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August 30, 2008

Off To Sea Once More
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:46 PM * 42 comments

Last night I went to the Lancaster Fair. This is the Coös County Fair. A fine thing.

I’m not going to the Tractor Pull, nor yet the Truck Pull, because I’m taking my daughter down to college. But I did have fun out on the Midway.

First thing, a Blooming Onion. Then Fried Dough. Italian Sausage with Onion. Then more Fair Food. After that, the rides! Starship 2000 (formerly called the Gravitron), a centrifugal force ride. Then The Dream Catcher, which swings you from side to side, while spinning you around. The Twister. The Zipper (a clever thing that hauls you to the top of a thirty foot pole, turns you upside down, and tries to shake you out).

Greasy food, followed by major motion — the perfect thing for an old destroyer sailor!

That reminded me of back in the old Fleet days. We’d come up with an idea, then, of how to get rich after we got out. We’d build an amusement park called Navy Land. First thing, you pay your admission fee. You’re given a ticket in the form of an LES (Leave and Earning Statement). You get about ten feet into the park, and a hairy old DKC (Chief Dispersing Clerk) snatches it out of your hands, says “This is all f*cked up!” and sends you back to pay the admission fee all over again.

We had a ride planned, the North Atlantic Destroyer Ride. You get into an iron box. It spins you around while spraying cold salt water on you, for six months. I forget what else we had planned—on the midwatch you have a lot of time to talk. One of the ways to simulate a midwatch is to hang a couple of Coke bottles around your neck, put on a bridge coat, don’t turn on the bathroom lights, and stand in your shower with the water on full cold from midnight to four a.m.

Out in the world there’s a lot of sites that explain how to simulate Navy life if you miss it after you get out. For example:

Put on the headphones from your stereo (don’t plug them in). Go and stand in front of your stove. Say (to nobody in particular) “Stove manned and ready.” Stand there for 3 or 4 hours. Say (once again to nobody in particular) “Stove secured.” Roll up the headphone cord and put them away.

Put oil instead of water into a humidifier and set to HIGH.

Set your alarm clock to go off at random times through the night. When it goes off, leap out of bed, get dressed as fast as you can then run into the garden and break out the garden hose.

One thing I liked about the Navy (Navy, by the way, stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself) was the fine gradations of disaster that could be described. For example, the difference between a goat roping and a clusterf*ck (a goat roping is kinda fun to watch if you aren’t involved, while a clusterf*ck is just painful for everyone). There’s AFU, SNAFU, FUBAR, and JANFU. There’s FLAPEX 1. There are the Falcon Codes and the Dolphin Codes.

Sometimes I really miss the Fleet. High North Atlantic, wintertime, in a destroyer. Boy, there isn’t a county fair in the world with rides like that.

Comments on Off To Sea Once More:
#1 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 08:51 PM:

C.S. Forester's The Good Shepherd has a very nice account along those lines of World War II convoy escort duty, where you get all the fun of North Atlantic winter sailing plus the joys of command responsibility and maintenance of tactical situation awareness.

(Yes, he wrote other books than the Hornblower novels.)

#2 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Unless it's a state secret, JANFU and FLAPEX 1?

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:02 PM:

JANFU = Joint Army/Navy F*ck Up (anything that involves joint operations with another service is guaranteed to be more F'd up than otherwise).

FLAPEX 1: You know what a flap is, right? Everyone confused and running around aimlessly. Well, a FLAPEX is an exercise flap, and an exercise is always more confused than the later operation, because you're only practicing. And FLAPEX 1 is the first time you try that exercise, so it's going to be maximally confused, with no one knowing their roles, etc.

#4 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Yeah... Army life has some things like that.

But I have some rides/amusements which don't map well. More along the lines of convoy duty in the N. Atlantic.

But this one is normal enough, and not possessed of lethal likelihood.


Given a hole in the ground, not enough sleep and the sound of gunfire in the far distance. Lots of gunfire. Staring at the dark, looking at nothing, and trying to see it.

