Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Observations

Totally off-topic, but *way* more important than my silly ramblings: My thoughts are with the friends and family of CG-6535's crew, lost early last week in a crash in Mobile Bay, AL. I didn't know any of the four men, but I know people who know them...and any loss in a service as small as ours is deeply felt.

Shiloh Thomas over on Womeninthemilitary.blogspot.com, wrote an excellent piece on what the crash means to us...I'll let you read her words, because she did such an amazing job of summarizing pretty much exactly how I feel about it.

Rest in peace, brothers.

(PS--I've never met Shiloh, or whoever she is behind her pen-name, but I love, love, love!! her posts. Not only is she a great writer, she also has a strong sense of self and thoughtfulness that makes our junior enlisted ranks so much more powerful and effective. And I guess I'm more than a little jealous that she's operational :) I wish her the best success in her career, and just *know* she'll rock at whatever she does.)

I've been in the office for a month now. And I have a few more observations. First, my time horizon has changed. Used to be that I'd plan for the next patrol or the next inport...never more than three months down the line. And on the last couple of ships, never more than a month or two away (well, except for that whole drydock nonsense). Now, I'm staring at Two.And.A.Half.YEARS of the same schedule: alarm goes off at 0500, out the door by 0530, in the gym by 0600, cleaned up and at the desk by 0715. Leaving varies by an hour or two...anywhere from 1730 to 1930 pm so far. Get home, get dinner, fix breakfast and lunch up for the next day, clean the litter box, go to bed. Get up and do it all again the next day.

I tried meeting friends out once or twice during the week...just doesn't work. If I'm not asleep by 2100, the whole 10- to 12-hour workday turns into a complete torture session the next day. So any social life is relegated to the weekends...though thankfully I've got some friends that chat me up on facebook in the evenings so I don't have to live totally alone under my rock.

Two and a half years. The same thing. Day after day. How the *HELL* do people do this for lifetimes?

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally digging the job...just not the sameness of the schedule. Isn't there some opsec lesson to be learned here -- some need to vary your routine so the bad guys aren't able to get a bead on you. And it gives a whole new meaning to "working for the weekend."

Second, there's a whole new vocabulary. The three favorite terms I've noticed so far are:
--wirebrush: it means to dig into a statement made (usually by a program), looking for unstated assumptions, questionable data, faulty logic and lots of the time, just plain lazy analysis. This is what our office does. We wirebrush...everything. Ya know how you count the times a speaker says some catch phrase (I had a soil chemistry professor who used to always say, "in point of fact." Was distractingly annoying)? I'm preeeety sure if I counted how many times "wirebrush" was said in our offices, I'd have more hash marks on the page than I had quarters in the wardroom cuss jar on BOUTWELL.
As used in a sentence: XO to a Reviewer, "We need to wirebrush the numbers supporting that funding request, make sure the parts and people add up."

--good staff work: all that wirebrushing, applied with some sensibility, solid research and insightful recommendations will prompt the phrase, "good staff work." It's pretty much doing our job, but doing it really well.

--pink dot city: what happens in the building after 1601, and about 1400 on Fridays. We've got this cool little communicator system, which we use to IM with other people in our IT system, and each person has a little dot next to their name indicating their status: red means busy, yellow means away, green means available. Pink means logged out. Hence "pink dot city" means that the largest majority of people on any one email are logged out for the day.

Third, just a quick observation about meetings. I haven't been to a single meeting yet with less than a dozen attendants. And the most so far was a meeting I went to this morning...at least two dozen people, including about a half dozen admirals (totaling maybe eight or nine stars).

But this morning's meeting did solve a mystery for me. Late last week, I wore a short-sleeved shirt in the gym for the first time (and yes, I was pretty freaking nervous about it). I was on the treadmill when a distinguished-looking gentleman got on a stationary bike close by. Just by his appearance, I figured he was at least an O6 or GS15, but I didn't recognize him. I kept catching him looking at my arm...not rudely or anything, just kind of interested-ly. I almost asked him if he wanted to take a closer look at it after I got done running, but figured that might be rude on my part. So I just let it go. But he was at today's meeting and I found out who he is. His interest in my tattoo made a lot more sense after that.


Azulao said...

OMG, I love that term wirebrush. I'm totally going to use that. We need to wirebrush that claim that technology always enhances classroom teaching. We need to wirebrush that grant proposal. We need to wirebrush that faculty evaluation. HAAAA.

Hey...do a post on "loyalty." I realized today that one of the deep divides between faculty and administrators is the different concepts they hold of "loyalty."

You, dear Girl, have gone from being a sailor to being an administrator in much the same way that a faculty member goes from being a professor to being a dean. You now have different responsibilities and a view from a whole different altitude -- so how has your concept of "loyalty" changed?

Oh, and btw, loved your last post. Especially your line about having to figure out the best path even though nobody has all the right answers. Being wrong rocks.

Just a Girl said...

A, What a great idea for a post! I'll probably have to mull it around the noggin for a while...but will def start the process.

Azulao said...

I also realized that administrators forget, *incredibly quickly*, that they are there to SERVE THE FACULTY.

Their *whole job* is to make the university work so that faculty can do their job of helping students learn. (Well, okay, maybe 85% of their job is that.) But within a matter of months, an administrator who was a faculty member for more than 20 years can forget what it's like to be a faculty member, and start complaining about the demands of the faculty. I guess it's because if it's one administrator dealing with 583 faculty's individual needs and concerns, you get tired of it fast. But...when those faculty needs and concerns are legitimate...it's administration's *job* to get 'em taken care of if possible within reason.

I submit that the same is true for you. If so, I'll also be interested to hear how you keep that in mind.