Who Am I?

My photo

I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

INTRODUCTION

My name is Michael Watts, and this is my blog.

 




The reason why I have finally decided to create a blog was because a friend suggested it after reading one of my rather lengthy e-mails. So, to my friend, if you are reading this: Thank you.

I have a wide variety of interests. I enjoy history, music, sports, movies, and politics. I will do my best to update on a regular basis. Since this is called Michael's Rant, I go all over the place.

Do your best to keep up.

ABOUT ME

I was born October 29, 1983 in Dallas, TX. I share a birthday with Simpsons' voice actor Dan Castellaneta. And yes, I am a bit of a Simpsons fan. I have a sister that is three years younger than me. My mother lives and works in Austin as a nurse. On my mother's side, I have my grandparents, five aunts who range in many different perspectives, an uncle, a cousin who is like an aunt, and six younger cousins.

On my father's side, my father has been an airline mechanic for Delta Airlines for 20+ years. He lives in Atlanta and flies home to the Dallas area on his days off. I have my grandmother, an uncle, an aunt, and her two sons. One is a year older than me, currently stationed in the Air Force up in Minot, ND. He has two children. I am the Godfather to his youngest child. The other is about the same age as my sister and currently in school at Tarrant Community College looking to transfer to UNT. 



I grew up primarily in the Mid Cities Area, northeast of Fort Worth. I was a part of the first graduating class from Birdville High School in North Richland Hills in May 2002. There is not much to say about my high school days. I was more of a background character while I was in high school. My school picture is the only one you will find of me in any of my year books. I was in JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps). I was a math and science nerd. I knew a little bit of everyone, but I never really hung out with anyone in particular.

Life did not get interesting until AFTER high school…

In August 2002, I left for the United States Navy because I wanted to see the world. There wasn't much for me in Texas anymore at this point in my life. I completed recruit training at Great Lakes, IL. After that, I began an 18-month academically intense training regimen in the Navy's Nuclear Power Training pipeline in Charleston, SC. The first school was Nuclear Field 'A' School where I learned the basics of being a mechanical operator and maintenance person in the engine room of a nuclear propulsion plant. The second school was Nuclear Power School which introduced various systems on a nuclear powered ship and the theory behind the operations. The final training platform involved putting it all together with hands on training at Nuclear Power Training Unit, or Prototype. It was tough. There were moments where I thought I wouldn't make it. Somehow through sheer will of a combination of determination, skill, and some luck, I completed the training.

In March 2004, I reported to the USS Carl Vinson stationed in Bremerton, WA. I was assigned to Reactor Department, Machinery Division (M Div). In M Div our job was simple as described on the door to the Division Office: Water. Light. Power. We made the water for the ship; we kept the electric turbine generators running to make electricity for the ship; we kept the main engines running to propel the ship.

I enjoyed being stationed in Washington. It is one of the most beautiful places to explore in the United States. It is green year around. There are mountains, forests, and ocean coasts. It rains, but it is more of a mist. You can easily find something to explore up around the Seattle area. It doesn't get too hot or too cold. You can almost wear a jacket year around there. Go visit the Pacific Northwest if you ever get the chance.

My ship left for a seven month world cruise deployment from Bremerton, WA to Hampton Roads, VA. Along the way we stopped in San Diego, Guam, Singapore, Bahrain, Dubai (twice), Greece, and Portugal. We spent half of the deployment in the Persian Gulf. Believe me; it gets mighty warm in the engine room on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf. It easily gets to 100F in the ventilation when you are down in the engine room.

That was quite an accomplishment for someone at the age of 21. Complete nuke school, go around the world. What was next for me?


The final three years in the Navy I spent in the shipyards in Newport News, VA assisting with the ship's Reactor Complex Overhaul (RCOH). Every 25 years, a carrier goes through a mid-life maintenance period where they refuel the two nuclear reactors. I didn't mind living in Virginia. I was not a big fan of spending the remainder of my Navy career in the shipyards. It was a rather soul sucking experience. While in the yards it felt like I wasn't really doing anything. It wasn't until years later I saw the result of the hard work that myself, my fellow sailors, and the shipyard put in to bring the ship back to service.

Even though the time in the yards was crummy, I took advantage of my free time to visit DC (twice), Monticello, Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, and the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee during the fall.



The idea of staying in the Navy crossed my mind several times. I even had paperwork in the process for re-enlisting to receive orders to transfer to another ship. In early 2008, I decided to pull that paperwork and replace it with paperwork for TAP Class (Transition Assistance Program). I was not going to re-enlist. I felt it was time to pursue my college education. This was a difficult choice because I was saying good-bye to some people that I had developed both professional and personal relationships with. I was also leaving a life that I was familiar with for a good portion of my adult life. I was facing some pretty big uncertainties.

This was a pretty big decision I was facing. What it came down to was this: Everyone gets out, whether it was after their first enlistment or twenty years. The Navy had served its purpose. It was going to be a stepping stone to something else, but I didn't know what at the time, but I knew that being a nuclear operator in the Navy was not for me anymore. I would have liked to change career fields within the Navy, but since I was in a field that wouldn't let me, I decided that it was best to move on.

The Navy was an attractive choice to me during my carefree pre-adulthood days. Now, as I was approaching 25, it wasn't. I could not see myself doing this until I was 40. I also wanted to go to school while I had the best opportunity to do so.

I was honorably discharged from active duty on August 5, 2008 as a Machinists Mate 2nd Class (MM2/E-5). Awards I earned during my time in: Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, Battle E, Good Conduct (2), National Defense Service, Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Service, GWOT Expeditionary, and Sea Service.

