dog days at work

It's a Dog's Life

One of the best examples of community is how we give of our time, and of our money to the less fortunate.  While most recognize that members of our own species needs aid,  love and compassion, there are others that we can help.  I was introduced to a few examples of this today.   Sometimes, it is noteworthy to recognize those who help rescue canines in need.

Labs and More,  San Diego

Several times a year, at the main campus in Carlsbad, my company hosts expos for charitable organizations in San Diego – supporting a children’s hospital, or fighting cancer,  or health and wellness,  or disaster preparedness.  Or like today,  when a few San Diego animal rescue groups came with their furry ambassadors to raise awareness in the community.   The volunteers who organize and man these outreach programs wear their hearts on their sleeve.  These all-volunteer groups raise funds to support…

View original post 228 more words

party animal

The first thing I noticed about my wife’s choice of venue for her former nursing student-graduates  gathering, was how loud and crowded it got after 6:30PM on Friday.  First, it was surprising to me that “loud” was something I would be annoyed with.   And second, I am also annoyed at thinking it a “crowded” venue which the over-forty crowd seemed to enjoy.  While I have been in Navy CPO clubs and Navy aviator officer’s clubs in San Diego,  this was my first time in the  94th Aero Squadron,  a public restaurant with an a military and aviation theme.

Friday evening commutes in San Diego are typically one that I will stop to have a cigar at a favorite lounge on the way home from work.  However, this past Friday, my wife invited me to join her while she waited for a couple nurses to join her at the restaurant and bar that borders Montgomery Field municipal airport.   With the tri-winged red airplane out front,  reminiscent of the Red Baron, I would not be mocked too much if I asked where was Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel doghouse.

While they reminisced about their time at the school (my wife’s employer) and chatted about kids,  medicine and the training, I drifted off.   And then I needed a second glass of something to ward off the chill.   While San Diego rarely gets weather  that has anyone scurrying for jackets, wool caps or gloves,   this was one of those cool weeks.   Part of this restaurant was open air, looking out on the airfield, which on any other week of the year, would have been very pleasant.  The cool evening also spurred me to risk ( my Keto diet regimen) two glasses of merlot.

I thought it was a great place for a happy hour.  The service and the appetizers were – on my carefully chosen sampling – quite good.  But as the happy hour crowd left and the evening crowd of forty-somethings started partying, the loud music,  the cool, and the 8 o’clock hour on Friday night is about all the partying my wife and I can handle.

If a sloth is the new image of cool,  then I am still a “party animal”

 

should an atheist put up Christmas lights and other questions

the-grinch-netflixphoto_1

Google Maps gave me driving directions around the worst of my evening commute tonight that inspired this blog post.  While I have made prior references to driving through San Diego at rush hour,  it is pointless to meander along that sordid topic – it is only going to get worse and not better.  However,  I can use the time to make some observations about some of my fellow Southern Californians.

Driving through an obviously middle class neighborhood in suburban San Diego this late afternoon, two weeks prior to the Christmas holiday,  I was intrigued that no more than perhaps one in forty homes displayed Christmas decorations or lights of any kind.  This was not a section of the city that appeared bound by any homeowners association prohibition,  nor a singularly Muslim area or commune of Ascetic monks,   It was a single-family style,  $600, 000-average price neighborhood (for California, a little more than the median price for 2017.)

christmas-lights-san-diego-vuvfwufpI am not denigrating anyone for NOT displaying Christmas decorations, and I in no way attribute Santa Claus,  decorated trees,  inflatable Minion or Harley-riding Santa Claus to the Birth of Jesus.   But I find it very “unusual”.   For a nation that spends a lot on holiday cheer regardless of their spiritual aspirations,  (a retail survey calculated that Americans spent $3.2 Billion on decorations, lights, trees and so forth in 2015) I found it unusual.  In neighborhoods that become a festive attraction for the surrounding communities, band saws in garages start going in September, and decorations start being put up on the Black Friday shopping day.   I thought I would look up the relationship between decorations and personality.  One article  was particularly interesting in perceptions.   An experiment was conducted on observers perceptions using pictures of groups of more socially-engaged neighbors, not socially-engaged (keep-to-themselves sort), each with decorated and not-decorated homes.  People who were generally unable to distinguish between social traits for decorated homes, could generally determine the level of social interaction  of people with non-decorated homes.  People can tell what you are like by the stuff in your environment.   20171209_202207.jpg

Next post,  I may discuss why some late-middle-age men like to tootle around town in a fire-engine red, convertible Porsche Carrera, and why some young people driving Civics, or BMW 3-series, or a 3-cylinder Prius, feel the need to be the most ignorant drivers on the road.

embrace of the sea

I am a happily married man and yet I have a mistress.  No, not that kind.  The Sea.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
– Jacques Yves Cousteau,  ( http://www.brainyquote.com)

The sea used to call to me as a child.  I read stories about life at sea. I was fascinated by Jacques Cousteau’s shows exploring the sea.  As a youth, my family would frequently make the short drive to Half Moon Bay  from Belmont, California.  After body surfing and boogie-boarding in the cold ocean surf we would warm up by a bonfire on the beach.  Moved by my mother to to the Atlantic coast as a young teen,  I would swim and take a sailboat or rowboat out in the waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   Though swept out to sea once by a rip current,  I responded by learning to snorkel and scuba dive.

