27 February 2009

FC position update

76 Shipmates, I'm off to well discovered realms, yet out of contact, Sunday to Friday. Email is the preferred method of contact and please feel free to contact Ron or the responsible staff officer in my absence. Thank you for your service, Daren

21 February 2009

Broken windows and our role and responsibility as Guardians

One of my favorite bloggers, Bruce Schneier points to a study that reviews the effectiveness of fixing "broken windows" in reducing criminal behavior.

February 20, 2009
The "Broken Windows" Theory of Crimefighting
Evidence of its effectiveness:
Researchers, working with police, identified 34 crime hot spots. In half of them, authorities set to work—clearing trash from the sidewalks, fixing street lights, and sending loiterers scurrying. Abandoned buildings were secured, businesses forced to meet code, and more arrests made for misdemeanors. Mental health services and homeless aid referrals expanded.
In the remaining hot spots, normal policing and services continued.
Then researchers from Harvard and Suffolk University sat back and watched, meticulously recording criminal incidents in each of the hot spots.
The results, just now circulating in law enforcement circles, are striking: A 20 percent plunge in calls to police from the parts of town that received extra attention. It is seen as strong scientific evidence that the long-debated "broken windows" theory really works—that disorderly conditions breed bad behavior, and that fixing them can help prevent crime.
Many police departments across the country already use elements of the broken windows theory, or focus on crime hot spots. The Lowell experiment offers guidance on what seems to work best. Cleaning up the physical environment was very effective; misdemeanor arrests less so, and boosting social services had no apparent impact.

This conforms with my belief that order creates more order and chaos creates more chaos, when we feel safe and secure in our bodies and property we are more likely to play by the rules of our society. While it is a fairly big conceptual leap, I am going to argue that this applies to our presence in the maritime domain as well. Our presence in the maritime domain as Auxiliarists (be it on ramps, on the water, or on the radio) reminds our fellow mariners that they are operating in a safe environment and that their actions for good or ill will be noticed. This sense of well being leads to sensible, safe and courteous behavior.

This only works to the extent that we are seen as positive agents for our society, that we play by the rules, keep our facilities in good order, do not exceed our authority, wear our uniforms properly and proudly and keep to our core values. Where we fail at any one of these duties we owe our nation we contribute to chaos rather than order and therefore work against our mission.

Let's remember that our activities reflect upon ourselves, the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard and seek to maximize our power for good. I'm proud to note that we do a very good job of this while at the same time being fully cognizant that from time to time I've not managed to live up to the challenge. Our responsibilities are great but I count myself lucky to have the opportunity to meet these challenges in such good company.

18 February 2009

Our partners: agencies, organizations, and commercial watermen

We educate and operate in a very complex maritime environment. The safety and security of the boating public, commercial vessel traffic and shore side facilities -- the entire maritime domain -- requires a complex web of partnerships among federal, state and local public agencies, businesses, organizations and commercial watermen.  We significantly increase our effectiveness by building these relationships and understanding what our partners are doing, what we can do to help, and what resources they have that can enhance our mission performance.

To that end, Todd Mains, of 73, is the Auxiliary Liaison to the Mult Co Sheriff’s Marine Patrol (MCSO). Todd submitted this report after a meeting last Friday’s (13th):

  • Sgt. Lautenbach said the sheriff’s office was going to start walking marinas looking for unregistered boats.
  • Bill Rydblom from OSMB talked about putting through a requirement for non-motorized boats to be registered. Presently there is no way to reach non-motorized boats with educational mailings. Also these boats often require emergency service that they don not support financially. This has been tried before and failed. There are at least a half-million non-motorized boats in Oregon.
  • Jim Butler from CRYA talked about trying to get the covered facility at the new Sandy Beach dock named for Jim Switter.
  • Ted Carr from Vessel Assist talked about how busy he is now that he is the only commercial provider on the water.
  • Jess Heitman from Christmas Ships announced that he was re-elected president at their annual meeting (14th year in a row). He thanked the sheriff and the CG for help last year and hopes for better weather this year.
  • I (Todd) spoke about our participation in the Boat and Sportsman’s shows. Also mentioned our renewed effort on RBS, PV, CAN, & VSC. I told them about the upcoming AUX patrol with IMD personnel for “mystery barrels.” I answered some questions from the group on Rescue 21 and the Sector move to Astoria.

