Friday, November 30, 2007

Ahhh, December!

Can you believe it's the last day of November? Thanksgiving has come and gone and we've got our Christmas decorations out. I just put up the lights around the rain gutter and it looked very plain and boring. LW really brought it to life though and did an awesome job with the garland with a strand of lights around the posts in front of our house, plus some red bows, red ornaments, two lit-up penguins, and a submarine wreath on our front door.

Here are three of my favorite things about this time of year (not in any particular order):

- Handel's Messiah. I have mentioned before how military brats can generally place a memory within one or two years' timespan because they remember what house (or church) they were in. The first time I remember hearing Handel's Messiah and it registering in my brain what I was listening to was at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Pedro, CA. So that had to have been 3rd or 4th grade when we lived in the San Pedro Navy Housing.

A lot of people just think of this as the "Hallelujah" chorus, but it's sooo much more than that. To be quite honest, the Hallelujah chorus is kind of over-played. It's nice, but so many people use it as a "sound bite" you hear it all the time. I have several almost-favorite parts, but my absolute favorite is the "For Unto Us a Child is Born" in the middle of Part I.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given:
And the government shall be upon His shoulder:
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
I first became familiar with Handel because of my parents singing in the church choir growing up. For several years now, my mom has sung for the San Diego Master Chorale (picture above). It's been a wonderful treat for me on a handful of occasions to attend some of her Messiah performances in San Diego.

- The Nutcracker. In addition to my parents, I was very blessed to have the influence of my Grandma Kay and Grandpa Ernie on my upbringing. They loved the fine arts and always took me to see performing arts and museums. It's through my grandparents that I learned an appreciation for classical music and Gilbert & Sullivan musicals.

I don't remember exactly when I started going to see the Nutcracker, but it was sort of a Christmas-season tradition for me up through college. LW doesn't care for the ballet much, but she appeased me and went with me to see the Boston Ballet perform The Nutcracker when we got engaged, and it was awesome.

I think in another couple of years I may try to take the boys to see it. I don't think they'd understand it or sit still through it just yet.

- The Army-Navy football game. I am like Bubblehead in that I didn't go to the Naval Academy, but I love the Army-Navy football game. I think I've actually been to the game four times now...
- 1986: My dad took me to my first Army-Navy football game when they played at the Rosebowl, and it was AWESOME.
- 1995: My roommates during prototype in Charleston were USNA grads, and I went with Nate to the game in Philadelphia.
- 1997: Just after we got engaged, LW and I went to the game at Giant Stadium with our friends Chris and Cath (Cath's younger brother was a mid then).
- 2005: I took ES to his first Army-Navy game two years ago in Philadelphia with my friend and former stateroom-mate, Rich.

ES's class mascot "Wings" at the 2005 Army-Navy Game. Each kid in the class got to take Wings home for a weekend and write in a journal about what they did over the weekend, so we took him to the Army-Navy Game.

Me and ES at the 2005 Game (we froze our butts off and had to leave early before poor ES turned into a popsicle).

I love all the tradition and ceremony of the game. The midshipmen and the cadets all march into the stadium. Then you get flyovers by jets and helicopters, and guys will parachute in with the flag for the national anthem. Then they have the exchanging of the prisoners. A handful of cadets go to Annapolis and some mids go to West Point as exchange students each semester. Before the game begins though, they get returned to their home team in an "exchanging of the prisoners ceremony" on the football field.

Exchanging of the Prisoners Ceremony

Each time either team scores, they shoot their cannon or artillery piece and all the plebes do pushups. If the President is there, he starts the game sitting on one side of the field rooting for one team, then at halftime, they have a ceremony where he crosses the field to sit with the other side and rooting for the other team. There are great fight songs the mids sing like, "Gooooooo Migh-ty Na-vy, Go! Go! Migh-ty Na-vy!" and "Go - Navy - Go! Beat Army!"

Unfortunately, you don't get all the ceremony and tradition when you watch it on TV. I still like to watch the game though. That being said, it's time to set the DVR to record it in case I don't wake up in time, and then it's time to hit the rack.


Monday, November 26, 2007

It's time for a change

In a previous post, I wrote about my body weight cycle from shore duty to sea duty. Every sea duty, my weight has slowly climbed to an embarrassing maximum. Every shore duty, I get back into the habit of going to the gym every day and get my weight back down to my college weight.

Well, I've been living in a state of denial. While claiming to have embraced the culture of fitness and doing a lot of physical exercise, I have not been eating well. I've been in denial about my metabolism changing as I get older. Although the physical exercise has done me well and I was pleased with my PRT results (in terms of pushups, situps, and run time), I have not been watching what I eat, so my weight has stayed the same (and a lot higher than I would like it to be).

Well, over this Thanksgiving weekend, I gained 2 pounds (have I mentioned how much I love pecan pie?), and I crossed a threshold / imaginary line on the scale that I didn't want to cross. I decided I really need to change my eating habits and get my weight down.

So I decided to join Weight Watchers. WW now has an online program for men. One of the first things that flashed across the home page was:

Drink beer and still lose weight (really)
I like this already.

All joking aside, I really do like some of the tools that they offer on the WW website. For instance, I find that keeping a log of the food I eat really helps raise my level of awareness about my intake and to stop "grazing" or snacking so much.

We'll see how it goes. I stole the workout log thing on the right side of my blog from Sam's blog. Now I need to find an html thing to keep track of my weight-loss progress, too. WW wants you to weigh yourself once per week to track your progress, so next Monday, I'll post my first week's results.

My hope is that by going public here on my blog, I'm committing myself to getting it done so I can report the positive results here for all to read.

Weekend Recap

The weather was kind of blah (by Hawaii standards) on Friday and Saturday, with dark clouds and sporadic showers, so I didn't get out hiking or snorkeling like I had wanted to. Besides the Pacific Aviation Museum and jogging the bike path that I wrote about on Friday, we played some video games and I managed to finish watching Season 2 of HIMYM on DVD and caught up on Heroes on the NBC website.

Saturday, LW went on a shopping marathon and out to dinner with her friend L. While LW was gone, I took the boys on a bike ride out on the bike path. ES rode his own bike and I pulled YS in the trailer behind my bike. We rode out 1.5 miles to a park with a playground where the boys played for a little while. Then we rode half a mile to Best Buy to get some replacement headsets for our XBox. Then we rode the last mile home for a total of 3 miles.

