A Cargo of Jargon From Days of Yore

blog 001 The other day I saw a coworker bring in a tater-sack sized bag of cheese puffs. Good Gravy! That was enough gedunk to last a whole year!

Gedunk: Snacks. I my experience, there was a vending machine amidships that typically only had licorice coins and Near Beer left by the time I got there. By the end of the cruise, even that was gone. I’m not big on gedunk, never have been. At least not since I was a kid and got excited over Cracker Jacks. They have a sailor on the logo, you know, in his uniform with the Dixie Cup hat. That spiffy outfit is called Cracker Jacks. Which came first?

I needed to ask a technical Manager something. She was out for a week. I went to her blog 002next-in-command. Not around. They had travelled to Europe for training. Now, I do most of my training online. However I learned their trip would coincide with a City Fair. Our company has a facility there, so our folks would not party alone. Good times had by all, no doubt.

Boondoggle: A trip taken ostensibly for a good and righteous reason, but sure to be filled with music and beer on the side. An expert Boondoggler returns with a Certificate for whatever he went for and brags that all he did was take an open book test on the first morning. He has bloodshot eyes, eats Tylenol and scratches himself frequently.

I sometimes need to check a large piece of storage equipment for sanitary conditions. Part of this check is climbing inside and using special swabs to test for leftover organic material. On occasion, I find there is no reason to waste to pricey swabs. June 13 002Sometimes the equipment needs a really good Navy swabbing to get up the kaka and standing water inside.

Swab: To mop, or at least move a mop side to side artistically as one walks, taking one’s sweet time. This a commonly seen person on the ship as the Swabbie roams from Fore to Aft on all of the outside decks.

June 13 008The other night I worked diligently on my studio cleaning and organizing project. This included moving many heavy items more than twice…had to get it all in the right spot. I banged my noggin on one of the steel rail industrial shelves I use as bookshelves. I thought, “I hit the rack!”

Hit the Rack: One of the cots stacked three high and four across in a berthing (sleeping) space, with a tiny pillow and a rough wool blanket, is your rack. Each cot lifts on a backside hinge to reveal personal item storage space. To get out of the cot and prop it up for inspection is called tricing up and may require balancing on a vertical ladder or June 13 001waiting for the slowpoke below. When you hear “Reveille, reveille! Heave out and trice up! Reveille!” you’d better get moving for quarters (not money, it’s the morning meeting where you get to stand at attention and sweat over whether you put your shirt on right side out). Gently rubbing my bumped forehead, I simply noted the very late time (late-thirty) and decided to hit my own rack, much more comfortable than the cots of yore.

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The Netherlands, Happy Memories

We have lots of Dutch genes in our family and I always wanted to go to Holland. My Sci-Fi series stars Elise t’Hoot, a Dutch girl escaping from calamity that destroyed her family, then winds up with a relative in rural Kentucky. Frustrated with college problems, she signs onto a military colony ship…headed to check on colony planets. Memories of her Dutch home sustain her through many tribulations and razor-close calls. So you see, I’ve had the Netherlands on my mind for quite a while.

Elise’s Mother was a renowned horticulturist:

Holland Ke canal garden Holland Ke Keukenhof ticket Holland Ke parrot tulips on water Holland Ke tulip pot wall

Holland 406 Holland 419

Elise’s Father worked at the huge sea gates that protected lowland Holland from the wrath of the stormy ocean:

Holland Nelltje JansHolland NJ sea wall Holland NJ great sea wall    Holland NJ seawall detail

We had a wonderful trip, three glorious weeks! One cannot go there without visiting the iconic windmills…they don’t figure in my stories but how can I show Dutch photos without them?

Holland 107 Holland 110 Holland 112 Holland 117

Navy Days – Danger on the High Seas!

