Quip–a witty remark.  E-Quips (think e-book or email) is hopefully a witty blog  – dedicated to word play such as parodies, puns, and word parallels and stories about libraries that you may not have heard before. It has also expanded to include a few book reviews, nature and observational essays and poems,  stories about military and veterans, and tips about writers and writing. It has evolved into an online journal.  I also include select re-blogs to admire or inspire.



Hope you enjoy the ride and the fun.

Please let me know if there is word that deserves a riff or a library that has a story to share.

Thanks for joining me in the blogosphere.






Crossing a Line: Two Sea Stories

This first one may be true.

The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia.

The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the result to the master, Captain John Phillips.

The Warrimoo’s position was LAT.0 degrees 31′ N and LON.179 degrees 30’W.

The date was 30 December 1899.

First Mate Payton broke in…..”You know what this means…..we’re only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line” 

Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving this navigational freak of a lifetime.

He called his navigators to the bridge to check and double check the ship’s position.

He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark.

Then he adjusted the engine speed.
The calm weather and clear night worked in his favour.

At midnight the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crosses the International Date Line.
The consequences of this bizarre position were several.

The bow of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and the middle of summer.

The stern was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. 

The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899.

Forward it was 1 January 1900.

This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different years and two different seasons, but in two different centuries all at the same time.

Rebuttal–by Phil Eakin, who is also the teller of the second sea story.

If the ship was on its way from Vancouver to Australia then the diagram needs to be adjusted.  The stern should be in the northeast quadrant and the bow should be in the southwest quadrant.  The textual description corresponds to the latter juxtaposition.
The time for the bow would have been 2 January 1900.  As you know, you lose a day when crossing the date line East to West.  All other statements are correct.  Maybe that dateline crossing convention had not been adopted in 1900.  There is a term for one who crosses the date line and the equator at the same time, but I can’t quite remember it.  I think one is then called a Golden Shellback.  I would like to be one.

Second Sea Story-Tarawa was one of 4 ships in an amphibious ready group (ARG) that was headed to Westpac. The command element for Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) carried by the ships was aboard the Tarawa, as well as hundreds of Marines, but altogether, there were about 2,000 Marines spread among the 4 ships. And the Marines in the Intel space I mentioned this to were enlisted types. So, the rumor made it up the chain pretty quick.

On one of the Tarawa deployments I was on and we were headed for Westpac and approaching the dateline in the first week in November, we had a couple Marines working in the main intel space.  I casually mentioned that we would be losing a day upon crossing the international dateline and that day looked like it was going to be 10 November.  About 40 minutes later I got a nasty call from the O-6 XO of the ship wanting to know if it was me that started that rumor.  I had to admit it was me.  The USMC  C.O. of troops standing at the XO’s desk livid at the possibility of skipping the Marine Corps birthday.

No Surrender – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

A counterpoint to yesterday’s breezy dance. Today just a working stiff.


For a double dare by Beverly Crawford, and with sympathy for Jane Dougherty, following my poem The Next Dance.

Photo: found on pinterest.com

“There is a grandeur in winter, stern and wild it may be, but a grandeur which speaks to the soul.” CJ Peterson.

No Surrender

The sly cocktail dress sits sublime in ice
upon the line all formal and smooth,
while my dungarees have actually taken shape
as if possessed by a ghost, all stiff and 
starched, no wrinkles or sag like the sack 
of potatoes they normally pose draped upon me, 
the ice has claimed the denim and holds it in 
its steely grip as if fit for Ned Kelly's last 
stand where there will be no surrender until
the sun breaks free.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

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2020 Naval Institute Proceedings Statistics

Summarizing all of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings has been one USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library’s major ongoing projects. Under the leadership of Phil Eakin (CDR, USN ret), approximately 10 volunteers soldiered (or should I say sailored) on with the project through the Pandemic.

The project began in 2011. Phase I, which is almost completed, consists of building the database and summarizing all of the Main and Essay Contest articles that have appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.

From Phil, the 2020 summary.

State of Play.  As you will recall, Phase I consists of building the database and summarizing all of the Main and Essay Contest articles that have appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.  Our summarizing history and where we stand today are illustrated below. 


