Inking up the blogosphere. And no, I don't glow in the dark. But thanks for asking.

December 21, 2009

Now You Too Can Talk Like A Sailor (part 2)

....continued from Part 1:

  • Davy Jones' Locker:  The bottom of the ocean; euphemism for sailor's hell.  Davy Jones is commonly seen as the devil of the sea, an eater of souls.
  • Deck:  Floor.
  • Deep Six:  Originally, the call that the water was more than 6 fathoms (36 feet) deep, but less than 7.  Now, a term for throwing something overboard.  Also called a 'float test'.
  • Deuce:  .50 caliber machine gun.
  • (between the) Devil and the Deep Blue Sea:  On wooden-hull ships, the 'devil' seams joined the external hull with the deck planking.  If the devil came loose, the sea would leak in--a no-win situation.
  • Dicking the Dog:  Not getting any work done or messing up the work process.  ex.: "If you guys are done dicking the dog, why don't you read the tech manual and figure out how that's supposed to come apart."
  • Ditty Bag:  Small mesh bag that can hold a variety of items, usually toiletries or socks/skivvies for laundering.
  • DIW:  Dead in the water.  Caused primarily by loss of propulsion.
  • Dixie Cup:  White hat ("cover") worn by male enlisted personnel with the dress white, dress blue, working white, and working blue uniform.  Sporting it at a jaunty angle or with the brim sides pulled out (known as a "bullwinkle") is against regulations, but you'd be surprised how many like to do this.
  • Dolphins:  Insignia pin signifying Submarine Warfare Specialist qualification--two stylized dolphins flanking a submarine.  Pin is gold for officers, silver for enlisted; worn on the left chest. In writing, designated (SS) after a person's rank  e.g.: EM2 (SS) Schmoe.
  • Donkey Dick:  The inline proportioning nozzle for shipboard firefighting with AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam), the extension for a radiac that measures neutron levels of a reactor compartment prior to entry, or pretty much any other long, tubular peice of equipment.
  • Drunkex:  Drunken Excercise.  Hopefully, no explanation necessary.
  • EB GreenNuclear grade duct tape.  Originally provided by the Electric Boat (EB) corporation.
  • EMI:  Extra Military Instruction.  Intended as a punishment whereby the recipient must spend portions of his/her (coveted) free time engaged in a mundane task designed to increase military knowlege, i.e.: copying out the entire UCMJ in longhand.
  • ESWS: (pronounced ees-wass) Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.  Surface version of a submariner's dolphins, it depicts two cutlasses crossed over a ship.  Insignia designating Surface Warfare qualification, worn on the left chest.  In writing, (SW) after rank  e.g.: MM1 (SW) Schmoe.
  • Fantail:  Aft-most portion of a ship.  Sometimes used for ceremonial purposes, or for embarking/disembarking the ship via small boat, always off-limits on a carrier during flight ops.
  • Fast Attack:  (SSN) Non-ballistic missile submarines.
  • Fiddler's Green:  Sailor's heaven; a place of eternal music, laughter, and drinking/dancing.
  • Field Day:  Universally hated organized periods of cleaning, usually consisting of people polishing the same spot for two hours.  Often ordered when morale is low.
  • Flag Officer:  Reference to an admiral, as there is a flag flown when they are aboard.
  • Flotsam:  Floating debris released from a sinking ship.
  • FNG:  Fucking New Guy.
  • Foc'sle:  (pronounced foke-sul) phonetic spelling of "forecastle", the forward-most part of a ship.  Often the mustering place for ceremonies.
  • FOD:  Foreign Object Damage.  Anything that could be sucked into the intake of a jet engine and damage it.  You can pick up a piece of FOD off the deck, such as a screw; you can become FOD, if you are standing in the wrong place when the engine starts; and an engine can be FODded by any number of reasons, including the above two.  Before flight ops, there are FOD walkdowns in which people are kidnapped and forcibly pressed into a long unbroken line, where they walk looking down at the ground the entire length of the flight deck to look for and recover any FOD.
  • Foul Deck:  A flight deck condition where it is unsafe for the aircraft to land.  Cause for a waveoff and go-around.
  • Foxtail:  A long-handled, narrow cleaning brush with long flowing bristles.  A foxtail and dustpan are standard field-day equipment.
  • FTN:  Fuck The Navy.  Common usage amongst nukes with bad attitudes, sometimes inscribed inconspicuously on belt buckles, coffee mugs, desks, or bulkheads.
  • FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. Sometimes follows after a goat rope or someone has been dicking the dog, causing a SNAFU.
  • Fun Boss:  Person in charge of organizing liberty or port call activities.
  • Gangway:  More properly called the "brow", the walkway connecting the ship to the pier.  Can also be shouted to request people get out of your way.
  • Gator Freighter:  Amphibious cargo ship.
  • Geedunk:  Sweets, candy, nice benefits, or easy duty.
  • Gig:  Small boat, such as the Captain's Gig--his own personal craft.  Also, a demerit.
  • Gig Line:  The imaginary line on your uniform if drawn straight down the front of the shirt button edge, the crease on the belt buckle, and the edge of the zipper fly.  Must line up, or your gig line is askew.
  • Goat Locker:  CPO's (chief petty officer) mess.  In the days of sail, Chiefs were in charge of the goats that made milk for the ship.  Now, just a fun visual.
  • Golden Shellback:  Award given for crossing the equator at the International Date Line.
  • Gouge:  Inside information, or to cheat on a test using a "gouge sheet".
  • GQ:  General Quarters.  All hands man battle stations.
  • Greenie:  Green scrubbing pad used for cleaning.  Also, "greenie weenie".  A greenie and a bucket are also standard equipment during field day.
  • Green Water:  Solid wave or water, as opposed to the white foam top.  ex.: When we sailed through the hurricane, the swells were so high we were taking green water over the flight deck."  Generally, not a good thing.
  • Gundeck:  To falsify a report, log, or maintentance record.  Origins are from the days when the wooden decking underneath guns/cannons had to be reinforced and made thicker to support their weight.

