My Corona! Day 27

img_2447As this unprecedented health event hopefully approaches “curve flattening” – if not it’s true apex – continued uncertainty, a myriad of stressors, and a drastic curtailing of normal life, I am trying to look at some of the positive aspects of Life’s disruption.  This is not always easy, particularly when you wake up each morning wondering if that cough, sneeze, or runny nose means anything.

Just allergies, I think/hope/pray.

The biggest positive is the timing of this COVID-19 crisis in the beginning of Spring.  Here in Southeast Pennsylvania the crocuses are blooming; tulips have already pushed up through the soil and are blooming; and the landscapes are verdant green (assuming of course that you subscribe to Cranky Man’s Lawn’s Program for Lawn Love).  Bought a new lawnmower the weekend before the lockdown hit, and cutting the lawn has been more “fun” than usual!

As this unprecedented health event hopefully approaches “curve flattening” – if not it’s true apex – continued uncertainty, a myriad of stressors, and a drastic curtailing of normal life, I am trying to look at some of the positive aspects of Life’s disruption.  This is not always easy, particularly when you wake up each morning wondering if that cough, sneeze, or runny nose means anything.

I’m hopeful that warmer temperatures and how it entices people outdoors could be a positive effect.  It’s a welcome benefit to spend at least an hour or so each day outdoors when temps and weather permit.

Outdoor exercise is always a benefit when the weather is nice.  Carol and I have been taking semi-regular walks together just to get out and about.  It lifts the spirits a bit and invigorates … important when trying to avoid the potential for anxiety and depression, given the constant media obsession.

AdobeStock_195276899

Try a puppy instead of The Media

Here’s a solution for Constant Media Obsession: Turn off the TV. Get off the internet. I don’t even read the newspaper much anymore. Try NOT reading any corona-related stories and see just how quickly you can read a newspaper!

Let’s face it. Ten minutes of COVID-19 coverage and you know all you need to know. There is no (confirmed) cure, no significant flattening of The Curve (yet), no loosening of the isolation standards.

Back to the positives …

  • Although spending a lot of time with family offers opportunity. Spending quality time – even an inordinate amount – with your children can work with a little creativity and ingenuity. Examples abound on social media.
  • Take advantage of your backyard.

Spent early evenings the previous two days (rain today) on our backyard deck and saw more neighbors than you would normally see, even on the most glorious of Spring Saturdays!

  • Working from home?  I have avoided it up to now, actually enjoying my suburban commute to work and the socializing the office provides.  But there are a few extra benefits to working two flights from the bedroom.  And that’s even as I refuse to work in my PJs!
  • Cannot remember the last time I had to buy gas for the car.
  • With everyone under our roof being home all the time and no eat-in restaurants open, home-cooked meals almost every night. (Disadvantage Carol)
  • People are friendlier. Every time we take a walk or step outside, someone is around getting exercise and fresh air; walking the dog; trying to exhaust their pent-up children; doing outdoor chores, etc. And all seem ready with a smile or a wave.
DCIM/100MEDIA/DJI_0129.JPG

Sunset over Horsham (PA) this evening

They say hard times make tougher people, truer friends, closer families.

What I think is that these difficult times force us all onto a relatively common level of hardship, challenge, and vulnerability.  It strips down the barriers that tend to keep us apart and prevent  interaction.

Take advantage of that!  But only from a safe distance …

 

Ma-ma-ma My Corona! Day 9

The-Knack-My-Sharona-1581713180As this unprecedented health event continues to progress with its uncertainty, stressors, and a drastic curtailing of normal life, I dedicate My Corona – Day 9 to a nameless fellow coworker. Let’s call him Bob.

Bob – on one of our last days in the office – attempted to poke fun at my role as office DJ by asking me why I wasn’t playing the song “My Corona”. I told him – somewhat indignantly – that the song was The Knack‘s “My Sharona“. Little did I know until I checked that there actually was a parody song called “My Corona”.

