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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Workplace Boundaries in a Security Clearance Job

People often wonder what the differences are between working in an office or organization which requires a security clearance and one which does not. For those who have experienced both situations, the answer would probably focus more on the obvious answer which is the security aspect. But what about the personal relationships and atmosphere for co-workers? Is it very different?

To understand what is required for a security clearance and who is eligible, below is a brief explanation of what is involved in the three clearance levels, and the process for becoming a cleared professional:
See more here:
Workplace Boundaries in a Security Clearance Job

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Day I was called “The Devil” on a Metro bus: More stories from “The Bus of the Damned”

I have been in a creativity slump recently, mostly due to frustration, exhaustion, and an increasing apathy that has sucked the life out of me. (I will go into the reasons for this recent situation more at a later date.) But today, the universe threw me a bone, or I should say, my infamous “Bus of the Damned” did.
As I have noted in previous posts, my daily commute can be quite “challenging”, which is a polite way of saying, hellish. And speaking of hellish, that is the perfect segue into the main gist of this post. On my commute home this evening, some woman had the enormous audacity to call me, “The Devil”. REALLY? What the hell! And I wasn’t even wearing Prada!

Just so we are perfectly clear, here is how the situation transpired. I boarded the bus, just as I always do, and it is my custom to sit near the front because when I sit in the back I can smell the fumes and it always gives me a headache. Also, on many older buses, the motor is very loud in the back. So I sit in one of the seats in the front which look like this-
Now the buses in the front have these rails to hold on to and they block part of the seat, so a person sitting in that seat doesn’t have as much room. It is more like a half seat than a full seat. Often, if the bus is not crowded, I will sit next to that seat.
On this particular ride, there were plenty of seats. I was sitting in my usual spot and up comes this woman of large proportions, and she stands RIGHT in front of me and expects me to squeeze over into the half seat so she can squeeze in. I just look at her and she says, “Can I sit there?” KNOWING FULL WELL that she isn’t going to fit into that half seat without crushing me, I choose to rise and go across the aisle
and sit in another full seat. No big whoop. BUT THEN I HEAR IT. It was faint, but unequivocal.
“You’re the devil”, she says.  I look up, with utter confusion, and say, “Pardon me.”  She repeats it,“I said, You’re the devil.”
I am instantly angry, confused, insulted, but partly amused because it is so absurd. I can think of a dozen REALLY MEAN, nasty, crude, rude, insults to bestow upon her, but I choose to take the high road and say, “Whatever, Dude.” She got the message.

So, that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it. I have a BUS full of eye-witnesses, many of whom chimed in once she departed the bus to assure me that they didn’t believe for one moment that I was the Prince, or I guess in this case the Princess, of Darkness at all.
Poor little me! What was my heinous act? That I gave up my seat? That I made a face because I didn’t feel like being crushed like a sardine in a can when there was a perfectly fine EMPTY seat inches away from both of us. Was she upset because she felt that I had somehow slighted her? WTF?? I don’t know. All I do know is that calling a person a devil or THE DEVIL should, by all standards and accounts, be saved form something a BIT more serious.

I am sure Beelzebub is quite miffed that a middle-aged woman, traveling home from her thankless job, in the midst of stunned suburbanites traveling to their little homes, on the “Bus of the Damned”, was given such an infamous title, AND FOR WHAT?
So, in my mind, I was thinking all the way home- WHAT IF I actually WERE this Devil she accused me of being? What would I do to her? That was a deliciously evil 20 minutes of thought going through my mind. I am absolutely certain she would have had a different response. As I told my fellow passengers on our motorized purgatorium, I would have evaporated her in a puff of smoke. I’ll bet that would have fixed her little red wagon.

Public transportation really is like purgatory. You have to endure the worst in people. Their cranky moods, their frustration, their lack of manners and situational awareness for what is going on around them. The incessant, loud talkers who don’t know or care how much their voice carry when talking to another rider or on their cell phone. The people who spread out like they are perched on their living room couch. The people who play their music so loudly through their headphones that you can hear all the words to the song they are listening to.
The list goes on and on and on and on. It is enough to drive a person crazy, and maybe that is the problem. Some people aren’t able to manage their stress and they snap at the slightest hint of insult. Maybe I have a devilish look about me. Perhaps I am too transparent, or maybe I am just too nice. It is probably a combination of all those things.  Whatever it was, it made a great story, didn’t it?