One can see that we did not break any completion records in 2020, but it was a COVID-19 year, with a good dose of pandemic fatigue and maybe a little bit of Proceedings summaries fatigue thrown in as well.  We had10 team members contribute summaries in the JUL-DEC period, down from 16-18 contributors in each of the more recent 6-month periods.  The pandemic docent-hermit Marty Vehanen led the way again, contributing a couple more issues than the rest of us combined.  Well Done, Marty. 

Simple math tells us that we only have 20 issues left to do, plus the two or three issues yet to arrive in 2021 before we are caught up.  Right now there are only a few issues not assigned to team members.   

Eight of the assigned issues are with team members who haven’t turned any completed issues in during the last six months, so I’ll be going out to those folks individually in the next week asking for them to finish up what they have left in the next month or so or turn in what summaries they have completed so we have something to hand out for completion as the remaining outstanding issues are submitted for review. 

When will the database be available online?  The pandemic pretty much shattered the plans to get grant requests ginned-up and submitted.  I was counting on getting help from the Midway IT Department, but shutdowns and staff cutbacks have made that unlikely for the remainder of the pandemic.  One thing the IT folks did set the Library up with during the pandemic was access to a 5 TB OneDrive (cloud storage) from which we can share files/folders with the outside world.  Once Phase I is complete, my plan is to place a Microsoft Access database version with basic query and retrieval functionality on the Midway Museum OneDrive and share that with USNI and our team members.  Down the road I can see access to that database being made available on the Library page of the Midway Museum website.  And we can notify San Diego area public libraries and institutions of higher learning of the availability of the resource which we will identify as a work in progress.  I also plan to construct a PowerPoint presentation/guide on data composition and use of the query functionality of the database and make that PowerPoint file available in the same location as the database itself. 

Phase II.  As previously mentioned, Phase II will consist of cataloging and summarizing Comment and Discussions (C&D) items appearing in Proceedings.  Most of these items are submitted by the Proceedings readership in response to previously appearing articles.  It will be valuable to researchers to have those comments available and linked to the article to which they relate.  Not all C&D items relate to the main or essay contest articles we have summarized, so the other articles to which they relate need to be cataloged and summarized as well.  And some C&D items stand alone.  They do not relate to any previously published article.  They also need summaries completed.   

C&D items are much, much briefer than the articles we have been dealing with, and Phase II will go much, much quicker than Phase I.  I still haven’t figured out the methodology for dolling out C&D items and, in some cases, the articles to which they refer that we haven’t summarized yet.  And I still need to catalog about 90 issues-worth of the C&D items so they are in a form to assign.  That is what I will be doing the next two months in addition to reviewing your splendid summaries. 

Beyond Phase II.  I really need to determine the druthers of USNI as to how they would have us proceed after Phase II.  Is one era more important to them to get done than another era?  In what order would they prefer we address categories of items like Professional Notes, From the Deckplates, Nobody Asked Me But …, and a myriad of other article types that have appeared over the years?  I was planning a trip back east last Spring to interface with USNI on location, visit the USNA Library, spend a day at the Naval Archives with our Distance-Laboring Virginia volunteers scanning Midway deck logs one day a month (pre-pandemic), but the pandemic put a stop to that.  I hope to get all that accomplished soon after the pandemic allows it later this year. 

That is where we are and where we’re going.  Hope you all will hang around for the ride.  Should be fun.  And thanks again for all your hard work, especially in these trying times. 

The Next Dance – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon



At dVerse Grace is hosting Meeting the Bar with an invitation to personification and imagery.

dVerse Poets – MTB – Personification and Imagery

Photo: sierraclub.typepad.com “The Right to Dry Movement”

“But what about those windy spring days? You know the drill, you fight the sheets onto the line. Then the wind catches them and makes them want to sail into the next country!” The Texas Homesteader

The Next Dance

Sick of line dancing, she wanted
to cut loose with a tango or a foxtrot,
even a rouge can-can would do it and,
once safely pegged, she gave herself to the 
sea breeze throwing her legs up, her head back,
tossing her skirt about with laughter just like 
linen flapping in the wind, and soon the others
joined in the fun, swirling and twirling
along the good time, refreshed and waiting 
for the next dance in the sun.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

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Fitbit and Me

I’ve been a fitbit fan for a few years now–the proud owner of a Fitbit zip (the cheapest and most basic product).

