Special Installment: New Adventure, New Opportunity in New Mexico!

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July 23, 2020

Hi there! This isn’t going to be a typical New Adventure, New Opportunity episode. I recently posted some pictures from C and my trip out to New Mexico and a friend commented that he wanted to hear more about it. A blog post seemed like the best way to tell a compelling story about this AMAZING trip. This is going to be a long one, and I apologize for that. Feel free to pick and choose what you please, based on the pictures. Let me rewind the clock a little bit and tell you about how this story came about.

Late last year, C started asking me what I wanted to do to celebrate my big 5-0 birthday this summer. I had a personal plan underway and that was how I intended to celebrate, but C wasn’t ok with that. She considers birthdays something that need to be marked, and she wasn’t letting this one go by without something special. Under one of our interpersonal agreements, that normally means travel.

Right after the start of the year, she let me know that I needed to clear a week to take off and travel. She shared with me that, having listened to me talk about my teenage trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for years, she had found 2 places that we could go to share a similar experience. After coordinating our schedules and clearing things at work, we scheduled a trip to Geronimo Trails Guest Ranch in March. We were scheduled to depart on March 15th.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. The 2nd week of March, we spent most of our time putting together our response to COVID-19. On Thursday, we stood up Unified Command for the City and I informed the Mayor that I was still planning on making the trip. On Saturday, after listening to the most recent updates and the increasing travel restrictions, C and I decided to cancel the trip. I called the Mayor and let her know. That Monday, COVID-19 resource management became my full-time job. At the time, I couldn’t envision how long that would last.

By late May, we had reached a point where we thought that it was safe enough to consider making the trip again. C reached out for the Ranch and found out that they could accommodate us in the 1st full week of July. She booked the trip and on March 31st, I rebooked the flights. During the last week of June, the uptick in cases in FL and TX caused us to rethink the portion of the trip to Dallas. I modified the flights again, cutting out that leg, and we got ready to go.

After COVID-19, protests and rallies, and a contentious budget process, by July 1st, we were both ready. We really needed a get-away. I don’t think either of us realized how appropriate this get-away would prove to be.

On July 5th, we headed out on what proved to be one, amazing ADVENTURE!

July 5, 2020

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Sunday was our travel day. Our 1st flight wasn’t too early, but our itinerary was convoluted. We had 2 connections and a hellacious long layover, but all-in-all it was a good travel day. We made it to Albuquerque by early evening (local time) in time for restful evening, a quiet dinner in the hotel restaurant, and a full-night’s sleep to prepare for the next day.

July 6, 2020

Monday was the 1st official day of the trip, but we had all day to make it out to the Ranch. It turned out that we were going to need it. Albuquerque to the rural area of Winston, NM that we were headed to was a minimum of a 4-hour trip.

We took our time clearing out of the hotel, headed back to the Sunport to get our rental car, and got on the road. In the interest of full disclosure, I screwed up and was negligent at this point in the trip. C had asked me to drive (which is highly unusual), so she was handling the navigation. As a result of that switch, I did not do my usual map studies. This was a mistake…and it would nearly become a big problem later in the day. She did share with me that part of the written directions read, “Don’t be disturbed by the sign that says ‘No services for 121 miles. We’ll be glad to host you.”

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Once we had the rental car, we headed south out of Albuquerque on Interstate 25. I had made this drive once before, when I was headed to Socorro for training at the EMTRC, and I remembered it as beautiful country. C had never been before, so we stayed in the slow lane and took in the beautiful scenery. Being from the Northeast, this type of high desert is like being on another planet. C took plenty of pictures from the passenger seat.

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Instead of taking the exit onto Highway 181, we took a little bit of a detour and continued south to Truth Or Consequences, NM (ToC). We needed to grab some lunch…. Plus, we were still in the market for western (cowboy) hats per the Ranch’s packing list. We found a great little Mexican cantina for an authentic, regional Southwest lunch. Those may have been the best tacos that I’ve ever had. After lunch, we hit a couple of stores looking for hats. That search was unsuccessful. However, we did have success stocking up on adult beverages to supply our cabin. After this pitstop, it was time to get back on the road and push onto the Ranch.