Humping like crazy in the night, to get back to bivouac, pull your trick on perimeter (30 percent alert, all night), sleep for an hour and half, fall out to the perimeter for Stand-to, change into your only other set of BDUs, because the one you're wearing is saturated (from the humping, four miles in an hour, with full-kit). Lay it out.

Do patrols all day. Get gassed; enjoy a fine summer afternoon in the Ozarks at MOPP-4 Fall back in on the bivouac, pack your duffle; to heave it on the truck... discover there was not enough sun for the BDUs to dry (90 percent humidity is a bitch for hanging laundry). Pack your ruck for the road march.

25 percent watch. Pull your two hours. Fight like hell to get your relief awake. Sleep 2 hours, stand to; form up in the O-fuck-thirty darkness for the road march back to garrison (12 miles).

Discover a rifle is missing. Search the woods for 2 hours, until someone finds it in the kid's foxhole (thankfully before the loss had to be reported, and the base closed). Get moved from lead to tail in the marching order.

March 20 klick in 3 hours (with a stop for cold MREs included).

Party Time!

GI Party, entire barracks to be stripped, scrubbed and reordered for an inspction (with open lockers, "junk on the bunk", and weapons) in 48 hours.

I don't know how to make a fun house with that kind of thrills.

#5 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:38 PM:

I bow to superior experience. My shore duty at NCS Japan had nothing that compares.

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:42 PM:

Besides Forester, though, Alistair MacLean's HMS Ulysses is another excellent description of the Murmansk convoys.

#7 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:44 PM:

#4: Humping like crazy in the night, to get back to bivouac, pull your trick on perimeter (30 percent alert, all night), sleep for an hour and half, fall out to the perimeter for Stand-to, change into your only other set of BDUs, because the one you're wearing is saturated (from the humping, four miles in an hour, with full-kit). Lay it out.
That can't mean what I think it means, can it? It's a man's life...!

#8 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:52 PM:

Sorry, no. It means to march with a ruck.

To say something "was a hump" is to say it was difficult.

It can also mean to toss/heave/haul in a general sense, "hump those footlockers to the deuce and a half," means to get them loaded onto a 2 1/2 ton capacity truck.

"She's gonna have to hump it," means that a lot of work needs to be done to get whatever "it" is done properly/on time/both.

#9 ::: Henry Richardson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 11:41 PM:

The Army expansion of the US ARMY tag on the fatigue shirt was Uncle Sam Ain't Ridda Me Yet.

Since I spent my time in heavy mortar platoons, we didn't do much humping. (A five man squad can't hump 652 pounds of 4.2" mortar very far, never mind ammunition.) We drove around the countryside in an armored mortar carrier, so the experience was a lot closer to an extremely short cruise on a very tiny destroyer.

#10 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:00 AM:

I just read this aloud to Andy, who is laughing and saying you've got it dead-on.

#11 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Jennifer Pelland: was that to Jim, or me?

Henry Richardson: In combat zones, I have humvees to haul my stuff (the need for computers, reference books, generators etc.) makes for both stationary infrastructure requirements, and much the same problem with it being too bulky/heavy to hump.

But for training, I'll take humping it with the light infantry, to trying to extract a dud round (I know too many cases of mistakes being made while that's being done.

#12 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 11:34 AM:

Hm. I wonder if 'goat roping' is related to 'goatrodeo' (as in "it was a f**king goatrodeo").

#13 ::: affreca ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Full power run for the ship's Inserv, with the wind gusting up to 60 knots. I don't miss that feeling at all.

#14 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:49 PM:

I was an Air Force brat my first 17 years, then I joined the Air Force (4 years), after deciding that I didn't want to join the Navy (I would've been an ET in their Nuclear Power Program had I joined). From Kindergarten to 12th grade, I attended seven schools in four different countries, and have, until now, managed to live in and/or visit 18 different countries on three different continents, and 39 of the 50 States, and none of this travel shows any sign of stopping any time soon.

In the USAF, I was in telecom, in what used to be called the AFCS (Air Force Communications Service, a.k.a. Alcohol First Communications Second). They changed its monicker to AFCC (Air Force Communications Command) before my enlistment ended.