I happened to see a post about a sailor from my old ship saying the USS Dixon had a severe corrosion issue. No kidding! I remember the ship being caught in Pacific storm that busted a hole in the hull.
We were on a Western Pacific 6 month cruise out of San Diego California. I had met the ship in Honolulu, the first port of call. I was directly out of Nuclear Power School and had never been on a ship before…what an experience. Not being at sea, but being on a ship full of crazed sailors! Command wouldn’t let them off the ship the first day, so when I arrived they were in a frenzy. I heard that ‘the ship was welded to the pier’ ‘We would never go on Westpac’ so many times, but somebody must have changed his mind because I met it in Hawaii, already underway.
Cabin June 2015 063
I toured Oahu with some of the guys from my Division and they treated me to my first hard liquor, a Tiki Liki (souvenir cup in the header) from Trader Vic’s…Gee Wiz, enough of that!
The Dixon had a rounded hull, as it was a repair ship and we needed all available space for machinery and supplies for fixing up the submarines at sea. After Hawaii, we went to the Philippines, a whole book in itself. From there we had to cross the mighty South Pacific to reach Australia, passing through the Straits of Malacca at night to see the lights of Singapore. Far from any island, we rammed smack into a vicious storm, with swells so high all you could see was a midnight blue wall of water all around, electrified with thick and close lightening bolts; could be terrifying unless you were brave and stalwart like me.
We would ride a swell up, the entire ship would rise from the water and  shudder (yes, actually shudder) from prow to stern, then whammo ! We bammed down, over and over. Then suddenly it felt like a detonation. All our guts fell to our boondockers (boots). Alarms! Flashing lights! All hands shut those watertight hatches! Run Dammit! The ship was sinking! Honestly, I never found myself worrying. There was only one other person I knew on the ship of 1300 that wasn’t barfo seasick, and we went around with forks asking green sailors for the big chunks. We passed the word around the Psychic Jean Dixon had predicted a ship with her name on it would sink.  It’s a wonder one of them didn’t throw us overboard.
USS Dixon and Subs
USS Dixon AS–37, with the SSN Gurnard and SSN Pintado

Right after the storm they put divers over the side to keep us from actually sinking, with guys aiming rifles at them, ready to kill the hungry Great Whites. They put an emergency patch over the gaping rusted hole so we could carry on.

The ship laid on it’s side all the way to Sydney, where they wouldn’t let us dock close because we couldn’t confirm or deny the presence of nukes. I loved Rushcutter Bay where I had fish and chips for the first time. Maybe I should write a book on all this?

Cool Stuff From JPL and NASA!

enceladus-small51pegasib-smallearth-small

NASA and JPL have a very neat set of travels posters for Solar System and Interstellar vacation destinations at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/

You can download these as poster-quality PDFs!

ceres is one on the menu, a nice one.

If you download a poster, you’ll come to this screen that has more goodies.

http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/exoplanettravelbureau#Kepler16b

I used Planet Quest by JPL often when researching for the first book in my Elise t’Hoot series; I wanted to get the latest facts on the exoplanets. FYI, exoplanets are the worlds that orbit suns not our own and it’s amazing how many they’re found. They have lots if the latest news on planets, asteroids, satellites, space, and have many helpful pictures to illustrate the concepts. Now they have lots of interactive stuff as part of the “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”.

All the pictures for this post are from the NASA JPL s1te, I hope you try it out and have fun!

Amish Market, Anyone?

I have a sister that lives in a podunk little town in Pennsylvania. While Ma lived there, I drove or flew up on occasion. Seeing family is great, but the town is moribund. The big deal is the Wal-Mart, right. Except for me.

Cabin June 2015 073The Amish market there sprawls across a mini-mall sized lot. It has all manner of furniture on one side. The other side specializes in baking needs. I ALWAYS spend a gob of time and a wad of cash in there! Specialty flours, dried fruits, various sweeteners, a cornucopia of spices and more. I admit I go overboard and still have buckwheat flour from three years ago. You can see I have my (self-made) shelves loaded, and I use most all of it. I did get semolina flour to make pasta and haven’t even attempted it yet.

I have to go on a business trips to Wisconsin every year or so. Last year, my host hooked me up with the local Amish Store and I left with a big ball of butter among my usual haul of local cheeses. Yum and a half! They say there’s one south east of here. I drove all over the place and saw buggies but no store. I shall keep an eye out where ever I go because they are great!

Other than that, yes I did got to the cloth store though I have an Everest stack of sewing projects already. I got stuffDownload 090915 017 that was originally $20 -$25 a yard or item at 60% to 80% off PLUS a blanket 25% off my entire purchase!  My theory is when receiving a huge discount, get the pricey stuff. I would not splurge on the expensive fabrics otherwise, and some are very beautiful. I would rather save $10 than 10 cents!

Ma will have a new long sleeved, floor length fleece nightgown so when the one I made her last month is in the laundry, she’ll have a back-up. She also gets a blue paisley flouncy skirt of rayon, floor length do she can wear long johns under it. I can knock those out in an afternoon. For me I got a slate blue cotton-poly blend, very nice, that I’ll use a Vogue pattern with. I got a few yards of dark brown long fur because I downloaded those stuffed animal patterns from Pinterest a few days ago…I shall make a big dog with moveable legs. We’ll see what the cats think of that! No pictures yet, I’ll get some this weekend.

Speaking of pictures, hover over most pictures and the Pin It icon now shows up! Except this post, I have no idea why not. Try on some of the other recent posts, I think the work there.

