Episode 38: New Adventure, New Opportunity-Time to go to the Beach!

August 23, 2020

Good Sunday afternoon VFOT fans and followers. It is a beautiful, summer afternoon. I feel guilty about being inside on such a lovely day, but I actually had some work-work that I had to take care of today. It was just a natural switch into writing once I finished the work. It’s still early in the day, so I’ve got time to get outside.

This is a transition day. C and I have been on our actual summer vacation this week, so this is my last day off before returning to work. It’s been a productive day.

Pro-Reading

Prior to heading off on vacation, I did keep up with my pro-reading. I’ve still been working through Daring Greatly-How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (Brown, Brenè. Daring Greatly-How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. 2012. New York: Penguin Random House.) I did not pack that title to take to the beach. I did do some pro-dev reading on my Kindle, however.

The 2nd title that I worked through on the beach was Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, by Admiral William H. McRaven (McRaven, William, H. Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations. 2019. New York: Hachette Book Group.)  I had avoided picking up this title for some time. I didn’t have a good reason for avoiding it, but I had listened to some recorded remarks by the Admiral as part of a class I was teaching last year, and they didn’t resonate with me, so I think that biased my opinion. That was a big mistake. This is an outstanding book and I should have gotten to it earlier.

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Other Reading

While I was on the beach, I finished Perfectly Wounded, by Mike Day (Day, Mike and Vera, Robert. Perfectly Wounded: A Memoir About What Happens After a Miracle. 2020. New York: Hachette Book Group.) Wow! This was an amazing read. Senior Chief Day is an inspiration. His story is incredible. Never mind getting shot 27 times while conducting a raid. The work that he did after leaving the Navy and the lessons that he learned doing this work is incredible. If you’re interested in military biographies, this is a must read.

On our way home, I moved onto Service: A Navy SEAL at War, by Marcus Luttrell (Luttrell, Marcus and Hornfischer, James, D. Service: A Navy SEAL at War. 2012. New York: Hachette Book Group.) I honestly had no idea that Chief Luttrell had written a 2nd book. This one gets into a lot more detail about his rescue at the ends of Operation Redwings. It also contains a lot of stories about other service members that he served alongside. This is also an exceptionally good read.

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While we were on the beach, I also read MOB VI, by Justin K. Sheffield. (Sheffield, Justin. MOB VI. 2020. Defiance Press:) When I downloaded this one, I thought it was a biography. Once I started it, I realized that it had been “fictionalized.” I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a good story.

Other Learning Opportunities

I don’t know that this counts as a learning opportunity, but I’ve been going through a sleep study. I guess I’m “learning” a lot about myself.

On the 1st Thursday of this reporting period, I took part in a day-long webinar on Performance Reviews. I’m not sure how much I learned, but it reinforced many points for me.

I’ve managed to keep up with my Jiu-jitsu training under our new COVID protocols. It’s been a strange adjustment.

FUN

This couple of weeks has been marked with some fun. Following my sleep study, I got a nice ruck in on Monday afternoon. I needed that because it was a long day.

For Wednesday night’s date night I thought it would be nice to have dinner on the water. I was thinking of maybe a lakeside bar. C took charge of the reservations and booked us for dinner at the Proprietor’s Lodge. We had a beautiful dinner on their lakeside patio. After that, we had dessert at Cravin’s. After that, it was dancing in the living room.

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Thursday was a strange day. It was a bad day at work. I was supposed to train that night. However, we got an invitation to have dinner with some friends and their parents. After my day at work, I made the call to go with the dinner invite. I’m glad that I did. We checked out a new place for me, the Prairie Whale in Great Barrington and had an amazing night with friends. I needed that.

On Saturday, I took care of a couple of difficult chores at the house. After that, I tried my hand at beer can chicken on the grill for the 1st time. That turned out really well.

Last weekend, we headed out for our annual vacation. Normally, we head to Narragansett, RI to hit the beach. COVID-19 made that impossible. We’d have had to quarantine again. So, instead, we headed to Hull, MA for a week at Nantasket Beach. We had a great week exploring a new destination. It turned out really well. We’ll visit again.

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Well, that’s enough for now. Be well. Stay healthy. Until next time…

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

Episode 37: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Getting Back to “Normal” and Getting Work Done)

August 9, 2020

Good Sunday evening VFOT friends and followers. It’s a little later in the day than I like to post, but we had a lot going on today and I felt that I needed to take advantage of the beautiful weather to get some stuff done outside. More about that later. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. There is no shortage of interesting stuff going on.

