October 14, 2004

Welcome back everyone. Now that the journals are being posted and things are under way, the rest should be good to go. Nature’s decided to start playing nice for a change, and out of her generosity, we’ve just completed our first couple of full weeks of class. Overall, everything has moved on smoothly after the tumult of the season; most classes are on accelerated syllabi and a very few have resorted to extra days. Strange as it feels after only two weeks of solid classes, we’re all getting ready for mid-terms coming up. Next week I will trudge through exams in all of my classes and tend to status reports, then it should be business as usual thereafter. Classes have been easy so far, and I don’t expect much problem from these exams.

One point that I have personally revisited and have seen many other students suffer from is overload. Something that freshmen love to do is to involve themselves with as many highly demanding activities as they can, either because they like to do all these things or because they misinterpret the external pressure to ‘get involved.’ In the end, this hoarding leads to low grades, no free time, and overly grumpy individuals. It’s important to remember when you get here, as well as to plan for ahead of time, that you can’t do everything in your first year, nor should you try to. Plan to give at least a month’s worth of feeling things out and just getting used to the new environment before jumping headlong into the half-dozen other extra curricular activities available beyond the daily social life. Then, when you understand what’s really out there and what you have time for, there’s not the issue of biting off more than you can chew. You’ll be here for four years. Spread things out and you’ll have plenty of time for everything you want to do.

NROTC has been treating me very well lately. I’ve noticed the regular physical exercise in the mornings do wonders for an active mind, and the activities and field trips we’ve done so far have helped make strong ties with my fellow midshipmen. This past weekend, about 60 midshipmen, officer candidates and the captain toured the USS Carney and helicopter squadron HSL-44 in Jacksonville. A fantastic experience in and of itself, the tour gave many of us the chance to see what surface and aviation warfare is about so that when the time comes to decide on warfare designators, we’ll have a good idea of what we really want to do. It was also a nice excuse to show off the uniform for an extra day during the week. More such excursions are on the way, including a visit to an EOD (Special Warfare) group where it’s been giddily rumored we’ll be able to catch them blow up a vessel of some sort. I am quite pleased with the caliber of individuals involved with the battalion. There is certainly a deeply-rooted drive in many of them, and that alone is very refreshing and inspiring to me, as now I feel as though I’m in an environment where I can make good use of my talents — that is, once my schedule allows time to conduct the many projects I wish to press forward with. It’s a good bunch of people, all every willing to help everyone else however they can. And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon. Looking forward to hearing from all of you on the discussion boards or email. Onward + Upward

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