David

About David

Senior

Aeronautical Science

Age: 21
Hometown: Denver, CO
Favorite Band: Fleetwood Mac
Career Goal: To participate in Naval Aviation as a gateway to space flight opportunities.

April 28, 2005

There’s never any rest for the weary and the last week of classes certainly doesn’t deviate from that. Though it’s been a rather boring and no-energy kind of semester so far, these last two weeks have done nothing but rain gobs of work, projects, studying, exams, homework, moving, travel issues, etc. into a very small period of time. Unfortunately, few of these things could have been taken care of earlier, as they’re pertinent to these last few weeks of school, such being Color Parade, finals, end of year evals and other paperwork that cannot be done until things are near completion.

End-of-year stressors aside, it’s been an interesting and fruitful year. Though it didn’t end as strong as I’d expected it to, there was a tremendous amount of learning and growth throughout. For those looking to learn in a brief moment the lessons I learned in a year, I would suggest the following:

  • Be aware of your options. Constantly ask yourself, “What are my possibilities for action at this moment?” Had I done so two years ago, I probably would have worked and established myself in Daytona rather than Orlando since I knew I was going to ERAU, but was still acting on what were then empty, preconceived plans of action.
  • Know what you’re getting into. A lot of people don’t like where they end up in university, occupation, etc. simply because they didn’t find out what the place they were going to actually offered. Where college is concerned, be sure you ask questions about lifestyle, academic breadth, as well as get a sense of the overall cultural climate of the area. These things are best done by spending some time at the universities you are interested in. Be sure to do so on several ‘normal days’ and not just an orientation or open house day when everything is geared for selling the school and not showing what it’s really about.
  • Never quit. This speaks for itself. No body will believe you’re truly interested in something, not even yourself, if you give up without fighting with all you’ve got.
  • Be professional in everything you do. Don’t read this as to say you can’t have fun, but when our country is rolling towards highly educated and capable individuals and, more importantly, is cracking down on those who refuse to do a job properly, you cannot afford to behave like a high school freshman anymore. Aviation’s not for everyone. We do need someone to flip our burgers.
  • Above all things, remember where you’re from. Though you may go on to do great things, make a name for yourself, and travel far from your home both physically and mentally, your heritage is what got you where you are. If you do not embrace and respect that heritage with personal humility and do not pass along those values to the next generation, then expect your glory to fade faster than it came to be.

On the verge of another major turning point in life, I wish all of you the absolute best that life has to offer. Life is nothing more than a fantastic adventure. So long as you control it and not let it control you, expect the most from this journey.

To my friends and colleagues, I send my deepest appreciation for your support and humor.
Namaste, and Onward + Upward,
David

April 14, 2005

It’s incredible to think about how fast the weeks are just flying by these days. I look at the calendar, realizing it’s already 10 April, but still feel like it’s late evening from two months ago. With just three weeks to go, it’s definitely Crunch Time. As one of my old professors once told me, “May is coming; get on the horse.”

Our Navy unit just had its annual Dining In ceremony, a ceremony where only those within the unit and a guest of honor are invited. It was a fantastic opportunity to have fun with everyone, share a good many inside jokes, poke fun at each other, and just enjoy a good meal and a great evening. Though not much like what it was last year, it seems everyone was very pleased with the event. My roommate and the Mr. Vice for the event and myself got together to perform a heavily derivative skit about our Staff Sergeant and another Sergeant in the unit, reminding the midshipmen about the joys of Orientation. We took the ideas of Pablo Francisco’s skit on movie previews and presented a side-splitting rendition of our own “Orientation: A Sergeant’s Tale.” The evening topped off for many of us over 21 at the bar, discussing politics, sociology, philosophy and the works. It was a tremendous experience for me, to finally have that kind of stimulation at this school. I miss it dearly, and to find we have such fantastic thinkers both in the Unit Staff and the Battalion itself is deeply inspiring. It was so stimulating that my roommate and I are postulating the formation of a discussion group to meet twice a month, just to give midshipmen the chance to do more of this discussion and group learning than we have.

