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Old 06-09-2012, 08:25 PM   #61
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Our daughter finished her sophomore year last month and her GPA recovery program summer school last week. By some quirk of the civil engineering degree requirements, her summer-school B+ in Linear Algebra means she doesn't have to take any more high-falutin' math classes and can take just two statistics courses. That's her latest definition of "deliriously happy". She flew home in time to catch Tuesday's solar transit of Venus.

We've surfed three of the last four mornings, including a lovely day of 6-8 footers. She's had a USMC gunny sergeant as a personal trainer for the last couple years of NROTC-- she's in pretty good shape and she carves a lot better these days. White Plains Beach has subsided to 2-4 for this morning's military competition, so we took a break from the crowds. We'll be back tomorrow.

We had to watch "The Avengers" movie, of course, and next on the agenda is "Battleship" for all the GoNavy dialogue. We had one evening of taekwondo where she got caught up with friends, and an old friend of ours dropped by to visit so it was a mini-reunion.

She's spent plenty of time with the Prius (which apparently has turned into a very poor driving experience now that she's bought her own car) going shopping, visiting local friends, and enjoying local kine grindz. The plate lunch featured below is one of the island's deadliest weapons.

Friday was the lei-draping ceremony prelude to Monday's Kamehameha Day. The local Kamehameha Society (descendants of ali'i) and volunteers made several hundred feet of lei for the statues here, on the Big Island, and in the hall of the U.S. Capitol building. This is probably the highlight of the year for the firefighters to operate their ladder truck. She got some good photos of that.

After Sunday's surfing we'll drop her off at the airport, and she'll head to Bangor for a month's training on an OHIO-class submarine. Suddenly all of my "old" sea stories have taken on new relevance...
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:34 PM   #62
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We got an e-mail from our daughter telling us how to send her a familygram. (The Stupid Shall Be Punished: Family-Grams) I guess it's sort of like that first letter the summer-camp staff makes you mail home.

She's mostly in receive mode for the next month... or maybe longer. She mentioned being eligible for a boomer pin. My impression of eligibility is that you have to be on board for the entire patrol-- any of you other nukes or coners happen to know if it can now be done in less than 90 days? 50 days? 30 days?

Her description of the PERSTRANS was sketchy, but she made it sound as if the boomer surfaced close enough for the small-boat crew (and a bunch of impressionable young midshipmen) to see the whole evolution. But it takes stupidity guts to do that in the Strait of Juan de Fuca... maybe near Port Angeles?

The good news is that the boat copies familygrams whenever they can, and there doesn't appear to be any limit on the number of grams or the number of words or any of the other Cold War bandwidth restrictions.

I haven't decided yet whether I'd rather be sending 'em or reading 'em...
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:31 AM   #63
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Got an update from our submariner-wannabe daughter. Let me explain some of the lifestyle and vocabulary before we get to her e-mail at the end.

As a Navy ROTC Midshipman 2/c, this summer training is supposed to show her the enlisted life. (She'll do an officer training cruise next summer, probably on a surface ship.) The enlisted crews know that this is their one chance to train the mids right: while they're still listening, before they turn into officers. The CO & XO tell the junior officers that these mids will one day be their reliefs... or their own junior officers. She reported aboard 10 June (via small boat; the sub was already underway) and she hopes to return home sometime this month (no official date yet). August at the latest. September fer sure.

I've served on boomers (1980s) and on attack boats (1990s). I'm glad I did a boomer first, at the peak of the Cold War, before I knew about life on attack boats. I honestly wonder how today's boomer sailors maintain the will to live. Standing sonar watch on a boomer is like being a eunuch in a harem. [Insert joke here about sonar techs.] A boomer is assigned a patrol area, far away from the shipping lanes, and about the size of the state of Georgia. It pokes holes in the ocean, moving "four knots to nowhere". (An OHIO-class SSBN is literally quieter than the background noise, and I have tracked them that way.) Whenever a contact emerges from the background noise, even though it's literally dozens or even hundreds of miles away, the boat quietly turns tail and sneaks off. The contact may only be held passively on a single narrowband frequency, not even on broadband, but you'll still run & hide. So there's not much happening in Sonar on a boomer, other than a safety watch when the boat is getting ready to come to periscope depth. The watchstanders monitor the consoles ("stacks"), tell a lot of sea stories do on-watch training, maintain & clean their gear, and drink a lot of coffee. And, judging from my daughter's commentary below, they try to covertly kill each other?!? The "Assassin Game" is a new one to me.