We headed back north on Interstate 25 to the junction of Highway 181. 181 took us out of the City, past the Truth Or Consequences Regional Airport. Seeing that should have snapped me back into the need for my map studies. Despite the clues, it did not occur to me that we this was the last civilization that we were going to see…for several days.

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A short journey on 181 brought us to the junction of New Mexico State Route 52. We were going to be on 52 for about 37 miles…all through the back country. The whole rest of the drive was open range, with wildlife in abundance and cattle roaming right out into the road. Not quite 30 miles later, we reached the “town” of Winston. Since the ranch is “in” Winston, in my mind, we were nearly there…not the case…and another reason I should have done my map studies. Had I looked at the directions, I’d have known that we were still nearly 50 miles from the ranch…mostly on secondary and tertiary roads. This was going to become an issue shortly. We passed through town and continued on another 9 miles to the junction of NM 52 and NM Route 59. This is where the sign that I mentioned above is posted.

As we made the turn, I saw the sign, checked our fuel status, and started doing math in my head. No matter how I calculated it, I couldn’t make it work. We had about 78 miles of fuel to empty. Adding the estimated distances up in my head, we were about 40 miles from the Ranch. We could make it in, but there was no way we could make it out. There clearly wasn’t going to be another place to fuel up before the Ranch. In my mind, the nearest fuel was back in TorC. I started to panic a little bit. I told C that we had to turn around and find fuel. She was pretty nonchalant about it and readily agreed.

I turned the car around and retraced our steps. I was watching the gas gauge and trying to remember where I’d seen a gas station in town. I couldn’t recall. I was certain we’d make it to a gas station, but I was also sure that we were going to be late for dinner. No way we recovered all of those miles and still made it on time. I wasn’t exactly happy. A short 9 miles later, we were back in Winston. As I spun past the Winston General Store, I saw something that I hadn’t caught the 1st time through. There, right on the corner of the store was a fuel pump. I pulled into a driveway and looked at C. As soon as I did, I realized that she knew there was fuel there the whole time. No worries.

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I went into the store to make sure they had fuel. After confirming that they did, I took a look around. In addition to provisions and sundries, they had a full gun store…AND…high quality western hats. This was indeed a fortuitous development. I filled the tank, parked the car, and we went hat shopping. We both like the hats that we chose. Hats in hand, we got back on the road and back on track for our trip to the ranch.

Back to 52 and 59, then onto 59 for about 40 miles. We Entered into the Gila National Forest. We were surrounded by Ponderosa Pine and wildflowers. Cattle roamed everywhere. There was plenty of other wildlife on the ground and in the air. The road switch-backed on itself frequently and we spent a lot of time in low gear, dealing with the steep grades. There was no shoulder. A breakdown out here was going to be very problematic. At some point in here, we crossed the Continental Divide. Just past Beaverhead, we ran out of pavement. NM 59W continued as a “well maintained gravel road.” After a ½ mile, the directions indicated that 59 would turn to the right and that we “DO NOT TURN.” We continued straight toward Wall Lake.

Several miles later, we crossed the bridge over the outlet of Taylor Creek from Wall Lake. According to the directions, we were almost there. 1 mile later, we were at the Ranch.

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We found the driveway and pulled past the gate. There were cars, pickup and horse trailers along the drive, but no one in sight. We stopped among the buildings and took a look around. In a couple of minutes, our hostess came walking out of the Ranch office. Meris approached the car and introduced herself. She pointed up the drive and told us to follow her to where we should park, and she’d show us to our cabin. The Ranch was beautiful, and the cabins were gorgeous. Meris pointed us to the left half of a 2-unit building. Our cabin was called “Apache.” It would be our home for the next several days.

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Once we got settled in, Meris introduced us to her husband, Seth, and asked him to take us for a quick tour of the Ranch. At this point, we were the only guests in residence. We took a walk around and Seth introduced us to all of the horses in the herd. He also gave us the lay of the land as far as Ranch operations. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is totally off the grid. They run the diesel generator twice a day, from 8-10 in the morning and again from 8-10 at night. During the day, they draw power from the solar panels, the panels and the generator charge a large bank of batteries. Charge your devices during the day or when the generator is running. Unplug everything before you go to sleep. Try to take your showers after 8 AM while the generator is running. Breakfast is at 8:30, lunch whenever possible between riding, dinner is at 7.

