July 29, 2007


I was walking to the bus stop to go back to the barracks for lunch today, and walked past 1stLt Y_'s parked car. Apparently his wife had stopped by to deliver his lunch, and they were busy necking in the front seats.

Now, ordinarily I'm a sympathetic guy... but I don't get to make out with my girlfriend during working hours. So I smile, said "Good afternoon, sir!" and saluted. I paused. 1stLt Y_ had to disentangle himself from Mrs. Y_, straighten his cover, and return my salute. Made my day, it did.

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July 27, 2007

I've Got Killin' Hands

Five bonus points to whomever knows who said "I've got killin' hands!"

I was planning something very cool. With no notice whatsoever, this Sunday evening I was going to put up a blog post about how nice the weather had been, and end it with "BTW, I'm in Tokyo right now." Cool, eh? Well, my leave has been, not cancelled, but curtailed. I still hope to get in a trip to mainland, but I'm not leaving tomorrow.

So today was another busy stressful day at work. I was the last one there, working the night shift alone. Getting a little hungry at midnight, I pulled a sub out of my lunch box. One of our less brilliant Marines broke the fridge a few months back, so it'd been getting kind of warm in there, but I don't think it had time to turn.

About half way through the sub, I felt some itching. It was a tiny ant crawling down the back of my hand. Irritated, I brushed it off and took another bite of delicious sub. Then it occured to me. Why was the ant crawling down my hand?

I knew what I'd see, but I had to look. I opened up the bread, and sure enough, there were scores of the little buggers inside my sub, busy eating my mayo, and trying to figure out why the scent trail leading back to the nest was gone.

I tossed out the remainder, but I'd eaten quite a bit. Now, I know that there are cultures that eat ants. I'm even aware that insects are present in most of the food we eat. And all the ants that I swallowed were surely no match for my stomach acid. But still, I felt downright queasy.

Moving on, time passed, and I got as much done as I was going to. All the other shops were gone, it was just me and maintenance control. So I got out the tool log, and popped open the toolboxes to make sure all tools were accounted for. ATAF is a critical step in aviation maintenance- tools left inside planes have caused many crashes. And tools left inside parachutes have killed people too.

Looking at the log, I saw that day crew failed to do an ATAF when they left. Whoops. That's bad, can't be making mistakes like that with the inspection starting Monday. Ah well, I'll get my own ATAF and mention it to them tomorrow. Let's see, checking boxes... there was a missing pair of scissors in the shop box.

So I looked for it. For a good half hour. Then I picked up the phone and recalled the whole shop. As you might imagine, people that are going to be at work at 0645 on a Saturday, don't like being woken up to come back to work at 0215. But missing tools are critical, and I was going to get that tool found.

After over two hours of searching, it did turn up. We had seriously searched our entire shop, by the expedient of taking everything into the hanger and searching every container. We found it in someone else's shop, on their desk. Many shops have a pair of scissors to cut paper with; they don't realize that for us, scissors are a tool that must be tracked. In fact, we're not supposed to have any scissors that aren't tracked, because scissors can cut parachutes, life preservers, cargo pendants, and so forth. Someone figured those were office scissors and "borrowed" them while we weren't looking. That makes me unhappy.

Ah well, I should post this and get some sleep, I've got to be back at work in a couple of hours. If we get enough done tomorrow, maybe at least Sunday will be a day off.

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July 23, 2007

This Is Annoying

I got to work this morning kind of tired, so I sucked down quite a bit of caffeine before we even began the work day. Then right after FOD walk, before 0800, I find out we've got night flights returning just before midnight. I get sent home so I can work 1500-0100 tonight.

So I really need to be taking a nap right now. But all that caffeine is doing its job quite nicely. It's going to be a long night, I can tell already.

UPDATE: I was right, that sucked. I was assigned a huge stack of work to do when I arrived. Day crew left, and then suddenly I was dealing with crisis after crisis, putting out fires instead of getting the workload under control. Before he left SSgt (who doesn't like me) gave me a stern lecture about consequences and repurcussions if I didn't get a lot of stuff done. But "Spent two hours working with the help desk to get our computers working again" doesn't really show up on the daily shop workload report. So I ended up staying at work much longer than every other shop, just to get some minimal accomplishments on the workload. Which was terribly unfair to LCpl S_, my worker, because he was stuck there to. When I realized how late it was and secured us, I felt like an ogre, and I apologized to him probably too many times. *sigh*

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Trojan Man

These gents in Australia have a TV show. They decided to see if people learn the lessons of the past. The trial: a Trojan Horse.

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July 20, 2007


I finally finished uploading photos… the ones I took before the last float happened. Now I've got to go through the 779 photos I took during the last float, and upload the worthy ones, categorize, tag, and write descriptions.

So standby for a new slideshow to be announced in a few weeks.

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July 19, 2007

Not Too Terrible

Well, Cpl O_ is got back home to the barracks last night at oh-dark-thirty. His ticker was fine. Turns out he's got gall stones. They're scheduling him for laproscopic surgery within a few days. Until then, he's Sick In Quarters, required to stay in the barracks where the duty can check on him every couple of hours.

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July 18, 2007

Not Good

Got to take someone to the hospital. Will report more soon.

UPDATE (four hours later): A few days ago (on the boat), the corporals in my shop agreed that we'd go to get some curry at CoCo's the night we got back. So when at 1700 Cpl O_ walked into my room, I first thought he was coming to get me for that.

