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What Does A Commitment Mean To You?

It's easy to point to the world and make comments on how little commitments mean. I'm not tempted to say "anymore". While we do witness certain deteriorations in society, I'm not convinced anything is new. It's not like there was once some idealistic, virtuous time when everybody was nice to each other. The book of Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. I think an examination of history shows that to be true. While we have technology now, nothing about the nature of man has changed.

When the iPhone came out in 2007, it came with the announcement that, in the U.S., AT&T will have exclusive rights to the iPhone for at least 5 years. I believe that was extended for a year. But it's not necessary to look it up for the purpose of this blog post. Ever since the iPhone came out, people have been hopeful that Apple will break it's agreement with AT&T and sell the iPhone through Verizon as well. Seriously, people want Apple to break it's contract. They'd be happy about it.

Yeah, how happy will you be when Apple breaks it's AppleCare contract with you?

I like to watch the show "Operation Repo". It's amusing to me. I know, it's mostly an act, or at least, reenactments of actual situations. I'm sure it's realistic enough. When we buy (finance) cars, we sign contracts to make monthly payments on those cars. The contract states that if you don't make your payments, the finance company can send a team like EGA Recovery to come take it back. It amazes me how people can get so defensive, or aggressive. "It's my car! You're not taking MY car!" But the contract that YOU signed says it's now THEIR car, because YOU didn't pay for it.

When I joined the Navy, I signed a contract to serve for 6 years. By the 4 year mark, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to give them 1 more day than necessary. 

I always had problems maintaining my weight and fitness within Navy standards. I was often a "mando commando". I had to participate in some form of mandatory Physical Training (PT) throughout my enlistment because my waist was pushing the limits. Also, I had a lot of trouble running a mile and a half in 13 minutes. I could run 3 or 4 miles at a time, but I couldn't do a mile and a half within the alloted time. 

Every 6 months, the Navy required us to take a physical test known as the PRT (Physical Readiness Test). We had to pass a weigh in and/or a body fat test. Then we had to do so many sit ups, push ups, and a mile and a half in so much time. These varied by gender and age. I think I had to do 45 sit ups, 29 push ups, and a mile and a half in 13 minutes and 45 seconds. I hated every second of it. The scary thing is, I've been out of the Navy for 12 years, and I still judge my physical condition by those standards. 

At one point while serving on the USS Oldendorf (DD-972), we had a PRT (Physical Readiness Test) coordinator who HATED fat people. He literally hated the site of us, but we still had to muster with him every day for weigh ins and PT. He would go on tirades about how much he hated us. We were allowed 3 PRT failures before we could be kicked out of the Navy. If you failed weight and any portion of the PRT itself, that counted as 2 failures. At one point, the PRT coordinator miscalculated my number of failures. He somehow thought I had 2 failures, and told me I'd be kicked out of the Navy for 1 more failure. I was 22 at the time, and about fed up with the Navy. I thought "Wow, all I have to do is NOTHING and I can get out of the Navy. I'll take my electronics training and get a real job."

I could taste the freedom.

Then I realized something. I made a commitment to serve in the Navy for 6 years. I signed a contract. And as I looked ahead at my life, I wondered if I would ever reach a point where I regretted breaking that contract. As good as it would feel to get out in the short term, I realized I did not want to face the longer term consequences of the decision.

And so, I decided to stay in. I found out that the Navy offered an inpatient treatment program for "overeaters". It's actually the same program that alcoholics and drug addicts go to. I spent a month at Miramar MCAS going through this program. I came out of it in shape, within weight standards, and feeling a lot better about myself. The counseling they provided even helped me understand and deal with a few things about myself. I passed the PRT, and I managed to hang in for the last 2 years to finish out my enlistment.

Then I got out. I completed my commitment. And it has paid off several times. 

I've been married for 9 years. We've had plenty of challenges. But I made a commitment in that church 9 years ago in front of friends and family. And during a few times when walking out started to sound like a really good idea, I was always brought back by the commitment I made. And things always got better by sticking to my commitment.

Last week, I was infuriated by the breaking of a minor commitment. A manager told me he would call me back, and didn't. I honestly didn't care if his return call was "You didn't get the job". I was upset that he said he would call me and didn't call me.

Let's bring this back down to Earth. What does a commitment mean to you? Even a really bad one, like staying in the Navy, or letting AT&T have exclusive rights to the iPhone on their crappy network? Do you believe in keeping your commitments? Or are they only means to an end, like I can get this guy off the phone if I say I'll call back, then not do it?

Do you honor your commitments, great and small?

Your Email Says A Lot About You

I’m case you’re just tuning in, I’m out of work. I got laid off a little over a month ago. I’ve been looking for another job since November, when I decided my last one was probably not going to be long-term.

Since then, I’ve had a few calls. I’ve looked through lots of job listings. Personally, I hate wading through job listings. Most job descriptions are poorly written. I find them hard to decipher. They were either written by HR, which has no clue what the job actually is. Or they were written by some manager who did not need written communication skills to get into his or her position. In either case, they’re horrible.

No kidding, a friend of mine needed to hire a mainframe administrator. HR posted the job as an “Enterprise Architect”.

When I worked for Lockheed Martin, a guy that got hired the same time as me was hired under similar pretenses. The manager didn’t know what the group actually did. He hired a Windows NT administrator for a Unix administrator’s position. The guy was nice, but he had no experience with Unix. He was useless in that job. But the clueless manager (also a nice guy) didn’t know the difference.

