Welcome to my world! It's sometimes routine, sometimes crazy, and through it all I yearn to travel (and do accomplish some of that).

Location: Everett, Washington

Monday, January 31, 2005

One of my friends onboard reenlisted today, for three more years. He has orders to Naples, Italy, and will transfer there in about 2 months. I went to his reenlistment ceremony today after dinner. Then, after we got off work, a couple of guys (including the friend that reenlisted) and I went up to the smoke deck and each smoked a cigar in celebration.
There is some other news to report. We got the definitive schedule passed down to us tonight, as well as what the leave time frames will be. There will be leave out of Hawaii, and three different periods out of Everett. I will plan on taking leave from March 4-16th, having plenty of time at home around the wedding. I am happy about that, and also happy we’re getting back earlier (up till a week or two ago, we were going to be home on or about March 12).
I finished Duty last night, and I had some thoughts about it. I am struck with even greater respect for World War II veterans and those of my grandparent’s generation. One interesting thought in the book was about how people went from growing up in the Depression times, into becoming men in the war times. The main point was that kids growing up poor saw these places on a globe, and they were so unknown. They never thought they would ever see such places. Then, they were pulled into war, and saw Europe, Africa, Japan, etc.
That’s it for now. I don’t have any other news or stories to tell.

Quote of the day: “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” --Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, January 29, 2005

“Never, ever let the job finish you.” That quote come from a Toyota ad I found this morning, on the back of a Navy Times newspaper. It is exactly the same kind of thought that I use to keep me going in my job, and ultimately in the military. I often face situations, that in word and behavior, are almost utter stupidity or ludicrous. That’s the way the military is often. If you’re not doing something at a certain time, you’re wrong, and have to start doing something – ridiculous as it may be. All along the way, there have been many things to irk me about the military experience, but that is the latest and greatest at the moment.
I received my sister’s wedding invitation in the mail the other day. Alongside that, however, I received both good news and bad news with the schedule around that time. We should be back a few days earlier than I’ve been planning, allowing me to leave from San Diego or Everett, and be there in time for the wedding. However, I have also been told that they don’t want to let people take leave until our change of command ceremony a couple weeks after we get back. However, my supervisor recognizes my different circumstances, and will support me on asking for leave. So, it’s good and bad, but should work out swimmingly.
We got some update on the schedule last night from the CO. Early yesterday evening, he gave his daily update on the relief work. Then, a couple hours later, he came on again and relayed what is 90% certain for our return voyage. We will be stopping for a couple days (including my birthday) in an in Asian city, which I’ve seen before on the last West Pac. Then, we will continue on home – stopping in Hawaii and San Diego again.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Today, I switched back to working the day shift. I worked half the night last night, ate and relaxed for a little while, and then slept for just a few hours. I think I’ll need to fit in a nap this afternoon so I can fully adjust back to this schedule.
We are in our final days here aiding in the relief effort. However, the date that we’ll leave, and our exact date of return, is up in the air yet. The schedule hasn’t been finalized; we just know that the end is coming soon.
I am concurrently reading My Life and Duty right now. Duty is a book written by Bob Greene, about his dad, him, and Paul Tibbets. It’s a great book of history and military combined, and one I will highly recommend to anyone, both now and when I’m done with it. I’ve read both books in little parts the last week or so, but think I will finish Duty now (I’m halfway through) before finishing My Life. I started compiling a scrapbook today, covering all my time on the ship. I have a vast accumulation of articles from the start of the war in Iraq, coming home from our last West Pac, and now this. I am also adding bits of memorabilia and souvenirs from events and adventures along the way. I also have some war comics I’m putting in. It’s a rather simple thing, but I’m excited about it—something to hang on to for the years to come.