Could it be God, the universe, or the Dark Lord himself is trying to tell me something?Maybe this ongoing saga on public transportation will become a book one day. I have always dreamed of writing a book, but I never imagined that it would be about a topic so banal. Alas, sometimes we don’t choose the topic, the topic chooses us.
Stay tuned for more stories from… cue the eerie music… “THE BUS OF THE DAMNED”.

PLEASE FEEL FREE to share YOUR favorite commuter hell story in the comments section.

Friday, August 24, 2012

DoD's Love-Regulate Relationship with Social Media

Despite many of the associated security risks and addressing policy problems, social media’s value and impact as a collaborative communication tool isn’t lost on the Department of Defense (DoD) and the military. The use of social media on DoD and military websites has grown at a furious rate in the past five years, in part because of its ability to reach millions of people in a fast and effective manner.

Despite a seemingly open arms approach to social media in recent years, there has also been a fair share of criticism. From concerns about operations security to service members losing their careers thanks to careless postings, the risks of social media use effect both individuals and networks.
See more here:
DoD's Love-Regulate Relationship with Social Media

Friday, August 17, 2012

My HuffPostLive debut as a Community Sound Off panelist

Today I was a  participant on the new Huffington Post Live, or HuffPostLive, website with a group of other writers/bloggers, and which was hosted by Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

The segment I was a part of is called a Community Sound Off, and three topics from recent news are discussed.

The three topics chosen for today's segement were:

1. Pussy Riot Hooligans

2. Suing To Remove Mitt Romney

3. Substituting Teachers For Laptops

The first two topics were really not my cup of tea. The third topic is a very relevant and interesting one. I tried to speak to all of them, but the third topic was the only one I truly felt comfortable addressing.

Needless to say, I don't want to be the spoiler. I want you to watch the segment. The one down-side is that there is a slight delay with the video picture and sound. I sort of feel like I look like I am in a foreign film and I am out of sync. Other than that, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

They tell me they want me back again. I am hoping some of the topics will be more to my liking and "expertise". I have to confess, it was an odd collection of participants. None of us really have much in common except that we are writers/bloggers. I guess the producers like to mix it up a little bit for the banter. If we all agreed with one another, it would probably be pretty bland.

In any case, I hope you will watch and give comments and thoughts about it. I am new to this whole genre and I want to improve.

So let me know what you think once you've seen it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top 5 Tips for Suriving Your First Days in a Defense Industry Job

Starting a new job can be one of the most stressful experiences, especially if the environment is completely different from a previous one. Employees transitioning into the defense industry face even more stress, including the possibility they won’t understand the language or military rank structure.

Even for transitioning veterans, who spent years in the military, may have difficulty transitioning into a defense industry job on the civilian side – it can be easy to revert to old roles or processes that might have been familiar from one’s days in boots and camo versus business dress. Keeping a few things in mind can help to prepare for the new office and alleviate some of the concern or stress from the process.
Read more here:
Top 5 Tips for Suriving Your First Days in a Defense Industry Job

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Dreadful Season: 5 ways the Presidential elections and Olympics bring out the worst in people

It’s been a scorching hot summer, and I am not just talking about temperatures. I have been watching more network television than usual because of the Summer Olympics. Since I don’t usually watch network shows, I am not used to seeing all the “commercials”. All I can say is how disgusted and sickened I am by what I am seeing and hearing.
As I have stated ad nauseum, I don’t get into partisan politics. I don’t discuss candidates or parties. I will touch on issues, but only in a very general sense. People who know me very well can attest to my passionate feelings on many issues, but for many good and sound reasons, I am not willing to put all my political opinions out on public display. I wish some of my friends would follow suit.

 I am becoming overwhelmed on the social media sites, mostly facebook, and the ENDLESS litany of political statements, opinions, and rants. Every now and then would be sufficient. MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY is rude, overbearing, and arrogant; and assumes that all their friends agree with them and want to share their beliefs. The same goes for people who are constantly posting about religion. Less really is more. Keep it for church.
 I consider myself a moderate, but my very conservative friends think I am a liberal, and my very liberal friends think I am a conservative- so I generally annoy most people. That’s too bad, but I am not going to lose sleep over it. I have an open mind and respect anyone’s right to disagree with me. Sadly, in the times in which we are living, respect, tolerance, decency, and kindness are in short supply.

And speaking of a lack of respect and decency- How about those Olympics? Wow, just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, “how low can you go?” takes on a whole new meaning.  Between the arguing over whose uniform is more patriotic, and whose hair is too nappy, my head is about to explode from all the shrill and caustic remarks. IS THERE A SHRED OF DECENCY LEFT IN THE WORLD? It is getting harder and harder to find it.
Sometimes I think we are at an all time low when it comes to vicious talk and shallow values. Reality television captures the grossest and most vile aspects of our culture. Greedy, vain, haughty and grandiose people seem to be in the majority. And I am not talking about class and wealth.