After the tour, we opted for a cocktail on our porch, while we were waiting for the other guests and dinner. A short time later, our neighbor, Phil, showed up. He explained that he had gotten a little turned around on the way in and gotten a little lost. It was fortunate that he had, because the rest of the guests (one family) had also gotten turned around and he had found them. They both took the turn that directions said not to….DO NOT TURN!! A little while later, they arrived also. We all were on scene and ready for dinner.

In a nod to the current pandemic requirements, dinner was served outside, between the cabins. Each cabin or family unit was seated at a separate table, properly distanced, and individual servings were brought to each diner by the Ranch staff. This 1st dinner was our clue that we were going to be eating really well for the next 4 days. Our chef, Fred, apparently is an electrician and ranch-hand by trade, but his skill on the grill and in the kitchen are rather good too. If cooking isn’t his primary vocation, he must be a hell of an electrician. Grilled chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and fresh strawberry pie. My god. The food here was amazing.

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That brought us to the end of our NM travel day. It was time for a sundowner, a little reading, and getting a good night’s sleep to be ready for the real start of the adventure.

July 7, 2020

Tuesday morning, we were up early, and we decided to talk a walk back to Wall Lake. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by nature. We met the local herd of elk for the 1st time and got to see the sunrise in the valley. We got back and had plenty of time to enjoy coffee, get cleaned up and get dressed for breakfast. Breakfast was another masterpiece by Fred…plenty of fuel for the day ahead. We were going to need it.

Our riding day started at 9:45, with “ground school.” We needed to meet the horses, get some basic instruction, and go through the safety briefing. I met my 1st horse, Rooster, and C met her 1st mount, Blue. Ground school took a little while to get all 8 of us mounted and comfortable, but by a little before 11, we were headed out on our 1st ride. That ride took us out to the road, back up to the lake, and down into Taylor Creek Canyon. We rode along the Creek, back into the Canyon. It was a beautiful ride and a relatively simple break-in to get used to the saddle. We got back in time to take a little break before lunch.

Fred had lunch ready for us. It was a simple menu of fresh grilled burgers, mac and cheese and fresh fruit. It was delicious. Honestly, after the 1st ride and lunch, I’d have been happy with a nap. Fortunately, that wasn’t going to happen.

By 2, we were back in the saddle again. We switched routes with the other group and headed up into the high country for the afternoon. During this ride, we saw a Mimbres pit house and a cliff dwelling. Meris pointed out Mimbres pottery shards that has been collected on some boulders along the trail. This ride didn’t follow any water, so it was hotter and very dusty, but it was still a beautiful ride. It was a lot of fun. The ride wasn’t too long, but it was long enough to enjoy and to get comfortable on the horse. We were back by late afternoon and had time to get cleaned up and rest before dinner.

Dinner was a Caesar salad, fresh trout, Brussel sprouts, and rice, followed by the biggest serving of crème Brule that I have ever seen. Soooooo goooood! Cocktails on the deck, rest, reading, and relaxation. Time to recharge for the next day.

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July 8, 2020

Wednesday was our 2nd full day on the Ranch. Based on Tuesday’s rides, Meris and Seth offered us the opportunity to have our lunches packed as a picnic and go out for full-day ride. We couldn’t say no to that. Breakfast was massive stacks of flapjacks with sausage and fruit. Lots of fuel for a full day in the saddle. We packed out our gear and got ready to. We were down at the corral and getting the horses by 10:30. C and I were paired with Philip again and we rode with Seth in the morning. We headed down to the road, and back up to Taylor Creek. This time we went upstream into the Canyon, headed for the picnic spot. After a good ride, we made it to the spot. The horses were tied out and the saddle bags were unpacked. The other group rode in right behind us. We had time to enjoy lunch, play in the Creek and stretch our legs. After lunch, Meris invited us to go exploring the Canyon. We went scrambling up the canyon walls to find some Mimbres cliff dwellings. She pointed out to us how they had been modified by the Basque shepherds that came after them with stone walls. We saw Mimbres pictographs and pot shards. The largest cave that we saw contained the remnants of a Basque fireplace, bedframe, and table. It was so cool to share these discoveries.

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After exploring, we opted to take the short ride back to the Ranch. We went straight back along the Creek, without climbing out of the Canyon. That put us back at the Ranch in time to brush down the horses, get cleaned up and relax before dinner. I took the opportunity to chat across the porch with Philip. He shared some of his New Mexico microbrew beers with me. It was nice to socialize with someone new. The other crew came in a little after us.

