Impossible to implement

All this hulabaloo over DACA, immigration, and healthcare.  Most of us are very charitable and supportive people.  Our blood has been shed the world over to help unfortunate peoples have a chance to improve their lot.   But some here go too far.  The noisiest protests come from noise-makers: media, celebrities, lobbyists, and unemployable hangers-on; from the insincere: the uber-wealthy political-influence peddlers who may send a few shoes but  demand “action” from Government (while they profit from their pocket-politicians) ;  and the machiavellian: professional politicians who manipulate the public and government for their own purposes.

A simple proposition.  Everyone (including the influence-peddler and politician alike) who opposes American nationalism, opposes U.S. state and national laws being enforced, and opposes citizens’ -only rights for citizens – our citizens and not contrived citizenship,  I would ask YOU to (contractually) sponsor one or more “guests” within our borders. In perpetuity.

Exchange your citizenship for your sponsorship of an illegal guest.  If they act criminally, you take their punishment.  If they are illiterate or unskilled, you teach them.  If they have medical conditions, you pay for their care.  Do not demand that others who are already charitable to the less-fortunate, be forced to support the non-citizen and the civilly disobedient, demand we comply when you change the rules of the game, and demand the lawful bend to the unlawful.  Otherwise, the hell you create here is no better than the purported hell our “guests” left.

Examining Collisions at Sea, Part II

via U.S. Naval Institute, Proceedings Magazine 

CAPT. Eyer’s (USN, Retired) insight is recommended reading for Navy veterans and military professionals about failures throughout the organizational structure.   It is not the “stand-down”  and the bandaid as the Navy rushes in to fix this that is required.  It should be long-term, lasting institutional changes.  How many times will the services go through loss of life, damage and loss of equipment, scandals and loss of prestige?   When politicians and bureaucrats at the highest levels wanted to adapt corporate practices, social experimentation, and project power with unclear objectives, the military culture suffers.

Examining Collisions at Sea

Via the Naval Institute’s Proceedings. Article by Capt. Kevin Eyer, U.S. Navy (Retired)

In the past two months, two major U.S. warships have collided with merchant vessels. In both cases, lives were lost; personnel were injured; and ships sustained major damages. In both cases, the Navy assigned teams to determine the causes of the accidents.

In theory, these investigations are undertaken to determine what errors were made, by whom, and whether any conclusions or lessons learned might be drawn that would allow for similar disasters to be avoided in the future. While the intent of these investigations is plain—determining the raw material of facts and recommending the assignments of guilt—the question is whether they will produce anything else useful

Part I.   Recommended reading for Navy veterans and military professionals about failures throughout the organizational structure.   It is not the “stand-down”  and the bandaid the Navy rushes in to fix this.  It is long-term, lasting changes.  How many times will the services go through loss of life, damage and loss of equipment, scandals and loss of prestige.   When politicians and bureaucrats at the highest levels wanted to adapt corporate practices, social experimentation, and project power with unclear objectives, the military culture suffers.

In the Navy, anything that causes loss of life, damage or destruction of multi-million dollar systems, or negative public opinion will get reviewed by a Board of Inquiry.  This is a first part of a sobering view of military culture, scandals, and the nature of the bureaucracy to not examine too deeply for root causes.


this land (and sea)

In pre-war (WWII) Northern Ireland, the businesses that my grandfather inherited and ran made a sufficient income to have a generally comfortable middle class living;  in the post-war economy, those businesses collapsed and they were forced to emigrate, with little option but to start over.  My grandfather found work selling insurance and wanted his daughters to work as bookkeepers or in such work.   Mom applied, was accepted, and ultimately graduated at the top of her nursing class at Mount Sinai Hospital.

My father, son of a Polish immigrant, was born and grew up in the Bronx;  he excelled in school and ultimately pursued aerospace and mechanical engineering at college.  His, too, was an act of desperation.  My grandfather was a shipfitter at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII.  He and my grandmother ran a small bakery for a time.  When my grandmother passed away relatively young – my grandfather was a restaurant -equipment repairman.   My dad had to excel in a profession to make his way.

Life was always complicated in America.  It went through successive struggles of growth, industrial expansion, war, and immigration open to the world.  Through the centuries, Dutch, English, German, Irish, Italian, and eastern Europeans (Slavs) arrived from the East.  Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and all over came via the West.   They came as Protestant, Catholic, Jew.  The came as indentured servants, slaves and refugees.  African-Americans after the Civil War spread out from the South to the  urban Mid-West and Northeast.  Before the influx of immigrants from the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia, life was quite complicated,  and particularly so after a World War.  The Cold War, Viet Nam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have colored the last 75 years of the American psyche.

