Friday, June 29, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
I hope this e-mail finds you enjoying your summer! I have some good news to share- I have just accepted a position through Mountbatten with Thomas Miller & Co ltd. in London. I'll be a Risk Management Project Assistant with the TT Club, which is a division that deals exclusively with marine transportation and commerce. I'm pretty excited, so something for you to blog! I'll be off August 20th. I'll keep you posted as I get more details!
Let's have more of our students do this internship. See me in the fall if you're interested.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Hat tip: Exit133 forum.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Or rather, there is, but there's no public access to it. The National Survey of Student Engagement has been done for a number of years, asking students to assess such things as the level of academic challenge, interaction with faculty members, and the like. The surveys provide benchmarks against which colleges can compare themselves, but most schools do not share their own data on how their school stacks up against the average. This would be an easy way, it would seem, to bring an end to the US News rankings, but it would require schools to "expose" themselves to the public and each other, finding out where they fell--not a risk most schools want to take, and one that would be difficult to get a majority of schools to agree to at the same time.
To see how one school has posted their data, check out Elon College's NSSE overview here. And here's an older article about the sensitivity of the NSSE information. And US News has started posting NSSE data from those schools that would share it; find it here.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
I hope the semester ended well for you, and I apologize for not having written sooner. From the time my flight touched down in New York on Memorial Day the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA, or Kings Point) has treated me excellently and has easily surpassed my expectations.
It took me about a week to actually semi-fully understand Kings Point. Although Kings Point is a federal service academy and requires a senators nomination just as the other four federal academies do, it is the only one not operated by the Department of Defense. The United States Merchant Marine Academy is instead operated by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD), which is of course a division of the Department of Transportation. At the same time though academy graduates have the option of becoming commissioned as officers in any of the branches of the military. The service obligation upon graduation is seven years in a military reserve service (most choose Navy as you may imagine), but it is also serving five years in the United States maritime industry. Despite MARAD technically operating the academy it is very much a federal service academy as Midshipmen are required to be in military style uniform throughout the day. Even when not in uniform they have matching workout and casual apparel (It makes fitting in rather difficult as you may imagine).
The reason I explain of all of this is because it makes Kings Point unique, as it is an environment in which Federal Bureaucracy, Military, and Academia meet with a unique result. The campus itself is located on Long Island, in a region once known as the "Gold Coast."
The building I work in was once Walter Chrysler's summer vacation home before it was purchased by the federal government in 1942. It is supposedly the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
As for actual responsibilities, in addition to learning a great deal about the Maritime industry (a vastly overlooked industry), and learning a great deal of acronyms for various federal institutions, I am primarily assisting the Public Affairs office in planning both Graduation and Indoctrination in July. I am currently primarily managing the VIP list for this Monday's graduation. As you know this year's speaker is Senator John McCain, and in attendance will be approximately 200 VIPs including the Secretary of Transportation, Generals and Admirals from all of the branches of the armed services. My experience here has given me not only an impression of logistics and planning for large events, but also (and more importantly in my mind) has shown me a great deal of how to conduct oneself in an environment with a heavy military influence. In just several weeks I have realized just how special Kings Point is.
I saw New York City for the first time aboard a 78 foot custom built Yacht with two Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force. Like a true Politics major I found myself nervous and giddy to be able to talk on a personal level with high ranking government officials for even just 15 minutes. The cruise was made possible by Secretary Billings '77, who I am looking forward to seeing this weekend at graduation as he was unable to make the yacht cruise around the Statues of Liberty last week. The trip was actually setup largely with his help, as USMMA sought to call the attention of the Secretary of the Air Force in charge of installations to our solar hydrogen house (USMMA is home to America's first entirely solar and hydrogen powered home). The idea was that the Air Force would be interested in the concept of sustainable energy as a money saving opportunity, and we were offering to develop closer ties with the USAF in exchange for personnel help from the Air Force. It was somewhat successful with follow up meetings between USMMA researchers, and the USAF.
Senator John McCain's advance man got here yesterday, and we so we are now tweaking and finalizing all aspects of the ceremony. As important as what I am doing is who I am meeting, and the contacts I am making are amazing. The last several mornings I have had breakfast with a nuclear propulsions expert. Since I have been here I have had a senior congressman's son tell me to let him know if I want his dad to help me out, a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) employee offer to introduce me to people and show me around the DIA when I go down to DC later this summer. It has been pretty amazing.
