Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yuletide Feeling

There is always something that has to kick start my holiday feeling. It seems I usually start December just cruising along like a regular month. Thanksgiving is past, now here comes winter, Uh Christmas, what is that?

So that was happening this year. I didn't feel like putting up lights and going for the "cut your own" tree just didn't seem like fun. But yesterday we had scheduled the yearly trip to Tridelphia to cut our tree. The morning dawned at 22 degrees and each of our experience has been different out at Tridelphia. One year it was a little rainy, another very snowy, wind has been present a lot too. The nastiness of the weather usually was reflected in the care of selecting a tree with mixed results.

This year, it was beautiful. Sunny, but cool, around 40 degrees. There were a lot of people out to get a tree and this year we ventured across the road to an area that had been maturing the past few years. I was determined to find a decent tree this year as last year's had the crookedest trunk ever in the history of my tree picking. We worked our way through some huge scotch pines into some firs and white pines and nothing was jumping out at us. We decided to cross the road and look over there, but saw an area we hadn't checked on our way down the hill. After some looking around, Shauni pointed out a likely candidate and after a quick family vote, we choose that one, which Shauni later named Gilbert. (?) :)

We cut him down and headed to the shaker, baler. In my research of local tree farms a came across something that probably isn't new, but was something I hadn't seen before. A post stand. They drill a hole in the bottom of the trunk and a piece of the stand goes into that hole. Legs go on the piece and the whole thing sits in a bowl of water. We purchased one of these and had the guys drill the trunk and I have to say, this was the easiest tree erecting I have ever experienced.

This positive experience along with the mandatory (according to Shauni) Christmas music on the radio during the trip seemed to do the trick. We came home and moved the furniture and set up the tree. I applied the lights (my job) and the girls will do the ornaments (their job). I headed outside to finish the outside lights which I had halfheartedly started before heading out for the tree and I actually was feeling in the holiday mood.

Now, I'm not wearing red and green and humming Xmas songs, but I definitely am feeling more Christmasy now. For me this is really more of a seasonal thing. The coming of winter and the turning of the season from continuously darker to lighter. The days will start to get longer and soon it will be spring.

I love all the seasons, but like when the next one has arrived.

Now we need some snow. Today looks like rain though.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weight for me...

It is that time of year again to re-confirm that I need to constantly work out to not only lose weight, but to maintain. Twice a year I must weigh-in for work and twice a year I have "challenging times" when my weight creeps. Lately, I have been keeping the creep low, but it still goes up and I have to work it off. I don't mind, it's just that sometimes I get lazy and don't change my eating and drinking habits (actually they get worse), and my weight goes up to a place I am not comfortable with. So, the winter holidays are one of my "bad times" and I re-affirmed during cycle class today, to keep it up and watch the snacking. And to keep the minimum workouts going... Let's see how I do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A State of being

Just like I like and accept the four seasons of where I live, I also don't mind being hot, cold, hungry, tired, etc. I see them all as just states of being. I enjoy each. Some less then others, but I accept them all. It tells me I'm alive...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Road and Acid Reflux

This week myself and one of my co-RFMCs went to St Louis to talk to all the senior enlisted that were attending a conference. We met with them in a nice conference room and just talked about issues. It was good getting all the silver badges within the C4IT community (ESUs) in one room.

The day before I left, my dear wife said her chest hurt after an intense spin class. My questions were hard for her to answer. Where exactly does it hurt? How bad? What kind of pain is it?

She was a little worried, but assured me I could still travel. After I got there we talked and she was still hurting. I recommended she go to the ER just to get checked out as that is what the on-call Tricare people told her to do. Her sister told her the same thing and she is a paramedic, but she didn't decide to go until our teenager told her to go.

Of course they made her stay the night and most of the next day while they took a bunch of blood and tests and decided that there was nothing wrong with her heart. Their diagnosis was possibly acid reflux. She always says she doesn't know what heartburn is because she has never had it. Maybe that is no longer the case. So now she has some Prilosec OTC to try out.

Next Monday I head out again to CA for the whole week.

It is quite a helpless feeling when something is going on far away and you can't get back quickly enough to lend a hand or "fix it" or whatever.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Man Cave

Lately I have been hearing the term "Man Cave" all over the place. In commercials, on line, it just seems like everyone is using it.

I think I want a Man Cave. It would be a cool place to hang out. I think my dad's MC was his tool room in the basement and the Garage over at the other house. I cool place to hang out.

What is the woman's equivalent to the MC? The "Girl Palace"? IDK.

Anyway, I have been hearing this term so much, it got me thinking about if I had one, what would be in it? I'm still making my mental list, but it would need a comfy chair, a TV and most likely a game console of some sort. Of course a close by frig and probably some type of cooking apparatus. Nothing too fancy. A microwave or a gas grill or both.

Let's see; the decor has to be dark and wood paneling may be involved. A huge bear rug in the middle of the room would have to be included in any MC worth its salt.

