31 July 2006

Graf Zeppelin discovered

Not the dirigible, and not its inventor, but the only German aircraft carrier of World War II.

The Graf Zeppelin was launched in 1938, and was to have been loaded out with redesigned versions of the Junkers Ju-87 and the Messerschmitt Bf-109. She was never fully completed, though, and was scuttled in 1945 near the then-German port of Stettin (Polish Szczecin), as Russian troops approached the city. The Russians raised her, though, and she was sunk a second time in 1947, in the Baltic Sea, after being used as a target.

A Polish group discovered the wreck last week whilst looking for sites for oil in the Baltic, and divers have confirmed the ship’s identity.

Articles here and here about the discovery. This one has some nice pictures.

An alphabet for old folks

(This came to me from a friend; he got it from The Good Clean Funnies List.)

A is for apple, and B is for boat,
That used to be right, but now it won't float!
Age before beauty is what we once said,
But let's be a bit more realistic instead.

A's for arthritis;
B's the bad back,
C is the chest pains, perhaps cardiac?

D is for dental decay and decline,
E is for eyesight--can't read that top line!
F is for fissures and water retention
G is for gas, which I'd rather not mention.

H is high blood pressure--I'd prefer low;
I for incisions with scars you can show.
J is for joints, out of socket, won't mend,
K is for knees that crack when they bend.

L is lost hearing--now what did you say?
M is memory lapses occurring all day.
N is neuralgia, in nerves way down low;
O is for osteo, the bones that don't grow!

P for prescriptions, I have quite a few;
Just give me a pill and I'll be good as new!
Q is for queasy. Is it fatal or flu?
R is for reflux--one meal turns to two.
S for sleepless nights, counting my fears,
T for tinnitus; there are bells in my ears!

U is for urinary; big troubles with flow;
V is for vertigo--that's "dizzy," you know.
W is for worry. NOW what's going 'round?
X is for x-ray and what might be found.

Y is another year I'm left here behind,
Z is for zest that I still have--in my mind.

I've survived all the symptoms, my body's deployed,
and I've kept twenty-six doctors fully employed.

-author unknown
[edited by GCFL]

Brits, beer and Germany

A bit late, I know, but I thought this article from The Mirror, about Brit soccer fans in Germany, was pretty funny.

ENGLAND's massive army of World Cup fans is drinking Germany dry, it emerged yesterday.

Breweries warned beer could run out before the final because of huge demand from our supporters.

In Nuremberg, organisers revealed 70,000 England fans who flooded the city drank 1.2MILLION pints of beer - an average of 17 pints each.

Astonished bar keeper Herrmann Murr said: "Never have I seen so many drink so much in such little time."

I'll stick with cider, thank you....


"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get into the office." -- Robert Frost


One of the strangest things about being on the skimmer* was the idea of not responding to fire drills. On a boat, of course, fires, flooding, and other such events are all-hands affairs, and drills are treated as the real thing – none of that “This is a drill, this is a drill” nonsense you hear on skimmers. On a skimmer, though, they have Damage Control Division, and the Firecracker Team, and other designated damage-control parties, and anyone who isn’t a member of one of these just rolls over and goes back to sleep if he’s wakened in the night by the 1MC calling away disaster on the ship.

On the boat, of course, one of the immediate actions for any casualty is securing ventilation, even before the alarm is called away by Control. Anyone who has spent much time at sea on a submarine becomes attuned to this, and is awakened by the sudden silence as the fans shut down. There’ve been many occasions when I awoke thusly and was already out of the rack, feet on the deck, grabbing for my poopy suit, before the first 1MC announcement.

We don't have AC here where I live now, which kind of sucks in the middle of a CT summer. (Though apparently we don’t have it as bad as some folks at the opposite corner of the country do.) Therefore, the wife and I sleep with a fan right next to the bed. We had a really nice thunderstorm blow through a week or two back. It was just starting up when I went to bed, and I went straight to sleep and slept through all the light and noise coming in through the window. (Nothing like being a good, sound sleeper; that's one reason I occupied the rack I did on all three boats, right next to the head.) Slept through everything, in fact, up until 0145, when lightning hit something, we lost power, the fan shut off - and I was instantly wide awake.

