Saturday, February 26, 2005

Hot Bunking

[Hot Bunking]
There were a lot of “cultural shock” things that I was introduced to in the next few weeks. That first night I had a very nice supper and met another 15 or so shipmates (I could use that term now) who were all very nice but about five of them insisted on calling me Puke. My next shock item was the term “Hot Bunk”. That term came into my lexicon when I asked where I could stow my sea bag and where my rack was. The COB gave me a brand new, small bag that I could use to hold some of my personal things, whenever I got my own bunk but until I got qualified, I would probably not have my own bunk. In silence I screamed “WHAT NO BED OF MY OWN!!! What kind of place is this? In sub school I got my own Bunk. In Machinest Mate School I got my own bunk. Even in Boot Camp I had my own bunk and now they are telling me I don’t have a bunk to call my own. This sub thing is small and cramped. I’ve already knocked my head half a dozen times and the place literally stinks. Everything, including the people smell like diesel fuel. I wonder if my Congressman knows about this?” What would take place, instead of sleeping in my own bunk, would be that I would hot bunk, which meant I would go look for an empty rack (which was usually someone’s bunk that had just got up to go on watch and the bed was still warm, hence the term “Hot Bunk”). It seems that all of this was caused because there were more sailors than bunks. The bunks were mattresses enclosed in a Naugahyde “flash cover” which was meant to keep the bunk clean when not in use or to keep us non-qual Pukes off the bedding. Before crawling in you were to pull the flash cover closed and sleep on top of it. This would mean that we would wake up in a pool of sweat, which resulted in lots of pimples. My mother never would have approved. As the COB went on about “the glory and tradition of Diesel Submarines, I drifted back to when I was 10 years old and my little brother Gary was born. I was unceremonsily removed from my bedroom, as that was now the Nursery. We lived in a three bedroom house and there was no longer any room for me. My two older brothers had a bedroom and threw a fit when Dad suggested I move in with them. So, it was off to the basement with me. The basement was big and had no natural light. Off the basement was the root cellar where Mom kept potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables and it had a dirt floor that allowed for strange little animals to join me in bed. The basement gave me a lot of complexes and nightmares. I hoped that this submarine thing would not do the same. This was all Gary’s fault! Eventually I got use to the basement so I guess I could get use to this “Hot Bunking” thing. After all there wasn’t any dirt floors to worry about.

I spent the rest of the evening sitting at a table in the mess decks getting use to diesel tasting, coffee. About 10 sailors joined me, off and on, welcoming me and offering advice. Some were qualified and others weren’t. I found out that the COB really was my Mom and would hold all sorts of things over my head such as liberty. We were allowed “Cinderella Liberty”. which meant that we would get to go “ashore”, “on the beach” but we had to be back on base by Midnight. The catch to all of this was that the COB held all of the Liberty Cards and you couldn’t get off the base without one. Marine Guards were at the gates and they would shoot you if you tried to get off base without a card or were late coming back. It was simple, if you were not up to date on your qualification schedule, no card, no women to chase. When you got qualified you got a permanent liberty card, which let you stay out after midnight drinking, carousing, chasing women and your own bunk verses “I would be kicked off the ship, a disgrace to the Navy”. What an incentive to get qualified. I headed for the berthing area and looked for a “Hot Bunk” to rest my confused bones.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Family Affair

