Episode 58: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Remembering my teammate and a trip to the coast)

May 30, 2021 

 Good Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. It is a cold, dreary Sunday here in Western Mass. It is also the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Today is not a happy day. In fact, it is quite a sad one for me. In addition to the time would normally spend reflecting on our Fallen this weekend, I lost a Brother last night. His death is hitting me hard.   

I got the word via text message late, last night, and the news crushed my soul. We weren’t all that close. We didn’t spend time together socially outside of work, but we came up together. We were teammates on the SRT, serving as Firearms Instructors for our fellow team members. We served as team leaders together. For a long time, we ran 1 and 2 in the stack, reading off each other’s moves. Eventually, he too became a Chief. We all thought that was hilarious, because he’d always been pretty critical of the bosses. However, there was some unanticipated turnover in his PD, his community needed him, and he stepped up. That was just his way. He was also one of the most irreverent and caustic wise-crackers that I have ever known…and he never missed an opportunity to bust my stones.   img_0150

I had a couple of places to be today, and I just couldn’t. I needed time to rest and reflect and just hold him in my memories. I needed to lose myself in a book for a little while to keep the emotions from overwhelming me. I haven’t found my tears yet. I’m sure that they will come at some point. But, today, the sky is crying for my teammate, and his wife and children, and his fellow officers. I’m going to miss you, Jeff. ‘Til Valhalla Brother. You rest easy now. We have the watch.   

Pro-Reading 

 I finally finished Transforming Leadership, by Professor James MacGregor Burns. I’m not going to go into much more detail about this title here. Let me just say that this book was inspirational. Professor Burns clearly had strong opinions about what problems leadership should be directed toward solving, and I think I agree with him. As I’m starting to look down the road toward my next chapter, I’ll have to give some thought to accepting his challenge.   

Having finished that, I turned to a title recommended by a friend, Between the World and Me, by Ta-nehisi Coates. I’m only a few pages into that one, since I didn’t take it with me to my conference. I’ll have to revisit it in a later post.   

Other Reading 

 I’m still plugging away at Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky (Sapolsky, Robert, M. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. 2004. New York: Holt Paperbacks.)  I had to step away from it for a few days. It is pretty technical, and it was getting to me. I set it aside and lost myself by re-reading one of Sean Parnell’s novels. I wrapped that this morning and back at Zebras now.  

 Other Learning Opportunities 

 Last week I had to zip out to the range and put in some qualification scores. Our in-service blocks are full of new material and there weren’t enough hours to cover the material and record qualification scores, so Training pivoted and set it up so that personnel could get out to the range and shoot their qual courses either on duty, or right before/after an assigned shift. It worked out pretty well.  

This week I was scheduled to travel out to the Cape to attend the annual Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs’ retreat. C is still working remotely, so she came with. We managed to piggy-back a little fun and rest onto the work trip…and I attended all of my sessions, so I’ll take that as a win.  

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Some Stuff About Me 

 In his book Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement, Dr. Kevin Gilmartin describes the unfortunate phenomenon of “I Ustas.” As in, “I used to” hunt, fish, travel, run, etc. As work becomes more overwhelming we turn from our recreational hobbies more and more, until they’re in our past. I am definitely suffering from the “I Ustas.” I used to rock climb and teach rock climbing. I used to SCUBA dive and teach it as well. I used to sail large boats offshore. As I’ve gotten older and more wrapped up in my career, each of these things has fallen into my distant past. I have other hobbies and interests now. I haven’t surrendered all of my outside interests. However, I do miss those activities…particularly teaching them and sharing my interests with others. I need to figure out how to revisit that.   

FUN

We have had some fun. Up until this weekend, our Spring weather has been outstanding. That opened up a lot of outdoor dining and beverage choices.   

Last week, date night was at Ye Olde Forge. The evening was beautiful and beer and wings on the back deck was a perfect choice. That Friday, we ordered delivery from the Shire Breu Haus and enjoyed it on our back deck with music on the Bose. After that I lit an early fire in the Solo Stove. It was a nice night.  

