Mention grinders to an older Navy veteran, generally brings to mind the large parade ground we marched around in Bootcamp. But “grinder” also means a particular type of sandwich. In Southern California, while there are different names: submarine sandwiches, hoagies, and grinders, there are some places that are vastly different than the franchises that pop up everywhere. And in El Cajon, California, not far from my home, is an institution 50 years in the making, The Grinder.
I actually only stopped in Thursday night at the request of my son, a Vocational Nurse working the evening shift, for a sub specifically made there. It might have been my first visit though I have lived in the area twenty years. After a long workday and a long, rainy evening commute, but I would drive an extra few miles for a sandwich.
It was not a fancy place. A video game table of the sort I had not seen in thirty years was against the wall. On the walls, were Navy-themed art, a Bible quote, articles on the history of this deli, a plaque honoring fifty years, and pictures of local kids. But the one I noted just before ordering was the image of the late Chief John Finn, Medal of Honor recipient (Pearl Harbor) on the wall. The kids working there know whose picture it is. San Diego County is a military community, and El Cajon in the part known as “East County” is home to a large population of veterans going back to the Second World War.
“where do we eat and what show do we go to?”
On date night, quickly planned, even the retired Senior Chief’s understanding wife may have felt a grinder was sub-expectations. The mall was packed with Friday-night families. As it turned out, a little pastry and coffee with live music at a coffee house we like was perfect. We knew the music and lyrics; the acoustics were okay, and probably because the band and their fans are all about the same ages, they concluded at a reasonable hour on a Friday night. 7:30 is almost bedtime.
So much for foodies partying into the wee hours (7:30PM)
No method of procedure has ever been devised by which liberty could be divorced from local self-government. No plan of centralization has ever been adopted which did not result in bureaucracy, tyranny, inflexibility, reaction, and decline. Of all forms of government, those administered by bureaus are about the least satisfactory to an enlightened and progressive people. ….. –Calvin Coolidge
According to information I gleaned from a thorough scrub of several websites, a Reservist who has retired from military service under the normal circumstances (not a disability retirement) has to request payment of retirement pay beginning at age 60.
For someone who has a current DOD identification card, this may be less of an exercise than I have encountered to date. But for a “gray-area Reservist”, a member who received retirement orders pending receipt of pay after age sixty, this posed questions I thought best to get answered before I made some errors and had to resubmit.
You may never have dealt with a bureaucracy the size of the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration. But if you have ever dealt with a local planning board or other agency, you may have some idea. Prior experience online directed me to look at the official Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS). When I found the proper sub-department for Reserve retirees it directed me to another website. And a third. I used the telephone at last and actually reached a live person quickly. While the representative was able to locate my record, she could not tell me other than what I already knew. When I did find a couple forms online, editions more than sixteen years old, it seemed this information was what they already had on file.
The BUPERS website directed me to solicit assistance with retirement questions from the local military support office; I drove over to the military office that had served me while in the Navy Reserve nine years earlier. After a lovely chat with a senior enlisted personnel clerk, I spoke with a career counselor for a “package” that would include material needed for retirement pay requests. After waiting in a line, I found that all “retired” reservists like myself had to go through, yes, BUPERS, for these retirement pay questions.
I did catch one tidbit of information. The Department of the Navy is about a month late in a reported ten-month window prior to the member’s sixtieth birthday, sending a package of everything the bureaucracy needs before making payment. I will make another call to BUPERS this week to find out whether this “package” has been mailed. I probably will go back to the VA for a disability re-assessment. When dealing with a Government bureaucracy, blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, and muscle fatigue are common. That’s gotta be worth something?
The older I get, the more I find it ironic how some people argue and protest about fairness in life – as opposed focusing on gaining in-demand skills, creating work to employ themselves and others, or volunteering to share their talents and good fortune with others. College students and academics are often the noisiest, when they themselves are better off than most other people in the world. Ironic, as, once upon a time I was one of those post-high school, underemployed, single people whining about fairness. And at the time, I had my own apartment, a vehicle, and was a spendthrift living on credit. In my early Twenties, I was not skilled sufficiently due to personal choices I had made about education. I was economically disadvantaged.
As I grew older, I made better choices. I made the military a career. I used skills and resources gained there to obtain a better living. I have been able to serve my fellow man, here and abroad, with material things I can provide from my income. I have taught some to read. Others, I have helped through translation. And still others I help through donations to Non-Governent Organizations (NGO) medical clinics, disaster-response efforts and volunteers. In the process of working for myself and for others, I learned the maddening impossibility of an efficient bureaucracy. Governments may be able to provide for the national defense, but can spend trillions of dollars and still not have good roads, education that translates into skilled occupations, or decent healthcare. Often I find myself in an argument because I believe more in principles that are in line with my religious and personal views, and individual responsibility, than government “nannies”. I will tell people, “I’m here for an argument, not abuse.” And that usually gets a quizzical look.
In the 1970s, Monty Python, a British comedic troupe was very entertaining with comedic sketches that lampooned society, politics, culture, and history very irreverently and often quite bizarre in a very British styled humor. This sort of humor might harpoon many topics sacred to a generation focused on a dire future. Why few have any opinion on a solution for the topics they brood about, from climate, health care or international relations is odd for an opinionated society. Perhaps if we could laugh at each other and disagree with one another – in a manner that Monty Python did so well -we could find solutions in the best interests of our fellow man.