It was no less complicated since the 1960s.  In my lifetime, I have personally practiced in elementary school for impending nuclear attack.  I heard the unusual reports of someone in high school bringing a firearm.   Metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs in schools and public places.  School mass-shootings.   A President in office while an Islamist revolution held American diplomats hostage for more than a year.  The first World Trade Center bombing.  September 11, 2001, in which a mentor and friend was murdered by terrorists using a commercial aircraft as a weapon.

The late Woodie Guthrie, folk singer, wrote a song that we sang as schoolchildren in California in the 1960s.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

where are the peacemakers?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.    (NIV) Matthew 5:9

As a younger ( admittedly, I was thirty-one years old) Sailor, I had brushes with questionable people and groups.  In Pensacola, Florida since I was trained in the use of various firearms and owned a few different weapons,  I had on occasion gone to a shooting range in the rural red-clay part of Escambia county.  One Saturday, I came home  to a message on my answering machine inviting me to join the Klan!  I never responded. It wasn’t something you mocked in person.  I presumed they got my home phone (this was long before cell phones) from the sign-in sheet at the range.   On one occasion,  when a black community group – I’m assuming a church group – would picnic in a local park,  I would notice a couple of large pickup trucks with very ‘white’ occupants  would cruise by slowly.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. John F. Kennedy

With the whole country worked up into a frenzy over Trump, cultural identity, destruction of historical places, names and monuments, and social media,  I have to confess I have never been ashamed of my race, ethnicity, education, religion, gender, sexuality nor veteran status.   In the last forty years, I have been a card-carrying member of several national organizations: the Navy,  the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW),  Fleet Reserve Association (FRA),  National Cryptologic Veterans Association (NCVA), Tin Can Sailors, the Navy Memorial Association, and  the American Legion.

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.   Abraham Lincoln

I can only speak specifically to my experience over forty years in the military and industry, that the least tolerant of different opinions, least skilled in critical thinking, and least appreciative of the benefits and blessings of the United States, are generally the ones raised and taught by non-veterans.  I served with and was mentored by some of the most professional, inspiring, and capable leaders, female and male,  black, hispanic, asian, and white.  I would march into hell itself with these role models leading me.  When there needs to be leadership, from the local school board, up to and including the White House, the military-trained leader needs to step up.

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. Harry S Truman

***  5, U.S.C. 3331 codified in 1868, that all Federal employees take an oath to work within the bounds of the Constitution, to support the government and not to circumvent it.  It was part of the healing process to re-unite the defeated Confederacy.   Part of the oath states support for the Constitution and to oppose all enemies, “foreign and domestic”.

why ships are “she”

There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea. Joseph Conrad

In February 1992,  at age 32, my personal life in shambles ( an estranged wife with mental illness, and crushing debt were the big issues),  I received orders to the USS TEXAS (CGN-39), a nuclear powered guided missile cruiser homeported in Alameda, California – across the bay from San Francisco.  I drove out from Florida by myself.   Arriving at the bottom of the brow,  I was ready and excited to begin my first period of “sea duty”.    I was reporting as one of three technicians, supporting the communications and  RF surveillance systems – which I had just spent half a year learning.  Looking back today, the electronics and the computer control – running octal code!  – were less complex than the average electronic toy today.    But in 1992,  few people owned a personal computer, and maybe the well-heeled might have a “car phone”  — bulky device, with bag, battery and a cigarette lighter socket charger.

The duties I was assigned – as the newbie out of school – were general.  I was already being called “grandpa” since I was nearly six or seven years older than the senior tech in our workcenter.  As the new guy,  I was put in a harness to go aloft.   (The harness came with a “ball-buster”, so-called  because of the mechanical brake used as a safety line for ascending and descending the mast — if you disconnected without thinking, a few pounds of metal would swing away and crash into your groin! )

Capt Neal Brennan commends me

For a guy that wasn’t all that fond of heights – I had been rappelling mountains in Virginia to end that timidity climbing a hundred feet up above the water pierside was my “welcome”.    Of course, the lamp at the top of the mast, attached to our TACINTEL antenna had no need to be changed.   But the gentle sway was calming, and height never troubled me after that.  I spent a lot of time over the course of several years greasing fittings, cleaning away salt buildup, sanding and painting equipment.  Since each communications shop : the CT and EW (electronic warfare or ELINT guys)  were in my division;  the Radiomen and the Combat Systems groups also had things to maintain aloft.  The primary time to do these chores were in port for extended periods as we would have the rotating and radiating (radars especially)  for our ship and neighboring ships “tagged out”.   Nobody wanted to be sterilized or cooked (think of a  microwave oven) from RF energy.