I took the liberty of previewing it. And my recommendation is to skip it; but I link it here just in case you are not already depressed enough being sequestered like a petulant 3-year-old in “timeout”. Remember you were warned.

.

The following version is a bit better … as in a bit better than being stuck in your house with eight of your offspring all under the age of 6.

.

But this extremely short video is by far the best so far …

.

My obvious point here is that with all the stress, uncertainty, hyper media coverage,  doom and gloom predictions, etc., etc. … it will be our ability to maintain perspective; use common sense; and maybe laugh a little at our human frailty are our best attributes that might just help in getting through all this.

Keep safe. Be smart. Enjoy the time with those most important to you … despite how “scary” that might be.

 

My Corona! Day 6

Yesterday – Day 5 – was my second consecutive day of teleworking from home. A small personal first which included a conference call that set forth NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support official response to the corona virus crisis.

.

For the foreseeable future, I will be tethered to the military-industrial complex via the Ethernet from home. NAVSUP WSS Command initiated its Continuance Of Operation Plans, appropriately named as its acronym describes the status of home-bound hostages, as in “I’m freakin’ COOPed up in this freakin’ house”!

The immediate essentials are the prohibition of employees in the work spaces unless absolutely essential; the continuance of systems and interactions that support US Navy and Marine Corp operations; and the collection of data on things like systems availability and the quality of networking connections. The latter data requirement the product of this event as the first implementation of the COOP.

As one, who never worked a regular telework schedule as a personal preference, this is a big adjustment.  As mentioned yesterday, this will also be a challenge for Carol as well!  

As is my habit, when I leave for work (in this case the basement) I gave her a kiss as I left our bedroom. A bit sleepy and confused she asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to work”, I said.

“You’re a weirdo …” was her loving response!

Love is a many splendored thing!

I leave you today with this observation plagiarized and paraphrased as follows:

“If we go through all of this bullshit (paraphrased part),

and absolutely NOTHING happens to us …

Well, that is the point!”

– a known but forgotten author

My Corona! Day 4

Dear Readers: 

It’s been awhile with some very, very long stretches in between.  My reasons for – in all practical purposes – abandoning the art of blogging are as varied as the random directions my brain-streamings often led me.  The biggest reason, however, is the nagging suspicion that I was – for the most part – talking to myself.

Nothing has really changed … aside from that huge Blanket of Uncertainty now hanging over us and the realization that the Human form is damn fragile!

But it does give me something to write about, even if I’m the only one reading it.

Day 4 is my personal accounting from the first day, Friday – the 13th day of March, when the Most Powerful Navy in the World – semi-officially – told me and those I work with to “Stay the hell home!” (my wording, not theirs)

So here I sit, fretting not so much about the virus, but more so how I might survive another “pre-retirement practice drill” with my loving, private-time-loving spousal unit.  As I’m pretty sure, if this lasts more than a few weeks, death by COVID-19 might be the LEAST of my worries!

I am was a corona virus skeptic. Not skeptical that the virus is real, dangerous, potent, and deadly … I have read enough about pandemics and live with a very experienced registered nurse to know better. More skeptical about the way its presence has been made the focus of hyper-caffeinated media hysteria, the ridiculous conspiracy theories about origins and transmissions, and the public panic which ensued.

I have no doubt this is serious or that The Authorities know more they are not sharing to be taking such drastic public measures. But that will be the last I say about it. My posts here will be more about coping with what is simply – at least for now – a personal inconvenience and intrusion.

I won’t be making light of what’s going on.

OK … maybe a little.

No photo description available.

Until next time …

The Grand Canyon: Fingers of God

There are sights throughout the World one simply must see; and I have many, many more I have yet to experience. This past week we had the opportunity to view one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Arizona’s Grand Canyon!

Our trip, the offshoot from a cross-country family wedding, included stops along scenic Route 66, Tombstone and the OK Corral, and the wild street donkeys of Oatman. These kitschy, curious cultural attractions take a far back seat to the visual wonder of the canyon.