Thought I was done with that nonsense.

* Note for non-Navy readers: “Skimmer” can be used to refer either to a surface ship (also known as a “target”) or to a person who serves on such a vessel. These people often make snide remarks about submariners, “who go out and sink perfectly good ships.” Personally, I never did understand the logic behind going out to sea on something that isn’t designed to come back up again after it sinks….

30 July 2006

Strange life forms

No, I don't mean submariners. Or skimmers. Or even airdales.

The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is a pheasant-sized bird native to the jungles of South America; amongst its other oddities, the chicks are born with functional wing claws, similar to those of Archaeopteryx and other prehistoric birds. Carel Brest van Kempen, at Rigor Vitae, has a post up about visiting these birds in Peru. Photos, too.

And while you're looking at his blog, check out this post about the Cambrian Explosion. No photos, alas, but he did illustrate it with one of his paintings.

If you want to read more, Wikipedia has articles on both hoatzins and the Cambrian explosion.

Russian Navy Day

Joel, over at The Stupid Shall Be Punished, has an interesting post up about Navy Day, which the Russians are celebrating today, and about the near future of the Russian submarine force.

Being the sort of person I am, my first thought upon reading this was to wonder whom the Yury Dolgoruky was named after. According to this and this, Yuriy Dolgorukiy* (George the Long-Armed) was a 12th-century Prince of Suzdal and Grand Prince of Kiev, and the son of the founder of Moscow.

Here's an article from Global Security about the new Borei-class submarines (it seems the third boat in this class is to be named after Yuriy's father), and here's one from TASS about the Navy Day celebrations.

* Or Yurij Dolgorukij, to use the transliteration scheme I learned.

Time flies

When I was stationed down in Norfolk, back in the 20th century, my mother-in-law used to come down to visit, and we'd go to Busch Gardens. The two ladies would go on the rides, and since I don't care for that sort of thing, I'd sit and watch the baby.

Now that baby is ten years old, and at SubFest this month she (green t-shirt, front row, in the picture above) had her first experience with the "grown-up" rides.

And this afternoon she'll be leaving for twelve days at Girl Scout camp. Both girls have spent nights away from home, of course, at Grandma's, or with friends from school, or with kids in the neighbourhood. But never so far away, or for such a long time.

It's going to be awfully quiet around here for the next couple weeks....

29 July 2006


"You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering." -- Dr Who

A wee bit of bragging

The ISI World Recreational Team Championships were held this week up in Marlboro MA. There were well over a hundred teams competing. Most were from the US, of course, but there were also skaters from Mexico, the Philippines, China (both Taiwan and Hong Kong) and Dubai.

My daughter has been skating since she was four, just a couple months after her mother let her stay up to watch the figure skating at the '02 Olympics. ISI groups competitors as much as possible by age and sex, so she was part of a group of six eight-year-old girls. Of the other five girls, three were from MA, one was from MI, and the other from CA. She was a little disappointed that she didn't get first, but we told her second place wasn't a bad thing at something like this; the girls she was skating against were probably the ones who did best at their district competitions. (Our district competition was held in June, out on Cape Cod, and she came in second of a group of eight.)

Not that I really think we have a future Olympic champion here, but it's nice to dream....

These people are not sane

A 100-mile foot race in the middle of a California summer? The article doesn't say what the winning time was, but the woman (!) who came in third finished it in less than nineteen and a half hours.

She not only finished the 100 miles, she won the Western States Endurance Run.
Maybe even more impressive than being the first female to finish was the fact she was the third finisher overall. Only males Graham Cooper of Oakland, Calif., and Erik Skaden of Folsom, Calif., finished ahead of her.
Perhaps just as impressive is the fact she finished at all when 189 in a field of 399 starters did not. She conquered the heat and trails from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif., and did it in 19 hours, 26 minutes and 51 seconds.
"It was 101 degrees in Auburn, but much hotter in the canyons," Kimball said. "It was well over a hundred in the canyons; unbelievably hot."

