Naked Dudes and Flat Tires: Wassup!

Naked Dudes and Flat TiresAs I type this, I am sitting in Panera. It is four in the afternoon and I am waiting patiently, in uniform, for the tire repair shop across the street to finish patching my tire. Twenty minutes ago, I drove over a piece of chain-link fence, giving me a very slow leak. The tired tire guy sprayed the hole with Windex where I pulled the piece of chain-link out and indeed the puncture was bubbling.

At the repair shop, a man walked up to me with an excuse me, sir? He then thanked me for me service. In a very heartfelt, humble way. I shook his hand and thanked him with a it’s my honor and privilege.  

And then just ten minutes ago, as I am waiting to cross the street, three Hispanic high school kids chatted me up. Hey, one of them asked,  Army or Navy? He wore rosary beads around his neck and his hair was spiky.

Navy, I replied.

Wassup! he yelled. YELLED. 

I ignored him. Even though one of his buddies talked about joining the Air Force. I’d no time for silliness. I had to get over to Panera to hit my orange juice. And to write this.

As for my title and naked dudes,  I was at my gym this morning, changing into my uniform after a great workout. Someone several lockers away bellowed, excuse me. I ignored him. I did not know anyone at that Encinitas gym. The heavy rains had necessitated that I take different roads to the freeway. So I decided to drive over to the coast. Good thing I belong to a gym with locations all over San Diego.

Soldier! the man insisted.

Naked Dudes and Flat TiresI guess he was talking to me. Yes, I replied turning to a naked dude.

Thanks for doing what you do. And he shook my hand.

Just writing this, makes me shake my head. Naked dudes and flat tires, WASSUP!

Update: I really must thank Evans Tires for doing the job for free! Great Americans, all of them.

Joy in San Diego

Would you believe there is someone in the US with no issues? And she lives in San Diego:

DEAR ABBY: I’m not too tall or too short. I’m not overweight or too thin. I never receive comments about my appearance that cause me to be sensitive. My husband doesn’t drink, abuse me or stray. I have had no problems through the years with family members, neighbors or co-workers. My grown children are thoughtful, considerate and loving. Even my in-laws love me.

So tell me, did you ever receive a letter such as this? — JOY IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR JOY: Not in recent history. And it’s probably because people regard my column as a place to dump their troubles rather than share their many blessings, as you have done today.

If only everyone lived this way. . .

Taylor Swift and Harry Styles in San Diego

I don’t normally post (much) on poppish stories, but the good name of Sandy Eggo has been defamed and I must defend her honor. Tell me what is wrong with this sentence: We all know, every single one of us, from bleak Bangor to sleazy San Diego, that singer Taylor Swift and boy band moppet Harry Styles have split up. Sleazy? How dare you!

Taylor Swift and Harry Styles

Taylor Swift and Harry Styles

The real issue is that Harry Styles’ hair and cranium is 3.14 times that of Taylor Swift’s. Hairy Style indeed. . .

A Navy Ship That Sinks

Have you ever visited the Pisa Tower? It is this tall building that kinds of leans. It’s in Italy and is quite a tourist attraction. What if that leaning tower was a Navy ship
and it could “sink?” Like this:

The Department of the Navy’s Floating Instrument Platform (R:P FLIP)

Scores of scientists have deployed aboard the 355-foot research vessel, owned by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and administered and operated by the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, to conduct investigations in a number of fields, including acoustics, oceanography, meteorology and marine mammal observation.

“FLIP’s unique characteristic of a low-profile, stable observational platform has proven particularly useful over the years,” said Dr. Frank Herr, head of ONR’s Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department.

Hmm, a good science vessel. That sinks. . .

San Diego Electrical Shortages

It should be a heck of an interesting summer. The US Navy has agreed to reduce its electrical use if San Diego gets hit with power shortages:

The Navy is nearing a first-time agreement to reduce electricity use at its sprawling San Diego-area bases, if power runs short in Southern California this summer.

The Navy is San Diego Gas & Electric’s largest customer, and the deal is intended to diminish the threat of blackouts while the San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline.