Well, there you have it. A Man Cave in the making... Now to get Lisa to agree...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Play Misty for Me

I enjoy the change in seasons. Just as I really like the warm spring breeze after a long winter, I also get into a day with temperatures in the 40s and a steady misty rain falling. It reminds me that the seasons are changing and I like living in a place that has four seasons. Each has its good and bad points, but I enjoy them all.

My Dear Wife would be happy with one season... Warm...

Me, I will take the hot, humid summer day, the windy spring day, the snowy evening with temperatures below freezing and the misty cold autumn day what heralds the approach of winter.

Call me crazy...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lots of Stars in the Room

A bunch of us Master Chiefs went over to the other building and had a "sit down" with one of our Admirals. He is a good guy, who was able to bring us up to speed on a lot of the current issues and listen to our concerns. I think the Commandant picked a good guy for this job. He says he wants to continue to meet with us regularly and even bring in other Flags to pow wow with us.

There were over 50 stars in that room if you counted every collar. It was a good experience.

Frisbee Muscles and Wallyball League

Last night as I was getting ready for the Tuesday night Wallyball league I play on, I noticed my left bicept and deltoids were sore. Thinking about it a bit, I realized throwing little frisbee disks at metal baskets numerous times works muscles that haven't been worked lately. It is a good soreness of course, but only on one arm. Hmmmm.

Last night's games were intense. We played the best team in the league with only three people. We gave them some good games and won one of the three, with the other two within two points. Our second match started out with a long game, but we prevailed in all three games. I was a bit tired after the 6th game and my knees are still talking to me from all the jumping.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disk Golf

I have found a new obsession, or at least another form of exercise that should be fun.

Disk Golf.

I have been seeing these around here and there during my travels. There is a course at my daughter's college and also one close to our home at a local park.

It is really quite simple. Golfing with a frisbee. You throw, walk, throw again until you can get the disk into the "hole", which is a metal basket with chains hanging to catch the disk and help it find its way into the basket.

The wife and I went out to Sports Authority on Saturday and I picked up a 3 pack. Not too cheap, but not a set of real golf clubs either.

Monday morning I went over to the park alone and tried it out. I ran through the 9 "hole" course using the different disks, just to get a feel for the technique. One disk is supposed to be for driving, another for mid-range and one for putting and approach. I really couldn't tell the difference as I would throw all three from each point and sometimes the "putter" would go the farthest. Maybe it is my skill level.

So I got the hang of it then went through the course again, with just one disk (I choose the putter) and actually scored the game. I pretty much suck, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I couldn't get even one hole at par, but I need something to strive for.

All in all it was pretty fun and I hope to keep at it for a while and hopefully actually get better at it.

As far as workout level, it is pretty minimal, but I was outside and moving from place to place covering ground. I went for a short 3K run after playing, just to finish off some kind of workout.

Time to start this up again

I started this blog when I knew I was going to become the new ET Rating Force Master Chief. I hoped to post about the day to day activities of an RFMC and maybe some other things that are happening in my life as I finish off my career.
I posted throughout my attendance to the CPO Academy training before taking the new job, but then lost the urge to continue as I climbed the steep learning curve of my new job.
Recently, I came across a blog of a Female Marine who calls herself Akinoluna and after reading her blog, I have become inspired to again give this one a go. Her posts were usually interesting and covered all kinds of topics.
I won't be going to Japan, Iraq or Cario, but I hope to post some interesting stuff.

So here we go again. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

School's Out

Well, all is done and I am back home and getting ready to wind down my old job, hand it off and take up the reins of my new job as the ET RFMC. The graduation was a blast. We all had a huge sense of accomplishment when it was all done, and it was done quite well I must say.

The last day was pretty busy. We did our wellness assessment in the morning and it went pretty good. I did better in the sit-up and push up area, but my run was only a few seconds faster then the first run. I don't know if it was because of the 10K we ran two days before or if I was just tired. I do remember having trouble breathing as we started due to those darn allergies.

We did the final routine, packed up and headed to the hotel. We had a few hours to relax then the fun began. I got to sit at the head table and the conversation was rather pleasant. When it was my turn to make my speech, I was a little nervous, but quickly warmed up to my audience who I had just spent the last month with. We were like family and the laughs and applause were at the right places. It was all over before I knew it.

We all hung out around the various bars afterward, not wanting it to be over, but ready to get back to our lives. I hit the hay around 0100 and was up early the next day. I ate some breakfast and then caught the bus to the airport.

The flight back was OK. Slept a little, but mainly just watched the TV and read some. We got in a little before midnight and there was my darling waiting for me at the baggage area.

It was good to be home.

We hand a nice long weekend, where I got back into the groove. Did some working out with the wife and got the pool set up and filled.

Tuesday was back to work and it was good. I am finishing up this job, walking down two flights of steps and starting a whole new adventure.

Wish me luck,

ETCM Joe Harold

p.s. I will post my speech next.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Day And A Wakeup

We are winding down. This afternoon we practice for graduation and then tomorrow it all happens.

