Friday, September 3, 2010

From One Federal Employee to Another

Just a little reading for everyone. This law was a big deal because it effectively cut off shipments of cigarettes and dip to service members. Which may seem like a good idea but tell any Mo-reen about the hazard to health a cigarette presents and I'm sure it's low on the totem-pole. Well it just got a little personal after I ordered some cigars from and they sent me a letter telling me that my FPO shipping address was a restricted shipping address. Well if you read the above statement from the USPS it clearly states that the shipment of Cigars is not restricted. You'd think that a website whose only way to get product to customers is shipping would know the law a little bit better. So this is now a headache.

For those not in the loop, the ban on shipping is really to staunch the flow of cheap nontaxable goods. Money is the root of this problem because states have different tax rates on tobacco products. Even after some changes, it's caused quite an uproar all over the federal government and even some states.The trend of online shipping is either to tax the goods under whatever state tax codes the goods are being shipped under or tax under the tax rates of the recipient's shipping address. Enforcing the latter for the general public and the former for deployed service members would let online companies cover the taxation of sales.

You might as well just start doing this, it's gonna be cheaper...
I can't agree with the outrageous near 8th Amendment violating price strangulation of tobacco that's been happening over the last 20 something years. It's like a whipping horse for federal funds, but also it's acceptable by the general public by putting pressure on whats widely viewed as a nasty habit. So smokers will always have to pay, I just hope after it costs 20$ a pack that they don't turn the all seeing eye toward my cigars.

In other news, Pakistan continues to rally together and rebuild after a devistating flood conduct business as normal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brown-Shoe is in Heat for Being Called "Romo's Bitch"

I don't normally like to promote but there is an interesting story that's been brewing for while. The fly-boy involved, ENS Crowston, was given the call-sign "Romo's Bitch". From the picture below one could argue that he may or may not give it up for the star QB in question.

You can't see it but the back of the shirt is be'dazzeld "I <3 Romo"
No really, I'm not in the Aviation community but this seems over the line. Calling him "Jessica", "Star Child", "Redskin", "Fumbles", "Interception" would have been not only more clever but totally acceptable. The Ensign in question does seem to have a history of starting investigations in his short career, but this seems to be substantiated. Pilots have a reputation for being pretty casual around each other so I can imagine them getting together and coming up with this. It just seems like they are asking for trouble by making it a little too direct. The word "bitch" just doesn't sit right with any guy and if this ENS is gay it would be very disrespectful and offensive. I can't say I'd make the same protest but if he wants to make a career of the Navy it could be a problem. Can you imagine Admiral Steve "Romo's Bitch" Crowston? The blame really does fall at the command level because that person should be mature enough to see the issue with making having his call sign include the word "Bitch". 

But I would definitely serve under Capt. "Pom-Pom"

UPDATE: The above link is now saying the Navy IG is all over the Naval Air Force Investigators that threw out the inital complaint. Big navy is going to be all over this and normally the complaintant will get his way, especially after all this new DATD policy changes be re-worked.

Spreading Good Will and Healing Livers

On this last port stop in Darwin, Australia the ole' USNS Mercy crew was just in time for the Annual Darwin Lions Club Beercan Regatta. There was a lot of talk about this after one of the crew found the web page and word spread like wildfire on the smoke deck about some "beer festival". Sad to say I wasn't in attendance but it looks like the US Navy showed up in a boat that would have made Joseph Daniels proud.
The "USNS No Mercy" made from beer soda cans.
According to CDR Matthew T. Provencher, head of Orthopedic Surgery and also the main boat builder, the USNS No Mercy had "a great and very successful day at the Darwin Lions Club Regatta, with the USNS No Mercy team winning the tug of war competition." The Mini-Mercytook top place in soda can boat and international built boat as well. As for the regatta itself, the multi-hull catamaran style that the Navy loves so much was a good choice and the boat took 5th. For a bunch of shore-loving medical personnel it's very admirable.

The Aussies violating multiple Geneva Convention codes by firing on the "USNS No Mercy"

"It was a total blast – much fun and many people remarking on what a great day it was at Mindil Beach. The combination of the markets, the racing, and the friendly Darwin people created a very fun atmosphere that all enjoyed." CDR Provencher said of the event. The boat and all the proceeds (over 400$) were donated to the Darwin Lion's Club. If you want to get your hands on this award winning testament to boredom while underway, the Lion's Club is auctioning it off for further profits HERE.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This blogging stuff get serious real quick...

