The Ramblings of an Old Laid Back Sailor
My name is Stephen Cook, but you’ll not likely hear me refer to myself by that name again. I’ll be known here as Tank Rugani, or Big Tank. It’s my plan to share my perspective on life, politics, humor, and family…whatever ramblings seem appropriate. I’m in my late 50s and I’m a patriotic disabled Navy veteran. I worked in the engine room of the ships I served on, and then went on to be an industrial mechanic, working in shipyards and a steel mill. In my early 40s, I became a college student, ultimately earning a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management. So, what does that mean, exactly? It means I am teachable. I’m now an ‘old laid back sailor.’ Sometimes I’m a grumpy old sailor, and other times, I’m in a much more agreeable mood. I was not a lifer in my Navy days, so sometimes I find it odd that I identify so strongly with that part of my life in how I define myself now.

As a young man, I just knew I wasn’t going to join the Navy like my dad and stepdad both did. Oh no, I was too smart. Lol…so, of course, I enlisted in 1983. I started out at Naval Nuclear Power School but failed out during finals week. In my six years of active duty, I was blessed to visit 22 different countries, including Greece, Italy, France, Germany, and Switzerland. It was quite educational, and a great time, too! I saw, among other things and places, the Acropolis in Athens, the Colosseum in Rome, and I toured the Holy Land in Jerusalem. I also drank a bit during those days. It was an adventure not to be forgotten…even if remembered through a haze of alcohol.

My post-Navy life was one of work until my body finally turned on me…and I went on VA disability. Arthritis has gripped my body, and overtaken it. It’s rough hurting every day, but I prefer the pain to the alternative. You know, when you’re young you think you have a clue how your life will go. I was so wrong, I’m still amazed. I never saw myself being disabled. I never figured I’d have so much pain, so early in my life. Pain introduces new ways of life you never anticipate when the pain isn’t yours. It’s a constant challenge, to be sure, but one that I embrace as I age, knowing that pain will be a constant companion.

I’m a divorced father of daughters. My daughters are considerably younger than I am, having come to fatherhood late in my life. They are smart, beautiful, and always a priority in my life. I find that having my daughters is the undisputed highlight of my life, bar none. That they are the product of a bad marriage is amazing (and believe me, the marriage was hell). There have been times in my life that having my girls is what kept me alive. I’m certain of that. Now in my advancing years, as my daughters are just beginning their adult lives, I have a little princess to keep me on my toes. She’s smart, beautiful, and energetic in a way I don’t ever remember being. I’m a man of many hats, but the daddy hat fits me very well, I think.

I know you can’t tell, but I like to talk. Although a lot of what I say may be nonsense, or unimportant, I hope to impart some wisdom, share a few smiles, and most importantly, to do so in a way that I would do so with family and close friends. I may even remember a story or two from my past. I should…my girls tell me that I tell the same stories over and over. This is rambling, after all…and it’s likely to take you in a variety of directions. If I have learned anything in my years on this spinning marble, it is that expecting the unexpected is probably a good plan. As this introduction shows, I’m liable to tell you anything. I may be grumpy, silly/funny, serious, or simply providing fluff…but it should be entertaining.

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Stephen Cook: An Introduction

I am a 58-year-old disabled Navy veteran. I was an industrial mechanic in my working life. I am college-educated. I am a divorced father of two beautiful daughters, and Daddy to my little princess, Lizzie. I have been to 22 different countries and have seen some of the most notable sites in history. I was born and raised on the East Coast, and have lived the past 23 years in Kansas City, Missouri.