The squadron I was assigned to in tech school (in Biloxi), was known as Animal House, in defiance and in spite of the fact that we were supposed to be a DRY squadron, and my first day at that squadron ended with a toga party, as well as a soda machine flying out of one of the third floor windows. (I swear. I had nothing to do with that, sir.)

When I was stationed in Greece, I had the singular joy of doing security patrols of the site's perimeter fence (after the Communists had taken power), having to count (at the end of my shift) all the ammo for the weapons we were given for site security, going TDY to Mannheim, Germany (for training on Army equipment I had to maintain - JAAFFU? Joint Army-Air Force F*ck Up), hanging out and getting stone-faced drunk with all my Navy friends who were stationed at Nea Makri, and more.

Of course, being in telecom also meant spending most of my time on a mountaintop (north of Athens). My last tour, though, was at a detachment out of the Comm Group at Andrews AFB, supporting Presidential communications for Uncle Ronnie.

I still work in telecom, and since civilian telecom is heavily populated with ex-military and since I still do a lot of traveling (albeit voluntary instead of by way of PCS orders), it's still feels like I'm still in the Air Force (with my employer's constant f*ck ups only adding verisimilitude to the illusion).

#15 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:52 PM:

EDIT: (...) it's still feels like (...)

Make that (...) it still feels like (...)

#16 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:57 PM:

"Here's another middle-watch, another hair upon m' chest,
There's just an hour or two 'til I can go and get some rest,
Morning, Dogs or Afternoon, the Forenoon or the First,
None of 'em comes easy but the Middle is the worst."*

#17 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 02:37 PM:

G D Townshende, when I left the Navy as an RM3 I went out to Kwajalein as a telecomm op for about 3 years. Same thing. Everyone I worked with was ex-military. The hardest thing to adjust to was that it was Army Regs and procedures rather than Navy Ops.

#18 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 03:29 PM:

"To sail the seas for cash takes a taste for the nasty. Midwatch coffee is nasty."

Have you ever noticed that Federal prisoners essentially wear Navy enlisted working uniforms (blue jeans, blue chambray shirts, green foul-weather jackets, watch caps)? This is because, as Dr. Johnson said, "No man will be a sailor who has a contrivance to get himself into a gaol; for being in a ship is being in gaol with the chance of being drowned."

Let's see: TAD (Temporary Attached Duty) = Traveling Around Drunk.

FIBIJAR = F*ck It, Buddy, I'm Just A Reservist

FIGMO = F*ck It, I Got My Orders

#19 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 03:48 PM:

Worst chow I ever ate in my life was on "the Nasty" (Naval Station Treasure Island, NSTI).

Every other day the coffee was undrinkable (I don't know if it took two days to get enough eggshells to filter it, or if those were days they topped the bullets with baywater, but it was horrid).

Apart from eggs to order (if fried) the food was wretched. I recall the day I passed on fish in cream sauce (translucent slabs of something grey, in an agglutinated pile of off-white curds).

Then I looked at the menu-card... "escalloped potatoes in cream sauce." Someone sat next to me and asked, "did you see the fish?"

"That wasn't fish, it was potatoes."

"Bullshit, that was some kind of poached fish."

"Go look at the menu-card."

When he came back he was about the same color as the potatoes. It was a terrible galley.

#20 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Randolph @#16:
Tom Lewis - what a singer! Handsome bastard too (for his age!)

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Terry, regarding galley food, the midnight rations place on the ground floor of the barracks in Yokosuka met (nay, exceeded) the "too clever by half" naming standard: Davy Jones's Locker.

#22 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:49 PM:

I forgot to mention that some of the best chow I got was while I was in the brig of the Bellau Wood.

The mid-rats on that boat were pretty sad (rollers, sliders, grilled cheese and beans), but the dinner they brought us was good. Had to use my hands (plastic spoons and stryofoam are not the best surfaces to try and cut up a quartered chicken when one has no table but one's lap), but the quality and quantity were just fine.