Over the years, I bought and lost several of them because the plastic clip never worked well; they fell out of my pockets too easily. Switching from the dark grey to the bright fuchsia plastic cover made they easier to find under the car seat or on the pavement next to the car .

When they started disappearing from several stores and refurbished ones appeared online for double the $35-$45 price of the new ones, I bought a couple to stockpile. My last zip quit functioning; I was forced to buy a new one to keep my addiction going.

The Inspire 2 was “only” $120. I hated the feel of the plastic band and continued to carry it in my pocket.

As a reclining bike junkie, I like to watch the steps increase on the fitbit app on my computer as I merrily peddled away. Fitbit no longer supports the app on Windows 10. When I was forced to update the firmware on my Inspire, that small pleasure was taken away. I now have to sync my fitbit on my phone, which just happens to be a model that fitbit doesn’t officially support. The sync now lags between what is on the Inspire, what is on the dashboard, and what is on one of the graphs.

I can not directly tie what I miss about the earlier fitbit (devices and ability to sync with the computer) to it’s purchase by Google but I am suspicious. (Does that qualify for a conspiracy theory?

National Dress Up You Pet Day–January 14

Many people dress up their pets for Halloween or adorn them for the family holiday card. Did you also know that this is a day dedicated to dressing up your pet? That day is today!

Pictures of Midway Maddy, USS Midway mascot. Maddy now has her own book. The Ghost and Miss Maddy, https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Miss-Maddy-R-Falk/dp/B08PXB9HSR

National Dress Up Your Pet Day was founded in 2009 by Celebrity Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Behaviorist, Colleen Paige.

Please remember to keep your pets safe and comfortable in the pet clothing and costumes that you choose.

Tips for dressing up your pet:

  • If your pet just doesn’t like dressing up, let them sit this holiday out.
  • Be sure it fits. Restricting movement or ability to breathe can cause injury or illness.
  • Many pets like to chew. Avoid loose or dangling pieces which can cause choking hazards.

Artificial Dilemma

I wanted to write an honest book review about a new picture book. The line drawings were cute but not consistent– the main character (an animal) was sometimes drawn with gray-scaled features and at other times just the outline. The author of this fiction book took a few liberties with the character–not that the average reader would be aware of that.

For a number of reasons, it was not a good idea to write such a review–hence an artificial dilemma.

  • If I did not write the review, nothing would matter or be changed.
  • If I wrote the honest review, feelings would be hurt and people would be upset.
  • If I wrote a positive review, only I would know it was not what I meant to write.

Given what is going on in the world, it is ironically nice to have such a simple, even stupid dilemma to waste time on.

Have you ever had an artificial dilemma?

Reblog: Do You Know the Kumeyaay Garden

Kumeyaay are the local Native Americans who originally inhabited the San Diego are. There are still several reservations in San Diego County. In recent years, the Cabrillo National Monument has expanded its exhibits and information about the Kumeyaays.

Click here to read about the recently planted garden at Cabrillo National Monument.

The Kumeyaay gardens here at Cabrillo will showcase:

California Buckwheat
Lemonade Berry
Coastal Sagebrush
Prickly-Pear Cactus
Shaw’s Agave
Black Sage
Giant Wild Rye
Lady Fingers
Barrel Cactus
Laurel Sumac
Bush Mallow
California Sunflower
Bladder Pod
Wild Cucumber
Broom Baccharis

Perspective–Rock Solid

Famous Rock in Brazil

 In Brazil, people take spectacular pictures tempting fate by hanging from this famous rock..r

No photo-shops. These are real pictures:

Incredibly brave people.

The truth is, the rock is only a few feet above the ground.

All that is required is the proper perspective!

Remember this lesson when you read/view material on the Internet.

Sometimes, the truth is a lot different than what it appears.

Why you shouldn’t believe everything you see in pictures.

NOT photo-shopped, just perspective!

