February 2005 Archives

Today I received word that the NSA Millington site has been approved for awarding the MA in National Security and Strategic Studies degree. That is the site where I completed my classes so I am included in the program. The email I received said my record was going before the College next week and the coordinator said he saw no problems with the process.

Now this means that I have to finish one of my elective classes I took about 2 or 3 years ago and received an incomplete in. It was a readings class and I still wanted to do more readings so I kept putting off writing the final paper. This means my spring break has been reprogrammed somewhat, not that I was really getting a lot of time off anyway. Now, I'll be writting a paper.

VADM John Cotton Lunch Speaker

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Dateline: Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

The speaker at lunch today for the workshop was Vice Admiral John G. Cotton whom I have heard via VTC several times. He was much better live, not that he’s bad via VTC. I found him to be very frank, forthcoming, entertaining, and motivating. Of course the things he said went over well with the audience he had; it might have received a different response elsewhere but who cares. He was great.

I also got to talk to my mentor a little while. Living in different parts of the country makes it a little difficult but we keep in touch via email.

Unfortunately I learned some disturbing news. The Commander Line selection board meets on 15 March, not 30 March, as I had thought. Of course I could have checked but it was one things that I knew I knew so why check what you know, right? Well, check what you know you know if it is really important. The only problem is that I need a new photograph for the record and I’m missing a Fitness Report. I had checked on things so it isn’t like I was completely unprepared, I just thought I had more time to prepare than I now have.

My biggest problem is a missing fitness report from my last commanding officer. When he detached I sent the report but, because of his deployment schedule and the connectivity problems we had, it never was received. I checked on it but he had detached. I explored several options but finally was told I have to track him down.

NEW Glasses

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Dateline: Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

I left home early this morning to go to DC for the Naval Engineering Workshop (NEW) and flew Delta. I really do not like flying ASA Airline, they are so unreliable, but at times it beats driving somewhere else. Anyway, while traversing through the Hartsfield International Airport I made a stop by the head. I was doing a particularly good job of washing my hands because I had ruin across for too many people with runny noses when my bags started slipping. I decided to loop my laptop over my head for safety and in the process the laptop and my glasses started heading for the floor. I opted to save the laptop but the result was a chip in my glasses. For a while I have fly vision.

Once I got to DC I checked around the hotel but could find no one who could help me out. So I fired up the laptop, tracked down a LensCrafters at Pentagon Centre and made a phone call. A short Metro ride and an hour and a half later I had a new pair of specs. I also owe my daughter a great deal of gratitude as well. I’ve had a new prescription for a while but had not found anyone around home that I trusted to fill it. I was not happy with the fitting for the last pair of progressive lenses I got locally and was holding off for someone else. My daughter found my prescription and faxed it to me at the hotel and LensCrafters helped me out of a tight. These lenses are also better than the last as far as the alignment goes. If only we had a LensCrafters nearby.

A few years ago when I needed glasses in Starkville, I was told to go see an Ophthalmologist in town who also dispensed glasses. I was told they were the best when it came to fitting me with the kind of lenses I wanted. My ophthalmologist is in another town but since I see him so seldom and have seen him for so long, I see no reason to find someone else. Anyway, when I went to get my prescription filled with the ophthalmologist in Starkville I was told he couldn’t fill it because of an agreement he had cut with the hospital. It turns out the optometrist in town got upset that a real doctor was coming in and going to sell glasses. So the deal the hospital worked out was that the doctor could sell glasses to his patients but could not fill other prescriptions. He could have given me an exam and filled the prescription with no problem but I would have been out more money for a needless exam.

That is when I really started to question the competence of our hospital and the motives of the optometrists in town. The hospital should have stood up and fought for the ophthalmologist but I know about how spineless they are. The optometrists were just shamelessly protecting their business interest. I guess the free market applies unless you are an optometrist, so I have avoided them here as much as I can ever since.