#23 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Terry @ #22, "while I was in the brig of the Bellau Wood."

"Thereby hangs a tale."

#24 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 05:31 PM:

The Navy chow on troop transport ships (to & from Japan & Korea, early '50s) was -- except when we got C-rations, and sometimes even then -- generally markedly superior to that of the 40th Div. mess halls. (We tended to ascribe this to the "fact" that the Navy cooks had less opportunity to sell stuff on the black market, but in retrospect I suspect that the Navy just had better Cooking Schools, and perhaps Officers who were really anxious not to add "coped reasonably well with Mutiny" to their Record.)

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 05:58 PM:

You know, it occurred to me the other day that if I were going to be responsible for bringing "Beetle Bailey" into the 21st century, one of the first things I'd have to do would be to outsource Cookie's job to KBR.

#26 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 06:16 PM:

I did some of that humping in training, and when I was back in the world waiting for the end of my enlistment, but my year in the combat zone was more like the Navy: 12 hours on, 12 hours off, work 4 days, then swap shifts. I think the whole battalion was punch-drunk all the time from the equivalent of a 12 hour timezone jet lag renewed every 4 days. Add that to working in a building that sat between 2 large radio masts and 2 tropo-scatter reflectors (sort of like a football field lying on its long side, sticking 30 meters in the air). Nothing says "Home" in the Zone like a target with you at dead center.

Sort of static for a theme park ride, though. Maybe make a "Tunnel of War", with jeeps carrying people from one sight to another, with a dip in the rice paddy on the north side for variety? Oh, I almost forgot: pour water all over them for half the year, with no drains to remove it from around their feet (Note to architect: next time make the concrete footings for the "temporary" buildings higher than the water level in the rainy season.)

And speaking of acronyms and abbreviations there's always FTA, which the Army wants you to believe means "Fun, Travel, Adventure".

#27 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 06:29 PM:

Army food for me was bookended by a really good mess hall in Basic: good food and as much as you wanted. At the end, I spent my last 6 months at a one-platoon base in the middle of the North Carolina woods, theoretically in support of the 82nd Airborne, just in case they had to go in and subdue some American city. The Mess Sergeant was a friend of mine, and we used to raid the refrigerator most nights.

In between, the emblematic meal was SOS - "Shit on a Shingle", which neither looked nor tasted like the beef it was purported to be. And it went downhill from there. Combat rations were a step up.

#28 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Tykewriter, #20: I was introduced to his music by a Canadian navy couple, haven't ever seen him in the flesh, alas. The also had this bon mot about the Australian navy: "We all know that the quality of a navy is inversely proportional to the quality of the food they serve the sailors, but we hadn't realized that the Australian navy was quite that good."

Hmmm, maybe he plays Vancouver occasionally.

#29 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Rations really have improved.

I did a short stint at what was then the Army's "Human Factors" command in Natick, Massachusetts. (In a Bizarre Twist Of Fate it was as a civilian contractor doing IT for the HR directorate)

Natick was responsible for a lot of R&D for everything from New! Improved! ways to paradrop pallets of supplies without them scattering over 50 acres to the Battlefield Soldier Information System.

One of the taskings at Natick was to improve the rations available, both as MREs and at field kitchens. In support of this, all personnel on base, uniformed, or contractor, were invited, several times a month, to have a healthy-sized mid-morning or mid-afternoon "snack" where we taste-tested new recipes for MREs (both cold and heated) and field mess concoctions.

Comments were definitely wanted -- I was told that comments from a tester at Natick were the impetus to add condiments like BBQ sauce and hot sauce to keep the mustard and ketchup company in ther meal packets.

There were some good food items there (which never made it to the base mess, of course), and some real dogs,but we hoped our comments made things better for the troops in the field.

#30 ::: Christopher Weuve ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 01:11 AM:

FWIW, ten days after my first carrier landing I rode the hydraulic ride at _Star Trek: The Experience_. I was surprised to realize that they were the same ride (although the ST ride lasted longer and had better visuals).