Last week went pretty fast, but we still did a lot. We learned about Coaching and Counseling and we made our four Air Force classmates Honorary Chiefs. We had a VTC with the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard and ran a 5K in preparation for an upcoming 10K. We performed our second presentation and learned about Diversity. On Thursday EPM-2 came and talked to us. Myself, the VP and the CPO who introduced him got to eat lunch with the CDR. Friday had us up in the woods doing the high ropes. It was a total blast.

On Saturday 14 of us went on a little short bus trip to the Sonoma wine country. It was interesting and we had a good time. Saturday evening we had our class social and there was plenty of food and drink and we all had fun.

So as we started our last week, we had our last presentation and then ran the 10K. You had a choice to run another 5K or the whole 10 and of course I had to do the whole thing. I finished in 56:44 which beat my goal of 60 minutes. It felt good and we all cheered the others as they made it to the finish.

Today we had our CLEP test. I'm not sure how I did. It was hard to do a lot of studying, but I tried. We will see in a couple weeks.

We have set up the classrooms for the next class and soon it will be time for graduation practice.

My speech is written, and I think it is ok. Hopefully I will be able to deliver it properly.

Here we go...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Three weeks down. 1.5 to go

The weeks are starting to fly by, but we are still learning and having fun. This week we covered Ethical Leadership and had a fun game of History & Traditions Jeopardy. We all formed up on Tuesday by the command building and observed colors as a class. It was inspiring.

We all ran as a class to get ready for the 10K near the end of the class. We did 2 miles and everyone did very well. We continued during the week with a leadership seminar and some more writing workshops.

On Thursday night our team went over to our liaison's house for dinner. It was a pleasant time and our liaison's family is very nice and we really appreciated them opening their house to us.

We finished off the school week with two more Chief's Corners and on Friday we all did our Community Service Projects. Our team went to a Food Bank near Santa Rosa and packed almost 8 tons of food for elderly and needy families. It was hard work, but well worth it.

On Saturday I got a call from a group of students that went out on a bike ride. They were about 9 or 10 miles away and one of their bikes had two flats. I delivered a fresh bike to them and they continued on their outing.

One more full week then the last week will be here. I am looking forward to returning home and getting back to my normal routine. Then it will be the walk down two flights of steps and my next adventure will begin.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Week 3 is Starting - CPO Academy - Class 159

Wow, week 2 went much faster than week 1 and the weekend was a nice recharge, but I never found any time to post here. So here goes.

The assignments are getting done and the work continues. We are moving at a nice cruising speed and becoming a very efficient team. The work doesn't seem so overwhelming any more and we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Week two started off in civies while we covered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator process. I am an ISFJ. I figured on most of the types and think the description was pretty much on to my personality.

We also covered Facilitative Leadership, some more Wellness information and a writing workshop on award writing. We did the Fit Deck at the gym and another Step Aerobics session during the week. We went over Educational planning and did our first major presentation in the form of a "Chiefs Corner".

At the end of the week we were supposed to go out to Bodega Head and do a walk and mid-course feedback session, but the weather was pretty nasty so we walked on base in the pouring rain, (which I liked) then met in a large classroom to give a plus and a delta on the course. It went well and we were released for the weekend a little early.

The weekend was wet and nasty, and on Saturday I did a mini Adventure Race. I did some exercises at the gym, then ran around 3 miles then another 5 or so miles on the bike. Most of it in a Northern California misty rain. On Sunday, it stopped raining enough to do a good weekly 1.5 mile run. I came out really well. My goal while I am here is to finish in 11:30 and I did this one in 11:33. My halfway point was really good and the finish was pretty good too. I knocked off 11 seconds faster from last week's run and a total of 16 seconds faster from day 2.

This week will be a good one with some more presentations by the other teams and a visit from CG-9. We will also start preparing our Life Learning Essay and our next team presentation on two of our units within our team. My unit (CG-481) was one of the units picked, so I am gathering more information for a good presentation.

Onward to the end.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

End of Week 1 - CPO Academy - Class 159

What a week! It has been very busy and also very rewarding. The days are long and the work continues into the evening. Even today, after a very strenuous bike ride, I did a first draft on our Memo assignment.

This week we met Bob, who taught us how to be a better person, set goals, and ways we can achieve them in an Increasing Human Effectiveness seminar. We also did a nice pool workout and step aerobics during the week. On Tuesday, we had a little team walk and decided on who our team leader was. After that, we had a Pizza social, where each team had an interesting way of announcing their new team leader to the class. It was pretty inventive and fun.

On Thursday, after lots of ideas and still more voting, Class CLIX had its motto. "Honoring the Past, Leading the Future". Short, sweet and to the point. I think it will fit on our wine classes just fine. Also on Thursday, we had a group bike ride with two teams. We rode around the base and some of us took a challenging ride up Texas hill and down the fire road to senior enlisted housing. It was a very good ride.

Friday came and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a long and busy 7 days. We all did some unwinding at the Anchorage Chief's Hut and up at the Rocks and Shoals club where the band "Black Zeppelin" played some good 70's tunes. A friend of mine is the drummer in the band. They were pretty good.