I think ES is ready to have the training wheels removed from his bicycle. I really don't think he needs them anymore, and they're pretty beat-up and about to fall off on their own. I've been trying to talk him into letting me take them off, but he hasn't gone for it yet.

After we got back from the bike ride, I had a family movie night with the boys and we watched Over the Hedge. The boys had seen it before, but I had not, and L's husband keeps telling me funny scenes from the movie. I really liked it and laughed a lot. "Hammy" the squirrel was awesome, especially after drinking that fully-caffeinated soda.

Sunday though, the weather was perfect - mostly sunny but not too hot or humid. We loaded up our camelbaks and headed over to the Friendship Park in Kaneohe to hike the upper loop trail (the last blog post I wrote about this park, we only hiked the lower loop).
The boys on the trail.

It was only a one mile hike, but it came with 227 feet of elevation gain. We parked the car at 295 feet and the highest elevation we got to was 522 feet.

Altitude profile from our hike of the upper loop.

There's a beautiful panoramic view of Kaneohe from the top of the Friendship Park upper loop trail.

Me and YS hiking toward the summit.

Gumbo night was tonight at the home of one of my JOs. Mark and Denise took the carcass from our turkey on Thanksgiving home with them and used it to make turkey gumbo tonight for dinner. They invited everyone from the wardroom over and had a pretty large turnout at their place tonight. The gumbo was excellent. I never knew what roux was before Mark explained to me the finer points of making gumbo tonight.

Amazing Race
: Man, those African dance-contest judges were just FULL of personality weren't they??? (sarcasm) They weren't exactly Simon, Paula, and Randy. At least Simon and Randy listened to Paula. The two African men judges didn't seem to listen to any of the ladies' opinions - not that any of them were all that talkative. (Note: I wrote this as I was watching the show and BEFORE anyone on the show made any references to American Idol).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Historically Based Fiction :
An Intro to Four of My Favorite Books

In order to graduate from college, I had to take the general education required class in English. I wasn't expecting to enjoy that class much (English was never my strongest subject in high school), but I was pleasantly surprised by most of the books we read - especially The Killer Angels.

In case you aren't familiar with it, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is the Pulitzer Prize winning novel about the Battle of Gettysburg. The movie Gettysburg is actually based on this novel.

I didn't realize that there were more of these historically-based fiction novels out there until about five years later when I met LW, and she introduced me to three of my favorite novels of all time.

Gods and Generals was written by Michael Shaara's son, Jeff, and it tells the tale of the Civil War from just before the outbreak of war until the Battle of Gettysburg. The book is broken up into small chapters, and each chapter is written from the perspective of one of four key characters (two Confederate and two Union): Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Winfield Scott Hancock, or Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

It just really brings to life what it was like going through the Civil War. I had heard the names of battles like Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, but I couldn't put them into a timeline for you or tell you the importance of what happened at each of those battles until I read Gods and Generals. Likewise, I had heard the names of Grant and Lee, but I didn't really know any of the personalities involved in the leadership of either side of the war before reading the book. I really developed a respect and awe for the leaders on both sides of the war, and once this book piqued my interest in the war, I went on to read more non-fiction works about the war.

Jeff Shaara's writing style is so similar to his father's, you would think it was the same author. LW gave me Gods and Generals while we were on vacation up at Lake Winnipesaukee in NH. I couldn't put the book down. When I finished, I was craving more and picked up The Killer Angels and read it again.

The second of my favorite historically-based fiction novels that LW gave me was 1812 by David Nevin. He has a very similar writing style to Jeff Shaara. 1812 was another page-turner that I just couldn't put down. It tells the story of James and Dolly Madison and Winfield Scott as he rose through the ranks. Again, like Shaara's novels, I was only vaguely familiar with the War of 1812, but this novel really brought it to life.

Again, armed with an appreciation for the personalities and key events and places of the war, it piqued my interest and lead me to read other non-fiction books about the war. When LW and I drove across country from Groton to Monterey in 1999, we stopped at Niagara Falls along the way. LW thought it was because I wanted to see Niagara Falls. It was actually because I wanted to tour the battlefields of the War of 1812 scattered around the falls and visit the museum at the site of the Battle of Lundy's Lane.
Aside: I found the wikipedia account of the Battle of Lundy's Lane fairly well-balanced. This battle is a perfect example of how "truth" in history depends on who wrote it. The novel 1812 is told from the American perspective that Lundy's Lane is where the U.S. Army proved itself as a fighting force against the red coats. The museum at Lundy's Lane is on the Canadian side of the river though, and they tell the story from the British perspective that Lundy's Lane is where they STOPPED the aggressive American expansion across the continent and prevented Canada from being absorbed into the United States. The wikipedia "outcome" section covers both of these viewpoints.
The third historically-based fiction author that LW introduced me to was William Martin. The first of his books I read was Annapolis. On the spectrum between fiction and non-fiction, this tips the scale toward the fiction side. Martin has a whole series of books where he tells the story of a family through several generations. In Annapolis, he tells the story of the Stafford family as one of their sons from each generation goes into the Navy and another stays home to tend the farm. Coincidentally, each generation of the family's naval officer sons is involved in whatever the biggest event in naval history was of that generation It's a really neat story and another page turner.

In contrast, Shaara and Nevin's novels focused on an event or epic of American history and told the story through the eyes of the key players in those time periods. Martin's novels are focused on a fictitious family, and weaves their story into several episodes of history (sort of like Forrest Gump).

Each of these authors, Shaara, Nevin, and Martin, have written many wonderful books, and I could probably write a blog post on each of their books I have read. I'm not sure why Jeff Shaara popped into my head this morning, but it inspired me to write about the first novels I have read from each of these authors. If you have any questions about any of their other novels, I am happy to provide recommendations.
Aside: I don't remember which of my friends introduced me to (I think it might have been Branden in Monterey), but it's a great website for finding the cheapest price on books on the internet. It was a great resource when I had to buy my books for school in Monterey.

In an attempt to not direct you to any one internet bookseller like Amazon or Barnes & Noble (and to help save you some money by using bookfinder), I have tried to put a link into each of the book pictures above to the search for that author and title. I don't know if it will work that way, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Just in case those link on the pictures don't work, the title in the text above is linked to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Things kids learn in 1st Grade

So just this last week, I've noticed ES has invoked the "10-Second" rule a couple of times. The first time was with a lollipop at the barber shop. I saw him drop it on the floor after licking it (so I knew it had to be all nice and sticky to pick up pieces of hair and dirt off the floor) and told him to go throw it in the trash. He said, "But it was less than 10 seconds!" I was like, Uhhhhh, NO. I didn't really question where he got the "10 seconds" from. I just told him to put it in the trash.