Under the agreement, the Navy would temporarily reduce its energy consumption if supplies get scarce, in exchange for savings on rates.

For all you movie fans: Yes, San Onofre is featured in the Leslie Nielsen Movie, Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! You, of course, remember which scene. . .

An Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Korea, and Vietnam Vet

United States has many places for retired folks to stroll out their golden years in peace. Presumably, these neighborhoods are cheaper, with available services nearby. If you are retired military, especially Navy or Marine Corps, many of you’all don’t leave San Diego or the Norfolk area.

In my gym this morning, I had three conversations with retired vets. One was a Surface Supply Corps guy who taught at the local high school. He felt embarrassed because even though he had retired many years ago, he asked me if I was in the Marines or the Navy. I smiled and said, Navy, and took it as a compliment. Maybe you Leathernecks might be insulted. Nothing I can do. Blame the Supply Corps and their weak uniform recognition.

The second was a quiet, elderly man. He had been stationed at the ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) base over in Point Loma. You know of it? he asked.

Yes sir, my dentist is over there, I said before leaving him and the locker-room.

And the third veteran was one I had chatted with a couple of times in the past. He looks about 65 years old. Except, he fought in World War II, after enlisting at age 16 in the Marine Corps. I’m 86, he had told me once.

I see him working out on one of the machines as I head toward the door.

Hey sir, save some weights for us, you can’t lift ‘em all!

He laughs. Keeping my weight. I was 123 pounds when I joined up. Not anymore. My rifle and bayonet were way over my head when held to my boot.

Marine Corps, are you not the Department of the Navy? I ask with a wicked grin.

He shoots me a look of miscomprehension, before boxing my arm. I guess so.

How long did you stay in the Marine Corps?

Three wars, he replies. (Not, I retired. Not, I did my hitch. Not, I did twenty years. But, three wars.) World War II, in the Pacific, I was shot twice. Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. Korea, and of course, Vietnam.

I look at my watch. I am late for work, I had lifted weights after cardio. Still, I listen as he continues.  You hear all these guys saying they have PTSD? I had it. We all did. You better not creep up behind me. It’s all part of war. 

How was coming back home?

Different in each one. They offered me a slot at OCS when I was in Korea. I was a Staff Sergeant then. I could sign on as an officer, but I would have returned to Korea.

You still can, we need you!

He laughs. Me and this other guy both got talked to. He took it, and retired a Major. I passed and retired a Sergeant Major. I’m just a guy. A Sergeant. I didn’t have no education. I was happy.

You miss it?

Yes I do.

How was Vietnam?

What you read and what you hear are nothing close to what happened. You know Tet?

Sure.

I was there. Our first day was rough. But after that, we kicked the dog-crap out of the VC. Sixty, Seventy thousand dead. Or more. There was none left for us to fight.

I have always thought you all deserved better when you returned.

Yeah. Maybe. I never got called nothing. No baby-killer. None of that. Maybe it was my look. I would’ve beat the pis out of anyone that did.

Sir, I say. I got to run to work. Thanks for chatting.

He shakes my hand and off I push through the doors out into a San Diego morning. I am late. But it was worth it. I don’t get to speak to heroes like that every day.

Oddly, enlisted Sailor, Marine, Soldier, or Airman is listed as the third-worst job by CareerCast.com to hold. In my eyes, most polls, lists, and surveys reflect bias:

In their annual career survey, an online job bank ranked one of the nation’s toughest, proudest and most critical occupations as the third-worst job to have: sailor.

Sailors stand at attention while manning the rails on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as the ship pulls out of Naval Station Everett, Wash.

In fact, the CareerCast.com survey didn’t appear to appear to distinguish between the services; the category was named “enlisted military soldier,” but the photo accompanying it features four models in Navy uniforms (BDUs, crackerjacks, flight suit and summer whites). Only lumberjack (first place) and dairy farmer (runner-up) edged out enlisted as the worst-of-the-worst. (To be sure, newspaper reporter was not far behind at fifth-worst.)

