Burial at Sea 
Tuesday, June 6, 2006, 08:47 PM
Collateral duties are the bane of any junior officer's (JO) existence. The JO passdown generally consists of a dumping a vast quantity of unorganized folders, paperwork, files, and large binders on your relief with the admonishment "good luck." I was browsing through some of the items my roommate received in his passdown, when I came across a package the ship had sent out, but that had come back with RTS written on it in red. The sticker on it indicated "Signature required delivery: no one to accept." The address was an apartment building, so it's very possible he had moved. The package was already open, and inside was a framed letter, a DVD, and some shell casings. From the letter:
The remains of your father, the late Jacobus Van Slooten, were comitted to sea today in the Pacific Ocean as per your request.

The burial at sea ceremony took place on the ship's deck on May 9, 2005 at 10:30 a.m. The National Ensign was lowered to half-mast and a segment of the ship's company was mustered. The ship's Executive Officer was the military commander of the ceremony and the Chief of the Boat recited the committal. The Lay Leader performed the religious ceremony. The ship's Chief Petty Officers served as the Honor Platoon.

We have enclosed a copy of the ship's log which includes the ship's position at the time of the interment, a chart displaying the location, a DVD of the ceremony, a CD of ceremony pictures, and shells from the 21 gun salute...
It makes me sad to think that the son never received any confirmation of the dignified way in which his father was put to rest.

I have to get up for watch at 3 a.m., and really should be asleep right now.
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Quote 
Tuesday, June 6, 2006, 01:35 AM
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time:
from bash.org
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Underway 
Monday, June 5, 2006, 12:28 PM
We're underway again, so you should expect entries to become more frequent. I've been absolutely dreading this moment for the past week, but the more I think about it the less worried I am. Now that I'm fully qualified I should step into the underway routine more easily. More than anything, I simply regret missing the opportunity to hang out with some of the good people I've been spending time with recently. The past two or three weeks have been awesome.

The underway EOW rotation is 1 in 4, and I've got the darkside 1 in 4s (4-8, 20-24, 16-20). Hopefully Erin will get qualified soon and move up in the rotation.
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Alaska 
Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 11:28 AM
I suppose I should mention now that I'm being shipped off to Alaksa. USCGC Mellon was kind enough to break down, meaning that instead of leaving for South America on June 20, we've been given the opportunity to leave for Alaska on June 5. USCGC Hamilton, the PACAREA unit of the year that only recently recovered from being welded to the pier, just finished their 40 day patrol. After completing one boarding and conducting a single SAR mission (for one of their own crew) they decided they'd done enough work for the year and headed home. It's cool though, because we'll cover the slack and make a full three month patrol.
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No Longer A Student 
Friday, May 12, 2006, 02:47 PM
I sat down in my apartment today to take a practice exam for the GMAT. I quickly realized that in addition to not having a clear workspace to do this, I lacked the basic necessities. I had to search through my apartment, and many of the items I never unpacked from almost a year ago, to locate basic things like a pencil to write with and clean paper to write on. Things that I once considered absolute essentials, I have apparently been able to live months without needing at home.

I think I'm going to close this entry before an overwhelming nostalgia for my student/cadet days overtakes me.
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From the Decider 
Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 08:31 AM
This was just too funny to pass up:
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
(From 2004, while approving a defense spending bill.)

Oh, and when Hu Jintao visited the White House for his official state visit, they refered to China as "Republic of China," instead of "People's Republic of China." Republic of China is the formal name for Taiwan.
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Unfit For Polite Conversation 
Thursday, April 20, 2006, 01:00 PM
The California Supreme Court just unanimously rejected a lawsuit by a woman named Amaani Lyle, who claims her crude work environment amounted to sexual harrasement -- even though none of the remarks were directed at her. She was a writer's assistant for the writers of Friends, and was forced to put up with their dirty jokes late into the night as her job consisted of writing down everything they said. In my opinion the case was a bunch of BS from the start (she filed suit after being fired, and intially tried to babble about racial discrimination), but it raised some important issues regarding the line between free speech and sexual harassment.

