General Discussion

Today is the last day of the Code for America Summit.  I am simply inspired.

I attend a lot of conferences, seminars, and work events.  This one is different.  Very different.

For two days I immersed myself with people who are committed to using technology to change the way government interacts with citizens.  Honestly, 28 years of working with and for the government, that is a novel concept.

The Department of Defense does not think that way – we are not educated, trained, or encouraged to work *for* citizens.  We are encouraged to work for the warfighter, or the mission.  Indirectly this support our citizens, but very indirectly.

What I saw over the last few days is a group of people who have banded together to literally make government better.  A lot better.  As best as it can be.

And it was inspiring.

I am not the inspired type.  I don’t have epiphanies, I don’t have life changing movements, and I don’t get emotional about these things (I’ve written about that before).  I am most certainly committed to my job and passionate about making things better, but that is not the same as emotional.  At least not in my eyes.

I had the opportunity to meet, talk with, engage with people who have no idea what the beltway is.  What defense contractors care about.  What the politicians of DC push.  People who have their own challenges for sure, but who are committed to solving the hard problems of the world to make a better society.

My inspiration is really the open-ended question of how can I apply this level of commitment to the greater good to the Department?  How can I make a difference?  How can I Cultivate the Karrass?

With any luck I will return to the conference next year and I will have applied some of what I learned to make a positive and lasting difference.

Perhaps luck doesn’t have anything to do with it, but I am sure it will be no small feat.  Perhaps I’ll do it in my current agency, or a different one, but I am committed to doing.

For the first time – perhaps ever – I have a near and long term career goal and it makes me happy about being a government employee (I don’t like the term “civil servant” for obvious reasons).  Over the coming weeks I need to plan how I can engage smartly, drive change, and demonstrate usefulness.

Over the coming months I need to read this again, and remind myself how a small band of committed individuals can change the world.

I stumbled across this and felt like it was something I’d like to share.   Shamelessly stolen from Lance Mindheim.

  • The ability to get along with, and work effectively with, others. I’ll put this at the top of this list.  This CAN be learned.  Sadly, it is rarely taught -odd given it’s importance. Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” should be required reading for all college students.
  • Work ethic. Hard work doesn’t guarantee success but it certainly stacks the odds in your favor!
  • Drive. This is work ethic with emotion and passion attached to it.
  • Ability to prioritize. It’s not enough to work hard.  You need to work hard at the right things.  Recognizing which tasks are the most important is a critical skill.
  • Perseverance and the ability to weather adversity.  Every career goes through hard times.  Being able to weather the storm and make adjustments is critical.
  • Focus and follow through.  The ability to stay on task and see it through to completion even in the existence of chaos and boredom.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with both the written and spoken word. You need to be able to get your point across accurately and efficiently and in a manner that gives the impression that you know that the sentence, “I done seen a movie” is not correct English.   Tip: Pay attention in your English, writing, and speech classes.
  • Creativity.
  • Character. Doing the right thing, even when it’s not popular.  Treating people civilly, fairly, and with dignity.
  • Education/knowledge of the right things.  Knowing more is better than knowing less.  Your knowledge needs to be in the right areas though.

I vote for Character as the number one trait I like in co-workers.  It trumps nearly everything when push comes to shove.  Perhaps honesty is above all else – but that’s part of good character in my mind.

My wife decided she wants her sitting room back, so the MRR has to move. She has offered me space in the basement for my MRR, so all my MRR stuff has been moved to the basement and the new space awaits configuration.

The good news is I get to leverage all the my lessons learned from the present MRR and apply the goodness to the new one. The bad news is I basically need to start over, as the space is different enough to demand a new design. I will try to keep most of the design elements of the current layout, but I’m looking for more action on the new version. Something I can actually operate rather than just watch the trains go around and around.

More good news. I now have a dedicated workshop area, separated into three sections: computer, electronics, building. Since all the MRRing will be very near my primary computer, I’ll probably be writing here a lot more. Moreover, computer-controlled operations might be a real possibility, but that’s probably months if not a year away right now.

Look for pictures, layout design, and (hopefully) progress over the coming months…

I started a series of articles about the move and pictures.

As a man, it’s a proud day when your son discovers he can liberate himself nearly anywhere necessary; unlike the inferior women body parts ;).  It’s even a more proud day when you can cross the streams with your son.  Peace out Doc, Spic, and Guido!  It’s been too long.

Welcome to the first message on the new CyberRailGuru website. To save time and energy, I’ve converted the site over to a bloggish site. I won’t be blogging here per say, but the articles and such will show up like a blog.