Installment 23: New Adventure, New Opportunity

January 20, 2020

Greetings VFOT friends and followers. Well, it isn’t Sunday. It is actually Monday, January 20, 2020…and today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Here in Pittsfield, we commemorate Martin Luther King Day with a Day of Service, aimed at making it a “Day On, not a day off.” Today we began with a reception and keynote address held at Berkshire Community College. After that, C and I headed to the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, where we were assigned to an “out of school” program with a group of 8-12-year-old boys. We spent time in the gym playing in the soccer and in the classroom playing a trivia game. That’s a pretty good volunteer assignment. Of course, I’m still a day late…truth is, we had a family commitment yesterday and were traveling. By the time we got home, I was in no mood to write and blog.

The last couple of weeks have been marked with a variety of difficulties…professionally and personally. It’s ok. This is the type of stuff that makes us stronger. I got through it. Let’s get started.

I’m happy to say that I finally finished Lethal Force and the Objectively Reasonable Officer: Law, Liability, Policy, Tactics, and Survival, by John Michael Callahan (Callahan, John, Michael. Lethal Force and the Objectively Reasonable Officer: Law, Liability, Policy, Tactics, and Survival. 2015. Flushing, NY: Looseleaf Law Publications.) I’m sorry, and a little embarrassed that this one took me so long to complete. Let me be clear…this is a very good book…exceptional really. However, I struggled with it. The only explanation that I can offer is that the format of the book is blocky. There is a lot of case law and numerous citations and footnotes. I constantly found myself distracted by the notes and references. It was difficult to get into a routine. No excuses. This is a valuable book. It should be in any Use of Force Instructor’s reference library.img_0947

After completing Lethal Force, I started a couple of new books. The first is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, by Chris Voss. The other one is the new Field Manual by Commander Jocko Willink, Leadership Strategy and Tactics. I’m looking forward to getting into these two.img_0945

Other Reading
I needed to get out of my own head a little bit in the past couple of weeks. So I revisited both of Sean Parnell’s works of fiction again, then purchased a new Clive Cussler novel. Some titles are just to relax.


Other Learning Opportunities

In the first week of January, I took another officer from my Department and a member of the School District on a road trip to Queens, NY. The purpose of the trip was to attend the FBI National Academy Associates’ School Shooting Prevention Leadership Forum at St. John’s College. It was a 2-day workshop with some amazing instructors. We got a lot out of it. Worth it.img_0932

Last week, I was scheduled to attend an In-service Training block on Use of Force and Defensive Tactics. When I got to the training location, the scheduled instructor was a little under the weather, so I got the opportunity to cover some portions of the class. This was a great day out of the office. Yesterday, we had an Advanced Concepts Seminar at the dojo. We got to spend an entire class working on wristlocks. Plus, I had a great roll with Tom. What an awesome day.

Last weekend, we scheduled a make-up date night to account for my mid-week road trip. We selected a spot that we hadn’t been to in a long time…Zucchini’s. We had a great time out. On Sunday, we were enjoying some unseasonably warm weather. I took advantage of it and got outside for a run. This was my 1st run in a long, long time. I didn’t do too badly.

This week we started planning a trip that we hope to take some time between March and June. More details will be coming on this as we get more planning done. We started the week by putting in an early date night, since we’d both have to work a couple of evenings. Monday night we went and had dinner at the newly renovated District Kitchen. It was awesome.

As part of my home workout routine, I’ve added a couple of new pieces of gear to the mix. The first is an RMT weighted club from the WeckMethod. I’m having a lot of success working on my bad shoulder with this. The other gear is a training aid called BlazePods. These are basically small lighted pylons that can be set to different colors and timing. They can turn any exercise into a reaction time exercise. I’m having fun with these.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. It’s going to be a short week timewise, but probably not task wise. Until next time…

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*

Installment 22: New Adventure, New Opportunity

January 5, 2020

Happy Sunday VFOT friends and followers. In keeping with my commitment in the last episode, I went and created a reminder for myself in my calendar, with a 1-day alert on it to make sure that I don’t fall behind here. Yes, it’s sort of a technological crutch, but you have to know the tools that YOU need to be better. I know that reminders and alerts help me, so as long as it works, I’m going to use it.