A long time ago I was a young sailor. On a couple of occasions I recall seeing a Chief Petty Officer wearing his Dress Blues, and the hash marks (service stripes) on his sleeve ran from cuff to his elbow. One time I saw a Second Class Petty Officer in his dress blues who I joked crewed with Noah, by the years represented on his uniform. More often than not I would see “red” instead of the “gold”. For those who are unfamiliar with hash marks, or Navy uniforms, these once represented four-year periods of service (now they represent 3-years). After twelve years of “good conduct” – we earned a “Good Conduct” medal/ ribbon for each four-year period – we had the right to wear gold-threaded rating badges and hash marks on our service blues – either the “Cracker Jacks” for junior Sailors, or the Chief’s Dress Blues.
The Chief pictured here, and in particular, the Master Chief (the rating badge with two stars, red stripes, and hash marks to his elbow) seems to be a shipmate of mine from the days of Sail. However, he screwed up somewhere. Probably chewing out a junior officer over one of the Sailors – or stupidity that the Officer committed. And he didn’t get punished badly. He just didn’t earn a “Good Conduct” ribbon somewhere in the previous twelve years!
But you do not become a Master Chief Petty Officer by being a screw up. Or a “politician”. We could use a few more of these “Salty Sailors”, particularly in our universities and halls of Government. But then they would never earn gold hash marks. Too much stupidity. Too many opportunities to cuss out kids, professors and politicians for unprofessional conduct.
The practice of medicine is a thinker’s art the practice of surgery a plumber’s. Martin H. Fischer
There’s not too much concern in my neighborhood with the dangers at sea. No real danger from collisions ( unless a Cessna on approach to the airfield makes an improbably short landing). There is no danger of grounding. Likewise, the chance of sinking is very slight at a few hundred feet above sealevel. And until I attempted tonight to replace the fill valve in my toilet, I never considered flooding.
As a homeowner, and a technically proficient electronics engineering technician, I tackle most maintenance myself. Unless my wife is at home, in which case, I will opt to call someone to do maintenance. Some tasks are a little complicated in an old house whether replacing a dishwater fill line or tinkering with the gas water heater. With my wife on travel visiting the kids, I thought tonight would be a good opportunity to replace an annoying toilet fill valve. For a “water-saving” device, the last valve I installed has required two or three flushes routinely, and sometimes a manual intervention to the tank.
Tonight, my famous last words were “it’ll only take five minutes”. I studied the new valve. I even consulted YouTube. Simple job. But the line into the tank – at the bottom continued to drip onto the floor even as I tightened the nut. I gave in and removed the valve with more water going on the floor, needing to grab several towels, and getting sprayed from the line as I did not shut the valve from the main all the way. The job called for and resulted in a few choice “Sailor” expletives after assembly and the tank still had a small leak.
The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea. Ovid
I was about to resort to calling my neighbor when I noticed one small failure. I had installed the rubber seal under, not inside, the inner (tank) seat of the fill valve! And in my zeal, I had nicked the plastic nut which would cause leaking as well. Fortunately, the old unit had a pristine nut that I was able to reuse. The Damage Controlman and the Hull Technician can stand down. Flooding in the compartment has been cleaned up. General Quarters is secured. All hands can get back to their Saturday evening.
I was planning to start preparing to paint the living room this week to surprise my spouse. It would not take that long as I have all the tools, tape and drop cloths. I have a couple days to call in some “expert” help before my wife returns. On second thought, I shall postpone this Intermediate Maintenance Availability for another time. I will not set a watch, but I think it prudent to check the compartment for flooding in the morning.
In naval terminology, and in many other workplaces, the twenty-four hour clock is used. The first hours of the new day are called “zero” as in “zero-thirty” or 1230 AM, or “zero -three hundred” for 3 AM. Sailors have a particular term for the mid-watch, between midnight and 4 AM, the “balls to four” watch.
Personally, I prefer the ‘balls to four’ than the ‘zero-four to eight’ watch. Because I was often working till late into the night aboard ship, and then getting a little rest, only to be wakened at 0315 to relieve the off-going watch by 0345. And as you get older you appreciate sleep more – I stood most of these watches in my early Thirties. I was just into that deep, wonderful place, seeming moments before someone roused me for my watch.
This morning, Tuesday, is one of those mornings! For the briefest of moments around 3 AM, I was in my sweet spot. And then my wife, who is boarding a flight today at “zero six” to visit the grandchild (and his parents) stirred me. For the briefest “Inception” (the movie) -like moments, I was in my rack with some Sailor shining his flashlight telling me it was time to relieve the watch. ARRRGH!
My wife is mostly a light-sleeper. I am one not by choice nor biology. I was on standby to drive her to the airport should our son (the one who does not work the nursing Third Shift) fail to arrive at “oh-dark-thirty” to pick Mom up for the airport drop-off.
Well, the son did make it. Mom’s got her mother and son time this morning. I’ve had two cups of coffee and been blogging for an hour. What the hell? It is going to be okay. I will get at least seven nights of solid sleep before I pick her up coming back.