Switching Breeds from Golden Retriever to Bulldog

golden retriever
Hi! How I saw myself.

Several months ago, a Senior Chief who worked in my office left her billet early to pick up a job at a nearby command. It worked out well for her, the rumor that we hear is that she is possibly, maybe going to pick up Master Chief in May. (Crossed fingers, knock on wood, all that!)

The challenge with her leaving is that her job at work was going to be left unfilled until her replacement comes in next month. In true Navy fashion, I was thrust into the position. I expected and read the blue tea leaves long before I was bequeathed the vaunted titled. It is a common military solution. Once the breach has been breached, we stuff another body into it. There is never any reason to argue and I went about her (and suddenly my) job with cheerfulness.

For two months, I was more than capable. I cleared what needed to be cleared and called who needed to be called. I had a boo-boo or two, nothing serious, all growing pains. I made my apologies to those who needed them and continued along with my duties, all the while working my other job too. It was a big serving of Navy fun, but I love to be busy and dread the opposite. I feel lost without anything to do. And mostly, I want to leave work if I am not there to work. You can contrast this with folks who actually do no work, but who spend TEN hours at the place. That tells me that they hate being home.

A month ago, my boss, the Captain, threw out a line at the end of our meeting that was either a throw-away or an utterly brilliant trick to motivate me. He complimented us, me in particular, on the way we were bulldogging the job. I forget the exact word he used, so being the word-lover and canine-buddy that I am, I am substituting bulldogging. The thing was: I felt like I was Golden Retrievering it. I was happy and pleasant and efficient in my duties. Sure, I piddled on the rug once or twice, but I apologized. Truly, I was in no way a tenacious Bulldog. I was a friendly Golden, merrily going about my work. If a tennis ball got lost in the shrubs, ah, what gives!?! I was a go-lucky Retriever.

Grrrrrrr. How my boss saw me.

But my Captain, in calling me by my wrong breed, made me feel like a fraud. And this is a very uncomfortable kennel to be jammed into. I pondered it for two days, had a furry identity crisis, and to solve it, I became a bulldog! Only because he had placed esteem in me I do not believe I had earned. Does this sound insane? It may be, but I am glad to report I am now a Bulldog and I just found all the tennis balls I had lap-dog-sically allowed to stay hidden in the ficus. Good luck prying them from my jaws!

Rrrrrrrrrrr! Smart owner, my Captain.

Brian Rice, Navy Sailor

Brian Rice, Geneva University
Brian Rice

I love this, that Brian Rice spent 24.5 years in the Navy as an IT Senior Chief (ITCS) and now he is playing college basketball at NCAA Division III Geneva College Golden Tornadoes.

I am guessing Brian is a Senior Chief, because High-Year-Tenure, HYT, for a Chief is 24 years. And he did more time than that. Of course, he could’ve been a Master Chief, but writers usually would think to include that. Still, getting to Senior Chief is a heckuva career. Go Golden Tomatoes Tornadoes! (Dayum, now what is that all about? I throw down a nice write-up ’bout the Senior Chief and now I gotta do his team like that. I’ll go extra hard in tomorrow’s zero five (0500) pt. I owe the Golden Tornadoes that much!)

John Wayne, the Green Berets, and Generation Z

The Military Channel has a special called An Officer and a Movie. And I just watched one of the current features, The Green Berets, starring John Wayne. Guess what car popped up? You bet, the world’s most beautiful car, none other than the Citroen DS:

The movie “Green Berets” with John Wayne and a Citroen DS

Joining Lou Diamond Phillips, the host, was Green Beret Major Rusty Bradley, a veteran of 5 tours in Afghanistan. He speaks of his admiration for current and past Green Berets. 

As for the movie, I’d never seen it. And the fact that it was put out in 1968 speaks volumes about John Wayne. Of course, the other actors pale in comparison to the Duke, but Bruce Cabot’s Colonel tricked me. I just imagined the casting director grabbed some grizzled Colonel to cameo the role.