Then last night at dinner, he invoked the "10-Second" rule for something YS dropped on the floor and I told him to throw in the trash. LW was a much better nuke than me and maintained a questioning attitude. She asked ES where he learned said 10-Second rule. His answer? "Father Terry."

Yep, first my son's Catholic school taught him to dress up like murders and thieves at the pirate-themed fall festival, and now they're teaching him unsanitary practices with food they drop on the ground. What's next? Hacking into computers on the internet? Robbing banks? Rappelling from the top of the church steeple? Hang gliding?
Aside: I know the written word tends to lack non-verbal cues and emotions, so just to clarify: I'm not really angry about this. I'm writing this all with a smirk on my face. I just thought it was kind of funny that a Catholic priest at my son's school was the guy who taught him the "10-second" rule.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

I never knew why it was called Black Friday until Wednesday when the morning DJs were talking about it on the radio. They said something about that it's the day when most retail businesses go from the red to the black on their financial statements for the year. So "black" is a positive term, not a negative term. Even so, I avoid stores like the plague on this busiest shopping day of the year.

This morning, I took YS in the jogging stroller and went for a 4.5 mile run along the bike path. Wait, back-up a second: Yesterday, one of the O-gangers that came to my house mentioned they saw people already camping out in front of Best Buy on their way driving to my house. Okay, fast-forward back to today: As we passed Best Buy on the bike path today, I could not believe the crowds. Both the inner and outer parking lots were full, and they had parking lot attendants directing people to park on the grass along the side of the bike path (the bike path runs along the southern edge of the building). On our way jogging back, even the grass was full, so the parking lot attendants had shifted to direct the traffic to an empty parking lot across the bike path for some industrial company. I mean, I love Best Buy, but what was the big deal about going to Best Buy TODAY vice Wednesday or last weekend???

This was the second time in a row I didn't see any mongooses. (Aside: What's the plural of mongoose anyway? Mongooses? Mongeese?). Maybe it's just because the past two times I've run later in the morning than I normally ran in the past. Is there some Hawaiian saying for "the early mongoose gets the early bird"?

I really wanted to go hiking or snorkeling today, and the forecast called for nice weather, but there were these big billowy black clouds looming over us all morning with scattered rain showers. It's frustrating because the weather was absolutely crystal clear and gorgeous yesterday. I wish I could swap the weather yesterday for today.

Since the weather seemed unpredictable and non-conducive to our other plans, we decided to go check out the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. The military rate was $10 to get in. What they had was nicely done, but it was a very small museum and there wasn't a lot to see. They have plans to expand into two more of the historic hangers on Ford Island, but as for now, I'm not sure it's worth the $10 admission price (I'm sure that'll go to help them complete the other two hangers though).
Mitsubishi A6M Zero ready for takeoff

Daddy explains how the fuse worked on the high-altitude bomb.
(The torpedo in the middle actually has the special wooden fins on it they designed for the attack on Pearl Harbor to prevent the torpedoes from diving into the shallow mud harbor bottom).

ES and YS enjoyed tracing our travels from one duty station to the next on a huge map on the floor (with a big mural of the Battle of Midway in the background).

ES traces the path from Japan to Pearl Harbor while I traced my last WESTPAC path from port call to port call (I think I'm standing on Okinawa there).

Shifting topics to dinnertime tonight - Will wonders never cease? Normally, ES will never eat anything green. I mean, if he's got a plate of spaghetti in front of him and sees a little SPECK of green oregano, he'll stop and squeal, "GREEEEEN STUUUUUUUFF!!!" He must have been possessed by aliens tonight though. Not only did he eat the spinach and cheese ravioli without having a conniption fit about "green stuff", he actually proclaimed that he LIKED it!

Food Coma

Ugh... too... stuffed... to... move...

Very long and tiring day, but a good day nonetheless. We had 10 adults and 5 kids for dinner, then another 4 adults and 3 kids joined us for dessert. LW did a fabulous job with the 25-pound turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberry sauce (yes, she makes it - not from a can), and the green beans. The other wardroom wives did a great job with the sweet potatoes (actually, I think it was mostly butter and brown sugar with a little bit of sweet potatoes added for taste, but it was AWESOME!), mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese, pecan pie, chocolate cream pie, oreo-somethings (little balls of oreo dipped in chocolate), cookies.

Man I feel like I'm about to explode.

(Can't wait for gumbo on Sunday though! One of my JOs from Louisiana took the turkey carcas with him to make turkey gumbo on Sunday :-9 ).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Ouch. I ache all over this morning. I expected to feel this way last Thursday after the PT Nazi led us through the 12-days of PT. Yesterday, the PT Nazi went back to the usual stations around the basketball court. There were probably about 21 stations, and about every third station, he would have us run laps on the bleacher steps. Those bleacher steps really kick my butt. It was a good workout and I left sweating profusely as usual.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?

- I'm thankful for being blessed with my Lovely Wife and two great little boys (they have their moments, but overall they're both great kids).

- I'm thankful that I was blessed to have such a loving and supportive extended family.

- I'm thankful for the opportunity I have had to serve my country on the pointy-end of the spear doing the really cool tactical things that SSNs get to do (but we can't tell you about).

- I'm thankful for all the places around the globe the Navy has taken me. Granted, one or two I didn't enjoy so much, but I am grateful for the experience of having seen those places so they make me appreciate the places I like all the more.

- I'm thankful for the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year.

- I'm thankful for so many of my fellow service men and women (like my very good friend Steve in the picture above) who are forward deployed on the pointy-end of the spear and not with their families this Thanksgiving. I'm also thankful for the families like Kim, Josh, Daniel, and Adam who wait at home for Steve and provide him their love and support around the globe while putting up with so many sacrifices in his absence.

- I'm thankful for KLOVE radio. It helps lift me up, keep things in perspective, and remind me of the many blessings in my life. Not only do we have KLOVE repeater station here in Hawaii (some of our previous duty stations have not had KLOVE), but here we actually have two frequencies. So when I get static or interference on one, I can switch to the other.

- I'm thankful for pecan pie. :-9

- I'm thankful for our Command PT program that'll help me work off that pecan pie when I've finished it off.

