Episode 49: New Adventure, New Opportunity: It Is Cold Here! Mixing up the reading and a family visit.

January 24, 2021

Happy sunny, Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. It is a beautiful, sunny day here in Western Mass, but damn, it is cold. This is definitely the coldest snap that we’ve had this year. It’s a good day to stay home, do a little writing and planning, and maybe take care of some outstanding projects. Anything to keep from going outside.

It has been a weird couple of weeks. I’m trying to stay hopeful and optimistic for the New Year. So far, it’s a challenge, but I’m staying positive. I went to church (virtually) this morning for the 1st time in a long time. Maybe that’s a sign of good things ahead. Let’s get started.

Pro-Reading

I’m still working on Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work, by Howard Cohen and Michael Feldberg. (Cohen, Howard and Feldberg, Michael. Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work. 1991. Praeger Publishers: New York.) As I said in the last installment, Dr. Feldberg has been a member of our community’s Police Advisory Review Board since it’s inception. I’m currently about 2/3 of the way through this. I like the way this book is organized, and I may actually borrow some of this format for a project that I’m considering. Essentially, the book is written in 2 parts. The first part is fairly short, and it outlines the authors’ 5 standards of police ethics. The second part is a series of case studies of enforcement scenarios and possible responses that the officers may choose. Each potential response is then “measured” against the 5 established standards for compliance or deviance. It really is a practical way of looking at the morality of police discretion and decision making.

As I said last time, I’m really looking forward to seeing the revised edition that is being worked on now.

In addition to working my way through Power and Restraint, I also started working my way through titles by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, USN (ret.). I finished It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy (Abrashoff, D. Michael. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. 2002. New York: Hachette Book Group.) This title was recommended to me by a student in my last class for the Justice Institute in November. I can’t believe that I hadn’t found this book earlier. It was outstanding! I liked it so much that I immediately downloaded, It’s Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership. (Abrashoff, D. Michael. It’s Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership. 2008. New York: Hachette Book Group.) I started that one this week. More to come on that.

Other Reading

As you’ve seen in the past, I can’t do continuous pro-reading without taking an occasional break to turn to something lighter. Last week I went with another Clive Cussler title. This time, it was Marauder: A Novel of the Oregon Files (Cussler, Clive and Morrison, Boyd. Marauder: A Novel of the Oregon Files. 2020. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.) I always enjoy Cussler’s novels, but this one was particularly fun.

Other Learning Opportunities

There haven’t been a lot of opportunities to do any extra learning over the past couple of weeks. I did have a pretty cool technology demonstration from a potential vendor last week. Other than that, learning has been pretty much limited to Jiu-Jitsu. I’m getting plenty of training in at the dojo though.

Some Stuff About Me

I mentioned in the Intro that I went to church this morning for the 1st time in a while. C and I started going to church together almost as soon as we started dating. We looked at a couple of different parishes before we finally selected St. Stephen’s here in Pittsfield. We attended regularly until she went back to school. When she started working on her doctorate, something had to give. Our Sunday mornings together was what went. For reasons of my own, I didn’t want to attend church by myself, so I’ve rarely been to church since she started the program. Even though the services have been remote throughout the pandemic, I hadn’t made the effort to attend. I need to do better at this.

Church has not been a constant in my life. My parents introduced us to church when I was in later elementary school. I fell out with my church while I was in early high school. I wandered back and forth while I was at Navy and Williams, then was away from the church for a long time. Eventually, my ex and I found a parish home at my prior parish. I stopped attending there during the divorce. I do better when church is part of my life.

FUN

We have had some great date nights in the past 2 weeks. The first was delivery from Shire Breu-Hous. We hadn’t dined with them since the beginning of the pandemic. This was outstanding. The second week was from another old stand-by that we hadn’t patronized. I mistakenly thought they had closed. It was comforting to have some delivery from Tahiti Takeout and Lounge. Both nights included Icebreaker cards and living room dancing.

Last weekend, we had a visit from C’s parents to mark the Holidays and exchange gifts. We had a wonderful dinner and some great conversation. We introduced them to the Icebreaker cards as well.

In addition to keeping up with my jiu-jitsu, I’ve started mixing up my strength and conditioning routine. I learned a couple of new kettlebell flows that I’m really enjoying and have been spending some more time with the sandbag. This week I’m going to add some new pushing and pulling exercises. I’ll let you know how it goes. Well, I think that’s about enough for now. See you in a couple of weeks. Until then…

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

Episode 48: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Some Fun Reading, Learning Platforms, Thoughts on Last Week, and 1 Hell of a Date)

January 10, 2021

Happy Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. Happy New Year! I think that we were all looking forward to 2021 with hope and optimism. I’m not sure that the 1st full week of the year really met our expectations. It has been a hell of a week. However, I believe that better times are ahead, and we’ll not only get through this, but come out stronger.

