Friday, January 19, 2007

Things a Man Should Know: About Fatherhood

A buddy of mine who's first child was born last year sent me this. Enjoy!

1. Don't worry, your dad didn't know what he was doing, either.
2. No, no--not that Spock!
3. Second thought, maybe you should worry.
4. Never tell anybody that you and your wife are "trying." We really don't need the visual, that's why.
5. Never tell anybody where your child was conceived, how long it took, or what song was playing.
6. Do not name your baby after cities, geographical points of interest, features of the solar system, seasons, plants, animals, or current television stars.
7. Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, and, for the first year, you are only a curiosity. For a couple of years after that, an amusement-park ride. Then, a referee. And finally, a bank.
8. If you want to subject your son to the unkindest cut, insist on a local anesthetic, since many pediatricians don't bother to use one. The anesthetic is for the kid.
9. Baby gas is lessened with a good nipple connection during feeding, which decreases air intake. Assuring that his lower lip is flipped out, not pursed, helps.
10. There is nothing wrong with thumb-sucking, which helps ease the pain of teething. Nonetheless, it probably ought to stop by kindergarten.
11. Diaper-rash remedy: Expose baby's hydraulics to the air until dry. Soak baby's bottom in tepid water with a half cup baking soda. Then, Balmex. Or Lotrimin. Rediaper.
12. You know how they say you'll get used to diapers? You won't. Unless you wear them a lot.
13. Forcing children to use toilets will make them dislike toilets. Children begin using toilets when they tire of that not-so-fresh feeling. Of course, this is long, way long, after you tire of it.
14. The start of crawling: usually begins between six months and twelve months. Standing: usually between nine and twelve months. Walking: between twelve and fifteen months. The onset of the above, as with all developmental skills, is hugely variable among individual children.
15. Avoid walkers, not only because they can be dangerous around stairs but because they don't require a child to balance and thus retard his walking progress.
16. Reason boys are better: They cannot get pregnant.
17. Reason girls are better: They're less likely to get arrested.
18. The threat of an unknown punishment is always more effective than a stated one.
19. Annals of great punishments: making him wash the car, clean the bathroom, and watch The McLaughlin Group. You see, all great punishments should reduce the number of disagreeable tasks you would otherwise have to perform.
20. Teach by example.
21. Your kids can develop an independent sense of good taste only if they're allowed to make their own mistakes in judgment.
22. Relax: Lots of little boys want a Barbie and a dollhouse.
23. The first time you change your son's diaper and he pees all over you is not an accident. It's foreshadowing.
24. Children of too-strict parents are more likely to develop tics.
25. Let them take reasonable risks: A few scrapes in the long run are nothing compared with the scars left by hovering parents. Or tics. In preparation for risks: a Red Cross first-aid course.
26. The most common cause of fatal injury among kids between five and nine involves cars, which is to say, hold their hands. And buckle them in.
27. Try to tuck them in every night, too.
28. When changing diapers, avoid baby powder, as it can irritate her lungs. When changing diapers, definitely don't avoid the Desitin--spread it thick, like Spackle.
29. It never hurts to videotape the baby-sitter. Especially if she's hot.
30. Never disclose to other parents that you have found a good baby-sitter.
31. Reason boys are better: They cost less, especially their clothes.
32. Reason girls are better: They're less likely to burn, slash, or chew the clothes they have.
33. Overalls are not only cute, they provide a convenient handle.
34. At a certain point, your child will appear to survive exclusively on peanut butter, french fries, Cheerios, and hot dogs.
35. Dropping food on the floor is a new and delightful skill to a one-year-old, not a deliberate attempt to annoy you. However, as small he or she might be, never underestimate an infant's ability to project chewed food over great distances.
36. The single most important thing a father can possess: Wet-Naps.
37. NOW, more than ever, don't move into a place without laundry facilities.
38. Children's hobbies to nip quickly in the bud: drums, archery, matchbook collecting.
39. Beware your child's uncles, who will teach your kid dirty words, introduce him to liquor, and give him gifts of drums, archery sets, and possibly matches.
40. It is, of course, your natural right to exert the above negative influences on your siblings' offspring.
41. You are under no obligation to tell children the truth. Lying to children is, in fact, half the fun: "Oh, that tree? That's a yellow-spotted spickle-gruber, of course." On the other hand, they do remember everything.
42. Sesame Street. (In our case, Wonder Pets)
43. Your bedroom door gets a lock. Your teenage son's does not.
44. Lock or no, please knock before entering, as the disruption of a youth who is spanking his monkey will be twice as traumatic for you as it is for him.
45. Other doors to lock: those on the liquor cabinet.
46. There is only one reason for a teenager to burn incense, and we think you remember what it is.
47. Unfortunately, those books that say motherhood makes women desire more sex are referring to women who are not your wife.
48. No matter how wealthy you are, don't buy your kid a car -- offer to match him. Ditto for other adolescent big-ticket items; teach the little guy some responsibility!
49. The previous statement proving you are your parents. Only -- hopefully -- with better fashion sense.
50. Price of a college education for a baby born in 1999: $200,000.
51. If the real response to his question is no, try this instead: "Go ask your mom."
52. DNA tests are 99.9 percent accurate, but check the ears to be absolutely sure.
53. Reason boys are better: Boys start talking later than girls.
54. Reason girls are better: Boys toilet-train later than girls.
55. The twos aren't always terrible. Even if they are, take heart, as kids aged three to six generally believe their parents are the most amazing beings alive and wish to be exactly like them. How scary is that?
56. Establishing savings accounts for your kids and requiring them to make regular monthly deposits teaches them how to eventually become J. R Morgan. The above could prove useful in your dotage.
57. Corny as it sounds, that Harry Chapin guy was right. Then again, you could argue that W. C. Fields was right, too.
58. It's never too early to begin reading to children.
59. Let them read what they enjoy.
60. Except your porn, which your son will eventually steal unless you hide it really well. No, you cannot ask for it back. Furthermore, you cannot steal his.
61. Acceptable reading material: Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Curious George, and any of the following by Roald Dahl -- James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Danny the Champion of the World. Neither of the following by Roald Dahl: Kiss, kiss or Switch Bitch.
62. Know that by the time your kids are teens, those enormous baggy pants will be long gone, as will tattoos, piercing, and Marilyn Manson. Of course, by 2015, kids might very well sever arms and legs as fashion statements.
63. Some parents walk around naked in front of their children. These parents should stop it.
64. Nearly all psychological problems result from feelings of worthlessness, which is to say, every now and then make sure that you tell your kid he's pretty great.
65. And never raise a hand to him. But being a good guy, you probably knew that.
66. The harder they play, the earlier they sleep.
67. Never turn down an invitation to play.
68. No toys that require batteries.
69. They never really outgrow the claw. "No, Dad, no! Not the claw!" means "Apply the claw, please."
70. All in all, fatherhood is pretty terrific -- filled with joy and triumph, promise and miracles -- particularly other people's fatherhood.
71. You might think you know a lot about fatherhood, but not as much as you will when you're a grandfather.
72. If you're thinking that fatherhood means the end of life as you've known it, you, sir, are, of course, absolutely correct.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