- I'm thankful we were blessed with a nice house in one of the newer housing areas of Pearl Harbor instead of one of the older places that will eventually get torn down.

We've got a majority of the wardroom coming over for Thanksgiving dinner later today. As for now, I need to go to the boat and take a couple of pies that LW baked for the guys on duty.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend Recap

Saturday, our schedule was planned around a birthday party that ES was invited to by one of his classmates. LW took him off to the party around 11 a.m. while I took YS for a jog along the bike path in the jogging stroller. I wanted to stop at Buy More, oh, I mean, Best Buy, and it's only a mile from our house. So I ran out 2 miles, then ran 1 mile back to Best Buy. Picked up a replacement ink cartridge for our printer and the new Lego Star Wars (click on the link and there's a pretty cool trailer video for the game on Amazon). Aside: I'm trying to hang onto the new Lego Star Wars for a Christmas present for the boys, but I'm not sure I'll be able to wait that long before I break it open and start playing it myself. Then ran the last mile back.

This is the first time I have NOT seen a mongoose while we were out jogging on the bike path. I normally see at least one mongoose when I go out on the bike trail. The mongoose was imported to Hawaii in 1883 to try to control the rats that were eating the sugar cane. Unfortunately, the mongoose is a daylight feeder and the rats are nocturnal, so the two never really met. Turns out mongooses will eat just about anything. The unintended consequence was that the mongooses killed all the ground-nesting birds on the island and a lot of other native species of animals. You can find a more detailed explanation of the mongoose story here and here.

Saturday night, I'm very happy to report at least ONE of my JOs upheld the Navy tradition of holding a wetting down. When I just looked it up on wikipedia, I was surprised to read that it traditionally involves either throwing the newly promoted officer in the sea, or dumping a bucket of sea-water over his head. That's the first I've heard of that (but it sounds like a great idea!). In my experience, a wetting down has always just been a party where the newly promoted officer puts on a nice spread of food and drinks for his wardroom. We had regular wetting down parties on each of my first two boats. I've been on the MSP now for 11 months, and this is the first wetting down we've had. I was surprised to hear one of the JOs said, "Nobody does that anymore." I hope this weekend changed that opinion and that we'll see more.

Sunday morning... Regression. I was so excited last Sunday when YS actually stayed in the pre-school at Sunday school. Today though, he wouldn't have anything of it. He refused to stay in the pre-school class and came up to the sanctuary with me. So we got one of the Keiki bags (they have coloring books and puzzles for little kids) and he colored for most of the service. On a positive note though, when we it was time for bedtime prayers and I asked ES what his favorite part of the day was, one of the things he said was "going to church" (he even said it before he said "and playing video games.").

The Amazing Race observations (Warning: Contains Spoilers - DON'T READ if you haven't watched this week's episode):
- Okay, the dad and daughter combination... If I were her, I NEVER would have agreed to go on this show with a father who treated me like that. That guy just won't shut up and is incessantly criticizing her!
- My most-annoying player award for last week's episode is a toss-up between the goths and the grandpa. Kynt... Um... That dude is a wimp. Did you see his weak attempt to pole-vault across the muddy stream last week? It was pathetic! My 3 year old could jump farther than that (and make a more manly grunt in the process, too, instead of that weak whimper he made). As for the grandpa, Donald, man - I really did NOT need to see him get all muddy in his tighty-whities trying to pole vault that stream. Was getting naked REALLY NECESSARY???
- The most annoying player award for tonight goes to Lorena and her whining while she was trying to milk that camel. I'm shocked that they weren't last ones to reach the pit stop after the amount of time she wasted on the camels.
- Unlike previous seasons, none of the teams this season have jumped out as being my "favorite" (yet). None of them seem to compare with Uchenna & Joyce or David & Lori or BJ & Tyler.
So who has your favorite team been? Do you have a favorite this season?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Update with Pictures

I promised an update with pictures from Yoshi and Miwa's visit.

Yoshi and me near Silverton, Colorado, circa early 1981 or 82.
This was one of my favorite pictures of Yoshi and me. Nice socks, eh?

Me and Yoshi in Japan, 1979

LW says this is a really picture of ES in 1970's clothing.
Once again, nice socks, eh?

Me and Yoshi hula dance in Kaneohe, 2007

Yoshi teaches ES some karate moves.

Yeah, about that... I really appreciate Yoshi teaching ES karate moves (just a wee bit of sarcasm there). I know I complained earlier about my boys' obsession with guns and pretending to shoot everything and making "schpew" noises, but ya know what? At least those "schpew" noises didn't come with any physical contact. Now ES has been practicing his karate punch on my thighs for the past two days. I'm surprised I don't have any bruises... yet.

After dinner at our house Tuesday night before Yoshi and Miwa flew back to Osaka.

Hope you enjoyed (and got a good laugh) from the pictures. :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The PT Nazi

Oh the agony... Embracing a culture of fitness sometimes seems a little sado-masochist.

I previously wrote about our Command PT program meeting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. We've started doing our Wednesday PT at the Bloch Arena (Naval Station Gym) with a physical fitness trainer (a.k.a. PT Nazi). He leads us through different types of interval workouts.

When we first did this back in September, he led us through a variety of exercises we could do on the boat in confined spaces. It was a great workout and great training. As a result of that, we created stations around the boat for guys to do the interval training. I wish we had something like that in place for deployment or for the transit from Norfolk to Pearl Harbor. As it was, we only had two brief underways after setting up the workout stations, so they didn't get much use. I still thought it was a great idea.

In most of our previous Wednesday sessions, we did some sort of stations / intervals where he set up an exercise every 10 feet or so around the perimeter of the basketball court in the gym. There were normally two guys per station. You'd do that exercise for a minute until he blew the whistle, then you'd run a lap around the basketball court and stop at the next station. Then you'd do that exercise for a minute until he blew the whistle, then you'd do another lap around the basketball court and stop at the next station, etc. It's a really good workout and I always leave sopping wet and feeling like jello from muscle exhaustion.

