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BLUF

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front

I’m looking for a new job in the Greater Boston area working in any industry as a risk analyst (think security, not financial), intelligence professional, instructor, or other related or complementary job title, and break into middle management with a path to the upper echelons.  There, I said it. My BLUF.

When I was in grade school, middle school, high school and college, I was taught to write out a topic sentence or thesis statement, something that we were going to prove. Then we were encouraged to lay out two to three examples and finish with a conclusion derived from the topic sentence.

When I got to the “real world” they told me that all the stuff I learned about writing topic sentences and thesis statements and putting the conclusion at the bottom of the paper was all backwards. They, the royal they that is, told me that I had to put the Bottom Line Up Front, because nobody would have the time to read or care to read my entire article or thesis, to MAYBE learn something new. They wanted the conclusion up front, accessible, easy on the eyes and in bold. If they liked what I saw then they might read through some of the piece.

Why do I bring this up when my BLUF was job search related? Twitter seems to follow this lesson. Tell us about your cat or your coffee or the weather in 140 characters or less. If we like it, we’ll open the image or click on the associated story or watch the video. Then we’ll tell our friends about it in 140 characters or less too. But what happens when you have lots to tell and you don’t know what your listener wants or needs to hear? How does one tell a potential employer all about your skills, abilities, global travel experiences, impressive ability to prioritize, and the time you stayed up all night at your first grown-up job making copies for an attorney in the World Trade Center in NYC listening to the building creak as the wind swayed the tower back and forth, in 140 characters or less?.

A resume is supposed to highlight your skills or your previous duties, hopefully aligned with the job to which you are applying. The cover letter is supposed to summarize the resume addressing specific needs of the employer and how you might be the best fit for the position. Is there not a better way?

If you know about it, please let me know. I’m wasting too much time on the computer, typing, emailing and connecting with no tangible results. I’ve got multiple versions of my resume. Which one do you want to see? And, see the BLUF.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Saying No on a Plane

I travel a bit for work, maybe 4-8 flights a month, depending if I have non-stop flights or have to make a connection. That means that I have had dozens of seat neighbors of all shapes, sizes, colors, odors and states of sanity.

I recently took an early morning cross-country flight from Boston to LAX and maneuvered my seat assignment in coach to an aisle seat on the right side of the plane, half way back. In January, I had ACL surgery on my left knee and feel comforted when I can stretch my sometimes achy or stiff knee out into the aisle. I put my bag in the overhead compartment and pulled into my row, standing, waiting for my seat neighbors to arrive. Soon enough a middle-aged woman appeared and asked not so politely, if I would move to her assigned aisle seat on the left side of the plane, six rows back.

Here is where it gets tricky. Most people I have observed on a plane, who are asked to move a seat, half-heartedly agree and shuffle out-of-the-way to their new seat without complaint. Are we expected to say yes regardless?  Most people agree because they don’t want to raise a stink with a stranger. Afterall, we Americans fear confrontation on a personal level, generally speaking. If a new mom with an infant needs some extra room or a pregnant woman asks, my answer is “No problem. Can I help you with your bags?”

The issue I had was that the lady who requested that I relinquish my seat was neither pregnant, nor did she have toddler in tow. She did not have any discernible ailment that would prohibit her from sitting in her original seat. In fact, she told me that “THEY” (the airline) split up she and her partner and they wanted to sit together. I thought to myself that this was her problem and she should have booked the two tickets together on the same reservation almost assuring they would be able to sit next to each other.

I looked back to where the lady’s seat was and saw a cluster of 52 15 year olds who, I found out later, were traveling to LA for a conference. Their two chaperones were sitting just a couple of rows ahead of me. After having woken in the four o’clock hour to get to the airport in time, I was not in the mood to get little sleep on the nearly six-hour flight listening to the constant gab of teenagers, not that I have a problem with teenagers, just 52 of them in a cramped airplane cabin for six hours on little sleep, isn’t ideal.

I told the lady “No, I would not move at this time to her seat” and only felt a pang of guilt for two milliseconds. She returned a big harumph. Luckily for her, one of the teenagers, who was assigned the window seat, arrived. The lady asked her to switch to the aisle. Shockingly, the blond teenager flatly said no also stating she was comfortable in the window seat. It wasn’t until one of the chaperone’s encouraged the youth to move did she shuffle down the aisle to her new seat, leaving me with two middle-aged women as seat neighbors who were now upset at me, not that I cared much.