This morning was a little cool and somewhat windy, but I wanted to try the 24 mile circuit out to Chileano Valley Road and back on Spring Hill Rd. I know now why it is called Spring HILL. It was a good 2 hr and 30 min ride and got me over 1000 points for the President's Challenge.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and doing some homework. In fact, it is time to go and edit the second edition of my memo and print it again for a Peer Review. Busy, busy, busy...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Days 2 & 3 - Class 159 - CPO Academy

Yesterday was so full, that I didn't have time to log. It was a very satisfying day that kept us busy for over 11 hours straight.

Day 2:
We reported to the gym at 0900 for the Personal Wellness Profile routine with weigh-in. Everybody was pretty excited and I'm sure a little apprehensive.

The class was split in two and my group went to get their blood pressure checked. After that was a weigh-in followed by sit-ups, push-ups, sit and reach, waist and hip ratio measurement and then the run. I am very satisfied with all my results and I have set a few goals to shoot for while I am here.

My weight was 186 which was close to my goal weight of 185. I ate a pretty large lunch and dinner to reward myself for my achievement and to not loose too much weigh where Lisa won't recognize me. My sit and reach was 10.5, which I don't think is too good, but is something I want to work on. My sit-ups were 51 and push-ups were 40. I probably could have done more push-ups, but stopped to save some energy for the run.

For the run, my goal was to do an 8 min mile so I was hoping to get in at around 12 minutes. I finished at 11:49 so I am setting my next goal at 11:30.

We had about 11 Chiefs that needed to get taped and unfortunately 3 were sent home. We did get a quick fill in from a local Chief so we are now a class of 70.

After lunch we went to the low ropes area to learn a little about team work, communication and trust and we did some fun exercises that taught us a lot. We worked our way up to a trust fall into our group from a platform in the woods. It was a total rush and very rewarding.

After that the whole class had to get over a 12 or 13 foot wall. We had a blast figuring out how to get the job done and were successful.

After dinner, we met in the empty galley to do a social exercise. It was in the form of a game and was pretty fun. Once again it taught us some valuable lessons.

When it was all done the class was dismissed, but I wasn't quite done. The class officers had a short meeting to discuss the next morning's personnel inspection and some of our duties.

I got back to our room after 2030, finished my reading and hit the sack.

Day 3:
I was up before my alarm and ready for chow at 0600. We went and ate then headed to the gym for our inspection. Everything went fine with only minor gigs here and there.

After the inspection, we spent the day in the classroom. First we got an overview of all the assignments we will be required to do. A little overwhelming, but very doable.

Next, we covered Guest Speaker Protocol and a session about learning with some interesting exercises. It was refreshing to get out of class while it was still light.

I went to chow and will soon be heading to the gym for some lifting. We need to start fasting at 1830 for tomorrow's blood draw where we will have our cholesterol checked.

I will need to do a little reading tonight and tomorrow the fun continues.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 1 - Class 159 - CPO Academy

Right now it is 0617 local time, Sunday, April 19th, 2009. Weigh-in and Personal Wellness Profile day. I am still pretty much on East Coast time. I struggled to stay up to 2100, to try and adjust and I am getting there, but I was tossing and turning by 0430 or so, but stayed in bed until 05.

Yesterday was a very full day. I feel like I have been here a week already, but it has only been two days. I am just a little overwhelmed, but still excited about all we will be doing.
Day one started early for me. I was up at 4ish and ready to do something. I went into the lounge for a bit, but needed something more. I suited up and headed out for a run. At first I was just going to do an easy 2 mile run at a slow pace, but at the point where I would turn to do the 2 mile path, I decided to do 3 along the perimeter.

Just as I started the run, I heard a gobble from the trees at the top of the hill above the club. Very quickly I heard an answering gobble from the lake area. The turkeys are still here. As I headed along the path that is called California Ave, I saw some moving shadows up ahead. As I approached, two deer scampered off the path and into the brush nearby. They didn't move far, being used to us humans. The deer are still here.

It was a cool foggy morning, but the run felt good. I went along at an easy pace and finished in 25:51 with a good sweat. I headed back to the room, cleaned up, got dressed and waited for the galley to open.

My roommate and I headed down to the Galley before 08 and waited for them to open. As we were waiting three gobblers came walking by fairly close. They still know where the food is.

Breakfast was good and then it was off to the Theater and our adventure had begun. We were introduced to the School Chief and all the instructors. We each got up and introduced ourselves, revealing a few tidbits about where we were from and why we were there. Some of the class officers were introduced as the came through the line. I was introduced as the class president being the most senior of the students.

After that we learned a little about what we would be doing for the next 5 weeks and what we should try to avoid doing during that time. We saw an inspiring video about the Maritime Guardian and saw an example of how to introduce someone. We finally saw a quick video of some interesting quotes about leadership.

On piece of advice from the school chief was: How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time. Exactly a mindset to use to get through all we will be doing during our time here.

After lunch we went to the actual classrooms and sat in our new groups named for past MCPO-CGs. My group is Group Patton, named for MCPO Vince Patton.

Here we broke out and each of us interviewed a classmate and then introduced them in front of the class. It was a nice way to learn a little about everyone in the room.

We briefly went over the class schedule which is very ambitious and looks well structured and a lot of fun.

