Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving (a day late)!! It’s been a great holiday for me so far. I flew down to Alabama on Wednesday after an early departure (officially sanctioned – Thanks, DCMS!) from work. I left from Reagan International from the terminal that has TSA Pre-Check lines…active duty military and others (I don’t know all the rules) get a special line. I walked past about a 45-minute wait, right up to the front with only six people in front of me. *And* I didn’t have to take off my boots, belt or take all the crap out of my bag. Loved it!

Yesterday was a feast with the Rocket Scientist and his family. So much food, wonderful people, a beautiful day and lots of laughter and fun contributed to a picture perfect holiday, touched with a tinge of sadness that I didn’t get to see my family, just talk with them for a few minutes on the phone. It firms my resolve to make a concerted effort to see them at Christmastime.

And today, I am *making* time to write a post. I haven’t for a very long time, and I kind of feel it in my head. Lots of post thoughts rattling around, making a bunch of racket in my skull. I don’t think I really have anything in particular to write about…or, no, that’s not quite it…I have a *ton* of things to write about. I just can’t. Predecisional, political both in the grand “federal government” sense (think fiscal cliff, Sequestration, etc., etc.) and in the internal CG sense, I just can’t write about a lot of the stuff I do on a daily basis.

It’s *frustrating!* I’ve said before that I don’t always start out with knowing where I’m going with a post. The process of getting the words out of my head helps figure out how to articulate exactly what I’m wrestling with and define the scope, underlying difficulties and potential solutions.

For example, I recently submitted my application to be a TRACEN Cape May Company Mentor. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a while now, and since I’m a little closer to New Jersey than I have been for a long time, I decided to go for it. The application was fairly straight forward (sadly, the question I struggled with the most was, “What eight weeks over the next year are you most available?” Umm, none of them, but this is important to me, so I’ll make the time if you tell me when I need to be there). The meat of the application was the question, “Why do you want to be a Company Mentor?” or something to that effect. Huh, I hadn’t ever thought it through; I just knew it was something I wanted to do.

I wish I had access to my response while I write this post, because I’d take the easy way out and just cut and paste. But I’m still having difficulties with RAS, and I didn’t think ahead to what I was going to write about this weekend, so there ya go. Basically my answer was that one of the things I miss most about being a Commanding Officer (being on a ship in any capacity, really) is the interaction with my fellow crewmembers, especially the junior folks. There is something about their enthusiasm for all the new experiences that is inspiring and motivating. My current job that is so demanding, I need all the motivation I can find, and hanging out with new recruits sounds like a great opportunity to be reminded that the wonky budget work I do has real consequences to real people out doing real work in real dangerous conditions. I think I added that I stood to gain more from being a Company Mentor than the mentees might get from me.

In drafting my answer, though, it really started to make sense not only some of what I’ve been missing from not being underway but also why that sense of connection to field operations is so critical to my ability to make my best effort with program review duties. I wouldn’t have taken the time to go through the mental exercise of figuring out my motivational needs without the requirement of having to articulate why I want to be a Company Mentor. And that’s just good information for me to have about myself.

And it’s kind of funny that I feel such accountability from my blog. I mean, I *could* idk, journal about those things I can’t write publically about, but I just don’t have the forcing mechanism to make myself – being basically lazy and all. But because I’ve got such loyal readers, I feel obligated to continue writing for them…even if it is less frequently than before.

A quick side story about my readers: I’ve had a couple of recent encounters with people who read this bit of maundering. One was about two months ago: I cold-called somebody from one of my programs with a question. He’s something of a talkative sort who was newly reported and queried me about my background during the conversation. I gave him the last few years of my bio and at that point he asked me, hey, do you write a blog? Once I admitted that I did he told me he had run across it at his last job when he was searching online for resources about writing OERs to give to his JOs. I was a little embarrassed (but delighted) when he said he referenced my post to his JOs. I can only hope that one or two of them got something useful out of my thoughts on writing OER input.

And then just two or three weeks ago, I ran into a fellow blogger as I was making the trek between the two Headquarters buildings after a meeting. I hadn’t seen him for quite a while and stopped to chat with him for a moment. He said he was still reading my blog, it comes up on his RSS feed, and very kindly told me about how one of my posts about riding motorcycles had reminded him how much he enjoyed riding a motorcycle himself. He had a crash a couple of years ago, and hadn’t gotten around to replacing his bike. But after reading about my two-wheeled adventures, he remembered what fun he had and got a new motorcycle. Wow! I mean, Wow!! I guess I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that what I write resonates with other people and they find what I say useful. Hedging my bets against my mortality, maybe.

Regardless, I’m thankful for the forum.


Dan Taylor said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you! I chuckled as a read your post, sitting outside a coffee shop in Old Town, sipping a coffee, and enjoying the sight of the new ride that brought me there. Picture from that day below.

Always a pleasure to read your thoughts here!


Just a Girl said...

Great picture! And looks like a fantastically fun ride. Enjoy every trip, sir!

Jesse Thrift said...

Hi-- I'm a student at the University of Maryland with a bad habit of googling "USCG UMD" and trawling through to see what connections I can find.

I think I've actually found your blog twice doing that and read through miscellaneous bits, and as it happens I did that again today.

And, as it happens I saw the bit where you mention that you miss interacting with junior people in the Coast Guard like you did when you were on cutters, and I went-- "by golly gee whiz I have an idea!"

I'm an Auxiliarist of a somewhat atypical variety. I joined because I was interested in what's called the Auxiliary University Program-- college students interested in volunteering their time with the CG for one reason or another.

We do a lot of different things from the standard Auxiliary, including a focus on internships and leadership development (and we're generally a lot younger.) And we're always interested in finding more people who might like to work with us.

If you're interested you can find out more about our program and contact us at or our DC facebook page

Who knows, you might have run into some of us before.