Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Better Week

I've been meaning to get to the computer and post about last week since, well, last week. Probably just as well that I never did. Last week was pretty bad. We found more holes in hard-to-get-to places on the ship, that translate into another week's extension in the drydock. We had an outboard motor stolen from where it was locked up outside the ship. And I sent a couple of pointedly antagonistic emails, fighting about various needs for money and funding.

The responses I got back from the emails were nicer than I expected. But I had to say my piece, and I feel better for having done so.

We've got a long-term plan in place for fixing some of the deteriorated metal above the waterline. Though I make no promises about not painting one of the patches just like what it is...a band-aid. At least for long enough to make my point.

And the shipyard has said they would pay for the outboard, since they're responsible for the security of everything while we're in their yard.

So...just as well I didn't post about anything last week. This week is shaping up to be fairly good so far. Except for that darn speeding ticket I got today. I can't even use the excuse that I was late...even with having to stop for the citation, I was on time for my meeting. I was just going fast for the sake of going fast. Too bad I didn't see the cop with the speed gun sitting on the side of the road. He didn't even have to chase me; he just flipped the lights on his motorcycle on, pointed at me, and I pulled over. No reason to blow him off, I knew I was busted. It's the priciest ticket I've had in a while. Aah, the cost of a little fun. And that Mini can go!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last Few Weeks

Here are some pictures from the last few weeks. This first one is from a hike that I took from Schofield to Waikane in the center of the island (Oahu). It was about 14 miles round trip. Yes, I was tired when I got done...and hungry when I got to this spot, which looks out over the windward side of the island.

Then last week I went to the Big Island for about six days. I stayed at a lovely little studio place just outside of Kapoho, called Lava Rock Hale. Eric and Diane have made a wonderfully inviting place out there, with this little round house, complete with four nice dogs and one old horse. I got a kick out of saying "Hi, horse" to him every morning. The last morning I was there, I shared a papaya with him, and laughed as he dribbled papaya juice down his chin.

But the main reason I went to the Big Island was to check out my property at Leilani Estates. I've had it for about four years, bought it when I was stationed out here before...and haven't really done much with it since. And, oddly enough, things grow fast and big here in the tropics when there's plenty of rain like there is in Leilani. So this is what I was facing...

I weed-eated (weed-ate?) for hours, for days. I was able to find the driveway.

And then some of the back of the property.

And lots of cut trees in the middle...

I got about half of the 1.29 acres cleared back. Some of it I kinda cheated on. The grass was mixed in with some sort of pea-like legume. I cut the tops of the grass and legume back to about mid-thigh level on me, and then crushed it by stepping on it. I'll have some great mulch/compost in a little bit.

But I enjoyed myself. There's something very gratifying about working hard, and being able to look back at the end of the day and seeing in such a graphic way what you got done.

One last photo from the trip. This is looking down one of the back roads near Kapoho. I love these old mango trees. The state of Hawaii has designated them Exceptional Trees...and I totally agree.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What the Future Holds

One of the great things about being in drydock, is that it gives me plenty of time to plan my next move professionally. The Coast Guard has already accepted me into their Advanced Education program for a Masters in Public Administration. Now it's up to me to decide what school, where, with what focus.

It should be of no surprise to *anyone* who knows me that I've already been through about three iterations of the plan (Anne :), thanks for being so patient with listening to me stew through them all). But I'm developing a new plan. Shocker, I know. I guess that's one way in which the Coast Guard and I really do get along...nothing is for certain in the Coast Guard until it actually happens, kinda like one of my plans.

Here's my thought process:
-Location, location, location: I am really tired of moving around. I've been in the CG for (one month shy of) 10 years. In that 10 years, I've had seven jobs, in six locations...but that doesn't count the two months of Basic Training in New Jersey, four months of Officer Candidate School in Connecticut, 10 weeks of Tactical Action Officer School in Rhode Island or the two months of Pre-Deployment Training in Virginia...or the five month drydock away from homeport. I need to be in one place for more than a year or two. Because of the program I've chosen, I have three choices for locations of my pay-back tour (the required follow-on job, since the CG will be nice enough to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for my degree): most likely is Washington, DC at CG Headquarters, and significantly less likely at either Alameda, CA or Portsmouth, VA.

In this decision process, and god knows it is a process, I've used that location issue as the basis for starting to look at schools. In those three areas are some good schools:
Washington, DC area (heavy emphasis on the "area" part) has American University, George Washington University and University of Maryland at College Park (Sis, I know your mouth is hanging agape at my suggestion that I'm considering College Park, but this is all still very early discussion stages yet).
Alameda, CA has University of California at Berkeley. And that's it for schools ranked 50 or below in the entire San Francisco area. I was really shocked. I mean Berkeley is ranked two or four depending on who you ask, but still. And I would have to do some fancy talking to get the CG to send me's a longer program than the others and kind of a long-shot for the payback tour.
Portsmouth, VA area has Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Neither of these are ranked...bummer. The beauty of this location is that I could potentially spend the rest of my career here because there are numerous ships homeported here, and I still want my O4 XO/CO and O5 CO (hopefully) rides.

Next comes consideration of what focus I want my for my program. I had originally thought that an environmental policy would be just the thing. I could look into what it would take for the CG to move to more environmentally friendly fuels, like biodiesel, for their fleet of vessels. But then, as part of the application process, the schools want to know what my goals are, short and long term. What I really want to work with is local food systems, how to develop them, nuture them and sustain them. But...I can't quite figure out how to do that and make it relevant to my CG career. Not without getting into some heavy-duty logistical bean counting. And I'd much rather grow the beans and eat the beans, than count the beans.

I started looking at other options, and found that most schools offer a Leadership focus. They pretty up the name and make it sound a little more impressive, but it comes down to how to influence people. I think this may be a great fit. I can certainly draw on my previous experiences with useful anectedotes and scenarios for discussion. And I still have a lot to learn about organizational leadership and how people work best in different environments.

Am I on the right track here? Is my thought process sound? What haven't I considered?