Color Guard is gearing up to present for a dedication ceremony of our gymnasium to a former instructor at the school, Jamie Fletcher, a former SEAL and aviator who died in an aviation accident about a year ago. Once that’s finished, it’s just graduation and our commissioning ceremony for those few that’ll be around when we’re done. Training will change dramatically, where I will no longer take on the National Ensign position, giving our Officer Candidate the opportunity to learn the position, as he’ll need it for presentations before and during the summer. Likewise, it’ll be time to start planning to whom I’ll pass the torch onto. I’ve been put up for a few positions within the unit, including Public Affairs Officer and Color Guard commander for next semester. I don’t know how likely I am for any of them, but either way, I’ll have to groom a replacement. I have a few in mind who would do well, but as to their interest in the position, I’m not certain. I’ll likely have next semester or year to figure and work that out.

Something along similar lines is something that’s fast grown from a matter of personal curiosity to immediate contention. I’ve always been chided about being proper and living morally, and it’s never really given me much issue until the last few weeks. Until recently, there’d not much been the necessity to really make such a lifestyle evident, but a friend of mine spoke with a Captain from SOCOM and in a shared communication, this captain particularly stressed the need for moral, mature leaders throughout the military. I’d always come from the camp of understanding that mature leaders were the residing norm in the military, but that email and some issues I’ve discovered have forced the issue directly to my doorstep, where I can no longer look at aberrations and write them off as “it just happens like that.” Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot go into more detail about this issue, but for all those aspiring officers, and even enlisted men who are reading this, the point is raised for one primary issue. The military is full of interested, capable men and women. There is no problem finding people who are capable of doing their jobs and doing them well. At a time when the military is condensing and looking only for the best, and especially as we move into an era where warfare is falling under increasingly stringent criticism and attention, those leaders who posses such qualities as discernment, self-control, dependability, loyalty, deference, truthfulness, and above all humility have the edge and the preference. It is a lack or immaturity of such things that cause the disgraces we’ve found so many events, not the least of which the torture of prisoners.

That’s all for now. Many of you have been writing in with all sorts of excellent questions about the school, your options, and life in general. It’s been great to converse with those of you who are willing to step out and make your voice heard. Keep it up! Until next time:

Onward + Upward

March 21, 2005

The time has finally come for mid-semester reflection and refreshment. Mid-term examinations are done and over with after an intense final two weeks of studies. After chalking off the first few weeks to a significant drop in energy and drive, things have finally picked back up and are well on their way to mimicking things last semester. Not a moment too soon at that; the success of those exams helped me to solidify that I am likely able to bring all my grades back from borderline to acceptable with the few weeks remaining.

Some of you have expressed a solid interest in the Navy ROTC program, how it is structured and what it’s all about in recent weeks, so I felt that this would be an excellent opportunity to help spell things out as best I can in the hopes that many questions can be answered outright. It should be added that if there are any other questions or concerns, I am still more than happy to address them or forward you to someone who’s better suited for the job in question.

The Navy ROTC scholarship covers all tuition, $300 for books per semester, your monthly stipend ($250 – $400 per month, depending on class), and flight so long as it is a part of your major. This also includes approved extra credit hours (the university charges for more than 16 credit hours per semester). Housing is not covered, but ERAU provides some sort of incentive scholarship for housing – $3000 for the year is currently under review.

Life in the Unit basically consists of three mandatory PT sessions per week (four morning and one afternoon are offered, Thursday mornings mandatory for all). If you take things low-key, then there’s not much else but uniform day on Tuesday, plus Drill that afternoon, the Naval Science classes, and any other extra activities you may perform with the Unit – anything from Color Guard to lunches with the Navy League to helping volunteer for certain events.

The more you can do to be active, the better off you’ll be in the long run. There’s a club for each of the warfare communities (Aviation, Submarine, Surface, and Special Warfare), as well as Color Guard and Drill Team, a budding Rifle and Pistol Team to name a few.

Furthermore, should anyone have more questions or merely an interest in reviewing the Unit’s Web site, I recommend looking towards http://embryriddlenavymarinesrotc.org/ where you’ll find photos, a wealth of information, as well as our semiannual newsletter, Eagles and Anchors, for your pleasure and review.

