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jonmjohnson

Christmas Gifts for a CO

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I was reading over Vern's and Joel's responses on the Old Post Office conversation and decided to finally get myself the Christmas gift I have wanted for years...the 2 Volume set of the Compact Edition of the Oxford-English Dictionary.  As CO's frame their work on the meaning of words, I could think of no better gift to get (although I have wanted one of these for 20 years and just decided to get it.  My excuse will be that this will be the dictionary that I will make my children use).

So what gifts would you recommend, or what would a CO ask Santa, for Christmas for a Contract Officer?  I can think of nothing better than a good dictionary and a few good books.  I have not been sold on a kindle because I enjoy the touch, feel, smell of a book still, but I could be sold on one.  So second question....Kindle or no?

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I find Formation of Government Contracts and Administration of Government Contracts (Cibinic & Nash) very useful.  While I prefer a book version, I can see the benefit from being able to do keyword searches for terms.

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I have a Kindle and use it to read fiction. I find it inconvenient to use for nonfiction, because I tend to flip back and forth to reread passages or look up specific topics. I find the Kindle awkward to use if I want to go to an index, or back to the table of contents, or back to a particular passage. My nonfiction books are all marked up and flagged with scribbles in the margins.

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Kindle not convenient but holds lots of books

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On December 15, 2016 at 1:02 PM, Todd Davis said:

I find Formation of Government Contracts and Administration of Government Contracts (Cibinic & Nash) very useful.  While I prefer a book version, I can see the benefit from being able to do keyword searches for terms.

These two books are essential reading and reference books for all CO's.  Every contracting office should have a copy but I always had my own - exce pt for a few weeks in Saudi Arabia back in the mid 1980's after a Korean contractor employee stole it. I wrote back to my old US based District Office that had distributed them to all their field offices. Someone photocopied and mailed the entire book to me ("Administration of Government Contracts"). That book helped me save the Saudis millions of dollars.

Soft Cover version is more useful than Kindle for me  as someone who can read the index and table of contents and thumb scan the material. 

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Not many people would confess to involvement in a violation of copyright of an entire book when the owner of the copyright (It's not Nash and his co-authors. They never owned the copyright.) is still actively publishing it. Or confess to use of the U.S. Post Office to transfer the thing.

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I didn't confess to anything!  

I wrote to my old HQ from my home District to ask if they had any extra books because mine had been stolen. They had purchased about 50 copies the year before I went to Saudi Arabia in 1983 to distribute to their contract admin offices and District CAB offices. I think it was after they had Ralph Nash speak at a Resident Engineer (ACO) conference.  

Apparently, the logistics of furnishing a government purchased ("GFP") book to another office overseas would have been beyond their ability.  Replacing my own book was personal business, not my then current overseas government office.

I disn't know who copied it or sent the photo copy version over to me. I imagine they told a secretary to copy it.  It showed up one day in  my APO mail.  Of course I used it.  

The next time I was in the US,. I bought my own copy at a college bookstore. Thereafter, until I retired from full-time government employment,  I bought several more versions at  college book stores or ordered directly- on my own dime. I also had my office purchase numerous books from The Nash and Cibinic and Wiley, etc. series for the offices that I worked in after returning from overseas in 1989.

To my knowledge, there was no such thing as email or the Internet, at least where we were working back then - 90 Kilometers Northwest of Riyadh. We had to reserve one 15 minute period a week if we wanted to call back to the US - I used my 15 minutes to call my parents.  .  

There was one FAX machine in the entire Riyadh District/ Middle East Division with a full-time government employee to send and receive official correspondence.

PC's were just coming out. I had to purchase my own for about $1000 and have it shipped over. The alternative was to buy a black market , Asian copy version in Riyadh for several hundred dollars. Only one field office had an Apple computer. Everyone else bought their own to use at work because the Corps was only using mainframe and IBM Minis for their offices. Those were operated by full-time employees. 

From the time I served in the Air Force and in private practice in the 70's and in the Corps of Engineers from 1980 on until retirement, i had to buy my own calculators and other engineering books and equipment. That's the way it was.  I still have my slide rule and other manual calculators, triangles, measuring scales, etc.   The Corps did provide computers after my Saudi assignment. However, the Saudi program was getting ready to phase out in the mid 1980's. The Corps wasn't about to buy, set up, and maintain PC's and software or train employees to use them at that point.  

Everything was hand written and Admin typed all internal and external correspondence then. We built Spreadsheets on graph paper for our own use. 

 All of us who bought our own PC's or Apples bought black market computer software in the local computer stores back then.  We weren't going to personally spend hundreds of dollars to buy software from the US to use at work. There weren't any local stores in Riyadh that sold original copies of software. I bought Word version 1.1, MS Word Perfect, a database and a spreadsheet program. 

Upon my I return from overseas in 1989, I was assigned as chief of the District level office that had sent me the photocopies. I once mentioned the "help" that they had provided and one of my employees said that he had it copied and sent.  He's now deceased.