USCGC Healy Diving Accident Report

Back in August, the Coast Guard lost two divers, LT Jessica Hill and BM2 Stephen Duque, in the Arctic Ocean. I posted about it here. The investigation is complete and the Commandant has placed the 33 page report on the internet. I encourage anyone who engages in high risk operations to read the report. There are lessons to be learned from this tragic event.

To the men and women of the Coast Guard:

On 17 August 2006, we lost two of our shipmates assigned to CGC HEALY, LT Jessica Hill and BM2 Steven Duque, in a tragic diving accident in the Arctic. There are valuable lessons to be learned by all of us regarding leadership, risk management, training and program oversight that apply to all Coast Guard operations. Therefore, I am directing all personnel to read my entire report. To help ensure public access to the report on the Internet, Coast Guard members with access to a CG Standard Workstation should view my report posted on CG Central at: ( Anyone without CGSW access can view a copy of the same report online at: (

Consistent with my commitment to the families of LT Hill and BM2 Duque, each family was provided a copy of my report and has been personally briefed by the Coast Guard Chief of Staff, VADM Papp, earlier this week. We once again express our deepest sympathies as the entire Coast Guard continues to mourn the loss of these two dedicated, hard working individuals. Please keep them, their families and the HEALY crew in your thoughts and prayers. I understand that there is nothing which will make up for the loss of LT Hill and BM2 Duque. We will honor our lost shipmates by taking timely action, at all levels, to improve our dive program.

In addition to this administrative investigation, a Commandant’s Vessel Safety Board has been convened to prevent any similar mishap in the future. Its work is ongoing. The results of that mishap analysis will be disseminated via ALCOAST upon its completion in the coming months.