Jumping Around

I never jumped from bed to bed;
I conspiracy jump instead.
What is left  and what  is right 
are things that keep me up at night. 

Why do my thoughts keep on changing
as what is truth keeps rearranging?
What I knew as truth just yesterday
this morning up and flew away.

Is it me or is it them
who's changed the lyrics of the hymn,
the words so mumbled in the hall
too jumbled now for clear recall?

When Upon a Time was clear
That a fairy tale would next appear
Now they lie and call them facts
To justify their side's attacks.

You can take your choice of blames
Of the groups we call by different names
But now that there is silence
Please don't resume your violence.

Author Interview with JR Reddig, aka Vic Scotra

  1. From reading your introduction, Nick Danger was the manifestation of the Ranger being unable to relieve the Connie and the Midway riding to the rescue on its thousands of horsepower.  It was cross fertilized by the hours you whiled away reading Raymond Chandler.  Did you always intend to be a writer or was this a pre-Internet way to stay busy?

No, Ranger’s collision happened in the Straits of Malacca after we completed Indian Ocean Deployment #1. We had been relieved out there by- Coral Maru?- and returned to Japan after months gone. Ranger was headed to the IO to support Hostage Rescue operation “Eagle Claw” when she was struck by a merchant ship. Damage was significant.

With Ranger needing repair, she was directed to head for Yoko for repairs and we were directed to return to sea and assume Ranger’s role way out there after only a week or so ‘home” in Japan. There are many stories about the interpersonal relations of the Ranger crew and the Midway families while we were gone. Nick Danger was a project intended to relieve some of the anxiety and endless sameness of operating in a pleasant blue environment. We were in Perth Australia on IO #1 when word came about the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. We sortied north out of Freemantle, Perth’s port city, assuming we would head north to take station in the North Arabian sea. Instead, we were directed to proceed to Mombasa, Kenya, for a scheduled port visit. It was very cool, with a little apprehension about what was happening next.

2.  Which was more difficult, what you did with the squadron or keeping Danger’s adventures from flying too far afield?

They were literally the same thing. Afloat, we worked Squadron business as an integrated part of flight ops for Air Wing FIVE. The Air Intelligence officers assigned to the squadrons were seconded to the Carrier Intelligence Center- CVIC. We augmented the Ship’s company intelligence staff, performing the mission briefings and debriefing the aircrew on their return four hours after the brief. Also worked recognition issues, other training, handed out cameras and film, worked on relevant charts, answered questions and tried to keep them accurate. Merchant shipping was big on the sea lanes, and periodically SOVINDRON (Soviet Indian Ocean Squadron–not an official acronym, used by the CVIC) would deploy a submarine to keep us on our toes- nothing hostile, just interested. So it was all one kluge of unstoppable activity, of which Squadron mess treasurer (“Get more plaques made!”), legal officer blah blah went along with SERE school in California or Maine (Search, Evasion, Resistance and Escape), JEST (Jungle Evasion and Survival Training) in the Philippines to ensure we were all on the same sheet of music. SERE school was pretty interesting, beatings and waterboarding included, no extra charge. That was all part of working.

Liberty was very much like the bar scene in the original Star Wars film. It included Tokyo, Hong Kong, Subic Bay, Bangkok, Mombasa, Perth and Nairobi, among others. At the world-famous Grace Hotel Coffee Shop in Bangkok, they served the employees of the clubs on Pat Pong Road after the bars closed down. At the bar there, one of the other fighter guys shouted out: “Where am I going to find an Laotian lady at this hour?” He succeeded.

3. It seems like you published a chapter of Nick Danger every day?  Was this the schedule and how did you find the time to be a naval officer and a writer?

I tried to publish something every day that the Midway Multiplex would print. The trick was to try to do something we all knew about in a unique environment. The PacMan game machine in the Dirty Shirt Wardroom was worth several issues and plot changes. It was written in the same way we did operational things. In between flight operations or in a spare half hour between one thing and another (the only other things were eating, sleeping or working out), I would jam some paper in an IBM SelEctric typewriter, bang on it for a while and then run it down to the newsletter guys. There was, I heard later, some mild controversy over the idea that one of the squadron guys was generating the continuing story, but RADM Bob Kirksey apparently thought it was good for morale or something, and I tried to stay a bootstrap away of anything that would get in the way of good order and discipline. Apparently it worked. Racy enough for the time without being too disruptive. But to a crew used to the Philippines, we were indeed the Navy’s “Foreign Legion” in perpetual motion.