 

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:D Wow! Sounds like one of the alibis I got when I was a cop.

     Officer: Jocko, where were you when the thing went down?

     Jocko: Well, it's a long story officer, but here goes.... First off, I wasn't really part of the thing... I was visiting my elderly aunt...

Joel, all you had to do was delete the sentence.

 

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I won't delete the sentence. I want the current generation to know that some of us have gone to great lengths to learn and practice our professions, often at personal expense - by whatever means we had available at the time. We didn't sit back and wait for the government to decide if and when they would provide the resources we needed to do a better job.

I served in the Air Force during the Vietnam Nam War.  That conflict sucked the Air Force stateside installation budgets dry. The Air Force couldn't even afford to operate copy machines after the monthly quota was reached about mid-month.  They unplugged the machine until the first of the next month. 

As an engineer, I had to call Industry for basic information. To call long distance the other party had to be local to the DoD  Autovon service.  Then we might be pre-empted mid sentence by higher level calls. How embarrassing! There was no long distance phone service. If I couldn't reach a company thru the crappy Autovon service ,   I would have to charge the phone call to my home phone!  The Air Force was essentially broke.  Goodbye AirForceless.  Hello civilian world.  I would never have come back to any other Government Engineering Organization but  the Corps of Engineers, which I had highly respected. 

 

 

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No ire for the contractor that stole government property?

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12 hours ago, here_2_help said:

No ire for the contractor that stole government property?

Yes, but we had a dozen contractors or more working at King Abdulaziz University at the time. And it was my personal property. I don't know who unlocked my office door and stole it.  The contractors were pretty resourceful. 

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22 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

I want the current generation to know that some of us have gone to great lengths.... I served in the Air Force during Vietnam Nam. The Air Force couldn't even afford to operate copy machines after the monthly quota was reached about mid-month. They unplugged the machine until the first of the next month. Vietnam Nam sucked the Air Force stateside installation budget dry. 

I served in an Army infantry division during the Vietnam War, in Vietnam. We once ate nothing but Spam and bread three meals a day for a month. Not even C-rats. Not even ham and lima beans. Money probably went for Air Force stateside copiers. Vietnam sucked our guts dry.

I hung my poncho liner out to dry one day while in brigade rear and some rear echelon bleep bleep stole it. Now that was a crime.

I don't know what any of this has to do with contracting, but if we're into Vietnam era self-pity I might as well get my licks in.

Copying machines. You gotta love the Air Force. :lol:

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Vern, thanks for your service. I have nothing but respect for those of you who who served there.  I didn't mean to blame the participants for funding shortages.  

However,   The nuclear deterrent mission of the US Air Force Strategic Air Command as well as many other Stateside missions were also critical during the Cold War years and shouldn't be trivialized, either. I was in SAC for 5 years, most of that time at a Northern Tier Air Base in Michigan's Upper Penninsula, which was far from a plush and cushy Stateside assignment.  And there was no widespread electronic correspondence medium back then - our one copier was essential for the engineering and operations and maintenance organization.  How do you think design specifications and solicitations got produced and reproduced to go to publishing for advertisements just as one example? 

My point was that the Nash and Cibinic series books (and those later editions with other collaborators ) are superb for self development.  Apparently our Korean contractors in Saudi thought so, too. I couldnt rely on the Government to provide everything necessary to excel during my career. 

Many (not all) government employees these days seem to expect the government to take  care of all of their professional needs and want to be spoon fed (e.g., "Christmas gifts for your C.O.") They want somebody to provide them templates and go bys that they can blindly cut and paste without understanding the underlying principles. If your office won't buy certain reference books, then you C.O's and Specialists should buy them yourselves and read them. 

Ive taught Design-Build construction classes for 22 years to a couple of thousand employees.  Many of them never bother to open or read the extensive background material that we have developed and provided them. They want to be spoon fed. 

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Joel:

Last I heard, Michigan's upper peninsula is stateside, and Hemingway thought it was a paradise.

Your points are that the Cibinic and Nash books are great, contracting professionals ought to own them and study them, and they should be willing to pay for them themselves if their employers won't provide copies to them. I agree. Think about letting it go at that.

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On 12/22/2016 at 7:16 AM, Vern Edwards said:

Joel:

Last I heard, Michigan's upper peninsula is stateside, and Hemingway thought it was a paradise.

Your points are that the Cibinic and Nash books are great, contracting professionals ought to own them and study them, and they should be willing to pay for them themselves if their employers won't provide copies to them. I agree. Think about letting it go at that.

Good summary. The UP is often characterized as "God's Country".   My B-52 navigator nephew, who misses his Minot AFB, ND assignment would probably agree with Hemingway.

Maybe if "Papa" had stayed there awhile, he wouldn't have shot himself - he might  have frozen to death, instead. 

Done. 

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