April 13th, 2008

mama, if that's movin' up...

...then I'm movin' out - again.

In the next couple of weeks, the Submersible Death Trap will conclude its time in the shipyard, and I'll once again relocate. This time, it's back to the Armpit of New England, where I'll serve out the final year of my enlistment. I've already picked out where I want to live - in all likelihood, the New Nexus of Hate will be at Nutmeg Woods in New London. They have plenty of amenities there, and it's convenient to both Interstate 95 and the Cross Sound Ferry terminal. At $740/month for a one-bedroom apartment, it looks like a pretty good deal.

What's not a pretty good deal (in fact, it's the total opposite) are the circumstances under which I'm supposed to execute this move. There is no slack time whatsoever in the schedule to pick out a place and get our personal property moved to Connecticut - at least, not prior to the boat mooring at SUBASE New London. I'm lucky that I can even find a single day to get down there to pick up my keys and leave my car behind, so it'll be there for me when we pull in. I wrote about this five months ago, and it came to pass almost exactly as I predicted it would. We'll have two move periods - in mid-May, well after the boat returns to Groton. My move will most certainly be conducted by speed runs to Portsmouth on any free day I may happen to get.

There's a huge problem with moving in such a manner - it makes it very difficult to get the full amount of money the Navy pays for moving. This amount is based on any transport expenses actually incurred (gasoline, rental of a moving van, etc.), and on the number of pounds being moved. If you choose a government sponsored move (i.e. the Navy pays a moving company to come in, pack up all your stuff, and deliver it to your new place), this isn't a problem. But such a move requires thirty days advance notice - not so much possible under our current schedule. The other option is a "DITY" (do-it-yourself) move; this is the option I've used every time I've moved (and this will be the fourth time in the last three and a half years). This wasn't a problem when I left Saratoga Springs, as everything I had there fit into the Minivan o' War; when I went home for transfer leave, I didn't have to go back and retrieve anything. When I came up here, it took two runs of the van to get everything out; one was most of the stuff in my barracks room, and the other was mostly furniture that my parents had generously gifted to me. I have much more stuff than I did then, and thus it'll take more trips to bring everything down. The total weight of one's belongings is determined by weighing the moving vehicle before and after loading; by not loading everything in at once, you don't get the the maximum value. As much as that might suck, it's nowhere near as bad as what you need to do to actually get this money. Like everything else in the Navy, it's an unnecessarily complicated and byzantine process. I haven't even bothered with it the last two times I moved, and I probably won't this time. A much simpler way to do it would be to determine a stipend based on paygrade and distance to be moved. If the Navy were to implement such a system, they'd probably give married people extra money, but I don't think that should be the case.

The final indignity about the Navy's move process is that if a ship changes homeport, they won't pay for a Sailor to move if (s)he has less than a year left onboard. This bit J. Raymond in the ass coming up here, as he had only ten months left on Memphis when we brought her up to the Seacoast. And if I had one less month remaining in the Navy, I wouldn't even have the opportunity to decline moving money. Yet another example of how the Seagoing Military Force fails its men and women - and in this case, the failure has no adverse impact whatsoever on operational readiness.

random me-ness...

Shift work is over, and we've only got two more major hurdles until we get underway on nuclear power and get our asses back to the Armpit of New England. Speaking of nuclear power, I made some on Friday night. The day shift was supposed to start up the reactor, but I committed a minor error in one of the calculations related to the reactor startup. Normally, such a thing would have been fixed in no more than five minutes. But the shipyard is anything but normal; the corrective action to the deficiency had to be agreed to by everybody, their mothers, their life coaches, and a sampling of random homeless bums from Portsmouth and Kittery. The actual delay was at least five hours, and thus the atom-splitting fell to my shift. Just before I took station in my least favorite tiny little room, I passed the Chief of the Boat; I said in passing, "I'm good. I'm about to start me up a reactor." He replied, "Have a blast!" As much as one can, I actually did. I went through two years of training to learn how to manage the giant game of billiards that is nuclear fission - and Friday was one of the few days I really got to apply that training. Not only that, the training was validated by the fact that the reactor did exactly what we expected it to do, even after being shut down for nine and a half months.

When I returned to my apartment after work Friday night, it was a depressing sight. But for my coffee table and vacuum cleaner, my living room was completely empty. Then I took a closer look at the kitchen, and noticed that J. Raymond had left behind a lot of stuff. Most notable was several bottles of the Elixir of Death - Captain Morgan, Hennessy, Smirnoff Green Apple, Cruzan Coconut Rum, and Bols Blue Curacao. His departure was timely, as the Beechstone maintenance team is coming in on Tuesday and ripping out all the kitchen and bathroom fixtures, as well as the countertops and cabinets. This isn't nearly as much of an inconvenience as it would be if all of Ray's stuff were still in the drawers.

I exhausted my supply of Yuengling Traditional Lager last night, so this afternoon I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some Samuel Adams. When I reached the appropriate aisle, I quickly noticed there was no Boston Lager. I instead opted for twelve bottles of Boston Ale. Three hours later, I was talking to my Dad, and he asked me if I'd heard about a Sam Adams product recall (I hadn't). Apparently, the Boston Beer Company voluntarily recalled some batches of beer after certain bottles failed routine inspection, leading to small shards of glass in the bottles. The site provides a mechanism by which you can check the code on the bottom of the bottle to see if it's affected. Fortunately, my Boston Ale is good to go - and I think I'm going to start on it right now.