Between performance tests, maintenance, cleaning, and cross-training as an operator in our own center, we had training in security force ( rapid reaction team), firefighting, damage control and other collateral jobs.    Because of the nature of the job, most of the crew knew us only as “spooks”, and Maintenance (CTMs) were not above getting strange looks from the hot and sweaty Engineering (Snipes) crew.  You see, in a couple of our workspaces, the air conditioning (chilled water) system were overly efficient.  Large, heat-generating equipment had been replaced with newer systems that were much  less power consuming.  The now much colder workcenter  made it necessary for the techs to wear our winter coats or “foul weather jackets”;  we might forget to remove them when we went to the Mess Deck to get some coffee.  Some sweaty, greasy shipmates were a little irritated at some “topsiders” easy living.  shopping

Working behind the “Green Door”  with its OZ Division sign (“Oh-Zee” meant we were part of the Operations Department)  required special access and security protocols.  We would get asked from time to time what we were doing.  We would come up with all sorts of stories.  “Actually,  I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you” was our running joke.   In the days when email and Internet were toddlers,  when the AFRTS broadcast was still received  and rebroadcast in the evening through the ship’s entertainment system,  we might get sports scores or news before the rest of the ship.

While the underway schedule was tedious and I would sometimes spend up to eighteen hours working, cleaning, training or on watch, it was peaceful.  All the noise at sea – equipment, machinery, buffers, alarms, announcing systems were less unnerving than the sudden “silence” – an equipment casualty occurring at that moment – followed by an alarm and a all-ship announcement through our 1MC intercom.   I really felt at home on the TEXAS.  Compared with the stress of the home I had left back in Florida, I was in a long-term relationship.  That ship and crew were my family.   I set out to learn everything I could about the ship as part of the Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification  and earn my silver Surface Warfare pin.

It was a shame that the ship’s schedule was a few months deployment s, before it was to go into the shipyard for a couple of years in order to replace the nuclear fuel and receive upgraded systems.   My first underway period occurred in the late Spring of that year,  and it was not long afterward that I was able to add Panama and Ecuador to foreign places I had visited.   Transiting the Panama Canal was one of the highlights of my Navy career.   And becoming a member of the honored Shellbacks – first, as pollywogs, we had to be properly indoctrinated in a raucous smelly, greasy, traditional welcome. And being hosed down with salt water in the pre-dawn of the equatorial waters near the Galapagos Islands, is a memory I cherish. My years of spanish from school, living in southern Arizona, traveling in Mexico, paid huge dividends in Central and South America.  Where some Panamanians or Ecuadorians were bemused or put off by American Sailors,  I was able to share jokes, catch deals on local crafts,  negotiate fantastic deals on a hotel room for shipmates and even trade wits with a streetwise New York-born kid visiting relatives.

On our return to Alameda,  a segment of the crew was able to take change of station, house-hunting leave  for our pending move to Bremerton, Washington.  In June, I was soon after to realize, that the weather was perfect though temporary.  For the remaining 11 months until the following June, it was cloudy, misty, rainy, snowy or sleeting.  Prior to going into dry dock, the TEXAS made a trip across the Puget Sound for Esquimalt , British Columbia, Canada.   Killer whales in a pod accompanied us for part of the trip.  Between maintenance assignments and duty rotation,  I was briefly able to take in the view outside the skin of the ship.   The view of the Olympic Range (the Olympic peninsula is the large portion of the state west of Seattle) puget-by-pacificnwseasons-blogspotdotcomto the south is amazing – when the fog or mist lifts long enough to see the snowy mountains.    The Canadian naval base is next to Victoria, a city that looks every bit as if it was lifted out of England and deposited there.  For the couple of days that we were visiting, I had my first experience with craft beer.  My present infatuation with micro-breweries, got started there.    greater_victoria_780_64

I still think about going back to hike in British Columbia, visit the tea shops and markets, and maybe enjoy scones and english marmalade.

In the coming year,  the ship, now in dry dock, was cut open, all the decks were covered with plywood,  giant tarps hung over the side of the ship while sandblasting away the paint, barnacles, and growth of many years at sea.

