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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Saturday, May 25, 2019

History Without a Net

    I've been meaning to do something for quite some time now (no,
"Give me a 'K'!"
"K!"
"Give me an 'E'!"
"'E'!'"
"Give me an 'N'!"
"'N'!"
"What's it spell!?"
"Decrepit old nerd who 
pees in the middle of the night!"
not that cheerleader and Cool Whip thing.  Sadly, that ship has sailed.  I'm lucky to go a whole night without having to get up to pee.


    I've always wanted to write a history book, but never felt like putting in all the hours that a serious examination of the past would require.  Neither did I feel like going through the trouble of setting these words to print, ESPECIALLY since there are countless history books already out there.  I figured, why bother?  Not like I'm going to make any money off it.

 
Still on Amazon.  
Still ignored by millions.
  As it is, the hideous books that I have already written haven't made me any real money. The good news is that I enjoy writing those silly bits of stuff and nonsense (hey, that sounds familiar.).


    






FULL DISCLOSURE:  It was never about making money, anyway. One of the things the woman who entered my life in late 2017 and departed in early 2018 said (besides "FU"), "Writing is kind of a hobby for you, isn't it?"  As it turns out, she was right (okay, she was also right about that "FU" bit, too).

 
I may never retire, though.  
I'm having too much fun.  
Said no one ever.
  Maybe when I retire from life in the fast lane of cleaning toilets and mopping floors, I'll look into more effective marketing and sales of my books.  Until then, I'll just indulge my hobby.


    






    Anyway...my point is I still want to write some sort of history.  Although my intent is that it wouldn't be for mass-marketing.  You probably won't see it placed on bookshelves along side such literary hard-hitters such as William F. Buckley, Doris Kearns Goodwin, or Jackie Collins.
If you do, get out of that bookstore.
    For those who've been with me for several years (seriously, you really oughta get out of the house) and have read some of my "history" posts, you know I sometimes (okay, mostly) play loosely with the facts.  This is due primarily because I want to make history somewhat enjoyable. Let's face it, a lot of it is pretty downright depressing.  After all, a strict discussion of the Bubonic Plague would pretty much be a buzzkill.  Let's inject some laughs (at this point, I don't know how, but you get my point).
    
On the other hand, maybe there is some funny about the plague....

"Pull my finger?"
"Sorry.  Can't.  Your arm fell off."
Too soon?

    Plus (and most importantly) who the hell wants to do the research to get all the facts straight?  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I've got other books to write and Facebook posts to make, yo.

    What I'll do (once again, those who've been here a while know
For example...
Xerxes the Great's little brother 
probably wasn't Herschel the So-So
this), I'll just riff about the topic at hand without doing any extensive examination of the facts.  Rather, I'll be using whatever knowledge that I've gleaned from my years of schooling.  I'll do some quick reading just to make sure I don't make any crazy outrageous statements (you know, like a reality star could wind up as presi...oh.  Wait.).  


    But, essentially, I'll be working "without a net" here.

    So, starting next week, I'll be providing weekly installments of the history of the world.  Not everything, mind you.  Just those things which interest me.  Let's face it, some parts in our history are just kind of boring.  Like the Lydians (who?), Invention of the Paperclip, or Ancient Chinese Secrets.


"Is not chicken in General Tso's?"

"Not exactly a secret there, Hoss."
   I'm positive I'll insult some cultures, religions, or societies along the way.  It's not serious (you probably grasped that by now), though.  I'll even poke fun at white middle-aged conservative Catholic guys.  Who never had a shot with cheerleaders in their best days, anyway.

    See you next week when I discuss how the Flintstones probably weren't the first men.  HINT:  It was more than just ties.  

    Incidentally, I'm more of a "Betty" guy than a "Wilma" guy.
"I told you a tie with no shoes was stupid.  
Who do you think you are, some Greenwich Village hipster?  
Oh, and by the way...Betty?  You're a bitch."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Time To Say Goodbye

On May 14, 2005, the aircraft carrier AMERICA was intentionally scuttled (fancy Navy term for "sunk") to determine what it would take to sink a ship of that size.  For more detail, head on back to Saturday's post.

For now, a video of AMERICA's last cruise set to "Time To Say Goodbye."  It never fails to make me weepy, threatening confiscation of my "Guy Card."