Proofreading Is For Weenies

In addition to recombinant bovine growth hormone, apparently those evil dairy farmers were adding dollops of destiny to your milk....who knew?!

December 16, 2009

I Am Become Death: The Story of Two Davids

Today, I am quite maudlin.  Red, white, and sad all over.

Yesterday at work, a long time employee named David had a heart attack and died.  Right there, lying on the asphalt in the pouring rain.  He had been down about 5 minutes when someone ran to my office and told me to bring the AED--I have the only one on site, centrally located I suppose.  I made sure 911 had been called and ran over.  We worked on him for another 7 minutes or so, then the ambulance arrived.  15 minutes in the ambulance and 4 rounds of ACLS and meds, then one of the paramedics finally got out and let us know that in all honesty it didn't look good.  They still couldn't get a pulse and the blood was starting to pool in his back.  They transported him, and the hospital worked on him for around an hour, but to no avail.

When I close my eyes, I see flashes of images: his arms splayed out and his wristwatch had droplets of water on the face.  One of his pants legs had ruched up and I could see he was wearing two pair of white socks.  The broad expanse of his belly, his skin stark and white, expanding with the force of the chest compressions.  His leather boots had green laces, and the boots were wet.  Everything was wet.

This morning I was out fairly early, just after it got light.  I live a few blocks from the large VA complex here in town, and I pass by the Memorial Cemetary daily.  Today, something in the cemetary caught my eye--a large yellow backhoe and several pickup trucks, out on the grass amidst the white headstones.  And then I remembered today is the funeral of another David--Petty Officer David Mudge, who died in the UAE two weeks ago.  Of course, he would be laid to rest there in that cemetary.  So they were preparing his gravesite.  It is very near a large flagpole where wreaths were being set up and I saw that the flag was at half mast.

I called my Mom this morning, mostly to talk about how crappy I was feeling.  I wanted her words of comfort.  I needed her to tell me something, some maternal bon mot that would soothe me.  Instead, what she said was this: "Honey, from the moment we are born we are dying.  We can only do with the time we are alotted.".  I hung up feeling worse than before.

