Saturday, September 23, 2006

Baited Breath

Taking a quick break from enjoying my family time to express my annoyance with the dead-pool media throwing up on the front pages today that the number of U.S. citizens that have honorably given their lives fighting to end islamofascism now equals that of the number of people killed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Y'know, I've kind of fallen off the world lately. I'd nearly forgotten that every numerical milestone statistic screams across tickers on cable television news and big bold headlines on every major newspaper.
WASHINGTON - Now the death toll is 9/11 times two.

U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America’s history, the trigger for what came next.

The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Reminded me of this:
Spottswoode: From what I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.N.C.E has gathered, it would be 9/11 times 100.
Gary Johnston: 9/11 times a hundred? Jesus, that's...
Spottswoode: Yes, 91,100.
Chris: Basically, all the worst parts of the bible.
And this:
Kim Jong Il: It will be 911 times 2356.
Chris: My God, that's... I don't even know what that is!
Kim Jong Il: Nobody does!

At least somebody's counting the number of people we've saved in Iraq and the number of terrorist attacks. Is anybody counting dead terrorists?

Nothing more profound than that, I'm afraid - Jack's awake from his nap. When I asked him about this whole body count thing, he promptly spit up all over himself.

So there you go.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well, it wasn't quite what I expected, but I'm home finally.

It just happened that Red had to work today when we pulled into Mayport, so after I had met with all the maintenance folks waiting for us on the pier I hitched aide home with MPA and his wife. Went out for a run and started some laundry - boring stuff that I just don't get to do underway. Later, I'll make some dinner. Ah, cooking my own food.

Red ought to be home soon with Jack. I offered to pick him up from daycare, but she's dead-set on seeing the look on my face. So, I'm cleaning house and thinking or what to buy for groceries while listening to the radio.

And loving it. I'm itching to hold Jack and kiss Red and just relax with my family tonight for the first time in months.

Two more weeks and I'm back on deployment.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

2,996 Project

For what it's worth, I spent my September 11th in meetings about a huge intenational training exercise called Neptune Warrior that my ship will be participating in this Fall. We're doing a Group Sail this weekend to get ready for that exercise, which was the big reason we came to Norfolk this week.

Anyway, since I was doing that - and, yes, enjoying some time off - I neglected to commemorate the vicitm assigned to me by the 2,996 Project:

Name: Lizie Martinez-Calderon
Age: 32
Killed at: World Trade Center
From city: New York
From state: N.Y.
Special Notes: Mrs. Martinez-Calderon was a secretary with the Aon company in Tower Two. Born in the Dominican Republic, she died two weeks before her 33rd birthday. She left behind her husband Marino and two children Naomi and Neftalí.

I originally signed up for this because I thought it was for people to memorialize people they knew or remember. I couldn't find the vicitms at the Pentagon or on Flight 93 on the website, and I can't load it now, but I wanted to also remember CAPT Gerald F. DeConto, a Commanding Officer of my previous ship, the USS Simpson (FFG 56) who was organizing the Navy's response to the WTC attack when the plane hit the Pentagon.

I was the Ordnance Officer on USS Simpson at the time, performing a maintence spotcheck in the Combat Information Center with FC2 Jackson, when the Combat Systems Officer (the day's Command Duty Officer) rushed into CIC and started printing messages. I asked him, "What's wrong, sir?" He said, "New York and Washington have just been attacked."

Work ceased for the most part, all personnel were recalled, the ship made preparations to get underway to support in any way necessary. I watched Fox News for nearly 24 hours straight and we didn't let anyone off the ship the for 48 hours, at which time we relaxed to two-sections, so people could see their families.

We didn't get underway to support Operation Noble Eagle, however; and I have itching to support the war more directly ever since.

Many of my shipmates were there while CAPT DeConto was the CO and remembered him fondly. We sent flowers to his wife and I met her and the rest of his family at the dedication of Memorial Hall at the Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, RI.

So, back to the business of keeping the ship seaworthy and in prime operating condition. Hope you all have a nice weekend.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cold-Iron... Almost Halfway

The transit from Panama to Norfolk seemed incredibly short. According to my calendar it took a week, but we were pretty busy with training the whole time. I was running two drills a day for three days; it went pretty well, but wore out my training team.

Luckily we were given a chance to recharge before that with a steel beach picnic and a Caribbean swim call. I didn't have much time for pictures since I had watch right after and only had time to jump off the ship and swim back to pilot's ladder. There was a wicked current pushing the ship away and two-three foot seas, which you just don't notice when you're on the ship. I got to gawk at the propeller and rudder a bit, which is always fun. I wished I'd had some dive gear so I could've gotten a closer look!

Now we're in Norfolk, and it's almost like home. Naval Station Norfolk is the world's largest Navy base and home to the world's most bas-ass Navy. I've never been a big fan of the area, and I haven't been stationed here any longer than two weeks, ever. It must be nice to have all the Navy's resources right here waiting for you, though. It's gorgeous and sunny, not too warm, and I'm a lot happier to be here than I ever have been before.

We're in America, with shore power, sitting pierside and cold-iron and enjoying a peaceful weekend before the conferences begin for the next exercise - Group Sail. I'm not even sure which battle group it's with, but I do know they want me at these meetings for a change. It's good, I think I'll come away from them more knowledgable about what's going on.

So my first night back in America in two months was good. I went to the Navy Exchange, decided not to buy anything and go see Talledega Nights instead (it was stupid funny, I highly recommend a matinee - but I laughed pretty hard). I had no idea what any of the movies playing were about, which is kind of cool because you're always surprised.