One could be led to believe they can appreciate the awe-inspiring vistas through the magic of modern photography or high-definition documentaries. But the true depth and breadth of beauty and wonder can only be truly appreciated by standing on … uh, near … the rim of the gorge.

Our stay did not allow a trip down into the canyon, which was regrettable as undoubtably an equally incredulous perspective that must be. And from what we learned, they likely wouldn’t have allowed me to overburden some unfortunate burro.

And by the way, it was unseasonably freezing cold for late October, with sunrise mornings reaching lows of 9-18 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course the following week, temps in the mid-60s were expected. Best check the temps and wind forecasts if flexibility allows.

As a first-time visitor, the most impressive aspect is the sheer depths of the canyon, followed closely by the beautiful colors of the canyon walls and the desire to understand how such a desolate, arid – alien planet-like – wonder was created. It makes one feel small, remote and easily overwhelmed.

From a spiritual point-of-view, I was led to wonder what purpose such magnificence might be intended to serve. And yes, I realize as one who is not particularly religious, some may find such thoughts as Purpose to a natural wonder might sound silly or pretentious. And yet, I wonder …

I sometimes hear the expression “the finger of God” often used to express the power and often the devastation of naturally occurring phenomena. To me, my experience on my first view of the Grand Canyon was that of the Fingers of God, creating and shaping a spectacle of nature intended to demonstrate His power and majesty. Reminding Man that he is temporary and peripheral. One who should be mindful of his place and respectful of what was placed here for his benefit and for the benefit of those who follow.

So I leave you with this thought.

No matter whether your higher entity is God in all His glory … or nature or earth or even if science alone defines “purpose” for you, it’s extremely difficult to witness such grandeur without the thought that it exists … was placed here … made available for humanity to witness for some exalted purpose.

Regardless of your views on any of that, the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring experience for which we all must take the opportunity!

Diet by App : The Sequel

For those new to Cranky Man’s Lawn, I embarked on a months-long journey years ago to shed a few a bunch a significant number of El Bees awhile back. I used a weight and health app known as “Lose It!” And was quite successful.

I dropped over 35 pounds, but bad habits and habitual lazi-ass-ness resulted in the reincarnation of those lost El Bees. Not all of them but a significant portion …

Now a surprising 6 years later, I am climbing back on that horse. No heavy equipment needed.

This time around I am not skimping by just using the free features of “Lose It!”. I will – am – paying for the premium plan, which offers a bunch of benefits including the ability to monitor hydration, sleep, health measures, etc.!

Let’s see how this goes ….

Beginning weight: 241.1 lbs.

Target weight: 215 lbs.

Plan:  Lose two pounds a week

Daily Calorie Budget:  1730 per day  

Projected Goal Achievement: December 1, 2019

Weight today:  237.6 lbs. (down 3.5 lbs.)

Lost so far: Mountain Brushtail Possum (Adult 3-4 lbs.)

Meet Australia’s Mountain Brushtail Possum

U.S. Navy Fleet Readiness Center Southwest

One of the more fascinating aspects of my employment within the largest military organization on Earth is the occasional opportunity to peak behind the scenes at the infrastructure that maintains the US Navy and Marine Corp capabilities. Due to a recent assignment to attend a training event held at the Navy’s Coronado, California, I had the chance to learn about a limited facet of Fleet support … The aircraft repair and refurbishment facilities at Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest (commonly referred to as FRC San Diego or North Island).

Note: Nothing discussed here would be considered clearance-required information. The only access granted was perhaps a step above common base access permitted for normal, non-clearance business operations. No photographs were allowed or taken.

Our visit was arranged by my supervisors (NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support) through comparable supervision at the FRC for six visitors, including myself. Our focus was the maintenance of aircraft repairable assemblies, although our organization also deals heavily with shipboard systems.

As we drove to our pre-tour meet ‘n greet, we caught glimpses of the work going on. The most interesting was a hanger area full of older version F/A-18s going through tear downs we learned would lead to de-militarization of the aircraft and disposal through approved de-mil processes. One aircraft – which I think I saw – was a fanciful aircraft in unique painting purportedly used in the remake of Top Gun (i.e. Top Gun 2), serving as Maverick’s (Tom Cruise) ride!