4. What is the significance of Nick Danger, Third Eye?  Is he psychic or does it have some other meaning?

It was an idea borrowed from the Firesign Theater, a comedy troop of deranged hipsters popular in the early 1970s. The term ‘Third Eye’ was their attempt at jamming the vaguely spiritual references of the crazy late sixties (Hindu and others) and 1940s cinema noir into the reality that we were actually a ship of war on what appeared to be the razor blade of conflict.t we were actually a ship of war on what appeared to be the razor blade of conflict.

5. What is the relationship between JR Reddig and Vic Socotra?

JR was a new Ensign fresh out of NIOBC (Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course) and volunteered for Midway, then considered a two year ‘hardship’ tour. After two IO deployments from Japan, they offered him a one-year tour in Korea at USFK (U.S. Forces, Korea) to “get even” with the other Intel folks who got three year tours at CONUS-(Continental United States) based squadrons and ships. I was irate about that, still in the Foreign Legion mode in Korea and wrote a fun book about it called “The Snake Ranch Papers,” named after our hooch at Yongsan Garrison at Seoul. I actually got more operational time in Navy and Joint before it was cool. Then OSIS (Ocean Surveillance Information System) and anti-Soviet sub analysis as things got strange with the Soviet Union. Writing a newspaper on the floor of the stock exchange is how one watch officer described it. 

Korea time included a military coup in Korea, civil Unrest at Kwangju, Analogous Response ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) ops in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor and best fun.
With Cold War, Persian Gulf War and GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) were four or five undeclared but real contingency ops, mostly focused on the Persian Gulf. Other assignments included organizing Congressional Travel to Haiti, Burma, PRC (People’s Republic of China) & Pyongyang, and more excitement. Writing about it meant a certain dual tasking and processing of life, since I was supposed to provide accurate notes as “aides memoire” to the trips and then I could play with it if I got time. As with all things Midway, it was part of a continuous process of all sorts of unrelated things jammed into one very large one of operating a nuclear-armed (“I can neither confirm nor deny!”) mobile airfield far from America’s shores.

“Vic” came from the early days on Midway in the northern Arabian Sea. Much later I was working at CIA HQ on the Community Management Staff in Y2K times. The Farm- the CIA training facility on the Neck- had done some business conducting classified seminars for Government customers, and we were billeted behind the fence for a couple of those sessions.

The place is interesting, and includes property that was once colonial. The house where the last Royal Governor of Virginia hung out was one of the interesting parcels. I did a photo journalist story about the place- nothing about who ran the facility or why. I duly submitted it for Agency review prior to posting it. They said “no” because “the location is classified.” Now, the fact that everyone on two rivers knew what and who ran the place was irrelevant. 
I decided to keep doing what I was doing, but nothing more about the Royal Governor, nor what we call “True Name” blogging. There were a lot of people at Langley  operating in various manifestations- covered, uncovered, ambiguous, so things like pen-names were common not only in professional tradecraft but social situations.

Vic Socotra is the phrase we used for Soviets operating (or hanging on the hook) in the approaches to the Suez via the Gulf of Aden at Great Socotra Island. When we arrived at what became GONZO Station, we would say it something like “Soviet Indian Ocean Squadron NOB continues routine operations in the vicinity of Great Socotra Island.” That lasted a couple weeks since they normally were doing nothing. It soon became “SOVINDRON vic Socotra NTR.” Or, better said, nothing to report.

Vic Socotra became a more general locational phrase to identify things happening at the SOVINDRON anchorage, or in the general vicinity of the island, toward the entrance to the shipping channel up the Red Sea.

 6. The Midway seems to cast a spell over  many of its crew and now it’s volunteers.  What spell did it cast over you?  Did any other job ever come close to the Midway’s Magic?