Onward + Upward

March 3, 2005

Murphy’s gone and done it again. Though he didn’t screw us over royally, the law of anything that can go wrong struck again. But as usual, the ERAU Joint Color Guard pulled through and made a stellar performance on national television for the Daytona 500. What ended up happening was that, after two solid weeks of preparation to march out during the pre-game show, post for America the Beautiful, then do some rearranging for presenting for the National Anthem, we were told 20 minutes before actually going on that things had drastically changed. The beliefs that we were to present for the National Anthem were trashed and as it turns out, there were two organizing bodies preparing the pre-game show, one for the pre-game festivities and the other solely for the honor guard. These groups didn’t coordinate ahead of time, so when we were hired by the pre-game show organizers and given 4 minutes to get into position for the cameras initially, the presence of the second honor guard for the national anthem required us to remove ourselves from sight within the 2.5 minute commercial break and skip our “big moment.” An interesting run but definitely worth the combined 8 seconds of faded pans across the group.

In other news, I finally got a fantastically refreshing taste of real university life again with the presentation by Michael Adas, professor at Rutger’s University in New Jersey. Presenting on the “Fragile Giant” for the Honors Program’s last of their speakers series, Professor Adas touched rather in depth on the technological influence on society, politics, international government and relations, and had a key focus on the technology and architecture incorporated in the World Trade Center towers and how that impacted both the events leading up to 9/11, as well as the specifics of that date. This was particularly interesting for me not only because of my interest in such fields as they pertain to international politics and history, but also the professor’s thoughts are helping to give me some direction in my own scholastic pursuits outside of this place, particularly so with my research for my upcoming lecture in Lithuania. I had the tremendous opportunity to speak with Professor Adas just before and a while after his presentation on the notion of his help, and to my elated joy, he’s interested in meeting with me privately over the coming months to work on just that.

Time is also coming along to start considering just what to do about housing next year. One thing about living on campus, and it’s sometimes hard to appreciate unless you’ve lived on your own previously, is that being at school 24/7 not only wears on your patience, but also your sanity. There is something to be said for being able to take care of your own yard, do with your property as you please, and remove yourself from the school environment for extended periods and even at the cost of not being able to get out of bed, dressed, and into class within 5 minutes. Though many enjoy the conveniences and accessibility of having school completely around them, having lived on my own for two years, both internationally and domestically, the chance to get to a computer lab or anything on campus with little effort means nothing to me anymore. So the long trek of house/apartment searching begins. Several buddies and I have begun poking our nose around for places; some have even found things to settle on right away (the waiting list for the senior’s empty spots in May fill up very fast).

And finally, a major point I feel the need to address is the importance of finding the right fit in a school. Matching your particular interests and needs to what a school offers should be one of the primary goals on your list. I encourage all of you who are having trepidation over what school to attend, or if you’re wondering if Riddle is really right for you, to compose a list of what’s important to you and then find out what schools offer those things and, just as importantly, to what extent. Riddle has many programs, but some are underdeveloped. Some things are classified as minor but are actually major organizations (i.e. the Ice Hockey Club actually being good enough to be a varsity sport, though only classified as a club for the time being). Riddle is fantastic at what it does and you’re not number one for doing nothing. But it is different than any university out there.

If you have any questions about the actuality of a particular program, please know that all of us are more than willing to give you straightforward information about your questions. Emails always open to specific questions. Just ask.

Onwards + Upwards

February 17, 2005

Speed Weeks have started here in Daytona and it’s a busy fortnight of fumes, physics, and practice. Spring has also come and gone – it lasted all of four days and now Summer’s definitely showing how badly she wants to be here.

The big news this time around is the performances of the Color Guard team during Speed Weeks. After an exciting learning experience at the Tulane International Drill and Color Guard Competition in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, where the Color Guard performed phenomenally well given it was our first competition, we were chosen to perform a week later for the Daytona 500 Qualifying rounds. From that performance, some scouts picked us out and are now interested in having us perform for the Daytona 500 itself (the Superbowl of racing, from what people tell me). We have something of an interview this coming Saturday to confirm our slot, and, if we continue our standard with some improvement, your ERAU Joint ROTC Color Guard will be on national television for the presentation of the colors this coming Sunday.

Otherwise, major things coming up are working with the races themselves (primary money-maker for the Unit) and some mid-term tests in various classes. I’m also gearing up for my lecturing at the IX International on the Science and Quality of Life in Vilnius, Lithuania, continuing my now three year tradition of lecturing as well as teaching English for a Student International Summer Workshop through the former Universitas Studiorum Polona Vilnensis. It’s a long string of preparation for both classes and research/a lecture, but I’m hoping that the prospects of this will help me re-find my focus and motivation that’s been strangely missing since mid-winter break. Perhaps one factor, be it an element or cause, could be my recent alienation of classical studies and continuing my side-line St. John’s College education.

