My first bike ride in an automobile.

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It all started at 9am. We had beautiful weather, the bikes were starting to show up, and birds were singing their morning songs. Indeed this was a great morning to go riding. The sign-in sheet was passed around. Everyone buddied up and inspected each others bike. No one inspected their own bike. I thought this was a brilliant idea. Once everyone was signed-in and inspections were done the lead rider gave a breif on hand signals, emergency stopping, and what road conditions we could expect.

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All of the bikes roared with life and soon we were riding down the highway with the wind in our hair and freedom at our feet… except for me. I followed in my Flex as transport number two. We had two vehicals for transport, and a spectacular plan. If a bike stopped then the first transport would tend to that bike while the second transport would continue with the group. This way the group would always have a transport assisting with traffic.

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It was fun to watch other vehicles as they approached the string of bikes with more caution being exercised than I expected to see. Maybe they questioned if the bikers were in a gang, or maybe they slowed down to look at the bikes. Whatever the reason, it was cool to see. We drove down to Venice LA. It was around 67 miles one way. The local marina was glad to have us for lunch. They had tables and stools under a pavillion next to the boat dock. The water was absolutely awesome to see. Boats came trolling in for fuel and country music filled the air. Yep, this was a great way to spend a Friday.

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Soon it was time to hit the road again and head back to the house. This time I took the role of transport number one. With the bikes leading the way, we all settled into our groove. Traffic was still going good, and approaching with the same mount of awareness. An hour flew by and everything was smooth. Then all of a sudden tail lights went on and I hit the hazzard lights. We all pulled over. Traffic reacted promptly and got over into the other lane to give us room. With everyone, in the sub-group, safely pulled over, I got out and asked what happened. Ends up one of the bikes had overheated and an emergency light come on. After a quick look it was deemed that the bike could make it to the next gas station. Riders mounted their bikes and we took off. We caught up to the main group who was waiting for us. The sub-group turned off with the secondary transport and I continued with the main group. The rest of the ride went uneventful and soon the sub-group made it back safe and sound as well.
It was really great to see all of our preparation come together and work. The major factor that we had no control of was the weather. Thankfully it cooperated. Monday we had a tornado touch down on our base.You can imagine why we were aprehensive about the skies for today. All in all it was a great ride, and I am looking forward to the next one.

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Let there be darkness

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As I toured the hallways of my command, I noticed that a lot of lights were left on in unoccupied rooms. We’re not talking about offices, these were secondary rooms that no one planned to come back to. I went through and turned them off. The next day I had the same issue. This happened several times a week in multiple spaces. At what point do I draw a line and say enough is enough? I’m not trying to save the world. However, If I see waste I try to eliminate it.

Public works is a part of the Naval Base that helps tenant commands with a lot of projects. I sent in a request to meet with one of the project managers. He gladly sat down and went over some options. I opted for the motion detection light switch. The project manager explained that some motion detecting light can have alternate sensors wired in. this is done to compensate for a switch that is in a bad location.

Six months later electricians show up and start installing the new light switches. I did not put in an order with what type of switch that got installed. Offices started going dark as they came in and shut off circuits. Public works apologized for the confusion and the lack of communication. Within two days all of the light switches were converted over. Everything got cleaned up and the dust settled. We were left with the ominous question of “was it worth it?”

The next morning I walked in and all of the lights were off. As I walked through the passageways, lights began to illuminate. I did not have to fumble with switches. All I had to do was walk. As the day passed,I walked around. Every occupied office was lit, and every unoccupied space was dark. This is what I wanted. We had a passive system that helped cut down on our lighting. This was not about saving energy, although I did use that as a selling point. It was about leaving lights on when no one was using them.

This project so simple and made so much sense that I wondered why it hadn’t been done before. Any project or job that we walk into has potential for improvement. Take the time to assess any problem that you may have or any other personnel may have. Write down all of the solutions and analyze which one would most efficiently solve the problem. Keep it simple. Do not over think your problem. If a solution cannot be found seek help. Outsourcing for a solution may be your best option. Just make sure to follow up and verify that your expectations have been met. Stay positive. It is easier to find solutions with a positive attitude than with a negative one. People will be more willing to help if you have a positive attitude also.

Safety in My Navy

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I never gave the Safety Department much thought as I came up through the ranks. Safety was an “All Hands Effort”.  I managed my work center, ensured all by-laws were followed, and looked after the well being of my people. As far as I was concerned I was the safety department. And then reality took a little detour and I became the Safety PO for my command.

Turns out that we were due for an inspection and the Wing was in town to deliver. The Wing can be looked at as the boss’ boss. These were the “Big Guns”. When they look at your program, they have the power to make you, or break you. Since I had just taken over and really had no clue at what I was getting myself into, the inspector went gentle. “You do not have a safety program.” I about choked. He continued, “That’s not to say that you, as a command, are unsafe. You do not have any applied guidelines.” He was right. The inspector had a questionnaire that outlined key aspects of the program. Question by question, step by step, it was revealed that the command’s safety department was not active. First step, start making the Navy instructions a part of our safety department. I read, researched, and called the Wing with questions until I understood what I needed to do and what the expectations were. The last part of that statement was the most important. What were the expectations?

There were a lot of tools used to keep the Safety Department running. I was introduce to a program online that the Navy used to track safety training and medical certifications. Our numbers were below expectations there too. I ran reports and lists were made and posted on who needed training on what. Chiefs made sure their people were off the lists and everything started to take shape. I knew where I was and where I wanted to be. All I had to do was make a plan and start implementing it. Failure didn’t have a change as long as I was making progress towards my goals. The trick was to ensure that I was progressing and not regressing.

Today everything is up to par. The program will never be perfect. People will come due for training. New people will rotate in and have their own issues that need to be solved. That is the joy of this job. Everything needs attention, and everything needs to be managed. Setting standards and knowing what is acceptable is a must. If limitations are not in place a program will run adrift until it’s too late. It is better to be proactive than to be reactive.

I have learned some valuable lessons that could never be taught in class. When taking on a job that has failed and is no longer operational, do not question where to start. Just start. Prioritize the to-do-lists. Yes there will be more than one to do list. There will be an administrative list and operational list. Stay on task. Take the time to re-evaluate the progress made. Am I closer to my completion goals? Am I headed in the right direction? Last thing to do is get others involved. Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for assistance. Learn to work as a team. Delegate responsibility to the appropriate level. Follow up and review the progress made. This is huge, and an major factor in why most plans fail.