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Thursday, Sept. 06, 2001
This is a very military, in fact very Navy town I live in.

Todays bar topic, as led by Mo, our esteemed Command Master Chief (that's Navy-speak for lifetime of service) was "Breaking in the New Chiefs." Now, bear in mind that I'm not in the Navy...

Seems that years ago a group of new chiefs, including our own, were on assignment in San Diego or some such foreign country and were summoned to a pre-dawn muster on a pier. Were driven there in a big Navy truck, as a matter of fact.

After hustling to attention in a single line, the new chiefs were inspected by an ancient swabbie senior chief who desired to learn whether or not the newly elected fellows had what it takes.

Following an inspection of the ranks, the senior chief happened to spy a recently deceased garter snake near the tires of the transport truck. True to form, and unwilling to let such a chance go by, he retrieved said snake and proceeded to approach the line of stand at attention chiefs.

Stopping at the middle of the line, the senior chose Mo as his intended target. "Chief Mo, open your mouth!", he commanded. Mo complied, snake was inserted at its' midpoint.

Now the rest falls into that believe it or not catagory. Mo claims, and I tend to believe him, a large share of duty time in his life was spent as a SEAL in Vietnam. You know, the jungle survival stuff. Having a snake on board was probably not much of a problem for ol' Mo.

But after the senior chief made his next round of inspection, and re-approached the still attentive chiefs, he found that Mr. Garter Snake was considerably shorter than he'd started out to be.

"Chief Mo! @@#>>% it, where the hell is my snake?"

"I ate it, Senior Chief."

According to Mo, the Senior Chief at that point lost whatever breakfast he'd manage to indulge in. The legend of Mo continued, and all was right with the US Navy.


I know, trust me. It's a very small bar and it has its' cast of characters. Still...


School started. I know this because like every year, the sleeping patterns in my house change.

There are 365 days in an average year. Of that number, I probably wake up at 4 am on, oh...say 340 of them. During the summer, the 3 kids will not even thnk about rolling over much before noon.

Ally, since she works, will have to be on the road not later than 7:30 am. To accomplish this, she sets her alarm for 6. Whee whee whee.......faithfully at 6 the musical tones begin. Equally faithful, my wife will roll over, hit snooze button and flake out for another 10 minutes until the whee whee starts again. This goes on, I kid you not, until 7 am. In the meantime, the alarm for her nearby television also goes off and the morning news comes on at around 6:45.

Assuming I'm still home, my delivery of coffee Ally style should begin no later than 6:50.

Now here's what happens during school days:

1. at 5:30, 17 year old eldest daughter has a radio alarm go off. I'm thrilled to the 80 decibel sounds of

some God awful noise reverberating throughout that end of the house she claims as her own. She does not shut it off.

2. at 6:00, 15 year old second eldest daughter has a klaxon sounding alarm go off. The nearest I can describe it is to think of what you would expect to hear if a luxury liner was sinking fast on the high seas.

3. at 6:55, bodies begin to descend the stairs at a high rate of speed.

4. at 7:15, my wife Ally is in a blind panic because they are not going to make it out the door, despite having done this exact same thing for 3/4 of her waking life during school days.

5. at 7:30, the first wave has departed, in two separate cars, I might add.

6. at 7:59, I cock my head expectantly in the direction of my 13 year old sons room.

7. at 8:00, the phone rings. After several blasts (all of which I refuse to answer) son will pick up the phone and listen to his mother tell him to get the hell out of bed right now.

8. at 8:15, the doorbell will ring, and I will admit 13 year old punk boy neighbor onto the premises.

9. at 8:30, punk boy will have persuaded my son to get the hell out of bed right now.

10. at 8:35, son will fly down the stairs (trailed closely by punk boy) and out the door to catch the bus which is now rounding the corner a scant 50 yards away.

All this time yours truly is sitting right where I am right now, vegetating in front of the computer and waving listlessly as the horde storms by. On days when I actually have work to do before all this starts, I alter the routine ever so slightly - I deliver coffee to a still sleeping wife at 6:30. Then I leave. Quickly.

And then they all give me grief about how I fall asleep by 9:30 pm.

Saturdays and Sundays they sleep until ten. Sheesh.

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