To any young man or woman considering enlisting, I can tell you that joining the military is the challenge and time of your life. You can take my word for it or I can introduce you to an old Sergeant Major, the kind of man maybe we don’t raise anymore in this country. He’ll tell you, he wants back in. . .

In the Emergency Room

I am sitting in an Emergency Room in San Diego, California. A (civilian) friend is having a serious eye issue and I drove her here. Every time I go to the hospital (which is thankfully rare), I am reminded how glad I am that I did not become a doctor. I was Pre-Med in college, but found the health-care field cringe-inducing as a profession.

I am not a particularly sympathetic person. I am not the opposite either, but I am adamant that one must take care of oneself. Preventative maintenance is key. I’ve already seen two morbidly obese people in the short hour here I’ve sat blogging away. Do they have insurance? Are we going to be punished for their lack of taking care of themselves? I’ve already pt’d today, it is not hard. Why are they not exercising? If they can’t pay their bill, does it get passed on to the tax-payers? Are we losing personal responsibility in this country? A hundred years ago, did we have this many people who were over 400 pounds?

That is all. An emergency room rant. God bless everyone here. May I never return. . .

Aptera, A Car Company 10 Miles From My House, Goes Out of Business

Aptera, 3-Wheeled Electric Car from Carlsbad, California

Not more than 10 miles from my house, down a road near the Target I shop at, sits a car company that manufactures electric cars.

I don’t live in Detroit, but San Diego and the automobile company is known as Aptera. Perhaps I should amend that last sentence to read, the automobile company was known as Aptera before they went belly up:

Electric car maker Aptera has officially shut its doors, according to a letter from president and CEO Paul Wilbur (the letter is published in full onThe Chronicle’s blog). The company is “out of resources,” writes Wilbur, after spending years developing three-wheeled and four-wheeled versions of its all-electric unusual tear-drop shaped car.

Too bad. The design looked interesting. I am not a fan of electric cars. You can’t hear them. They are odd to drive; I kept thinking I had stalled when I had driven one. But still, I like to see local businesses succeed and for Aptera to shutter their doors has to hurt us. No less an authority than Popular Mechanics trumpeted the Aptera in 2007:

An Aptera electric car in San Francisco, California

This week we visited Aptera’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., and became the very first outside of the company to hit the street in the Typ-1 e. And, as you can see from the video of our 20-mile test drive above, we’re impressed.

Aptera has two innovative models that are almost production-ready at $30,000 and below: for next year, the all-electric, 120-mile-range Typ-1 e that we drove; and, by 2009, the range-extended series gasoline Typ-1 h, which Aptera says will hit 300 mpg. A more conventional third model, called “Project X” or perhaps Typ-2, is now in the design phase, with plans for a four-wheeled chassis and seating up for to five passengers.

The car looked solid, perhaps somehow the business or production side got garbled. Back in 2009, they appeared to be on the path to possible success, despite lags in production:

The Trunk of an Aptera

Aptera plans to start production by the fourth quarter and says the car will have a list price between $25,000 and “the low 40s.” Something more specific will be nailed down once the company gets closer to the launch date, Wilbur says. As for what it’ll cost to drive, Wilbur says you’re looking at about a 1.5 cents a mile.

Wilbur says 3,500 people have placed $500 deposits for a car, which will be offered only in California to start. Florida and Texas are next on the list, with a national rollout to follow in late 2010 or early 2011.

The Aptera will be built in Southern California, and Wilbur says the factory will be able to turn out 20,000 cars a year.

1948 Tucker Sedan

The Aptera will remain a footnote in automobile history like the DeLorean and the Tucker, both beautiful cars in their own right.

DeLorean (DMC)

Interestingly enough, if you click on the DeLorean link above, it appears that the old DMC is still outfitting cars with refurbished or reproduction parts. Where is Doc Brown from Back to the Future? 1.21 Giga Watts!

Each of those glorious machines actually made it past the prototype phase and onto the showroom floor. The same can’t be said for my hometown Aptera. Would you have driven one?

Where Is a Seaman Recruit When You Need One?