There is a witchery in the sea, its songs and stories, and in the mere sight of a ship, and the sailor’s dress, especially to a young mind, which has done more to man navies, and fill merchantmen, than all the pressgangs of Europe. -Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast

I was a captive, not unwilling, during eight years assigned to Navy ships.  Then, I spurned my love-interest. I retired from the Navy.  As I  dallied with camping,  hiking, and cycling,  the sea called me back to her.   It was a recent cruise to the Caribbean that has me spellbound again.  I am not too old to don a wetsuit, or rent a boat, or take another cruise, all the while listening to Jimmy Buffett on the radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the vibe

At the Starbucks today, I had a great chat with a police officer as we both were waiting on our orders.   He is probably ten years my junior, but  I had the sense,  a “vibe” Californians generally would call it,  that this man was formerly military.   The bearing of a military veteran is different; I’ve talked with religious leaders whom I got that same sense and  I then find confirmed they served in the military.  And having the acquaintance of cops from other backgrounds,  and cops who transitioned from the military,  I think there is subtle differences.  But I digress.  This officer acknowledged that he transitioned into blue uniform of a police officer.   However, his Army career and his public service had been in tandem:  while recently retired from the Army National Guard,  he was and is a 20-plus years veteran police officer civilian and military police.

In contrast, I got a different sort of vibe from a conversation I wandered into recently.  It suggested (to me) a child’s encounter with a member of law enforcement was either embellished by the storyteller’s negative opinion of civil authority and biases, or a child’s encounter with a greenhorn LEO;  the described first impression of flashing lights,  and a rehearsed, “politically-sensitive” introduction to a preteen would have been handled differently by my Starbuck’s patron LEO.   But in a time when it can be as hazardous for an officer – whether a conflict or a civil rights violation,  in a suburb in the Southwestern U.S. as in Southwest Asia (aka the Middle East),  tact might be a secondary concern.

In my childhood,  a police officer would see my bike run over in the middle of the street, check to see that I was unhurt, and then bring me home to my parents in the squad car.  Even a decade ago when my preteens were goofing off in the neighborhood and cops were called,  my wife came out to find my kid and his friends placed against a squad car. They all were “released to the custody” of  one really ticked-off Mom.   It was a different time.   But children of military veterans, and families where the military and law enforcement are family tradition, there is more respect given to those in authority.   I’ve generally only known times when the community relied on law enforcement as much as the other way around.

I would prefer to think that a poor impression made on this young man, would be the outcome of a lack of mentoring.  In the military, the best units have a reputation for building leaders and subject experts,  through the years of mentoring and feedback.  Such was my experience.   And several of my mentors, and those who came after me excelled militarily and professionally.    Several were law enforcement officers, federal marshals and agents.   I’ve known a few servicemen who were an ego in a uniform,    but most of the leaders I knew were humble.   Such was this professional I encountered today.

But I may be biased.   I support the fraternal orders of law enforcement.   I am a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.   I am grateful for these citizen-soldiers who continue to serve our communities.  Who serve our nation.   Who raise sons and daughters to be responsible, thinking adults.   Some choose other careers,  hold different views, but treasure the country,  respect its laws and order,  and respect people who respect others in return.  Among old warriors,   a recognition and  camaraderie, an appreciation of shared experience, discipline and service.   Thanks for serving.

 

original
Military Police, photo courtesy of http://www.army.mil

 

vets_3_pic
courtesy of http://www.vfw.org

 

May memories

A lot changes in forty years. In  May, 1977,  prior to my departure for Boot Camp at Naval Training Center, San Diego in October,  I was graduating high school.   Jimmy Carter was President, a fact that I thought, being a former naval submariner officer, would make him an excellent leader.   People didn’t want Gerald Ford as he had pardoned ‘criminal’ Richard Nixon, but I remember him for sending in Marines to retrieve the Mayaguez, which had been seized by the Khmer Rouge a month after the last battle involving U.S. troops of the Vietnam War.

In those last two years of the Seventies,  the Zumwalt-era of loosened grooming standards – longer hair, mustaches and beards worn by Sailors were okay.  Dungarees (bell-bottom style) and dixie cups, were the working uniform.   Pot was a problem on military bases including San Diego.   A community that now is marked by the upwardly-mobile, well-heeled beach crowd, Ocean Beach, was then a place where druggies and ex-military,  tattoo parlors and bars were less restrictive than up the coast near the UCSD campus.

