Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicken Politics

From the Seattle Coffeehouse in Gwangyang, Republic of Korea: If I ask a Southerner at the USMMA about Chick-fil-A, he or she will often rave about the crispy chicken sandwich the restaurant serves up. If I ask someone from the Northeast, a blank stare is likely, the same way that you'll catch me with if you ask me about Jack-in-the-Box (never been there). The chicken establishment's sole presence in DC is a new food truck and a limited selection at the Catholic University's food court. To get a Metro-rail accessible chicken fix, take the orange line to Ballston Commons Mall, or the blue line to Crystal City; both across the Potomac River in Arlington County, VA. Based on what I've seen in the news and on comments forums on those news articles, I'm not expecting a Chick-fil-A in DC anytime soon. To date, there has been a correlation between conservative-controlled districts and the existence of Chick-fil-A. Especially in the DC area. For example, in Maryland, its presence is minimal in DC's suburbs; yet there is one every few miles along I-95 in the Northeast part of the state; and there's a whole line of 'em down State Route 2. Easier to see, take a map, paint red each county with a conservative-controlled government (conserva-Dems included), add the state's two Republican congressmen, and locate the Chick-fil-A's. It'd be a peculiar business strategy if the company intentionally expanded this way, but Chick-fil-A is now breaking new ground up north, but not without resistance by elected officials. In Boston, according the the DC Examiner, Mayor Thomas Manino had tried to block Chick-fil-A from opening shop, but had no legal ground. In Chicago, the mayor raised a storm as well. Says Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "Chick fil A's values are not Chicago values". I wonder what the Chamber of Commerces of Boston and Chicago think. And the same news from DC's mayorial bullpen: "Gray, a Democrat, referred to the company's product as "hate chicken" in a tweet on Friday. His statement... followed similar statements by mayors in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco that the company was not welcome" (AP). (Don't make me feel bad, Vincent). But, from the DC Examiner, "Robert Turner, president of D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, provided his thoughts on the matter to Yeas & Nays. He sees no issue with enjoying a spicy chicken sandwich and also supporting the right of two men or women to walk down the aisle together. "No problem at all," he said. "At the end of the day, if one looks deeply at the companies one patronizes -- eating at Chick-fil-A, shopping on Amazon, ordering a Coke with your meal -- you'll find a multitude of issues where you and that company disagree." http://washingtonexaminer.com/d.c.-log-cabin-republicans-dont-mind-eating-at-chick-fil-a/article/2502621 And in New York City, Chick-fil-A is noticeably absent, except for a small presence in the NYU cafeteria. I wouldn't expect a branch to open in the East Village, but a Chick-fil-A would blend into one of Great Neck's storefronts. And the Subway sub shop would see some competition for midshipmens' dollars.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

See you later!

Tomorrow, starting at 6am, I'm headed off to Korea to start "sea year". Actually, it will be a continuation, since I had some experience on a reserve fleet ship in Baltimore-- experience in things like what clothes to bing to work, and why dinner is served at 4pm when the ship is in port (so the cook works a normal 7am to 4pm shift). My relation with a prepositioned ship in Korea-- South Korea-- started as a suggestion about 1 week ago, and the plans were finalized on Friday. Flight to Detroit from JFK, then JFK to Seoul. Found that there is a direct rail link between the two airports in Seoul I will be shuffling between-- Incheon and Gimpo. From Gimpo, I'm headed to Yeosu. It's a 45 minute flight, and the town is 2 hours by bus from the larger port city of Busan (where many a Kings Pointers made memories). I'm sure I entertained and inspired some of the new plebes with the news of where I'm going-- 365 days from now, you can be going to Asia, too! Just don't fail out, don't quit, either. And dear CTO or his petty officer of company (x), could you muster the plebes somewhere other than main deck-- where I want to roll my rolling chair loaded with suitcases and bags from my room to the elevator to the locker room on zero-deck? Put all my belongings in bags-- those which I will be picking up in November when I get back to the Academy are placed in a locker room on zero-deck; and the items I need for sea, into two suitcases or a backpack. A little foresight is needed, since it's going to be October or November when I return. Some items go to my brother. Registered for the November 6 election, changed my computer password, and called the cab. I will be travelling and working with a classmate, whom I will get to know better. And, if things go as expected, we'll have sea stories and you'll have blog posts to read (pending on the availability of internet on the ship-- there's got to be!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How much does it cost to be a Midshipman?

My Dad would say that life in the Navy for a young single man was this: you could get your paycheck, blow it in town, and come back broke to a roof over your head, and four meals per day. (Taco Bell did not invent the fourth , nighttime, meal-- the Navy did). I never agreed that this blog was purely polite dinner conversation, so I decided to discover if this held true for midshipmen at the USMMA. Mids and Cadets at the other four service academies start receiving a stipend on day 0. In fact, all Midshipmen at the USNA are paid the same rate- it's just that the seniors have a lot fewer deductions than the fourth class. At the USMMA, a real neat and motivational promotional video ( ) notes that you receive pay while at sea. In fact, it's quoted by the first class that the stipend received from sea year minus midshipmen fees paid each trimester add to a positive sum for you. (I'm waiting for my check to arrive from my week on a ship in Baltimore, but I trust it will). That figure assumes that you won't spend all of your cash in Bangkok. So what must you do to live off your stipend? Limit snacking-- comissary food (free meals) is to be consumed only at designated mealtimes, in the dining hall, or a box meal if on a team trip, on watch, or while in the infirmary. Having commissary food or utensils in your room will make you eligible for Extra Duty hours. 6 hours of work is a lot to pay for that banana. Have a restricted social life-- I'd say that there are likeminded midshipmen who would enjoy on-campus, free, activities while their classmates splurge in the city-- but I fear that you're one of few! That was also a pun. Midshipmen on restriction go weeks without going out on the town-- but I'd recommend you not put yourself on restriction to make for fiscal discipline. Videogames are a good investment. $60 will buy you weekends worth of entertainment, and, if it's the right game, you'll have plenty of friends to play with. World of Warcraft, Modern Warfare, and Halo are popular. You could also take a knack for reading or aimless cruising of the internet, but be ready for nicknames. Use the "free" laundry service-- no, it's not free, but you paid for it in your midshipmen fees. Drop off one day, pick up the next, except for Sundays. Just be sure you have a pair of PT clothes for the day your laundry's gone. Resist the temptation to buy things you don't need- you'll be tossing a lot of it before going to sea, anyway. Your entire room just won't fit into two suitcases. Yes, I've bought things I regret paying for, but my case is very mild: I've heard of a classmate buying an "unneeded" I-phone. Be athletic- or rather, "sportif", a word borrowed from the French. Sticking to a workout routine, taking extended jogs on weekends, or having an affinity for shooting hoops will take up some idle time that you might otherwise be spending cash during. Also, you might feel enough self-esteem that you have no need to prove yourself as a party-hardy. No one insisted that my next door neighbor stay out past midnight-- after all, he was the star swimmer. Eat meals on campus-- resist the urge to order out. $10 saved by having a meal at the commissary rather than ordering, once per week, adds up to some change. It's okay to "be full" when your pals order over the phone. Got to go to dinner at the chow hall before it closes.