I’m headed to the airport here in Memphis in a few hours for a hop to Baltimore. Tonight’s plan is to overnight there and then head down to Dulles tomorrow in the late afternoon. We have a redeye from Dulles to Munich and then a puddle jumper from Munich to Milan in the early morning. If I can figure out how the Italian internet works, you know I’ll keep things fresh around here… and if not, I’ll be taking copious notes and will fill you in on all the details when I get back.
I just realized that the 1-year anniversary of this blog passed by unrecorded on March 19th. Frankly I’m amazed that I’ve had the attention span to keep up with it. That’s a tribute to you readers who keep egging me on. Thanks a million!
Note: This Post originally noted the one year anniversary of Get Off My Lawn when it was hosted on Blogger.
I’ve been setting goals for myself for as long as I can remember. When I first started working, I figured I would have “made it” in life when I could started eating lunch every afternoon without bringing it in a brown bag. Checked that box back in 2003. Having reached that point, I knew I would really “make it” when I could walk into a car dealership, point to the car I wanted and drive off without worrying about the price. That box was checked last year. So far, 2007 has been a year of “making it.” Buying my first real house after years of condo and apartment living was a landmark, no question about it, but that’s not really what let me know that I’d “made it” one more time. I knew I’d “made it” in 2007 when the crew of Mexicans showed up at 7:30 this morning and mowed my lawn.
They say that stress if bad for your body, but I’ve found that it’s during those periods when I am under the least stress that I am most susceptible to illness. Over the last few days, I’ve been winding down a lot of my work and getting everything to a point where I can leave it on “pause” for the next two weeks while I’m on vacation. Wouldn’t you know that between the goddamned apocalyptic pollen count here in the south and the upper respiratory crud that we have been passing around the office for the last month, I’ve managed to get myself sick. Although it’s nothing serious and I fully expect to be back in fine fiddle by the time we leave for Italy, it’s just one of those minor inconveniences that combine to agitate the living shit out of me. I’ll take the weekend to rest up and OD on orange juice, but in the meantime, turn back, for there be plague here.
Let me give you the set up on this one… I am leaving for Italy next Tuesday and will be missing all of the last week of my current grad class. Not a problem. The instructor knows I’ll be gone, blessed it, and even gave me some delightfully evil ideas about how to subvert the electronic attendance tracking system, so I could still get credit for the week.
Knowing that I would be missing the final team assignment, I made a proposal to my teammates last night that I would be willing to take on this week’s assignment solo and post a rough draft for everyone to edit as a way to compensate the group for not contributing to the product next week. Fine. Great. Everyone loved the idea to more or less balance the workload over the next two weeks… That is everyone by the one chick who thinks the purpose of an MBA is to “actually learn something.”
Personally, I see the purpose of the course and the overall MBA program as much more fundamental: Pass. Simply put, it’s a resume line I need to move on with the next steps of my career. Sure, I am learning a good deal along the way, but at the same time, I live in a world where the phrase of the day is “go along to get along.” Honestly, if any of us were really all that serious, we’d be at Wharton or Tuck… not at the damned University of Phoenix… and online to boot. So before you get all high and mighty about diminishing your educational opportunities, let’s consider the big picture for a bit… bitch.
I rarely use this forum as a chance to dispense praise on anyone or anything (other than myself, of course). Wading through the sea of humanity that is an airport security check point is not anyone’s favorite activities. I usually try to get to the airport about 2 hours early so I can get a cup of coffee and a smoke before charging into the security line. With flights cancelled over the weekend and flights out starting to stack up on Monday morning, I didn’t have great expectations. My worst travel fears were confirmed when I checked my bags and turned to make my way to the checkpoint. I found a line of nightmare proportions… stretching from Pier D down through the international terminal and folding back on itself. I, of course, was running 45 minutes behind my self-appointed schedule… something highly unusual for me. With just an hour before wheels-up, I was already doing the mental math on when I would get to Memphis if I could get a seat on the 9:30 flight.