It’s a windy San Diego afternoon.

Our base is not right on the harbor, but is a seagull’s glide in. I am running through my email, trying to empty my inbox which has resisted for the whole week.

Um sir, can you help me out with something? my Senior Chief asks.

Sure, Senior. Whatcha’ got?

We have to fly a flag for what’s-his-name. The guy who is retiring.

I make a face, but follow her outside. Is two of us going to be enough? I ask.

No, I got the other Senior Chief helping us out. 

Do you know what to do? Last time I did this, I was an E-5.

I printed something out. And the other Senior will know. You know him.

I nod and trek with her across base. The other Senior just got off a ship. A big-deck. And he is a Sailor’s Sailor. All salt. He is waiting for us in front of his building.

Senior, I say and he replies with a Sir.

We tromp over to the flagpole. The wind threatens to shoplift my garrison cover.

You’ve done this a lot, I bet, I tell the new Senior.

Not really, my guys always did it. The flag-rope whips loudly against the pole. We exchange looks with each other.

Okay, so I am going to lower the flag and you all can bunch it up when it comes down. And hold it while I run up our flag. Okay? my Senior asks.

Let’s do it, I reply. And I square up and stand at attention next to the new Senior. Cussing to herself and then louder, to us, my Senior struggles to untie the rope. I peer out the corner of my eye to the Senior next to me. He is saluting, so I pop one off myself. And hold it. Finally, the rope comes free and Senior begins to lower it. She is back to swearing.

I don’t think I can hold this, my Senior hisses.

Trade spots, I say, hoping no one is watching us.

My Senior nervously laughs as I brush past her. We look ridiculous, she says, steadying her salute.

No, we look fine. People do this all the time. The secret is to look Navy-ish, I say to her, but also to myself.

Finally, the flag dips within arm’s grasp and the Seniors grab great big fistfuls of red, white, and blue. We clip on the retiree’s flag. It is tiny and looks silly as I run it up. The official Navy guide (the Bluejacket’s Manual) advises to raise it smartly and to lower it ceremoniously. Or is it the other way around?

I salute for a moment and then lower the little one and return the big flag to its original place. The two Seniors wrestle with the new pennant, trying to fold a perfect triangle. But they give up.

Let’s just get it inside, I suggest.

Let’s just get us inside, my Senior says.

Where is a Seaman Recruit when you need one? I add. Who can raise and lower a flag flawlessly?

Squeezin’ 9s: the Sig Sauer Pistol Versus the Heckler and Koch Handgun

Gun Store, Las Vegas, Want to Rent a Machine Gun? Go Here

The Gun Store is located 3.5 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip. Just past the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

It holds the distinction, among indoor gun ranges, as having one of the largest varieties of machine guns and exotic weapons available for customers to shoot.

Some gun experts turn up their noses at the Gun Store, due to its high price and its gimmicky nature. As well as its Hollywood feel, as displayed in its advertising. But they truly have a great selection of boom-sticks and hand-cannons.

What exactly do they offer? Click on the picture:

The Gun Store, Las Vegas, Gun Rentals

So on my trip to Vegas this last week, we ducked into the Gun Store with the intention of getting one of the gun packages, a variety of handguns and machine guns. Was it expensive? Yes. Very. Look at the prices. But my friend had never shot and I wanted to give her a good introduction.

The Gun Store Indoor RangeThe Gun Store Indoor Range

Bad news, the wait was more than 1.5 hours. The line circled outside the door.

So we went into the back, where the Gun Store sold its merchandise. I  told one of the employees that I was active-duty and asked if he could show my friend some of the handguns. For her to handle and learn weight and fit.

Ed, the employee at the Gun Store, was great. He ran us through 10 guns or so. From Sigs to Springfields. He even let my friend heft the Benelli shotgun. What a beast! To rack that shotgun dry is entertaining in itself.

Iron Sights, Oceanside Ca

We left the Gun Store with a rain-check on completing the shooting experience. Hardly two days passed before we decided to cash in that rain-check. Iron Sights in Oceanside was the scene of our shootout.