I'll say. Anything over 70F is starting to get too hot for me.

To me it's even more impressive because she's from Vermont - she didn't grow up in that kind of climate.

28 July 2006

Today's Friday, right?

So here's a cat. This is Sextus, also known as The Incredible Sneezing Cat, who has been living with us almost three years now. He's the only cat we have at present, alas, though we also have seven rodents and a lagomorph in the house.

27 July 2006

Scary sights

Somewhere in the middle of my naval career I found myself on a skimmer. It didn't take me long to determine that, although we wore the same uniforms, the submarine and surface fleets were two totally different navies. However, I made some good friends there, and the fact that Slimy Snake (occasionally known as USS Simon Lake AS-33) was homeported in Scotland more than made up for all the skimmer nonsense I had to put up with.

My first year on board, logically enough, was spent in R-4 Division (Electronic Repair). But then I found myself working in 38N, the nuc repair shop, which was part of R-10 Division (Nuc Repair).* 38N was mostly composed of HTs, but there were also a couple of MMs and EMs, and an ET (all non-nuclear types). And me, the RM.

Which led to the afternoon I was sitting around the office chatting with one of the nucs from 10D (Nuclear Planning), the other half of R-10. And we got onto the subject of scary sights. No idea what input I had for that part of the conversation, but his was pretty memorable.

"The scariest sight I've ever seen was watching the RC door open up, and a radioman come out with a handful of wrenches. And knowing that he'd been using those wrenches in the RC...."

So what's the scariest sight you've ever seen?

* "It's a long story, Harold."

26 July 2006

Ignore this picture

Yes, it's a picture of me (taken a couple years ago), but I'm just posting it here to test the photo-uploading process.

Advice for men getting married

This came through on one of my mailing lists:

"If she gives you a chore you don't want to do, do it immediately, do it with a smile, and do it badly."

25 July 2006

Book lists - Apr-Jun 06

I've decided one thing I'm going to do with this is use it to keep my lists of books I read. So without further ado:

Apr 06
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong - US history, by James W Loewen
To Your Scattered Bodies Go - SF, by Philip Jose Farmer

I'd never read either of these before.

May 06
The Steam Locomotive: A Century of North American Classics - railroad history, by Jim Boyd
Mother Was a Gunner's Mate - WWII memoirs, by Josette Dermody Wingo
The Borrowers Afield - children's, by Mary Norton
Pegasus Bridge - WW II, by Stephen Ambrose

The Norton was a reread; the others were new to me.

Jun 06
D-Day - WW II, by Stephen Ambrose*
The Union Club Mysteries - mysteries, by Isaac Asimov
Time Scout - time travel, by Bob Asprin and Linda Evans
ARC Riders - time travel, by David Drake and Janet Morris
Napoleon Disentimed - AH/time travel, by Hayford Peirce
Sinbad and Me - YA mystery, by Kin Platt

The Ambrose was new to me, but the others were all rereads.

All in all, it's a far cry from my high-school days, when I used to average better than a book a day. Blame it on my wife, my kids, my job, and this computer....

* By pure coincidence, I finished reading D-Day on 6 June, the 42nd anniversary of the day itself.


Looks like I'm going to have to take the effort to actually do some writing here from time to time, because Bo didn't just mention me at his blog; he also added a link to mine.

And thanks again for the tech assist, Bo!

24 July 2006

Why not?

On the other hand, if anyone stumbles across this page and does the view-my-complete-profile thing, he/she/it will find lists of some of my favourite books, movies, and music. So I suppose I can amuse myself in the future by writing reviews of said books and movies, and posting them here.

I can even post the occasional sea story, like Bo and the other submarine bloggers do.... :)

23 July 2006


The main reason for creating this blog is because Ultraquiet No More won't allow anonymous comments; anyone who wants to say anything there has to be a blogger.

So - voila! A blog. I may never write anything here again, but what the heck....