Pretty sure I saw a glimpse of this aircraft in a teardown hanger.

Since the DoD frowns on old components finding their way onto Amazon and e-Bay. Most components are scrapped following the harvest of any special metals used in their original manufacture.

What strikes even the most experienced civilian desk jockey is the lengths in maintenance management, repair and refurbishment, quality artisanship, and exacting process the military services expend in maximizing the service longevity of its aircraft fleet! No small order when one gets the opportunity to see it first hand and dwells on the infinite amount of detail required to make those exacting processes flow.

Of course with operations so involved, so broad in scope, conducted both CONUS (contiguous U.S.) and OCONUS (outside CONUS), across large complex military facilities, not everything is perfect. Flaws develop in handling and processes; material get waylaid, mismanaged, lost; and facilities become disorganized and unimaginably cluttered.

But again, the Services (in my experience The Navy) have adapted to become more reactive and corrective in ensuring the most efficient and effective industrial facilities are available to support the War Fighter. FRC Southwest, for example, recently endured a reorganization and reinvention of its industrial facilities after an audit by a private consultant found much lacking in the efficacy of its operations.

I had been to several commercial defense facilities in my Navy aircraft support experience (e.g. McDonnell-Douglas, Sikorsky). But I had never seen a facility as clean, well-defined, exacting, and organized as the repair and refurbishment operations at FRC Southwest! Even the floors were clean enough to eat off.

Not that I would recommend that …

My own duties at NAVSUP WSS involve Contracting Officer Representative (COR) duties for a program elegantly titled Technical Assistance for Repairable Processing (TARP). This program manages the flow of retrograde material (i.e. used repairables which can be refurbished to like-new condition) from ships and aircraft units scattered all over the globe. These items can be as small as circuit cards to helicopter rotor heads and aircraft engines shipped to and fro in immense protective cans (many designed in part or in whole by coworkers, who labor only feet from my desk).

The point in all of this is to stress the Herculean effort the Services – at least The Navy – undertake to manage – as best as is possible – the service life and availability of crucial components needed by the War Fighter to conduct operations in an increasingly complex, technological world.

Meanwhile, back at FRC Southwest, we viewed F/A-18 wing panels awaiting either refurbishment and reassembly or demilitarization scattered about a huge warehouse/hanger bay in varying states of disrepair and dressing. In an enormous industrial space, you could see a spotless areas dedicated to various intake, evaluation, repair, and testing of components from Navy fighters, helicopters, aircraft and even ship engines all benefitting from a collection of artisans, trained and developed in exacting capabilities.

On a drive and park tour, we also viewed covered, open-sided building were four H-53 type helicopters were shown in the varying stages of refurbishment. From right to left, you could see one aircraft in the evaluation stage, then one in electronic and component removal, a third in complete strip-down/rebuild, and the fourth in completed/testing awaiting its first test flight before being released back into the fleet. From right to left, you saw old and fatigued evolving to almost new, ready-to-go condition. It was quite the impressive migration as each aircraft would be moved down the line to eventual service life extension.

All this benefits not just the War Fighter, but also the Taxpayer, who – in the end – receives more bang for the tax dollar in terms of the original investment in major military equipment!

The Fleet Readiness Centers in concert with a well-integrated supply and distribution network perform what many a civilian taxpayer would consider practical miracles in the capabilities demonstrated in maximizing the service life, performance, and availability of American military equipment. The sad truth is not many of my fellow civilian Navy employees get the opportunity to witness and thereby appreciate the fruit of their individual labors where the proverbial rubber meets the road!

As an NAVSUP employee with over 39 years of experience, even I am immensely impressed by the quality of the Navy’s industrial capability. And I have not seen more than a tiny sliver of total Navy effort. It is – quite frankly – an experience that every single NAVSUP employee who directly or indirectly affects the Navy’s repairable management, procurement, and support operations should be required to enjoy!