Monday, January 24, 2005

On Saturday, I went to the beach for the relief effort. I started my day by mustering at the ATO (air transport office) at 5:55 in the morning. We checked in, and were told to return at 6:15. When we did, we had to wait for a while, and then we were given cranials and rubber duckies (life-saving float device). As well as getting our equipment, we took advantage of the waiting time, and put on our sunscreen and DEET, as recommended. As we were on our way out, one girl threw up in the passageway where we were standing. She went to medical, and did not get to go. We rode in a helicopter to get there, which was a little frightening to me. There were about 10 people to a helicopter, and we were all sitting in the back, on the floor. Both going up and coming down are a little choppy as the helicopter maneuvers around.
We arrived on the field, where we would be working, around 7 am. We got started working almost as soon as we got there, and didn’t get a sizeable break until about 10:30. We did however eat little bits and drink lots of water, which was provided for us there under a tent. It was real hot and sunny even before 9:30 a.m. Just before 10:30, one of the folks in charge, asked for 6 people to volunteer to go get wood from the nearby Indonesian air force base. I volunteered, and after some figuring out, we were given a ride by some Indonesian guys in the area. They had a big truck, which was open in back (yet covered high overhead with a tarp). There was one of their guys in front, as well as one of our officers that would lead us to the wood. Then, we had about 6 Indonesian guys and 6 of our guys in the back. We got to the Air Force base (which was just a few blocks away), and had to stand by, by the gate, till we were allowed to enter. They only wanted one truck at a time in there, so we had to wait for another truck to leave. Upon stopping, and getting out of the truck, we loaded 40 long planks of wood (2 X4s?). The project intended with all this wood, was to make new pallets for the relief supplies to sit upon.
The main purpose of the day was to move boxes of the relief supplies. We unloaded them from trucks, with supplies provided by the U.S., USAID (a UNICEF organization), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and more. We moved boxes of chocolate milk, water, sunflower oil, rice, biscuits, and more. After unloading them from the trucks, we set them up in piles based on what they were. Everything was separated by what it was, and set into nice square areas, on the pallets we had, as well as large metal squares placed on the ground (those were compliments of the US Air Force). When helicopters landed we would initially bring up boxes to the helicopters and give them to the crew onboard (2-3 guys usually loading the helicopter), and then with the people bringing up the rear forming a chain to pass more boxes up to the helicopter. It was hot, tiring, and well worth the effort. I had only slept a couple hours the night before leaving, but I did the job. As well, I managed to squeeze in a couple naps in the afternoon, between helicopter landings. At some times we did have 2-3 helicopters down on the field at a time, so we had to make a couple chains to load 2 helicopters at a time.
As far as seeing people needing medical assistance, there weren’t that many that I saw. They did have some, but no one on a stretcher. The one guy that I saw, and actually looked to see what was wrong with him, had his head bandaged up.
There was a great international mix around the field that we worked. From the Navy, we had regular enlisted folks, officers, and hospital corpsmen. There was an Air Force detachment out of Travis AFB in California. There were Indonesians that came from the area directly around the airfield to watch what was going on. There were several different journalists from around the world…the Boston Globe, two French reporters, an Associated Press guy, and a few others that I didn’t talk to. The Associated Press guy took my picture, and within an hour of getting back to the ship, it was online for the world to see. I figured that out a little while after I looked at the picture, after someone else was talking about the time it was posted. Again, I go back to what I was saying in relation to the inauguration, with the speed of information these days. I’ll put the link at the end here if you all want to check it out.
During and after the work, I did feel hot, sweaty, and exhausted…but I knew that it was all worth it. Every box I moved was going to be received by some one who needed it, and had hardly any food. We finished the day between 4-5 in the afternoon, so it was just over eight hours of work, with plenty of “catch your breath” breaks in between.
We were well stocked with food for ourselves. Food from the ship had been brought for lunches, snacks and drinks. We had sandwiches, fruit, Pringles, cake, Pepsi (I had one, because it’s not really what you should be drinking on a hot day), bottled water (as well as a water tank for re-fills), and more.
When we headed back to the ship, I rode in a helicopter with a few less people. They were sending people back in groups of 4-10, rather than them all being groups of 10. The crewman that was sitting in the back with us left the door open for the whole flight. This scared me a lot more than the helicopter flight itself.
That was my day. As soon as I got back to the ship, I stopped for a minute to drop an email. Then, I crashed from the depletion of energy. I slept till almost 4 am and then got up. My body is just starting to return to normal now, after changing around my sleep pattern like that.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I have been quite busy the last couple of days, and haven’t adequately shared my news. About two days ago, I got an e-mail telling me I had a medical screening that morning (for going to help with the relief efforts). Later on in the morning, half hour before the medical screening, they cancelled it however. I had it at the same time this morning. All of those in a select group went to one meeting place on the ship, and were given a lecture and information from one of the hospital corpsman onboard. We filled out paperwork to be put in our medical records, and received a month’s supply of anti-malaria pills. For those that know medicine at all, the pills are Doxycycline. I have one to take every day with a meal until I go, and then for twenty-eight days thereafter. Stay tuned on all this news, as I should go to the beach within a week and a half. I have to wait on a brief with the chaplain, before I’m sent off to help.