Around noon, I was out again, and this time I passed by a funeral home.  Out in front, I saw more than a half dozen Patriot Guard Riders waiting to escort Petty Officer Mudge and his family to the cemetary.  I quickly pulled in and went over to them.  I introduced myself, told them I was a vet and sailor, and said, "Thank you for doing this".  And promptly started crying. 

I hadn't realized until that moment just how angry I was.  I was angry at my mother for not saying something that made me feel better.  I was angry at the paramedics for being honest, angry with them for not pulling off a miracle.  I was angry with the backhoe operator for digging a hole in the ground that was to be the final resting place of PO Mudge, angry that it was still out there as a visible reminder of the harsh reality that the dirt must be replaced.  Angry that a sailor died 7000 miles from home after having only 22 years with the people who love him.

The Patriot Guard looked at me and put his hand on my shoulder.  He said simply, "I understand".  He looked around at all the others, and said to me, "You know why we do this.  We do it for the family as much as the fallen.  They deserve as much honor and respect as we can give them during this last, hardest trip.  It's sad, but there is pride in this job".  And you know what, he was so right.  To be out in front of the procession, with their engines making loud pronouncement, and those flags sad, but how proud.  How better to honor this young man and support his family.

And somewhere in the moment between putting the key in the ignition and turning it, I had an epiphany of sorts.  I finally understood what my Mom was trying to say.  She was saying that we don't know how long we have, be it minutes, hours, or decades.  We have a limited time, and what really matters is not the end, but what has come before.  And suddenly, I'm not angry anymore.

So we here in Douglas County, Oregon, remember a young man named David who volunteered to serve his country.  We remember that he had a paper route and delivered with a smile.  We also remember an older David, a man who cheerfully worked hard.  We remember how he liked to work on his boat on the weekends with friends.  We remember them so that we honor them.

We remember them, so we don't forget them.

December 14, 2009

In Memoriam: EM3 David Mudge

It is with a heavy heart that I make this post.  I just read in the local news that Petty Officer Third Class David Mudge was killed aboard ship while performing electrical repairs.

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- A Douglas County sailor was brought home Sunday.

David Mudge, 22, of Sutherlin, died two weeks ago on board the naval ship U.S.S. Rentz in the United Arab Emirates.

He was escorted back to the Chapel of the Firs Funeral Home in Roseburg by the Patriot Guard motorcycle group Sunday evening.

The Department of Defense says Mudge was working on electrical repairs while the ship was in port in the Persian Gulf, when he suffered fatal wounds from an electrical shock.

Mudge joined the Navy in January of 2007.

The body will remain at Chapel of the Firs until Wednesday, when a full military funeral is planned at the Douglas County Fairgrounds at 1:00 p.m.

First, I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to David's family.  It is unimaginably hard to lose a loved one, so young and so far away.  Secondly, I want to express my thanks to the Patriot Guard Riders who escorted this young man to the funeral home.  The Guard's presence surely let the family know that every servicemember deserves honor and respect, most especially at this sad time.

May you rest in peace, David.  Thank you for your honor, your courage, and your commitment.

"Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidst the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea."

Link to the story

December 11, 2009

Now You Too Can Talk Like A Sailor! (part 1)