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Farewell, America


NOTE:  I'm traveling to Virginia Beach this weekend with my ex-wife.  No, no, it's not what you think.  That ship has sailed (no pun intended-you'll see what I mean below).  Rather than "Virginia Is For Lovers," it's "Virginia Is For Parents."  We're beginning the process of planning our daughter's wedding.  We'll be meeting with a few venues, evaluating menus, determining number of guests, figuring out how many thousands of dollars this will cost us, fish or chicken, etc.  You know.  Parent stuff.
    This means I won't have a lot of time to write a post.  But, that's okay, because this week marks a special anniversary.  On May 14, 2005, the first ship on which I served was sunk a few hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina.  On purpose.
    At the time I was writing for the Navy Times and wrote a column a few weeks before that event.  A column which I'll reprint here.  In these few words, I sought to "eulogize" the crucible upon which I became a man.  A little man, but a man.
    And so began a process which eventually lead me back to Virginia with an open wallet and soon-to-be-abused checkbook.  I'm convinced that all things in life affect our future in some way, great and small.

By the way, I've inserted "notes" to indicate the newest information that I have, as of 2019.  You're welcome.
 

Sure, it was big.  But, they make them bigger now.  
And, more importantly, afloat.

   On a frosty January morning in 1961, the keel was laid for a new supercarrier.  The ship was commissioned on January 23, 1965 as the fifth vessel to carry the name of the nation.  She was USS AMERICA (CV-66).

NOTE:  Incidentally, there's a sixth USS AMERICA.  She's an amphibious assault ship, homeported in California.

    Originally conceived of as nuclear-
Interestingly (for me, anyway...shut up), 
I was part of the turnover crew from 
USS GEORGE WASHINGTON who went aboard
 AMERICA as she departed the Mediterranean
 Sea following her final deployment.
powered, this conventional warship routinely found itself in the middle of history.  From the Arab-Israeli War to Desert Storm, the Gulf of Tonkin to the Gulf of Sidra, or the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea, she was a big stick in a world roiled with strife.



   I served aboard AMERICA from 1977-1980, members of my family were part of the crew, and my ex-wife was even baptized by the ship’s chaplain.  In a sense, she was the “family ship.”       

I was an aviation electronics technician.  
Who also cleaned toilets.

A lot like today.
Irony.
   I left her in the summer of 1980 to continue an odyssey which carried me to many places and adventures.  I even served aboard another carrier.  But, in all that time, I looked back on my tour with AMERICA as the seminal event of my Navy career.
Cheesy moustache and untucked shirt not included.

    Sure, I was saddened when she was relegated to a spot on the Delaware River along with other grizzled vessels.  But, I took it for what it was worth; it gave me a glimpse into my own eventual "decommissioning.”  Although, instead of being herded with aged warships, I see myself gathered among flesh-and-blood veterans who, no doubt (I lie to myself), will be spellbound by countless “I was there” stories-including a few from CV-66.
NOTE:  I did "decommission" in March, 2005, when I retired from the Navy.  I can't convince anyone to listen to "I was there" stories, though.

    I was never bothered by seeing her permanently tied to a pier, because I knew she could still heed the nation’s call, if necessary.  Plus, it was a treat to fly over her when coming or going from Philadelphia and pointing out “Dad’s ship” to my kids.

By this time, I had lost the moustache.
 And gained thirty pounds.
HINT:  I'm the tall one (yeah, huh?)
    It was also a hoot to get a call from the wife of a friend who happened to be taking a river cruise.  She asked if I knew the name of the aircraft carrier tied up at the former naval shipyard.  Yep, I told her, I did.

    Like a set of Dress Blues (which are really black...but that's another story) still hanging in the closet (never mind if they still fit) or those platform shoes just itching to boogey again (FYI:  I dance like Frankenstein), it was good knowing she was there because “you never know.”

   So, it was a shock to learn my ship will soon be towed a few hundred miles into the Atlantic and used to evaluate what it takes to sink a ship that size.

    Over the course of several weeks, AMERICA
will be brutally battered by torpedoes, cruise missiles, and, maybe, a small boat attack like the one which crippled USS COLE.

   Eventually, she will be rocked by charges set throughout her hull and sink to the bottom.