Today though... Today he had a new treat for us. I think he's starting to get in the holiday spirit, because we got to do the 12 Days of PT. OMG I thought I was going to die. Now, I could explain it to you by just listing the 12 different exercises we did, and how the repetition worked just like the 12 days of Christmas song, but I don't think that would adequately convey the level of effort we put out at PT this morning. So let me step you through it:

"Day 1" we did:
- 10 Pushups

"Day 2" we did:
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 3" we:
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 4" we did:
- 10 Squats
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 5" we did:
- 10 Bicycles (lie on your back and alternate touching your right elbow to left knee, etc)
- 10 Squats
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 6" we did:
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Squats
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 7" we did:
- 14 Lunges (7 left and 7 right)
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
(Note: It was at the end of this set of bicycles that when he jumped up to lead us in Squats, every single member of our crew stayed laying on the ground gasping for breath. It took us a few moments to get everybody up on their feet to continue the next exercise).
- 10 Squats
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

I think it was here that we stopped to get drinks of water and catch our breath. Someone pointed out the mind-boggling observation that we were only 30 minutes into this HOUR-LONG workout. So although we were more than "half" way through the "days", we were in all actuality only HALF way through the workout!

"Day 8" we did:
- 10 Superman thrusts (lie on your belly holding your arms and legs off the ground, thrusting your arms back)
- 14 Lunges
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Squats
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 9" we did:
- "Suicides" - Start at one end of the basketball court. Sprint to the free-throw line, touch the line and run back. Sprint to the half-court line, touch the line and run back. Sprint to the other free-throw line (3/4 across the court), touch the line and run back. Sprint to the other end of the court, touch the line and run back.
- 10 Superman thrusts
- 14 Lunges
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Squats
- Ran 2 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 10" we did:
- 1 minute of Quick Steps (bouncing on the bottom step of the bleachers, alternating left foot up on step with right foot on the ground, then jump up and land with right foot up on step and left foot on the ground).
- Suicides
- 10 Superman thrusts
- 14 Lunges
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Squats
- Ran 1 lap around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 11" we did:
- 10 Flutter Kicks
- 1 minute of Quick Steps
- Suicides
- 10 Superman thrusts
- 14 Lunges
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Squats
- Ran 1 lap around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

"Day 12" we did:
- 10 Diamond Pushups
- 10 Flutter Kicks
- 1 minute of Quick Steps
- Suicides
- 10 Superman thrusts
- 14 Lunges
- 1 minute of running up and down the stairs in the bleachers
- 10 Bicycles
- 10 Squats
- Ran 1 laps around the basketball court
- 10 Crunches
- 10 Pushups

Man... I certainly didn't do as many laps up and down the bleacher stairs or run as fast on the laps or the suicides as my younger crew members, but I was pretty pleased with myself that I kept moving and did all the exercises. I've been a little sore through the day today. I suspect I'll really feel it when I wake up tomorrow morning.

The crew seemed to really enjoy it. There was a lot of laughing and competitive spirit during the laps around the court, the bleacher stairs, and the suicides. Some of the E-Div guys were skipping the laps around the court instead of running... Sometimes I wonder... (No, not "skipping" as in sitting on the side and not doing it. "Skipping" as in what my YS likes to do skipping across the parking lot on our way into the NEX).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Weekend Recap (as of Monday morning)

Friday night, LW went out with the wardroom wives for a ladies' night out. The boys and I had a Banditos night. We watched The Three Amigos and had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant called Banditos. After I got the boys in bed, one of the guys whose wife was out with my wife stopped by to play some Halo 3. We "met up" with the CO via the internet for some online carnage (see previous post on obsession with things that go bang).

Apparently, something I had at Banditos for dinner had MSG in it, because I woke up Saturday morning with a raging migraine headache. It was a two-Imitrex morning. Normally one tablet does the trick if I take it BEFORE the onset of the headache. I still wasn't feeling 100% when I dragged myself out of bed, got ready, and headed off to the airport.

, my old friend Yoshi and his wife Miwa arrived on the island for their 20th Anniversary vacation. Yoshi was a Japanese exchange student who first stayed with my family when I was about 5 years old. He came back about once a year for several years after that to visit us in California and go surfing (until he graduated and had to get a real job and be a productive member of society). I got to visit Yoshi in Japan in 1979 and 1987. Then in 2002, I had a port call in Okinawa, and Yoshi flew down to visit me on my 30th birthday. That was the first time I had seen him in 15 years. Yesterday I finally got to meet Miwa for the first time. I drove them to their hotel and left them with my car as a loaner.

LW and the boys met us at the hotel to have some lunch. There's a really cool little pond with bat rays, hammerhead sharks, black-tipped reef sharks, and tropical fish. We got a table right by the water, so the boys both turned their chairs around and watched the sharks and fish swimming around while we ate.

Saturday night
, my CO brought back a day-bed he had borrowed. No sooner did he arrive in front of our house, then my boys attacked him with light-sabers. Luckily, my CO was not offended by this gesture, and he quickly picked up a lightsaber and fought back with one of his evil AH-ha-ha-ha-ha laughs.

after church, Yoshi and Miwa met us at Haleiwa Joe's in Kaneohe for brunch, and we walked through the Haiku gardens afterward. Yoshi and Miwa gave the boys these really cool little remote-control R2-D2 robots. The remote control looks like a light-saber. Since they're both obsessed with all things Star Wars, these gifts were a BIG hit with them.

Yoshi also brought a bunch of old photos from his trips to California in the 70's and 80's. LW thought that was pretty funny seeing pictures of me that looked a lot like ES. When Yoshi and Miwa come over for dinner on Tuesday night, I hope to scan some of his old pictures and I'll post some here. (Check back for updates).

I tried taking Yoshi to see the Pali overlook, but I found out the hard way that when you make a wrong turn in Kaneohe, you can end up on a highway going up and over to the other side of the island without anyplace to turn around until you get to Honolulu.

Sunday night we had the MSG Party at my CO's house. It turned out really well. LW made Macho Summer Gazpacho (from a Rachel Ray recipe) and Mushrooms Sauteed in Garlic. The CO made his Mai-Tais Served in Glasses. One of the JO's brought Mark's San Gria. There was Macaroni in Saucy (cheese) Gravy (a.k.a. Macaroni and Cheese). There was Minneapolis Salad (Gellatin) (jello salad). Then there were a few things that fell under the "Many Special Grubs" generic label like chicken and artichoke pizza and beer bread. Oh, the Eng's wife made a cake that was absolutely to die for. It was like a chocolate cake infused with caramel. She called it "MSP Sexy Goodness," and then felt embarrassed and apologized to the CO for saying the word "sexy" in front of the his 12-year old daughter.