Thank you very much for your recommendation for this internship. I am doing my best to set a great impression to try and solidify the connection between UPS and USMMA, and I think it is entirely possible. I feel that I really got lucky with an internship where I get to heavily refine my career aspirations at the same time as gaining an incredible number of contacts within the Federal Government. Hopefully this email, along with the attached pictures will prove sufficient blog fodder for a day, although from the sounds of the archives you were recently in you may have found some good blog material. When I return we will have to sit down and talk because I have so many experiences and thoughts from this internship after just two weeks that it is unbelievable. In addition to providing me with housing the internship is also paying an extremely competitive wage ($12.50/hr), it really is about as good as it gets.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thanks, Trevor, to the link to the CNN retirement calculator--a nice "reverse engineered" bit of calculation that tells you what percent you should be saving, rather than giving you a fixed number or telling you if you'll miss your retirement mark. Find it here.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Everywhere I turned there was someone connected to Politics and Government. En route I parked by the Tacoma Dome station, where Mayor Baarsma (PG alum from '64) was holding a press conference to announce that the Spirit of Washington dinner train, originally based in Renton, will now depart from Tacoma. Among the onlookers was Derek Young '96, who was covering the event for his ever-expanding Exit133 empire. More than a blog these days, they now sponsor KPLU radio and are hosting a candidate forum for the upcoming city council race.
When I arrived at the WTC talk, I was greeted at the door by Garrett Heilman '08, who had just started an internship there. Also present was Colleen (Woodrow) Gause '06 who is Communications and Membership Coordinator for the World Trade Center. We talked about colonizing the internship opportunities, which to date have been dominated by PLU students (shame, shame). So students, if want a good internship opportunity for the fall, keep the World Trade Center in mind.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Lots to learn and digitize--expect to see it on the blog as the summer unfolds.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I am starting my second week at the State Department and so far it has been a great experience. I am working in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs in the Office of International Religious Freedom. Essentially what I am doing is acting as an editor for the Internation Religious Freedom Report, which by law must be submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Affairs Committee every September 1st. I have been assigned to work in the South and Central Asia team; I am editing the reports from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Essentially what happens is that the Human Rights officer from the embassy post in that country writes the report, detailing government restrictions and abuses of religious freedom in addition to the overall situation of religious freedom among different groups. I edit the report, making sure that all of the instructions are followed in compliance with the law.
In addition, I have a lot of discussion with the embassy post with regards to wording, content, etc. The posts try to minimize some of these issues since they have to actually live and work with the governments of these countries, so we go back and forth about whether the situation is "deteriorating" or "eroding" (apparently the two words have significantly different connotations) and such. We do about four different drafts and then we submit the drafts to the higher ups for approval before the report gets published. Even though I have only been doing this for a week, I have learned not only about how the State Dept. does things but also a ton about the countries I have been working with. The cool thing is that I can also draft policy memos and white papers and if I get it approved by two people in the bureau, I can submit it to Condoleeza Rice to read. In addition, we can influence the strategic plan for a particular embassy, so there is at least a small chance of actually influencing policy in some way.
Pretty great stuff--I'd love to have that internship myself! Readers, let us know what you're up to this summer, whether work or play--we'd love to hear from you. Pictures are a nice addition as well...!
Get a pack of boxes--used, misprints, otherwise unloved--just for the project you have. For example, there's an "average joe" dorm/studio package of 17 boxes.
Great idea--check it out!
Friday, June 08, 2007
My favorite part actually precedes the interview, where he riffs on Pick Quick, one of the best burger places around these parts and a Pierce County institution.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Have you seen this? Google maps is now mapping at street level, which means you can click down to a street level view of a given block, turn about 360 degrees, and move along at that level--a pedestrian's eye view. Only available for a few cities, for now. Above is a screenshot of the World Trade Center site in NYC. Click on the image for a bigger view, and here to look around yourself.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Never pay a real estate agent a 6 percent commission.
Buy used things, except maybe used tires.
Get on the do-not-call list and other do-not-solicit lists so you can’t be tempted.
Watch infomercials for their entertainment value only.
Know what your credit reports say, but don’t pay for that knowledge: go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get them.
Consolidate your cable, phone and Internet service to get the best deal.
Resist the lunacy of buying premium products like $2,000-a-pound chocolates.
Lose weight. Carrying extra pounds costs tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
Do not use your home as a piggy bank if home prices are flat or going down or if interest rates are rising.
Enroll in a 401(k) at work immediately.
Postpone buying high-tech products like PCs, digital cameras and high-definition TVs for as long as possible. And then buy after the selling season or buy older technology just as a new technology comes along.
And, I’m sorry, I’m really serious about this last one: make your own coffee.
Friday, June 01, 2007
UPDATE: Elisabeth has had some major blog coverage, from big hitters Instapundit, Ann Althouse, and even political scientist and international relations blogger Dan Drezner. Nice!
While messing around, I added a few things. On the right you'll see a random gathering of three pictures from our Flickr site; you can click on any one of them to find out more. Also, last year Professor Hansen was teasing me about my North American-centric logo; to that end, you'll now find that the logo at the top of blog rotates through three different versions that cover much of the world. Just hit F5 to get a new version (though it's random, so it may not change each time).
Enjoy, and if something isn't working or doesn't look right, please let me know--