military senior. I watch how you take our material, memorize it, and then berate your staff (quoting exact times and report numbers) for not knowing about it. Maybe I’ve said too much, but does this make us better?

Whoops, Peter Badalament Stepped in It

Art has been known to get people in trouble. Risqué paintings were at one time considered cutting-edge media (and potentially blasphemous) before mass media was available to the masses. But this poem, read by Concord-Carlisle High School principal Peter Badalament (on 9/11 of all days), should get the principal in trouble. At first reading, I have several issues with it, mostly in it finding fault with America. It was written by a Muslim daughter, the Syrian poet Mohja Kahf, talking about her grandmother washing her feet at Sears:

“Respectable Sears matrons shake their heads and frown

as they notice what my grandmother is doing,

an affront to American porcelain, a contamination of American Standards

by something foreign and unhygienic…

They fluster about and flutter and I can see

a clash of civlizations brewing in the Sears bathroom.”

“‘You can’t do that,’ one of the women protests,

turning to me, ‘Tell her she can’t do that.’

‘We wash our feet five times a day,’

my grandmother declares hotly in Arabic.

‘My feet are cleaner than their sink.

Worried about their sink, are they? I

should worry about my feet!’

In an interesting twist, the pledge of allegiance was not recited, but the above screed was.

Yet More Apologies

Folks, I am neck deep in work. (And by neck, I mean, I look up and see more!) Couple that with a verrrry slow internet connection and that equals little posting. (1 + 1 = 0 posting.) Like Ex Bootneck below, I am going to offer you my apologies. Good news, a blogger (who is very entertaining) might be dropping by with some nuggets that are not of his usual topic.

Oh, Those Ohayou Gozaimasus!

I apologize for the dearth of posting. My internet connection is terrible where I am. Some pages are taking two minutes to load properly.

Outside of sweating everywhere, Japan continues to be a wondrous country. Remarkably, the locals are very forgiving with my clumsy, but motivated Japanese. They even caught on when instead of saying ohayou gozaimasu for good morning, I mixed up my gozaimasus and used arigatou gozaimasu. The later, of course, means thank you. Imagine how ridiculous it is when a giant, grinning American rolls into your coffee-shop and yells thank you! (They caught on quickly and thanked me back.) It is an easy mistake. It gave me a chuckle and cracked a couple of them up too.

The Uh Oh Post

Be scared, I am learning how to drive on Japan’s crazy roads. While I am mastering driving on the wrong side of the street, please do enjoy these posts:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions