Monthly Archives: February 2019

Friday & Saturday Writing

I was able to write a good deal over the past couple of days. Much of the writing was simply transcribing entries from my 1991 journal I wrote in Desert Storm. I’m not sure how much of it I will publish in the final version of the book. I may only take excerpts. But it is good for me to digitize what I wrote, and analyze my thoughts.

What struck me most about what I wrote almost 30 years ago is how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve stayed the same. I sensed the attitude of a young man without a great deal of life experience yet. I was pretty critical of my superiors, often unfairly so. But looking back, those who were my leaders were actually pretty good at what they were doing.

I sensed that at my core, I am still very much the same person.

I didn’t and still don’t like to be told what to do and how to do it. I’d rather someone give me the gist of what they are after and let me find a creative solution to the problem. Back then, I struggled with details and keeping track of specific items. I still deal with that, so I have to devise solutions for that concern. Mostly, getting into a routine, putting things in the same place, and automating certain tasks that can be automated has helped me immensely. Interestingly, I struggle the most when my routine gets disrupted. However, I really get bored with the monotony of things that never change. It is a paradox for me.

There were hints in my writing that even back then, I was very concerned about the well-being of others. I’ve had some of my former shipmates over the years confirm this with their impression of me. They would say things like I looked out for others, and I made being in the Navy fun by not always taking things too seriously.

There was at least one incident that I recorded though in which I got on a younger shipmate’s case for not being serious enough. I didn’t name names, but I recall that incident well. We were getting ready for combat, and one of my men was saying over and over, “we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die!” I don’t really know if he was joking, or if he was seriously frightened by what we were getting into, but I told him to snap out of it and straighten up. We didn’t have time for that kind of talk. So I guess I wasn’t always goofing around and being a jokester.

One thing I’ve been doing besides my own writing is reading the memoir of a Pearl Harbor survivor of the USS Arizona, Donald Stratton, a native of Nebraska. I purchased the book a while ago and haven’t ever read it yet, so I’ve been digging into it as time allows. I’m mostly looking at the style of writing it uses and what details he focuses in on. It’s very well written.

Two weeks into the 30 day challenge, the total page/word count for my Desert Storm book to date is 67 pages and 24366 words. I think I averaged between 500 – 1,000 words per day during the past week.



Tuesday Writing

I wrote less on Tuesday. Bad winter weather predicted. Watched more Frontline over lunch. Learned some new things. I didn’t know the much touted Patriot missile system had such a low rate of success. It was all over the news how it was shooting down everything that came near it. Turns out, by some estimates it hit 20% or less. One expert said it might have never hit one scud missile.

In one news conference an aide to Gen. Schwarzkopf showed “scud launchers” being destroyed but an unnamed CIA official later said they were petroleum trucks or even milk trucks.

The scuds were actually stopped by British special forces.

Wrote a piece about battleship technology. Word count ?

had another idea but didn’t write it down, now I can’t think of it.


Monday Feb 18 Writing

I wrote two pieces yesterday. One was about the food served aboard ship. I have been conversing with Desert Storm Navy vets about their favorite shipboard meals. Breakfast was a favorite, especially when fresh milk was available. Total length of that effort was 920 words.

I also wrote a piece on the daily routine aboard ship. I was having trouble remembering specific times that certain things occurred so I will have to do more research on that. But I covered things like morning quarters, sweepers, working hours at sea vs in port. Total length of that piece was 860 words.

Also watched about an hour of PBS Frontline special on Desert Storm.

Total for day was 1780 words. If I can maintain that pace this will be my best week.

30 Day Challenge – Week 2

This week I wrote an additional 8,000 words (up 500 words over last week) in my writing project. I struggled to work in the writing each day. Some days I came home dog-tired and just didn’t get it done. But I wrote a bit more on some other days. Overall it was a successful week. My total writing for two weeks is around 16,000 words.

One related piece I wrote that I nearly forgot about was my Oh Shut Up post. It talks about the macho man culture of the military and how men are not really permitted to be anything else but a tough guy. One veteran was shamed in an online forum about Gulf War illness. I didn’t like it, but didn’t want to join the fight there. (Maybe I should have?) But I did write a post about it and shared it on my own online outlets.

In this coming week, I want to make an effort to post some daily updates on my writing progress, just to see how that spurs me to do more with my writing project.

I also lost another 4 lbs. My total weight loss over the two weeks is 8 lbs.

How to best manage a digital footprint

How to best manage a digital footprint so you can get a job.

1) Show your work. Build an electronic portfolio, ideally on a website that you own, that shows the skills you have and the projects you have worked on. ,

2) Create a professional account on LinkedIn with your resume and recent photo. Connect with others there who can help you land a job.

3) Don’t put anything on social media that would be embarrassing to you if your family found out or if it went viral online, appeared in the newspaper or on the national television news. Always assume that whatever you put online can be shared, no matter what the privacy setting is supposed to be.

4) Network with professionals who are doing the sort of work that you aspire to do. Ask thoughtful questions about the work that they do that you admire.

