A Parent’s Trust

In 2002, I became the CIC Officer for the USS Hurricane, a Patrol Coastal ship home ported in Coronado, CA. I had worked with the ship and her crew briefly at my previous command while we were deployed in the same operating area. At that time, she was part of the Navy Special Warfare Command, but when I got there she had taken on a new role: Maritime Homeland Security in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Our job was to patrol the west coast of the US and work to prevent terrorists from attacking vital assets like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in SoCal, and submarines transiting Puget Sound in Washington State.

We deployed twice to Puget Sound that year, with an extra brief “surge” deployment to take part in and protect Fleet Week in Seattle. During one of those deployments, we made a short visit to Esquimalt, BC — an absolutely beautiful place.

As I did regularly, during the process of getting into port I read through the message traffic. One particular thing jumped out at me: a terrorist threat, possibly targeting a cruise ship in Seattle. Now I’ve read and followed a lot of intel reports without much extra concern, but this one was different. My parents were going on an Alaskan cruise soon, with plans to meet their ship in the area. I checked the records, and that was their ship.

My heart sank.

As soon as we pulled pierside, I did exactly what I knew not to do: I grabbed the nearest pay phone and called my parents. I knew I couldn’t give details, as what I read was classified and couldn’t be divulged (although the Coast Guard notified the area that there was a “potential terrorist threat”). I decided that at that moment, my parents’ lives were more of a concern to me than my career.

So I called, and my mom answered. And I asked her if she really wanted to go on that cruise, and if maybe there was another time she could go instead.

Her response? “Here, talk to your father.” I could tell by her tone that she understood.

So I talked to my dad. My ex-Navy, retired California Highway Patrolman, seen more action than I ever had (or would), dad. And he asked me one question.

“Are you working?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Then we’ll be okay. I trust you to do your job. Do you have good people you work with?”

I told him I did.

“Then we won’t worry. We trust you.”

Holy crap. Just thinking of that moment still brings tears to my eyes. My dad, the one who was supposed to protect me, was knowingly putting his and my mom’s lives in my hands.

We talked some more, chatted about nothing and everything, then said our goodbyes, perhaps for the last time.

We left Esquimalt a couple of days later, and went back on patrol. I read through all the intel reports I could find, but never heard any more about the threat. My parents went on their cruise and had a great time.

But I changed. I live life better. I’m not afraid to trust. I have a better relationship with my parents than I’ve ever had. And now and then, when I’m worried that what I do doesn’t matter much, I remember that people put their trust in me, and that means everything.

How to fail at promoting your start-up on Twitter

I’ve recently started using JustUnfollow, an app/service that gives me a daily report of who my new followers are on Twitter (and Instagram), and who has decided to stop following me. I don’t have tons of followers, and this is a helpful tool for me to know who my new followers are, and if there’s a common thread I need to be aware of that I can use to tailor my content to better fit my followers.

One trend I see seems to be an apparently automated effort to collect followers by reading profiles and targeting those interests mentioned. Until this past week, my Twitter profile mentioned that I enjoy reading, and that I use WordPress. Most of my new followers are from authors promoting their new books, WordPress news sites, or some new tech company starting up. I don’t have any problem with that, but what usually happens is that these same accounts unfollow me within 3 days, sometimes a bit longer if I’ve decided to follow them back. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when this happens, but it’s hard for me to argue against legal uses of a free service.

The daily report brought one of these to my attention today. The profile of the account claims tells me to “create mobile friendly database driven websites” blah blah blah. Doesn’t even have a link to its own website. Strike one.

Taking a quick look at follower:following ratio, it’s currently at 57:1356. Very unbalanced, but understandable for a brand-new product, so no strikes there.

A quick search through their five tweets shows two retweets not related to their product, one hashtag-laden (eight of them) tweet in response to someone else, and the other two saying they’re launching in December and to stay tuned. Strike two for mass following without content.

Finally found their URL; let’s take a look.

Layout not found

Yeah, that doesn’t work for me. You’re marketing a CMS that says it does what WordPress already does and your site (which I assume is running your own software) won’t even load? Strike three.

The stickler here is that less than a day after they followed me, before I had a chance to check them out, they unfollowed. I would have given them a chance (honestly, I still probably will since new things interest me) but it makes it awfully challenging for me to want to know what they’re creating.

Then again, maybe they just decided that I’m not that interesting.

Update: The founder of the company started following me yesterday. He unfollowed me today. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

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