Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Blame George Bush

Anyone notice how gas prices have been steadily falling since Memorial Day?

Coincidence or science?

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Environmental Hysteria: 'Tis the Season

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Justice

I started writing this last week, but my illness got the better of me. I've been down for the count for a bit and with the initial passion and confusion gone, I've been hesitant to revisit the events of the 1st of June.

On March 31st, I was ordered to Homerville, Georgia, to represent the ship at the trial of a First Class Petty Officer who had just reported to my department. He was charged with one count of murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of illegal possession of a firearm during a crime almost three years ago. His previous command had tried to prevent his transfer so he could resolve the issue (which happened right after he reported to them), but he was cut orders and sent to us in March.

This is a terrific petty officer, and I was really happy when he got here because there hadn't been any senior leadership outside of the Chief in that division for nine months. The first I had heard about the incident was that he had been driving his truck with three other people and the bonehead in the passenger's seat found his concealed weapon (which he had a Mississippi permit for and hadn't yet obtained a Florida permit for; but he was in Georgia, anyway) under the seat and fired it out the window three times.

The blanks began filling in when I heard that he wasn't on leave for just another hearing, but on trial for murder and I was going to the trial. I left work, had dinner at home and drove directly to Homerville.

There are two motels in Homerville and the new one was full, so I got a room at the old one. There were probably vacancies in Waycross, but I didn't know that it was only 30 miles away. It was crappy, plenty of bugs (no avoiding them on the edge of the Okeefenokee) but quiet and the bed was OK. I went for some snacks, but everything closed at ten besides the one gas station. The lady at the counter got to talking to me and I found that every person in this town not only knew about the trial, but but knew at least one of the men involved, including the victim.

The basic story was accurate, but my sailor (EN1) had never come straight out and said he was charged with murder. He had been in town for his wife's family reunion and out drinking with some of the guys, one being his borther-in-law, TJ. They had gone to a party; when they arrived, one of TJ's buddies had just gotten the crap beaten out of him and put in the hospital. None of the guys in EN1's truck knew who had done it, but TJ was angry and tried to get into the party to start kicking some ass, put was pulled away by some girls and they all went to visit this friend in the hospital.

TJ was tha only one allowed in the hospital, but the testimony (which I missed) was that he had kissed his friend on the forehead Godfather-style and promised to get even. After the four left the hospital, my knowledge of the events is unclear. TJ found EN1's 9mm under the seat and when they pulled up to a car he thought had the people responsible for hurting his friend, TJ pointed the gun out the window and fired three times into the car, killing one man and wounding another.

Since EN1 was driving and it was his weapon, he was charged with murder the same as TJ. This trial was like nothing on TV. Between the Prosecutor, the judge and EN1's lawyer, there was a weird semi-jovial mood as you'd expect of coworkers. TJ was also present with his lawyer and it made for a disgusting three-way trial. TJ's lawyer was the biggest asshole I'd ever seen, personally attacking the prosecutor, admonishing EN1 for wearing his uniform to court and other uniformed servicemen for coming to support him and speak on his behalf, call it "wrapping himself in the flag". Absolutely despicable. I ended up standing behind him in line at Subway during recess and concentrating very hard on not dressing him down.

I spent a lot of time with EN1 and his wife during recesses and while the jury was out. They tried very hard to remain optimistic, but the three years of pain from this trial showed. The jury was only out for a few hours before they came back with a unanimous "guilty" vedict on both EN1 and TJ.

The baptist minister father of the murder victim was understandably relived and told EN1 and TJ to get right with God, but everyone seemed especially upset with EN1 because he had worn his uniform to court and thought he was hiding behind it. The man served honorably for 12 years. The uniform helps to tell everyone who he is. He's not some local hooligan, but a proud member of the Armed Forces. Everything about the trail was offensive to me. TJ's lawyer and the prosecution ganging up on EN1. The jury's complete lack of comprehension of the evidence. It was a travesty and horrible to watch.

I went to the jailhouse with EN1's wife and mother-in-law to drop off some clothes for him. His wife couldn't hold it in anymore at that point and I held her while she cried until EN1 got there. They visited as long at the sheriff's deputy could let them, then I went to the house to visit with his family. They still hadn't told the kids what was going on and they kept asking when Daddy would be home. I told them he worked for me and he's a good man.

I'm proud to have served with him and the command is still doing whatever we can to help him and his family out, but it's essentially out of our hands. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through. I never thought something like that could happen to a good person.