Aldo Ray was good as Sergeant Muldoon. Bet you did not know Mr. Ray was both a frogman (SEAL) and a Berkeley grad: Aldo DaRe was born in the borough of Pen Argyl, in Northampton County, Pennsylvania on 25 September 1926. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, served as a US Navy frogman during WWII and saw action on Iwo Jima. You know what this means, right? Jokes about Berkeley grads will no longer be tolerated.

I work with a Senior Chief and she mentioned that her son, all of nine years old, is a John Wayne fan. Yes, Senior is married to a Master Chief, but has done nothing to encourage the young American to pursue his cinematic hero. This fact alone has given me faith in the world. Carry on, Generation Z. . .

Me Talking to a Senior Chief

Yogi Peach Detox Tea

I am slowly creeping away from coffee and into the warm embrace of tea. It is tough to quantify, but I feel better all hopped-up on tea leaves, rather than my usual java. My latest find, Yogi Detox Tea, a peach-flavored ambrosia good for the liver and kidneys.

It is, rather unfortunately, odd tasting. Resembling the googly-eyed stepchild of wallpaper glue and a gallon (or 3.8 liters for all you over there) of peach juice. Not that I have any experience with bulkhead pastes.

As such, I turn to the Senior Chief who sits next to me and offer her a bag. It’ll help you kick the heroin habit. See, it is detox!

She frowns.

Wait, you are the ADCO, the command’s Navy Alcohol and Drug Control Officer, right?

She nods.

Belay my last. . . Perhaps that was not as funny as I imagined it to be. . .

Fourteen tea-bags left after Senior wisely avoided my jettison. If you live in San Diego, holler at me. I got some delicious, healthy tea for you. Free to good home. (And trust me, your home is good.) It reminds me of a Georgia peach infused with something exotic. Something beyond description. Did I mention it was free?

My Senior Chief gives me the Heisman

* Please note that I did not title this phlegm-inducer Me Talking to My Senior Chief. There is one of you out there, who visits every now and then and with whom I argue. About exactly whose Senior Chief she is.

She is my Senior Chief, I once said.

Hell no, she is my Senior Chief, you replied, all huffily. . .

Well today, I give up. She is your Senior Chief. After all, she gave me the Heisman on my Yogi Tea.

A Rank Mess

Rank is not hard, you go up or you lose stripes. Or you stagnate at your current position. What does not happen is what occurred to Colm Meany’s character, Senior Chief Miles O’Brien, in Star Trek:

Colm Meany, Senior Chief Miles O’Brien, Star Trek

His role and rank in the Star Trek series took several years to evolve. Beginning as a crewman in “The Next Generation”, the character of Miles O’Brien then graduated to the transporter room and was briefly a Lieutenant before being made a Chief Petty Officer thus joining one of the very few recurring enlisted roles in Star Trek (Mr. Leslie and Yeoman Rand being two others from the originial series).

Transferring to “Deep Space Nine” in 1993, the O’Brien character mutated the first two seasons between a Warrant Officer and an “Ensign Junior Grade” before again becoming enlisted as a Senior Chief Petty Officer around the fourth season. In the last seasons of Deep Space Nine, the rank of Senior Chief was once and for all confirmed and O’Brien became the first ever Star Trek enlisted character to be given an enlisted rank insignia collar pin.

What a wreck! A Star Wreck. . .

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?

What Not To Do Around Your Admiral

One of the joys of a semi-anonymous blog: I can share the following story. Of a near catastrophe I almost caused around our Admiral.

Rear Admiral (Upper Half)

But the Navy brought me up right. I learned me some of ‘dem fancypant manners at OCS. And if there is one thing I know about being a gentleman, we should not jump right into the entree, without first traipsing through the lesser courses.

Let’s start with a brief sidebar, a little Navy hors d’oeuvres: a 2-Star Admiral is referred to as a Rear Admiral (Upper Half) and is abbreviated RADM. While a 1-Star is a Rear Admiral (Lower Half) and written as RDML. Three quick appetizers from the genius wikkans from wiki-land:

1. The uniformed services of the United States are unique in having two grades of rear admirals.

2. U.S. Code of law explicitly limits the total number of flag officers that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active duty flag officers is capped at 160 for the Navy.

