When I went through Navy OCS in Pensacola, there were two sand pits called the Rose Garden and the SUYA (sand up yer. . .) One irritating thing I noticed while doing pushups in the SUYA- there were also stray cats on base. And kitties take to sand like bloggers take to mocking Anthony Weiner. It’s a target rich environment. Which brings me to this:
While many cities are working to curb feral cat populations through spay-and-neuter programs, there’s one place where cat numbers continue to grow and the locals encourage it.
Tashiro-jima is a small island in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, that’s home to more catsthan people. Better known as “Cat Island,” it has about 100 permanent residents – most of whom are over 65 years of age – and hundreds and hundreds of cats.
During the 1800s, Tashiro-jima was popular with fisherman who would stay on the island overnight. The cats would follow them to the inns and beg for scraps, and over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and began interpreting their actions as predictions about weather and fish patterns.
They believed that feeding the cats would bring them wealth and fortune, a belief that continues today.
When I went through Officer Candidate School (OCS), I refused to let myself think of failure. Since I was enlisted before I arrived, I would have returned to my enlisted community if I had gotten kicked out. And then my detailer would have his way with me. Any “hot-fills” he had trouble filling would of been mine for the involuntary taking. Here is the story of Greg Fisk,an Officer Candidate who did not make it. He lasted less than a week. And while I went through OCS in Pensacola, he was at the new OCS in Newport, Rhode Island. Not an impressive showing, but he was honest with his retelling of the experience. You gotta want it. . .
I’ve gone through Navy Boot Camp and OCS. During both, I had my hair cut many times. And at each, the clippers were a little dull. I felt like a chicken being plucked. Not that I cackled or crowed, but rather, I cooed gently to myself.
What if they had some device, like a robot, that could barber the recruits? They may soon:
The drastic change of image that comes with having your head shaved is scary enough – but one man doubled the terror by letting a robot do the job for him.
The robot was a Multi-Arm UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) from U.S company Intelligent Automation (IA) in Maryland – and is usually deployed to tackle IEDs, check backpacks for bombs and breach doors.
Officer Candidate School, Pensacola. I sit in my rack, my bed, listening to the early Florida morning. Soon, the drill instructors will arrive. I know — I heard the gouge from years past. My eyes close, but refuse to let me sleep.
I slip from the lower bunk to the floor. Grabbing my new Bible, I pad out of Squad Bay to the bathroom. It is 0345 (3:45 in the morning) and I expect bedlam in two hours or so. The lights in the head are blindingly loud. I squint through their pinch and nod at a guy shaving over the sink. He is a Naval Flight Officer wanna-be; we had emailed confidently before OCS. Now we have nothing to say. Because we said it all. Nothing left but the hollering and execution. We are both prior enlisted, but he looks already tired. Really, he is just resigned to our fate. Unlike me, who stupidly can’t resign.
I lean on the windowsill and rifle through the pages of the stiff Bible. It seems to know me, this new book. It senses I need a crutch and won’t play easy. The coy sheets flip closed after I press them open. It stares up at me mutely, to ask if there is some mistake. I plow through whole sections. Looking for that piece, peace to hold on to.