In honor of one of the most historic and rivalled matchups (see previous post), I am posting a list of Navy and nautical slang and their meanings:
  • Adrift:  not properly stowed or tied down. 'Gear adrift' is a collective term for anything that will come loose and fly through the air with ship's movement; also, a common reason for failing a berthing inspection--gear adrift on your rack.
  • Airdale:  refers to any member of the aviation community, officer or enlisted. Often derrogitorily modified by non-aviation types with the adjective "fucking".  Root word for 'chowdale'.
  • AJ Squared Away:  The mythical sailor who always has his stuff together.
  • Angles and Dangles:  Operating a submarine at steep angles of ascent and descent, and to perform rapid turns (a submarine in a tight turn will bank in the same fashion as an aircraft).  Guaranteed way to discover 'gear adrift'.
  • Bag:  not doing your share of the work.  Lit.: leaving someone holding "the bag".  Bagging the watch, i.e.: relieving the offgoing watchstander late is a grievous error, and could earn you a label of "shitbag".
  • Balls (or four balls):  midnight, which in the 24-hr time system is 0000.
  • Balls Out:  Refers to an early design of engine governor, in which a pair of masses (balls) spun at an increasing rate as engine speed increased. Centrifugal acceleration threw the masses outward, so "balls out" refers to maximum possible engine speed.
  • Batten Down:  Make fast, secure, or shut. Originally, deck hatches did not have hinged, attached covers. Hatch covers were separate pieces which were laid over the hatch opening, then made fast with battens (pieces of timber).
  • Belay:  stop or disregard.  Commonly heard as "Belay my last".
  • Big Chicken Dinner:  A Bad Conduct Discharge.  ex.: "Punching the XO will probably get you a Court Martial and a Big Chicken Dinner."
  • Bilge Diving:  Working in the bilges of a ship, or cleaning same.
  • Binnacle:   A pedestal which supports a compass. Typically found next to or in front of the ship’s wheel.
  • Bitchbox:  Intercom or amplified circuit used to communicate between spaces of the ship.
  • Bitter End:  Properly, the free or loose end of a line. Originally, the bitter end of a mooring line was taken to the bitts (a mooring fixture) to secure it.  BTW, you never want to see the bitter end of your ship's anchor chain.
  • Blivet:  Traditionally, "Ten pounds of shit in a five-pound sack."  Also, a rubber fuel bladder.
  • Blue Shirt:  Anyone E-6 or below wearing the dungaree uniform, similar to the traditional term "Bluejacket," due to the Navy blue jacket issued with the dungaree uniform.
  • BOHICA:  Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.  ex.: "Aw, they cancelled the port visit. BOHICA!"
  • Boomer:  Ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
  • BOSNIA:  Big Old Standard Navy Issue Ass. Refers to the size of the sterns of some (usually female) navy personnel.
  • Bosun:  The phonetic spelling of ‘boatswain.’
  • Bravo Zulu:  'well done'.  Can be spoken, or written as BZ.  ex.: "That's fastest pipe patch I've ever seen. BZ, shipmate!"  In nuke usage, the term is used sarcastically or with high levels of irony.
  • Bubblehead:  Member of the submarine community. Frequently modified by members of the surface fleet with the adjective "fucking".
  • Buddy Fucker:  Someone who will not stand up for, or defend, a friend or shipmate, or someone who screws over a shipmate.
  • Bulkhead:  Wall.
  • Bull Nuke:  Senior nuclear-trained CPO aboard a sub. Junior in authority to the COB.
  • Bumfuck Egypt:  A (fictitious) bad place to be stationed, or the figurative ends of the earth. Sometimes seen as BFE.
  • Cat:  Catapult.  Planes can be launched on a carrier from the 'bow cats' or the 'waist cats'.
  • CBR:  Chemical, Biological, and Radiological (nuclear) warfare. 
  • Channel Fever:  Anxious to get home, or reach port.
  • Check Valve:  Used to describe a person, it refers to one who does for himself, but not others. None of the goodies get past him.
  • CHENG:  Chief Engineer.
  • Chit:  A small piece of paper, often a request for or granting of permission to do something.  ex.: "You can't go on leave until you show me your chit."
  • Chop:  Change of Operational command, spoken as "inchop" (entering a command region or zone) or "outchop" (leaving a command region).
  • Cinderella Liberty:  Liberty where one must be back aboard by midnight.
  • Clear Datum:  (Submarine) To leave the area where you have been detected, or to leave the scene of the crime, especially when liquor and members of the opposite sex are involved.
  • Charlie Foxtrot:  Cluster Fuck – An evolution remarkable for its significant lack of excellence.  Mass confusion and chaos.  Also known as a 'Goat Rope'.
  • COB:  Chief Of the Boat. Senior enlisted onboard a submarine; acts as liaison between the crew and the XO.
  • CONUS:  Continental U.S.
  • Crescent Hammer:  Crescent wrench.
  • Crow:  The rate insignia of a USN Petty Officer (E-4 through E-6), so-called because of the eagle above the rate chevrons.
  • Cut of His Jib:  From the days of sail, when individual sails were made aboard the ship and a certain amount of individuality was expressed in the design of the sails. Ships were identified by the "cut of their jib."  ex.: "Hey--you there! What the hell are you doing?! I don't think I like the cut of your jib."