Submariners typically stand a three-section watchbill. That's a six-hour watch (with an occasional bathroom break, or maybe not) and 12 hours off. The 12 hours off watch includes training & drills with the possibility of 3-6 hours of sleep (or maybe not) before the next watch. My spouse, a meteorology/oceanography officer, spent most of her career at weather facilities and command centers where their duty cycle is 12 on, 12 off, but she got to go home in between watches. Spouse was also a trailblazer as the fourth class of USNA women, so she's a little biased against a daughter who wants to blaze trails in the submarine force. I sympathize with everyone's feelings on both sides of the situation and try to avoid the crossfire. I think our daughter will write her own ticket.

The submarine firefighting ensemble (FFE) is just like what you see from the local fire department, including the boots, but without the helmet. It's hot, it's heavy, it's sweaty. You also drag hoses and extinguishers. No wonder the crew is so generously stepping aside to "let her get the experience" during the fire drills. The emergency air-breathing mask (EAB) is a full facemask with a plug-in airhose fed by a 100-psi air line that runs throughout the ship. The challenge is plugging your hose into the air manifold, getting a breath, holding it, unplugging, and knowing where/how to find the next manifold 10-20 feet away. In the dark. Flames are simulated with Christmas lights, but vision is usually inhibited by having a bag placed over your EAB-clad head. You're literally fighting the fire blind (perhaps with a thermal imager) because that's what happens during bad submarine fires. Unlike the surface Navy, the submarine drill experience urgently motivates the crew to prevent the fires from getting a head start. Sound the alarm, pass the word, stand your ground, and fight back.

During the last three weeks, one of the crew dehydrated himself on self-administered "weight loss supplements". A submarine corpsman is trained at about the level of an EMT (and may even be certified as one) but they mainly inspire prevention through intimidation. A dehydrated sailor would normally recover by drinking a quart of water and being watched for a few hours, but that would deprive the doc of a chance to practice needle skills and make an example of him. (If the doc was pissed off, then the IV needle would be inserted by a cook who's training as a first-aid helper. If the doc really wanted to hurt his patient then he'd give the needle to the XO.) Seeing your shipmate wearing an IV bag sends a message to the rest of the crew about unauthorized ingestion of nutritional/dietary supplements.

When I was on the boomer cycle of 28-day refits and 90-day patrols, I'd gain about a pound a week. (Soft-serve ice cream!!) I'd usually lose it during the offcrew, but as I got older that got tougher. Now my P90X taekwondo surfer grrrl is seeing it firsthand.

Our daughter gets no extra privileges by standing watch, and she certainly doesn't get more pay. She could have chosen to fill out her midshipman "qualification card" and then spent the rest of the month watching movies, drinking coffee, and playing cribbage. Her watchstanding choice may be perceived as "stupid" by the crew and her fellow mids, but it's going to give her bonus points from the senior enlisted and the XO. That's going to feed right back into her service selection. For her sake, I hope the good karma is still there when BUPERS starts picking submariners in early 2014. But she'll do just fine in the surface Navy or in the Civil Engineering Corps, and she may already be thinking those thoughts. I've transitioned from a mentor and a coach into a sounding board.

So here she is after three weeks underway, the last ten days in EMCON, and who knows how much longer to go:
Quote:
I'm officially Sonar Passive Broadband qualified!!! I started working on the six-hour watchbill last night, and Mom, I don't know how you managed to stand 12-hour watches for so much of your career. The first two hours were interesting, the last hour or so went pretty quickly, but the middle 2.5 hours suck! I'm now known around the boat as the midshipman who quickly qualified Sonar in eight days and was stupid enough to join the watchbill.

