And as usual, posting in a timely fashion is no longer my forte. Nevertheless...
"In my day, Sonny, we just said SSDD. Same Shit, Different Deployment."
I understand that today's pampered sailors refer to the day-in-day-out, 24/7/365 tedium of deployment as "Groundhog Day," lifting the daily do-over meme from the now-culturally iconic 1993 movie.
Of course there's nothing pampered about today's sailors. That was just me in "salty old curmudgeon" character. The American men and women who go down to the sea in ships these days have a number of things that "we" never had, and I imagine many of them provide momentary respite from the grinding tedium of deployment. However, when they zone back in from Angry Birds or email or the latest so-called motion picture, they're in exactly the same boat (groan) we were in. They're still on the ship, still away from home, with days and weeks and months of drudgery stretching out behind and ahead, and with a deep unwillingness to think much about a mythical endpoint because there's just too much unrequited longing involved.
And while they have their magical geegaws to play with, they also have to deal with things "we" never did, and they miss out on some of the treasured moments "we" had. In the latter case, I can't imagine how boring and ho-hum mail call must be in the presence of today's electronic communication. They'll never experience the disappointment of getting skunked at mail call, nor the magical endorphin dump prompted by the receipt of a perfumed envelope. And that's a fact.
As an amusing aside, many of the ship's mail clerks suffered significant bouts of nausea brought on by the overpowering stench of clashing cheap perfumes wafting from each newly opened mail bag.
When I think of SSDD today a memory the Flight Deck Battle Dressing Station on Nimitz comes to mind. It's not a single memory, but a mashup of memories revolving around a junior Padre and a young Airman named Lambson. Both were assigned to the BDS as their General Quarters station; Lambson as a stretcher bearer and the young chaplain as, well, a member of the God Squad. Early in the deployment we took to calling Lambson "Lamb-bone," and that's all we ever called him. No particular reason why, just a naval nickname thing. Anyway, at some point the Padre started calling him Lambbone, too, but without the hyphen. It was evident that he thought he was using Lambson's real and proper name. So naturally we required Lambson to never mention his real name and keep the amusing (to us) misunderstanding going.
By today's somewhat psychotic reasoning our actions would be seen as a vicious attack perpetrated upon helpless victims by the representatives of an evil hegemony. Today's sailors probably couldn't imagine participating in that kind of teasing, and I wonder if they have "safe and appropriate" ways of bonding and becoming true shipmates. I hope they do. We denizens of the BDS became very great friends, despite the fact that we were officer and enlisted and each of us came from very different places and had very different backgrounds.
That's the kind of place where you have the opportunity to learn real and important stuff. I think of it as going places and doing things, getting out in the real world with real people and checking out real stuff. It's where you get all your preconceived notions smashed and start to discover the breathtaking beauty of life and experience, how small and limited and ignorant you are, and how wonderful it is to live and learn and grow and cherish amid the chaos and catastrophe of life.
Thanks to everyone who has checked in to ask about Dad and offer up prayers and support. He's still hanging in there and doing better this week. Unfortunately he's in an unforgiving decline due to the disease, but he's still swinging and still finding a bit of quality in his existence. We're draining his abdomen of ascites fluid at home, every other day. He's still getting albumin weekly and taking other meds. I'll (try) to share a more comprehensive update soon.
As for myself, I'm still working out every day and continue to improve my overall fitness. I'm also in the middle of buying more land from the ranch and negotiating lease arrangements.
I'd better post this while I'm here, otherwise it'll never get done.