Lastly we each stated a personal goal, a professional goal and an issue that we were concerned about. All this was recorded and we will be seeing it again sometime during the class.

We finished shortly after 1700 and headed back to the barracks to change and go up to the club where the Golden Gate CPOA was sponsoring a welcome reception spaghetti dinner.

I kept the pasta to a small helping and did some salad, but all of it was very good.

I finished the night doing some of the read ahead assignments that we will need to be ready for as the week begins tomorrow.

Today, will also be a busy and I hope fun day. Everyone looks pretty good, so lets hope no one gets sent home today.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Report In Day

Friday, 0400. I'm laying in bed waiting for my alarm to go off, so I can start the adventure. I wait for the alarm to go off then I hit the floor and start the process.

All goes well. Lisa drags herself out of bed to take me to the airport. She hasn't been feeling well the last few days and it is a struggle. Also, she is not a morning person.

I get to the airport, check in at the counter and get my bag on free. As I am talking to the counter person, another traveler says he thinks he is going to the same place as me. We talk a bit. He is a USAF Master Sargent and yes, he is also heading to the CPO Academy. Pretty cool.

We make the flight and land at SFO. The USAF has been kind enough (or rich enough) to fund a rental car for him, so I hitch a ride up the 101. The fancy GPS gets us through the city and before we know it we are crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and heading up Marin County to Petaluma.

We stop in Petaluma for lunch then head to the TRACEN and report in. A very quick and orderly process sees us into our nice rooms in Harrison Hall. I start to unpack and get everything into order. I fire up the laptop and get an IM from Lisa saying she called off sick. Hopefully her body is fighting off this virus or whatever it is and she will be back on her feet soon. I call home and we chat a bit.

I head to the exchange for a lock and some containers and to check out the place that I spent 4 years as an instructor and had only been back once in the last 15 years or so. I saw an old friend by the Fire House and catch up on events before making my purchases and heading back to the room.

I change into workout gear and head to the gym to see what has changed. (The director is still there from the 90s. He has been there quite a while) and then go for a nice 1.5 mile run on the trail and roads of the base. It is a beautiful day in the 70s with a light breeze. I finish the 1.5 in 12 min 13 sec which is pretty good for me.

I have seen a few other students here and there and said hello to a few.

Now I will make sure my uniform is ready for tomorrow and then it will be time for some chow.

I'm still pretty excited and having a really good time already. Let the games begin.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One day and a wake up

My Fresh Haircut

This is my last day of work. Tomorrow I have leave and bright and early on Friday, I am on my way.

I got a nice hair cut this morning, so I am squared away in that department. I packed my suit case last night to make sure I'm not over doing it too much. Everything is fitting ok so far.
I checked the enrollment again on Monday and we lost three more (two USAF), but all were replaced with one extra as a kicker. Let's see how we end up Sunday morning. I hope we can keep the class as full as possible.

We will be Class CLIX . Will we call outselves Class Clicks?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Prep Week

Today I went over to medical and picked up my record for the TAD. I will get a nice fresh haircut on Wednesday and I am taking leave on Thursday so I have some time to tie up all the loose ends of being away from home for over a month. All is on track and I am almost ready to go.

Friday, April 10, 2009

One Week to Go

This time next week, my plane should be taking off on its way to the left coast. There I will embark on an adventure in leadership, fitness and learning. I am ready for this adventure to begin.

Yesterday, I brought home a bunch of uniform items and did a dry run of packing the suitcase to make sure it all fit. I am probably over packing, but that is just something that I always do. I may cut some things out later, but if I can take it, I'm going to.

All other preparations are just about complete. Next week I need to pick up my medical record and get a nice squared away haircut. My uniforms are all ready to go and all my lists are up-to-date.

The excitement builds...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

CPO Academy Bound

Late Thursday I received an email from TQC asking if I was still able to attend the CPO Academy at this short notice as it looked like there were some openings and I was almost next on the list. I quickly responded that I was completely ready to accept orders and attend the class.

The next morning I received orders to class 159 or CLIX I guess it will be referred to. I quickly thanked everyone concerned in getting me those orders and checked to make sure the Academy had all my paper work, which I had sent in earlier, just in case I received orders.

The only thing they didn't have was my Profile, which I had submitted on-line, but I think there were some problems with the form, so I quickly re-submitted via email to the Assistant School Chief.

Now I just get the final things together, make sure my uniform is squared away and get all packed and off I go to get me some tool sharpening training.

I am looking forward to this training. It has been a long time since I have received some serious resident training. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tick... tick.... tick...

The clock keeps ticking and still no orders. I have pretty much given up on Plan A. Almost time for Plan B.

Update: Something may happen on Monday. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ET Rating Review - Final Day

As we gathered for the final day of our review, the hard work of the facilitators became apparent as they produced a draft copy of the new EPQs. We went through the whole batch, making sure we had covered all our discussion and decisions.

After going through the new document, we found that we have a very good product that accurately reflects the working world of the Electronics Technician. The number of EPQs grew from 68 to 83 and is spread liberally throughout the different pay grades, with the E4s having the most, of course and the E8s having a couple more than before.

