Monday, April 28, 2014

Listen up you slimy wogs

All right listen here you disgusting slimy wogs,

My name's Kevin, and I write you from USS WAYNE E. MEYER, a US Navy
destroyer currently just getting started on a lengthy deployment in
the Pacific. I'm new to the Navy- I showed up to the ship two days
before we deployed a month ago- so I don't have loads of sea stories,
but I've figured a little bit out.

So what does the US Navy do on deployment? We spend a lot of time
training- far more than I would have guessed prior to coming aboard.
Damage control scenarios, man overboard scenarios, practice gun
shoots, briefs, and constant, non-stop flights by the helos embarked
for the length of the deployment- it makes for a pretty busy schedule!
But we're out here to perform a variety of missions- to reassure our
allies of our commitment to the region, help keep the sea open for
international trade, respond to any crises slash natural disasters
that might arise, and more- so we have lots of training to do to be
prepared.

Anyway, as one of King Neptune's newest trusty shellbacks, I figured I
ought to teach you a bit about the ways of the Order of Neptune. You
see, when ships cross the Equator (as we did recently en route to
Tahiti), King Neptune, along with Davy Jones and the rest of his royal
retinue, always drops by to ensure the crew is worthy to serve him as
honorable shellbacks. The specific steps of this process are not
rightly sent out in an email to thousands of people, but it involves
the slimy pollywogs (that's you) dressing up to entertain the crew's
trusty shellbacks with song and dance. The next day the wogs are up
early to enjoy a special nautical breakfast, and then they must be
"cleansed" of their sliminess before their presentation to King
Neptune.

Charlie Darwin himself crossed the line aboard the HMS Beagle in his
journeys south to do big science, and the ships' captain, Robert
FitzRoy, shared in his journal a neat little rhyme describing the
ceremonies:

Deep was the bath, to wash away all ill;
Notched was the razor—of bitter taste the pill.
Most ruffianly the barber looked—his comb was trebly nailed—
And water, dashed from every side, the neophyte assailed

Indeed! (As the rhyme suggests, crossing the line ceremonies have
traditionally involved some pretty serious hazing. Today's Navy does
things differently of course, and it was interesting to see how the
sanctioned events attempt to maintain the tradition while ensuring
safety and a lack of hazing.)

That's all I've got to share for now- if you have any of your own sea
stories, or questions about the Navy, or just want to say hello, shoot
me an email! And especially if you reside in San Diego- that's where
I'll be when the ship's not deployed, and I'm always up to meet new
friends. Especially if you speak Arabic.

Best,


Kevin Donahue
misterdonahue[AT]gmail.com
San Diego, CA

A quick p.s.: if you are looking for a good charity, might I recommend
the Collateral Repair Project, an organization located in Amman,
Jordan, that helps some of the country's many Syrian and Iraqi
refugees by providing for basic needs like food and household goods.
The number of refugees, particularly given the ongoing conflict in
Syria, is really overwhelming, and it's a very worthy cause!

A quicker p.p.s: If you are looking for a book, Lawrence in Arabia, by
Scott Anderson, is a good read. T.E. Lawrence was a pretty sweet dude.

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