 Saturday was a training day, followed by some household chores. I hit Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu and open mat rolling. On my way home I hit the hardware store for some improvement to our deck. After the chores were done, we headed over the mountain to the Roaring 20s Brewery to sample some of their stouts. On our way back into town, we decided to head to Thistle and Mirth for ramen for dinner.  

 Sunday, C and I took a nice walk through the neighborhood. When we got home, I ran some errands in her new car. On Monday, I treated myself and replaced my stolen PFD and kayak paddle. Maybe now I’ll get back out on the water. 

 On Wednesday, we headed out to Falmouth for our date night and the start of the retreat. Date night was ocean view dining at the hotel restaurant, Red’s.  

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 We made our way home Friday afternoon. Our friends had been dog-sitting the pup, so we had dinner and cocktails at their home when we went to pick her back up.  

The dojo is closed for the holiday weekend and maintenance, so no training this weekend. Instead, we attended a holiday cookout and gathering at the home of a local patron who likes to support 1st responders. It was a nice time to kick back and relax with some colleagues.   

Now, the afternoon is coming to a close and the evening will soon be upon us. This post is done and I can spend some time remembering my friend and preparing to remember our Fallen tomorrow.  

 “We don’t know them all, but we do owe them all.” Please take some time to reflect on those who gave the last full measure, so that we can live a life of freedom. That is enough for now, so until next time… 

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

Remember, if you need supplements, Jiu-jitsu gear, jeans, or boots, check out Origin’s offerings here: (https://originmaine.com/?ref=xkTdZzgIyBpUF&utm_source=affiliatefor 10% off.  

If you train jiu-jitsu, utilize dietary supplements as part of your fitness routine, or simply want to support a great American company that’s doing amazing things to bring manufacturing back to our country take a look at the requirements to become an ambassador and register at this link (https://origin.goaffpro.com/create-account?ref=xkTdZzgIyBpUF). 
 Victory Force Options Training is a participant in the GoAffPro Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the partner site.” 

 

Episode 57: New Adventure, New Opportunity–Summer is finally here!

May 16, 2021 

 Happy Sunday evening, VFOT friends and followers! It has been a beautiful Sunday here in Western Mass, and we took advantage of that to get some chores done and to have some fun. As a result, it’s almost 2000 hours and I’m just sitting down to write this installment. I’m so in weekend mode, that I’m actually writing it on my laptop in the living room, instead of in my home office. I need to stretch this lovely weekend out! 

 Pro-Reading 

I’m still plugging away at Transforming Leadership (Burns, James MacGregor. Transforming Leadership-A New Pursuit of Happiness.  2003. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.)  It is a lengthy book and I’m only spending about 20 minutes a day on it, so, it is a slog, but I am really, really enjoying this one. The concept of transforming leadership resonates with me and supports a lot of my teaching. I’m taking so much away from this one.  

 Other Reading 

 I’m still working my way through Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky (Sapolsky, Robert, M. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. 2004. New York: Holt Paperbacks.)  As I said last time, I’m getting a lot out of this. I wish I had read it earlier in my life. I’m learning a lot about stress in general, and about my own stress responses in particular, so some really good learning here.  

 I also download Malcolm Gladwell’s new audiobook, The Bomber Mafia. That was a really fun listen. If you like war history, you should check that one out. 

 After finishing that audio book, I took advantage of some Audible credits and downloaded another one of Gladwell’s titles, Outliers. For some reason, I thought that I had already read or listened to this title. I have not. I finished that one yesterday. Time to pick a new title for lighter reading.  

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 Other Learning Opportunities 

 Last week, I had to attend a mandatory, virtual defensive tactics re-certification. How does one re-certify as a DT Instructor virtually? Very carefully! No, it’s a stopgap measure to keep us up to speed until we can get back to in-person drilling later this summer or fall.  

 I also got to participate in several keynote sessions of the Daigle Law Groups’s virtual 1st Amendment Summit. I had to squeeze the sessions in between meetings, so I didn’t get the full benefit of attending the full conference, but I did get to watch some pretty cool sessions.  