This blogging thing really catches on rather quickly. My little brother just posted his blog which is . G-G-G-Gary is a former professional writer [newspaper editor type] but manages to get hiself into trouble with his writing. Our 1st amendment right and Freedom of the press you know. Should be interesting.
My wife and daughter are, right now, joining Weight Watchers. I was supposed to join but decided not to. Joining would be right up there on my list next to elective surgery and following having a tooth pulled. I'll loose the weight somehow. It is one of my New Years Resolutions but I just haven't started yet. I probably should go back and revisit those resolutions and see what I haven't fulfilled yet. I do remember that taking up painting, was one of the resolutions. I have found a class, for free, but it requires me to take a couple of hours off every Tuesday and every Tuesday it seems that I have been so swamped that I can't take the time off.........Or is that just another excuse? While I am visiting my past, I reported to you on Jan 19th about this new wonder bed made by the "Deluth" company that, hopefully, Randy would not be able to eat. He had eaten 3 beds prior to the purchase of this bed. I am happy to announce that he still has been unable to penetrate the bed. Pulls it out, drags it around, chews on it regularly and sleeps on it but not tear it apart. He, accidently, managed to open it up once but has been unable to repeat. It has a velcro fastener on one end which allows you to clean the inside filling if necessary [how thoughtful]. He got it open and pulled out a small amound to spread around the kitchen but it must have closed up on him . This is, without a doubt, the single most important invention of the 21st century. They cater to the Tradesman and dogs, with clothing and tools Check it out.

Recently I got caught up in "The Pinewood Derby" craze, thanks to my daughter the Den Mother. She invited her Denparents, that didn't have the proper woodworking facilities in their homes to ours because her father has a woodworking shop and they could use his tools and instruction to help build their son's car. This is probably a lot like inviting the ladies over for tea. Heaven forbid that the house might be dirty. Wellll.............My shop looks like a tornado went through it. My construction activities, as of late, have been outside projects and the shop became only: a holding area for tools overnight; the workbenches convient spots to clean out nail aprons; shelving a good place to store ebay boxes; the floor a convient place for the Christmas decorations and patio furniture. Needless to say I could not let the Den fathers and mothers view, much less use, my shop in it's present state of dishovel. Sooo.......I took Friday off from work and after a hearty breakfast at my favorite restaurant [incentive from my wife] I started the job of cleaning and properly arranging my shop. It took all day and until noon the following day, the day the parents arrived. It looked rather spiffy I must say. The parents came, and their "little blocks of wood" in hand and with their children in tow. My Daughter, the consumate Den Mother, met them with special design sheets she had prepared to ease them through the design process and which was transferred to the "little blocks of wood" for cutting. I then took those "little blocks of wood", and with the parents watching, converted these "little blocks of wood"into future racing cars for the Pine Wood Derby circuit. The children who were thoroughly bored by now, were being led by my Grandson in outside in play [a blessing]. An afternoon of cutting, sanding and Derby Car strategy was spent by all. Soon everyone left, with all of their fingers intact, and I was happy to see them go. Last night was an evening spent painting cars, now that the routing and sanding is over. We still have to install wheels and weights but the hardwork is done. I turned to the internet for advice and don't you know their were thousands of sites to chose from. Some sites even had detailed discussions about the aerodynamic considerations and the physics involved. Others offered to sell things such as special designs and special insights into having a winning car. This turned into such a craze for the adults that they even have a racing class for them. My daughter has built her own car and drew flowers all over calling it "Flower Power". Who would have thought? When I was a Cub Scout, all we ever did was make crafts for our Mothers and wore stupid little blue hats with shorts bills.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Welcome to the Submarine Service

