Ask Me Why!

If you want to help out a struggling Canadian writer, check out my two published books by clicking on the titles at the top of the screen. They are available at or .ca. Just type in the titles in the search bar or click on the links at the site…thanks.

This is my personal blog. While I have had this site up in my mind and “to do list” for a very long time, this is day one. But hey, I live for procrastination – and sailing! I cancelled this blog about a year ago due to some bad publicity coming my way but I had to reset myself as the world has really gone bizarro and my only defense against the madness out there is this blog. It keeps me sane.

I live in British Columbia. That’s Super Natural BC. Hippie-dom’s last vestige in Canada and probably on earth. Canada’s Greenie Province of protestors and environ-mentals – the wet coast and the left coast of Canada – Birkenstock paradise – land of fleece vests, Tilley hats, granola crunchers, tree huggers, cappuccino suckers, and…Salt Spring Islanders. Long skirts and gum boots. Hoelay Cliche! And, I am also a poor speller!! I repeet: I am also a poor speller. Live with it.

The site’s header reflects one of the island’s  great views – looking east – across the beautiful Saanich Inlet, and the rest of Canada. But don’t eat the shell fish here. It will kill you. And you can’t swim in the water. It will freeze your bollicks, and other things, off. But hey, that is progress. This land of septic tanks and red tide.

From this viewpoint you can see the Saanich Peninsula in the distance: Cole Bay, Pat Bay Airport, Brentwood Bay and the famous Butchart Gardens (infamous if you suffer from environmental allergies) down the way south a bit. US Gulf Islands in the near distance, beyond the peninsula, with majestic snow capped Mount Baker on the far horizon towering majestically and menacingly over us all. Just hope the big one never comes. We will be screwed. But then again winds are westerly here. Ha, whew! Vancouver and points east??…you’re screwed. Perhaps the environ-mentals can clap their hands and change the plate tectonics, tsunami dynamics and vulcanology …er.. volcanology of the area, just as they arrogantly claim that they can control the weather and climate. If only they could just increase taxes, destroy the economy and donate everything to Gaia. If only they could just…wait…that is already happening. Destroying the economy that is…covidly speaking of course.

I am a retired Naval Officer. Just about 37 years of dedicated, loyal, unadulterated, blemish free service to her Majesty, the Queen. Yes, her Majesty the Queen, I am proud that I served my Queen and my Country – Canada. By the very essence of the military’s left, right; left, right; left, right cadence I am non partisan but I am very relieved that Harper signed my retirement scroll. I retired as a Lieutenant Commander, or a Two-and-a-Half in the vernacular lexicon of naval life. Being the second most senior Two and a Half in the Navy when I retired I like to think of myself as a Two and Five Eighths!

Writing this blog is somewhat therapeutic. Hope you enjoy it. Please contribute.


Rabid Dogs…6

…I came back for the medical in about a week’s time. This was serious stuff. A full blown medical. Every orifice looked at and probed. This was not the two minute makeover that one sees in the movies.

“Is he breathing? Yes? Approved! Next!

I was a little bit worried about my eye test as I had had a lazy eye when I was a child. It cured itself but left some visual acuity issues in my right eye. I remember my dad telling me how he got through his eye exam in the Army during the war. He held his hand over his bad eye, read the scale then returned his arm to his side. When the doctor asked him to cover his other eye he placed his hand over his bad eye a second time, read the chart and got through the exam with a 20/20 result. I tried the same thing and it worked, primarily because the doctor was focused on the chart and not the patient.

I do remember a story from a naval friend of mine about his experience with his medical on joining. It kind of reflects some of the old military schooled attitudes of the times. My friend had had a severe case of acne when he was young. It left his face hideously pockmarked – had been for all of his life. He did his joining medical only to find out that he failed. He wasn’t told why although he suspected the reason. He left, forgot about the military, and went on his way. About 6 months later he was asked to return to the recruiting centre only to be told that they made a mistake in his medical assessment and would dearly love to have him return. He did. Apparently, the doctor, on examination of my friend, felt that his pockmarked face would not look good on parade and would reflect poorly on the military ethos. He wanted to protect the “Colonel.” So he failed him. Imagine the outcry if that happened today?

Finally finished, then in for another interview. This one was all encompassing but in generalities: the process, basic training expectations, career progression, military life, its rewards and sacrifices, security, threats and on and on he went. This would be the last interview and on receipt of a successful medical examination an offer to join would be given. The candidate, me, would have a few days to think about the decision to join prior to an invite for the swearing in ceremony and “Oath of Allegiance” to Queen and Country. Where was God in all of this? Swear on the bible of course!

In a weeks time I was sworn in. I told my mother, she was thrilled. I told my friends, they thought I was nuts. I also had a few months time before I had to report for Basic Training in August. Not too sure if I liked that break as it provided too much free time to think about my decision. But it also gave me the opportunity to get into physical shape, which I did….

Rabid Dogs…5

…It was almost lunch time. I had been there almost 3 hours now.

Not long now they assured me. Just a final interview and then I could leave.

“Just go into that “Interview Room,” the secretary said ” and the interviewer will be in there in a second.”

I went into the “Interview Room,” sat down and waited looking at the various pictures on the wall: tanks, airplanes, soldiers, ships, a whole arsenal of military scenes, wow, impressive.

Another man in another style of uniform suddenly came in and sat down at the desk in front of me.  He put down a stack of papers on the desk’s surface.

“So young man” he began “what do you want to do?

“I wanna join the Navy.” I offered

“Okay, and what do you want to do in the Navy?” he asked

“I wanna be a Boatswain’s Mate.” I replied for I had seen the Bogart movie “Action in the North Atlantic” and I remembered him, Bogart, talking to a Boatswain’s Mate.