We selected two 9 mils, the Sig Sauer P239 and the Heckler and Koch P2000.

Why 9s? My friend liked how the FNP-9 felt in terms of size and grip. But Iron Sights did not rent that handgun. They did, however, carry the Sig Arms and the H&K.

So with 8 targets (including two zombie, pumpkin-heads) and 200 rounds, we padded around to the indoor range. We had eyes and ears on (eye protection and hearing protection. Safety is always a must.)

Heckler and Koch 9 Mil

We shot the P2000 (H&K) first. It had a very long trigger pull. The weird mag release, just under the trigger guard, gave me problems in execution several times.

It was very comfortable in my hand. And the shooting was very smooth. The mag used the double-stacked method, in that the bullets were offset or staggered. It reminded me of a mid-range Mercedes, not that I have any experience with a such a vehicle.

Unfortunately, I had four jams, including one stove-pipe. (Where a bullet jammed in the chamber, preventing the slide from sliding.) And a couple of times, the rack did not slide back after the mag was complete. This could have been user error. Which has been known to happen.

Sig Sauer 9 Mil

The Sig Sauer. Always one of my favorite brands. It had less distance between the grips and the trigger. Which fit my friend’s smaller hand, but not mine. Still, the trigger had less travel. And I never had a jam.

Also, its mag was a single-stack and could only hold 8 rounds. The mag release, a round button on the forward part of the grip, was far easier to use than the Heckler’s. I had a much easier time grouping my shots with this weapon.

Conclusion: Shooting at Iron Sights was a blast. Next time: some bigger calibers and some smaller ones too. I feel like a hungry man at Soup Plantation. On the buffet line. With two empty plates. And a growly stomach.

NCAA Basketball on the USS Carl Vinson: What Are the Sailors Saying?

San Diego is supposed to host the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson this Friday, the 11th of November, at 4 p.m. PT (11/11/11.) The NCAA basketball game features North Carolina and Michigan State and will be played outside, on the flight deck. President Obama is even rumored to be attending. One tiny problemo: rain.

From the weather experts over at the Military Times:

The first college basketball game to ever be played on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier will happen on Friday.

Well, maybe not.

MSU Camouflage Uniform in Army colors

A storm could hit San Diego on game day, which would force the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic to be played in the Carl Vinson’s hangar deck. Weather.com says there’s a 50 percent chance of rain on Friday, and they’re also saying that the high temperature will be 62 degrees.

Making things even worse for the players, there’s also supposed to be 10mph winds that could gust to significantly higher speeds.

Surely this can’t be a surprise to those who scheduled this game. November weather in San Diego is as unpredictable as a Sailor on liberty in Thailand. (Or perhaps a Sailor on Thai liberty is highly predictable?)

San Diego’s Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, USS Carl Vinson

So the back-up site is the hangar deck. Of course, the’ll have to clear out any flying machines present, those big brids that soar through the sky, flown by Sailors with Wings of Gold. Moving indoors will cut the seating in half. Being the Navy and all, we are planning contingencies and getting the alternative space ready:

Hangar Deck, USS Carl Vinson, Bad Weather Site

One of the seniors playing for the MSU Spartans has a brother in the Marine Corps. And Corps bro is going to watch hoops bro throw down:

A special reunion will take place onboard the USS Carl Vinson at Friday’s NCAA Carrier Classic basketball game when a local Marine will watch his brother play.

After finishing training in North Carolina, Marine 2nd Lt. Thomas Thornton – who was commissioned last summer – has arrived at Camp Pendleton for his assignment and also just in time for a big game.

Michigan State Uniform, Carrier Classic, USS Vinson

As for the uniform, it looks to be a special edition. Nevermind that the Spartans’ camouflage looks like the Army’s. About the baggy threads, the MSU coach has this to say:

”I think the uniforms are pretty cool,” Spartans head coach Tom Izzo said in a Monday release on MSUSpartans.com

“They definitely put the spotlight on our military and that’s what this is for.”