It was July of 1963. John F Kennedy was President and the Cuban Missile Crisis was 10 months ago. I had just arrived at the Submarine Base in Key West Florida and was standing on the pier, with my sea bag, waiting for my “boat” to arrive from daily op’s. I watched in amazement as my new ship rounded the sea wall and was maneuvering to line up with the dock. Black smoke was coming out of both sides of the gray ship rumbling the presence of powerful diesel engines, as an office was barking commands, “All ahead one third, right full rudder”, then “Back full, rudder amidships”. I stood there in awe, taking everything in when suddenly a “Monkeys fist” [A round knot and weight attached to a heaving line] narrowly missed my head; but a large coil of thin line hit me in the head and knocked my hat off. Trying to figure out what was happening, some sailor on the bow hollered at me “Hey puke pull out the line”. I didn’t know what a “Puke” meant but I kinda remembered from Boot Camp that line meant rope. About this time, two sailors rode up on bikes, a truck pulled up and these sailors tied the ship up, pushed over a gangplank and started hooking up shore power, which I would later learn connected the sub to the real world with; electricity, telephone, freshwater. I hoisted up my sea bag and headed for the gangplank and was promptly met, by what appeared to be, the entire crew charging over the gangplank heading for liberty. I waited until all had left and then headed up the gangplank myself. I saluted the aft end of the boat, where a flag was flying, and then saluted the bridge where two officers were standing and talking. “Permission to come aboard Sir” I shouted still saluting. I patiently awaited the return salute that would allow me to terminate my salute. It never came. The two officers glanced at me and returned to their conversation. About this time a young sailor, who was strapping a Colt .45 on his hip, walked up holding out his hand and said, “You must be Dickson, welcome aboard the Picuda.” He had a small, Stainless steel, desk on a post that he now stuck into a hole in the deck. He then pulled a green book out of the desk and wrote my name in it with the time of my arrival. I waited until he finished his duty, pulling out his .45, releasing the clip, pulling the receiver looking for a round in the chamber, pointed the weapon skyward and pulled the trigger. The look in his face was that he expected the weapon to fire. When it didn’t, he calmly put the clip of live ammunition back in the pistol and holstered it. I then said, “What is a Puke”. “That’s what we are, non-quals or not qualified on submarines!” he replied, “welcome to the Submarine Service!”
I laid below, met the Yeoman who checked me in, then the Executive Officer, then the Captain who took me to the mess decks and turned me over to the “Chief of the Boat” “This is your new mother” the Captain said as he turned and left. What a strange place this, I thought, where officers don’t salute, seamen run around with loaded pistols, Commanding officers introduce you to enlisted men who are pretending to be my mom and every one I meet now calls me a Puke. The COB informed me that “Puke” was a term of endearment used by qualified sailors when they referred to nonqualified sailors. It wasn’t a term that he especially liked or used but what could you do. I tried to keep that in mind, over the next few months, when he used the term as I was being reprimanded for falling behind on his schedule of qualifications. I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it. The COB handed me my Qualification card, told me the rules, told me never to loose the card, told me I had 6 months to get it filled out, and if I didn’t get it done I would be kicked off the ship, a disgrace to the Navy. The COB informed me that besides being a “Puke” I was also a “Nukie Poo”, another term of endearment and I should try and not take it very seriously. He said it came from the fact that I was eventually headed for a nuclear powered sub but I was now in the middle of a bunch of “Smoke Boat Sailors” and most of them didn’t like “Nuckie Poo’s”. The Topside Watches words were ringing in my ears, “Welcome to the Submarine Service”. Think I’ll go find a phone and give Mom a call. I think she will be worried if I made it or not.

Monday, February 14, 2005

And Randy ate the birthday cake!!!

Yesterday we went to a birthday party for my daughter, her friend and the Pastors wife. Great time as it turned into a story telling time. One couple, our Pastor and wife are from Korea, another couple, she a Jew and he a Methodist, spent 12 years in New York City and my family who has lived all over the country. Funny stories. Our Hostess, it seems, is a collector of Disney Pins. They go almost every year and she showed us her extensive collections. Apparently you have a lanyard to wear, around your neck, and it contains the pins your willing to trade. The best to trade with are the actual Disney employees. There is a whole world out there that I do not even know about yet. There was Birthday Cake left over and we brought home two pieces, putting it in a place that Randy can't reach, or so we thought. This morning, all that was left was some of the paper plate it came on and some plastic wrap. Bad Dog!

The submarine photo is my old diesel sub surfacing [1964]. I have been fooling around with writing a book entitled "From Submarines to Cemeteries" and that is the opening salvo. My daughter has been urging me to continue writing the book. I'm just not sure I have 50,000 words in me.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Self portrait

Sam's self portrait in magic marker Posted by Hello
I am going to try and make Thursday's special with a little something about my Grandson.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My Wife's favorite party.