Well I'm a little humble because as much as I quote Navy Times and the Scoopdeck blog they have returned the favor and quoted me here. I'd like to shout out with a thanks from Phil Ewing for that. I wasn't able to give my full Q/A because I wasn't able to jump on a civilian computer. Hopefully I'll get some more loyal readers off this quote but that might be asking too much...

There were a few more points I wanted to make. I hear the phrase battle-rattle, which is usually followed up by a beaming prideful smile. That kind of fits but if I see someone gearing up for VBSS and call it battle-rattle I might start frothing at the mouth a bit. Hey, it's a changing time. I hold our sailor babble close to my heart, but even I still let a nasty "Shipmate" out here and there. I think I should start taking some notes about the proper use of Shipmate from the ole salt himself (pictured below).

My Hero

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Going the way of the Sloop of War

Hot on the heels of one of my last posts I was happy to see this story about the future of the "crack-pac" ships, the Frigates.

I can't really agree with it anymore than to say that I was excited at the idea of just joining the deep water cutter program that the coast guard is using. Its the perfect idea and fits so well instead of this horrid mangled mutant that the LCS is. I used to be excited about the LCS ship platform but over the last few years and reading multiple articles quoting the vocal equivalent of shoulder shruggin coming from Admirals fleet wide, I can't say I'm behind it anymore. The NSC(pictured left doing what looks like a near perfect williamson turn) is an amazing platform that would fit the bill. It can sit on station for a minimum of 60 days while the LCS can only last about a week underway without getting topped off. Also, I saw a better functioning ship in the FSF Seafighter. In fact, after reading up a bit more the sea fighter has a ridiculous range on it which would make it a perfect base instead of the LCS.

I can't fathom the kind of thinking that happens at the top, I guess when you have carrier and nuclear sub drivers at the top you throw budgets out the window and don't see the practicality of a small efficient "dumber" ship. They dream up this budget busting tech monster LCS. Let's not start with the DDG 1000 program... The navy could already have 3 NSC's underway with the amount of money already fed to the DD 1000.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And moving on...

There was quite a display today of ships out and about the USNS Mercy while she is inport Ambon, Indonesia. This is the second to last stop of the Indonesian visit during her Pacific Partnership 10 deployment. The Indonesian president was supposed to arrive for a tour of the ship but that did not happen and he departed Ambon City after a ceremony and a pretty decent display of military power and cooperation during a ship Parade. I'll try to find some pictures but nothing decent is online right now. The only decent piture was this one with the ship in background. Actually it was quite impressive and I'm sure the Indonesian people were glad to have all the tourisim. I can say that after digging around there was a ton of mis-information that was put out to the people. I personally saw 3 school girls come to the Pier after tours were secured and tear up because we wouldn't let them on the ship. Well, they weren't allowed on the ship but I would have let them on if it was my choice. No reason to exclude three innocent asian school girls, what are we monsters?

Alas, the tours were only for press and local dignitaries of course. The confusion might have been that the public was able to go to the multiple medical sites to receive important and sometimes life changing health care. Tour or operate on my cleft pallet.... I can see where it may have been lost in translation. As far as a marching band, I didn't know this was the 1950's and that's the best Big Navy had to offer. The reality was a pretty kick ass navy band that did everything from playing a small quartet during a dinner show to singing "My Humps" or some other vapid pop stuff that the locals most likely thought was still a #1 hit in the states.

Well I'll try to find more pictures and put some up later.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I need to expand my sources beyond the Navy Times

Finally someone nuts up and admits things aren't so good down on the waterfront. I think this is the first time that I've heard the phrase "Run like a business" when someone is talking about the navy and haven't died inside a little bit more.

I went out on liberty the other day with someone dressed very similar to this:

Yes it's quite frightening. Just replace the the sweater vest with a Hawaiian shirt that was tight tucked and you'll get a good idea of what I was going out into the public with. Someone in their mid 20's dressing like an extra from Caddyshack. Well one of the guys out on town called him an "old soul" and I realized I haven't heard that term in a little bit. It was doubly funny because he didn't understand the joke.

Alright, my tangent is over: I like to consider myself an "Old Soul" when it comes to my view of the fleet force. Lots of tin cans floating around. Stick 2 helos on em and load up some ASROCs and you're good to go. I can't really find a fault in this logic, just more cheaper ships. I can't think of a war where the Air Force couldn't launch the cruise missles instead of a Navy Ship. It's all bells and whistles and no guns and steel. It was our MO up until the mid 90's when AEGIS hit the fan. "Smart Ships" blow up just as good as regular ones do and sink even faster with a tiny crew. This is too long a topic, I'll be here all day if I get into it. The article speaks for itself and I think any taxpayer would want to have more of these bad boys around: