Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How to simulate shipboard life at home

I have seen several versions of this. I thought I would post it for your enjoyment. It describes only a small part of shipboard life; if you know a sailor, or ex-sailor, have him sit down and chat with you sometime.

This guide was designed for the ex-sailor who misses the good old days and wants to bring a little of his or her past into their current life. It is also designed for those who would like to experience living aboard a U.S. Naval vessel for an extended period of time. Too many people believe life in the Navy is a Top Gun existence and hang onto every detail of JAG. It is not a glamorous life, but it can be very enjoyable and eventful.

The following are a few suggestions on how to experience the real Navy life, right in the comfort of your own home:

1. When commencing this simulation, remember to board up all windows, and lock friends and family outside, You can communicate only with letters that your neighbors will hold for two weeks before delivering, losing one out of every five. Have a friend or neighbor yell "Mail Call" at your door. Four out of five times, he will snicker and say "You didn't get anything."

2. Raise the thresholds and lower the top sills on every doorway. From this point on, refer to them as knee-knockers and overheads. Make sure you smash your knees on the knee-knockers and ram your head against the overhead every time you pass though one of them.

3. Surround yourself with 5,000 people you either don't like or don't know. These people will chain-smoke, pass gas loudly, snore like a Mack truck on a uphill grade, complain constantly, seldom shower, wear clean clothes, or brush their teeth and use expletives in speech the way kids use sugar on cold cereal.

4. Unplug all radios and televisions to completely cut yourself off from the outside world. Have a neighbor bring you a Time or Newsweek magazine from two or three months ago.

5. Study the owners manual for all appliances in the dwelling. If you don't have a manual, have someone who knows nothing about the item write one.

6. Monitor all operating home appliances hourly, recording all vital parameters (plugged in, light functions when door opens, etc.). If not in use, log every four hours as "secured." Study the owner’s manual for these appliances and at regular intervals, take one apart and put it back together again, then test operate it at the extremes of its tolerance.

7. Do not flush the toilet (s) for the first three days to simulate the smell of forty people using the same commode. After that, flush once daily. Install a shower nozzle on a short hose, making sure it is one with a button which must be pressed constantly to make the water come out. Install a device which irregularly varies the setting on the hot water heater and room thermostats, especially at night and while you are showering. During showers, which must be either ice cold or scalding hot, arrange periodically to have the water shut off once you are soaped up. Also arrange to have someone steal personal hygiene products, shower shoes, towels, and anything else not locked up.

8. Only shop at a store which closes at odd times, for no apparent reason, and is out of stock of important items like personal hygiene products, etc. (See #7 above.)

9. Lock the bathroom door twice a day for a four-hour period.

10. Wear only approved coveralls or proper uniforms (no special or cut-off T-shirts). Even though nobody really cares, once a week clean and press one uniform in the dark on a broken ironing board (or a towel on the floor) and wear it for 20 minutes while standing at attention. After this, change back into coveralls, catch and rip the sleeve of your shirt on a sharp object on your way to change, curse and yell, then wad it up and throw it in a smelly locker.

11. Cut your hair weekly, making it shorter each time until you are bald or look like you tangled with a demented sheep-shearer. Have a friend or neighbor loudly tell you to get a haircut at least once every other week, whether you need one or not.

12. Work in 18-hour cycles, sleeping only four hours at a time to ensure your body doesn't know or care if it's daytime or nighttime.

13. Listen to your favorite cassette six times a day for two weeks, then play music that causes acute nausea until you are glad to get back to your "favorite" cassettes.

14. Cut a three-inch thick twin-sized mattress in half length-wise. Place it in a metal box with one opening on the side. The roof should be low enough to prevent you from sitting in any position (18 inches is perfect). Place the metal box on a platform so that it is at lease six inches from the floor. Attach blue curtains across the opening, making sure they are opaque enough to let plenty of light through. Place a dead animal under your sheets to simulate the smell of your bunkmates, the laundry and shipboard life. Whenever possible, and without warning, have someone take your pillow or blanket (or both) to simulate that special camaraderie that exist only on-board an U.S. Naval warship.

15. Two hours after you go to sleep, have someone stumble around loudly, whip open your rack curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and mumble "Sorry, wrong rack." Set your alarm clock to go off at the five minute "snooze" intervals for the first hour of sleep to simulate the various alarms of watch-standards and night crews waking up to go on duty and at odd times just to wake you up. Place your metal box on a rocker to ensure that you are tossed from side to side for the remaining three hours of sleep. Alternately use a custom alarm clock that sounds like a fire alarm, police sirens, and loud punk rock combined to simulate various drill alarms on-board the ship, so you will get accustomed to ignoring your regular alarm clock.

16. Prepare all food while blindfolded, using all the spices that you can grope for, or none at all, to simulate shipboard food. Remove the blindfold and eat as fast as humanly possible. If the food does not stick to an inverted plate when cold, use more lard. If the food contains more than one part per thousand of fiber, dispose of it. Always take more than you can possible eat to keep up the waste standards of the Navy. Beat your plate enthusiastically against the side of the trash can when disposing of your leftovers. Remember over-cooking or under-cooking is preferable to proper cooking. Also combining old food to new food is also encouraged. Have week-old fruit and vegetables delivered to your garage between two and four in the morning by helicopter and wait two weeks before eating them.

17. When making coffee, use 18 scoops of generic coffee per pot and allow it to sit for 5-6 hours before drinking.

18. When making cakes, prop up one side of the pan while it is baking. Then spread icing really thick on one side to level off the top.

19. Run into the kitchen and sweep all pots, pans and dishes off the counter and onto the floor. Yell at yourself for not having the kitchen "stowed for sea."

20. Buy 50 cases of toilet paper and lock up all but two rolls. Give the key to a friend going on vacation to Tierra del Fuego. Ensure one of the two rolls is wet all the time.

21. Periodically have a neighbor shut off power at the main breaker and send a muscle-bound seventeen year old psychopath with a funny haircut and loaded rifle (simulated Marine) running through you house, repeatedly yelling at the top of his lungs "Get Down! Get Down!" If, at this point, you don't lie face down on the floor with your hands on top of your head fast enough, you will be beaten to a pulp while the psychopath continues to scream "Don't Move!"

22. Randomly start small fires and practice putting them out. When you do this, have the same neighbor shut off power at the main breaker again. Run around screaming "Fire in the main space! Fire in the main space!" Do this until you sweat profusely or lose your voice, then restore power.

23. Prepare yourself for an emergency that will require you to evacuate the premises knowing that if you exit, the biker gang that you hired will cut off your arms and legs to simulate sharks. Study an ancient first aid book to learn how to handle wounds and control bleeding until you can quote it verbatim.

24. Since you will have no doctor or get any medical care, stock up on the following: Band-Aids, aspirin, antacids, Robitussin, Acti-Fed, Pepto-Bismol, Motrin, and suppositories. These have been proven as cures for every disease known to man.

25. Buy a gas mask, smear the seal with rancid animal fat, and scrub the faceplate with steel wool until you can't see out of it. Wear it for two hours every fifth day (even to the bathroom) and run rapidly from one side of the house to the other while wearing it.

26. Remove all plants, pictures, and decorations (except vulgar photographs). Paint all furnishings and walls gray, white or the green shade of hospital scrubs. Use a special "fading" paint that will require you to do it all again in three months. Stencil everything with numbers.

27. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it to "High" to produce that genuine shipboard smell.

28. To make sure you are living in a clean and happy environment, sweep and dust twice daily. Once every week clean from top to bottom, working hard all day even if it is only a three hour job, repeating your efforts as often as possible. Occasionally, tell yourself that you missed some dust and your floor looks like crap. When completed, inspect your work, criticizing everything as much as possible. Never be satisfied with good effort or exceptional work. Twice a day (or more if there is no need) get several people together in as small a room as possible (a closet or bathroom should do) and have a meeting to listen to someone tell you what you did all day.

29. On one lone TV monitor, located in the worst possible place, connect three channels. The first should play old TV shows that even a "normal" station won't play. The second channel plays eight movies a month, over and over and over. The last channel plays "training" films on such engaging topics as small engine repair, proper blender operation, paperwork routing procedures, etc. Each channel must randomly go off the air, preferably when there is finally something you wanted to watch.

30. Once a day, watch a videotaped movie that you walked out on a year ago. Then watch an episode of Charlie's Angels that you didn't like the first three times you saw it. Make sure you pause it just at the peak of action so you can sweep the floor or listen to someone talk loudly about something stupid.

