SigSpace - Siglet en Your tax dollars at work <p>I'd apologize for not updating, but I don't want to be <a href="" rel="nofollow">this guy</a>.</p> <p>Annual training was splendid, thanks for asking. I probably ought to post about it. Note, I didn't promise to post about it. I didn't even suggest I was thinking about a post. I just said that I probably ought to. You should see my "probably ought to" list some time. It's absolutely horrifying in scope and scale, and that's just the work-related stuff.</p> <p>Ahem.</p> <p>OK, so with the September drill weekend just a few weeks away, instead of preparing for that I got to spend Wednesday through today (being Sunday four days after aforementioned Wednesday) at a conference for the brigade-sized-element-that-is-not-really-a-brigade over my battalion. Being that this is toward the end of the fiscal year (which is a whole 'nother post that I will also probably not actually write), said BSETISNRAB was able to attain <a href="" rel="nofollow">really swanky accomodations</a> for only a fair bit above the normal lodging rate authorized for this region. (For the curious, we stayed in the "Deluxe Lodge Studio Room.") Because they are pretty clever, they set up the tables in such a manner that there was no electricity for me to charge my laptop, meaning that I could only do about 90 minutes of work (on battery) while they were yammering on (and on and on and on).</p> <p>The first portion of the conference was for the AGRs (Active Guard/Reserve--the full-time permanent people who run things the <em>other</em> 28 days a month). We showed up on Wednesday afternoon, got checked in, and had the conference all day ("all day" adjourning around 1430) Thursday and then Friday morning; checkout was at noon, and then the commanders and senior NCOs started showing up for the second portion, which was geared toward them and scheduled in a similar non-grueling manner. Since I'm cool like that (and because it was recommended for unit readiness NCOs), we stayed for the entire period through Sunday noonish.</p> <p>The accommodations were nice. REALLY nice. The conference was a little disappointing. Much of it ought to have been directed at the commanders and 1SGs rather than the full-time staff. It's nice to know that our NCOERs and OERs are ridiculously behind (my company is 52% up to date, vice the BSETISNRAB average of roughly 60%), but I already <em>know</em> that and know that it's a problem. However, <strong>I have no control over this and damned little influence over it.</strong> I cannot make people do their evals; I certainly can't make them do them <em>right</em>, and even giving a class on it would be problematic since a) I'm not actually in a position of authority and b) I have never actually written an NCOER for anyone but myself (yet another post).</p> <p>During the second portion, they unveiled Yet Another Tracking System for me to maintain. In this case, it's a comprehensive know-all-do-all web-based retention tracking tool that will feed stats up to the state level and allow us to keep better tabs on soldiers who are thinking about escap---er, allowing their contract to lapse. Retention tracking is important, no question, but this tool is <em>really</em> detailed: name, contact info, family and spouse info, pay entry base date, birthday (?!), ETS date (obviously), contact records, counseling records, and all sorts of other silliness in this big-ass color-coded Excel spreadsheet to which everyone and their mother will have at least read-only access. In theory, the Retention NCO (a one-weekend-a-month soldier) would keep this up to date, but since so many of those fields are things requiring access to personnel records, in practice it would find its way to my plate.</p> <p>First and most obviously, this is a massive privacy invasion. There is no need for that many people (and they included everyone in the NCO support chain, chain of command, and retention system) to have that kind of information on my soldiers. All it would take is one jackass to lose a laptop and it would be in the open. Since that happens roughly every seven minutes within DoD, this is of concern to me.</p> <p>Second, this is the fourth or fifth place that some of this data is stored and updated--by yours truly. Seriously. I have to update many of these things on the battalion's Access database, the Reserve Component Automation System (RCAS, web-based, frequently down for no reason), Commander's Dashboard (ComDash, web-based, usually works but isn't super detailed), and Digital Training Management System (DTMS, web-based, slower than payday, and designed by people who hate soldiers) already. I do not need <em>another</em> One True Solution for tracking soldier data. I need three <em>less</em> solutions.