March 2012 Archives

In What Universe?

» I lived in Florida for nearly a year. It was the first place that the Navy sent me .. after prying me away from mom's apron strings in Connecticut. I was 18 (close to Trayvon's age) and Florida is where the military sent me for bootcamp (.. via Amtrak, 1-way, 2-day trip).

Sanford, FloridaSix months later I RETURNED to Florida to attend the Navy's [ Holy plutonium, Batman! ] Nuclear Power school (.. in Orlando).

After I got out of the Navy some 6 years later [at EAOS], I again returned to Florida .. to visit an ex-shipmate who I'd previously lived with on the North Shore of Oahu (.. in a shack on the beach in Waialua).

"Come on down," he roared. "You'll LOVE it here!" (He was a Brooklyn boy who could talk anybody into anything.)

Seeing it was the dead of winter, and the rest of the country was freezing their babushkas off, I hopped on a plane and headed south, spening another month or two down there.

[ Takes time .. a while .. to re-orientate yourself back into civilian life. Not easy. I found it a formidable challenge .. and nobody even SHOT at me.

In other words, I think our military needs a REST .. after more than a decade of fighting two wars on the other side of the planet. I mean, come on .. isnt it obvious?

Our government wants our military to be more disciplined, yet they themselves have none. ]

I did however, love it down there in Florida, and was shown a great time.

So Florida is where I went to re-orientate myself back into the civilian world .. with a small part of the world's best ex-military support group (.. who had already experienced the transition and understood its psycho-dynamics) .. to try and screw my head on straight .. and grow my hair long again.

So I like Florida. The good-sized waves at Daytona Beach, the cool-sounding name of Cocoa Beach, the Disney World buzz of Orlando, the "on vacation" attitude of Ft. Lauderdale ..

Florida map.. especially the tropical feel in Tampa & St. Petersburg, and the bathtub-warm murky waters of the entire Gulf coast (.. before the spill, anyway).There was no part I did not enjoy. Even Ocala horse country.

Tho I never made it down to the Keys, I believe I could someday retire there.

It's definitely the FLATTEST state I've ever lived in. Great state if you like to bike .. cuz there's not a hill to be found anywhere.

Takes a little getting used to the humidity. Sitting at sea-level means that much of the the state is a swamp (.. called the Everglades).

It's a state where .. in the span of 20 minutes you can go from beautiful blue skies to a torrential downpour and back to sunny skies again .. with the wet pavement STEAMING in the hot sun before it's dry again. Can you say sauna?

[ You learn to wait, and not make a mad dash for it, where the faster you run, the wetter you get. Because, by the time you get there, the rain has stopped. ]

And then there's the BUGS. Florida has more bugs than any other state I've been to. Cockroaches thrive there. The mosquitoes have been known to carry off cattle. Alligators think nothing of taking a dip in your swimming pool.

Sanford, FloridaThe Feel You Get Living in Florida

Now every state has its own distinct 'feel' .. its own unique flavor, its own particular characteristics .. which you might not be able to appreciate until you've LIVED there a while. (At least, that's how it was for me.)

And I could certainly wax verbose here and talk at great length on the subject .. and maybe things have since changed .. but suffice to say that the #1 'feeling' I got from Florida .. while living there ..

.. was that THIS was a place where they » LET YOU DO YOUR OWN THING .. which is one of the reasons why I liked Florida, and one of the reasons why my buddy decided to settle there .. after globe-trotting for 6 years with the Navy. (In other words, they stay out of your business.)

[ By contrast, California (like the Feds) tries to get involved in every little aspect of your life. I have LIVED, btw, in ~ a dozen different states, and visited many more, which gives me a variety of points of reference from which to compare & contrast. ]

So while I *am* surprised about the Trayvon Martin shooting by George Zimmerman (4-weeks ago today), and by the SPECIFICS of the case, I'm not surprised that it happened in Florida.

I mean, the Stand-Your-Ground law, which the authorities cite as justification for the shooting, sounds a whole lot like » "You folks go ahead and take care of whatever business you need to take care of .. and call us only if you really need us." Does it not?

Now, many people have already commented on this tragedy at length, so I wasnt sure that I was going to comment myself .. which is why I waited a month. (No sense in duplicating what others have already said.) So I'll get right to the point.

» Have a special treat for you today. Brought along my camera this week to grab some WINTER photos of Corona del Mar (« part of Newport Beach) .. to complement the SUMMER shots I posted last July (.. which've started to become popular with search engines).

Main Beach (Big Corona) viewed from 2901 East Shore Ave - Fire-ring removal, CdMBy pure chance there happens to be an interesting conflict (.. as of Wednesday, the 14th of March) .. regarding the FIRE-RINGS (which I've always referred to as fire-pits).

Anyway, the City Council voted (unanimously!) to have them REMOVED. And here I come with my camera.

The officially floated claim is that the SMOKE from the fires presents a HEALTH HAZARD.

But the people with whom I spoke while strolling along the bluff .. both young & old (.. "Hey, are those the FIRE-PITS down there that the city wants to remove?" ) ..

.. all say the real reason, they feel .. is due to (as one lady put it) » "the element" .. that comes to the beach at night. One guy came right out and said the word » "Mexicans". But the City Council cant very well come out and say » "We dont want Mexicans coming to our ritzy neighborhood at night."

Main Beach Access Big Corona, CdM & Fire-ringsContrasting "the Element" with the Beauty

Now, there is certainly a RICH landscape of issues & implications we could discuss here. I hardly know where to begin. First thing, I guess, should be to drop a link to the PHOTOS .. so you know what & where I'm talking about.