I was pretty impressed that the kids stayed mostly inside playing Lego Star Wars, watching movies, etc, while the adults were able to sit out in the back yard eating, drinking, and talking. The CO made a very interesting observation in light of my post about things that go bang. He has three kids - two girls and the youngest is a boy about the same age as YS. In spite of NOT having "shooting" actions or noises modeled for him by his older sisters, he still makes the same shooting noises that ES and YS do. It really must be something hardwired in the male brain.

As for our holiday today, LW and I have been doing yard work and small projects around the house so far. Not sure what else is in store for us yet today. I'll update this later - hopefully with scanned pictures from Yoshi.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hallelujah! From concesssion to successful transition

Happy Veteran's Day!
Thanks to all of those who have gone before us in the defense of our country, thanks to all of you who are serving now, especially those forward-deployed on the pointy-end of the spear, and thanks to the families who keep the fires burning at home for their loved ones away from home.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Everything just seemed to fall into place this morning. We all got to bed at a reasonable time last night and got a good night's sleep. We all got up at a reasonable hour this morning - not so early as to make LW and I grumpy, but not so late as to make us rush to get ready for church. YS was not excited to get ready for church because he wanted to play Army men. I told him to get ready for church first and then he could play Army men until it was time to go. ES really impressed me by encouraging YS to get ready for church and leading him upstairs to pick out clothes. I don't know if this wonderful act of helpfulness was due to (a) he really wanted to play Army men with YS, or (b) he really wanted to go to church, but either way, I was pleased with the result.

Luckily, I was just in time when I said to myself, "Self, all their collared shirts are hanging up in their closet. They probably need help getting them down." As I arrived on scene in their bedroom, I found ES pulling with all his might, hanging from one of YS's shirts still on the hanger, still hanging in the closet. Not sure how much more of a strain that could have taken. I'm pretty sure another few seconds and either (a) the shirt would have ripped or (b) the hanger would have broken or (c) the rod holding up all the hanging clothes would have come crashing down. So I took the shirts down that they picked out and averted a minor crisis there.

The boys finished getting ready and had time to play Army men, so they were happy. We got to church in time and got there just as someone was leaving from pretty close-in, so we got a great parking spot. ES went right into his Sunday school class. YS went with us into his class. LW said she'd stay with him and that I should go up to the sanctuary.

I wasn't in the sanctuary for 5 minutes before she came back up with YS in tow. I figured, oh well, not this week - maybe he'll stay down there next week. We sat down for a few minutes, and YS said he wanted a snack. LW told him that there wasn't any food in church and he had to go back with his class if he wanted a snack. She asked him if he wanted to go back to class, and he said "yes." She took him downstairs. Low and behold, here she came back a few minutes later and she DIDN'T have YS with her!!!

He agreed to STAY in Sunday school with his class!

It's a truly momentous occasion for us in each new church we go to (hopefully we'll get better next week and he'll just stay down there from the very beginning).

It was a really nice service today, although I didn't get the memo that we were supposed to wear our uniform. There were quite a few guys there in uniform, too. The choir did an absolutely fantastic job singing Battle Hymn of the Republic. Pastor Dan had a great message about hate and holding grudges and forgiveness.

After church we had a nice Sunday brunch at Haleiwa Joe's and went to the NEX to pick up some stuff for the MSG party tonight. More to follow...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A smattering of little things

Small world. I followed a link in our friend Caffienated Cowgirl's blog to another blog she recommended, The Lucky Wifey. Then, reading the comments on one of the posts of the Lucky Wifey, I clicked on the link to another blog for another Navy family. I wrote a comment on their blog, and low and behold - it's my old Chop from my first boat (JO tour)! Bizarre.

Update to My Previous Post about things that go "bang." I need to add a new favorite sound #4 that YS has learned to do in the past two days or so. He has figured out how to do this extremely rapid flicking of his tongue that I can't even do myself. He's using it as his new "machine gun" noise. We went and did some shopping this afternoon, and YS was ducking in and out of the aisles shooting at LW and me with his fingers and his new machine gun noise.

A swing and a miss. After all that trouble I went through to save the Heroes Season Two episodes on DVD before the cable company came to take the DVR away, I was frustrated that (a) I missed the season premier, and (b) the disk wouldn't work. It kept skipping and blurring and stopping in the middle of the show. Then, come to find out, I didn't need to DVR it or burn it to DVD, because you can watch it right on the NBC website! (Thank you, LW, for pointing that out to me - you're so smart!) Unfortunately, they don't have the season premier there, but I was able to pick up the next episode and watch without it skipping or stopping. One disadvantage of watching on the NBC website was that you have to watch a commercial at regular intervals. On a positive note though, it was only one commercial at a time, and they were actually pretty funny commercials for the Comfort Inn.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I'm proud of my crew

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I've been very blessed with my crew on the Mighty MSP. It's been a bumpy road for sure (the accident in December, firing the COB in May, changing homeports from Norfolk to Pearl Harbor...), but my crew continues to impress me with their ability to stick together and support each other through difficult times and challenging circumstances.

What reminded me of this today was the PRT this afternoon. Most of us ran the PRT last week, but we had a make-up PRT this afternoon. We had six guys who, well, let's just say they did a practice PRT last week and didn't do so well. The COB and I went to the make-up PRT this afternoon to provide moral support and root the guys on.

When I got there, I was surprised to find that there were almost as many guys there for moral support as there were there to actually take the PRT. Each of the guys who didn't do so well on their practice run last week had at least two guys running with them this afternoon, encouraging them along the way. I let them all take off running and I positioned myself about a quarter mile from the finish line to cheer the guys in and run with the last couple of guys into the finish line. I wish I had taken a camera with me. The sight of these shipmates helping each other out just made me really proud of my guys and reminded me how blessed I am to be part of the Mighty MSP.

I was really pleased to see a couple of my Divo's there, too. I never said a word to them about it before hand, so they showed up on their own initiative. The DCA and the EA each had a guy who didn't do so well last week, and both are super-stud PT guys and good runners. It was great to see them out there running with their guys, too.

In the end, three of the six guys who didn't do so well last week actually passed today with the encouragement of their shipmates. Although the other three guys didn't pass, I was there running with them to the finish line, and I'm proud of them for not giving up. They pushed it all the way through to the end.

Good job, guys! I'm proud of you!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Things that go "Bang!"