What can other members do:

  • Participate in other maritime organizations and bring what you learn back to the Auxiliary
  • Consider serving as an official Auxiliary Liaison to such organizations (designated by the Division Commander in consultation with the ASC and Sector Command)
  • Make sure to say hello when you see our partners in the field
  • Remember our core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty when interacting with our partners and the public
  • Look sharp and act professionally - we are the US Coast Guard

Flotilla 73 Crew Coxswain Academy Test Movie

Flotilla 73 puts on an excellent crew and coxswain academy each spring here in Portland. We are about four weeks into the academy and I thought it would be fun to experiment with the video capability of my new Canon 5D MkII. We'll continue to shoot video as the academy progresses and try to most of the 35 students and  the few dozen instructors and mentors on film. Enjoy!

The video was shot on a Canon 5D MkII, edited in iMovie and with a soundtrack from GarageBand. See a full size version here

17 February 2009

Congratulations Flotilla 73! D13 Flotilla of the Year

Our friends in Flotilla 73 have been recognized as the District 13 Flotilla of the Year. This is a very well deserved honor - 73 does an outstanding job in all mission areas and the four Auxiliary cornerstones. Best of all they seem to have fun doing it.

Congratulations Don, Ray and the entire 73 membership. Bravo Zulu!

Speak a second language? Join the Auxiliary Interpreter Corps

Back in  September of 2008 the USCGC Dallas (WHEC 716) delivered 76,000 pounds of aid to Georgia.  This mission was assisted by the translation skills of Auxiliarist Alicja Power of Traverse City, Mich. When I spoke with the CO of the Dallas prior to the port call in Georgia he said that he had an Auxiliary linguists aboard and had also had Auxiliary linguist assistance in West Africa.

Read Ms. Power's story here.

Read more about how to participate or utilize the interpreter corps here. If you have the skills please consider joining this exceptional program - who knows where you'll get to serve.

Uniforms: Utility Jacket

Just a reminder the site still has stock of some sizes of the discontinued Coast Guard Blue Utility Jacket for $10. While this item is no longer issued to the active duty it is appropriate wear with the tucked ODU for Auxiliarists until no loner serviceable. This is not appropriate for wear with the untucked ODU.

If you don't want to spend the money on a Foul Weather Parka this is a good short term alternative to have a piece of uniform outwear.

To use the you will need your member number and a eDirectory password. If you do not have an eDirectory password please go here to get one.

As of 17FEB2009 the following sizes are available.

Coast Guard Blue Utility Jacket
Coast Guard Blue Utility Jacket Discontinued All Sales Final
PRICE: Our Price: $10.00

$10.00 XSM/REG
$10.00 SM/SHORT
$10.00 SM/REG
$10.00 MD/XSHORT
$10.00 MD/XLONG
$10.00 LG/SHORT
$10.00 LG/XLONG
$10.00 XLG/LONG
$10.00 XLG/XLONG

15 February 2009

Changes at the National Testing Center

At the District 13 conference National Vice Commodore Vass informed us there have been a number of changes at the Auxiliary National Testing Center to improve the usability of our test system.
  1. You may now take tests and unlimited number of times per month rather than the former 5. This change was made for members who had poor Internet connections which resulted in problems completing a test in a single attempt.
  2. The time limit for a given test has been changes from 3 to 5 hours.
  3. The question pool has been examined and questions with low rates of correct answers are now presumed to be poorly phrased or confusing and will be reworked or eliminated.
Visit the National Testing Center at: 

Images: District conference

Photos can be found here .