They Took Pictures!

Vision to Share from the New Orleans Trip

Some folks may know I wrote and essay on vision care a while back and won a trip to New Orleans with Ma, the subject of the essay. I got this VSP Production (click the link above) in my mailbox Wednesday morning, wow! I knew they had guys with cameras roaming about but thought it was all over by now. By the way, I made the clothes Ma and I are wearing.

On another note, I made a big mistake…I looked at the special offer from Midwest Brew Supplies. They have fully set-up tandem Cornelius kegs with independent dispensing! I bottle all mine, I do not need this, repeat, I DO NOT NEED THIS! If they were Pony kegs instead of Cornies I would not be able to resist as I have an 80’s vintage cabinet-style small keg cooler. We used it for Bass Ale and Felonfoel (sp) Welsh Ale. Would not having my own ales in it be snazzy!

Ornament Clip

Christmas decorations!
Cabin spider 2Oops, this is a Black Phase Rabid Wolf Spider in my Kitchen sink. These are great guys, good pest predators. This was a big fella, and he stayed a few days  before disappearing to who knows where. I love the black tarantula look. They jump fast, too. We always wear shoes in the house.

Now, where the Dickens did the Christmas decorations go? Here we are! That multicolored thing draped across is a scarf Ma crocheted for me decades ago. I have worn it every

Christmas Lights

Christmas, but the last couple years it has done double duty as décor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gatormania!

NOLA Vacation 023One reason I was so jazzed about going to New Orleans was the prospect of seeing ALLIGATORS! I’d already done a Swamp Tour there and an Everglades kayak tour a couple years ago, so my focus this time was the gators in town.

Here’s one at the Tourist Information place in the French Quarter. He’s the Master of Brochures.

One might think this is a terrible thing to do to a living creature, however I got over that by reasoning that there are a zillion gators and NOLA Vacation 022if the locals couldn’t make money off of them, they would exterminate them as dangerous reptilian menaces. Hence Swamp Tours, purses, boots, barbecues and storefront greeters. The fame of gators helps conserve them and their habitat, and the habitat is continually at risk.

This Praline Guardian is certainly an eye catcher.

Check this out:

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I’ve had a gator-fixation for quite a while. It started with a really hectic day at work; I felt I had gators on my butt all day. One thing led to another. I painted this 6 ft wide floor cloth. In this one, the gators get revenge by luring tourists with beach umbrellas. There’s a row of cars parked to the left, but where did the people go? I assure you it looks better in person.

Gator Floorcloth

 

 

Gator Poster 001
copyright 2007 Niall Benvie/Nature Picture Library

And as a constant reminder of the perils I face here at work, this poster hangs directly in front of me, forever in mid-slurp.

 

 

Whirlwind New Orleans!

NOLA Vacation 011Ma and I got back from New Orleans Saturday, nigh onto midnight. It was a quick trip, but lots of fun. Wednesday night, we were treated to a fancy dinner in the French Quarter, at Muriel’s. The Grilled Puppy Drum (fish, not canine) with toasted pecan and cracked caper dressing in a gruyere sauce was delectable. And ooh-la-la, Crème Brulee afterwards.

The next day we worked the vision clinic all day. I helped folks fill out the complicated forms most if the NOLA Vacation 006time, then switched to helping them pick out their frames. In the end, we gave 353 people free eye exams and on-the-spot glasses courtesy of the VSP lab in the van out back. Tiring but wonderful!

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Ma, with the Prize-Worthy Glasses

Friday, the only full day we had on our own, started at Café du Monde for beignets followed by a Natchez steamboat trip down the Mississippi and back, with a jazz band serenade. Shop, shop, souvenir, French Market, walk, walk, look, look, pralines, t-shirts, gator hats.

I had intended to end the evening at a Cajun club for dinner and zydeco but on the way, we stumbled upon a stage sitting right smack in the middle of Decatur Street. Turns out we’d happened on the  Frank’s Italian Ristorante 50th anniversary celebration; soon the quirky Rock ‘n Roll oldies and funnies band captured Mama’s heart. I backed her roller against the curb and soon Frank himself brought us two plates of free food – muffeletas. Ma said yick to that, so I went in and bought a mess of fried oysters for her. You’d though I’d been starving her! I had to treat her right since the story I won the trip with was about her getting glasses…not that I wouldn’t have anyway.

NOLA Vacation 021

 

 

Alas, Saturday’s flight home came far too quickly. Still, we had a blast and loved every minute of it. Now if I could only find some more of that Abita Springs Turbodog ale, hmmm.

NOLA Vacation 009