I have no ill feelings toward the Navy. Yeah, it sucked, but those experiences shape me as the person that I am today. I tried something, and it wasn't what I expected. I upheld my end of the bargain, and in return I am getting my college education out of it. I had one career (even though it was a very brief 6 years…); now I am in another: full-time student. Being a full time student will set me up for my next career whatever that may be this time.


Currently, I am living in Denton and using my GI Bill benefits to attend the University of North Texas. I am pursing my bachelors of science in mathematics with a minor in political science. It should be noted that this semester I am reconsidering political science as a minor because I had a nightmare of a class in said minor. There was so much reading that I had to for not just that class, but also a philosophy class that dealt with environmental issues. I was also taking my second English class as required by my degree plan and I wanted to get it out of the way.



It is just me and my cat, Mewsette who I have known since she was a kitten. She has come to live with me since July 2009. She was born September 1, 1994 and is currently 15 years old (76 in human years). Even though she is old, she is still a baby in some ways. I realize that housecats on average live between 16-18 years and I am doing what I can within my power to make sure her remaining time on Earth are happy ones. The only things Mewsette cares about is that she has fresh food and water, clean litter, and a nice warm, quite place to curl up in. Occasionally, she will come and say hi to me (codeword: "I want something from you"). After Mewsette gets petted, she goes off and does cat stuff.

INTRESTS

My interests are varied. I enjoy movies, music, and books. Basically, I am always trying to learn something. Things I particularly like learning is history and current events.

I enjoy taking road trips. It is not so much the destination that I enjoy of the road trip, but more of the journey that one goes on. When I am on the road, I feel like I am truly free. I am in control. My iPod is cranking out music and the time goes by quickly as I cruise along the highway.

I think all these varied interests come from the desire to know and seek out information. My mom's sisters are amazed that I know so much and wonder how I do it.

Well, I'll share a little secret with you… It is not that I KNOW so much, it is I KNOW where to find it.

For example, when I was in prototype, I had to undergo my final oral board. I did not have a murder board like everyone else, where they drill you on every signature you received for demonstrating knowledge in your qualification book before you take your final board. One of the civilian instructors prepping me, told me to demonstrate as much knowledge as I could and when I got stuck, use the books. I may get docked points for not having the knowledge first hand, but showing that I know where to find it would be less painful than saying "I don't know." If I was not sure of an answer: look it up. That is what the books are for.

I have no problem if someone fact checks me in a constructive manner. Meaning, if I post something on here that you think is not completely accurate or that is outright blatantly false, feel free to reply with some kind of evidence to back it up. I highly encourage the transfer of ideas in a constructive manner.

Or, the most effective way to get your point across about how messed up my logic is, feel free to quote THIS GUY:


 
I am a devout follower of the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys. I became a fan back in 1994 during their Super Bowl runs, remained a fan during the 5-11 years of 2000-02 (hey, that's consistency), and still am during the Romo Empire. If the Cowboys fail in their quest for a sixth Super Bowl title (as they have the past 14 seasons), I will continue to follow the NFL, through the playoffs, all the way to the Super Bowl. Then every team is reset to 0-0. I follow college football and look forward to the December debate of "Why the BCS Should Be Kept/Thrown Out."

I'll follow the Rangers because I need something to root for during the non-football period until NFL training camps start up. I know they suck, but this could be the year they FINALLY win a playoff series. I like hockey especially playoff overtime hockey, but the games are rarely shown on TV unless you have cable (which I don't). I've been to a minor league game, but never a pro one. I understand some of the rules.

The NBA: my problem is their playoff season. The season ends when it is time to turn in your IRS-1040 and by the time a champion is ready to be crowned, it's time to start planning the Fourth of July parade. I prefer college basketball over the pro game for the post season because it is over in a month. I regret not following UNT's men's basketball team this year. However, I do not regret missing one of their football games.


I always had an interest in politics (as most of you will probably find out). Judging by my pictures and this posting, you can probably tell what my political points of view are. The base of my interest in politics came from watching the Clinton Impeachment and staying up to watch the 2000 Election. The cultivation of that growth came immediately after I was discharged from the Navy in August 2008. I remember watching the conventions on TV with my aunt Jeanne. I told her "Obama is going to win this thing," and "How can I get involved?" Through a connection from a family friend, I got involved with the Mid-Cities Democrats in Northeast Tarrant County. I did what I could to help get candidates elected to local, state, and federal level offices.

I identify as a Progressive Democrat and continue my involvement with the Democrats here in Denton County through various organizations at the county and state level, such as the Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, Young Democrats of Denton County, Precinct Chair, and I hold a position with the Texas Young Democrats.

I have had people introduce me as an activist, but I do not see myself as one. I am more of a political observer, commentator, and the moment is right I will take action, but within the system. For example, last year I attended the health care town hall meetings that our US House Representative held and was a part of the pro-health care rally outside of his office in Lewisville. I was also on two panels, one celebrating a key moment in the LGBT Rights Movement and another speaking about Immigration Reform.










It would not surprise me that my first true blog posting would be about politics. It probably stems from the fact that I lack the physical ability to compete in sporting event so to make up for that, I had to exercise my brain. Also, I have seen the results of the decisions that our leaders have made throughout our nation's history. That I will save for another posting. This is my first blog. I have to pace myself.

GOALS OF THIS BLOG

In short, the purpose of this blog to provide a commentary on that I deem interesting. How many times will there be a posting? That depends on what I have going on in my school, political, and social schedules. Bookmark this page and check back every couple of days. There will be something that I know I will rant about. Just go with the flow as I figure how I make this blog my own voice.
Post a Comment