Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sailor Mail Sea Stories

My previous post about colors brought to mind a couple of quick sea stories.

Sea Story #1: Lilac.

During my previous sea tour, the Eng's wife and my wife were known for going nuts with their paint brushes around our houses. Every time we'd go out to sea for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, the Eng and I would come home to find our LWs had painted one or more rooms of our house a different color than it was when we left. [Aside: In our case, this was the first house we had owned, so LW was really excited about getting to paint the walls instead of living with the plain white walls in previous rentals and military housing.]

One day, we went to PD (periscope depth) to clear the broadcast and download our email traffic. Eng was sitting in his stateroom and I was sitting next door in my stateroom. As the email started to flow into the LAN, I suddenly heard a panicked yell from the Eng's stateroom, "WHAT COLOR IS LILAC?!?!?"

Eng had received an email from his wife informing him she had painted their master bedroom "lilac." We took a poll around the wardroom table at dinner that night, and nobody had any clue what color "lilac" was.

Sea Story #2: Our New House.

Before I tell this story, I have to explain the Sailor Mail system for any of you that aren't submariners and haven't used the system before. Sailor Mail is a system that enables us to send and receive unclassified internet email via our classified LAN on the submarine and our routine satellite communications circuits back to the shore. The limitations are:

1) It's slow. There can be a time lag of a couple of days between it going through filters that search for bad news or classified information, and then it depends on how often and how long the submarine is going to PD to download the email traffic.
2) You can't send file attachments or forwards. The Sailor Mail system automatically strips any inbound emails of any attachments or text marked with the carrot symbols to say it's forwarded text.
3) Lastly, we have no ability to browse the internet or use any internet links that someone emails to us.

Okay, so, rewind to the end of my last sea tour. I was going to spend the last three months of my tour out at sea before transferring to DC, so we decided to sell our house while it was a strong seller's market and send LW and the boys off to DC to find us a place to live.
Aside: Back then in San Diego, houses went on the market and got multiple offers within the first week. We put our house on the market and got two offers in the first week. We were in the process of counter-offers on those two when a third buyer came into the fray. Their realtor told them that we were already in counter offers with two other buyers, so if they wanted the house, they better bid fast and bid BIG. So the third prospective buyers rounded UP from our asking price, and we said $OLD! Now, our neighbors back there tell us our former house is on the market again, but listed for over $100k less than what we sold it for. Cha-ching! We made out like bandits when we sold that house, but it turned out to be a good thing. We took a loss on selling our house in VA, but we're still in the black from selling our San Diego house.
Anyway, getting back to the story. LW and the boys are off in the DC area house hunting, and I'm out at sea. We go to PD and get a download of email. I get this email from LW that's addressed to a bunch of our family and friends, and says, "Check out this house that I just put an offer on!" with a link to the Realtor.com MLS listing. Um... Sweetie... I can't use the link... How about telling me something about the house? That was all I got that PD trip. So I strolled into lunch in the wardroom and had a conversation something like this:

Me: "[LW] put an offer on a house!"
Wardroom: "Oh yeah? Where is it?"
Me: "I don't know."
Wardroom: "How big is it?"
Me: "I don't know.
Wardroom: "How many bedrooms does it have?"
Me: "I don't know."
Wardroom: "How many bathrooms does it have?"
Me: "I don't know."

Before I continue the story, let me just stop and ask the question: If you wanted to know what a house was like, what information would you want? In systems engineering terms, what are your evaluation criteria? I think the discussion with the wardroom above reveals what a man would want to know - location, square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, asking price... These are simple terms that enable you to compare from one house to another house.

I figured it was just a case where she sent out the link to everyone for the MLS listing and that email made it through on the last Sailor Mail download, and there was probably another email still waiting in the buffer that was addressed specifically to ME with details about the house.

Fast forward to our next PD trip. I open up my computer and I'm VERY excited to see another email from LW. LW wrote to me that she really loves this house and that it just "felt right" to her, and she really liked that it had a jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom, a partially finished basement, and a swing set in the back yard for the boys. Okay, okay, this is good, right? So I walk into the wardroom for lunch and have a conversation that went something like this:

Me: "I got another email from [LW] about the house she put an offer on!"
Wardroom: "Oh yeah? Where is it?"
Me: "I don't know."
Wardroom: "How big is it?"
Me: "I don't know.
Wardroom: "How many bedrooms does it have?"
Me: "I don't know."
Wardroom: "How many bathrooms does it have?"
Me: "I don't know."
Wardroom: "What DO you know?"
Me: "It's got a jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom, a partially finished basement, and a swing set in the back yard for the boys."

Ahhh, the challenges of time-delayed communications with your spouse. :-) Luckily, we pulled into port soon after that, and I was able to get on my webmail and see all the pictures LW took of our house and read the MLS listing.

5 comments:

Sam said...

Sailor mail...its a wonderful thing. I bet the guys in radio get some good laughs run to run.

Love the story about the new house...just love it!

One Crazy Adventure said...

That's too funny. I remember those days and trying to filter myself before sending it off in hopes that it would get there faster.

C said...

Oh man, DH would KILL me if I painted a room lilac. Not that he'd know what lilac was--I don't THINK--if I emailed him that news. Yikes.

Oh, Sailor Mail. :|

JoLee said...

ummm.... Lilac.... would be as in the bush... what color are those flowers?

AshleyLouise said...

I hate sailor mail.. I wish you could get a notification on when the email made it to the boat. My sailors been gone for two weeks and no email back yet. </3