Oh Shut Up

In response to a query about Desert Storm Syndrome in an online veterans group we were all recently treated to this delightful comment:

Oh shut up, it was only a fart of a war.

In one little post, I was reminded of one of the reasons that I decided to leave the service and choose another path. There was always someone around quick with a put-down. Now, this is probably true wherever you go, but it is particularly true in the armed forces.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud of my military service, in fact, it is probably one of the things in my life of which I am most proud. I miss being part of something so much bigger than myself. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the brotherhood. But I don’t miss the machismo, the always a tough-guy theme. As much as I am truly thankful for that part of the experience because it helped me to toughen up, in the end, it wasn’t where I wanted to be day after day throughout adulthood.

There are more ways to be a man than the hard-exterior tough guy. Much of our culture tells us that this is the only way for a man to be though, and anyone who is made differently doesn’t quite measure up. And we wonder why some men are confused about what it means to be a man. The truth is, there are many ways to “correctly” be a man and tough-guy is only one of them.

At first, I laughed at the “fart of a war” comment along with some of my other comrades in arms. After I returned from the gulf war, I had a chance to talk with my grandfather about his wartime experiences as an infantryman and combat medic in the Pacific jungles of WWII. It made me realize that my difficulties aboard ship during a couple of months in Desert Storm were minuscule in comparison to those of an infantryman in the second world war, or any war for that matter.

However, as I think about it, dismissing the misery of an unexplained illness or the trauma of serving in combat really isn’t a laughing matter. Undoubtedly, some of us still suffer from mental health issues if not physical issues, but to the macho man, these are unspeakable things.

I don’t typically engage in online arguments, particularly one so obviously desirous of stirring up contention. It is like the old saying,

“You shouldn’t wrestle with a pig. You’ll just get yourself dirty and the pig will enjoy it.”

Instead of wrestling with pigs, I’ll just have my say in this space. We should support each other better.

Thirty Day Challenge – Week 1

My students and I are working on one project we have chosen that we would like to do for the next 30 days to try to learn a new skill or make some self-improvement change. You can follow our progress by searching Twitter for the #digme406 hashtag (no Twitter account required).

I am actually working on two projects. My main project is to write all that I can over the next 30 days about my experiences during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 on the Battleship Missouri. This week I was able to write on about a dozen different topics. I tried to write every day, but accomplished more on some days than others. I have posted all of this writing on this website under the Sailors of Desert Storm page.

My other self-improvement project is to lose some weight. Over the holidays, I’ve been packing on some extra baggage. I don’t feel as good as I did when I was thinner. I’m doing the Naturally Slim program provided by my employer. I already lost six pounds since I started on Monday! The main things I’ve done are:

  • Eat only when truly hungry.
  • Don’t eat breakfast.
  • Eat more slowly. Chew every bite.
    • Follow a ten-five-ten minute plan where you eat for ten minutes, rest for five and eat for another ten. This gives your brain a chance to feel full before you over eat.
  • Stay hydrated. I drink water with a splash of orange juice in it using a 7:1 water to juice ratio.
  • Cut out all obvious sweets. (Not easy in my house. My wife is a baker.)



Share Something Everyday

The book “Show Your Work” is kind of a guiding philosophy for our DIGME406 course in Social Media. In this video clip, I read from the book about one of the principles: Show Something Small Every Day.

The people with the greatest social media success tend to share frequently. They give us access to their thinking, their process, even their lives. While there is such a thing as too much information (TMI) having a balanced approach is a good way to build up a digital profile without over-doing it.


Amy Schumer’s Body

Amy Schumer responded to a stranger on the Internet who Photoshopped her to make her appear slimmer. She writes,

“I like how i really look… The other picture looks nice but it’s not me.”

The young man replied, “I’m sorry Amy, I had no idea you’d see this…”

It’s none of our business. It is everyone’s business.

Really, why should anyone be telling Amy Schumer how she should look? I guess he admitted he didn’t ever imagine she would see it, let alone respond to it. The only thing I can think of is that she is in the public eye and makes her living as a celebrity. It is fun to discuss these people and even to “improve” them with software. But do we really have a right to make comments or suggestions on their appearance?

Celebrities are people too. Some famous people make their living by willingly being objectified. Is it any wonder then that some people want to project that set of values on to all celebrities? Kudos to Amy Schumer for speaking up about this.

It is interesting that people who create these “better” celebrity images delete them after being called out. It is interesting to me that the person who posted it “had no idea she would see it.” That is the power of the internet. It can cut out the middle man. You can communicate directly with the famous and powerful.

In a most memorable incident, I once had a student who inadvertently brought the US Secret Service to our campus. I was teaching web development back when having that skill was uncommon and specialized. I had all of our students create websites on the Internet. One student made a website that included a threat to the US president at that time, G.W. Bush, I think. A few days later some men in dark suits showed up and wanted to speak with Mr. So and So, the author of that page.

Yes folks, people really do read the stuff you put online about them.