That’s all for now; classes are classes are classes. This semester’s no different than others aside from the extra curriculars. Keep those questions and thoughts coming. They help give a good sense of what all everyone’s interested and give me more ideas to write about. Find the email in prior posts.

Til then, all the best and best wishes to all.

Onward and upward,

David

January 20, 2005

Scratch one semester. Easy as it may have been, things are fast growing into a busy world and busier times. I apologize for not being able to make this a long posting, but things being what they are this semester, technology headaches and all, there’s simply no time in the week to commit the time I normally put towards these musings.

To put the last month in summary, the coming semester is going to be a vacation from my vacation. A mix of plenty of work and catching up with household chores/meeting with people I’ve not seen in nearly two years added up very quickly. Fortunately I was able to squeeze in a bit of time to edit and further progress on my Unit Heritage project for the NROTC so that I wasn’t too terribly back-logged once things picked up here. Something that I’ve avoided mentioning for professional reasons has been my personal life and relationships. However, I’ve received so many inquiries that I feel I should make some mention of things, if not just to tip the hat to the dear lady. Having little to no social network in Florida, and not finding many of the qualities I look for in the region, I was introduced to an international young lady from Princeton not long ago and have very happily fallen upon good times with her. With the very solid possibility of her transferring to ERAU, there are hopes of something developing from our close association, but for now things are staying on very pleasant terms though restricted care of the distance.

Where current events are concerned, most endeavors have proven highly successful. My project for the Navy has gotten tremendous compliments and assistance from the Unit Staff. With its nearing completion, my hands will be free to do more important things, such as prepare for our major Color Guard performance for the Tulane Drill Meet and getting together the logistics for a Rifle and Pistol Team. Still working hard for that scholarship from the Navy as well. With any luck, I will only have one year’s worth of loans to pay off and will be able to extend my class-taking ability in the coming years. Classes are predictably harder this time around, having signed up for a swath of upper-level courses in humanities and aeronautics. My schedule is hardly to my liking, spread across the entire day for the entire week. This means I don’t have the regular availability I had last semester for mid-day activities or errands, but the chance to learn time-management should be interesting.

That’s all for now. Things are still fresh enough that I’m not quite sure where the semester’s going yet, but that should be resolved come a fortnight’s passing.

A resounding thanks to all those who have contacted me with your questions, comments and suggestions so far. I really appreciate the feedback everyone’s giving me. Hopefully this is helping out a good many of you. All the best for the coming semester!

Onward and upward, David

December 9, 2004

7th Inning Stretch! Well gang, semester’s up. It’s easy to say that this upcoming break is more than welcome. I know on my side I’m eager to see home again; it’s been two years now since I’ve been back west. After spending Thanksgiving some 400 miles from here and seeing the effects of that brief intermission, winter should definitely bring about a good chance to refocus and remind myself of my few, though important priorities.

This is the last week for classes, and the stress is beginning to show in many of them. My Aeronautics Basics class is really beginning to cram in the last bits of lesson that it can. Flight Physiology is likewise squeezing in a third exam this week, just before finals – though that’s mostly because most of the other students need the points. Most all of my classes had some sort of project due within the past week, including presentations and research projects. I was able to knock out those quite easily thanks in part to my old political science studies.

On the NROTC front, the Battalion just finished their physical examinations for the semester and I, because of my bum knee (an academic injury, oddly enough), will get to run out the last bits of stability in it on Wednesday during the make-up run. We’ve also been preparing for our semester award ceremony, where I hope to earn ribbons recognizing my participation in color guard, drill team, and community service. Some of my friends secured awards for physical fitness achievement, academic achievement, and even an exemplary overall service award. I’ve also started a self-devised project that will catalogue the leadership of the Unit for future reference and, more importantly, will give current midshipmen the opportunity to learn about their current seniors and possibly be able to draw some connection with them because of it. The idea came from my former AFROTC Detachment at CSU/UNC. My associates and I have merely expanded the task.

