Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Really Can't Believe...

...that I'm in another foreign country.  I really can't believe I'm meeting so many interesting people once again in an amazing setting and learning so many different points of view.  So far in San Remo, Italy I have been learning to enjoy the food, the view of the sea, and the amazing opportunity that this trip truly is and that I never saw myself enjoying when I saw my selection as an alternate what feels like so long ago.

As far as food I was never a big Italian fan in the states, but here I've been loving it.  I've had pesto that tasted strangely delicious (my first pesto experience was in the mess halls of West Point, which I do not recommend) and the first piece of lasagna I ate with enthusiasm.  The food is great without a doubt, the rumors are true!

The view is beautiful.  The weather has been spotty, but honestly in the 50s is pleasant.  San Remo is sort of on a hill so when the weather is clear the view of the sea from the window through the palm trees is startlingly beautiful.  It was raining and cloudy when we arrived so I was thoroughly shocked when I noticed it a couple days later.

Obviously the time has flown by and I cannot believe the last day of the competition is tomorrow and the 'formal' jacket and tie evening and recognition ceremonies.  The competition is over International Humanitarian Law, particularly the Law of Armed Conflict.  We participate in teams of three, role playing as legal advisors from fictional countries who have agreed to come together as a coalition.  We're essentially in a "situation room" with several scenarios given to us that explore the various aspects of international law.  Some scenarios we have more time than others to prepare for.  It's more fun when you engage the whole thing, and I've gotten lucky with a great group!  More on that and the end of the competition in the next entry!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon Musings

The moon is supposed to drive us to madness... I guess it's too late for the likes of me.  As usual I'm crazy with all the work I have to do by Wednesday alone... I'm so tired already but there's yet work to be done... I've got to call it a night as soon as this caffeine wears off.

Right now I am just wondering if everyone has a someone... I mean what if that someone isn't there for you?  Or what if you can't find them?  I mean, in that silly movie Ever After you supposedly always find your someone but so many people have been in loveless marriages... luckless lives... many people have lived their whole lives lonely.  Some people choose to withdraw from the world, is their hermitage really inflicting a heartache on someone else in the world?  And what if two people think one person is their someone?  Is one of them wrong?  Can they both be right?  But only one gets the prize?  I guess there are other types of fulfillment in the world than relationships... but I think a relationship would make me happy too.  Not that I can't be happy without one... and after all the supposed success to attracting a healthy relationship is to be a healthy person... but so many people come together out of need anyway.  I mean and don't we love the people most who stick out the worst for us?  Wasn't it Marilyn Monroe who said if you can't stand me at my worst you don't deserve me at my best?  She didn't exactly end well though did she?

Endless questions.  I guess I'm supposed to be giving my point of view, but I'm no one to give advice.  I'm a fool in this game.  I've made all the classic mistakes, and some creative ones too.  I could tell you it's not a good idea to go from one intense, long term relationship to another when you're in the middle of a life changing experience.  I would definitely advise just taking it easy with relationships altogether when you're going through life-changing events... but then again... it's been quite tumultuous from age fifteen to age twenty-one I would personally not recommend anyone between those ages getting involved with anyone seriously for the whole of that time.  Not exactly reasonable, is it?  And that's just general advice if I was twenty-one year old Me talking to fifteen year old Me.

For the guys on the other hand I have so many don'ts.  Don't lie to the girl you want to keep.  Don't cheat on a girl you expressly want to be exclusive with you.  Don't propose to a girl about to graduate or embark on anything that has a lot to do with her future unless you have a good alternative plan.  Don't get too attached too soon.  Don't assume girls can read your mind just because we over analyze everything.  In fact according to our calculations you are thinking about so many things at once your brain ought to explode if scientific measurements of brain activity are accurate.

So as for the future?  I have no idea in the romance department.  I know with about 89% certainty my future geographical location and occupation.  That might be slightly more than most people are sure about in their lives, but that is about it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pause to Reflect

I have to admit part of this sentence was inspired by a quote on a government support website, but it stuck in my head and I've transformed it to become this:

Life sometimes hits us with a suckerpunch that knocks us flat on our ass. In reality, everyone faces a host of physical challenges as inevitable as life itself, and only by shouldering these challenges and pressing on can we actually live.

I'm not talking about day-to-day stuff, but the things that plague us for our lives whether internal or external, whether it is something obvious, a scarlet letter emblazoned on our public lives forcing us to deal with our fellow man's judgment; or a hidden secret that unseen forever directs the course of our interactions from the general populace to our intimate comrades and family.  Sometimes as a society we lack compassion for the misfortune of others.  We make judgments on others for their misfortunes or we lay the blame with the victim.  Sometimes we do this internally, or in the back of our minds is the whispering voice that says they really deserved it.  And while it's true that some of our actions bring misfortune upon us, sometimes it is inevitable.  And this silent heartlessness, this sense of superiority, has the potential to come full circle.  If we judge others based on their state as opposed to their actions than we are drawing false conclusions and could wind up victim to those same conclusions.

I'm not saying no to tough love, I mean sometimes I think I could use someone just putting their foot down and giving me a good ass-kicking or ass-chewing and that might work better than their patience has... but their patience always drives me to work harder and feel more indebted to them for being at the very least human with their expectations.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The System Works for You

The system rewards strange behavior.  And I don't think this particular system was built well.

The Cadet Observation Report (COR) at our fine institution is an electronic method to inform the offending party's supervisor that they have screwed up one way or another.  However, this digital COR also goes to the 'head honcho' of our company and it's not a very "office-friendly" policy to report a lowly peon for small stuff.  It also sounds 1984-esque where neighbor turns neighbor in.

Now the argument placed before me by this system's proponents is that the purpose is to alert the offender's supervisor and chain of command so that they can take appropriate action, and that to avoid using the system is to invalidate it.

Granted offenses shouldn't be hidden by supervisors to avoid trouble from higher echelons, but giving proper ownership of subordinates to their supervisors instead of writing a COR that goes into the system and is permanently attached to a cadet's record without at least going through a polite process of informing that cadet's chain of command and giving them first rights to deal with the situation.  If these people who write CORs at least informed leadership of their intention, they would do wonders for their appearance. 

Additionally, the COR only reinforces to the bitter cadet that the system is working against them because these things are often written one-sidedly and - as we learned yesterday - writing a retaliatory COR is a terrible idea.  But since this cadet wrote that emotional "counter" COR the original writer of the electronic disciplinary method ended up being slightly criticized.  Now the original writer is defending their actions, and acting as though many of us in this company don't want justice or support the system.  Au contraire... it's only a more effective system when we work together to develop a trouble-making cadet as opposed to shooting what is essentially an electronic slap on the wrist at least without confronting the cadet in a more calm setting, because now this offending cadet will probably be even less inclined to comply with future orders as opposed to if he had been approached in the evening by his supervisor or with his chain of command.

We can only move forward from this event, but maybe the electronic Cadet Observation Report should be gotten rid of altogether, or the actions that can be recorded in a COR - since it stays on your record all four years here - should be limited in nature.  Or the COR record should be wiped clean every year at the discretion of the leadership.  I will never like this method of leadership at any rate.  It seems indirect and less effective in many ways.