Friday Musings August 20 2004

By lex, Fri – August 20, 2004


Another week down – ordinarily that would be worth a “woo-hoo!” if not a “yabba-dabba-do.”

But now each passing week brings me and my hardy crew closer to a very busy fall schedule. Oh, it isn’t like we’re going to be strapping on body armor and shouldering rifles in the blazing summer heat – but we will be gone a lot. And, we’ve just received a heroic injection of uncertainty and confusion, just when my ops planners had finished placing the last card upon the precarious house we were building of them.

Plan early, plan twice. Needs of the service.

Good news! SNO got to come home for the weekend, after his first week away. He had a great time, telling me that he’d never packed so much into such a short period of time. Sounds like he did a great job all the way around, and he was very proud of his accomplishments. The butterflies are gone now – and he’s got his own sea stories to tell.

I sat back gratefully, and let him spill it all out – it came out in a tumble, each story reminding him of the next, which in turn reminded him of another. My temptation was to add to the narrative, to compare stories, but I resisted – this is his own time to speak, and mine to listen.

And now there are two of us in the service – I hardly know what to think.

Could eighteen years have passed so fast?



Ah, look at him now…


Taller than I am, fitter than I was and a whole lot better looking than I ever hoped to be. Evolution, I suppose.

You’re maybe wondering about the mustache? That started to turn gray too.

There was a picnic for the parents who could come by, the Biscuit came with her friend – the Biscuit received far more attention from the assembled midshipmen and Marines than a father would have thought entirely appropriate. She didn’t seem to mind the attention.




Supercharged from her experience, she decided that the only thing for it was to go to the mall.

Dunno about you, but I’m really looking forward to the time that the stores start selling jeans that go all the way up to the wearer’s t-shirt again.


I’ve got a bone to pick with the newspaper delivery guy – I don’t know what we did to earn his enmity, but every morning I find our combined Union- Tribune and WJS subscriptions in the driveway gutter. Oh, they’re wrapped in plastic against those sudden summer showers (what?), so the actual paper doesn’t get wet. But still, folks have their automatic lawn sprinklers set for 0600 every day, so the package is always just a little wet and dirty.

It’s a ridiculous complaint, I know – but I also know that PSYOPS must be continuous to be effective, and that no one else on the street ever seems to have their news in the gutter every morning. Don’t know what he’s driving at.



The closest land-based TIAD I ever had (that didn’t involve flipping a Jaguar XKE) was in Kuwait, commuting between Camp Doha and Al-Jabber base on the Dead Sheep Highway. Well, that probably wasn’t it’s real name, but it was as aptly descriptive as whatever you might find in the native tongue.

Turns out that the sheepherders there are required to bring sheep that die for whatever reason to the road edge, in order to be accounted for by the flock owners. In the viciously overheated summer months, the sight can be pretty appalling. You don’t want to know about the smell.

DSH is essentially a two and a half lane road with no markings. East bound traffic is supposed to hug the right shoulder, while the westbound traffic hews to the opposite side. Passing traffic splits the difference.

So I’m in a mad haste to get from Jabber back to Doha (it seems that I’m always in a mad haste to get somewhere, when I’m driving) and coming up on a lolly-gagging semi. Talking on the phone to an Air Force officer at the embassy, I decide that it’s safe to pass the semi, even though another is coming in the opposite direction. Plenty of room for all three of us.

Pretty much abeam the same direction semi, and committed to passing him at this point, the USAF officer delivers some mildly disappointing news about some issue that was not significant enough to remember, when I startle him by screaming, “Frap!” Or anyway, words to that effect.

A sedan trailing the oncoming semi decide it was time to pass his man as well. The road is plenty wide enough for three of us, but it was categorically not wide enough for four of us. I tucked as close as I could into “my” semi and essentially closed my eyes. I’ve no idea how I didn’t hit the sedan, only that when I opened them again, I was past my man and the other semi and sedan were receding into the distance in my rear-view mirror.

And the USAF officer wondered whether I knew something he didn’t, or if I was just reacting poorly to his news.

My passenger was a stalwart young man – a combat wingman of mine, in fact. He never said a word.

That’s a good wingman.


Under what should have been the caption, “Not Clear on the Concept,” the NYT reports that anarchists are set to disrupt the RNC convention in New York. The were conspicuously absent from Boston, as I recall, a fact which no doubt brought great pleasure to Bryan Strawser.

I’m no classical scholar, but know enough Greek to understand that “anarchists” should be opposed to all forms of government, not just the kind led by one or another political party under the same constitution. These guys need to go re-read their source documents. Or else change their label.



As a midshipman at a fencing tournament in NYC a couple of years decades ago, I was standing on a street corner wondering what to do (in New York!) with two teammates when an alarm went off at the laundromat next door. From out of nowhere, five or six beefy representatives of New York’s finest came barreling out of the gloom and caught some poor unfortunate who had hoped to walk off with what must have been seven or eight dollars worth of quarters.

But on the way in, one of them had brushed against a young tough in a leather jacket who had been drinking beer from a paper bag on the street, together with several of his friends. As the cops, having bundled the thief into a waiting patrol car, stood around talking, their breaths jetting out in gusts of fog in the crystal clear, bitter cold, winter night, the aforementioned tough guy thought it fit to lodge a civil complaint, right there and then.

Yo! You guys made me drop my beer!” the young man said, to the clearly astonished, momentarily speechless group of police officers.

“What did you say?” one of the cops finally asked, as all turned to look at him.

“When you was running in there, you knocked into me and made me drop my beer!” the young man said, his body language going from confrontational to defensive as four of the cops slowly surrounded him, clearly enjoying the moment. His friends, meanwhile, all did their best Claude Rains imitations.

My teammates and I, children of a gentler world, watched raptly as this theater played out before us.

The cop that had brushed into him suddenly, almost gracefully, grabbed a fistful of hair and gave the tough guy a couple of quick slaps across the face – nothing really hard, but certain to sting his pride, if not his cheeks, and said, “Well, you wasn’t supposed to be drinking it out here on the street, was you?”

The other two mids and I exchanged glances. Life in the big city, our eyes agreed. Move along.

So, yeah. Anarchy. In a post-9/11 New York City.

They should make sure their dental plans are paid up.

I’m not endorsing police brutality. I’m just saying.


Have recently bought a new digital camera, nicest one I could afford. Frankly maybe a little nicer than I could afford. It came with a bundle of software from Nikon, which appears to do much the same thing as does Apple’s iPhoto. Comes with it’s own free webspace for publishing, too.

I can’t really tell if the Nikon Picture Project software (now there’s an inspiring bit of marketing: “What should we call it? I know!”) has any advantages over iPhoto (and in any case I end up tweaking my work in Adobe’s Photoshop Elements) so I’m reduced to copying the photos into both application sets.

Which can’t be the way to go.

Thanks for bearing with that. I know it wasn’t easy.


Is it just me, or does anyone else think this story is kind of funny?

Oh, I know it doesn’t particularly tend to cast the TSA in the most favorable light, but still.

Think if he’d been on a no-drive list 35 years ago…

Yeah, that was a cheap shot.

But still.


Y’all had enough? I have.

Have a great weekend!

Back To The Index 

1 Comment

Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Family, Uncategorized

One response to “Friday Musings August 20 2004

  1. Oh man.

    I wish I was around the time he was still among us.

    And yes, as somewhat recent father I too would hope to see jeans that go all the way up to the t-shirt.
    Luckily we have 2 sons “only”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s