MY ENEMY HAS A NAME: CHECKLIST |
September 21, 2012
My Enemy has a name: “Checklist.”
It’s five or six pages, double-sided and written in 10 font. Much of it is cryptic, vague and misleading. It seems simple but rest assured that when it comes to deploying, nothing is ever easy.
I was notified via SMS text message by an Afghan-American about my Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) test results well before the government could get word to me. In retrospect, it isn’t surprising and I didn’t find it unusual at all when the message came across. I mean, why would the Test Control Officer know first? It actually gave me a little chuckle and a glimpse into the networked life of Afghans. Word travels fast in a high-context, relationship-oriented society; any government that tries to outpace the speed of the SMS text is in for a world of heartache.
LANGUAGE: I scored 1+/1+ in Dari which isn’t too bad for just 14 weeks of instruction. My Arabic was never better than 1/1+ even after six straight months of instruction. Overall, the third language was easier than the second. I’ve got a whole post sketched out on second language acquisition and the DLI vs DLS debate, but it’s going to have to wait for a few weeks. Here are some initial observations on what factors contributed to my ability to score well.
Dari is an easier language than Arabic.
Already knowing how to read and pronounce the language gave me a huge advantage
Smaller class size and amazing teacher to student ratios really helped (1:1.5 or 1:2 but never more than 1:3)
I spent some time thinking about the mistakes I made during my Arabic instruction and focused hard on not repeating them in Dari.
CBTS: I endured another five or six hours of computer based training (CBTs) today which I utterly abhor. They are horrible and I fail to understand just exactly what it is the AF is trying to accomplish by making me do these things every year. If you want to make sure that I have the knowledge then let me open the CBT and take the test. If I pass, then I know the material and that should be it. If I fail, make me go through the slide deck and retest. Forcing everyone to go through the slides before you’re able to test is a colossal waste of time. Which means it’s a waste of money. This is something that we should care about. At the end of the day it’s about productivity and me sitting in front of a computer clicking through slides as fast as possible so that I can take and pass the test at the end is not productive.
SHOTS: I got my seventh Anthrax shot today. I am fairly certain at this point that I actually have anthrax and that if I bit someone they would become infected. I also got my Typhoid vaccination and I don’t know which one hurts the most but they both suck. Does anyone actually use anthrax anymore? I mean really? (I’m looking at you Carlton Purvis)
ANAM: I spent about half an hour today in front of a computer clicking on a mouse and it wasn’t to complete CBTs. I was taking my Automated Neuropsychological Metrics Assessment (ANAM) which is a program used to establish a baseline of your cognitive functioning prior to a deployment so that in the event you are injured the effects on your brain can be measured an hopefully help guide doctors and other medical professionals to an earlier diagnosis and better treatment. It’s not all roses though and the program does have its critics (NPR). Regardless, I’ve taken the test before and was happy to have the opportunity to take it again before this deployment.
Tomorrow and the week ahead are much of the same; lots of phone calls, appointments, shots, dental exams, medical exams and CBTs. Somewhere along the line I’ll defeat this checklist and then move on to the next one. When I do, you’ll read about it here first….