With my equipment shutdown or removed for maintenance, I was left to clean, to document maintenance – I worked fairly closely with the  Maintenance Material Management System or (3M) Coordinator  by that time.  For a couple of months I was assigned off the ship to help coordinate the maintenance of the Bachelor Officers Quarters which at the time was being transitioned to a civilian who had been running large hotels.  Officers had it pretty cushy.  Enlisted sailors in base quarters in Bremerton  didn’t have it too rough either.   At the time the Navy made its decision to halt the refueling and scrap the TEXAS,  I had moved off base to renting a home not far from the shoreline.  Seattle was visible across the bay.

I was enjoying the little town of Manchester.  Then my estranged wife showed up, long enough to take most of my valued possessions and several firearms.  And leave with her boyfriend.   I was ready to transfer to my next ship,  a destroyer in Norfolk, Virginia, the USS PETERSON (DD-969).

Ships are known to the men who go to sea in them as “she”.   Temperamental, attractive, frustrating, consuming, difficult, requiring a lot of commitment and hard work. And romantic.  All at the same time.  But like a woman you are with, you can be successfully only in one relationship at a time — and a ship is jealous for your time.

Flying anvils

I have been both a Navy consumer, a Navy technician, and civilian test engineer supporting Information Security – securing networks and securing data storage.  Currently I am working on the manufacturer’s development side.

In a profit-driven company I’ve noticed some truths: resources are finite;   managers focus on meeting the contract requirements with least impact to manufacturer’s bottom line; a complex design takes longer and with more manpower than allowed to perfect; customer requirements change during the test and production phases; performance or production challenges occur when starting production;   faced with budget constraints themselves,  some (new) customers deploy the product in ways not specifically considered in the design.

As one of the warfighters, I wondered why some equipment I routinely used was poorly designed (in my estimation).  Overheating, power supplies that needed frequent replacing, maintenance or rework that was labor-intensive, required shipment to a depot, or some “special handling” when called for.   Banging, tweaking, and massaging were often employed to get recalcitrant gear to operate.  One particular situation occurred when my communications system was overheating- the room (called a “space” or compartment aboard ship) was co-located within an office used by several officers.  Since they were too cold – the air conditioning system had to be kept low to maintain the equipment side at optimum performance- they demanded the temperature to be comfortable.  This resulted in equipment overheating and breaking down.

After my military career,  I vowed to be a better designer and tester of gear for the warfighter, but as an employee of a public company, economic reality tempers my best intentions.  Brilliant engineers working to specific constraints are split between several products, test and development has greater latitude in acquiring test equipment and components than in production.  The manufacturer’s vendors are relied upon to provide parts and subassemblies that perform to the specifications!   But the most challenging aspect I have experienced is the customer using a product in ways that I have not tested directly but am asked to debug when they fail.   More often than not,  we find that the parts of our system we did not design and build but purchased  as COTS (consumer off the shelf) are not subject to the same quality as the supplier advertised.

In the former world of huge Government development budgets, a new system can be fielded, bugs worked out, mistakes corrected, and used for decades.  The Space Shuttle program, a computer-reliant, spacecraft and terrestrial glider,  a “flying anvil” of sorts, most likely had the same development challenges, and the public is aware of the two critical failures that occurred during their working lifecycle.  Overall, these systems were very reliable.   In a public company,  products have to enter the market before the competition and be embraced by consumers whether government ( military) or public, generating profit and demonstrating reliability in a very short time.

And my focus is remaining the Subject Matter Expert for my product line, and the test engineer who successfully brings the prototype through acceptance testing: Job security.

separating salt from the fake salt

I’ve had many occasions, at work, driving cross-country, at various public events to meet people who are veterans or on Active Duty with one or another branch of the military.  Driving around San Diego, I am saddened by the number of homeless on the streets.   As a veteran, I know that there is a substantial percentage of these men and women – or imply through the hand-lettered signs that they are down-on-their-luck veterans.   Many unfortunately are, but may also be in an untenable position due to alcohol or drug-addiction.   Yet I admit, I am more drawn into conversations  when encountering squids, jarheads, ground pounders or zoomies working in shops, service industries, Costco,  or government offices   mutually recognizing a military connection.   And whether it is initiated by a ballcap, t-shirt or window sticker, we can converse about shared life experience.