</p> <p>Here's how we track retention in my company. Each month, I run the retention report on ComDash, which pops up everyone in the unit who is scheduled to get out in the next six months. I must update their status (even if there is no change) at least every 30 days during those six months. I put in who contacted the soldier, the date they did so, the soldier's intent (get out, extend, undecided, etc.), any supporting notes, and check a few applicable boxes. Usually, I print this report out before drill and put it in the Retention NCO's box; it's his job to hit up as many of those people as possible and find out what their plans are and what it would take to include the Nasty Guard in them. He makes notes on the sheet, and I update ComDash on Monday after drill. If we're doing really well, we can record it as "Already Extended" and file the accompanying paperwork.</p> <p>Some soldiers just aren't up for it any longer; they want to do something else with their lives. Some are lazy. Some want more than the Guard can provide, and seem not to have realized that with the current economy and new political climate, we can't afford big (or any) bonuses to keep them in uniform. Some just have done their time and aren't willing to deploy again. I did 11 (mostly) easy months in theater; who am I to tell someone who has spent 27 months in Iraq that they need to step up to the line again? If I think it's good for the unit and good for the soldier, I will try to talk them into it, but I won't try to guilt or trick them into staying in.</p> <p>[Ironically, our Retention NCO inadvertently ETSed when his paperwork got screwed up and he was mistakenly listed as ineligible for extension. Don't worry, we got it fixed.]</p> <p>The point of this digression is that the current system takes me about 15 minutes--<em>per month</em>. I don't need or want yet another spreadsheet to track the soldier's family situation and factors coming up in their lives. That's clearly an officer idea, or from the perverted mind of a full-time Recruiting and Retention Command (RRC) puke. In a company of only 61 soldiers, where even the platoon sergeant might have 12 people under him, a good NCO can keep track of his people with a notepad and a bad one wouldn't use the spreadsheet anyway. If we lose someone to civilian life, it is not because we didn't know exactly when and why it was going to happen. This is a solution in search of a problem.</p> <p>The conference wasn't <em>all</em> about making more work for SSG Sig. A big portion of it (outside the sessions) was supposed to be networking and crap like that. Oops, gave away my attitude a little. I'm not a big socializing networking sort of person. This may amaze some of you, but I don't actually like talking to people I don't know. That's one of the reasons I do so well squirreled away in a SIGINT company office with only a taciturn cav scout for company. I was able to put a few names to faces, and gain new appreciation for some people at echelons above BN, but I'm not a big drinker, particularly when I'm one of the two or three most junior people in a crowd.</p> <p>We aren't into golf or the bar scene, so a lot of the amenities of the resort were somewhat wasted on us. We did go for a nice walk or two, and play on some playground equipment, and even take Siglet for his first swim. He was unimpressed, mostly (I think) because the water was chilly, although he stopped whining once he saw the ladies. Way to suck it up and drive on, son--you're a credit to your gender. In the evenings, we went out to eat (cheaper than eating at the resort, even at "discounted" prices) or did a frozen pizza in the oven, and played Nintendo DS games while waiting for Siglet to fall asleep.</p> <p>Overall, it was somewhat entertaining, and the closest I've had to a vacation since I started this job back in March. I have taken one (1) day of leave since then, and that was a must-stay-home-to-watch-Siglet deal (not that I didn't enjoy it), so this was kind of nice. Still, there's a lot of work that did not get done in a timely fashion, and I'll be playing catch-up right until the drill weekend. I would have been a little happier if we had more small group sessions so I could pick the brains of some of the other Readiness NCOs, and a little less time getting briefed on stuff that applies to only a handful of people in the audience.