Otherwise, things are just in their usual wind-down phase, with added focus on moving out of my room into another hall. Some buddies of mine and I are working on fitting a room together for next semester in order to relieve us all of certain roommate headaches and aid in our NROTC efforts, since we’re all working on the aforementioned project and some other postulated projects together. Not too sure what all to throw in here. I know there’s been some mention about people wanting more “personal life” in this, so I again invite you to write personally for such questions or even if there’s anything you care to know over the break. zivnu70f@erau.edu And, to the friend of my friend at Colorado School of Mines, that means you too J!

Have a grand winter vacation everyone. Enjoy the snow, those of you who have it. I know I will!

Onwards and upwards, David

November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving break is fast upon us, and the last two weeks have done well in reminding me of the not-so-distant end of term. Classes and projects are all gearing down for the end of the semester. Overall, it’s a good time of the year as it gives many of us the chance and motivation to refocus just before grades are set and final.

Most classes that have a three test and final exam system are either taking their final in-class test soon or already have. I know my last-minute physics studies are accompanied by others’ efforts to cram for calculus and the like. Others are working on major term papers (here they usually top out at near 7 pages double-spaced) or projects. Most of all this is due before the Thanksgiving holiday so that the break can be spent celebrating, relaxing, and prepping for the final two-week stretch that’s patiently waiting on our doorstep. Surprisingly enough, the upcoming break also marks a point when certain classes come near their end of teaching material. When most professors have been cramming intensely all semester to catch up from the hurricanes, it’s refreshing to have a few blocks where we students are not as pressed to make up three weeks of missed course time.

The last few weeks have been particularly busy for myself care of performances with color guard, extra research efforts I’ve taken on, as well as having been commissioned for additional projects to help out various organizations. And I think I had my 21st birthday in there somewhere, but it’s all been such a blur that the only evidence of that has been the strange stockpile of my new underage friends!

The color guard performance was a last-minute bit for a Marine Appreciation Dinner sponsored by the local Navy League. The team pulled off the presentation amazingly well for the 3 hour per day, 4 days of practice we had available combined with an on-the-spot adapted presentation plan. Those few of us who have remained through the semester are becoming quite dedicated and exhilarated by our work and the practices are getting more fun now that we’re comfortable with each other and know what we’re doing. Thankfully a second color guard for the Quarterdeck Ball was unnecessary, or we’d never have left that practice lot. The Quarterdeck Ball itself was fantastic. I got the opportunity to sit next to one of my favorite upper class midshipmen, the Cadet Colonel of the AFROTC Detachment, as well as converse briefly with the guest of honor, a former Marine Colonel and aviator who helped me significantly by providing source material for my upcoming editorial for the NROTC Newsletter. More than that, I’ve noticed many of the new midshipmen have gotten closer, more comfortable, and more cordial with the older midshipmen since the event, so it was a grand success at building camaraderie. At the event, an upper class midshipman also anointed me the new Unit Photographer, presumably just for the evening, though knowing the trend my trigger finger will be used elsewhere frequently. It’s very reassuring and satisfying to know that my experience and know-how is able to help out the Unit so much in so many different ways. Hopefully my abilities can be put to very solid use throughout my career here.

Outside the assigned research papers, I’ve proposed an independent research paper for my Flight Physiology class just to give me some further understanding and direct analysis of the theories at hand. I would have liked to have done similarly with other classes as well, however the thought of writing a brief thesis paper for my classes only recently reformed in my head and these were something I was fond of doing for political science back at the University of Northern Colorado. In a further tip of the hat to the Navy side of things, another research project, mostly for personal information, has centered on High Lord Admiral Nelson, Admiral Spruance, and Colonel Bogdanos in something of an attempt at understanding exceptional leadership in a variety of stances and how motivating in the age of sail might apply to today’s turbine engine fleet.

Outside the aforementioned photographer job, I’ve also very excitedly been given the go ahead to pursue a small project to form a record of the Unit and Battalion staff’s bios for both midshipmen and visitors to read and learn about the leadership of the Unit. More than just a bit of material for guests to become acquainted with the staff, it would allow the midshipmen to know from what exceptional experience their superiors come, as well as form a record of the Unit’s history and heritage. What better time to start such an effort than now, just before the last two years’ staff depart.