Since I'm on the boat's watchbill I really am living the submarine life (and sleep schedule)... Not only am I sitting on the broadband stack in Sonar, I'm also participating in training and drills. Twice I've donned a FFE and ran off to smother Christmas lights, and three times I've donned an EAB in Sonar for battle stations missile and torpedo. I also feel like watch is the best place to truly learn about the submarine force and the Navy. The crew on watch in Sonar are much more open about their life underway since we're in the more private, knock-first-before-entering Sonar room. Dad, I'd definitely love a long conversation on changing Navy life, trailblazers, and how the submarine force has changed in... 20... years...

I have a whole list to help me keep track of all the sea stories I now have from being underway. We have a lot to discuss.

I joined the watchbill in a different section than the one that trained me, but I like my new section just as much. We spent most of watch talking about favorite comic book and superhero characters. About every hour or so, the section looked at me and asked "How are you doing, Nordy?" I'm glad that they kept an eye on me and made sure I was doing ok during the watch. I did zone out completely at one point while listening to contacts, and I was teased about it for part of the watch!

Now that I'm part of sonar I'm also part of their assassins game. It's basically a large game of secret tag in which each sonar member is given a "target" to "kill" some time not during watch, rack time, or field day. I'm waiting on the email naming my "target" from our "godfather"--the division officer.

The only unfortunate part about watch is missing out on other "24-hour calendar" events that the midshipmen do. For example, every Saturday night is pizza night and the mids always help make the 60-odd pizzas. But I had watch, so I couldn't help this week. Luckily, some events I can ask for a relief, like the CO/Weps brief for midshipmen happening during my next watch tomorrow.

One event a couple days ago: there was a sailor that was on IV drips because of some weight-loss supplements he was taking. I'm not sure exactly how he wound up with an IV in his arm, but basically he had taken a lot of supplements without drinking enough water. He was fine within 30 hours, but I found the whole ordeal interesting, partly because I got to see Doc break out his sophisticated medical equipment, partly because I got to see the interaction between the sailor and his chain of command coming to check on him, partly to hear all the various rumors and to watch the news travel around the boat, and mainly because I've never really been in a situation where a (male) sailor was quietly struggling with losing weight. It made me realize that there are probably a lot of sailors that struggle with weight issues, and that the Navy really doesn't offer a solid weight loss plan or guidelines. Sure, there are signs in every galley talking about limiting sugars and fats and increasing fruits and veggies, but there isn't really a comprehensive diet-and-exercise-minus-supplements plan. Nor is there much available on understanding how much time it takes to lose weight. It was one of those events that made me stop, and think "Hunh."

It also made me think about how cruel submarine life is to bodyweight. For example my whole job during off-watch is to act as watch relief and to wait to respond to different Codes (Code Red, Code Green, etc). But when that code happens I can't be in PT gear, so I can't PT during that time. And then, if I want to PT, it'll have to cut into my sleeping time because it certainly can't happen during my watch or off-watch time. And then it's so incredibly easy to eat the wrong things or to overeat at meals. I think I'm doing OK in my submarine diet by limiting starches and loading up on veggies and protein and fruits but I could do better. I'm struggling without drinking soda or coffee with sugar and cream or large portions of food; it makes me imagine what kind of struggles the other sailors could be going through.
When she gets home and her memories are still fresh, we're going to have a beverage or two with a shipmate who was an enlisted nuke and became an intelligence officer (he's up for O-5 next year). We're also going to have coffee with another good shipmate, a retired corpsman EMT who's qualified in submarines as well as in aviation rescue swimmer. (The movie "The Guardian".) He has a few sea stories she never wants to hear.
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:22 AM   #64
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DS and family showed up our Canada Day BBQ.
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:57 AM   #65
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Nords, the Navy is sure a different experience from my norm. Sounds like your daughter is really taking to it. It's great that she communicates so much to you.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:53 AM   #66
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Should have posted this yesterday, but too tired. 12 year old son had a baseball game. He went 3-3 with a double, 3 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and threw a kid out at home from about 250 feet away. Proud day to be a parent..........
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:19 PM   #67
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It's great that she communicates so much to you.
It resembles communication, but I think she's also talking herself into taking that cliff dive...