I think we are very satisfied with the work we have done here this week and I am particularly grateful to have been a part of it. Being a part of this review has given me a great insight of what to expect as I embark on this journey of the Rating Force Master Chief.

I am honored to have worked with this great crew and feel that we have created the start of a very powerful network that will do great things for the ET rating and the Coast Guard into the future.

I look forward to participating in the next steps of the process as these tasks become qualifications that ensure our rating remains technologically adept and professionally competent as we continue to move towards modernization within the twenty first century.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ET Rating Review - Day 2

Day two continued to be productive. We finished the first run through with some good discussion on the training EPQs and went through the tasks that didn't have a lot of technicians indicating that they do them very often.

This gave us a working copy of what the new EPQs will look like. We did a second run through and double checked the comments and decisions on each task question and got them ready for the facilitators to import into a new EPQ document.

Next we went over the United States Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) and validated some of the available certificates that ETs can earn within the program.

Tomorrow we go over the new EPQ document and also try our hands at creating Guiding Principles for the ET Rating.

We finished up for the day a little after Noon, so the SME's could have some time off as the facilitors process our work from the last two days and prepare for tomorrows go through.

Good work all around once again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ET Rating Review - Day 1

After a pleasant travel day on Monday, we got to work reviewing the data gathered from the recent occupational analysis for the ET Rating. After a review of the rules and introductions all around we got started on the meat of the issue. The Subject Matter Specialists were encouraged to take each question and note the percentages that each task is performed. They would then vote to either keep the task as an EPQ or to remove it. Any task that presently is not an EPQ, but had enough evidence of technician usage was discussed and either recommended to become a new EPQ or not.

The Review Team has a good make up of technicians from Second Class to Master Chief, all with well rounded careers and plenty of experience. Everyone is talking freely and offering their opinions and input as we work through the tasks, and having fun doing it.

We made very good progress in the first day and almost got completely through the first run through.

It was a busy, but fulfilling day and tomorrow should be even better as we shape the future of the ET Rating.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Business At Hand

Well, only one person was sent home from the Class 158 Convening of the CPO Academy yesterday. While that is good in relation to the success of the class, it makes my plan B a little shaky right now. I continue to hope I have real orders to the class and don't have to wait for someone to be sent home to jump into the class.

But there is more important things in the works. Today I fly down to Orlando for a week long Rating Review Meeting. We will be processing the Occupational Analysis data and reviewing the Enlisted Performance Qualifications to see if what we have is right and also to add or delete any that appear to be required or are no longer required to be an Electronics Technician.

I look forward to this week of challenges.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Let The Process Proceed - ET Rating Review

I guess I have been feeling a little anxious and frustrated about the Academy, because I haven't received orders yet. I have been checking each week to see how the enrollment is and see a cancellation here and there and new enrollments, so I must be getting closer. It is just hard to deal with sometimes as the convening date gets closer and I still don't have orders.

So, after talking with the experts one more time, I have decided I have done all I can and I must just sit back and wait for the process to do its thing. I am as ready as I can be, with a few more loose ends to tie up, but I am prepared.

It will be interesting to see how this weekend's convening goes. If more get sent home, then I have a chance. If all stay, then...

So, next week a bunch of ET Subject Matter Specialists (SME), the current RFMC and myself meet down in Orlando to do a Rating Review based on the Occupational Analysis (OA) conducted at the beginning of the Fiscal Year. We will go over the analysis and the current Enlisted Performance Qualifications (EPQ) and see what needs to be updated, deleted or added. It should be a good introduction into what I will be doing for the next four years. I am looking forward to this meeting.

I hope to document here, what we are doing down there on a daily basis.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Workout Routine

I have been interested in fitness for quite some time. I remember when I was around 11 or 12, I was already trying to work out with free weights and do some running. I was pretty skinny then, but the interest was there. I never considered myself a jock in high school, but doing energetic things has been a part of my routine for quite some time.

After joining the Coast Guard, fitness became even more important for me. At first, I wasn't really doing much. Of course boot camp had its requirements and I easily met all of those, but wasn't in the 700 club if I recall that moniker correctly.

After doing my first tour on a ship, then going to school, I was introduced to more intense weight lifting as a lot of the techs from the shop would head over to the gym after work and get a good workout in. We supported each other and talked manly gym talk. It was a bonding experience.

And so it went as I piled on the years of my career and alternately piled on muscle and weight, back and forth through the years. My running and biking would ebb and flow also, depending on the season and my inclination. My wife and I were also introduced to "real" volleyball and eventually wallyball, which has become our passion. We also do Adventure Races together and have had some success in our endeavors in this sport.

And so we come to the present, where I prepare for what I am hoping will be a physically challenging CPO Academy experience. Lately, I have been doing a lot of research into the different services Physical Fitness programs and tests. I'm telling you there are quite a bit of differences, but what it usually comes down to is upper body strength and endurance, core strength and endurance and aerobic ability and endurance; pushups, sit-ups and running.

