Tuesday, June 21, 2005

San Diego Snowstorm

Time for this week's installment of stories from my father's Navy days. This one involves "Comshaw", which, as my father explained to me, is the art of using *ahem* "Creative Requisitioning Techniques" to obtain supplies and material, often for the purpose of fulfilling a duty or carrying out a mission with which you have been tasked, but for which you have not been properly equipped. Mind you, it's also used for less pressing needs.

In this case, the fact that crewmembers on my father's ship were skilled in the art of Comshaw was a double edged sword. The ships cook managed to finagle an excellent deal on a large supply of food stuffs from outside official channels. Unfortunately, the supply consisted of cabbage. Copious amounts of cabbage. As my father liked to say, they were served cabbage 5 nights a week, and on the other two they had leftovers.

I don't suppose it takes much imagination on ther reader's part to realize that the crew soon developed strong urges to eat anything BUT cabbage. It is at this point that the other edge cut, and for the sonar crew, their comshaw abilities proved to be a silver lining. On a ship as small as the Bausell, provisions were taken on board in a bucket-brigade stile chain of sailors passing items hand-to hand. The sonar men saw to it that they always had at least two volunteers participating in the brigade, and that they were stationed next to each other. The first would make not of the items being passed down the line, and when he saw a particularly tasty item, which was invariably earmarked for the officer's mess (dining hall), he would give a non-verbal cue, and then pass the item on. One time it was peanut butter and jelly, a rare treat. The next sonar man in line, instead of passing it down the line, would toss it up over his head, where an accomplice would catch it, then hide it. Eventually it made its way to the sonar shack. There, there was a metal panel which was easily removed and concealed a small empty space between the sonar equipment and computers, and the bulkhead (wall). A thin wire was strung from the hatch into the walkway leading to the shack, down in the shack to a dustpan, and served as an alarm. While the smell drove them crazy, the officers NEVER caught my father or his buddies, who always waited until the dead of night to eat their ill-gotten booty.

There was one occasion, however, when despite eluding the officers, the sonar men failed to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It was the time they managed to "requisition" a 5-callon tub full of potato chips. The third man in the comshaw team found himself in a position where he had to hide them temproarily to avoid detection. He looked around, and found what seemed the perfect hiding place: Dark, obscure, and with a round opening of the right curcumference. He hid the tub, vowing to return as quickly as possible when the heat was off.

What he failed to take into account was the conscientious nature of his shipmates. A while later, the ship's torpedoman's mate came to go through his daily maintenance routine. He checked his gauges, swung the tubes perpendicular to the ship, filled the flasks with several thousand Punds of air pressure, and hit the launch button.

My mother still maintains that, in hindsight, they were lucky noone got their head taken off. Not knowing the height of the tubes, I can't say. What I do know is that the ractual results were less tragic but very spectacular. The tub shot out of the tub, hurtled across the dock, and slammed into the side of another ship alongside them with a resounding clang. The force of the impact flattended the can to a platter, and, as my father reported, there was a snowstorm of potato chips that covered the dock.

Getting Really Old

Back before the election, I blogged on an incident where my car was vandalized for sporting a pro-Bush bumper sticker. In the passion of the elections, someone decided that it was a legitimate means of registering their dissent to deface my property. But it hasn't let up since the elections. Not only is it obvious from the scratches on the replacement sticker that further attempts have been made to remove it as well, but both TFR and I have been subjected to dirty looks and obscenities shouted at us as we've driven in and gotten out of our car.

But this time, someone decided not to try to remove our sticker. They decided to add one. I won't repeat the obscenities it contained, but rather leave it to your imagination to decide how they chose to enumerate the old tired "chickenhawk" cliche.

You know what, I'm tired of this. I'm tired of blogging on incidents where Republican campaigners were harassed, attacked, and vandalized, of reading of incidents where people defame the very troops they disingenuously claim to "support", of hearing hyperbolic, hyperventilating, just plain HYPE of people who are willing to equate every action they disagree with to the most evil, oppressive regimes in history just because they have chosen George W. Bush as their own Quixotic windmill, and most of all, I'm tired of being told that *I'M* the one on the side of oppression, when I've noticed that it's those who dfisagree with me who seem most willing to silence or shout down their opponents.

So to those on the left who tell me that "dissent is patriotic", I say to you, it may be, but bullying, strongarm tactics aren't. So start standing up to those who side with you politically when they step over the line, or sit down and shut the F$#@ up.