The 2 weeks since the last blog entry have been awesome. As has become my habit over the past several years, I took the entire period between Christmas and New Years Day as time off. Being out of work from December 23rd through January 2nd is an indulgence, but since C has the same block of time for campus shutdown, it is an indulgence with great benefits. Plus, it gives me a lot to write and reflect on. Let’s go!


Last month, I split out some of my military history reading between the Pro-Reading block and the Other Reading block. As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m not sure that is the correct way to handle it. Upon reflection, all of the military history readings fit within the Pro-Reading block. Before we get to those titles, I do have to admit that I have finally picked Lethal Force back up and gotten back into it. I don’t know why I’m struggling so much with finishing this one.

I finished Call Sign Chaos and You are Worth It, by Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter. (Carpenter, Kyle. You are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For. 2019. New York, NY: Harper Collins.) Wow! I can’t do this one justice. You’re just going to have to read it. If you’re not familiar with Corporal Carpenter, he survived throwing himself onto a grenade to protect his Teammate. His perspective on his survival, recovery, and his mission here on Earth is extraordinary. Read it.


I moved from that one onto The Right Kind of Crazy, by Clint Emerson. (Emerson, Clint. The Right Kind of Crazy. 2019. New York, NY: Atria Books.) I’m torn about this one. Emerson is the well-regarded author of 100 Deadly Skills. He’s the founder of @OfficialViolentNomad, and the principle behind Escape the Wolf, a crisis management firm. Crazy is the highly redacted story of his career. It’s a little disorganized and rambling. It is also less of a how to and more of a why you should. It’s definitely worth the read, but maybe not a development text.

From there, I went onto and finished Alone at Dawn, by Dan Schilling and Lori Chapman Longfritz. (Schilling, Dan and Longfritz Chapman, Lori. Alone at Dawn. 2019. New York, NY. Hachette Book Group.) Alone at Dawn is the story of the valor of USAF Master Sergeant John Chapman. MSgt Chapman was an Air Force Combat Controller, who was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Anaconda in support of a group of U.S. Navy SEALs. His actions on the day that he was killed in action probably qualified him for two Medals of Honor. This story is compelling and a little bit disturbing. I highly recommend this one.

Other Reading

As far as other reading, those titles above have kept me busy. However, I did get back to some light magazine reading. I also cycled back to one of Parnell’s fiction books, just to lighten things up a bit.

Other Learning Opportunities

Leave and the Holidays meant no teaching and no travel. I did take the opportunity to log into my Echelon Front Online training dashboard and get all caught up with the training modules that I had missed.


Of course, the Holidays were brimming with fun. I didn’t get into it last month, but on the day before Christmas Eve, I did go out for my annual Holiday Shopping Shindig. This is a tradition that I created a couple of years ago. Basically, during my holiday leave, I take a portion of one day and I go shopping for last minute gift items in our Downtown area. Locally owned businesses, thoughtful gifts and visits with friends. This year, I spent just under 3 hours. I visited over a dozen shops, and I bought a ton of great gifts. I finished all of my shopping in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District. #ShopLocal.

On Christmas Eve, C and I visited with my cousin’s family for a fun evening of cheer. On Christmas Day, we had a wonderfully relaxing time by staying in, cooking together and enjoying each other. At the end of the day, we had my parents over for dessert. During the break, we hiked together, I trained a lot of jiu-jitsu and managed a few ruck marches.


On the weekend between the Holidays, C’s family came for a visit. We had lunch Downtown at Patrick’s Pub and visited the Festival of Trees at The Berkshire Museum. After that, we returned home for another fun night dessert and cheer.img_0847

For New Year’s Eve, we travelled to CT to visit with C’s cousin and his wife for a lovely dinner out at the Avon Indian Grill and a quiet night at home. Just two couples and our two pups. It was perfect.

And before I sat down to write today, I got back out for another, longer Ruck. It was an awesome winter afternoon outdoors. Well, that’s about enough for now. Be well. See you in a couple of weeks.

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*