 On Thursday, we got back to in-person partner drills in Jiu-Jitsu. It had been 14 months! That was an amazing class. I’m very rusty, but it was great to actually get hands on a real person.  

 Last weekend we also added live rolls for vaccinated teammates. I got 5 short rolls in during our 1st session. It has been way too long! 

 This week, I got caught up on my outstanding in-service classes, in preparation of going into our next in-person rotation.  

On Tuesday, I taught a class for the City’s HR Department on preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This is the 2nd time I’ve been tasked with doing this for non-department employees. It’s interesting to do it as part of my duties here, instead of as a contractor somewhere else in the state.  

 Yesterday, was a full training day…Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu, a short break, then back for live rolling. Got in 5 6-minute rolls this time. I’m learning to flow instead of going hard all of the time.  

 Some Stuff About Me 

 This week, I had my 1st official meeting as a newly appointed POST Commissioner. It was basically an organizational meeting, so not much to report. More on this in the future.  

FUN 

We have certainly had some fun over the past couple of weeks.  

Last Wednesday night, date night was at La Fogata. We got home at a reasonable hour. When I let the pup out, she wouldn’t come back in. When I walked down back to get her, I found out why…we had a fairly large bear visiting next door. That was a rush. We both got back inside unscathed.  

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 On Saturday, my mother-in-law drove out for the Mother’s Day weekend. We spent the afternoon at Home Range Winery, then had dinner at Thistle and Mirth. After that, it was home to watch a movie.  

 Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day, with brunch on the deck. In addition to Marge, we were joined by my Mom, my step-father and my aunt. It was a lovely meal on a lovely day.  

 This week’s date night was a visit to the newly renovated and re-opened Firefly. That was amazing. The restaurant is under new ownership and the menu has expanded. Everything was phenomenal.  

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 Yesterday was another great training day. After I got home and got cleaned up, we rested for a bit, then went to have dinner and cocktails with our friends and their recently vaccinated daughters. Live is slowly returning to normal.  

Today, we started with a 5-mile walk on the Rail Trail with Toytie and Jay. After that, we had lunch on the patio at Proprietor’s. Then we went to do some chores at the hardware store. After that, it was ice cream at King Cone. When I got home, I built our new propane heater for the back deck and installed some LED lights. Then I grilled up some dinner. 

 It’s been a full day, and it’s time to reset for next week, so that is enough for now. So, until next time… 

Remember, if you need supplements, Jiu-jitsu gear, jeans, or boots, check out Origin’s offerings here: (https://originmaine.com/?ref=xkTdZzgIyBpUF&utm_source=affiliatefor 10% off.  

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

 If you train jiu-jitsu, utilize dietary supplements as part of your fitness routine, or simply want to support a great American company that’s doing amazing things to bring manufacturing back to our country take a look at the requirements to become an ambassador and register at this link (https://origin.goaffpro.com/create-account?ref=xkTdZzgIyBpUF). 
 Victory Force Options Training is a participant in the GoAffPro Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the partner site.” 
 

Episode 56: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Back on the road for training, checking out some local places, and a new opportunity)

May 2, 2021

Happy Sunday afternoon, VFOT friends and followers! It’s a dreary and drizzly day, here in western Massachusetts, but we managed to capitalize on the best parts of the weekend before the rain came in. More on that later.

Pro-Reading

I’m making good progress through Transforming Leadership (Burns, James MacGregor. Transforming Leadership-A New Pursuit of Happiness.  2003. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.)  I am really enjoying this book. The further that I get into it, the more I regret not taking classes with Professor Burns when I was at Williams. What a lost opportunity. Oh well, there’s no point in focusing on the past. I’m happy to be learning from him now.