Fear The Goat

Go Navy!  Beat Army!!

That is all.

December 9, 2009

I Need Some Cheese To Go With This Whine

It's effing cold here, and I'm crabby.  It's not supposed to get this cold in southern Oregon, especially not three days in a row.  Low of 10F, high a balmy 31F.  Bah humbug.

Ok, it's time for me to come clean: I am a closet grammar nazi.  Well, more of a spelling nazi I guess.  I don't claim to be perfect in my writing/spelling skills, but I do at least try to be correct.  I know some people find it to be an annoying quality, but I accept this about myself and make no apologies for it.  Which sets up the lead-in for today's story.....

This morning when I left for work, my mood was instantly soured when I went outside.  My breath was sucked away and it felt like my eyeballs were dessicated.  I don't like feeling like a turtle, hunching down in my coat collar and dragging my watch cap (yes, I still have the one issued to me) down as far as it will go.  I decided to make myself feel better by stopping for a latte on my way in.  The little drive-through coffee place near my house was offering a few holiday specials, so I perused the board......and saw the following:
  • 20 oz. Eggnog Latte: triple shot of expresso, steamed eggnog, topped with whip cream. ($3.75)
Gah! Argh!! Squid Thoughts' pet peeve numero uno--pronouncing the word 'nuclear' as 'nuke-yoo-ler'. But coming in for place and show is the above two gaffes. And it was a two-fer! I transmogrified into a BRS (that's Bitch, Ready to Shout), proceeded to climb my grammatical soap box and lecture the poor girl behind the counter who probably doesn't get paid enough to deal with people like me that early in the morning. I told her it was espresso, with an ESS; and that whipped describes what has been done to the cream to make it a proper topping, whip is what someone will do to future batches of cream. I suggested the following example: "Good morning ma'am! I will brew shots of espresso so quickly you could call it express, and then whip this cream in order to top your 20 oz. Eggnog latte with a nice dollop of whipped cream."

Poor thing.  I really made a donkey of myself this morning.  But she handled it with remarkable grace.

I left her a nice tip.

Grouchy but moderately caffeinated squid--out.

December 8, 2009

The Marcus Luttrell Warrior Legacy Ranch

*** UPDATE 03/2010:  The ranch project is no longer associated with the Warrior Legacy Foundation.  It is now being administered by the Lone Survivor Foundation.  Please view this post for more information. ***

Greetings! I promised earlier to post any updates regarding the status of the Sergeant Shelton's Wounded Warrior Ranch Retreat. Well, this morning I was pleased to discover that things at the Ranch are progressing. It now has a new name: the Marcus Luttrell Warrior Legacy Ranch, and operations will be administered by the great and wonderful Warrior Legacy Foundation. Information about the ranch and how you can support its development can be found here.

The design and purpose of the Ranch encompasses Billy Shelton's original concept: to provide mental, physical, and emotional rehabilitation for returning warriors and their families. This is a project that I feel goes a long way to filling a particular void that exists regarding caring for and thanking our veterans for their sacrifices for our country. Located in Leakey, Texas apx. 75 miles west of San Antonio along the Frio River, the Ranch will provide numerous outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and wandering acreage; as well as a camp for children of veterans who have lost limbs, and specialized professional and peer-to-peer counseling. This Ranch will be a healing place; a place to mentally, physically, and spiritually decompress; a place where a warrior can get a warm and sincere "welcome home".