On the home front, I’ve been running into a good many issues with my roommate that are unlikely to be resolved lest both of us significantly change our basic natures. As such, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for alternatives and it sounds like, since I’m a transfer student, I have the option to move to an upperclassman dorm. It’s a very strong option since I’d have the chance to interact with students more of my own age and maturity level. There’s also the possibility of moving into a rent-free house that’s a very rare opportunity and might work out better in the long run for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being financial.

Probably best to leave things there for now. Thanks to everyone for reading, especially those fellow midshipmen and classmates who’ll never let me live this down. Here’s to yeh, lads! Onwards + upwards, David

October 28, 2004

The weeks just keep on getting crazier and crazier, and I’m loving every bit of it. Midterms are over and done with. Fortunately they all went well for me; nothing was out of the ordinary or unexpected in as much as the testing was concerned. The only major problem has been a change in professors for my physics class. The original instructor left on medical leave, and there’re been some problems with people adapting to the new teaching style. I’ve found it personally difficult just because the teacher is explaining ideas that I already know and have worked with in the past in ways that serve to only confuse and stupefy me. My solution has been to work primarily out of the book for the class instead, and only then integrate this knowledge into class in such a way that the translation of what the instructor says reinforces what has already been learned. With a test coming up on Friday, it should be interesting to see just how effective my attempts have been with this.

My roommate has turned out to be cooler than I could ever have imagined. My last several roommates both in and out of college have brought little more than headache and frustration, but this time around I think things are finally going well. We’re both easy going and respectful towards each other; he keeps the rest of the hall out of the room when I try to turn in early and I make sure he stays out of trouble and remind him of certain moral guide posts. Basically, we’ve both got each other’s backs. (He’s Tyler Shoemaker, and he approves this message.) Outside that, my social life has similarly gone well. A good balance of going out with friends; helping friends along in their classes, physical training, and other endeavors; and the occasional party converse to studies and ROTC-related activities has livened me up beyond what I was used to back at UNC. One major thing I have noticed that is different from the UNC/CU Boulder/CSU environment that I grew up around is that this school has a much more reserved and conservative feel to it; there just isn’t as much a free-living atmosphere here as in Boulder, Ft. Collins, or Denver. Part of that is the gender gap: most guys go out with specific intent towards finding the opposite gender rather than being foot-loose and fancy free. It makes going out seem more of a contest and more draining than it really should be if people went with the intent of simply enjoying themselves. Although comparing this place to Boulder’s couch-adorned Hill and pedestrian night life might not be a fair relation.

NROTC is still going strong and well. With my PT scores, grades and successes in the battalion continuing, I feel that I’m becoming more and more of an adequate candidate for scholarship. Being an Aeronautical Science major, I’m at a disadvantage because it’s not considered by the Navy to be a pure tech field. However, if I present myself competitively in all other areas, I should hopefully do well against the Navy’s decision board. I joined the Color Guard team some weeks ago when it started up here. Four other members and myself just completed our first performance for the local Navy League’s Navy Birthday celebration. Despite a good many mistakes on my part, the NROTC Unit’s captain and several other active and retired officers commended the entire team on an excellent performance. As well as we did, however, things could not have come together as smoothly would it not have been for our Color Guard Commander’s excellent training and dedication to make sure we were excellent in every step we took. It was because of his work that we were able to go from complete novices to a proficient Color Guard demonstration team in less than two weeks. Practices took up a goodly amount of time, from one to three hours per day every day, but I feel as though even that might not have been enough. I’ve begun to weigh the costs of some other activities I’ve become a part of and will most likely elect to drop drill team and SpecWar club simply because my focus has begun to wander from confidence in my studies instead to worrying about what little time I have available for anything. Needless to say, these things will still be around next semester and even in following years. Right now my grades are paramount and what ever other personal interests I may have must be laid aside for immediate successes in the overall goal.

Been hearing from a few of you on questions about the school and otherwise. I would like to thank all of you who have contacted me either through email or through the discussion boards. There haven’t been many so far, but I’m sure that will change as the school year moves on and more students start looking into colleges of interest. Remember, if you have any questions or concerns ask any one of us or all of us and we’ll be more than happy to help out. It’s a good group of people here; I’ve spotted out several of the other journal writers (though they probably didn’t notice) and know they’re decent people.

Onwards + Upwards,
David

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