Other Reading

For my secondary reading, I’ve been working on Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky (Sapolsky, Robert, M. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. 2004. New York: Holt Paperbacks.) This title was recommended to me by one of my officers. This officer is a superstar and we’ve had some serious conversations about officer wellness, mental health, and resiliency. I took this recommendation seriously. This is a light and easily accessible explanation of the physiological and psychological impacts of stress on the body. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of years, trying to learn about my own stress responses. This book would have been useful a few years ago. I’m getting a lot out of it now, but I probably would be a lot farther along in my personal development if I’d had this one a few years ago.

Other Learning Opportunities

This period had a couple of cool learning opportunities. The biggest one was last Thursday and Friday. I had the opportunity to participate in my second First Line Supervisors course of the year for the JST&RI. This one moved back over the border to a new venue in Rhode Island. It was great to be back with a group of new supervisors working on supervisory and leadership development. Not only was it a great learning opportunity, but C got to make the trip with me, so we made a little beach escape out of it too.

Last week I managed to participate in a couple of online trainings and listening sessions. They weren’t great, but hey, all knowledge is good knowledge.

Some Stuff About Me

This Monday, I had to travel to the Statehouse in Boston. I was due there to be sworn in as a Commissioner on the Commonwealth’s brand-new Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POSTC). It was a long day, but I was fortunate to be able to utilize a driver, so that I could work during the drive out and back. This is going to be a lot of work, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to be included in this new endeavor on behalf of the residents of the Commonwealth. I’ll definitely be sharing more about this new responsibility as it evolves.

Friday was another class day. We wrapped up training early in the afternoon and headed home. Since we had to pick our pup up at the dog-sitters, so we planned to visit with them and have dinner at their place. We hadn’t had the opportunity to spend social time with them since last spring, so this was a lovely time.

FUN

We’ve certainly had some great opportunities for fun in the past 2 weeks. Our first date night wasn’t much to be celebrated. It was taken up by the drive out to the coast. We settled for dinner in the hotel restaurant. The next night however, we made up for it. We were in Middletown, RI. We walked into town and found a nice place on the water called Tickets. We had some tropical cocktails, and I enjoyed some great seafood. On our way back to the hotel, we discovered Rejects Beer Company. That was a very cool place.

On Saturday, after getting in my morning Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu, we headed out to Ye Olde Forge for beers and wings on the deck. I love that place on a warm sunny day.

On Wednesday, for our date night, C picked the destination. I got a calendar invite for dinner at The Red Lion Inn. When I asked how she hit on that decision, she explained that with the state reopening, she knew that it wasn’t likely we’d get anywhere near there in the middle of the summer, so she thought that we’d better take advantage of the early season and slide in their now. It was a lovely evening on the porch of the Inn.

Yesterday afternoon, we headed to one of our new favorite places, the Home Range Winery, just across the border in New York. I discovered Home Range on one of my bike rides last year. We enjoyed their wine and the lovely farm several times last year and were happy to see that they had re-opened for the season. It was nice to see the owners again and to enjoy their hospitality. For dinner, we decided to make another visit to Thistle and Mirth for their amazing ramen. It was so good.

Today, we took the pup for a walk. After we got cleaned up, it was time for some lunch. We headed to Proprietor’s Lodge on Pontoosuc Lake for a lovely lunch on their lakeside patio. The view from the patio is amazing. Straight north across the lake with Mount Greylock in the background. After that, C decided that we should go see a movie. Turns out that this is the 25th anniversary of the movie Fargo. I’d never actually seen the entire thing. So, we headed to The Beacon for a matinee showing.

Now, it’s time to settle in for the evening and get ready to charge into another week. That’s probably enough for now. So, until next time…

Remember, if you need supplements, Jiu-jitsu gear, jeans, or boots, check out Origin’s offerings here: (https://originmaine.com/?ref=xkTdZzgIyBpUF&utm_source=affiliate) for 10% off.

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

If you train jiu-jitsu, utilize dietary supplements as part of your fitness routine, or simply want to support a great American company that’s doing amazing things to bring manufacturing back to our country take a look at the requirements to become an ambassador and register at this link (https://origin.goaffpro.com/create-account?ref=xkTdZzgIyBpUF).

“Victory Force Options Training is a participant in the GoAffPro Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the partner site.”

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