Friday, April 30, 2010

Electron Boy and The Make-A-Wish Foundation

Thursday was a very special day for a young boy with liver cancer. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and hundreds of volunteers including police officers, a few guys off of Deadliest Catch, the Seattle Sounders FC, and Spider Man, Erik Martin got to live out his wish of being a superhero.

About the only thing I have to say about it is that it really made my day. It's a great story. You can read it here at the Seattle Times. There are links to a photo gallery and Electron Boy's Facebook page there as well. The photo gallery is pretty nice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Would you like to see some boobs with your coffee?

I don't know how prevalent they are in the rest of the country, but we have a few drive-through espresso stands here in Bremerton with baristas that brew coffee while wearing only pasties and thongs. It is a fairly hot topic in the Kitsap Sun. The stories and Letters to the Editors never fail to draw a lot of comments. There are several stands of this sort around the area.

A lot of people say it is immoral and that the stands are a blight on our fair city. I don't know about that. I remember some of my past girlfriends that would be nice enough to bring me coffee in the morning, frequently in some state of undress. It never bothered me. Granted, that is a different context than a little drive-through coffee stand/peep show, but who am I to pass judgment on what other people think is acceptable? Personally, I have no desire to get my coffee from any of these stands. I am more concerned about how sanitary it is for a nearly-nude food worker to be preparing coffee or about the safety aspects of unclothed people working with steam and scalding hot beverages than I am about the moral aspects.

Some people have complained about the women working in these stands being in full view of passing motorists and their passengers on the nearby road, which is quite busy. The bus that I take to and from work passes right by a few of these places. The stands are visible from the road, however, I think you would have to be looking pretty hard to get a glimpse of naked flesh while passing by. They are not exactly in-your-face. They have tinted windows that are opened when the customers pull up, but I have yet to see any naked girls. Maybe I need to look harder, but I am just not all that interested.

One commenter on one of the Kitsap Sun articles said that she felt "ambushed" when she drove up to one of the stands with her kids in the car. The stand is named something like "Fantasy Espresso" and there is a sign on the side of the stand showing a silhouette of a woman. I think this poor woman should have been paying a little more attention. Maybe she could have connected the dots and avoided the ambush. Heaven forbid that someone needs to explain to their children that women have breasts and that men like to look at them. I wonder how they deal with questions about erectile dysfunction after their children see commercials on television.

I remember when my first boat pulled into Fort Lauderdale. Some of us had heard about a topless donut shop and we decided we needed to check it out. It was like any other donut shop with news on the television behind the counter and various customers reading newspapers and chatting over their donuts and coffee. The only difference is that the female waitresses were topless. That part of it was kind of surreal. It was a mildly interesting experience, but not that thrilling. The donuts were okay and the coffee was pretty good. I don't know whether or not it is still in business, but I doubt I would go back if it is still open.

In the meantime, I guess these new businesses will be a controversial subject whenever they come up. I guess I am in the camp of "Who Cares?" If you don't like these places, don't go. If you want to spend your hard-earned four dollars and throw a buck or two in the tip jar to get a good cup of coffee and a quick look at a scantily clad woman, that's fine with me. It's not going to hurt the economy. Hopefully none of the outraged citizens will take the matter into their own hands and burn the place to the ground like this coffee shop in Maine that had topless girls serving coffee.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tea Party

I read about the nutty guy in Texas that flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin. I read his last note or suicide note or whatever it is that you want to call it. I can actually agree with some of the sentiments expressed in there, but I think advocating violence against the IRS and then actually carrying out a suicide attack on the IRS is pretty nuts.

I also read several comments that readers had submitted. I don't find much funny about this situation, but a lot of the comments make me laugh. Right-wing nutjobs and Left-wing nutjobs are both trying to claim that the suicide pilot is a liberal (from the right-wing nutjobs) and a conservative (from the left-wing nutjobs). Having read the note, I had to agree with the comment that basically said the guy was nuts and his political beliefs are all over the map. It was a pretty rambling note.