Hi Friends. Another great dog story. This one is about Abbey and is about my wife’s favorite party. To bring you up to date, Abbey [I mistakenly called her Mitsie in an earlier post] was a small Shih Tzu that my daughter brought into our house to become a playmate for Cody who was a small Rat Terrier and whatever crawled under the fence. Mommy kitty [who came to us in a blizzard with a load of kittens in her belly] was between litters and had adopted Abbey as one of her own, regularly bathing her and trying to feed her by bringing small dead animals and bugs into our house. Well, we held a big family party [my wife’s family] in our backyard one Saturday. Very well attended and some of her Aunts and older Cousins were a bit of the stuffed shirt variety. The party was a little weak with a lot of polite visiting and we felt we were under a microscope. Some relations were hiding in a back corner under the tent and others had grabbed the best chairs and were up front by the food. Cody and Abbey were allowed to run loose and visited everyone. Abbey was standing in the middle of the group and suddenly gave out with a loud “huh---Urk”, which garnered everyone’s attention, and she coughed up a dead, slime covered, whole, mouse. It was a present from Momma Kitty. Well everyone started screaming. They apparently thought Abbey was possessed and had spit up an alien life form. I was disgusted and hollered at my wife or daughter to get it picked up but my wife was in a fit of hysterics, Uncontrollable laughing hysterics and holding her side unable to speak or breath [she did that once at a wake but that’s another story]. After everyone regained their composure the party went on and my wife was sent away to laugh in private. When able to speak she just said “The sight of that mouse coming out and those old ladies screaming was to much”. No one wanted to hold cute, little, Abbey after that. My Wife's favorite party??

Friday, February 04, 2005

Morning with the Dicksons

You were probably wondering how a day at our house starts, weren't you? Well I'm going to tell you. It always gets hairy when My wife, Daughter, Big Dog, Little dog and Guinea Pig all get in the same area at one time, first thing in the morning. No Grandson to add to the confusion because he was warmly snuggled back in bed because of a 2 hour snow delay. It started when I wrote on the blackboard, going out the door, a checklist for Daughter as she heads out the door for her teaching job "1] Don't forget your lunch, 2] Don't forget special bag for school 3] Don't forget to pick up medicine." All a thinly veiled reference to her action of yesterday morning. Meanwhile wife says to me "Did you feed Simon [little Dog]? I counter "Yes but maybe not enough " implying that I had given him food but not enough to make him get sick and throw up [which he sometimes does]. Wife says"You feed him what was left in the can and didn't want to open another can. didn't you? " Daughter responds "Yea". I strategically exit and go upstairs to get my belt and suspenders. When I come back down, I have gathered my reserves and had time to think things out. "Not only did I feed Simon[little dog] first, out of that can, but I fed Randy [Big Dog] out of the can also. Note: We feed Randy [big dog] by mixing 1/2 can of canned food with huge amounts of dried food thereby fooling him into thinking he is getting same food as Simon [Little Dog]. It works. And besides I was the one that opened that can last night and fed Simon[little Dog]" "Oh and by the way, no one has to go back upstairs and turn off the lights because I got them all" [a personal pet peeve of mine] I smugly add. My wife then calmly says "I don't know anything about any of this but I am going to go back upstairs and continue washing some more of your clothes." I quickly realized that I had left yesterdays clothes in a big pile on the bedroom floor instead of in the hamper. A big Pet Peeve of hers. Check and Check Mate.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Living in 2005

I have probably forwarded 3 or 4 of these in my computer lifetime but my Daughter sent it to me and I enjoyed it. Hope you do also!

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of 16 phone numbers to reach your family of four.
4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
6. You go home after a long day at work you still answer the phone in a business manner.
7. You make phone calls from home, you accidentally dial "9" to get an outside line.
8. You've sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies.
10. You learn about your redundancy on the 11 o'clock news.
11. Your boss doesn't have the ability to do your job.
12. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home.
13. Every commercial on television has a website at the bottom of the screen.
14. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
15. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.
16. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. :)
17. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.
18. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
19. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
20. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list. AND NOW U R LAUGHING at yourself. HAVE A GREAT DAY! Dick