Phil Eakin in JR Reddig’s Midway Stateroom. JR graduated from the bottom left to the top left bunk.

Yes. And yes. Yes, no, yes. This is one of your volunteers, who asked what bunkroom I lived in for two years, and then sent me a picture of what it looks like now. Sleep was precious there. I still could reset the circuit breaker out in the passageway in the deep silent darkness when the line tripped out. Nick Danger happened because the lunk private detective seemed to be just what we needed at the time. Ever have a job that occasionally meant hanging out of the moving helicopter at ten thousand feet tracking a missile shoot? Once, suiting up and strapping on the back seat of a 55,000lb. Phantom fighter, being hurled off the front end of a moving Midway to go feet-dry and pass Mt. Fujiyama inverted before a routine recovery on the field at Atsugi Naval Air station? The one that still had hard-stands for the Zero fighters that once operated from there against us? Meeting one of their then-ancient aces- Warrant Officer Saburo Sakai, thanking him for his service and hospitality in his land? 

7. Your blog, https://www.vicsocotra.com/ is deliciously ambiguous.  I love your tag line “Purveyor of Glib Words to the World.”  How long did it take you to come up with that and has it been difficult to live up to that motto?

That all gets to the nature of what I have done for fifty years. It started before the internet, of course, and when I saw or did something I thought was interesting, I would write a letter about it, addressed to one or two folks and with enough carbon paper to keep a copy. There is a body of that stuff from Midway around someplace, and another one or two about the last cruise of the IJN Nagato, initially the same sort of thing I did penned by the American XO who took the Japanese battleship down to Bikini Atoll for the Crossroads atomic tests. Great story he did not finish, and may have been one of the Navy people who died young because of radiation exposure. He was a great pal of my Uncles, and his papers were all I had. Part of the dynamic tension in the business was that we wrote for a living- taking the words from the aircrew or the meeting or the trip and crafting them into a narrative that made sense. That stuff was stark and hard edged and based on fact. Taking those sorts of situations and breathing things into them for context- non-frightening context-was the ability to use a slippery glib word for something intensely real. Describing a routine catapult shot on a routine relocation hop. Drama and routine all wrapped up in one- the essence of the Midway experience. She also was home to pals who went to war on her in the Gulf. She is a ship of magic.

8. If life is a conspiracy theory, which theory do you find most plausible?

This week demonstrates the whole thing. I lived the sixties- all of them- as a teen. A President was murdered in public. Then a spiritual leader of great stature was shot down on a motel balcony. And then a brother of the murdered President was shot campaigning for the same office. And the attempts on the lives of other Presidents and governors of Southern states. None of them had much explanation, except for “deranged lone gunmen/women.” Now, we have a clumsy attempt to insert millions of bogus votes in an attempt to remove a legitimately elected President on a fraudulent vote count that is the product of increasing fraudulent activity that incudes our 7th District of Virginia Congressional representation. The idea that hundreds- thousands- of people who swore the same oath to defend the Constitution that I did- participated in this and that it seems about to be successful, and maybe permanent. I find this all wildly improbable in the nation in which I was raised. I think there is the distinct possibility that it is true.

9. What are your current literary inspirations?

I wrote as things happened, and cleaned it up when I could spare the time. The best effort is a biography of an older pal named Donald “Mac” Showers, one of the last survivors of the station HYPO codebreaking group at Pearl from WWII. Unlike most, he had no civilian job to return to after the end of hostilities since he was so young, and stayed in. I came to his attention through my use of a disparaging- glib, if you will- term about General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. I called him “Doug-out Doug” in some social context and it concerned Mac because his boss, Chester Nimitz had a primary directive: “Don’t disrespect the General.” We got over that and became friends. The very idea of getting the Japanese to disclose their target at Midway atoll happened at the corner of Mac’s desk in The Dungeon at Pearl Harbor, conceived by the legendary Jasper Holmes. So that was fun and took a couple years of meetings. But we traveled together through the big Defense reorganization of 1948, and the creation of CIA and NSA, and the later abuses that occurred, and the fixes to the scandals of Watergate, and establishment of the FISA Court system, and his final retirement with the current Intelligence Community I served. The last volume is about the ten-year decline of his beloved wife to early onset Alzheimers, and what it takes to live a 26-hour-day with dementia sufferers and their loved ones. My Dad was doing the same thing when he told me what it was going to be like, so it was personal and real. All the Intel issues he worked are now back in full bloom, so real life with him was also time traveling into the past and future. Anyway, that book is complete, but deserves proper traditional treatment.