It's the same with the news; I know things are happening and sometimes even know which things they are, but rarely have the time or energy to get upset about them when I have equipment that needs fixing and other work to take care of. Sorry about that, if you're missing my astute political and philosophical analyses - I'm in deployment mode. I stopped giving a crap about Valerie Plame before the kerfuffle started. Rantings of dictators are on the periphery. I'm not going to get to, nor do I want to see the 9/11 movie. My priorities have been elsewhere, but I'm following along with fellow bloggers as much as I'm able.

I met up with some hashers last night after eating a little bar food at Mo & O'Malley's on Granby St. while listening to irish-drinking songmeister Don Bunch. They had a fine stout there called Bareknuckle Stout, surprisingly brought to you by Anheuser-Busch and from St. Louis. I met the Tidewater hashers at Hell's Kitchen and later went to some night club where the music was too loud, the people couldn't dance and everybody was way too cool to for me. Body paint and angel wings are not my thing. I didn't stay long, but i lost my voice trying to talk over the music anyhow.

So while I'm here, I hope to spend some time hashing outside of meetings and general work. It should be a productive, yet easier week of getting things done and being able to leave the ship in the evenings.

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Feeding the Trolls

Always a bad idea.

I dislike anonymous posting, which is not to say you can't, but I'd prefer you to act like a functional member of society if you do. You will notice that I am not anonymous. Though I use the name "Robosquirrel" online, that name is very much associated with Matthew T. Armstrong and my name is right there at the top of the blog. One has only to Google me to find many things I've posted and written over the last ten years.

Anonymous said:
My Dad was a Chief Engineer but retired a Captain (OCS) [and how disappointed he must be in you], you have to be an academy grad [University of Minnesota. When you assume, you make an ass out of you and... just you] because the real guys do not complain or talk the smack that you talk. [Unlike anonymous Internet trolls. Apparently in your illustrious career of being related to an honorable retired veteran, you've never interacted with a U.S. Navy Sailor.] Why your wife puts up with you? [Well, I'm a dynamo in the sack. And I give great foot rubs.]..... who knows? She must be a trained MONKEY. [This would bother me if you had the balls to say this to my face. Or if you could spell] You are nothing but a floating alcoholic. [You live in your mother's basement and masturbate to Dog Fancy, as long as we're belching ad hominems; to each his own. I prefer "beer enthusiast".] Better watch your step. CO get's ["gets"] wind of this and it might be Captains Mass, [You mean Captain's "Mast"? I have done nothing unbecoming of an officer or in any way violating the orders of those appointed over me. I occassionally express annoyance with coworkers. I have neither the time or
inclination to provide you the education you so obviously lack. Your dad was in the Navy and so you're an expert? You're an idiot, know-it-all Navy brat. If your father learned any military bearing, as I'm sure he did, apparently none of it rubbed off on you. Why you don't you sign on the dotted line and try busting rust in a bilge and then we'll talk, you coward.]
oh wait? He's probably a Grad too [You mean my CO, former Navy quarterback, CDR Bill Bryne? Somebody has to be.]..... ooop's, all's it will take to clear things up and get you off the hook will be a good cigar! LOL!! [What, are you twelve?]
For the record, the views expressed on People Covered in Fish are no way endorsed by the United States Navy, or my ship. They are mine and mine alone. As I've always said, this space is for me to write about things that vex me, so there will be occassional venting, sarcasm and hosility. The bottom line is that you, Anonymous, don't know me, nor are you remotely qualified to judge the quality of my, or anyone else's, service, let alone to call my wife names. Go piss up a rope.

Thank you, drive through.


Friday, September 01, 2006


I'm out of good coffee. That's going to make me a cranky CHENG.

Heading to Norfolk on the heels of Ernesto. I'm hoping for good weather on the way, as we transit hurricane alley, of course. So far, the coast looks clear. I'm looking forward to being able to have my evenings free, get a little shopping done (like getting decent coffee), but it's a working port, and we have to do an inspection called "ULTRA-S" (Unit Level Training - Sustainment). It's supposed to be part of the new way that the Navy trains, where you demonstrate that you are maintaining proficiency in multiple areas. As with all other inspections, Engineering will account for something like 60% of the whole thing.

One really needs a good strong cup of coffee to deal with this new training cycle, I think - not this weak, coarse-ground, burnt-crotch-tasting garbage the ship buys. The funny thing about this inspection is that no one really knows what it is. There's a page about it in the new Surface Force Training Manual, but it's really vague as to how the ULTRA-S is conducted and what the expectations are and even what is supposed to happen or be observed. The Squadron just decided yesterday that they would observe us doing Group Sail up here in Virginia - as long as they can get observers here. We won't really have to do too much extra if that's the case. Even funnier is that all the training folks in Mayport are getting together on 7 SEP to figure out what they expect out of ULTRA S, one week before we have ours.

I actually did buy some coffee in Panama, about 20 feet from the brow, carried it with me on the pier all day yesterday and left it at the table that me and a bunch of the other officers were drinking at last night. We were back in Colon for two days for the PANAMAX closing ceremonies, to which they don't invite Chief Engineers. I'm getting to like running the ship all the time...I don't know what I'll do with all my "free time" in Norfolk - the CDO-qualified division officers will be standing most of the duty there and in Mayport. Firebug hooked me up in Norfolk, but I took a guy's duty for him so he could spend the weekend with his mom.

So I will be stuck with some of the worst coffee I've ever tasted while spending the week preparing for vaguery in Virginia. The good news is 19 days and a wake-up until Red hands Jack off to me. I'm looking forward to an extended port visit in Mayport and watching my son roll over - oh yes, he's started rolling over!

I know the world's going crazy every day and I don't write much about that anymore, but I'm sure I'll get annoyed about something in the news eventually.

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