Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Count on it


“Show me the metrics.” “Prove that you are doing better, don’t just tell me about.” “What can we do to engrain the progress we have made.” “We need to be able to tell them. It is time for budget cuts, and they like graphs-can you make one to prove our effectiveness?”

All of the above has been said to me in the last month, which has brought me a new love in my life: excel/google spreadsheet. I have been religiously tracking many things in my life.

It started with my Army PT class. We had semester and midterm evals, which though mildly useful did not bring immediate changes (I have been in this class for 4 years now, so I have had a decent look at the squads.) Therefore After every workout I would rate how smoked I was (1 being should have stayed in bed, 10 equals puked passed out or dead) and how enjoyable the workout was (variety.) I would rate that for each segment of the morning (muscle endurance and run group) along with comments about what I liked and what we did. I did this every morning for a month, getting the rankings of my cadets. When I had enough data, I approached the lieutenant seeking advice on how to bring this up to my leadership (which I felt might be a touchy subject, as it was discussed with others over breakfast, but no one saw what the rankings were like.) It had to go out in order to mean something in real time. As we talked he became more and more excited about the idea and now it happens for every cadet rated by all participants at the end of the workout. The leadership gets immediate feedback, and I have noticed some changes within the next workout due to the effects of the metrics.

Thanks to google docs on my phone, I can also track my personal lifting (PT is great, but not enough to really excel in OCS.) After every lift I can track to see my weights becoming heavier and heavier and see what has been working well along with when is time to boost up. In one month I have increased my bench by 30 pounds.

Metrics can be used for almost every possible concept. What do you track?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Letter

Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company”-Lord Byron

Lent was yesterday, which kicks off the annual conversations over the Hubbell lunch tables of “so what are you giving up?” My favorite one was in middle school giving up Nickelodeon (channel 47 back home,) and then ended up not really enjoying it after Easter. This is probably why I have never given up milkshakes. A few years ago a close friend told me that instead of giving up something she was going to be adding something good for her (in this particular case, drinking a full nalgene of water each day.) Having already giving up the more fun things in life last spring (the Middle East provides for a lengthened unintentional fasting from some of the traditional aspects people give up for the holiday.) This time I will be writing letters.

Two days in, and I have written two letters. I will keep you updated how it goes. I am looking forward to the one to the Commander in Chief and to my sailors.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Big in Japan

I have a job. I am eternally thankful for it, and the income I have made from it has greatly served me well. However that job becomes more and more real each day.

I found the list for NROTC members of what ships they will go to upon graduation. Two months after I walk across the stage, I will be presented with another list. I will have to marry the type of ship I want with the homeport I want. I had hoped for Bahrain, but that looks more and more unlikely with the impending Iran showdown (no one wants untested officers in the fight straight out of training and it is not a normal port as very few ships are homeported there.) I am still keeping my fingers crossed but preparing for more options. When I turned 20 I told one of my best friends I would spend as much of the next decade overseas as possible. For the Navy this means Forward Deployed, in……Japan.

Time to learn to like sushi.

I don’t know if that is where I will end up but it is a real possibility. I have tried to not come to that realization, but subconsciously knew it might be the case, hence why I took a class on Japan this semester (not needed for my major track.) Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, San Diego or even the Philippines are other options. If I went to Norfolk, Virginia I could spend my off days staring at the USS Wisconsin the way some guys stare at photos of swimsuit models in their lockers.

I have also started research into the IW part of my SWO-IW specialty. Information Warfare (Information Dominance) will become my job after I get my SWO pin and am qualified to drive and fight the ship. This job is becoming more and more called upon and diverse. The amount of IA assignments-when we get detached and go somewhere to help without a ship (Iraq, Afghanistan the Pentagon, etc.) increases for IA due to the technical nature of our positions and for SWOs because we are generalists. I will have both, which should lead to my dream job of Foreign Area Officer (Military Embassy work) a few years down the line.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


This was a pretty eclectic weekend. On Friday afternoon my girlfriend and I went to Dos Rios, a downtown Mexican Restaurant. They have one of the best margaritas I have ever had. The food is particularly good as well. I had a seasoned shrimp and rice.

Saturday morning I was at an “Outclass your competition/Dinning with Diplomats” etiquette luncheon. This was put on at no cost to us by the LEAD concentration (http://www.drake.edu/catalog/ugrad/artsci/leadershipconc.php) at Drake, of which I am a member. We learned networking basics-I apparently close my eyes when meeting someone (so that I can remember their face and name) however it comes off as odd to the other person. Information was presented on body language and posture (my go-to, “at ease” hands behind my back stance when mingling/ waiting was deemed inappropriate in the civilian world because my hands cannot be seen, thus creating an acute sense of wonder/distrust.) We then moved into a receiving line and a three-course formal business meal complete with continental vs. American dining styles, toasts, and a discussion on the difference between social and business dining. This was the first time I had even been through the dinner portion of these classes and the Tero (http://www.tero.com/) folks did a splendid job.

Saturday afternoon I got to finish up a fair amount of reading followed by a jaunt downtown with my girlfriend and a close friend of ours. I am eternally in search for the best cheeseburger possible, and think I have found it at Americana, also located downtown Des Moines. The restaurant is a very urban feel with a large mix of clientele. Heading to our table we walked past some young professionals acting out what looked like an adult prom, dressed to the nines. We were fine in business causal attire (I had a t-shirt on underneath my blazer in preparation to catch the Drake game afterwards.) The prices are fine for a weekend dinner, and the food is simply amazing!

After stopping by another watering hole, the girlfriend and I ended up listening to the Live Jimmy Concert in Orlando (thank you internet radio) which was an amazing way to cap off the evening.

Keeping with the “chill” vibe of the weekend, as I was getting ready today “A Pirate’s look at 40” came on my speakers in my basement. I hoped into my hammock, which I strung up yesterday and was overcome with the swaying of the ocean and the sounds of the Mayor of Margaritaville.

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