I think it's genetic. Something is hard-wired into the male brain that creates this obsession with things that go "Bang!" Or maybe that Y-chromosome lacks something that inhibits this obsession in girls. We start out as little boys in awe of obvious, overt things that go bang like guns. Over time, we mature and gain appreciation for things that go bang in different ways like an internal combustion engine or a nuclear power plant. I can look back and see this development in my own life. As a kid, my dad would take me to visit the ships he was stationed on, and all I cared about seeing were the GUNS and the MISSILES, and he always seemed excited to show me the engine room. I didn't get it back then. I think I was in high school before I saw my first LM-2500 gas turbine on an AEGIS cruiser and think that was pretty darn cool.

What made me think of this is watching our boys and their obsession with guns. I think ES's drawings of ships with guns all over them are very similar to the drawings I remember making when I was less than 5 years old.
Quick Tangent: How do I know it was before I turned 5 years old? Because I remember the house we lived in at that time. As a military brat moving from place to place, you can generally place any memory, song, or movie within about a 2-year timespan because you remember which house you lived in.
LW and I have tried, and still continue to try, to suppress some of this obsession with guns. Back while we were in VA, I wanted these really cool miniature remote control tanks for my birthday that shot infrared beams at each other and could tell when they had been "hit." LW said no, they were too violent. We didn't let the boys watch violent movies or play violent video games. Yet, walking through Home Depot one day, I found the boys sitting in the basket had picked up the allen wrenches I was going to buy, and were using them as "guns" pointing them out of the basket and "shooting" at people. So even if we don't get them toy guns, they make toy guns out of Legos or tools or pencils or whatever else they happen to have handy. So we figured it was hard-wired in little-boys brains and our attempts at keeping them isolated from all things "violent" weren't really working, and we slacked off a bit.

I feel like it's a little out of control now. 3 1/2-year old YS particularly worries me. If the doorbell rings, he runs to the front door and assumes the Weaver stance to "shoot" whoever is behind the door. I don't think 5 waking minutes goes by without YS making one of his three favorite sound effects:
1) "shpew!" - his shooting noise. This is usually preceeded by favorite sound effect #2.
2) "chk-chk" - the sound he makes like he's pulling the slide back on a semi-automatic weapon and chambering a round (followed soon thereafter by assuming the Weaver stance and sound effect #1, or running into another room holding his hands in a two-handed pistol-grip).
3) "ching-ching-ching" - the sound he imitates from Age of Empires for swords clanging in a sword fight. This sound effect is evoked with chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant, or drinking straws at just about any other restaurant, or a Halloween pencil he got at the fall festival.

Tonight, LW made some awesome huevos rancheros for dinner. One of the boys looked at the shredded cheese on his plate and said, "Look! It's a gun!" Somehow three pieces of shredded cheese laying on his plate looked like a gun to him. LW and I asked them why they couldn't say it looked like a tree or a flower, and ES giggled because the thought we were being pretty silly. LW says she wants to have one day of nothing but Barbie dolls, no guns allowed, but quickly realized they would somehow convert the Barbie dolls into guns.
BTW - Have I mentioned that LW has started making comments how she wishes we had a girl so there would be someone in the family who would be excited about going shopping with her? I asked her if she really wanted to go back to poopy diapers. She said no. We agreed two kids was enough for us. The two we have are a handful as it is, and it's not worth the health risk to LW after her past two C-sections.
I feel like LW and I have become broken records - "Stop that! No shooting Mommy / Daddy!" "ES/YS, we don't shoot people, that's not nice!"

I sincerely hope that my theory about obsessing with things that go bang is correct, and that over time the boys' obsession will mature into interest in things like engines that harness the "bang" to do something productive instead of destructive.

There is a silver lining of sorts: At least when we're in busy department stores (NEX, Hilo Hatties...), it's not hard to find our boys. Stealthy they are not. If you hear "chk-chk", that's generally a warning that somebody is being snuck-up on and about to be "shpewed."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Weekend Recap and a few odds and ends

I'm writing my recap of the weekend and a smattering of other random topics on Monday night since the storms yesterday kept causing power surges and kept knocking out our internet service.

Friday afternoon I felt like I saw Elvis. There I was, driving along near the Makalapa gate when I saw a guy walking along in khakis. He has a very distinctive walk, and I said to myself, "Self... could that be Wild Bill?" Bill was a sub school classmate of mine last year. I was sure he was stationed on a boomer out of Bangor, so I figured there was no way he was walking down the street here in Pearl Harbor. But as I got closer, I said, "Self, it IS! It IS Wild Bill!" Bill is a true steely-eyed killer of the deep - a true submarine warrior (sorry, can't tell ya about it). I felt really blessed to have Bill in my group at sub school. He's one of those guys that just doesn't get pissed off. No matter what happens, he rolls with the punches and gets the job done - and he does so without being a jerk about it, either. That's a challenging balance I have seen few submarine officers master. (As for me, I think I tend to tip the scales toward the "jerk" side and don't do such a good job of rolling with the punches).

Wild Bill and Rich at AUTEC in Nov '06.

Anyway, I was right, Bill really is on a boomer out of Bangor. Poor Bill cracked a tooth and had to be BSP'ed off here in Pearl to go to the dentist. When I saw him there on the street, he hadn't been off the boat for two hours yet and was wondering to himself, "Self, I wonder who I might run into here during my brief visit to Pearl Harbor?" I managed to go out and grab a cup of coffee with Bill last night before he went to rejoin his boat this morning. It was great to see him and swap some sea stories.

- Friday night, we went over to the Ala Moana center so LW could return some stuff and look for a glass pitcher at Sears, and so we could get some dinner at Islands. I will forever be in debt to my college roommate, Ryan, for introducing me to Islands. Back then, we would go to Islands whenever we went to visit his parents around Hermosa Beach or Santa Monica. Since then, Islands has spread across southern California, and we went there frequently during my previous sea tour in San Diego. Now we've been blessed with an Islands here in Honolulu - close enough we can go every once in a while for a little indulgence, but far enough that we don't go often. Islands serves absolutely awesome, enormous burgers and tacos. The one here in Honolulu has great service, too. (Not to imply that other Islands have lousy service, just expressing my pleasure with the service here).

- Family Movie marathon. We frequently like to have a Family Movie Night and rent some movie to watch together as a family. It was awesome in our home theater back in Virginia. But it's not the big screen that matters, it's the spending time together as a family, right? So since it was going to pour rain all weekend and we had two coupons for Blockbuster that were going to expire, we went for two movies instead of one.