#31 ::: Simon Bradshaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 03:35 PM:

Here's my guide to Simulating Iraq Duty written when the RAF sent me to Basra Air Station for four months a couple of years ago:

1. Move into your smallest room and install the two cheapest single beds you can find and an air-con unit that sounds like Concorde in afterburner. Share it with a complete stranger who either gets up two hours before you or goes to bed two hours later. After a couple of months, suddenly swap them for another random stranger with the opposite work pattern.

2. Install two sheds at the bottom of your garden. Into one install some toilets and showers. Never, ever do anything that might dissipate the smell. Into the other, put your computer and your telephone (which now only makes outgoing calls, limited to 20 minutes a week). Share both with everyone else on your street.

3. Before posting mail, leave it on the table for a week. When mail arrives, also leave it on the table for a week before opening it.

4. Buy three pairs of cargo pants and three khaki work shirts. Wear no other style of clothing when going to work or, for that matter, eating a meal. Talking of meals, wash your hands thoroughly before sitting down to eat, then apply disinfectant gel.

5. When you do your laundry, wash everything together at the hottest setting your machine has. Tumble dry it, then toss a coin. Heads, fold it neatly and stick it in a cupboard for two days before allowing yourself to use it. Tails, scrunch it up and stick it in a cupboard for a week before allowing yourself to use it.

6. Buy one of those waistcoats made of pockets (aka Smoffing Jacket). Fill the pockets with ball bearings or metal plates until it weighs about ten pounds. Carry it with you everywhere you go. Ditto for the heaviest motorcycle helmet you can find. Make sure to wear both items the whole time you are outside (remember where the toilet is?) Every couple of days, simulate insurgents by getting someone to let off a REALLY LOUD BANGER outside and then blowing a hooter in your ear, at which point put on both items and hide under your desk for an hour.

7. Come back in to work after dinner four or five nights a week to catch up on paperwork and planning. Every other Sunday, toss a coin: heads, and you've managed to negotiate half a day off.

Note: I appreciate that as a REMF I had it relatively easy (rocket attacks three times a week). Our counterparts in Basra City got hit three times a night.

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Linkmeister: The tale is more, and less, than it might seem. I was helping train the Human Exploitation Teams for MEU-13, back in, 2002. So Mills and I schlepped out to Ft. Hunter-Ligget. Got "captured", observed how the line-doggies handled us (poorly), worked with the interrogators (so-so, they didn't read the dossiers they had on us), froze my butt off in through the night.

We were airlifted to the Belleau Wood (which was fun... the crew-chief showed us how to use the crash-bottle O2, and told us to start worrying if the hydraulic leak should stop). We did about eight aborted efforts to land (they were recovering Harriers, which has priorty on the flight deck), and that meant we got to see the ocean from way close out the windows, far too many times.

Then they bagged our heads, searched us, led us down to the brig (unaware that we couldn't see out the pillow cases. I never want to go down ladderways handcuffed with no shoelaces again).

Gave us a cold shower, a jumpsuit and a metal rack for a bunk.

After a couple of hours they moved us to a bunked cell, and fed us.

Then we were bagged again, and led up to be interrogated some more (again, it was weak. They didn't have a good grasp of following leads).

After that... we were given berths in the Marine section of the boat. Walked around (took a hot shower) watched the Marines being Marines (laptops with porn-flicks were quite popular) and strolled the ship from bilge to weather decks.

Up in the AM, and flown back to shore.

#33 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2008, 04:16 AM:

G. D. Townshende @14

When I was stationed in Greece, I had the singular joy of doing security patrols of the site's perimeter fence (after the Communists had taken power)

Now I'm curious: Wich of the events in Greek history of the last fifty years (none of them involved an actual Communist takeover of power) was explained as "the Communists taking power" to the US military personal stationed there by their COs?