I did read a political piece of news about a gathering of the Tea Party in Clarkston, WA. Apparently, one of their speakers want to kill one of our United States Senators. She said:
"How many of you have watched the movie Lonesome Dove?," asked one speaker from the podium. "What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd? What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd. He got hung. And that's what I want to do with Patty Murray."
Pretty classy group of people that gather at Tea Parties. I kind of thought that some of them were well meaning people, in spite of the somewhat racist signs and thoughtless comments that I have seen and heard attributed to them.

She was at least sincere enough to allow her comment to be recorded on video and preserved for posterity. You can watch it here if you want. The video clip is cut a little short after the comment so it is difficult to judge the reaction of the crowd, but if she feels that she is among people that think that murdering an elected official is an appropriate comment or a funny joke, that tells me what kind of people that she thinks are in the party.

Maybe I will go to an anti-Tea Party gathering when they have a Tea Party around here. After seeing this video, I have absolutely no respect for them.

Screw 'em!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Round and Round I Go

I was visiting my parents a few weeks ago and I decided to drive back to Bremerton using a route that I normally do not use. From my parents house, I drove to Olympia using what we call "The Back Way In" to Olympia. This is a road that goes through some very rural areas before coming into Tumwater on the way into Olympia.

I was approaching Tumwater when I saw signs indicating there was construction ahead. January isn't exactly the peak of construction activity in this area, but they were doing something to the road. As I got closer, I saw that they had put in a new roundabout.

I hate roundabouts.

Roundabouts are one European import that definitely should have stayed in Europe. To tell you the truth, I don't know for sure that they originated in Europe. I just associate them with Europe because of the Griswold's adventures in England during National Lampoon's European Vacation. Now that I think about it, comedy movies may not be the best source of information about other countries and continents, but I have to work with what I have.

Anyway, there is another roundabout that I occasionally use and I am not very good at it. I have probably been through it about a dozen times. I would estimate that I have successfully navigated this roundabout three or four times on the first try out my dozen attempts. Most of the time when I go through it, I end up in the wrong lane and am forced to exit before I want to. I should probably have it figured out by now, but that darn roundabout outwits me nearly every time. After driving through and coming out heading in the wrong direction, I have to drive about a half mile until I can turn onto another street and get myself turned around so that I can reenter the roundabout and come out at the correct exit. I could probably stop and turn around a little earlier, but I am worried that someone will see me and realize that I got messed up by the roundabout. Since I am a man, that would be an unacceptable outcome, almost like admitting that I was lost.

Bottom line, I hate roundabouts. Now they just put in another roundabout on a road that I sometimes travel. I came out of the roundabout, miraculously heading in the correct direction and drive for a few hundred yards when I come up on another new roundabout.

Two new roundabouts??? Are you kidding me? What could be worse than two new roundabouts?

I left that roundabout and continued driving for a few hundred more yards when I found out what could be worse than two new roundabouts.

Can you guess what that might be?

If you guessed a third roundabout, you would be correct.

I hear that roundabouts are safer than intersections controlled by traffic lights. That may be true, but I would take a left-turn lane and a nice clear green arrow to tell me when I can turn over a roundabout every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Year in Review

The last year has brought some pretty substantial changes to my life. I have a new job, live in a new place, and have a new car. About the only thing that is the same in my day-to-day life is the same old furniture that I have been dragging around with me from Hawaii to Guam, back to Hawaii, to Pullman for school, and now here in Bremerton. At least something has remained the same. I need some consistency in my life and I have been parking my butt on that couch for quite a while now.

As for the changes, being a nuclear engineer at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is certainly preferable to being a college student, at least for me. I am sure that some of my twenty-some year old co-workers would rather be back in college rather than working. I didn't really have anything in particular against going to school, however it is much nicer to have money flowing in rather than having money flowing out each month. In addition, while I was in school, I always felt that there was more that I could be doing for my classes or something that I should be studying when I was sitting at home which made it difficult to really relax. Now that I have a job working with classified material all of the time, I am simply not allowed to bring my job home with me. Leaving work at work is pure bliss in my book.

My new home is Bremerton. For those of you that have been to Bremerton, you may not consider this much of an upgrade for my hometown. I always liked Bremerton and I still do. I would probably enjoy living in Hawaii more, but Bremerton is better than Pullman in my book. At least here, I can find other middle-aged sailors and ex-sailors to sit around with and bitch about the state of the world. In Pullman, every place that you went was filled with college students, most of whom were much younger than me.