I’m quite excited about everything in the above paragraph, as I’ll be able to physically do something rather than just being here. Right now, I am watching the presidential inauguration. Because I don’t want to put out too much politically inspired thought in my journal, I won’t say much about this. However, I did have one interesting thought/question to put out to all of you. It’s rare for people to have to watch television or check the inter-net for news from the head of the company they work for. Yet, that is how it is for me, thinking of the President as the head honcho.
One other interesting and grateful thought I had in the last hour was also due in part to the inauguration. I am watching/listening to Bush’s speech, and will probably hear all of it, yet I was just thinking of how I will easily be able to find it online. Due to the speed of information in our day and age, within an hour, I know I will be able to find the complete text online. Within minutes of a newspaper going to press, one can pull up the stories online. I am continually amazed and pleased, with the access to information I want to gather.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Yesterday (since it's after midnight here), was the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. I went to the ceremony held onboard the ship, and was particularly moved by the message and reverence of it. They had one of the Catholic church choir onboard sing a few songs, a slide show of pictures was shown, a poem read, the national anthem and a solo sang, and a message highlighting several of MLK Jr's speeches and ideals. I particularly noted how it was put out that this holiday is for all people, not just African Americans, and how MLK Jr gave a lifetime of service for what he believed in. I took this to heart, to fight for freedom and always look to how you can serve fellow man. This strikes with me so well, because I do have similar ideas continually stirring in me. When I'm ready, I want to answer a call of service in whatever way I can and am led. That service I'm talking about is beyond the military, if I need to elaborate. Now, of course, that will be in addition to service I can and will do along the way.
Since I am writing this so late, you may infer that my schedule tonight is a little different. That is correct! Tonight is the first night I've switched over to working nights again. However, this is only for a week, as we complete a special project. On days like this before a switch, we come into work in the morning and are let off after a couple hours to get our sleep schedule somewhat acclimated.
This journal entry has sat on my computer now for almost four hours now. We have a large quantity of record entries for this project, and it's kept me busy all night. I'm on my breakfast break now, but I am going to leave this where it's at and put it out to all of you.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Today has been busy, both with my normal tasks and other things. I had a spot check this week, which was scheduled yesterday morning, again this morning, and finally done late this afternoon. The Chief I was doing it ended up being during both of those morning times we set up. As well, today I took a test for RPPO, which is a qualification I’m working on. The letters stand for Repair Parts Petty Officer. This person is the one who orders all supplies and maintenance parts for a department. I took the test last week, too, and missed too many (five) questions.
My library, which I think I detailed on here before is now operational. It is also largely mobile. I brought together about ½ of my books, and have them in one box I can carry around and take to people. In terms of record keeping for this, I created an Excel spreadsheet with all the books listed, and who currently has them (if anyone). There are about 50 of my books in this lending library so far, and it’s yet to be seen if I will add the others (another whole box worth of books). So, I think this is working, and it’s fun for me, and enriching to other people.
In other news, I’ll be back on night shift for one week, next week. I’m going to night shift along with another person. Alongside the existing night shift person, we will be working on entering the most recent Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, which most of the crew earned this week.
That’s all of what is noteworthy. Our schedule is still completely up in the air…but it sounds like we’ll be home sometime in March.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Today is my Dad’s 51st birthday. In a way, I would have celebrated with him if he had been able to come on the Tiger cruise. Instead, I’ll send off his birthday present this afternoon.
The last day or so has gone over well. In the wee hours of the morning yesterday (Sunday going into Monday), we received a LOT of mail. I personally got 5 or 6 boxes yesterday from different people at church, from orders, and my Christmas presents from my Mom and Dad. Through all this mail, I received many additions to both my library, and my DVD collection. I moved all of my DVDs down to the berthing last night, which were approximately 30 movies (old + the new ones). So, all that was a great thing. As I said, this was in the wee hours of the morning, so I decided to stay up for the mail, knowing that my Christmas presents would arrive. I didn’t mind one bit – thinking of it like staying up for Christmas. The original plan was “to wake up early on Christmas morning,” but the mail call was before I had even gone to sleep.
About five months ago, I was seriously looking at the stock market due to Google’s IPO. At that time, I started playing an online stock market game. I bought stocks of Google , and 3 or 4 other companies. Google is the only one of the bunch that has been a profitable investment. As I write now, Google is currently trading at $195/share. This is up from opening at around $100/share. I really wish I would have had the capital at the time to invest…I would have been sitting pretty!
In one of my boxes yesterday, I received a journal. I decided that I would make use of it solely for my compositions, etc. I want to make a strong effort to write in it everyday, with whatever writings I can draw from my feelings of the moment. I started on that last night, and wrote one page with two compositions. One I finished, and the other I left incomplete to finish tonight.