Kinda sad.  
Good thing I took off all those socks 
I used to...mind your business.
    Don’t be misled, though, when you read “she will slip quietly beneath the waves.”  I witnessed the destruction of a derelict ship as part of a new torpedo test.  A mime-fest it was not.  The agonized groans of twisting metal and collapsing bulkheads persisted all the way to the ocean floor.

    If that ill-starred hulk went out with such a bang, I cannot imagine a ship nearly the size of the Eiffel Tower would give up the ghost any more timidly.

    That being said, what does it say about a Navy which treats the nation’s namesake in such a manner?  Isn’t this an inglorious end to one of the “horses” of the Cold War?  Is she like a family car which has outlived its usefulness and, so, must be discarded?

    I share the feelings of many past crewmembers who feel this is a shabby way to treat one of our own.  Surely, there must be a better way to treat a national treasure.    
Wrong National Treasure.
Although Sean Bean lived in this one.
So, there's that.

    But, the more I thought about it, the more I reconsidered.  Rather than being tossed on history’s scrap heap, Ex-AMERICA will, in the words of Admiral John Nathman, provide “one vital and final contribution to our national defense.”

   The knowledge gained through the trials she will endure will provide insight into the effects of modern weapons on modern warships.  Her sacrifice will provide crucial data to ensure our Sailors are more fully protected from the evil that other men do.

    While a gross analogy, AMERICA’s acrifice is similar to organ donors.  Through her death, others may live.

    What nobler way can you think of for a ship named “AMERICA” to take its final bow?

   I’m sad, but I’m proud.

   Fair winds and following seas.





Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Those Meddling Kids

    


    Several years ago, I wrote a book for my daughter.  
   
Nothing says Man Boobs 
quite like "Put Your Shirt On"
    For quite some time, we made it a tradition to rent a beach house at the Outer Banks in North Carolina every summer for a week.  It was a wonderful time spent with friends and, once, with my sister's family.  Lounging around on the beach, lounging around the pool, lounging around the hot tub, taking a nap, then getting up to lounge around some more, we looked forward to the trip every year.
   
    Sadly, we have not returned in several years.  Mostly because all of our children have grown up and we've realized we don't need to drive through four states to lounge.  In any case, the vacations to the Outer Banks have become a nostalgic thing of the past.



On one such trip, my daughter was allowed to ask her best friend to come along.  It was during this time that I was inspired to write The Knothead Twins and the Mystery of the Ghost Crabs.  I did it mostly for her, but I also thought-why not?-make it available on Kindle for anyone who might be interested to have a look.

   
    It wasn't available in paperback until now.
   
    Little did I know that it would be the first of what would eventually be seven books.  Incidentally, none of which are best sellers.
You think I enjoy mopping bathrooms?
  
    After I inflicted St. Stan's: Tales From the Penguin Academy on the reading public, I set sights on what would be the fourth of my "Navy" themed books, Fly Navy.  Before I started, though, I decided to brush off the manuscript of TKTATMOTGC (makes it easier to spell out this way.  Sorta).  I didn't really update it as much as brush it off a little and perhaps make it a better quality read (insert laugh here).  For instance, I included verbs.  Makes for a better read that way.
   
    With the exception of I'll Make Christmas: A Love Story (am I
And you haven't bought them why?  
Oh, yeah.  Taste.
going to include everything I wrote?), TKTATMOTGC is nothing like my other books, Shag Carpet Toilet, It's Not Just a Job, It's an Adventure, or Fifty Shades of Penwasser (huh, whaddya know, I did).
    

    TKTATMOTGC, while certainly not a grimly serious bit of adventure and derring-do, is not a lunatic romp through, uh, lunacy, either.  Basically, it's a type of a Young Adult mystery geared primarily to 11 year-old girls.  It was a bit of a struggle to write, as I've never been an 11 year-old girl.  As far as you know.
   
    Think Scooby-Doo.  Without the quality.
   
"JINKIES!  He's going to actually try and sell that thing!"

    At any rate, if you feel like having a look at it (the book...take your mind out of the gutter), feel free (or reasonably priced).  It's available on Amazon for $6.00 (trust me, I wanted to make it cheaper, but they wouldn't let me) or on Kindle still for 99 cents.
   
    At only 88 pages, it's a quick read.
   
    Even with the verbs.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sign Language XVIII

I wonder if the kids are gluten-free.
And the cookie isn't one of those crappy oatmeal raisin ones.