</p> <p>One plus: I sat through the brigade (well, BSETISNRAB) command sergeant major's brief on the wacky National Guard enlisted promotion system, and I think I can definitively say that my briefing is both better-focused and more entertaining than his. I finished working on it at annual training (in the evenings after my regular training and frantic attempts to do my day job), but then they never scheduled a time to do it so I'm giving it at September's drill. Interestingly (to me), I don't like talking to individual people but I have little problem telling groups of them that they are doing it wrong.</p> <p>Sig</p> Family National Guard Siglet Work Mon, 31 Aug 2009 03:58:46 +0000 sig 663 at Siglet guest blog <p>Hbk;bkbbjk;bkbk;n hgyg iutf m </p> <p>Fghfghfgh<br /> Iqapo0-h ojnigij09u09u3093uefsd0fasd;ofmkpsdofjskmiop5fnpojfpsodopjkdflkdq b xzbh xzbn xcpoksdfposkdfpsodfsdfsfsod n cccccccccccccccccccccccccxjncccccccccccccccccccccccxjnfujhb 5vj 6n h65 c dxnb n b bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb </p> <p>[Originally composed in Word.]</p> Siglet Thu, 16 Jul 2009 00:23:12 +0000 sig 662 at Internet Dads and Nuclear Purple Poo <p>Sometimes I think that I'm a lousy father because I don't update my web page every time Siglet reaches a new milestone. My friend Scott provides <a href="" rel="nofollow">a much better example</a> of the modern 21st-century connected father. You can trace the story of Zoe from the beginning, and while the updates naturally space out a little as time goes on, you are still able to clearly tell how she is doing and what new craziness she's up to.</p> <p>Contrast this with Иван Грозний (Ivan the Terrible, Siglet's secret name among the Fremen), who apparently went from being born to being photogenic to crawling to watching the iTunes visualizer to walking with no intermediate stages. Or so you would think from reading this site.</p> <p>I have mixed feelings about this. I feel vaguely guilty for not diligently taking advantage of the era in which we live to share the joys and highlights of Ian's discovery of the universe around him, especially on behalf of family several time zones away. On the other hand, it's not like he gave me a consent form to write on the Intarweb about the nuclear purple poo he's going to have when he finishes processing the blueberries he just ate. And thanks to the magic of the age, such stories will be around for all eternity, or at least until after the point where he gives up trying to have a serious political career because pictures of him in a hat box keep surfacing.</p> <p>Still another factor is just that I don't feel particularly generous about having his life out there on the intarweb. There are some things about being Ian's parents that are just for his parents to enjoy.</p> <p>But I will share some tidbits, because it's been a while.</p> <p>First, he is now bathing in the big people bathtub, and he <em>loves</em> it. For sustained Siglet laughter and joy, drop him in a tub. He's got a fair collection of toys to play with, and he would sit there happily until the heat death of the universe, squeezing his rubber ducky and dumping water out of his bright plastic cups. I have some terribly cute video on my phone that I will post at some point.</p> <p>Second, it should be noted that Siglet is not a cuddly baby. He doesn't much care for hugs or being held close unless he is very tired. I've only successfully rocked him to sleep in my arms a handful of times; until recently he tended to fight pretty hard. But lately, while we're playing downstairs in the family room, he's been willingly coming over to give me quick hugs, and even crawl in my lap for a minute or two before hopping off to go pull all of my DVDs off the shelf and unplug my home theater.</p> <p>This afternoon, we were watching the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon on DVD and playing. I was laying on the floor and he came up next to me, climbed up on my chest, lay his head down right under my chin, and just sighed quietly for a moment--just a quiet happy moment with dad. And then he pushed himself up, grinned at me, and rolled off to go gnaw on a stuffed animal that caught his eye.</p> <p>It was a really great birthday present.</p> <p>Sig</p> Family Siglet Wed, 18 Mar 2009 02:52:44 +0000 sig 655 at Steps <p>In December, I applied for a new position being filled at my Guard unit--the company Training NCO. On paper, this is sort of an assistant to the Readiness NCO, who is the main full time guy at the company level that keeps things running in between our one-weekend-a-month drills. In practice, I was given to understand, I would be a minion of the battalion S-3 NCOIC, and only peripherally deal with the company, but it was a foot into the door of the AGR (Active Guard/Reserve) system, meaning a full-time permanent job with the Guard with a regular active duty retirement possible--meaning I wouldn't have to think about finding a new job for oh, at least 15 years or so.