Rain ruined another Saturday morning; there was only one yard sale and it wasn't worth driving to. The guy was selling religious statuary, so had I been in the market for a BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) statue, then great. Otherwise, no.
Haze gray and underway: This past weekend I became thoroughly engrossed in the ten part, ten hour PBS series Carrier (2008), about life aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz during a 2005 deployment to the Persian Gulf. I have the last hour yet to watch. It's on Netflix streaming video - five stars, easy. It is fascinating! The only downside to this production is the frequently intrusive American Idol style pop songs which get in the way of the dialogue.
There are at least two characters who stand out: Command Master Chief Penton, an enthusiastic, direct, take no guff type who serves as the senior enlisted man aboard ship - in Hollywood terms he steals every scene he's in - and Seaman Garzone, a wiseguy who likes to produce his own videos about shipboard life who has a promising career as a humorist or disk jockey. But there are so many others... a carrier is like a small city - some of the sailors call it a floating high school due to the number of teenage junior enlisted aboard - and each has his or her story, which is, of course, one of the things that make this series so interesting. It's sort of a military soap opera with graphic depictions of the danger and boredom of military life.
One interesting sequence depicts the difficulties of landing a jet aircraft atop a floating runway at night when the runway is pitching and heaving 30 feet or more due to rough seas. I have read that this is the single most difficult and dangerous thing routinely accomplished in our military... and yet, the pilot's fellow squad members are shown in the squad room eating popcorn and watching the jets coming in (or, more frequently, doing a flyby because they hadn't snagged the cable). While the atmosphere is tense, it's also raucous and jolly. There is a very real possibility that the jet could instead hit the sea or the back of the carrier, killing the two man crew (file footage of when this happened in 1994 is shown), but the demeanor of the pilots doesn't suggest this. Amazing sangfroid.
A production of this type should be required viewing for every American because it shows just what is sacrificed and endured in one segment of one branch of the armed forces in the nation's service: impossible Middle East heat on the flight deck, long hours of grueling and dirty manual labor (I wish the producers had shown more of the ship's greasiest, dirtiest jobs), the tedium and boredom of routine, the pressure to excel, home life problems, etc. In fact, one of the great disappointments of the deployment for the crew was that the jet pilots never dropped a single bomb on a target in Iraq, which leads to the inevitable question, "So why were we there?"
And, as is always the case when I watch a film or some production about the U.S. Navy, I get the feeling that I blew it by never spending time serving aboard a ship. Even with the tedium and danger, it seems like such an adventure. (In the past when I've written things like this on my blog my former Navy readers send me e-mails telling me how wrong I am and how much I'd probably hate it. When they do this time I will ask, "But are you sorry you did it? Would you rather have lived your life never having had that experience? I bet the answer is no.)
The yard guy came by on Saturday to give us an estimate on regrading the yard and putting in sod. Our house was built by Van Metre in the 1980's during the local boom, when houses were going up hourly, and they never did the fill properly. Consequently the ground has shifted and fallen; we used to have a 4 inch difference in level between the driveway and the garage pad before we put in a new driveway. So we're looking at having one contractor come by and remove a stump, a weeping willow and its roots, and another to do the regrading and laying down of sod. $$$ Home ownership is a costly pain - but this is an unoriginal observation.
I am now starting a new book, a paperback I found at a yard sale: Life With Groucho by Arthur Marx (Groucho's son). In regard to age, I've used one of Groucho's lines for years: "You're only as old as the girl you feel."
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