Academic Freedom of Speech...Well Sorta

Larry Summers, President of Harvard, is still in hot water and can;t seem to get out. About a month ago he made some remarks at a meeting about women scoring lower on some test than men and that may be the reason why women are underrepresneted in engineering and science fields. Okay, probably not the best thing to say at a meeting. I'm not even sure it is true. I do know the women I know in engineering are as smart, if not smarter, than any man in the field.

Dr. Summers says he was asked to be conrtoversial at the meeting and that is why he made the comments. Well he certainly stimulated conrtoversy and is now likely to be strung up as a sacrifice to the policitally correct god. As a president of a university he does indeed need to meet a higher standard but is what he said, under the conditions he said it, all that bad? He has apologized many times, created task forces to look into women's issues, yet some Harvard faculty really want to see him gone, all because of something he said.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Colorado, we have a professor who has said really nasty things about 9/11 and Americans. Some want to see him gone from higher education, if not from the entire country, but many run to his aid and claim he is entitled to say what he wants becuase of his freedom of speech. Okay, do the faculty and others have the right to freely criticize this guy and call for his termination?

So what gives here? On one side of the Mississippi we can't get rid of a professor because of what he said but on the other side we can. One university is private, the other public but does that really matter in this case? Must you only be below a certain rank to say anything controversial?

A few years ago at the Naval War College, I attended a conference where one speaker introduced himself and gave his job title as Cheif Devil's Advocate. He claimed that his job in his organization at the Pentagon was to always be a devil's advocate. No matter what position was taken, he would always take the opposite just to make sure everyone had their thinking caps on. Sounds like Larry Summers was asked to be a devil's advocate and is now being sent to meet the devil. Unfairness rules the day once again in academia.

An Interesting Week

Last week was a very interesting week all things considered. I met with some students, we had Engineer's Week (a week early), and we had some consultants come from elsewhere to review our Honors Program. We ended with a very nice dinner Friday night with the folks from Honors and had a very good time. They seemed to think our Honors program was doing some very good things but they also had some suggestions for improvement. Of course improvement means money and money requires someone willing to give it. They claimed the University Administration is behind this program and that some funding may result. I hope so.

Unfortunately right now we are in the mode of wanting to be the biggest University in the state rather than focusing on being the best. What bothers me is the underlying premise that we can not be both. When I think of some of the best universities around I do not think of any that are having trouble recruiting students--most are turning students away. Why can we not be that way? Well, the truth is we can. But we have to be careful. If we go for the short-term gains of more students, for assess in classes, without considering the quality, then focusing on quality later will be damn near impossible. I have this feeling that we are suffering from the lack of a grand vision of what we can be.

I also lost a Sailor this week. One of my Seamen was found dead outside her of house. I understand the investigation is still on-going (but I live so far away it is hard to keep up) but foul-play is not suspected at this time. It is terrible to lose anyone you know but it is particulalrly hard to lose someone in your unit. My Chiefs and I had worked with the Sailor and had great hopes for what she could accomplish. She left behind her children which is perhaps the saddest part. Growing up in this world is tough enough but to do it without a mother is, I'm afraid, asking too much.

Mid-Term exams start next week and I really need to be working on one right now. Guess I better go and get on it.

Morning People

I woke up earlier than normal this morning due to a 0800 start of an on-campus recruiting event. I was not a very happy camper and mever enjoy getting up early. My personal beliefe is that if God had wanted us to see the sunrise, he would have scheduled it for later in the day.

As I was showering, trying to improve my mood, I started wondering why so many things started in the mornings. Why not start later in the day and work into the night? I'm usually up until 0100 or 0200 in then mornings, why does it seem wrong for me to expect that of other people?

Now, when I'm doing AT with the Nvy, then I really don't mind getting up early and te reason is simple--everyone gets up early. We all get an early start and also finish the day fairly eraly as well given me the time I need to do the other things that need to be done.

One day, when I'm made king, I'll change all of this. I'll issue a decree that no event shall be scheduled earlier than 1000. And, we'll have some events scheduled for oh, let's say, 2300, every now and then, just to get some revenge on the morning people who are responsible for me more of the early morning than I really care to see.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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