Fri – May 21, 2004
Because you know you want it…
First off, let me say that, having spent a week back at work after a week essentially screwing off, I have come to the conclusion that (for me, anyway), there is little which is inherently ennobling in labor, per se. I certainly feel that it’s important that the rest of you keep working, in order to keep those tax receipts coming in to the federal guvnmint, not least because that’s where I draw my salary from, and eventually (it is to be hoped) my retirement.
My dad couldn’t stand retirement, I honestly think it was the death of him. And no matter how much I honor his memory, and thank him for all that he did for me, I think I’m safe in saying that in this, at least, we are very different men.
Blog about what you know – Okay, okay, I get it. People seem to like the sea stories – no one comes to a site named “Neptunus Lex” for tightly reasoned thinking on the politics of the day. Not twice, anyway.
So I’ll try to tell more sea stories, and you’ll have to tell me when you’ve gotten sick of them. But I’m going to share with you other things as they occur and interest me as well, and beg your indulgence. First because, well, it’s my blog, etc, second because some of these stories (while true in every word) feel a bit to me like showing off, or grandstanding, or something else unseemly and so I have a bit of hesitation crafting them for your consumption.
There is drama to be sure in flying high performance fighters off aircraft carriers, but the truth is that once you’re on the inside of it, much of it feels routine, even pedestrian at times. I mean, after all, All my friends do it. And at some point in your career, you’re supposed to stop having drama episodes, and go about the business of being a professional.
Old pilots vs bold pilots : In case that’s too vague of a reference (I thought I’d put it in that list, but apparently I didn’t): “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.”
And that is the truth.
I had a high-speed get off from a motorcycle, geez, ten or eleven years ago that left me with a month or so at home to convalesce. There were crutches, and physical therapy (definition: finding the one thing that causes you the most possible pain, and doing it over , and over again until you collapse). I also had a lot of time on my hands, so I started to “write my book.” I read a lot growing up, and while much of what I read was good or very good, some of it was very bad indeed. I figured that I could do better.
Being who I am, I first went out and bought a book on how to write a book, which essentially said, “Outline your plot, and then write three pages per day. Do it.” There was also some encouragement right there at the end along the lines of, “Oh, yeah – good luck finding an agent. Putz.”
But I was not dissuaded, not until I got to the third chapter, and realized that this writing thing is hard. Oh sure, anyone can cobble together a sentence, but to tell a story worth telling, with Character Development and Meaning and a “plot” ended up being more difficult than I had envisioned. Also, since the book counseled me to “write about what you know,” I wrote about flying fighters. Which can get you into all kinds of trouble right away, since much of what we do involves classified systems, and all of it is fairly technical once you get past the “how high will it fly, how fast does she go?” kinds of questions. And if you try to explain the unclassified technical aspects in a way that makes the rest of the story make some sort of sense, you will bore two types of people: those who already know what the relationship is between angle of attack and airspeed, and those who simply don’t care, leaving somewhere between five and ten people who will find your book even remotely interesting.
Tomorrow I plan to take the assorted Clan Neptuni to the San Diego Museum of art, because there was a pretty cool broadcast today on NPR about an exhibit they’re having It has to do with the history, art and architecture of Saint Peter’s basilica in the Vatican, with which (not being Catholic), I am not very familiar.
We will have some unique and quality family time together, collectively learn something new, and not spend a very great deal of money doing it. For this, I expect to be roundly excoriated.
Saw “Troy,” last week, and enjoyed it somewhat less than I had hoped to. It was diverting certainly, but it seemed to me that the writers and directors were trying too hard to remain faithful to the spirit of the Illiad (the rage of Achilles and all that) while losing some of the (to me) important context and historical accuracy. So it dragged in spots for all the wrong reasons.
When “Gladiator” first came out there were plenty of criticisms that the story was essentially made up from whole cloth, and complaints that the director didn’t just use some of the great real material from the days of the Caesars. I think I understand why now – with a fiction set in an interesting period, you are not required to display any degree at all of historical accuracy, and are more or less free to tell a story.
Marianne or Ginger? Marianne
Troy or Gladiator? Gladiator
That’s all I’m saying.
By the way, the “Best of” list at the right is starting to feel a little stale to me, so if anyone has any recommendations on what should go up there (or what should drop off), please drop me a line. An email is fine, in order to avoid unduly influencing the other two readers.
I’ve received an intriguing offer for future employment – there’s a chance (by no means a certainty) that I could go next year to the National War College in D.C., get my masters and stay on for another couple of years as the Navy Chair or in another instructional role. It would mean a move of course, and there is at least one teenage daughter in the house that I am fairly certain will sue for emancipation, but I’ll admit that I’m tempted. The extended family still lives in Northern Virginia, and Virginia of course is my own, my native land.
Also, it would probably mean that I’d be out of the whole going to sea experience, but after seven deployments and God knows how many other at-sea periods, missed birthdays and anniversaries, etc. I’d be willing to make that sacrifice, I think. It could also lead to a transition to gainful employment in places where good and worthwhile work can still be done.
Sumpin’ to ponder.
Couple of cool quotes the fleet commander pulled on us in that meeting earlier this week:
VADM Bull Halsey to RADM Arleigh Burke, prior to the battle of Cape Saint George : “Thirty-One Knot Burke, get athwart the Buka-Rabaul evacuation line about 35 miles west of Buka. If no enemy contact by 0300…come south to refuel same place. If enemy contacted, you know what to do.”
“During the Cuban missile crisis, CNO Arleigh Burked dispatched a destroyer CO to the area, telling him to position himself in the vicinity of the island and defend the national interest. When the CO sent a message back requesting clarification, Burke sent him another message saying ‘your relief is on his way, he’ll explain it to you.’ “
Ah…. Those were the days.
Well, that’s a wrap for this week’s edition. Thanks to all who dropped by and paid a visit, including only-you-know-who-you-are that came from the untraceable IP address, and spent 45 minutes looking at 21 page views and as far as I can tell did not leave one single comment or note!
“How woood!” </ jar jar voice>