Others in Process:

“The Lucky Bunch:” Naval Intelligence and the Mob in New York and The Castle on the Hudson. Fun with Lucky Luciano.

“Love and War in the West.” Civil war family romance amid the Rebel and Yankee aligned recent Irish immigrant community in a tumultuous America. Really fun, and true.

“Snake Ranch Papers” a 14-month one year tour in the Republic of Korea during a military coup conducted by Lt. Gen Chon tu Hwan.

“Boondoggle” Congressional travel in a Haitian-Burmese-North Korean crisis. Oriented to fine hotels in pariah nations.

“Tales from Big Pink,” life in the remarkable Arlington, VA, in the go-go decade that followed Y2K.

“Cruisebook,” the last Cold War Med Cruise 1989-90 as the Wall Comes Tumbling Down and the long struggle….ends?

There are a couple others, including a cookbook I was working on with pal Jinny Martin. She had been an attache wife, and I asked her, and pals from the circuit for sure-fire dishes to prepare when Hubby says he is coming over with the Hungarian delegation for drinks. It was fun, while in progress with lots of photos. I edited her group’s memories of having families in the Philippines and Japan in Cold War times.

And cars- Dad was assistant head of design at American Motors, and he was in that crowd of forward thinkers and creative artists. I came home from high school one afternoon and his gang had a collection of racing machines in the driveway, including a Ferrari Testa Rosa. We were part of it all- first ticket was 120-in-a-50 violation in a pals 440RT Charger while still on my learners permit. Other memorable rides included the Syclone World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck, the black-and-white-beetle convertible “Shamu” and the 1959 Rambler Cross Country station wagon that Dad designed. Fun stuff in the go-fast years.

Currently in work is a book called “Swamp Postcards,” devoted to this crazy year, and “The Seventy Days” between the election and what is coming next. Glib words conceal the humorous enormity of what is going on in the wide world and right here

10. If somebody asked you why, how do you respond?

I am a predigital creature, but collected sights and situations that were interesting were always…interesting. I felt we lived in times that had a historic aspect, having studied them in college, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and Harvard’s JFK school of Government later. Seeing how it really works was something that kept me going, in the Fleet and Washington and on the streets of places like Pyongyang. It made telling the story of it fun, even if living in the lower rack of a four man compartment on a WWII ship was a necessary part of the whole story. I volunteered for Japan duty out of a failed attempt of the heart, and what the meaning of being alive really is. I still don’t know, but it is…interesting. This is the first time in life that things are not hurtling from one thing to another without respite. It is a treat to be able to look back at it all with wonder.

For readers interested in reading some of Nick Danger’s adventures, check out Vic Socotra’s website.https://www.vicsocotra.com/wordpress/novellas/nick-danger/

For readers interested in reading some of Nick Danger’s adventures, check out Vic Socotra’s website.https://www.vicsocotra.com/wordpress/novellas/nick-danger/

Lord Acton (1)

Lord Acton’s words have a relevance today.

I wish I knew why Pressing something on word press did not also include the URL.


Lord Acton (1)

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton was an English historian, politician and writer commonly known as Lord Acton.
He was born in Naples, Italy, on 10 January 1834.
The birth certificate, written in Italian, described his father as Don Ferdinando Riccardo Acton, “Lord-in-Waiting to His Majesty Whom God preserve” and English Baronet, and his mother as Baroness Donna Maria Luisa Pellina de Dalberg, domiciled with her husband in Naples at the Riviera di Chiaja.

He is famous for some remarks he made in a letter to an Archbishop of the Church of England, which was part of a larger conversation about how historians should judge the past.
The Archbishop was inclined towards a moral relativism that was uncritical of past leaders and too lenient with their crimes. On the contrary, Lord Acton argued that all people, past or present, leaders or not , should be held to universal moral standards.

