As I've noted before, I've been studying Arabic for years, trying to get myself to the point of basic fluency. During my year in Aberdeen, I was focused mainly on learning vocabulary from the Defense Language Institute's Libyan Basic Language Survival Kit (LSK), though my efforts waned later in the year. At the moment, I've transitioned to the Emirati LSK, as I think that future opportunities in the Gulf are more likely to manifest themselves than opportunities in Libya - the aforementioned Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research being but one example. At any rate, I've been (slightly) better about studying lately, which has involved listening to the DLI audio files while reviewing the written vocabulary on my Kindle. I've also been doing listening exercises with BBC Xtra podcasts and, occasionally, the Radio Sultanate of Oman live stream.
In theory, I'm walking uphill from the city center to my digs three times per week, doing a full stretch-out three times per week, push-ups and sit-ups twice per week, and two swim workouts at the Pickaquoy Centre per week. In actuality, I've not set foot in the Pickaquoy Centre, I've tended to walk uphill three times, and I've done no stretching and neither a single push-up nor a single sit-up. I feel like this week will be my week... Or next week, maybe.
my work developing honesty traces over at the Joshua Tree Security blog. I've mentioned honesty traces on the Highlander blog once before. I'm working on this, and a handful of other projects, the idea being that I can either use them in future jobs, or possibly use them as products and/or services in the event that I ever decide to start my own business. In addition to that, I've been applying for at least twenty jobs per week, since I'll eventually have to transition back to the real world - something that requires gainful employment. (I suppose that the Arabic stuff technically falls into this category, but I prefer to keep it distinct.) So, this stuff keeps me somewhat busy as well.
I've spoken previously about my desire to get my PSP certification. In theory, I'm reading fifty pages per week in either The Design and Evaluation of Physical Protection Systems by Mary Lynn Garcia, or ATTP 3-39.32 Physical Security. The reality is that I've done so much studying this year, that maybe I can leave something for next year. On the plus side, the Garcia book is now available for Kindle, which meant that I was able to leave the physical copy that I'd lugged to three different continents (and only got about a quarter of the way into) with CN Homeboy, who should absolutely read it and pursue his own physical security qualifications.
I've actually been doing a lot of writing - just, not so much blog writing. The big thing I'm working on is a follow-on to my dissertation. When all was said and done, my final submission had fifteen or twenty mistakes in it (mainly mixed up citations, a couple of textual and bibliographical inconsistencies). As of last night, I think I've gotten the thing perfected, but should I have an occasion to use it as a writing sample, I want it to be perfect - the way it should have been when I handed it in, but that was a matter of managing my risks, so whatever. (It was still bloody good, regardless.) Anyway, the final submission was also just a portion of what I had hoped to write, so I'm also tearing the manuscript apart, reorienting it, and formatting it to include all of the notes and sources that I wasn't able to include in the original version. As discussed with the Director earlier this year, my intent is to get it to the length of a formal white paper, and then submit it to a think tank or journal for publishing along the lines of what CN Odin and I did earlier this year, except a bit more ambitious (and hopefully for pay this time).
I've also had a couple of other projects that have spun off from that. One (that will probably be included in that white paper) involves intelligence, and another involves cultural sensitivity restrictions with which American personnel must comply while deployed to the Middle East. So, I'm working on those bit by bit as well.
World War I Research:
So... I've just realized that, until now, I've almost completely omitted a major chunk of what I'm doing up here in Orkney. It's a long story, but the gist of it is that I sort of stumbled into a gig on behalf of the Gordon Highlanders Museum, about which I've written before. In advance of the centenary of World War I, I'm working with the Gordon Highlanders Museum and a number of local Orcadian sources to research Orcadians who served with the regiment in World War I. I've been on Radio Orkney and in The Orcadian, conducted several interviews, met with several local experts, and have a great deal left to do while I'm here. It's been really interesting research, and it will sort of forever link me with both the museum and Orkney - that's pretty sweet, huh?
I've also been working on a number of projects each week that don't fit into any of these other categories. For example, this week, I need to: put a variety of replacement clothing items into online shopping carts to facilitate quick ordering right before I leave Scotland; do a test pack of the stuff I intend to take home with me to ensure that I have enough room in the bags I intend to take; work on a Strategic Studies archive/database project; send an E-mail about an outstanding financial matter; do laundry; and
Oh, yeah, and I also need to make an effort to see a bunch of parts of Orkney that I haven't seen yet, enjoy my time here, and do a bit of blogging when I have a few moments. So... Stay tuned. Still.
More to come.