I have found some good information all over the Internet and within our network. I looked into the Boat Crew Physical Fitness Standards, the Coast Guard Fitness Assessment from the Personal Wellness Profile, the Army Physical Fitness Test, the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Program and Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP).

To keep my workouts constantly changing and challenging, I am right now doing a lot of stuff from the Marine's Fitness program. They concentrate a lot on pull ups, but mix in so much other stuff, it stays interesting.

Some of the things I am doing are:
A circuit course of 10 different exercises, mixing body weight and weighted exercises followed by 40 yd sprints.
Core exercises followed by a 1.5 mile run.
A few rounds of a 1/2 mile run, then exercises that consist of pushing, pulling, squatting and overhead lifting.

I tell you they can be intense.

Also, in a serious attempt to get my body weight and fat percentage to something I am comfortable with, I have started on a program of my own making that mixes these workouts (at least 6 times a week) with some smart eating. I have lately been logging EVERYTHING I eat on a couple of websites that show me exactly what nutrients and calories I am taking in and what I'm getting too much of and what I am not getting enough of. It is very enlightening and I have dropped a good amount of pounds in the few weeks I have been at it.

I may post some of my workouts here as things move along.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Physical Fitness Screening Forms Submitted

Today I sent in my Physical Fitness Screening and Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) forms to the Academy. The deadline isn't until March 20th, but I will be TAD during that week and I don't want to fall behind in any way.

Last week I went over to medical and had the Doctor fill them out, then I went to the Persru to get weighed and measured.

Everything is pretty much in order. I'm healthy, doing a great workout routine and my weight is well within my Maximum Allowable Weight (MAW) with a steady downward trend as I am trying to eat healthier and ramping up my workouts.

It looks like there were a couple more cancellations for Class 159 since I last checked and there have been plenty for the next class, 158. I guess people are realizing that it is better to go through what you have to in order to cancel the class instead of being sent home after reporting aboard.

I have no idea if this is the case. All I can do is look at the numbers.

I continue to hope I get actual orders before too long.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CPO Academy Doings

I am in the process of preparing to attend the CPO Academy. The requirement to attend kind of revolved around my advancements until I found myself a Master Chief without the school. The story of why I haven't gone is long and convoluted, so I won't go into that now. Suffice it to say. It is time for me to go.

As a Rating Force Master Chief, it is a requirement to have attended a Senior Enlisted Leadership School in order to do the job. I am actually really looking forward to attending and have started all the preparations for it. I'm way ahead of schedule. The problem is I don't actually have orders to a class yet. I am hoping to get into the April 18th class and am confident that there will be an opening when the time comes. I will be in that class.

Whenever I encounter anything new or challenging, I usually immerse myself into learning everything I can about the subject. I research and Google everything I can think of about the subject and try to gain as much knowledge about this new thing in the hopes that some of it matures into wisdom. I am also an almost obsessive list maker. I like seeing things orderly and accounted for, which I'm sure surfaces in any Myers-Briggs typing I will be doing. I usually can't watch a movie or read a book without having to research something from the event to gain more knowledge.

I am well into my check list for the CPO Academy. Last week I submitted my profile and saw medical and admin to complete the required prerequisite physical fitness and weight paperwork. I have also already completed my Senior Enlisted Joint Military Professional Education Course in preparation for the Academy. My Educational Assessment update is already on its way to the Institute and I am well into the other requirements that you need to show up with for the class.

I'm also rigorously implementing a fitness and diet plan to get me as lean and mean as I can get to fulfill that requirement of the class. I have adopted some USMC workout routines to get myself into fighting shape. I will be talking more about that in a later post.

So as that one hurdle (orders) looms, I prepare myself to do something I should have taken the time and effort to complete 10 years ago, but I try to not look back too much (unless it is to examine a mistake I don't want to repeat) and go forward with confidence and maximum effort.

Here is my CPO Academy Checklist:

  1. Receive orders to class
  2. Enroll in CPO Academy Welcome Course
  3. Submit Student Profile
  4. Complete Physical Fitness Form
  5. Complete PAR-Q
  6. Request College Transcript
  7. Submit Educational Assessment
  8. Reserve Flights
  9. Purchase Shuttle Tickets
  10. Prepare Bullets for Award
  11. Pick up Medical Record
  12. Review President's Challenge
  13. Prepare/update IDP
  14. Complete Unit Performance Factors form (UPF)
  15. Choose Clep Exam
  16. Maintain Weight Standards
  17. Enroll/Complete EJPME
I intend to track my course as I prepare for the academy and continue this blog as a day by day journal of my preparations, goals, accomplishments and challenges of attending the United States Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy.

ETCM Joe Harold

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Road Less Traveled by...

"...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference...."

Those words from the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken have become my motto for staying with the enlisted force and not crossing the line into the commissioned ranks.

When you are an enlisted person, if you stay around long enough, a chance at a commission usually presents itself to you for the taking. I am no different, but the circumstances of my offer of a commission were pretty much to my advantage. When the two lists came out, I was sitting pretty well on both of them. I was above the cut for E8 and I was the Predictor for CWO. This situation was good, because with those standings, I could stay on both lists and not make any decisions until the time came to either stay the course, or jump the chasm.