Pro-Reading

Fortunately, I’ve been keeping up with my pro-reading. As I reported in the last installment, I shifted to another one of Brenè Brown’s titles; Daring Greatly-How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (Brown, Brenè. Daring Greatly-How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. 2012. New York: Penguin Random House.)

I’m going to go a little outside the wire here, and I’m going to ask you to indulge me with a leap of faith. As I’ve stated in the past, Brown’s writings are a little more “touchy feely” then my normal titles, but as has happened for me several times in the past, it has really aligned with some of my other pro-reading. I’ll get into some details in the next section, but what I want you to know is that if I hadn’t been reading her work, I wouldn’t have been open to the lessons of a couple of other titles I’m working through. You wouldn’t think that a vulnerability researcher and lecturer would be able to provide insight to the stories of Air Force Pararescue PJs and Navy SEALs…but she does. As I’ve said…different language…same mission and outcomes. I’m becoming a fan.

Other Reading

I wrapped u, Dagger 22, by Michael Golembesky (Golembesky, Michael. Dagger 22. 2016. New York: St. Martin’s Press.) This is the sequel to Level Zero Heroes. This was a fascinating story. You should definitely check it out.

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After finishing Dagger 22, my Kindle recommended Never Quit, by Jimmy Settle and Don Reardon (Settle, Jimmy & Rearden, Don. Never Quit: From Alaskan Wilderness Rescues to Afghanistan Firefights as an Elite Special Ops PJ. 2017. New York: St. Martin’s Press.) This was amazing. I had no idea that is some Guard units, PJs could be recruited before the were in the Air Force. I love special operations stories but learning the details of the PJ training pipeline was both daunting and inspiring. What those warriors accomplish just to get badged is awe-inspiring. What does Settle mean by Never Quit? How about getting shot in the head 20 minutes after you launch on a mission, patching it up, completing the mission, then immediately launching on another mission. Truly heroic. I recommend this one.img_2438

Finishing Never Quit led to another recommendation from Kindle: Perfectly Wounded, by Mike Day. I just started this one. Ironically, this recommendation popped up on my Kindle the day after I listed to Commander Willink interview Mike Day on The Jocko Podcast. I took it as a sign. I’ll let you know how this one goes.  

Other Learning Opportunities

Coming out of quarantine meant that I could return to the dojo. It certainly isn’t the same way that it was before the pandemic hit, but it was just so nice to get back. We’re training with grappling dummies under new hygiene protocols. We have to stay in a discreet block that’s taped out on the mats, use sanitizer on our hands and feet when we bow into the room and wear face coverings the whole time, but hey, we’re training. I am so happy to be back with my teammates. I have really missed them. I made 7 classes in 2 weeks. That’s more than I ever make in “normal” times.

The other thing that I’ve been engaged in over the past couple of weeks is participating in an at-home sleep study. I get the results tomorrow. Wish me luck.

In the middle of this reporting period, Tropical Storm Isaias came storming up the coast. We got another opportunity to practice our emergency management and incident command system work.

On Thursday, I participated in a United States Secret Service online training on the National Threat Assessment Center and active shooter events. This was sobering.

FUN

We’ve really focused on trying to reestablish some since of normalcy in our home and social lives. We had 2 socially distanced evenings with 2 different couples. When we had M & N over to our house on the deck, I cooked some charbroiled oysters (a la Drago’s) as an appetizer. I always enjoy preparing those for guests.

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We’ve had some fun dates nights at a couple of different local spots. Last week, we headed down to Lenox and were astounded to be able to get a table and dine downtown in the 1st week of August. During normal times, that would never happen. Silver linings.

In addition to getting back to Jiu-jitsu, I also got a great bike ride in.

Today, I had some work to do. I recently bought a new, portable firepit…basically a high-tech burn barrel. The issue is that when I cut wood for my primitive dug firepit, I was pretty liberal with the size of my logs. Whatever I had cut was too long and too thick to fit in the new pit. So, today was a trip to the hardware store for bar chain oil, a maul, and a couple of wedges. After that, it was time to cut and split some wood and dissect a pallet. That was the kind of workout that emphasizes work. Now I’ve got plenty of fuel for fires for the rest of the summer.

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Well, that’s enough for now. Be well. Stay healthy. Until next time…

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