We went through this same process when she was trying to decide between a legacy appointment to USNA or a stretch application to Rice/NROTC. The latter has been a much better deal for her, and I'm vicariously enjoying the thrill of attending a real college.

Whether she goes submarines or something else, no losers in this game. The only debate is how long after graduation she'll have to wait before starting the training pipeline (with her active-duty paycheck).
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:47 PM   #68
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Should have posted this yesterday, but too tired. 12 year old son had a baseball game. He went 3-3 with a double, 3 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and threw a kid out at home from about 250 feet away. Proud day to be a parent..........
Very nice. Fathers, sons, and baseball make the best of memories.
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:57 PM   #69
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DS just passed his Professional Civil Engineer exam. He's a freshly minted PE now.

He had to pass the California exam, which includes a real bear, the four hour long seismic exam. The pass rate on this thing is about one in three.
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:59 PM   #70
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DS just passed his Professional Civil Engineer exam. He's a freshly minted PE now.

He had to pass the California exam, which includes a real bear, the four hour long seismic exam. The pass rate on this thing is about one in three.
That's great. Just curious, what will he do with that PE?
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:19 PM   #71
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He went 3-3 with a double, 3 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and threw a kid out at home from about 250 feet away. Proud day to be a parent..........
All impressive, but that throw is astounding for a 12 year old.

Ha
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:28 PM   #72
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[QUOTE=FinanceDude;1209030]Should have posted this yesterday, but too tired. 12 year old son had a baseball game. He went 3-3 with a double, 3 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and threw a kid out at home from about 250 feet away. Proud day to be a parent..........[/QU

We will be watching for him in spring training in six years !
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:07 PM   #73
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DD did what she does everyday: lick herself, eat, nap (repeat). Did I mention she's a cat? She's my avatar.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:48 PM   #74
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All impressive, but that throw is astounding for a 12 year old.

Ha
Thanks, that's the 2nd kid this year from that distance, and also has thrown out 2 base runners at home from the hole at shortstop. Just trying to get him enough sleep and good nutrition and coaching........
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:05 AM   #75
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That's great. Just curious, what will he do with that PE?
For the immediate future, it should be good for a pay raise. :-) He's been managing an engineering office, as well as having a leadership position within his big project. The PE ticket is the missing piece needed to convince corporate that he deserves a management salary. Longer term this gives him the ability to set up his own consulting engineer business, if he decides to go that route.
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:06 AM   #76
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He had to pass the California exam, which includes a real bear, the four hour long seismic exam. The pass rate on this thing is about one in three.
I hope the pass rate on the "practical" seismic exam is higher!

I was wondering if the CE PE had to be taken within a certain number of years of getting the degree. That seemed to be a big deal 30 years ago but I kinda got distracted by nuclear power school.

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DD did what she does everyday: lick herself, eat, nap (repeat). Did I mention she's a cat? She's my avatar.
That reminds me of a Manteresting.com photo of a baby with his "To Do" list printed on the front of his onesie. Unfortunately a couple of the items on the list, while entirely suitable goals for a newborn, would be subject to moderator editing...
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:35 AM   #77
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:26 PM   #78
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Just got back from helping DD move into her first solo apartment after living in a series of houses with friends during the past 3 years. Although I don't want to see a piece of unassembled IKEA furniture anytime soon, it was great to be invited to share this experience with our very independent and private DD.
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:46 PM   #79
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The grandkids were with us over the weekend. The oldest is 3 and is a true Chicago girl ...she talks about her "brudder", says "da" instead of "the".
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:07 PM   #80
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Just got back from helping DD move into her first solo apartment after living in a series of houses with friends during the past 3 years. Although I don't want to see a piece of unassembled IKEA furniture anytime soon, it was great to be invited to share this experience with our very independent and private DD.
I couldn't wait to ditch my college roommates and live alone, but boy is privacy expensive.

It didn't last long and I eventually invited a roommate to move in. And then we ended up getting married...
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