Some questions to think about: Do we have to move seats when asked assuming there is no physical ailment or mitigating circumstances? Should we feel uncomfortable saying no to a stranger? Should we feel guilty when we DO say no? Do I have to tell this stranger why I said no and provide a reason why I don’t want to spend six hours in her original seat?

Say NO and put on your noise-cancelling headphones and don’t think twice about refusing to move seats, unless you’re a cold-hearted bastard who won’t move for a pregnant woman or family with toddlers.

I know the day will come when I ask someone to move for some inane reason and they will have the personal strength to say no to me. Until then, just say no, unless they offer something better, or cash!

 
 

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Epicurus & the Holidays

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

     What is it about the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers that seems to apply so much to our lives today while those most prominent in our society disappear after their 15 minutes of fame? Those ancient dudes really had staying power. Lets dig a bit deeper and ask why.

     I am not an expert or claim to have significant knowledge about the ancients but I can recognize when those who came before us had something worthwhile to say that might still relevant. Were they smarter than us? Maybe not. Afterall, they didn’t have DWTS or David Hasselhoff and took the 9 o’clock donkey to work. They did however, seem to possess a penchant for seeing beyond their years and beyond themselves and understanding what may come after they were long gone. The ancients seemed to understand some universal truths that would be relevant for generations and generations to come. They definitely had more time on their hands and did not have smart phones that kept them tethered to everyone else. They certainly did not have Justin Bieber to mock or Lance Armstrong to castigate.

     I am guilty of looking toward the future and being disappointed because I want more and cannot have them yet. With that, I write this post for myself, and if you’d like to add it to your thoughts then we’ll all be better for it, I think. I shall try to live more in the present and be happier with the love from my family and friends of today. I will try to not look past the “things” in my possession, secretly (or openly) hoping for more.

    My wife does not let me forget however, that we cannot always be satisfied with our present situation or we shall never strive for more or better in the future.  We just cannot forget that what we have now, whether physical or emotional, are things that we did not have at some point in the past and should take the time to appreciate them more.

     Happy Holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Battle Road & America

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I do not want to discuss our most recent election but I can’t help think about this country as I wind my way to work each morning and when I return in the evening.  You see, the marker above is just one of many historical sites/structures I pass along my route.  The below image is of Nathan Meriam’s House in Concord, MA where, on April 19, 1775, the first shots of what would become the American Revolutionary War, were fired.

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What connects this location to the 2012 elections?  While this country had not formally declared its independence yet, on this day in April 1775, we came together as 13 colonies, to fight for what we believed, the right to self-determination and self-governance. While the colonies were rather homogenous at that time in terms of beliefs and relative puritanical views, the southern plantation owner might have had different opinions than the dockworker in Boston Harbor and would not agree 100% on how best to govern our colonies.

What we need today is to come together to work toward a common goal: the betterment of this country in all areas.  Like the inhabitants of the colonies who could not afford to lose their fight, we cannot afford to let partisanship get in the way of fixing this great country and ridding it of the ills we ALL face.

Use the following links to write a quick email to your Congressman or Congresswoman.  Urge your county representatives or local district representatives to put partisanship behind and work together. Send a tweet, text message, email, phone call or snail mail to your reps and let them know how they should be representing us.

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/

We need strong leaders, surely, but being strong does not mean being stubborn and playing a zero-sum game so that no progress is made.

As an aside, my wife can claim roots to the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War. One of her descendants is captain John Parker, who led the Lexington militia against the British. Over a century ago, he was famously cast as the statue standing proud at the head of Battle Green in Lexington, MA. He is known as the Minute Man Statue or the Lexington Minute Man.

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I am quite certain our founding fathers would be amazed, dumbfounded and dismayed to find out what a stubborn, uncompromising and divided people we have become!

COMPROMISE IS NOT A BAD WORD!!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Advice

 

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Life in Brookline…realizations.

Returning to Life in Brookline after a magnificent summer spent in London was almost a letdown, almost.  Getting back into the mundane tasks of life is always a letdown after an exciting trip/adventure. I am sure you can understand this feeling. It is a good think Jessica was there with me during this time.

I returned to my studies and my night job at the Boston Beer Works across the street from Fenway Park in Boston. I began a year earlier as a door man checking IDs, primarily before and after Red Sox games. This was a fun job to work as I got a moment or two with everyone who came in or out of the restaurant. Sometimes, on a slow night, we would stand out front and fling Beer Works coasters at a green metal sign on Fenway Park. If we were lucky, the coaster would fly the 50 feet and make an audible “ding” as it hit the sign. Of course there were always people walking by and we had to make sure the boss wasn’t watching, but we had to pass the slow times making only $8 – $10 an hour.