"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."
--Jack Kerouac

Saturday, January 08, 2005

I don’t know what’s going on, or what will happen in the near future. Today, the CO came on and said that the Tiger Cruise is officially cancelled. For those that don’t know, the Tiger Cruise is one way the Navy lets families/friends into our world, to have a glimpse of what being underway is like. They had planned to have people come onboard as the ship transits from Hawaii to San Diego, or San Diego to Everett…or both (both combined would have been about ten days). I am accordingly extremely disappointed and somewhat frustrated. We were supposed to be home on my birthday! Now, I don’t know if we will be home then or even how much later, if that’s the case. I want be home for my sister’s wedding, and though I think that still won’t be a problem, it could be a question of how long I could be home at that time.
Life and God’s plans can be strange, odd, and mysterious. I know this should be good, but still I have the prospect of the same thing happening to me twice while in the Navy, on this ship (getting extended on a deployment). Ughhh! I really don’t think this should be so, and yet it is.
This is a huge drain on any ship’s crew morale, and to have it happen to the same crew twice?
That’s all I’ve got for tonight. I really am frustrated and want to go home and be driving again.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

As can be expected, there’s a lot going on around the ship. We have been here in the tsunami-affected countries for nearly a week now. The CO comes on every day and gives an update on how much stuff we have flown around, delivered, and more during the day…as well as what’s going on. We have moved hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and water, as well as the helicopters moving people from remote areas to where they can be taken care of.
As of yet, I have had no active part in this. I am still hoping to go, but doubt that it’s likely.
Dan Rather and maybe Diane Sawyer were onboard the ship the other day. I didn’t hear about either one until after the fact, so I missed seeing them.
There is a supposed date that we will leave this region, as another group of military will take on the mission of aid. If this goes as said, we should still be home according to schedule.
In spite of everything else going on, I have continued to read. I finished reading a book about a map thief, started and finished reading “The Last Juror”, which is one of Grisham’s latest. Right now, I’m reading a couple books. I started reading a book by Hunter S. Thompson that I had bought a couple months back. As well, yesterday, I found someone that was selling Bill Clinton’s book, My Life. So, I bought that, due to my curiousity and slight interest in his story, since the book came out over the summer. I started reading it last night, and think it may be my primary reading instead of the other book.