In one of his three letters he made this famous statement:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.”

Port Guides Before the Internet

How large is an aircraft carrier crew?

  • The USS Midway (CV-41) carried a crew of about 4500 when she was deployed, with an Air Wing aboard.
  • The USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) has a crew of 5500.
  • The Navy used to have a recruiting slogan, “Join the Navy and see the World.”
  • Ports could include
    • the Mediterranean Sea,
    • the Caribbean Sea,
    • Central or South America,
    • the Red Sea,
    • Persian Gulf,
    • Indian Ocean,
    • Pacific Ocean,
    • Arctic Ocean or
    • literally around the world.

In addition to the normal liberty ports like the Philippines, San Francisco, or Marseilles, the ship could also be sent to Karachi, Pakistan; Mombasa, Kenya; or Hobart, Tasmania. For many of the crew, these ports are often unknown–

What can we see?

What can we eat or drink?

What can we get away with?

The USS Midway used to type out and then mimeograph tour guides. Troy Prince has a collection of 13 pocket sized (3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″) guidebooks for liberty ports visited by the Midway from the 04 JAN 1954 – 04 AUG 1954 Mediterranean Cruise. Here are few pictures from that collection.

In 1978, the guides had gotten larger and had a new name–Liberty Hound. Here is an example from a 1978 port stop in Karachi Parkistan (again courtesy of Troy Prince.)

To see more of what Troy Prince has on the USS Midway, visit his site, Midway Sailor.com,

An Update from Troy:

The newer ones I just scanned this week and last week. I’ve only shared them with the Library and haven’t posted them online yet.

There is a Memorabilia section on my website with a subsection called Ship’s Messages. Some of my older (lower quality) scans are there, including the Haiti booklet and Japan Information message. I also have an older scan of the Olongapo booklet contributed by someone years ago. The newer booklets will eventually be added to this page or even to a completely new subsection called Liberty Port Guides


Blogging Advice: Five Tips When Serving up a Conversation

This was a blog post from two years ago. It might be time to look at it again.


Conversation is an informal exchange of ideas.  Many bloggers recommend it as a way to tennis-quote-john-mcenroeconnect with your followers.  Start a conversation with them and invite them to respond.  Communication becomes a  two-way street.   So you serve up a topic like a tennis player does with ball, expecting the conversation or ball to behave in a particular manner.

Unlike tennis, conversation is not always played out on a smooth surface.  You may get a vicious backhand or perhaps a backhanded compliment.  Some people respond with a swift overhead slam sending your clever serve zinging in a direction you never anticipated.  Sometimes they lob troll-like retorts dripping in inuendo.  If you are lucky, your reader will set up a nice volley with you that can be enjoyed by the audience and people who may want to join in the game. Will this fortutious conversation be a game, a set, or a…

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Happy International Typing Day-January 8, 2020

As a typo queen, aka Typonista, this is a holiday I discovered by chance this morning. It really resonates with me.

Typing Day was created to encourage people to express themselves via written communication and to promote speed, accuracy and efficiency in this type of communication. It is marked with various events and activities.

From the webpage

Typing Day, also referred to as World Typing Day or International Typing Day, is an annual event that originated in Malaysia in 2011. It is held on January 8.

Typing Day was established to commemorate the Malaysian Speed Typing Contest of 2011. It was originally conceived by Team TAC (Type Auto Corrector), a group of young professionals that has designed and developed SecondKey, a tool for automatic correction of typing mistakes in any type-written interface. Team TAC is one of the two main coordinators of Typing Day. The other is Speed Typing Contest Team from JCI Mines.”

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is an English-language pangram—a sentence that contains all of the letters of the English alphabet. Owing to its brevity and coherence, it has become widely known. The phrase is commonly used for touch-typing practice, testing typewriters and computer keyboards, displaying examples of fonts, and other applications involving text where the use of all letters in the alphabet is desired.

The qujick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. I just tayped that and left the errors in to demonstrate my lack of typing proficiency.

How is your typing? Did you learn in school or are you self taught?