After my London summer, I worked at Beer Works as a waiter and bar tender.  The best part of my sometimes late nights, was having Jessica come in to visit. I would use my employee discount and order her dinner. If I was lucky, she’d stay until my shift was over when my smile broadened just knowing someone cared enough to stay and wait for me. We spent the next 10 months traipsing in and around the Brookline and Greater Boston area. Afterall, I did not have a car, just a T pass. Jessica was the one with the 1996 Ford Explorer that took her everywhere. Some of our favorite spots were Kupel’s Bakery where we would get freshly baked bagels on Sundays and eat in the park nearby. We would also head to Zaftigs and enjoy anything from pancakes, waffles, eggs, corned beef to “The Essex” sandwich or the Cobb Salad.  Sometimes we still crave those dishes knowing we can’t have them at our fingertips like they used to be when I lived around the corner. Another favorite spot was the Village Smokehouse in Brookline Village. This is a place you take a date when you know you and your date are comfortable with one other. It’s called the BBQ Rib Test (I made this up). If you can feel comfortable sitting face-to-face with a date and not mind having bbq sauce all over your face and hands or watching your date make the same mess as you, then the awkward stage of a relationship and getting to know one another is over and you’ve moved into a comfort stage. Can we all agree on this?

One of our more memorable outings was to the top of Mount Major in Alton, NH.  We packed a lunch and stopped at a roadside farm stand to get some fruit and water for our hike. Helping each other get up the mountain and then reaching the top together was fantastic. I remember feeling tired, but relaxed, happy and free. We ate our lunch and I proceeded to fall into a food-induced nap with Jessica nearby, closing my eyelids with the sound of the whistling wind to sooth my senses. What a peaceful feeling atop a mountain with the one you love.

Ok…here comes the revelation. In April of 2003, Jessica and I were to take a road trip to Montreal for her birthday. Jessica arrived at my apartment and watching her come up the driveway, seeing the big smile on her face, the red bag slung across her shoulder, the long dark brown hair blowing from under the soft shearling hat that perfectly framed her face, I realized that this was the gal I was going to marry. I wanted to continue the adventure, regardless of destination, as long as we traveled together.

It had been less than a year that we were dating but at this moment, I remember, I was struck. My heart and my mind were in unison. I wanted to grow old with Jessica and go on many more adventures across the country and across the world with her. We had fun together. Sometimes the best adventure was doing nothing…and we still had a good time with each other.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Personal Dissection

 

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Over the Ocean with Virgin Atlantic!

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“I could have gone on flying through space forever.” – Yuri Gagarin

In the middle of May 2002, I began my Sunday morning with a 6am flight from Madison, WI (MSN) after attending my little sister’s college graduation. I made a quick connection in Detroit (DTW) before landing at Boston’s Logan Airport (BOS). Roommate Eric picked me up in the late morning and we headed back to our apartment in Brookline hoping to take a nap before heading back to the airport for my evening flight to London. Little did I know, this would be the day I met my future wife, our lives to be forever intertwined beginning on that Virgin Atlantic flight while sharing the same row of seats. What are the odds in a plane full of people? I was disappointed when the hop across the pond was over and, like Yuri Gagarin, “I could have gone on flying through space forever.”

As it turns out, we were both on the same summer semester program from Boston University and would spend the next three months taking classes, exploring London and Europe together. We went to the movies, to bars, dinners or just walked together through historic Hyde Park or South Kensington, where we were living. ImageWe often reminisce about this summer as one without too much responsibility (besides the schoolwork we were expected to complete), the fun adventures we had together and with our group (Watching the World Cup at our local pub the Zetland Arms at 7am on a Tuesday with our professor).  ImageSome folks would claim that it was fate.  Some would say it is coincidence.  I am more of a    math/science/analytical guy and I don’t think I believe in fate. My wife will disagree with me but I believe it was a very fortunate/happy coincidence that our paths crossed the summer of 2002.

This summer was the time in my life when the world that I had known turned upside down and my personal path would be altered, from the one I thought I was on.  Thank you J. I love you!

Who believes in Fate?  Is it still considered “fate” if you don’t believe in it?  Is coincidence enough to explain how certain things come to pass?  Any thoughts on this one are welcomed.

To say that I met my wife on a plane is a great story.  I am excited to see how the rest of the story transpires.

(to be continued)…

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Personal Dissection

 

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