From my view, there are just as many nasty poor people as there are rich people.  The level of crassness and nasty comments about one gymnast’s hair, from people who share her ethnic background and gender, was enough to make me vomit.  Everything wrong in the world can’t be laid at the feet of rich, white, men. Sorry, that’s just too easy. There is enough wrong, blame, racism, classism, and meanness for every religion, race, gender, and socio-economic group to go around. NO ONE is blameless! 

WHY? Because we have become a nation of shallow, lazy, critical, haters. It seeps into every crevice of society.
I have compiled a list of 5 awful examples of recent nasty and vicious behavior during of the DREADFUL SEASON of upcoming elections and Summer Olympics (AND hyperlinked them to some articles which speak to the topic at greater length):

1. Truly shallow and hateful statements about certain athlete’s bodies, hair, and other inane information.

2. The endless, unceasing, vitriol from both parties about both candidates. It just goes on and on and on. If they are trying to outdo the other with over-the-top meanness and creepy innuendo, they have succeeded. I have had my fill. It is discouraging and demoralizing. The whole world is commenting on it!

3. I am terrified of the extremists and the deafening screaming from far wingnuts on both sides. Extremism will destroy our country. We have to find a more centrist, tolerant, and sensible middle ground. The First Amendment is a beautiful thing and God bless it, but we have to figure out a way to keep the crazy from overwhelming the airwaves!
4. The Olympics is supposed to be a time for peopleall over the world to watch athletes from different countries compete againstone another. It should be a time to have national pride in the athletes andtheir amazing abilities. When we start cutting up our own athletes because of their appearance or if someone makes comments about their lack of national pride, we are becoming uglier and nastier by the minute. WHAT KIND OF PERSON criticizes a young girl’s hair while she is competing in the OLYMPIC GAMES???!!! Obviously a very bitter, shallow, empty sort of person. And to be even more cruel, to put it out in a social media platform for the ENTIRE WORLD to see. It leaves me sick to my stomach and wondering what has become of us.
5. And last, but not least, when POLITICS gets intertwined in the Olympics- nothing good can come from it. Sports shouldn’t be political. Remember what a certain German dictator did in the 1940s to pollute and poison the Olympics when he attempted to turn them into some kind of political and racial statement? Yeah, well, politicians need to stay as far away from the Olympics as possible.  POLITICS DOESN’T BELONG IN THE OLYMPICS!
The Dreadful Season is almost over. I am looking forward to some peace and quiet this fall. I pray we can get some.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How 'Fake it Till You Make It' Can Improve Professional Performance

It may be hard to believe or understand, but highly successful and prosperous people can wrestle with issues of self-doubt and regard for their own achievements.

Imposter Syndrome is a term coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in the late 1970s. Imposter Syndrome refers to highly capable people who find it impossible to believe in their own competence. And despite external evidence of their successes, those with this syndrome convince themselves that they are frauds, and aren’t truly deserving of it. 
Read more here:
How 'Fake it Till You Make It' Can Improve Professional Performance

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Defense Industry and the Culture of Fitness

It is universally known that the military and defense industry put a very high value on physical fitness. Many former military personnel are now employed in the defense industry - for example, FBI, ICE, CIA, and many other federal agencies. In these agencies and departments, the culture of fitness is something that is appreciated and respected.

The U.S. Army website explains the importance of physical fitness, “Because a Soldier's level of physical fitness has a direct impact on his or her combat readiness, a Soldier in the U.S. Army must be mentally and physically fit. Not only are physically fit Soldiers essential to the Army, they are also more likely to have enjoyable, productive lives. The renewed nationwide interest in fitness is accompanied by several research studies on the effects of regular participation in sound physical fitness programs. The overwhelming conclusion is that proper exercise programs enhance a person's quality of life, improve productivity, and bring about positive physical and mental changes.”

Read more here:

The Defense Industry and the Culture of Fitness

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Importance of a Handshake: Why Every Employee Needs Soft Skills

Over the past decade there has been a growing movement toward placing a higher value on interpersonal or “soft skills” in the workplace.

Soft skills is a sociological term relating to a person's "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills complement hard skills (part of a person's IQ), which are the occupational requirements of a job and many other activities. - Wikipedia
The Importance of a Handshake: Why Every Employee Needs Soft Skills