I had mixed feelings on both options. One argument I always hear is the CWO ranks have a lot more choices on where to go and what to do, but you are basically starting over at the lowest officer rank. The Senior Enlisted pay grades have their advantages too. You are the Senior Enlisted; with that moniker comes more responsibility and yes, privileges, but the number of places you could go diminish considerably. I had always gravitated towards the senior enlisted ranks, but I wasn't going to close any doors until I had to.

So, come Feb of 2000 I was advanced to ETCS. Now, with an advancement comes transfer, which is especially true when you get up this far. So I waited until the season rolled around for the transfer and the inevitable call from the detailer. I was currently at ELC Baltimore and I was sent down the road to the famous Puzzle Palace, Coast Guard HQ. My choices were basically limited, because a detailer is supposed to try and keep your transfer no cost if you have the possibility of advancing (and transferring) again within the same year.

So here I am, a Senior Chief and I have just settled into my new job when I get the call from another detailer, this one the Warrant Officer Detailer. Along with my commission I was offered a free trip to the Mediterranean Sea to meet my ship and continue on a six month Out-of-Hemisphere cruise. In the meantime, my family would have to pack up and move cross-country, find a place to live and get all set up; all without me. I asked for the weekend to think it over, but it was pretty much a no brainer. I had just come up on 18 years in the Guard and my family had followed me hither and yon for most of that time. I wasn't going to ask them to make that move without being there to do my part. I turned down the commission.

Not too long after making that decision, I came across the Robert Frost poem and it struck a cord with me. I had known it all the time. I don't like crowds; I like following new or little used paths to see where they go. I wanted the road less traveled by.

Now I am an E9, getting ready to start a job that protects and nourishes the rating I have been for 23 plus years.

And that has made all the difference.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Journey Begins...

As I lie tossing and turning at 2 am this morning, while random thoughts flashed through my mind from one subject to another seemingly at random like surfing the Internet, one of the things I decided was to get started on this blog.

Right now my goal is to post entries, hopefully a few a week; maybe more, maybe less. But I want to record what I am going through professionally and personally as I roll down that road towards the next gatepost in my life.

My career has been going good and I will soon be entering my final billet. I will be taking over as the Electronics Technician Rating Force Master Chief. I didn't know I wanted the job. In fact, I thought I didn't want the job until just a few months ago. We had a meeting of the Senior Enlisted ETs down in Yorktown. We try to meet annually to discuss the ET Rating and what is happening in our world of work, share ideas and solve problems. Of course, since I was tour complete (my second full tour at HQ, although with a one year break to do a quick stint as CMC in New Orleans), one of my goals was to talk to the other Master Chiefs, especially the tour complete ones, to see where we all could go.

As we discussed the various jobs that were coming available, I learned a few things. One of the Master Chiefs had decided to retire and he said to me, "there just aren't any more jobs that I want to do". It struck a cord and I decided that there wasn't much more I felt I needed to do around here before it was time to pack it in too. As the current ET RFMC was talking about his job, it came to me that his job is really the only thing I wanted to do. The job has tremendous challenges and I was looking for a challenge. With 26 years of service on the near horizon, I needed something that would take me to 30, but be hard enough to keep me interested and active. I didn't want to go ROAD (Retired On Active Duty). I wanted to work.

So after going through the application process, I was selected. There was one major gap in my package. I am one of those Master Chiefs where the CPO Academy requirement revolved around my advancements. It was never essential for me to do my job... until now... I made a promise that if I was selected, I would complete the school before reporting aboard. This became a condition of my selection and I now prepare to attend the CPO Academy in the spring.

Attending the CPO Academy is one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to try and record an online diary of my experience there. I want to show all the trials and tribulations and hopefully achievements that go with the experience of attending the premier leadership school of the Coast Guard.

I am already well on my way in the preparations that go into attending the CPO Academy. I have completed a lot of the prerequisites and am ready to submit the paperwork required beforehand. I don't actually have orders yet, but am on a waiting list and am hoping for an opening to the one class that would be the best fit for me and my still busy schedule. I am also ramping up my workouts. Fitness has always been a part of me ever since we used to head to the gym after work in Cape May for some lifting and trash talking. I am just concentrating on my weak areas and getting more intense. I will very likely be the oldest guy there. I don't plan on being the last at the finish line.

Well, I'm going to close out this post as it appears rather long. I hope those of you who find me here, enjoy my rambling and also contribute your thoughts.

Some topics I have ideas for:
Why not Warrant?
My Fitness Routine
The Preparations for CPO Academy

I will see you down the road,
ETCM Joe Harold

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Hello and welcome.

My name is Joe Harold and I am a Coast Guard Electronics Technician Master Chief. I have been on active duty almost 26 years and will be taking on the duties of the Electronics Technician Rating Force Master Chief this summer.

I want to use this blog to follow along as I have my adventures as an RFMC and approach the magic 30 years of service when I reach the mandatory retirement point.

I hope you enjoy my ramblings and please feel free to comment on my posts, ask questions or whatever comes to mind.