Is it Monday again or just a very creative brother somewhere nearby?
Happy Fourth of July to all Americans. This is my favorite holiday – hands down. Today we celebrate standing as individuals and as a nation on our own two feet and declaring independence. We will have rousing parades, excellent cook-outs, and some amazing fireworks displays. Our celebrations reveal much about us as a people. We don’t bow to anyone, we don’t dip our flag, we don’t go looking for fights. When called upon, we complete our commitments and we are almost always on the side of an underdog seeking freedoms like those we have.
As we celebrate our Independence, the world looks on. Every country has its holidays with unique celebrations. But how many of these holidays are watched from afar like our Independence Day. And what other country seems to have a 1-800-Dial-USA hotline that is always open and somehow always responds. Having an independent nation filled with free men and women generates a power that is unique in this world. That we use this power to help others without any expectation of homage, tribute, or servitude demonstrates our humanity.
So, on this day enjoy hot dogs, burgers, and steaks. Watch the parades and fireworks displays. The finale will be grand but please remember this day is about independence and freedom. We are truly blessed in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Today was a great day to kick back and relax. The sky was clear and the temperature truly balmy – almost hot. It is definitely a strange year in the weather arena.
I had a chance to read leisurely in my Psychology text. Experiments and studies, data collection and reduction. Statistics, correlation coefficients, skewed distributions, equations. It was all a lot of fun and very relaxing.
I learned the great value of landing in the control group – you don’t have to record tons and tons of data. And how you can add “power” to a survey by either adding a lot more questions – especially asking the same thing in different ways – or surveying a larger sample of people.
How many times have we heard students complaining about homework? Let me tell you, as a new student, homework these days is fun. Maybe that should even be FUN.
This week we had a reading assignment in our massive text book. However, we got to go online to something called “BlackBoard” and print out an outline of the chapter. Our assignment was to fill in the blanks and tables in the outline as we read the text. How easy is that? Piece of cake.
Even better, on BlackBoard we can access the same set of slides used by the instructor in class. And even better yet, there are linked in videos to watch – lots of them. The only thing not flowing from the school’s website is popcorn – and I have plenty of that in the kitchen.
This psychology stuff is all right. And school is more fun than ever.
I almost titled this “Back to the Salt Mine” but it seemed that Back In School was actually better. Today was my first day in a class room as an enrolled student, yes taking a class, in 23 years. It was fun. It was interesting. And things have certainly changed.
Last fall, I read a book called The 10 Minute Cognitive Workout. I was skeptical, but I tried it and got amazing results. And quickly – almost instantly. This book explained a thing called cognitive reprogramming. Reprogram the executive centers in your brain and the rest of you body falls into line. It really only takes 10 minutes each day. It really works. I’ll describe my experiences, tests, and trials in other posts.
Having been bitten by the bug of unexpectedly good results, I did a little reading and found this other thing called neuroplasticity. In neuroplasticity, our brain is constantly changing and adapting to the things and environments we experience. And to make things even sweeter, our brain is constantly growing new brain cells. So, if we are going to tend a garden lets go for a great crop.
I sat today in that purposefully uncomfortable student desk and took the first lecture in my Psychology 101 course. (It is 102 in the course catalog but that just indicates a way better introductory class). The professor launched us off with the usual line “so much to cover, so little time” – don’t be disappointed – which is secret academic speak for I am going to kick your butt and if you can keep up you will learn a lot.
My hover board is stowed away. My text book at the ready. In class today, I see that most material is introduced on the web and not in the classroom. You can literally drown in all the stuff a department staff can link into a course web page. But hey, we’re paying for this and a lot of the posted stuff is really good. I haven’t experienced online quizzes yet or take home exams or papers written in the internet age. It will be fun. Psychologically, I’ll probably finish as a better man. Or at least a smarter man.
I am enjoying today.
I am staying focused.
I notice how well the day is going.
I am feeling fully and deeply alive.
I am experiencing inner joy.
I am laughing more and more every day.
I am sleeping deeply and soundly every night.
I am beginning to feel more and more calm.
I am becoming more and more patient.
I am creating positive relationships.
I am feeling good about my progress.
I am resting and relaxing.
Happy Veterans Day! And thank you to all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen who answered the call of duty. Serving in the armed forces of the United States is an experience that is unique in our world. We have the best equipped and trained fighting force on the planet. To be sure there are still duty rosters, and weekend duty, and frequent moves and additional duties but when it is mission time we know that the best individuals are deploying with the best equipment and they know how to use it.
There are two groups that must also be recognized on this day.
Most of those warriors out there have families. Sometimes the family moves with them and sometimes the warrior deploys and leaves the family back home. So the family is either uprooted and starts over or manages the separation by keeping up a long distance relationship. Either of these is hard but it gets done over and over and over.
Behind all those soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen is an unseen army of contractors, tradesmen, designers, engineers, farmers and a host of others who produce all the uniforms, boots, radios, vision equipment, meals, vehicles, shelters, weapons, drones and on and on. Without this magnificent tail our tooth would soon stall.
Today we have the National Military Medical Center on lock down after an as yet unconfirmed report of a shot fired. The media are everywhere reporting on the location of response forces, the routes of entry and departure that are now blocked and the places where people are caught in long line traffic jams. If you were looking for the sweet spots in this target we have highlighted them in glowing neon.
Just last week we had an eerily similar event at the Navy Yard. Report of a shot fired. The Yard was locked down. The media showed us everything – who responded, great visuals that lets us identify the responders (facial recognition is easy these days) and detailed views of their equipment (read weaponry). So now anyone watching this knows what agencies will respond, what police and fire and rescue will respond, where they will locate, where the press will be allowed to go and how big the response force will be. And in the clamor for any news, we who are looking on learn quite a bit about how the various agencies and organizations interact.
If someone wanted to significantly damage security forces in our Nation’s capital they have found us playing with all our cards face up. One phone call will trigger a massive response – closing a facility and completely gridlocking the area around it. Remember the shooting of CIA employees waiting in traffic back in 1993. I’ll bet the bad guys do. Or just as significantly, many of the response forces are pulled from other areas. Those areas are now lightly covered or not covered at all. So that simple phone call (no act of violence) has formed a very attractive target rich environment. Heaven forbid that an evil person or group planned ahead and planted IEDs in that area, or remotely controlled weapons.
I am all for security and safety. But a key part of operational security is to not tell your opponent everything you are doing and what you are going to do next. I’d like to see the live coverage toned way down and have those of us not involved leave the operation to the operators.
Two very similar events in less than a week cause me concern. If this is reconnaissance they’ve probed a military facility and a military medical facility. If Joint Base Andrews suffers an unconfirmed shot fired incident, I am turning my cards face down and raising.