No player names will appear on the back of the jerseys, instead being replaced by “U.S.A.” above uniform numbers.

But the big question remains: what do the local Sailors think? Months prior, it seemed an impossibility. When I raised the issue, people first assumed I was joking. Now that it is happening in mere days, weather is the main concern. And the hangar is a big step-down from the outside option.

Don’t pray for rain. Pray for temperate weather. If it is played on the flight deck, the first half will be in the waning daylight and the second will be in the dark, under the night lights. Go Navy! Beat the weather! (And Army. . .)

Gisele Bundchen, Mrs. Tom Brady, Tricks Her Son

I am roaring northward on the mighty 15 Freeway in San Diego. The nasally one, Mark Levin, drones from the radio, eviscerating some poor schlob from Vermont.

I pass a car plastered with bumper stickers. It is disease this, reading bumper stickers, and I got the fever. One catches my attention. It says something along the lines of:

If animals could speak English, you would not eat them!

I turn Levin down. Light, his show is not. And I think, is this true? That speech-enabled animals would turn me away from my a-gnawing habit of lunching on them?

And what if I did not speak English? Does the Russian shrug off the New Yawkah cow who warns him: hey, yous hold it right there, mistah! Would not the uncomprehending Russian just sip his vodka mouthwash and go about his business?

Of course, if the bovinely, four-stomached* one uttered: Эй мудак, посмотреть его, in a grassy, Siberian-accented drawl, than perhaps the message would be received.

Ever my friend, Google, had a veritable buffet of vegan links speaking to this issue, of animals having the ability to talk. Over 3 million drooly posts.

Funny forum responses to this question: Yeah and what if your corn and arugula could speak? Shut up pig (shotgun blast)!

No one was swayed by this logic. That if our t-bone once quoted Goethe, we would stop eating meat. . .

Shall we review some other interesting grub-related stories of the week? I say yes! (Imagine this bumper sticker: If a blogger can write in tasty English, would you dine on his writing?)

Gisele Bundchen, Billionaire Broccoli Lover

Mrs. Tom Brady herself, Gisele Bundchen, had this to say about her son:

My children, they are like white canvases. When Benjamin eats broccoli, he thinks it’s dessert!

It is clear that this Patriot supermodel has her psyops down. Although easily tricked, little Benny Brady has got some good genes.

My hope for him is that he is able to read prevent defenses and can throw a tight spiral 60 yards downfield. But knowing how wacky this world is, perhaps he will grow up reading audiences from catwalks and throwing parties for androgynous wo-mannequins.

Last question for the billionaire Gazelle Gisele: why did she not adopt the last name of her pass-happy (in football-lingo only) husband? Does not Gisele Brady have a nice ring to it? I think so. Or is it too Brady Bunch? Or Brady Bundchen? She had better be careful about having too many kids. Her life may come to resemble a television show. The Bundchen Munchkins.

Have you heard about this restaurant in Germany that caters to cavemen, cavewomen, and cavekids? Here is the meat:

No cheese, bread or sugar are available at a recently opened Berlin eatery.

In fact, guests are served dishes made only of ingredients that would have been available to their hunter-gatherer ancestors.

The Stone Age fare is prepared by adherents of the Paleolithic movement, who say their restaurant is the first of its kind in Europe.

The restaurant menu shows a stereotypical image of modern humanity’s forbearer, the jutting profile of a hirsute caveman.

Inside, diners eat at candle-lit tables with a contemporary cave painting hanging in the background.

MesSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, GEICO caveman

These hints aside, Berlin’s Sauvage restaurant looks similar to many of the German capital’s other trendy eateries.

But the chalkboard out front announcing a “Real Food Revolution — Paleolithic Cuisine!” alerts diners to the fact that their Stone Age menu might offer up some surprises.

Alright, I gotta run. I got a cheeseburger with my name on it. Notice I did not say: I have a cheeseburger saying my name. . .

* I stand corrected: Per cow-likipedia: Cattle have one stomach with four compartments. They are the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment. (Readers: do you not find it oddly comforting that the largest compartment is named rumen?)