A visit over the Coronado Bridge to the Naval Station Coronado, where carriers were berthed was my first view of a ship – the USS Recruit was a wood and metal reproduction on the Recruit Training Command, to introduce us to naming convention, etc – so did not count.  The ‘aroma’ of the interior of the USS Kitty Hawk was the first ‘knock out’ that I will never forget.  Jet fuel, grease, human sweat, urinals and generally,  the stink of at times, 3500 men (no women then) wafted fresh new sailors who had more recently been accustomed to PINE SOL clean scent.

At the time, I was a student learning to work on complex electronics and mechanical maintenance of teletypes.  Where I now cannot see without at least one or two orders of magnitude, I was able then to discern two from three centimeters adjustments.  The instructor was quite ADAMANT about that ability before graduation.   We had Iranian military students – this was prior to the Iranian Revolution – and when they were recalled by their government,  we were relieved.   Suffice it to say that American and Iranian hygiene were on different tracks.

In May of 1982,  with several of my fellow Russian Language students and the professor – I was able to travel  to Russia – prior to the end of the USSR (1989) – visiting cities – St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Tbilisi.  If only for all but one – a socialist-  the trip was very informative and probably saved them and their future families from the ‘snowflake’ sensibilities, the mantra of “coexistence” and “socialism’s great”.  The people may have been interesting and interested, but the economy was a shambles. Ambition was reserved for the underground economy — some of whom are today’s Russian millionaires and billionaires.

In May of 1984,  I had been out of the Navy four years, attending the university in Tucson, Arizona.  Four three of those four years I had been actively involved in the Veteran students organization on campus,  and while peers were pursuing commissioning programs,  I was looking toward a government job after graduation.  Strangely,  in my second year after graduation,  when my graduate school plans went unfunded – I re-enlisted in the Navy -Reserve – that is.  The entreaties of one of my friends finally had me join his unit, only to see him quit!

After petitioning to resume an Active Duty career in 1987,  the next major May milestone I recall was May of 1997 when I was transferred from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, California.    1970 Dodge Chargers, if you could find one in decent shape were then ten thousand dollars or more,  homes which had been an unheard of, eighty thousand dollars – for an ocean view, were nearly eight hundred thousand,  and NTC was closed but for a few administrative medical functions.

And in the twenty years since that time,  friends and mentors went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq,  the Soviets became Russian trade partners, the Chinese became the world’s second-most powerful economy, the Islamic world tried to separate the economic need for the non-Islamic world – from the ideology that wants to reduce infidels to ashes,  and we are again at some form of odds over military preparedness against the adversaries that were no longer adversaries?

 

 

night at the museum

USS_Coronado_04AUG1999
USS CORONADO, AGF-11

Looking at old mementos this evening,  of my days in the Navy makes me feel, well “Well-seasoned”.  As I look back,  the ships where I was a crewmember are all now dismantled,  and sunk to the depths of the ocean.

CGN-39
USS TEXAS, CGN-39

The USS TEXAS, a nuclear -powered missile cruiser was several firsts for me: first year at sea; designation as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (in 1991);  and Shellback.   I did enjoy living near Seattle for nearly a year – the ship was in drydock – before I was transferred at its decommissioning.  It was decommissioned,  dismantled and scrapped at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the late 1990s.

I first fell in love with Canada – Esquimalt,  B.C,  and Vancouver aboard the TEXAS.  I visited, Ecuador,  Panama and cruised through the Panama Canal on that ship.

The  USS PETERSON, a Spruance-class Guided Missile Destroyer,  where I made friendships still strong twenty five years later, was decommissioned and sunk in the Atlantic.  But that’s the ship where I got the opportunity to visit Europe – Spain, France, Italy, Greece,  and Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, Egypt, and island nations of Crete and Cyprus.  On the USS PETERSON,  I visited Panama and Ecuador a second time – was based out of the East Coast. (That has to be a first two-coast, two ship and back-to-back visits for any Sailor since that time!)    On another PETERSON deployment, we visited Nova Scotia.   Halifax has a friendliness towards seafarers of all sorts.

And from San Diego, the USS CORONADO, a special projects testbed, and command ship for the U.S. THIRD FLEET, took me to Japan, Korea and Alaska ( and Honolulu a number of times)  was decommissioned and sunk in the western Pacific.

DD969
USS PETERSON, DD-969

Equipment I used to maintain I found in a museum a decade ago.   Uniforms I wore when I first enlisted and then subsequently through 3 uniform changes have been sent to resale and thrift stores.  Occasionally,  I see a homeless person with one of the old pattern utilities and foul weather gear.

Memories are now appearing regularly on EBAY and other second-hand online stores.  But I have a few things that are still worth keeping.   shopping One of the last USS TEXAS calendars, postcards issued by the USS PETERSON, and pictures and challenge coins given to me by CINCPACFLT for earning Sailor of the Year for THIRD FLEET in 1998.  And my retirement shadow box lists installations that have either disappeared or been revamped, remodeled, and redesignated.

So in some future yard sale, should you, dear reader, happen upon a bunch of trinkets from an old Sailor’s box of mementos, enjoy them.  We can now Pinterest and Twitter and Facebook around the whole world.  But, trinkets, salt air and ocean waves are still analog.