4347_1153409202041_3983536_nThere is something instantly bonding about men ( and women) who share the common experience of military service.   Yesterday, I was enjoying a little rest on my homeward commute at my little bastion of like-minded libertarians, and got interested in a conversation one of the guys was having about an exchange with a cop.  Turned out this cop was practiced – but not in a good way – of embellishing some prior Navy experience.  As it happened, my acquaintance, like most of those who have had some years in the military was correcting this cop’s recounting of his service by providing some firsthand expertise in the details (occupation codes known as NECs or MOS in other services, training specifics, locations) that this storyteller had fudged– as would have I in the same exchange.

4347_1153409082038_7039634_nThere is nothing more disingenuous than a person misrepresenting military service.  “Stolen Valor” is the term many may be familiar.  Most of the perpetrators are playing on the sympathies of the public, trying to obtain benefits not owed, or wooing the gullible.   While there have been several court cases deciding that ’embellishment for the purposes of misleading public opinion’ – politicians, editors, bureaucrats, teachers have not been worthy of punishment,  there have been equally social media shaming of these con artists who were bringing discredit to those who serve or served honorably.

Yet it was the exchange of sea stories with my shipmate which brought back great memories for us both.  Both of us entered the Navy a year apart in the 1970s.   He was a fellow technician, working with computer systems aboard ship before the Navy combined the ratings,  Many times, the Navy consolidated skills that had their own individual occupations with others,  as was the case with my own rating after my retirement.   Regardless of the fool trying to boast about details of service that other “salty” Sailors – ones with years of sea duty and military experience – could immediately call his bluff,  my conversation yesterday was refreshing in bringing the memories back to the surface.

4347_1153409602051_4092653_nIn those days, there were traditions and customs, regulations and deckplate leadership.  When some Sailors who were otherwise experts in their trade, had a little too much to drink on the prior night’s liberty, their shipmate including the supervisor would look ot for them.  As Mess Deck Master at Arms, a temporary assignment aboard ship,  the ability to encourage the crew, curry favor, or even to mentor and train some junior sailor were all part of my experience.     There is nothing that someone with sea duty, can really describe to a civilian about life at sea – noise,   drinking water with a little trace jet fuel (JP5) in the lines, the drills, the boredom, and port visits that another military member doesn’t instantly know what you are talking about.



Every time I see a car with a bumper sticker “COEXIST”, I am given to wonder why these probably well-intentioned, folks are so ignorant of history and many are so rabidly determined to shut out any comment, observation, or objection.  The world is a dangerous place, and the people who see aggressors as victims and victims as aggressors are generally unable, unwilling, or unprepared to find real solutions -other than bumper stickers and molotov cocktails.  Here’s a refresher from 2006.   Via the Chinese and the Iranians, the terror group Hezbollah continues to be weaponized….

Source: Vampire…Vampire…Vampire 

“10 – 80 – 10” might explain everything

I was once (still?)  a cynic.   I started to consider years ago that ten percent of people were the top intellectuals, philanthropists, inventors, artists, and warriors (I was in the military at the time).   That also got me thinking about all the gloom-ers, doomers, and desperado,  folks whom I likened to the bottom “ten-percenters”.  In the middle were the remaining eighty percent who either were sketchy, but not necessarily “bad” or the more reasonable just-trying-their-best-to-get-by folks.   In a world today where people determine the answer they want first, and go in search of, or create the evidence they need to support their pre-determined answers,  it seems unnatural to work the other way round.   So I came up with an 10/80/10 proposition.   I have not conducted rigorous research.  During my worst cynical days and weeks,  personal experience and social media provide me a predetermined answer in search of validation.   I often apply it to everything that humanity touches.   Continue reading

Dunkirk, the movie

Watching the movie, Dunkirk, on Saturday was not a traditional rendering of the epic war-story.  The rescue of hundreds of thousands of British and French troops on the beach in May, 1940 was told in intersecting story lines.

But what I got out of it as a military veteran, was both the unspoken fear of many young soldiers who were looking at the empty sea for rescue, strafing, bombing and the ships they were able to find and board,  being sunk.    It had little dialogue- the courage of those who were defending the retreating soldiers, pilots and the naval personnel who were trying to protect these troops made the film even more desperate.   At one point, one of the characters makes the observation that England was not mobilizing a lot of their navy in order to preserve it for the expected invasion from Hitler.  But they were mobilizing a civilian fleet to sail for Dunkirk.   That early war period, when the Germans were rolling across Europe seemed hopeless.  There was courage, particularly in those who sailed across the English Channel in thousands of boats to rescue the men.