But first let me ask .. does this "decision" not seem SYMBOLIC .. of our nation's current turmoil .. in which the Have-Nots continue to get their asses kicked? You know it does (.. which is why you're still reading).

The really sad thing here .. is that the people who MOST enjoy the beach at night in summer .. are the kids. And when the economy is sukking (for working-class parents), the beach offers low-cost recreation for the entire family.

» Maybe I shouldnt say anything .. but I had a dream last night .. that Jimmy Carter had died .. and that the nation was all watching on TV the traditional ceremony for a passing president.

Jimmy Carter, 39th POTUSThis struck me as odd, cuz I normally never think about Jimmy Carter .. unless he's on TV or in the news for some reason, which is not very often.

Never read any of his books (.. nor had much of a desire to). I like him all right now, and have even come to respect him for his philanthropic humanitarian projects, but I cant say I thought he was our best president.

The last time I saw Jimmy Carter was when he was on TV .. where he was helping to build a house for some family that couldnt afford a home ..

.. and he looked pretty darn healthy to me .. like he could kick my ass (.. without breaking a sweat). So I have no reason to believe there's anything wrong with his health.

» Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the nuclear reactor meltdown(s) at Fukushima in Japan. By the way, Peter Kim sent me a link to the following 2-minute animated video he assembled, titled » Japan: One Year Later (.. looking for feedback). You might enjoy it. I was impressed. Surprisingly artistic.

Having spent much of my adult life working 'round REACTORS of one type or another [ .. both military & civilian reactors, both boiling-water reactors (yuk) & pressurized-water reactors (sweet) .. both Westinghouse & General Electric reactor plant designs ] ..

International Radiation Warning Sign.. at a handful of nuclear plants on both the East & West coasts ..

.. as a migrant nuclear worker of sorts (.. selling my body's federally allowed radiation exposure as a Rad-Whore for Rad dollars) ..

.. in positions both technical & supervisory .. both staff & line ..

.. I posted (you might recall) 4 entries, commenting on the disaster:

  1. Nuclear Reactor Meltdown at Fukushima in Japan (13.March.2011)
  2. Nuclear Spent Fuel Pools DRY at Fukushima (17.March.2011)
  3. Nuclear Grade Sushi from Fukushima (09.April.2011)
  4. Radiation Exposure & Biological Damage (10.April.2011)

.. where I tried to take you INSIDE a reactor plant (.. the way the Godfather takes you inside the Mafia).

These 4 entries are contained and grouped together in their own category, titled » Fukushima. I received lots of mail about those entries, so I know how much you guys enjoyed them.

I have been following developments since .. including results of recent reports published by various agencies .. and the thing I am most struck by ..

.. is how SCREWED UP everybody was. I mean, Japan is normally known for having its technical shit together. Meticulous attention to detail.

The word "chaos" was used to describe all involved parties. This includes not only plant operators at TEPCo (.. which we already knew about).

Nuclear reactor spent fuel cell being moved in a spent fuel pool (of water)But also Japan's nuclear regulatory agency. And even up to and including their Highest Levels of Government. All were freaked out of their minds.

In the 3rd entry that I posted, the one titled » Nuclear Grade Sushi from Fukushima, I made the following comment (.. yeah, a year ago, a month into the crisis):

"It says bad things about management at Tokyo Electric (TEPCo) and reveals a loss of control. I see confusion, disorientation. Bad decisions.

I was kinda kidding before when I said the nuclear motto was » "dilution is the solution to pollution." TEPCo apparently takes that seriously."

I remember writing that .. because is was so FOREIGN to my own nuclear experience. I remember feeling sad for them. For the whole nuclear industry, in general. Could see back then they were (obviously) making bad decisions .. I just didnt know WHY.

See .. my experience is .. the military trains you well .. so well (.. too well, one could argue) .. by running countless DRILLS on your ass .. night and day .. to the point that you eventually become like a MACHINE.

I'm talking about AFTER you finish all your OTHER training, both classroom & prototype, where they train you on a real live reactor plant, and AFTER you arrive at the Fleet .. reporting for duty aboard an actual nuclear-powered weapon of mass destruction.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River in New York» Automatic Machine-like Response Mode

As a result, responses to emergencies take you (.. in a finger-snap) into a sort of AUTOMATIC response mode. Difficult to describe, but the feeling is deeply ingrained. (Still.)

If you've watched any of the Bourne series of movies (.. starring Matt Damon) .. Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum .. you have an idea of how this works. In the movie, Bourne (Damon) is surprised himself .. at/by his own responses.

A guy touches him on the shoulder .. next thing you know, bodies are laying all over the ground around him .. moaning and writhing in pain. At the same time, he doesnt even know who he is .. doesnt even know his own name .. cant recall his past. So how is he able (he must be wondering) to kick so much ass?

The link/thread shared in common between Jason Bourne & your friendly neighborhood Nuclear Warrior » intense, focused long-term military training.

I am certainly no Kung-Fu master .. but that automatic-response conditioning .. is very familiar .. such that you DONT EVEN HAVE TO THINK. It's like you become "one with" the the reactor plant. (Zen-like.) You can "feel" it .. intuitively.

And let me tell you, while they are running all these freaking DRILLS on your ass .. you get so damn tired of them. They become so BORING. Drills .. day after day after day .. after day.

And you KNOW that these drills are not real emergencies. So you have to IMAGINE .. that the reactor is really melting down (.. or whatever happens to be blowing up today).

And this makes everything so .. fake. And all these "monitors" are standing around you (.. with their clipboards) .. and writing down every time you scratch your butt. They take everything so seriously .. as if the reactor really were melting.

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