#34 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2008, 05:12 AM:

the crew-chief showed us how to use the crash-bottle O2, and told us to start worrying if the hydraulic leak should stop

Had a Chinook safety brief once which went like this: "Right, lads. Now, as you've noticed, this aircraft has two engines. If they both stop, we'll crash into the ground and - I'm not going to muck you about here - we'll probably all die. But if we survive, here's what you do: get out of the aircraft through the door, the windows, or any other holes there may be in the walls, watch out for rotors, and get well clear."

Then we took off. I don't think we went above 30 feet all night...

#35 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2008, 05:15 AM:

33: this is puzzling me also. Maybe he's thinking of the Colonels' Revolt??

#36 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2008, 06:07 AM:

Raphael @ #33

Only thing I can find was the Greek civil war (1944-1949), but that wasn't in the last 50 years (but partially within the last 60).

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2008, 12:33 PM:

The only thing I can think of that comes close to the 'Communists taking power' in Greece was the left-right coalition formed in 1989 that was united in its dislike of Papandreou's PASOK and included the Communists as one element.

#38 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2008, 05:19 AM:

Well, the Colonels were ultra-reactionary anti-Communists- perhaps right-wing US military officers might have interpreted their loss of power (allthough they handed it over to a mainstream conservative) as a "Communist takeover"? Or perhaps the coalition Fragano mentions? Or even simply a PASOK electoral victory?

#39 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2008, 01:19 AM:

Raphael @#33 Now I'm curious: Wich of the events in Greek history of the last fifty years (none of them involved an actual Communist takeover of power) was explained as "the Communists taking power" to the US military personal stationed there by their COs?

Sorry, Raphael. I've not been online the past couple of days, so I didn't see this earlier.

I was stationed in Greece with the Air Force from September 1980 to March 1983. An election was held while I was there, and at that time (October 1981) Andreas Papandreou became PM of Greece. Several things occurred as a result of that election, three of which were: 1) we had to change the route we drove through Athens when we made our weekly runs from Mt. Parnis to Hellenikon AB (because the previous route went through a part of Athens that was heavily populated with Papandreou supporters), 2) we were given arms to protect the site perimeter, and 3) we had to be armed when making security checks of the site perimeter. Prior to Papandreou becoming PM, none of those things had to be done, except for unarmed security checks.

I see now (after a little research) that my memory is either faulty, or that I had been given misinformation, since Papandreou was socialist and not communist. However, I know that he and his supporters certainly did not like the presence of US troops in Greece. Several people assigned to our site had their personal vehicles vandalized by Papandreou supporters just outside of the gates to Hellenikon, when they were trying to enter the base.

I can also recall some of the conversations I had with others (who were assigned there with me) about Papandreou, before and after the election. One conversation that immediately comes to mind is a conversation which I and a guy from Detroit had with the young, Greek girl (she was about 17 or 18, if memory serves) who worked in our site mess hall. This was after the election. It was the first election in which she had been able to vote, and we were curious whom she had voted for, and why. Her response was that she had voted for Papandreou because, as she put it, "I liked the way he looked."

#40 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2008, 01:42 AM:

Thank you.

#41 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2008, 01:52 AM:

No problem. I've not been online because my girlfriend arrived from Portugal this past Wednesday, and as my present "weekend" is Wednesday/Thursday, we've been spending these two days taking care of last minute details for our upcoming trip to NYC. She's never been there before, and has been wanting to go, so we're both very excited about the trip.

#42 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2008, 02:13 AM:

I also said @ #14: "(...) going TDY to Mannheim, Germany (for training on Army equipment I had to maintain - JAAFFU? Joint Army-Air Force F*ck Up) (...)"

Several things have etched in my mind the exact time frame that that happened: 1) I turned 21 while I was in Germany, and, in celebration of my birthday, I was taken to a local gasthaus, where I got stone-faced drunk on some dark German beer; 2) the song "Angel of the Morning" was a big hit for Juice Newton, at the time; 3) John Hinckley, Jr, attempted to assassinate President Reagan; and 4) barely two weeks later, on April 12, the space shuttle Columbia was launched for its first orbital test flight (I bought a copy of the Air Force Times at the Army base in Mannheim, because of the photo on the cover and because it was the first launch).

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