“Well now, that’s great, but I have your test results here and they are telling us that you have the intelligence and aptitude for the Officer’s Corp.”

Officer Corp I thought, surprised. “Yeah, but I wanna be a Boatswain’s mate cause I have seen them in the movies.” What the hell did I know about the Navy anyway. Nothing!

He laughed and said ” there’s nothing wrong with being an Officer you know. I am one myself. A Major!” And I immediately thought of the Basilian Brothers and the major pain at THAT private high school for boys.

“Okay, so what’s the difference between being an officer or a Boatswain’s mate?” I asked.

He looked at me for a bit before he answered. Then: “Well John, in the Navy, a Boatswain’s mate earns about $275 a month while an Officer makes about $415 per month.

Without blinking an eye I replied in what seemed to be a nano second “I’ll be an Officer”

We both laughed. He told me that I had passed the first phase of recruitment. My test scores were well above average, the interview process looked favourable and that I would have to come back in a few days for the medical and final interview.

Okay great, I thought and thanked him for his time and was on my way. But then I stopped and asked him, somewhat peevishly

“What about the criminal thingy?”

“Don’t worry about that” he said. “Many of us in here have done a lot worse only we never got caught. And there are probably a great many of us, generally speaking of course, that were given the proverbial options by a Judge of either going to prison or joining the Army” You know, there are a lot of military men and women who have less than grade 8 education, for whatever reason.”

“Army….Army? Prison? Judges? Grade 8 education? Whew, only the Army” I was relieved. I was joining the Navy, whoopdi doo. Safe and sound!

“Or the Navy” he added. He was telepathic this Major.

Rabid Dogs…4

…I thought of my options. Why not join the Navy?  Why not indeed. But the military life seemed to be an anathema to my easy going ways. Yes, I was intrigued by the stories my father told me of his military life. The fun he had although he never ever parlayed his combat experiences to me or anyone else in the family. His friends, the sports, the overt camaraderie he seemed to enjoy were interesting but I always sensed that he despised the discipline, arrogance and bullshit of the Army. It was no wonder, or joke, that we never ever went camping as a family. Holed up in a tent for weeks at a time: cold, dirty miserable English weather or the heat and humidity of a European summer all the while scared out of your ever loving mind.  No, I think for me I was scared of the discipline and uncertainty of the military life. Especially the Army. All that salutin; yes sir, no sir, your shit lockers full sir etc. On top of that, the only insight I had of the Navy arose from the serious and dark images of Jack Hawkins in “The Cruel Sea;” or the fanaticism, madness of Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable in “Run Silent Run Deep;” or conversely “McHale’s Navy.” What should I do? Yes or no?

I decided to check it out as I didn’t have to commit right away. I didn’t tell a soul what I was doing.  Down I went to the recruiting centre, taking the metro then bus to an imposing but stark and sombre looking building downtown. I hesitated. Should I or shouldn’t I? Yet the unknown always appears worse than it really is. Just go for it and see what happens. It may turn out that they “DON’T WANT YOU.”

In I went, to reception. Everyone here, except us snot nosed delinquents, was in uniform of some sorts. But I didn’t really know one from the other.

“Can I help you” a uniformed man asked.

“Um ah, yes Sir. I think I, well what I mean is, I would like to or perhaps – do you have any openings for a Boatswain’s Mate?” Not cool!

The guy looked at me like the dork that I was. He chuckled somewhat, gave me a book of forms and asked me, politely but assertively, to fill them out in the “fill out the book of forms” room.

I complied. It took me about an hour to complete the application, as best I could. Of some concern was the part about a criminal record, trouble with the law etc and my mind came back to that time with Timmy and the Great Record Robbery. I felt I had better be honest here and not lie for I had seen the movie and knew what happens to guys who lie in the military – Firing Squad – just like that anti-war movie “Paths of Glory” with Kirk Douglas. “Nothing glorious in being dead” I shivered to think of it myself. Then again this was the Navy. What then? Oh damn, the gangplank, as in walk it, as in how long can you tread water? As in how far can you swim? As in keel hauling, just like Jack London’s “Sea Wolf” with Edward G Robinson and John Garfield! Cookie and the shark! Good gawd man I thought to myself, stop with the movie fantasy, this is real life.

I handed the application back to the nice man in the uniform. He shuffled them into a file folder. Oh yeah, the infamous file folder. If you want to look good in the military and not be a target for some stupid duty, like KP, you walk around looking important, and busy, with a file folder in you hands – just like Phil Silvers as the Master Sergeant con man in “Sgt Bilko.” But I digress.

“Thanks John” the recruiter said, then adding “Now I have here a battery of aptitude tests for you to take: basic math, algebra, general knowledge, things of that nature. If you would be so kind as to go over to the “take the battery of aptitude tests” room and I’ll be right with you.”

In I went into the “take the battery of aptitude tests” room and sat down. I was the only dork there. The recruiter came in and told me that these tests were time sensitive in that I had a certain amount of time to complete them. Fine I thought but somewhat nervous.

“Try not to be nervous,” he reassured me. He was a nice guy actually. But then again they are all nice guys and gals until they have you dead to right or lost to your rights, right? No left!

First math – 20 minutes, done. Then some geometry, algebra – 30 minutes, done. Then general knowledge – 30 minutes – done admiralty, er admirably. Finally history – 20 minutes, done. Whew, finished, tough go for sure.

“Okay John, thanks. You can go back to reception, or go out for a smoke, or whatever. We should have the results in about 30 minutes.”

Whew, that was tough I thought. Almost two hours of this. I was a tad drained of energy.