</p> <p>So yeah, a battalion staff puke job, but you know, somebody has to do them, and it might as well be somebody who a) cares deeply about helping out the soldiers of our unit, b) believes strongly in the mission, and c) hates and fears civilians and is probably better off in uniform indefinitely. I fit the bill.</p> <p>So I applied, which meant a bunch of paperwork and then an interview before <a href="" rel="nofollow">a board</a>, which was a less than stellar experience.</p> <p>I got the job. Sort of.</p> <p>First, I was told I got the job. Then, there were all sorts of internal politicking things going on where Battalion tried to assert its ownership over my immortal soul by claiming that thereafter I would not only work full time at the battalion office, but would also drill there on weekends--in effect, making me one of those inferior class of people who <em>aren't</em> in B Company.</p> <p>There was wailing. There was gnashing of teeth. There was the claim that "that had always been the plan," although it certainly hadn't been clear to me and to one of the actual board members. There were meetings and phone calls.</p> <p>And then there were Changes From Above. Big Changes. The-order-of-the-universe-being-upset kind of changes. Suddenly, our current B Co readiness NCO is desperately needed in his old job back at Battalion. There are meetings and phone calls and e-mails. And on Tuesday, a week before I'm about to start my new job at battalion, I find out that actually my new job is at B Company, and rather than being the minion of the S-3, I am the new readiness NCO of B Co, and I have minions of my own.</p> <p>This is one of those situations where everybody involved--except, notably, me--walks around patting each other on the back for the clever solution they came up with to the seemingly intractable problem. Meanwhile, I am looking at a massive job that has crushed mightier NCOs than me, and only the repeated assurances by authoritative parties that I'll muddle through just fine have kept me from hopping in a car and driving far, far away. It's not that I don't want this job, but this is a much greater learning curve and set of responsibilities than I applied for in December and interviewed for in January.</p> <p>(I've never had minions. What happens if they ask me what to do? Can I shoot one to establish dominance? What do I do if they go feral?)</p> <p>Last week was split between working to document and hand off my work to my luckless successor and trying to get signed up for accounts and systems and things that I will need in my new position. Fortunately for me, I'm not <em>entirely</em> set up for failure--the current readiness NCO is going to be helping me get established and learn what I need to accomplish, although probably for not as long as I might prefer.</p> <p>It will be interesting. Just how interesting remains to be seen. I'll try to let you know tomorrow.</p> <p>Sig</p> <p>PS- Also, and probably of more interest and excitement in our household, Siglet is walking now. 6-7 steps at a time, but I think he only stops because we start getting excited and he doesn't want to tip his hand about just how mobile he is. He's cagey, that one.</p> National Guard Siglet Tue, 17 Feb 2009 03:24:30 +0000 sig 651 at He just looks good in hats. <p>I can't think of anything pithy to say about this picture. I swear, he has smiled more in the last 10 months than I have in the last 30 years. Every hour I spend with him, I feel like I'm being let in on the joke just a little more.</p> <p>Sig</p> Image Siglet Wed, 31 Dec 2008 21:44:41 +0000 sig 638 at Giddyap. <p>This picture is so cute it actually induces vomiting in some clinical trials.</p> <p>Sig</p> Image Siglet Mon, 29 Dec 2008 23:29:39 +0000 sig 636 at Siglet in a box <p>Somebody's Christmas present is going to be ruined, but here's one of the four poses we kept from Ian's insanely expensive portraits. (Hint: "fund raiser" is <em>never</em> going to equal "good deal.") (Who does <em>portraits</em> for fund raisers, anyway?)</p> <p>Ivan Sigovich is ridiculously cute. If you deny it, you should probably seek medication.</p> <p>Sig</p> Image Siglet Wed, 24 Dec 2008 21:36:06 +0000 sig 635 at Don't go into the light! <p>Has anyone actually played with the <a href="" rel="nofollow">new iTunes visualizer</a>? Shiny!