So I hate dealing with job descriptions. I’ve always had the best luck when a recruiter wades through all the BS and contacts me. I like dealing with recruiters. They’re normally very nice people. They know what they’re talking about. And if they’re serious about getting paid, they know who’s qualified and who isn’t. Normally, when I get a call from a recruiter, all the work is done on both ends. The recruiter believes I’m a good match for the job, and the job is a good match for me.

At least, on paper. But it normally works very well. I got into my last job through a keyword search mix up. They needed somebody with experience in a program called VMS. My resume lists me as having been to HP/Alpha VMS Sysadmin school. Same letters, totally different thing. But it got me in the door. Now I have experience with both.

In-house recruiters aren’t always as good. What happened Monday is a case in point. I got a call from a company, thinking I’d be a good match for a project they were starting. A phone call with the manager confirmed that I have the experience they need. Then I never heard back again. Come to find out, no matter how much direct experience I have, my lack of a Mechanical Engineering degree prevents them from considering me.

Yesterday, I had an email came in. It was from a recruiter. It was very curt and poorly written, and my name was misspelled. I’m used to my name being mispronounced, but misspelled? Cut-copy-paste. It’s basic computer skills. It also asked me to “alert” by sending a current resume.

I’m trying to figure out why everybody keeps asking for a “current resume”. Seriously. I’m looking for a job. Why would I want to blanket all the big name job sites with outdated ones? Some people ask if the one on the job site they found is my current resume. I answer yes. That’s reasonable.

In one case, I was asked to update my job descriptions to reflect Field Engineering experience. I didn’t have a problem with that. That was perfectly reasonable. And I have tried to tweak my job titles to see what works. On my last job, my Department of Labor designation was “Reliability Engineer”, but I did work that qualifies as “Electrical Engineer”, “Systems Analyst”, and “Field Engineer”.

In one job, my official title was “Engineering Technologist”. It meant nothing, except “he who does engineering work but does not possess an engineering degree” (or paycheck).

As for yesterday’s email, I did send a “current resume”. The lack of attention to detail in the original email makes me wonder how close of a match I actually am, but you never know. But a lack of attention to detail always concerns me.

My Writing Portfolio

Below are samples of my writing, in addition to more than 700 posts on this blog. If you would like to discuss hiring me for a writing project, please contact me

This is a software review that I submitted to Hakin9 Magazine in February 2007. I have no idea if it was published or not.

Active Shield 4 Review

Why I Need the GTD Collection Phase

It happed seconds before writing this blog post. I thought of something that I should do. I turned to my Acer netbook, which already had a Chrome tab open to Gmail with Google tasks. I scanned my task list to see if that task was already listed, and forgot what I wanted to make sure I got done.

Personal productivity and effectiveness has been quite a journey to me. I've been writing about it as long as I've been blogging. Check out my Productivity category for my thoughts and experiences over the years. 

I started with the Franklin Planner in 1996 when I was involved in A-Multi Level Marketing group that started with an A. Franklin merged with Covey. In 2005, I found a copy of David Allen's book, Getting Things Done, in my in-laws' house. I borrowed and read it. 

I haven't been successful in getting a productivity system completely off the ground, but I am getting better. What happened to me just now was a failure in my collection. I did solve it though. I followed my last few activities back until I hit the blog post that triggered the thought, and I was able to recover the idea and record it so it gets done later.

I'd say that the two biggest problems with my productivity system are

1) Failure to collect

2) Failure to do a weekly review

I think if I could just follow through on those two things, I'd be a lot more effective. I'd also find more holes in my system.

What about you? How well do you collect ideas for things that you should do?

Here are four of the best books I've ever read (and personally own) on time management and productivity.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thou Shalt Not Steal: Cheesy Christian Merchandise

I don't buy any of this stuff myself. I don't have a use for it. I don't watch American Idol, and I don't have any interest in wearing a shirt bearing a Christianized message based on the logo for it. I do use an iPhone, but I'm not wearing an "iPray" hat. I don't wear hats anyway.

I came across a story in USA Today about how a $4.6 Billion industry has popped up around ripping off trademarked brands and turning them into Christianized logos. 

Some interesting quotes from the article (used under fair use guidelines):

Trademark attorney Michael G. Atkins of Seattle
said legal parodies of commercial trademarks are protected under the
First Amendment, but such religious products generally don't fall into
that category.

"You could take Microsoft
and change their logo around to make fun of Microsoft, and that would
be legal," he said. "But I can't use the Microsoft logo to promote my
Christian theme because there's no real connection there. That's
illegal."

and

Abare, the church marketing consultant, just
wishes Christians would pay more attention to the commandment "Thou
shall not steal."

"The whole claim for Christians in general is
that God is the source of all creativity," he said. "I think there's
something to being original that will speak to people in a way that we
don't have to copy."

Seriously, what exactly does it do for a witness to show Christianity to the world by wearing merchandise based on ripped-off brands? NOTE: the article states those "iPray" hats are properly licensed.

And So It Begins: Covey Locks Books In Kindle Format

Apparently, Stephen Covey signed an exclusive agreement to lock his books down under the Amazon Kindle. No, this isn't the end of the world, even if you own another eBook reader. Remember, Kindle has applications for iPhone and PC. Mac and BlackBerry are coming soon.

The only thing I don't like about this, is that it will be hard to consolidate a library. Say I get a nook for Christmas. Then I start buying B&N books. I'll have a Kindle library and a nook library. It seems harder than it has to be.

I hope these distributors come to the realization that their money is made in selling content, not platforms. At least, I hope the real money is in content. If I ever get around to writing an eBook, I plan to make it as accessible as possible rather than lock it into one format.