Concurrent with the public release of this investigation today, the Pacific Area Commander, VADM Wurster, is briefing HEALY crewmembers and the media in the cutter’s homeport of Seattle. As the convening authority, VADM Wurster has taken action to hold HEALY’s Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and Operations Officer accountable for failing to meet their personal responsibilities surrounding this mishap.

This is a brief summary of what occurred. In the late afternoon hours of 17 August 2006, three Coast Guard divers from HEALY attempted to conduct two, 20-minute cold water familiarization dives at 20-foot depth during an ice liberty stop in the Arctic ice approximately 490 nautical miles north of Barrow, Alaska. After one of the divers exited the water due to equipment malfunction, the other two divers continued the dive in 29-degree Fahrenheit waters. The divers quickly descended to depths far exceeding their planned depth, one diver descending to 187 feet and the other diver descending to at least 220 feet. Once it became evident that too much tending line had paid out to support a 20-foot dive depth, the divers were brought to the water surface. The divers were recovered with no vital signs and were pronounced dead after extensive resuscitative efforts failed. Final autopsies report cause of death for both LT Hill and BM2 Duque as “Asphyxia with pulmonary barotraumas with possible air embolism” (lack of oxygen with severe air pressure damage to the lungs, including possible air bubbles in the circulatory system).

The bottom line is that this dive should have never occurred. The investigation revealed numerous departures from standard Coast Guard policy that should have precluded diving under the circumstances. Had HEALY’s Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, Operations Officer and dive team followed policies established in Coast Guard and Navy Diving manuals, they would not have permitted diving operations.

HEALY had only two qualified and current divers that day; this dive evolution required at least three qualified and current divers, and one qualified Dive Supervisor not actually diving. Additionally, the Diver Tenders were not qualified. Despite these problems, the dive plan was approved by the Commanding Officer without a pre-brief, an operational risk assessment or any medical evacuation plan, as required by Coast Guard and Navy policy.

A critical factor in the loss of the divers was that neither diver wore a weight belt, as required by the Navy Diving Manual. Instead, both divers carried approximately 60 pounds of weight in the pockets of their buoyancy compensation devices (BCD), approximately 2-3 times more weight than normally used by experienced divers in similar cold water and ice dive conditions. The BCD has pockets to carry and, if necessary, jettison weight. However, LT Hill and BM2 Duque filled not only the weight pockets, but also the equipment pockets of the BCD. Thus, much of the divers’ weight was not easily jettisonable. Although LT Hill had some experience diving in the Arctic, this was her first SCUBA dive in the Arctic. This was BM2 Duque’s first cold water dive.

Adding to the risk of the operation, the ship was holding “ice liberty” at the same time, and in close proximity to the dive evolution. The ice liberty included “polar bear plunges,” football and consumption of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Neither LT Hill nor BM2 Duque consumed alcohol prior to diving.

The deaths of LT Hill and BM2 Duque were preventable and resulted from failures at the Service, unit and individual levels. The investigation revealed failures in leadership within the chain of command aboard HEALY, as well as numerous departures from standard Coast Guard policy. Had a proper risk assessment been conducted, this tragedy could have been avoided. As a Service, we failed to exercise sufficient programmatic oversight of the dive program, including failures to adequately staff our dive units and conduct annual dive safety surveys. This mishap further highlighted our need to improve dive expertise in unit dive lockers and address shortfalls in dive program policy, guidance, training and experience. As a result, we will elevate program management on par with other high risk, training-intensive operations such as aviation. A comprehensive list of the corrective actions I have ordered, including those that have been completed, is contained in my report posted online.

We cannot prevent every Coast Guard casualty. Despite the professionalism, bravery, and dedication of our workforce, in rare cases we suffer a serious injury or death in the line of duty. As Coast Guard men and women we accept that risk, but we will not accept preventable loss or injury. This tragedy has prompted us to re-examine our dive program to ensure it is as well managed and safe as such inherently dangerous operations allow. The safe conduct of Coast Guard training is fundamental to Coast Guard readiness. Without it, there can be no successful Mission Execution. When it comes to dangerous operations such as diving, “good enough” is never good enough. We can do better. We will do better.

The sacrifices LT Hill and BM2 Duque made in service to their Nation will never be forgotten. Their loyalty and dedicated service will forever be appreciated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Admiral Thad Allen