</p> <p>I'm not the only one who thinks so. Ian is absolutely fascinated. We were listening to Christmas music this morning with the visualizer on full screen--22 brilliant inches of shiny. I've never seen him sit still for so long, unless he's falling asleep. Every once in a while, he would turn his head and look up and smile: <em>This is cool, Dad.</em></p> <p>So, of course I immediately started wondering if I was doing irreparable harm to his developing young brain, since that's the sort of things that new parents think all of the time. [If you're a new parent and you don't think that all of the time, you will now obsess over your past failure to do so and how you're a rotten negligent parent for not even worrying about your child's brain being turned to tapioca pudding by shiny music visualizations or C-SPAN or what have you.]</p> <p>Am I conditioning the siglet to stare in wonder and awe at the glowing screen, to depend on it to satisfy his curiosity and desires and need for stimulation? Will Ian turn into a six-hour-per-day television zombie, able to discuss nothing of any depth greater than the latest American Idol or Survivor or whatever the hell people are watching these days?</p> <p>Yes, that's right: iTunes is turning my kid into a vegetable.</p> <p>To be fair, he doesn't <em>just</em> sit there. He also dances. He'll sort of twitch his legs rhythmically, and sway fore and back, trying to get the beat down. He doesn't seem to prefer a specific style yet, although certain things always get a good reaction: Ivan Sigovich <em>loves</em> Joe Satriani. When I played the video embedded in <a href="" rel="nofollow">this Trying to Grok</a> post--"500 Miles" by the Proclaimers--he immediately started dancing. I'm not sure what that means.</p> <p>The point, if any, is that I could see how tempting it would be just to park him in front of a computer screen--or television--and let him be entertained while I do other things. I could see doing it a <em>lot</em>. I watched, in my opinion, way too much television as a kid, but it was nothing compared to a lot of other kids (and adults) that I knew. I spent a lot of time reading, and then later playing with the computer--very little time outside. It's still not a habit for me to go out and be active, but it's one that I would like Ian to have--an awareness that the option is there, at the very least. Life is too short to be spent watching shiny objects move about on LCD screens.</p> <p>Speaking of which, I have to share <a href="" rel="nofollow">this exceedingly shiny Flash game</a> which I found via Urn's reader the other day. It requires some relatively modern hardware to play, but it has pretty lights and music and the gameplay is downright enthralling. You should go stare at it for hours.</p> <p>Sig</p> <p>PS- Hey look, we're in a snowpocalypse here--I'm not going outside, so we might as well do our shiny-staring now.</p> Music shiny Siglet Sun, 21 Dec 2008 17:54:28 +0000 sig 634 at Round in the chamber <p>[Originally posted at Vox Veterana on 31 JUL 07.]</p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> asked us to answer some questions for a little interview type dealie; my responses are <a href="" rel="nofollow">over here</a>.</p> <p>Since I mentioned it in the interview, I will give notice here, as well. My wife and I recently received a warning order from the doctor`s office; we are to expect reinforcement sometime in March of 2008, bringing our total family complement up to 3. My wife takes her role as a "force multiplier" seriously.</p> <p>OK, I can`t think of any more terrible military metaphors for pregnancy without devolving into the realm of the truly tasteless. As it is, jokes about muzzle velocity practically write themselves over the concept of "round in the chamber."</p> <p>More scribings are in the works. Have a good one, everybody.</p> <p>Sig</p> Family Humor Siglet vox veterana Fri, 19 Dec 2008 01:12:51 +0000 sig 623 at We have forward motion. <p>As of yesterday, we have confirmed, sustained forward motion by the now self-propelled Siglet. I have some poor video on my cell phone which was rendered even poorer by YouTube, so we'll hold off on that for now. We REALLY need to find the power cable for our video camera, which we purchased just a week prior to his arrival and have only used a few times. Also, we need a FireWire card for the computer so we can do direct video upload. Anybody have make/model recommendations?</p> <p>Sig</p> Siglet Fri, 03 Oct 2008 16:34:04 +0000 sig 600 at