As it turns out, my fears were unfounded and the screeners were running the line through in what had to be record time. Total time from being the end of the line to sitting at the gate was 30 minutes. God only knows what made it past the fine men and women of TSA yesterday morning, but I appreciate their efforts to keep things moving. So here, in a public forum, I want to offer the thanks of a weary traveler.
While today has been mainly about catching up on class work, I’ll admit to occasionally checking in on the course of the filthy hippy protest in DC this afternoon. Listening to the so-called “leaders” of this movement was quite simply horrifying. The words “we support out troops,” was featured frequently in statements, but it seems that phrase has been picked up as a throw-away line, by those who neither understand nor appreciate the sacrifice the troops are making. That the protest was shown live on cable television, that these people would stand in front of the world, and call for the US to disengage from the war on terror, to retreat back behind the walls of a fortress America that can no longer exists, provides nothing short of aid and comfort to the enemy. Because those who truly do support the troops, those who undeniably know that they only way to win is to destroy the enemy where he lives, remain silent because to speak out is to be labeled a warmonger.
I don’t love war. And in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for America to garrison the world. The world isn’t perfect and that’s why we stand a watch while other countries cower in dark corners. Let’s not pretend that we started this conflict. Despite what the protesting mob thinks, we did not ask to be attacked. It wasn’t 90-year old grandmothers who attacked us. It wasn’t even the French whose main mission in life is to be collaborators. Each and every one of you reading this knows who attacked us and you know, even if you won’t admit it in public, why we are where we are in the world today and not in Europe or South America waging this war.
We’re not waging this war on the streets of America, either, but mark my words, if we throw up our hands and declare that defeating terror is too hard to do. If we cut and run. If we abandon this mission, then mark my words: In our lifetime, and sooner rather than later, we will face this enemy here. We will face him at home in our towns and cities. Because we were unwilling to take the fight to the enemy, the enemy will most certainly bring the battle to us.
I’m due back in DC on Friday to sit in on a 45 minute briefing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to feel wanted, needed even, but shuttling back and forth between Memphis and the capital of the free world is a little wearing. It’s not so much the flight itself, as that is only a quick two hours and barely enough time to serve drinks, but the two hour ordeal that is checking in and waiting to board, playing Russian roulette with your luggage, and the hour ride back to where you are staying that makes it something to be avoid whenever possible. I’m sure there was a time when travel like this was fun, and maybe it would be if it were for purely personal reasons, but there’s something about working all day, dashing to catch the last flight out, and then needing to show up at 6:30 the next morning looking well rested and put together that makes you wonder.
I could even almost justify it in my own mind if the pain and agony were for something more than 45 minutes. I stopped wondering why the government is in hock up to its eyeballs a long time ago… know what I mean?
Memphis is a wonderful town and has been a place of many firsts for me. Friday night added another to that list… I got to see my first ever high speed chase. Having watched much of the trainwreck unfold in my rear-view mirror, I was pleased to be able to watch the show to its logical conclusion… The suspect jumped a curb, scattered a group of pedestrians/potential drug, dealers and did a header into a telephone pole… and then jumped out of the car and immediately fell over.
This won’t surprise anyone, but I cackled like a hyena the rest of the way home. I love it when bad things happen to stupid people.
I’m back in Memphis after a short road stand this past week. In the end the weekend class was well worth attending and the conference on Tuesday and Wednesday was enlightening. It was the first time I have been in a room with so many senior leaders all speaking relatively candidly about the major issues and challenges that we are facing as an organization. I am not going to go into specifics or quotes because I don’t think that is appropriate in this forum, but I will say that I came away deeply impressed by the thoughtfulness and obvious concern that our highest ranking leaders have for the organization and for the people who make everything come together.
I’m sure more will follow when I have sorted through my notes, but in the meantime, stay tuned because I could be heading back to the District at the end of next week. The fun never stops.