Then I got a look at him. He was clearly in medical difficulty. Sad to say, I'm now familiar with signs of pulmonary problems, and he was having them. He had a stabbing pain under and below his sternum, and was unable to breath as deeply as he needed to.

He'd really come to see my roommate, who's a corpsman. But I could see his distress too. Doc was wondering if it might just be severe acid reflux, but then, we'd been doing a great deal of hard labor in the brutal heat that morning while unloading gear, and a heart attack was certainly a possibility. So Doc got him downstairs while I rounded up the duty driver to get him to the hospital.

Our squadron duty driver was all the way at White Beach, getting people off the ship. That was a no-go. So I called the unit that we share our barracks with. Their guy was also a half-hour away. Then I called for the group driver, that being the next higher level of command. Their driver had gone to chow and accidentally left his cell phone in the office.

In the trade of war, we call this "friction"- when things are going wrong, small problems start piling up and everything gets very hard. I started banging on doors, looking for someone that had a vehicle and was sober. Finally we ran down another corpsman from a different barracks who could take us. I was about to send one of my subordinates to the taxi stand.

We got to the hospital, and as you might imagine, the triage nurse took "male, chest pain, difficulty breathing" quite seriously. I'm not a relative, so I had to hang out in the waiting room.

Good news is, he's not having a heart attack. Bad news is, he's not having acid reflux either. So he's staying overnight while they steal all sorts of his precious bodily fluids, and he's getting scanned by many of the more interesting devices known to man. After we'd been there about four hours, I got sent home, as they wanted to close the waiting room. So we left him with lots of phone numbers to call if he gets discharged overnight. Which I was told he probably wouldn't be, but who knows.

So we drove back to the barracks, and I got mobbed. Marines are brothers. When I came back without O_, people were worried. So I had to pass what little I knew on to a few key people that will then tell everyone else in the barracks. Meanwhile, I had to work the phones- I had to call the duty officer, the Sergeant Major, my Gunny, and Sgt R_, all in a row, to pass what I know. I may get a call from the CO, too. When someone gets hospitalized, the chain of command gets involved in a real hurry.

So what should be a night of happy celebration in the barracks, is kind of grim tonight. People are worried. Plus, we've got to go to work tomorrow, that kind of damps things down too.

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Sweet Home Okinawa

I'm back home! Out of the stinking teeming throng that packs enlisted berthing, and back in the comforts of my own barracks room. Which didn't even get flooded in the recent typhoon, making me luckier than a third of the guys in the unit.

I just took a shower and let the water run as I soaped up… what luxury! I really needed that shower too, as I'd been wearing the same clothes for two days, while moving heavy loads around in 80% humidity and 100° heat. Fun fun.

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July 14, 2007

It's a Matter of Time

I lost my watch. This is making me sad for three reasons. There's nostalgia: I bought that watch at the seven-day store on Parris Island. Second, practicality: I missed dinner tonight because I didn't realize what time it was. (Secret ramen stash to the rescue!) Finally, safety: as an aviation maintenance worker, keeping track of all my tools and personnel effects is a vital part of my job. Losing stuff shows a lack of attention to detail.

Plenty of other people lost more than a watch, yesterday. Back in Townsville, no less then seven people in the squadron got themselves into trouble out in town. That's an embarassingly large number. Moreover, every one of the seven were NCOs, the people that are supposed to be enforcing military discipline and standards in the first place.

Then, when we got back on board, two more NCOs got into a fight up on the flight deck.

So yesterday the squadron CO had office hours and NJPd them all. Eight people lost rank. We're joking that he's going to open up a used insignia shop. Jokes aside, I approve, as we need some tightening down around here. Of course, I don't drink and I try to live the Corps values, so everyone already knows where I stand on that issue.

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July 13, 2007

Not a Good Teaching Experience

The MEU CO came by this evening for his third sewing lesson. He knows the basics of sewing, so it's time to make a project. I talked about different fabrics, when you sew on the bias, how to make your own patterns, and then we made a pattern to sew a pouch to carry an external hard drive we had laying around the shop.

I wish I'd taken more prep time for the class, because the pattern we came up with had a tricky spot just at the beginning, which was pretty well beyond his abilities. Then the loose thread end got sucked into the sewing hook, and I suggested he power through it. Problem is, I can do that because I can feel how much pressure the machine can take. He's not experienced, so he overdid it, and wrecked the timing and popped the safety clutch. So then he got a hour-long class in how to fix a sewing machine, which wasn't exactly on the syllabus.

But he'll be back tomorrow, so I guess we can finish up the pouch then.

Also, we're getting close to the end of the float, so the mess deck is getting kind of inconsistent, as they dig into storage. Yesterday was some terrible breaded slabs of something. We're not sure what the something was. I said freezerburned veal, Cpl P_ thought it was freezerburned country fried steak.

Today though, we had steak and lobster tails. And my steak was pretty good.

A few more days, and it'll be sushi. Cpl P_ wanted to try more "real" sushi places are on island, so I'm going to take him to a nearby sushi-go-round where we can try lots of stuff easily. If he likes that, I'll take him to a little place I know where the locals go. The staff don't speak any English and you leave your shoes at the door, that kind of place.

If you'll excuse me, I think I'll spend a few minutes salivating in contemplation of the good food I'll soon be eating.

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