I spent the past week doing work-related traveling. Most of it was spent in the heart of Navy-land, the Norfolk/Hampton/VA Beach area. A few thoughts... 1. Jets are stupid loud. Living under the DP routes from a Naval Air Station must be a miserable existence. You can't even hear yourself think on the ramp. 2. Norfolk Naval Station is massive. It's pretty cool to be driving across the Hampton Bridge/Tunnel and seeing all the ships in port. Lots of aircraft, too, though Navy helicopters aren't that interesting. We did see lots and lots of ships coming into port and going out. I'm amazed at how fast a frigate or destroyer can turn. 3. Navy rank is mystifying, and those uniforms...blue camo? Whose idea was that? I had to stop a sailor and ask her to explain why her nametapes/rank were gold and not silver. It seems backward to me, but at least I know now. 4. The Navy Exchange. Wow. The NEX at Norfolk is the largest in the world, and it rivals the nicer malls in Nashville for selection. We went there just to see it and ended up dropping serious cash. AAFES exchanges are AWFUL...but the NEX is a place I'd seriously shop. We ended up buying Apple computers, North face jackets, Brooks running shoes, and some Merrells...all discounted, plus tax free. You will never find brands like that at a PX/BX (though we don't call them that anymore, I guess). I don't know how the Army/Air Force went so wrong with AAFES....the NEX is legit. 5. Navy people.......are some great Americans. I got the chance to have dinner with my buddy, a USNA grad, who I met on a deployment when we did some joint work. Besides being a Rhodes Scholar, a swimmer, and an EOD officer, he's a downright great person. It was great to swap stories and share memories of dusty times in a faraway place over some top-notch seafood. That is one of the truly great things about serving your country...the people you meet. I'm still glad to be a USMA grad and an Army officer...but the Navy is a neat organization with a lot of history, and some awesome toys and even better people. If you like seafood...join a sea service. After the fish tacos I had this week, I can die a happy man.