By Lex, on Thu – March 24, 2005
Back again from the grips of the perilous, wine-dark sea.
The debrief is complete, and the strike group did a fine job, wonderful in fact. I could have just hugged them, except, well… it wouldn’t have been appropriate. They’ll deploy soon, and we’ll be left behind bemoaning our fate.
In the warm embrace of our families.
Karma. You take the good with the bad.
Speaking of inappropriate, I was debriefing the varied and sundry collected admirals, (we had six stars in the room, all told – three were on one gent’s collar) warfare commanders, chiefs of staff, and staff samurai on the strike group’s performance when I came to a point I wanted to make about how quickly this particular group jumped on recommendations for improvement. They were really, really good at it, and I led in with, “And when this strike group sees a way to improve, they’re all over it like… like…” and I had to pause, because the simile I was smitten by was “all over it like a hobo on a hot dog,” which isn’t really the tone I was trying to set, and anyway can come out sounding like a different, and altogether less appropriate simile entirely, which simply wouldn’t do. But once the image came to mind there was no shunting it aside for any of the more favored fighter pilot similes (like a bad rash, like a cheap suit, like white on rice, etc) and had to cough an apology before moving on.
So it goes.
Also inappropriate? Right outside the wardroom was a sign, saying “FEMALE OFFICERS HEAD ONLY”
And I couldn’t help thinking that playing with breath stops as you read that sign aloud generates altogether different meanings. Try it at home.
The first thing that happens to you when you go aboard ship is that you instantly become hungry and sleepy. After a week, another effect kicks in. That’s just the way it is.
I received a bunch of emails from old friends and new (for those of you I haven’t yet replied to, I cry your pardon, and ask your patience. Soon, I promise!) which I couldn’t really read or reply to from the ship, bandwidth being more precious than fresh water, which is saying a lot.
Orders. Like, permanent change of duty station orders. It’s that time, oh yes. And I’ve been repeating the Lex mantra, “Orders are orders, misery is optional,” until I’m pretty much blue in the face. But!
I’ve been through the wringer lately, and it’s probably all my fault. I had deftly leapt from precipice to chasm, only to settle upon eventual compromise. And then, after having embarked aboard the Oldest Nuclear Aircraft Carrier of her class! I discovered an email from the guy who writes my orders from one duty station to the next waiting there in my queue aboard ship, date stamped mid-January. Subject: Incredibly good deal, call me right away!
Which of course I hadn’t, since I hadn’t been aboard the aforementioned capital warship since mid-December. And this right after I had cheerily shaken the hand of a Very Senior Officer and smiled and told him that, yes, of course, I’d love to come work for him as a wage-slave in the spice mines on Arrakis for the next three years.
Yes, I’m aware that this isn’t going anywhere. And taking it’s sweet time getting there. Gomen nasai.
We do reports at sea. It’s what we do, or part of it anyway. When we’re not flying fighters, which was a whole lot more fun, but it doesn’t last forever because eventually you get old and they put you out to pasture where you do reports, but never mind.
And we’re back.
Reports – the first report is always wrong. The second report is a lie to cover up the first report. The third report is 50% true, the only problem being that you can’t possibly tell which 50%. The fourth report is usually 100% true because under extreme pressure, a junior officer will generally blurt out the truth.
You have to maintain the aircraft. Sometimes the maintainers help you, sometimes they don’t.
(Maintenanceman’s point of view: Operations: You have to operate the aircraft. Sometimes the pilots do it right, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t guess who has to fix it?)
G= Gripe (Pilot’s complaint)
S= Maintenance solution
G: Left main tire almost out of limits.
S: Almost replaced left main tire.
G: Test flight OK, auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
G: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.
G: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on backorder.
G: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot duplicate on ground.
G: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear strut.
S: Evidence removed.
G: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
G: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what it’s for.
G: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
G: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.
G: Aircraft flies funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
G: Radar hums in air-to-air mode.
S: Taught radar lyrics.
It’s great to be home.