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A Culture of Fitness: The Final Word

I have a feeling regular readers know how I feel about this sort of thing:

Anonymous bloody well said...
I hate you so much. Just so much. This is the most self pitying, pathetic, inept piece of drivel that I have ever read. Do yourself a favor and end it all. Scratch that, do ME a favor and end it all.
Geez, hate is an awfully strong emotion to describe someone you don't know... or perhaps you do know me and you haven't got the sack to say it to my face. Go on, tack a name on that comment if you dare. I dislike Anonymous commenting. It smacks of cowardice; I allow it however, because I think it's occassionally justified, but more because it says more about the commenter than any response I might give.

I don't do favors. You don't like it, don't read it. I write about what vexes me. If you had half an ounce of courage, you'd back that comment up with your name. This is all me, this is what I think, I don't care if you don't like it.

EDIT: To be absolutely clear, I don't have problem with my command or its policies. I think that I have a very good command, with a very good CO, XO and CMC, but I have a gripe about this one thing, which largely involves personal preference and principle. I am very satisfied overall with my department head tour here. Being a department head, the right thing to do would probably be to step up and do something about it. However, my level of indifference and the short-term nature of it (we hope to get underway Monday) don't inspire me to try to change it. Picking my battles, I guess.

The bottom line on the command PT is that I like to PT, but:
1) I know how to PT by myself and I don't need somebody counting cadence to tell me what to do.

2) It removes all individuality from the process - we all PT at someone else's level of capability, not our own.

3) It removes motivation from from the individual - why PT yourself, unless you're already super fit and a total gym rat and would do it anyway? Net benefit = zero.

4) The people running it here are incapable of doing it well. Running in formation on a waterfornt full of Navy ships is nothing more than showing off. When you have a sloppy formation, no one sings cadence with you and you run about a quarter mile, you haven't got anything to flaunt.

5) The people running it are doing it for bullets on their evals and could give a crap about what anyone else wants. There are about five guys on the ship who wanted to this. The CO was indifferent and he, the XO and Command Master Chief don't always join in. I don't have a problem with that - I'd opt out if I could, too. These five guys have no problem taking adavantage of others to accomplish their goals, and that irks me to no end.

I don't care what anyone else thinks of that. With any luck I'll have my electrical plant up and running with no (or few) discrepancies and I'll be underway this time next week on my way to intercept drug smugglers from South America. And then I'm free to PT on my own.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Crikey.

I dropped ten pounds in two days. That can't be healthy. That might explain why I feel like crap right now. Or it could be the chest cold I've been fighting. Or perhaps a hangover from hashing yesterday.

Who knows? It's a mystery.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Culture of Fitness: Irony


Isn't it interesting that now that I have been relying solely on the command to make me exercise, I actually failed the weigh-in? I think so, yes.

We use the BMI chart for judging whether a sailor is overweight or not. The thing is, and it seems even the Navy knows this, the Body-Mass Index is bullshit. The medical establishment admits it, though grudgingly and quietly. It makes lots of assumptions about you in order to neatly peg you as obese, overweight, normal or underweight. Of course, the Navy is flexible; if you are over the limit for BMI, they'll tape you - which allows even more error depending on where and how tight they put the tape. If you scrunch your neck down and suck in your gut, you pass. So naturally, yesterday, the Chief doing the taping had the tape snug around my neck and wasn't even touching my waist with the tape.

I know I'm carrying a bit of extra weight at 190 and 5'8" (up from 183 last deployment), but it's not as though I don't have any physical ability or endurance. In fact, the thing that has been most detrimental to my physical fitness over the last couple of weeks has been mandatory command PT. Everybody get together and do lame calisthentics, 100 jumping jacks, 100 pushups, etc. The pushups are really killing me with the tendonitis. The running in formation has given me a muscle strain in my knee and hastened the return of my shin splints.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that I was doing just fine before all this garbage started and now I'm concerned that if I do manage to pass the weigh-in by Friday, I may fail the physical test because I'm hurting so damn bad.

To dull the pain, I've been popping 800mg tablets of Motrin a couple of times a day, a couple Excedrin once in a while, a multivitamin and ginseng. I've also been taking fiber tablets to help with the poundage. Now, with two days to go, I've added a run at lunch every day this week and Hydroxycut. Good grief, I hope it works, because I feel like crap. Vision... blurring...

The good news is that the Physical Readiness Test is next week. Assuming I make weight Friday, it'll all be over by Tuesday.

This sucks. I like to run and lift wieghts and listen to my MP3 player. I enjoy a good workout - I always feel terrific afterward. In fact, I'm going hashing today.

If I'm borderline obese, as the BMI says, then I have serious doubts about claims that obesity is of epidemc proportions in America, especially given how we measure it.

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Remember

Happy D-Day. More soon.

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