Please visit the Warrior Legacy Foundation to see how you can lend your support to this honorable organization--they do incredible work for our American warriors and their families.  Visit WLF's site for The Marcus Luttrell Warrior Legacy Ranch at to read about it and make a secure, tax-deductable donation.

December 4, 2009

12/7: A Day That Will Live In Infamy For The NAVSPECWAR Community

I haven't been posting here regularly, but I've come across a story that's brought me back....and I'm pissed.  Three Navy SeALs are being accused of mistreating a prisoner they tracked and captured, one Ahmed Hashim Abed. 

Abed has been wanted by the United States since 2004 for masterminding the ambush and murder of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah.  The guards were shot, their bodies burned and publicly drug through the city, and finally hung from a bridge. 

Abed was just recently captured and placed in custody.  All good, right?  Well, here's the rub:  Abed was allegedly punched in the stomach or the mouth by one of his captors.  The Master-At-Arms guarding Abed was then obliged to report his complaint and now two US Navy SeALs are charged with dereliction of duty, making a false statement, and interfering with an investigation.  The third SeAL is being charged with the same as the other two, plus assault.  The charges were originally brought through Captain's Mast, the Navy's non-judicial punishment system.  All three SeALs have excercised their right to decline Captain's Mast and have instead requested a court martial to hear their cases.  The three men's arraignments are set for December 7th.

So to sum up: we spent millions of dollars training men who volunteered for a dangerous and difficult job, a job that a mere few are capable or desirous of doing.  We give these men our best--our best training, information and equipment.  These few iron men give us their best--their honor, integrity, courage, commitment, and if needed their life itself.  We ask them to put themselves in harm's way and find a murderer to keep him from hurting anyone else....and they do.  Apparently we were also supposed to issue instructions that all terrorists are to be given lots of love, understanding, and affirmation.  Go out, dodge bullets and IED's, try to bring yourself back alive and unhurt, grab that Tango while you're at it---but whatever you do DON'T BAD TOUCH HIM!  If he spits or pisses on you, pass him a glass of water.  If he struggles and tries to strike you, give him a sympathetic hug.  If he promises his friends will kill any and all Americans in horrible ways and never stop, gently but firmly place him in time-out to show him you care.

Dear Politicians and Head Sheds:  if you want a job done, call a SeAL team.  They will get it done, put it to bed, and say "what's next?".  They can still get a job done despite having one hand tied behind their backs--maybe even two.  But don't send a team out only to castrate them when they return because they were too rough.  Why are Abed's rights even a factor?  He didn't consider the human rights of the four Blackwater employees that he murdered, mutilated, and put on display for the world to see.  I'm sorry, but who the fuck cares if this dirtbag got the wind knocked out of him or has a fat lip? 

I understand that all the facts of this case are not out here for public consumption.  But the mere fact that I know three SeAL team members were involved in Abdel's capture is a huge problem--that should not be public knowledge.  Secondly, I also understand that Special Warfare operators are internally held to an even higher standard than their shipmates.  There must be an unquestionable level of integrity and trust.  However, I guess I'm left wondering why this ever went to Mast in the first place leaving the option open for a public court martial.  If someone strayed off course it seems to me that it is the duty of the unit to bring him back in line.  I am in no way advocating open season on captured terrorists, as pleasant as that actually sounds to me.  We really do have to walk a higher road and not sink to their levels of barbarism.  But it's not like this guy was beaten to within an inch of his life or had all the bones in his wrist broken or anything.  There didn't seem to be any attempt to torture or humiliate him. 

We are hostages to public opinion, and every terrorist knows it.  They can and do use it against us.  We are sending out our guard dogs, but they have no teeth and an electric shock collar. Not very effective.

Ok, maybe I exaggerated a bit that December 7th will be a day of infamy for the SPECWAR community.  But it should be a day of shame for the United States, that's for sure.  While we remember the events that happened at Pearl Harbor and celebrate the heroes of that day, we are quietly condemning a new generation of heroes, ones who are simply trying to make the country and the world a little safer.