As someone else put it: "Yeah, cause I know if *I* got a job typing dialogue for a show like Friends, I'd expect to be typing knock-knock jokes and b-i-i-i-g hugs."

I'm just glad nobody gets to hear what we say in the engine room. Never before have I heard such filthy, lengthy discussions as occur during a late night watch.
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Democracy 
Thursday, April 20, 2006, 11:44 AM
There was an opinion piece in The New York Times that commented on the alleged excessive power of the Israeli lobby. Quite frankly, I'm tired of hearing people say that the United States is unfairly pro-Israel and that "there has been a cock-eyed failure in the U.S. to understand the plight of the Palestinians." What everyone seems to ignore is the most obvious fact: it is natural for the United States to partner with fellow democracies. Israel is the only stable democracy in the Middle East. All the Arab states, with the exception of Palestine, are ruled by an authoritarian government. The Palestinians, whose "democracy" has institutionalized corruption, are currently led by a terrorist organization whose stated goals include murdering as many women and children as possible. Despite what everyone says, Israel has never deliberately targeted innocent civilians. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have elected murders to lead them. I'm sorry if I can't sympathize with that line of thinking.

There's one other line I need to comment on: "the fact that an Israeli soldier's great-grandmother died in Treblinka will not excuse his own misbehavior." When you throw rocks at a man holding an M-16 and are then shot, the only tragedy is that someone of such colossal stupidity was born into the world. I'm not an evolutionist, but those who are should simply be glad for yet another example of natural selection in action.

NYT
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At Work 
Wednesday, April 19, 2006, 08:22 AM
They're doing some grinding/cutting work on the deck directly above me. It sounds like the entire metal fabrication shop has relocated to a new location right next to my stateroom. This is making it very difficult to get any work done, not to mention sleep.
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Let's Talk About Blogs 
Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 08:43 PM
If you're bored easily, skip this entry. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I use something called Simple PHP Blog to power the backend of my webpage. In fact, it's a fairly complete solution, meaning I had to do very little other than select the color scheme and the masthead. I simply extracted the files into the directory on my web server, followed the instructions on a couple installation pages that held my hand through an astonishingly simple process, and PRESTO had a real blog. It was almost as easy as setting up my livejournal account, but gives off a much more professional image.

Apparently there's also a popular solution out there called Movable Type that is used by quite a few professionals. Note by professionals I don't mean web design professionals or computer people, but people who are fairly serious (and are taken fairly seriously) about blogging. Appearance-wise, the two are very similar. The biggest difference I have been able to discover is that Simple PHP Blog is free, while Movable Type costs money. I'm also not sure how Movable Type stores entries (from what I understand it stores them in a database), but Simple PHP Blog simples stores them as text files that are read in by the php scripts.

The great part about this is that even though I'm fairly proficient in HTML, CSS, know enough php to get by, and am fairly good with flash, I didn't need any of those skills. Blogging is no longer dominated by computer people who wrote the scripts for their own blog. I get the impression that bothers some people. (Side note: I don't undestand what's going on with the entry ratings. There seem to be a lot of votes, but I'm not sure if that's from web scripts crawling through my page, or people actually voting. You'd think with that many people voting there would be more comments.)

I originally discovered Simple PHP Blog from Ana Marie Cox (who has twice changed the location of her blog, both times breaking all previously-existing links). She rather quickly transitioned over to Movable Type; her new page even credits a design firm with whatever work was necessary to set the blog up. I'm bringing this all up, because there's at least a small number of people who don't like MT. MT's open-comment system, as well as the one this blog uses, easily opens itself up to abuse as some people have noted and discovered.

While some people hate MT because they don't like the interface, a lot of the anger is because there are simply too many blogs, which quickly translates into too much competition and too much to read. Because while some people sit back and sigh "I can't read everyone's blog I want to" other because rage because nobody is reading what they write.

As a final note I'm now back on land and internet pages don't take two minutes each to load over our exceptionally slow and horribly expensive sattelite connection. The direct result of this is that I will be tracking a lot more news sources and blogs. Don't be surprised if you see links to places other than NYT, AMC, and MM.
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