My mother grew up near Belfast in now Northern Ireland.  I never heard stories about living during the war and only learned how difficult it was from history and publications I obtained when we visited there.  Perhaps as she was quite young early in the war, but it might well have been that spirit the British exhibited.   You see, the Germans during the Battle of Britain, especially in 1940 -41,  were bombing the shipyards, factories and sinking merchant fleets to isolate Britain.   The heroism of the troops that eventually defeated Hitler’s armies was not the stuff of epic war movies, but courage expressed in action of ordinary people doing the extraordinary.   The scene in Dunkirk I appreciated was the young soldier riding in the train once back in Britain about Winston Churchill’s stirring words to rally the Britons.  And the people far from being negative about their rescued troops, were rallying and supportive and welcoming.

“field day” is not outdoors

I love the smell of Pine-oil cleanser.  Many years ago, I was taught, or should I say, I was indoctrinated, in  proper cleaning technique by the United States Navy.   One of the cleansers we used was Pine-oil, in water.   With a mop and a wringer bucket – known as a swab and a cadillac, respectively and a tremendous amount of elbow grease, we would render things sanitary.   One of the least sanitary places,the bathroom – head to the Navy and Marines, a latrine, to Army and  Air Force,  was subject to daily, or even twice-daily cleaning.  In boot camp, there are two primary skills impressed on the incoming rag-tag civilian to turn him into military personnel.  Behind all the barking orders, trash can tossing, marching, calisthenics, and of course, basic military training, is attention to detail, and instinctive obedience to orders.

cropped-2c1c4-picture1Cleaning is one of those “attention to detail” skills.  One of the favored techniques of boot camp instructors when our unit was housed in Korean War -era barracks, was to set us to performing “field day” (deep cleaning) the barracks.  These were a magnet for dust, flaking paint and generally the decks (floors) were yellowed or dull.  The reward for passing inspection was relief from a marching drill, calisthenics, or even a short recreation period.  The punishment for failing that inspection was enduring the former two choices and then, to field day all over again.   As a trainee at a military technical school, the same inspections and field days occur, though the “Fleet Sailor” is normally separated from the recent boot camp graduates at a training command.  pinesol

You see,  the “Fleet Sailor” has learned over years, that drills, inspections, and cleanliness are necessary, but she has developed a cynicism, a sarcastic response -mouth, and a few shortcuts to the cleaning process, particularly at a training command.  Enter Pine-Sol  and Future acrylic floor shine.  Pine-Sol cleans very thoroughly, and even a few drops will permeate the living quarters to smell “clean”.    Since waxing is a very time-consuming process to get applied properly and looking even,  Future, when the floor has been thoroughly stripped of wax and cleaned, and applied carefully, generally resulted in inspection grades of “OUTSTANDING”.   And that normally resulted in a duty-free day. That was,  relief from standing a watch.  Of course, the acrylic easily scratched, so occupants of those quarters would leave shoes by the door when entering the room for the next several days.

Some fifteen years later,  aboard ship,  our Executive Officer, “XO”, would periodically inspect areas of the ship to determine if the proper attention to detail was being paid.   One favorite memory involved him, in coveralls and gloves, flashlight in hand, prostrate on the deck in the head next to a urinal.  I was carrying a clipboard to note deficiencies.  Up came the XO with palm up glove “asking” the senior Petty Officer in the compartment,  “WHAT IS THIS, PETTY OFFICER?”

“PUBES, SIR”, he replied.

Pubic hairs on the deck behind the urinal and some dried pee were contributing factors to impending doom in armed conflict with an adversary.  It indicated a lack of attention to detail.   It was the XO’s job to see to it that everything on a ship was as near perfection as humanly possible.  Efficient machines and a capable crew, ready and able to fight catastrophe – fire, accidents, flooding, and the unexpected has saved lives.

FuturebottleAnd now twenty-five years later,  three boys now grown, and living in one of the dustiest environments I have experienced, with shed-prone dogs,  my home has only been subject to a ‘fairly good’ field day about once a month, and a decent sweep and swab each week before company comes over.    I am not complaining.   Were I to dare to get out the glove, flashlight and query about pubic hairs and pee, the “Admiral” would point me in the direction of a bucket and swab  and have me re-do it.

My former Commanding Officer and now, Rear Admiral, would probably be smiling, approving of an old Senior Chief getting re-acquainted with the swabbie skills.  She always like my wife, the Ombudsman as much if not more than me.

Where the heck is the Pine-oil?  I need to get to work.