3. By tradition in the United States Navy, when an officer is selected or appointed to flag rank all current Navy flag officers write the selectee a letter congratulating him or her for attaining flag officer status.

Why am I throwing out random, admirable facts? If it were not already obvious, I have a near train-wreck to recount. And the said accident is of my own doing. And I am stalling. For time. As in: trying to buy some. You rolling your eyes at me? Alright, let’s get right to it.

It is in the afternoon. Lunch has been had and I am walking across base. My Senior Chief and I are heading off to some briefing, the topic which long ago escaped me. Perhaps: alcohol awareness (ie: remembering where you stashed your Schlitz.) Or maybe: suicidal signs (which may push me towards that option, should I have to sit through another training on it.)

Black Navy Pump

My Senior Chief is a female and she wears pumps. (Ladies: I think that is the correct term, right? The dress heeled shoe? How did y’all come to call them pumps anyway?) When she clomps down our cement hallways, she is like a drummer-girl. You always know far in advance when she is about to arrive. Her pumps rat-ta-ta-tat in front of her minutes before she does.

The wide corridor is nearly deserted. I duck into the head while Senior runs back to her desk to grab her forgotten notes. (The head is the restroom, the latrine for all you ground doggies.) Senior’s heels echo from way down and I decide to surprise her as they get closer. I dry my hands and wait inside the doorway.

Grover: Hi Senior Chief!

My genius plan? To stick my head out sideways and in my best Grover voice (of Sesame Street infame) say: Hi Senior!

Before you grumble anything about propriety and the uniform, know that I am super-serious about most Navy matters. And the unique nature of our job, in that we have very few junior Sailors around, has brought me and Senior closer together than might normally be the case. Do I need any more excuses for my impending Thomas J. Foolery?

I am standing in the doorway, cuing up my Grover voice. His is a very throaty accent and I roll my tonsils out like a baker, revving them up. Something, some tiny filter, reminds me that I am a Lieutenant, not an Ensign anymore. And I don’t say anything. I actually hold back, stepping mutely out into the hallway.

Guess who marches by, in serious chatter with a Captain? Our Two-Star. He shoots me a quick, stern look. I greet him. Good Afternoon, Admiral. 

Afternoon, he replies, continuing on. He knows me. I have been in his office a couple of times. Not for any infractions mind you, just Navy things. Also, he pinned me when I got my warfare device.

Senior clatters up, fifteen feet behind them, her shoes echoing unabashedly. Senior, I have a hell of story to tell you, I begin.

There you have it. My almost train-wreck.

Let’s stick with the topic of Navy brass. Our new Chief of Naval Operations recently put out a video clip titled: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert’s first message to the fleet.

The CNO, Admiral Greenert, with Jimmy Buffet

In my eyes, he was solid in his address. (Obviously, I would not say anything if I thought otherwise.) He comes across as real. And earnest, rather than pre-packaged.

It also does not hurt when a contractor, an old sub guy, tells me him and the CNO were LTs together sometime during the last century. Anyone who was once an el-tee is alright in my book.

I can say more on his delivery, his content, his demeanor, but I will let the salty YouTube commenters (with whom I may/may not agree with) have the last hurrah:

huskie767 said: Why do all commissioned naval officers go out of their way to insert the word “diversity” into their remarks? What does diversity have to do with anything? You don’t win wars because you have a black, white, yellow, green or gay person on your team. You win because the best are being the best. As CNO, Greenert should know that. I wonder why he suggest otherwise?

Admiral Greenert, New CNO, Old Sub Guy

Ak74fu2000 said: MILITARY QUOTE OF THE DAY:”When I joined it was illegal to be gay, then it was legal, but you couldn’t talk about it. Now it’s legal. I’m getting the hell out before it’s mandatory!

RickRMiller said: Bravo Zulu, sir! I really appreciate the fact that you state clearly that ours is a fighting navy.