Pro-Reading

I finally finished The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek (Sinek, Simon. The Infinite Game. 2019. Portfolio/Penguin: London.). As I’ve said in the past, I’ve become a fan of Sinek and this is the 2nd or 3rd of his titles that I’ve read. I really enjoyed this one. It isn’t complicated to ask this question: are you in the game to win it, or to keep perpetuating the game? This was illustrative and informative. I’m looking forward to implementing some of these lessons.

As I alluded to in the last installment, my new pro-reading title is a little bit out of my normal lane. Early last year, I was handed a copy of Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work, by Howard Cohen and Michael Feldberg. (Cohen, Howard and Feldberg, Michael. Power and Restraint: The Moral Dimension of Police Work. 1991. Praeger Publishers: New York.) Dr. Feldberg is a long-time academic in the area of criminal justice and other fields. He has been a member of our community’s Police Advisory Review Board since it’s inception. It sat on my bookshelf until I was in my recent leave period. After I finished the Sinek title, I decided to take this one on. I’m about a 1/3 of the way through it. To be honest, I’m struggling with not being able to mark it up and highlight it, but I developed a work-around with Post-it flags. So far, I really like it. I’m looking forward to concluding it. I’m also aware that the Doctor and his partners are working on a revised edition and I’m looking forward to getting that one as well.

Other Reading

For other reading, I needed to take a step back after working through the above titles. I had recently listened to another interview with Sean Parnell (Outlaw Platoon and the Eric Steele novels). To lighten things I up, I decided to revisit Man of War, the 1st installment in the Steele series. These are more James Bond than GI Joe, and it’s a fun distraction.

Other Learning Opportunities

The past 2 weeks haven’t presented all that many chances for new learning opportunities. The 1st week, I was still on time off. The 2nd week was my return to the office, after a considerable break and a lot of catch up. Nevertheless, there are always ways to find opportunities to learn if you look for them.

One of my high priority tasks at work last week was preparing for the roll out of our new policy platform. That required me learning some new processes for approving and issuing policies and standing up the web-based platforms. Not complicated learning but learning all the same.

On top of all of the other challenges and losses that 2020 presented, one of the biggest hits for me was the inability to offer classes and interact with students in leadership classes. Students from several programs that I’m associated with have reached out and asked about the possibility of developing some remote offerings. I’ve spent some time over the past couple of months exploring different platforms and their functionality to try to figure out what I might be able to do. Today, I figured out a couple of key things. Earlier this afternoon, I learned how to export a PowerPoint presentation as a video and then to upload it to YouTube for sharing. I’m pretty excited about what that will allow. The other thing I leaned today is how to moderate discussion boards from inside SharePoint. That’s going to let me bring the LDA back in 2021. Finally, I’m learning how to administer polls and Q&As in Slido. Lots of possibilities here.

Some Stuff About Me

Last weekend I received a call from a friend who was going through a rough patch. My friend wanted to know if I had some time to chat and discuss some of my tools for working on my mental health and wellness. We talked for a little while on Sunday afternoon. While I hope that I was able to provide them with some suggestions and some tools that they’ll be able to use, what I do know is that just having the conversation and talking about steps that I’ve taken over the past several years to focus on mental health and resiliency was good for me. I think I got as much out of the chat as they did. Open conversations about struggles and strategies can help.

I don’t discuss politics openly. It’s something that I’ve avoided doing since I was at the Naval Academy. As long as I’m in uniform, I’ll keep that stuff to myself. However, politics aside, last week’s events in Washington, D.C., and at the Capital are disgusting. I don’t care what side of the aisle you sit on. Seeing our Capital stormed and ransacked by our own people was both horrifying and embarrassing. Our standing on the world stage took a big hit last week. I can only hope that this tragedy can serve as a catalyst for us to move forward as a Nation and do better. We have to.

FUN

We have had several opportunities to have some fun in the last couple of weeks. I’ve gotten a couple of great ruck marches in during my leave period and have had some great jiu-jitsu sessions. C and I even went for a run together and New Year’s Day. It was not a great run, but we went. I do want to give her one particular shout out. A couple of miles in, I was having some stomach trouble. I new I wasn’t going to be able to finish the route. I told her to go ahead and finish and I’d meet her at home. I honestly expected her to speed up and try to improve her splits. Therefore, it was a little bit of a surprise when several hundred yards later, I heard her behind me. Instead of leaving me behind, at the next cross-street she turned up into the neighborhood, circled the block, completed her mileage and was then able to walk home with me. She didn’t have to do that…but I appreciated it.

On our last Date Night of 2020, C made a reservation at the “pop-up” of Café Boulud at Blantyre in Lenox. That was quite the dining experience. I’m not providing any more detail here.

Desert at Café Boulud

Yesterday, C and I did something that we haven’t done in a long time…years maybe. We just went for a drive and spent some time exploring this beautiful county that we live in. I’m going to ignore the fact that part of the reason for the drive was to perform a signal strength test on a FirstNet phone. It was still nice to go for a drive.

That is more than enough for now. Until next time, stay healthy, be well, and be kind to one another.

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

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