31. To achieve the permanent, smelly, dingy, wrinkled look in your clothes, have the plumber connect the washer to a sewer line. Tightly cram your clothes into a nylon bag and wash whole. Throw the bag in a corner for two days and then without removing the clothes from the bag, dry it. It helps if your clothes are tied in tight knots before cramming into a bag. For best results, add two or three ink pens to each bag.

32. Just for kicks, about once a month try to flush an old tennis shoe, a sack of cement, or a bowling ball down the commode. Ignore the mess, someone else will surely take care of it. Call the plumbers, but only if they have no spare parts, and are notoriously slow and unreliable.

33. Every so often, throw your cat into the swimming pool, and shout, "Man Overboard, Starboard Side!"

34. For maximum pleasure during the simulation, station people with metal sheets, sledge hammers, pneumatic tools, paints, and aromatic solvents, with instructions to use the aforementioned items only when you are trying to eat , sleep, or work. Run a loud blender in every room at a constant high speed to simulate the constant whine of the ship's machinery and have the biker gang you hired pound on the roof and walls to simulate recovering and launching aircraft.

35. During periods of high heat and/or humidity, shut off all ventilation and air conditioning. Bring in your lawnmower, and after removing the muffler, fire the sucker up and let it run for 8-10 hours.

36. Put on the headphones from your stereo, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck with a piece of string. Go and stand in front of your stove and say, to nobody in particular, "Stove manned and ready." Stand there for three or four hours, then say, once again to nobody in particular, "Stove secured." Roll up the headphone cord and put the headphone and paper cup in a box.

This simulation must run a minimum of six months to be effective. The exact date of the end of this simulation will be changed no less than seven times without your knowledge. This is done to keep you guessing as to when you can expect to get back to a semi-normal life.

On the last day of this simulation, remove the boards from the windows but do not go outside, have your love ones stand across the street, and you face them while standing at attention for four hours. This will simulate having duty on the day you return.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A good things for politics?!

As I watch the news and the political picture around the country, it seems to me that the major parties are imploding. Here are some excerpts from articles that show just that (I have included an equal number from both sides of the aisle to avoid the wrath of the ACLU (Anti-Christian Liberty Union)):

Democrats Tear Each Other Apart in Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is wounded and vulnerable, and yet the two Democrats vying to unseat him are tearing each other apart in the very nightmare scenario party leaders had feared.
State Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly are spending millions on attack ads heading into Tuesday's primary, trading accusations of being corrupt, indulging in dirty politics and wanting to raise taxes.
"The script couldn't have been written any better by the Schwarzenegger campaign," said GOP consultant Kevin Spillane. "Whichever Democrat wins is going to be a dirty campaigner and a tax increaser."

Republican Fissures Imperil Bush Agenda

Emerging divisions within the Republican Party represent a greater danger to the president's capacity to govern than low public opinion-poll ratings. The greatest challenge to his authority may come from fiscal conservatives upset by runaway spending on Iraq, Katrina and social programs.

While these difficulties--and the fear that they might imperil the Republican majorities on Capitol Hill in the November 2006 midterm election--have disturbed conservatives, they are not at the core of current intra-Party warfare. Republican operatives have spent years cobbling together an effective governing coalition. Until now, the White House has been adept at playing to this hard core of conservative support. However, events and White House policy choices have recently aggravated three distinct sections of the conservative movement.

Pelosi Move Triggers Revolt

Furious black lawmakers, rallying behind Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), were pulled back from the brink of open revolt against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an emergency meeting with her Wednesday evening.The meeting with a handful of CBC members was called after Pelosi wrote the embattled lawmaker, who is at the center of a massive bribery scandal, a curt note requesting his immediate resignation from the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Cracks in Republican Unity

The Wall Street Journal notes severe cracks in Republican discipline on Capitol Hill: "The budget infighting, the muddled news conference and the floor debate over federal lands can't be ignored: Democrats lost power in 1994 when they kept fighting among themselves, oblivious to their House burning around them. Republicans have ruled since with a remarkable discipline, but are at risk now because of exhaustion, scandals and, critics would say, the rigidity of their ideology and failure to learn from policy failures in a changing world.""The greatest source of division is conservatives' concern about spending, aggravated by the mounting cost of the Iraq war."

So, you see, things are not at all well at home - for either party. Since I am admittedly a member of the VRWC, it troubles me to see this happening on my side of the fence, however I am guardedly optimistic that perhaps these seemingly unfortunate events will lead us to do something we all should have been doing all along, namely


Interesting concept, huh?