Another big improvement is the weather. If you hate rain, you wouldn't agree with me there, but what I really hate is the cold weather that would be around for so long each year on the other side of the Cascades. Snow is pretty to look at, but beyond that, I don't have much use for it.

I know lots of people like to ski and snowboard. I went skiing a few times when I was younger. I fell down the last time I went skiing. I never thought that falling on my butt would hurt so much. I was bruised for a week and decided I didn't really like skiing.

Another reason I dislike cold weather was a slip and fall while I was walking to the bus stop in Pullman about three years ago. I ended up sliding into a concrete curb and breaking my leg. I will take the drizzle and gray skies of Bremerton over the ice and snow of Pullman any day.

Anyway, my new job and new home are pretty good upgrades over what I had last New Years Eve. I also got a new car. I ended up trading in my old Thunderbird for a new Prius. I like the new car, but the old Thunderbird has gotten me where I needed to go since 1997. I definitely felt a twinge of regret as I traded it in on the new car. I had decided that when the next big repair came up on the Thunderbird, I would be getting a new car.

One day, while I was sitting at a stoplight, my windows started to fog up. I turned on the defogger and had steam shooting out of the vents. I drove straight to the dealer and got my Prius that night. It wasn't too much of a snap decision. I had done some research and talked to a few people that own one, and had known for months that a Prius would be my next car. I do miss the Thunderbird, but it was time for a new car.

All-in-all, most aspects of my life have gotten better in the last year. I hope that everyone else out there had productive and happy years and hope that 2010 brings joy and prosperity to your families. Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shifting Gears

One of the things that I did not really consider when I came to work at the shipyard is how much shift work there would be. Truth is, I was kind of looking forward to working mostly days, but I have probably spent the majority of my time on swings. The last few weeks, I have been working the graveyard shift.

Although I had been looking forward to working days, I found that shift work really hasn't been that bad. There are several factors that I had not considered that make shift work easier as a civilian than as a sailor.

Probably the biggest thing is that the shifts are truly 8 hour shifts for me. I don't have to come in early for a brief and stay late to clean or to talk to the day shift managers about the shift. Granted, this is only true because I am still a trainee. The qualified guys do have to come in a little early to do a pre-shift tour and stay a little late to conduct a proper turnover, but an important difference is that as a civilian, you get paid to work extra hours. Nice. Overtime helps a lot because you get to pick up a little extra pay and management has an incentive to keep you within your normal 8 hour day.

As a nub, I have only had to work overtime a few times, and while I certainly don't want to work weeks and weeks on end without a day off, a few hours of overtime here and there are nice. It is certainly less hours than I would put in while I was sealed in a submarine far underwater for weeks and weeks on end, and I get paid extra for it!

Another thing is shift differential. I get paid a little extra for each hour that I put in between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. This isn't a huge amount of money, but it gives me a little extra money in my pocket every few weeks.

All in all, shift work is a lot better as a civilian than as a sailor. Working graveyard shift while the weather is gloomy here in the Pacific Northwest isn't so bad either, since the nights have been only a little darker than the days for the last few weeks. Might not be so great in the summer.

I will be shifting gears again after I finish work in the morning and coming back on days. Just in time for Christmas.

I sincerely hope that everyone out there has a Merry Christmas and that the coming New Year is fantastic for all of you!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sad Day In Washington

Earlier today, just down the road in Lakewood, four police officers were slain in a coffee shop while preparing for their shift.

The murdered police officers from the Lakewood Police Department are Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards. Here is a link to a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of these police officers.

The police in the area are on the lookout for a person of interest, although, at the time of this post, he has not yet been called a suspect. He has a criminal history in Arkansas, where a long prison sentence was commuted by their governor. More recently, six days ago, he was released on bond after being arrested here in Washington for assault on a police officer and child rape charges. Read about him here.

This comes just a month after a police officer, Timothy Brenton, was assassinated on Halloween in Seattle. Tragic days for those that Protect and Serve.

My condolences to the families and friends of these officers.