Well, that sux…

A lovely lady – Carla RIP…

It’s only February and I’m already writing another obituary for a friend, Carla Campagnuolo-Jolly, who passed away last night after a brief battle with cancer. Anybody who was involved with the JWID/CWID series in the last decade who have come across Carla and few who did would forget her. For us rural Kiwis , she was like The Nanny personified…words a mile a minute, straight shooting and direct, an unforgettable chest that always seemed to arrive a couple of minutes before the rest of her…I think my first contact with her was on one of the last JWIDs where she was a nasal voice on the phone telling me to get “…stuff sorted down there!” I couldn’t have been very good at getting it sorted because the next year she came down to NZ to see for herself what the problem was…JWIDs all tend to blur after a while…stuck in a big room fills of computers and screen trying to explain to some vendor why his prize app just doesn’t work for three weeks…but I still remember well the night we all went out to The Curry Club in Wellington for a night out…these things were always good for hosting…and we also had great people coming in from Australia and the States…

In 2006, I let myself get talked into being the lead national evaluator for CWID 07 which sounded pretty good – more so since I’d just handed over the Centre for Army Lessons and had (I thought) some time on my hands – as it meant three trips to the US for the planning conferences in Virginia Beach with a payback of three weeks on-base for CWID and then a month ot complete the report…that was the easy bit – no one really quite got round to warning me about the CWID social schedule which, on top of her actual job, Carla managed…the rule always was, no matter how rough the night before, everyone was always on deck at 0800 for the next round of the conference…Carla’s mission was to make that as big a challenge as possible and the Wednesday night of each conference was always her piece de resistance, the Room Party. This started around seven and ended when it ended (most people had lost the ability to comprehend the concepts of time and muscular coordination well before midnight) – each involved a bewildering array of cocktails, shooters, things that looked like Popsicles but would put you on your back in about 30 seconds, and tons of pizza and snack food. In the morning (one ALWAYS prepared the next day;s clothing the night before!) it was wake around 0730, shower, dress, put on Homer Simpson glasses and back into the fray…

When Carla was diagnosed with cancer last year, I think many of us thought “…poor old cancer doesn’t know what it’s buying into here…” That Carla was a scrapper was never secret as anyone who ran afoul of her administratively at CWID would know and she fought this beast to the bitter end. No matter how she may have really been feeling after the operations and tubes and pills and illness, she always keep a brave face up. In fact, that’s probably why her passing has come as such a shock to so many: even during this last battle she was always so alive…

So today the thoughts of the Kiwi JWID/CWID team for the last decade are of Carla, and with Karl, Michael and Justin, her family and friends…

Edit Update

From Karl, writing on Carla’s page…we request that instead of flowers or other remembrances you send a donation in Carla’s name to:

1. Christian Healing Ministries
PO Box 9520
Jacksonville, Fl 32208
www.CHMgift.com

or

2. Capital Hospice
5656 Arlington Blvd
Suite 500
Falls Church Va 22042

Update 11 Feb 11

From Karl… I met with the Reverand that will preside over Carla’s service. The time, date and location are as follows:

Date: 18 February 2011
Time: 1200
Location: The Falls Church, 115 East Fairfax Street, Falls Church Va, the old historic church.

Desperately Seeking Mayberry

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Mayberry is the utopian township in which the Andy Griffiths Show was set a long long time ago; you know, where Ron Howard was born (and where Gomer Pyle hails from as well…Gaaw-aawl-ly, Surprise, surprise, surprise!) …Neptunus Lex has a nostalgic item today entitled The Itch in which he talks about seeking the ideal home town with a

…local hardware store that has the same breadth of inventory as Walmart, at the same low prices but who knows you by your name. With a coffee shop that serves the routinely excellent quality of a Starbucks or Peets, but which lacks all of that big city franchise homogeneity. A house with a porch that runs around the front and an acre (at least) of land, and friendly neighbors who know you well enough to stop by uninvited and yet be welcome for all of that. Where all of the kids are above average….“,

…someplace where…

…it’s somehow all tied together, the airplane I’ll own and make my own, the little town I’ll fly it out of. With the airstrip by the river, the trout kissing the pool tops, the elk bugling, the bird dog slumbering by the fire, my girlfriend by my side. The kids all grown up and successful, leading happy, productive, satisfying lives. Nothing left to worry on...”

Wouldn’t we all, I hear you sigh…yes, absolutely but the most telling part of this item is the last couple of lines “…it’s cleansing, but ultimately meaningless, to try and escape. If we want to live in Mayberry, it’s useless trying to find it on a map. We have to create it…” And therein, folks, lies the lessons…like Sarah Connor always used to say before she made it big on the small screen “…we have no fate but what we make…” So whatever your ideal is out there, the first person you have to motivate to create it is yourself – as I type this, it strikes me that our adversaries in the War on Terror are currently singularly better at this than we are…

And speaking of our adversaries, Coming Anarchy has a interview with a guy called Christopher Hitchens – I’d never heard of him either but now that I have, I think he probably needs some serious adjustments to his medication. But anyway, I would like to comment just a little on one of the lines he spouts in this interview “… Islamophobia is vague and linguistically clumsy. A phobia is an irrational fear. My fear of Islamic terrorism is not irrational…” Islam terrorism just like Christianity crusadism and Rugby World Cup Year All Blacks Victory…enough said…

Part of the fallout from the Christmas Day Undies Bomber is yet another series of calls for better interoperability and information sharing between agencies…without hopping on my soapbox on this one again (not this morning anyway), maybe we need to be looking at some things that already exist and ramping some horsepower in behind them…I mean things like:

  • The Coalition Interoperability Warrior Demonstration aka CWID – it’s been running since the mid-90s previously as the Joint Interoperability Warrior Demonstration aka JWID but regardless of the clumsy names, the key word is INTEROPERABILITY – since 911, this DoD-led annual event has been focussing more and more upon information sharing and interoperability issues, not just between the services, or between major allies, but extending these links right down into the nitty-gritty of interaction with and between other government agencies and the myriad of first response agencies in the US, and by implication, for any that might be interested, in other participating nations. Every year, dozens of emerging and developing technologies are thrashed throughout the month of June in connected sites around the world. However, IMHO, one of the biggest payoff for CWID participants comes from the three major week-long planning activities that occur prior to each execution phase where operators, developers and geeks have their respective expectations and perceptions hauled over the coals towards a shared reality.
  • The ABCA Coalition Lessons Analysis Workshop aka CLAW, lead by the ABCA Program Office in the Pentagon, that every one or two years assembles an international team of lessons learned professionals and subject matter experts to review and analyse the raw Observations, Issues and Lessons (OIL – yes, it really is all about OIL!!) from the preceding 12-18 months of operations and training within the five member nations and distil these into findings and recommendations. Following an inaugural ABCA lessons conference in Ft Leavonworth in 2004, CLAWs have been conducted in 2005 (Salisbury, UK), 2006 (Kingston, Canada – what a beautiful location!!), 2007 (Hobart, Autsralia) and 2009 (Shrivenham, UK). The CLAW process is exportable and applicable to OILs from any source not just military activities…There is also a link between CWID and the CLAW: analysis to date finds that around 60% of the issues uncovered in the CLAWs are further investigated or resolved on CWID…

My point here is that, rather than angst about what’s not working, there are already some usable processes and forums and systems that can at least be talked about and looked at as potential stepping stones towards long term systemic solutions (why is it that only problems are systemic?)…Like Neptunus Lex said, “…we have to create it…