First we watched Transformers. That was, wait for it... legendary. Okay, the plot was a little on the weak side, but better than I expected, and the special effects and the action were just amazing. Great movie - highly recommend it! That's one we're going to buy because the boys and I will watch it over and over and over again.

Second up, we watched Surf's Up. It was okay. It was done as sort of a spoof on reality-TV shows, like interviewing the main character and having him tell the story of what happened, interspersed with video clips of what happened. It was kind of funny the way they made fun of reality-TV, but that humor went over the boys' heads. I think the boys lost interest in it before the end. Probably won't watch that one again.

- Speaking of reality TV, a favorite show of both LW and mine just started up again - The Amazing Race. Unfortunately, with all the problems of power surges and satellite reception coming in and out, the DVR missed the first half of the show, so we missed the introduction of who the contestants are this time around. Luckily the website has lots of good info so we can catch up. I always like watching the polls on the website week by week of who the viewers think are going to win the race. I think it'd be way cool to go on the Amazing Race someday.

- Thanks to our friend Corey for giving us a heads up! There's a new Lego Star Wars video game coming out this week!
I really like Lego Star Wars. It's very simple to control and very forgiving of mistakes, so it's great for small children to be able to actually play the game. It's not overly gruesome or violent (when you "kill" the bad guys, they break up into Lego pieces - no blood and gore). Two people can play at the same time, which sometimes helps alleviate fighting over the XBox (except when ES wants to go one direction and YS wants to go another direction - your characters have to stay together on the screen). Plus, there's a lot of adult humor written into how they tell the story of Star Wars with these mini skits that are actually pretty funny. I found this video that shows there's an Indiana Jones character you can use in the new game - complete with a bull whip and pistol.

- I wanted to change the song on my blog to my favorite new song on KLOVE, but I can't find it on the project playlist website. If you go to Phil Wickham's myspace page though, his song "After Your Heart" is the first song that starts playing in the background. You can also check it out on the KLOVE top-songs list. I really liked his comment on his myspace page, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."

- BTW, have I mentioned how much I appreciate my absolutely awesome wife? She puts up with so much. She's "on the job" as a busy mom taking care of me and our boys 24/7. I know she gets tired of the never-ending piles of laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking, and playing taxi driver to take the boys to school and swimming lessons and piano lessons and everywhere else. I know it seems like she's got a thankless job, but I really appreciate everything she does for me and the boys. You're awesome, Sweetie!

Concessions - follow-up

There's something bizarre and wrong in the universe this weekend. I mean, Navy beat Notre Dame (first time in 44 years!). Then there's this bizarre weather we've been having. Granted, living here in Hawaii for three months by no means makes me any sort of an expert on life or weather patterns in Hawaii. Still, the weather has been the same every day for the past three months. Then this week it rained a bit more than we were used to. Then last night and today it's just been pouring buckets, to the point of waking LW and I up several times in the night because of the loud roar coming from the roof. Plus, it's the first time we've observed thunder and lightning here.

Based on Future Chaps' recommendation, and our lack of motivation to go out in the rain this morning, we decided to try the evening church service at FPC. The music was good (contemporary Christian), and I enjoyed the message that Jordan shared with us setting the stage for the story of Noah's Ark (he's doing a series on Genesis).

However, going back to the kids' influence on choosing a church... There attendance at the evening service was like 25 people (compared to hundreds in the morning), and there was nobody in the Sunday school area downstairs. One nice lady offered to take our boys down there, but they didn't want to go because (a) there weren't any other kids there, and (b) they had no idea who this lady was who was offering to take them away.

So both boys stayed with us in the sanctuary. They started out behaving okay, but got progressively worse. I thought a major fight was going to break out when YS kicked ES's flip flops down the aisle. In retaliation, ES proceeded to angrily and forcefully STOMP on top of both of YS's feet. We separated them, but then ES was kicking the backs of the chairs in front of us, and YS was wandering up and down the aisle with his precious blue blanket draped over his head like a ghost. Some of the people sitting next to the aisle a few rows in either direction were giggling watching him.

We eventually gave up and left the service early because the boys were just spiraling out of control. So I think we'll stick with the concession on the music aspect and go back to the morning service where at least ES will go willingly into the Sunday school, and we can work on getting YS to know the people there so he'll go, too.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Focal points in history

Back in Monterey, Professor Teti liked talking about focal points in history - where the actions of one man altered the course of history. His favorite example was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain with the 20th Maine on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. Out of ammunition and with the Confederate troops making another attempt to take the hill, Chamberlain ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge down the hill. If he hadn't, the Confederates would have turned the Union flank and the Battle of Gettysburg and the entire Civil War would have turned out differently.

What made me think of it was reading this excellent post on the Battle of Guadalcanal. One Marine held the ridge. One ship got the Japanese fleet to retreat. What a great story in U.S. history.

My second boat, USS HELENA, was named after a cruiser that was sunk in the Battle of the Kula Gulf in the Solomon Islands. Almost exactly 60 years after the battle, we were steaming through the Solomon Islands toward an exercise with the Australians and a port call in Brisbane, Australia. We wanted to conduct an innocent passage transit through the Solomon Islands and lay a wreath in the Kula Gulf in remembrance of the cruiser HELENA. CTF-74 (commander of submarines in the Western Pacific) initially approved our request, but then the lawyers said no. I never understood that. I don't think anyone could argue our holding a memorial service at sea could in any way be "prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security" of the Solomon Islands. If the previous HELENA hadn't been there in 1943, the people of the Solomon Islands would all be speaking Japanese, so why would they have any objection to our remembering the sacrifice of those who went there before us? We still surfaced and held a memorial service on the bridge and laid the wreath - even though we were like 50 miles out to sea from the actual site of the battle.

We had a great little book in our wardroom that told the tale of the Battle of the Kula Gulf. It's interesting to read about the difference in command and control back then, before satellite communications or Link 11 or OTCIXS or AIS. Those ships went into battle in the pitch black of night, and they weren't really sure what toll the battle had taken until it was all over and they did roll call. The radioman on the flagship called out for a response and damage report from each of the ships in the task force. "USS SAINT LOUIS" Roger. "USS NICHOLAS" Roger. "USS HELENA..." Silence. "USS HELENA..." Silence. "USS HELENA...?" Silence. It wasn't until the roll call after the battle was over that they discovered the HELENA had been sunk, and then went in to rescue the survivors.