This one came in as a comment this morning and I thought I should add it. The numbers are mine
I might add a few:
21 You're conversing with more people online than you do in real life.
22 You're in love with at least 3 people you've never met.
23 When you are talking face to face with someone you think of saying LOL or BRB.
24 You have 23 passwords, all memorized
25 You really, really know #11, and the last 4 bosses have all been 10 years younger than you.
26 You have job interview over the phone.
27 You get hired over the phone.
28 You have been on the job for 3 months and still haven't met your boss.
29 You hate your boss but you tolerate him because you know in 6 months he won't be there any more.
30 You hate a company change but you tolerate it because you know in 6 months it's going to change anyway.
31 And the new person's "Bright idea" for change will be to go back to what was working before they changed it.
32 That person with the "bright idea" gets a promotion.
33 There's more job security in NOT being promoted.
34 You hear a toilet flushing in the background on conference calls.
35 Once it was your toilet flush.
36 If it wasn't for Outlook and your PDA, you'd forget your wife's birthday...and your anniversary...and your kids' birthdays...
37 All your family's phone numbers are speed dial locations and you don't remember their real numbers.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Momma Kitty

It was a cold, bleak,snowy, winters eve in New England and cutting through the roar of the wind, we could hear the pleading cries of a kitten. We quickly looked out our back door window and there shivering on our back steps was a cold looking, sad kitten. [is this sounding familiar to anyone yet?] We let her in and she immediately rubbed against our legs and began purring. My wife fixed some food and milk which she devoured immediately. As we watched we quickly realized that she wasn't a kitten but she was a CAT and a PREGNANT one at that. "Throw her out" I shouted. "No" countered my wife. "Dad, how can you do that? She will surely die along with her kittens", said my daughter. Alas, the battle was quickly over. I knew better but no one would listen. I lost and she stayed to have a litter of kittens that evening. You see, I had been there before, done that.

It seems that, when I was in the Navy, I was stationed at a Nuclear Reactor Facility in Windsor Locks CT, but there were no barracks so Uncle Sam gave us money to find housing off base. We chose Southwick MA because four of us could share the rent and live on a large lake, with a good party reputation but that is a whole set of different stories. Dennis [one of the roommates] and myself were home watching TV. It was a cold, bleak, snowy winters eve in New England.......... "Throw her out" I shouted. "No" countered Dennis "you can't do that, she will surely die along with her kittens." I can tell you that our other two roommates were none to pleased with the decision. The consultation in this story is that she chose a box in Dennis closet that contained his Dress Blues [expensive] to have her litter in. They were all quickly named, three toes, 4 toes, 5 toes, 6 toes and 7 toes as they were all missing some or had to many, except one. When they were ready to be weaned, we did what every sailor would do and hauled Momma Kitty to work with us and cut her loose. It was now spring. The kittens grew up and slowly left home. We would occasionaly see them around the lake or at another group of sailors house. But back to my main story.

We had a dog through all of this. Cody was a Rat Terrier and whatever-crawled-under-the-fence mix. Our daughter had brought him home from the Cape on an outing with her Mother. Cody was very tolerant of The Cat and The Kittens. They harassed him constantly. We decided to have Momma Kitty fixed but when she went to the vets we found out she was pregnant again!! We were in the process of getting rid of her kittens to our friends and daughters friends and our daughter comes home with our first Shih Tzu, Mitsie. Cody wouldn't have anything to do with her but Momma Kitty raised her as one of her own. Not feeding her but constantly grooming her. Holding her down with one paw and licking her constantly. Then one day Mitsie barked, startled Cody and they became great friends, leaving Momma Kitty in the dust as they raced about the house constantly. Meanwhile Momma Kitty had her second litter and after she weaned them we proceeded to give them away to our friends and our daughters friends. We took her to be weaned and found out she was pregnant again. A real whore she was! This time, immediately after giving birth, we took her to the vet and she was fixed. After they were weaned we tried to give them away but by this time we had no more friends and our daughter was persona-non-grata at high school. Somehow we managed to find homes for three and we had to keep two. They both became casualties to cars and Momma Kitty left us. She was a street-wise stray when she came and only needed us to take care of her kittens. She left a street wise stray. We have not had a cat in our house since. I don't think anyone wants to go through that again. I hate cats!