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A Long Four Months

(Life as an Ensign, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Shih Photo ENS Shih here from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. It’s been a while blogging community… I’ve been four months underway and I finally have my underway EOW qualification. It took a lot of hard work and studying but finally I am standing qualified watches and the drawings of the engine rooms in Hawaii seem like a distant memory. In just a few days, I am going to fly off the ship and head down to San Diego to attend Damage Control Assistant (DCA) school. It’s an exciting time a) because I am going to a Navy School (some rumors about mandatory 2 hour lunch breaks???) and b) because I am going to San Diego (after being in the Arctic for months)! After attending that school, I will have the knowledge and expertise to train all other crew members on damage control, and be in charge of fighting fires and flooding that might occur on the ship. Good stuff. Hoping to attend Boarding Officer (BO) school after that. We’ll see.

 

It has been a long past four months, but like any semester at the Academy it seems like at the end of it, time has flown by. You struggle through it, but at the end you appreciate it. The thirty day stints at sea are no joke, and being on a ship can be hard, both physically and mentally. Sometimes you feel like you are in a bubble, trapped with nowhere to go. The world flies by around you, and although you get pieces of it, you are in your own small city onboard a ship. I have to say that being on a Legend Class cutter is not the easiest platform to be to. We go out longer than nearly all the other ships in the Coast Guard, 4 to 5 month patrols, with 30 day periods where we do not see land. Although the ships are brand new, that still does not mean they are perfect in manpower requirements or their new systems. As with any relatively new project, there are kinks that still needed to be worked out, and it takes tremendous effort on all sides of the house to ensure things run smoothly. But, for all the times of frustration and difficulty onboard a big white boat, it also has its moments. Seeing the Northern Lights, getting your own personal customized “Shih” pizza from the crew, becoming a Polar Bear in the Arctic waters with hundreds of your shipmates – it’s the type of things that I will never forget even if I don’t continue down the afloat career path.

 

Well, I know this was brief but I have a tremendous amount of work to do before I leave the ship. I’ll check in sometime soon. But please email me at Christen.C.Shih@uscg.mil or cshih31@gmail.com if you have any questions!

 



More about Chris.

 

Transitioning as a 3c

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Zwenger Photo So a lot of things are changing around the Academy right now. We now have family style breakfast every morning. On top of that, since we have family style breakfast every day, the process of taking a late rack is a lot more complicated that it was last year. I guess the whole point of me telling y’all my problems is so one I can vent about it, and two because it helps me realize that change is always going to happen. The corps really doesn’t have any other option but to cope with what we have and try to make the best of it. Which leads me to say that this is kind of a trend here at the Academy. Changes are made, people complain about it, and then the people get used to it. It seems that sometimes when changes need to be made for the good the it takes a long time, but when changes are less positive (in the eyes of a cadets) it happens overnight. To me there seems to be some sort of disconnect there.

 

I’m sure y’all have heard enough of my complaining so there were two things dawned on me this month. One is that I have a lot of division work this year, a lot more than last year. Last year all I had to take care of was myself and ensure that my grades were up to par. This year I am responsible for my grades in addition to making sure my fourth class’ grades are not poor. Oh, by the way, getting greeted all the time by the fourth class gets old after about a week, sometimes you just want them to have a regular conversation with you without them calling you sir. Anyway, aside from what every third class is responsible for I am in prospective cadet division, so I am the one that assigns the visiting prospective cadets to the host cadets. So chances are if you’ve been here this semester I was the one that paired you with the cadet. And since we have prospective cadets coming in almost every week, we stay extremely busy as a division. Which, as I said, is a lot more that what I was doing last year.

 

As for my personal life, the most amazing weekend and best single day of my life happened over Labor Day weekend. I went to a musical festival in New York City in Randall’s Island Park. It’s called Electric Zoo. If you’re at all familiar with dance music you probably know that this is one of the best music festivals on the East Coast. People that were there included Steve Aoki, Bingo Players, Skrillex, Tiesto, Benny Benassi, etc. In fact the reason that Sunday was the greatest day of my life was because I got to see Tiesto and Skrillex in the front row. On closing night at a festival that hosts around 100,000 people, that’s kind of a hard spot to get to. Honestly, I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I had. The only way to understand is to go. I spent $800 that weekend; I do not regret spending a dime of it. In fact I’ve already bought my ticket for next year. Electric Zoo 2013! Any questions feel free to email me.

 



More about Spencer.

 

This is Not an 'Individual Sport'

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Lukasik Photo From time to time, those of us on the CGA Triathlon Team are still fortunate enough to hear from ENS Ian King, our former club president who graduated last May. After the standard, “hello” and “how are you?” and initial moments to catch up, what Ian always manages to mention is just how much he misses the team. He expresses to us just how different triathlon is outside the world of collegiate athletics and outside the Academy. Out in the “real world”, triathlon is very much an individual pursuit; you go to races, stay in your hotel, wake up on race morning, go through your personal routine, sometimes with a friend or family member along, but that’s the extent of it. The focus is on you, your abilities, and your race. Enjoy the team while you can, Ian tells us, because it’s a truly special dynamic that you won’t find anywhere else.

 

This outlook never really occurred to me. To me, triathlon has always been a sort of “group event.” When I ran my first tri at Lake Lanier, Georgia back in high school, we made a family occasion out of it – my mom ran the race as well, and my dad, aunt, uncle, and cousins all came up to get a cabin at the lake for the weekend. From that setting, I transferred straight to the CGA Tri Team that Ian so fondly describes. I’ve never been exposed to the world of triathlon as an “individual sport.” Yes, you’re given an individual time, but for me, this has always been a team sport just like any other. Tri season is over for the year, but looking back on our two biggest races this season, while my personal performances aren’t memorable, the team’s performance, and even its simple presence, at each event made those two weekends the best of my fall semester.

 

On September 8th and 9th the Tri Team was down in Washington, D.C. for the Nation’s Triathlon. It was our first major race of the season, and we had a lot of new athletes on the team, many who’d never run a tri in their life, much less than the full 32+ mile Olympic distance that Nation’s entailed. It was a fun weekend, but with the amount of travel and workload it required, it was a “trying” one (if you’ll pardon the pun). Nonetheless…we had 15 people racing. To put that in perspective, that’s more racers for this one event than we’ve had total active members on the team in some years past. It’s fantastic, seeing how this team’s grown.

 

And having a large team is a huge part of what makes triathlon fun. Yes, you run each race “alone” at your pace – but each race, each course, is its own small “adventure” that you undertake together. Between two stops in the transition area, out-and-backs on the bike, turnarounds on the run, you’re almost guaranteed to see your teammates at some point during the race. And when there are a full 15 of us proudly sporting USCGA jerseys out on the course, we see each other a lot – and every time brings a smile to my face. It’s really hard to care about how much your muscles are aching when you can look around and say, “Oh look, there’s Mary. YEAH, GO MARY!” It’s really hard to want to quit when you see your teammate running a little farther ahead of you than usual and you realize, “Wow, Kyle’s having a really good race. YEAH, GO KYLE!” There’s distance between each of us on the course…but our acute awareness of each other cuts that distance down to nothing. We’re all in it together.

 

This is Not an “Individual Sport” (Continued) PDF Icon  

 



More about Jessie.