Fred outdid himself with this dinner. He prepared roasted pork shank seasoned with prickly pear cactus, spaghetti squash, and roasted potatoes. The teenage son of the family that was at the ranch with us was celebrating a birthday, so desert was chocolate birthday cake. SO… MUCH…FOOD!

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After dinner, we sat at the tables socializing. The sun went down, and the stars came out. I’d forgotten how bright the stars are in the mountains of the southwest. Shooting stars streaked across the sky. It was a beautiful night.

July 9, 2020

Thursday was our last full day on the Ranch. C and I were up early again. We wanted to go see the waterfall between Wall Lake and Taylor Creek. We walked to the waterfall in time for the sunrise and walked down to the creek to take some pictures. On the way, we saw a massive herd of elk. It was so large; we didn’t see the beginning and the end at the same time. Then we headed back to the Ranch for another full day. Breakfast was organic fresh bacon, eggs, and hash browns.

We headed down to the corral and met our new mounts. I switched to Jasper and C switched to Casey. We headed back upstream in Taylor Creek Canyon. This time we pushed on and went through “The Narrows.” The Canyon pitched to the width of a room and the water in the Creek was almost up to the horses’ bellies. It was like being in an old-fashioned western movie.

Today was another picnic day, so this ride brought us to a sandy, shady knoll along the creek. The horses were tied off under a stand of trees. Meris and Seth broke out hammocks and strung them under the trees. We played in the stream. Some of the group did a little swimming. C and I carried our sandwiches across the creek to a flat rock under a shade tree. After lunch and cooling down, we climbed up to the top of the bluff to look up and down the Canyon in both directions. We could see the Forks of Taylor and Hoyt Creeks and the remote corrals from the neighboring ranch. The whole day was beautiful and serene. It was so much fun. After the picnic, our whole group rode back to the Ranch together. After we brushed down the horses, it was time to unwind.

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We had time for a cocktail on the porch and to get cleaned up. This dinner was a massive steak with corn and a potato. Seth shared with us that all of the beef (this steak and the burger) is locally grown on the neighboring ranch. They barter services with their neighbor, and he provides them with beef in exchange. That beef feeds the Ranch. After dinner, it was time for a campfire with our fellow guests and the Ranch staff. It was beautiful.

07/10/2020

Friday was our day to return to some type of reality. We slept in because we could. Once we got up, it was time for coffee and breakfast. Breakfast was incredible again. Eggs and beef hash. After breakfast, it was time to pack. We got all of our stuff together and back into the car. We were ready to get back on the road by about 10:30. We said our goodbyes and got under way.

We took our time, meandering back to Albuquerque. We stopped off in Socorro for a quick lunch and pressed on, back to the Airport Hotel. Once we got checked back in and settled, we had to go run a couple of errands. That night, we drove out of the City and went to visit with my Dad’s childhood friend. Tom and his wife Cyndi entertained and fed us and showed us some southwestern hospitality. After dinner, we got back to the hotel. It had to be an early night. We had an early morning coming up.

07/11/2020

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Saturday, we had to get up early. World Balloons was picking us up in front of the Hotel at 5:15. We met our ride and headed out to the edge of the City. We watched the Pilot and the Chase Crew assemble our balloon and burner and fill the balloon envelope.

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By 6:30 we were airborne and headed off for a Sunrise Champagne Balloon Ride. We traveled over Albuquerque, dipped the Rio Grande, and rode the air current for an hour. After a peaceful and uneventful landing, we went back the start for mimosas, snacks, and a brief ceremony. It was a really fun morning. They brought us back to the Hotel. We had a nice breakfast, then headed upstairs to catch up on our sleep. That ended up being a long nap.

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When we woke up, we went out for a late lunch and some local beers. Then we returned the rental car and headed back to the Hotel. We did our laundry, went through all of our pics for the week, shared some cocktails and put on the UFC. Then it was time to get some rest, so we could make our trip home.

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07/12/2020

Sunday was our travel day home. It was uneventful and we made it back safe and healthy.

That’s as quick and easy as I could tell this story. Sorry it is so long. Until next time…

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

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Episode 32: New Adventure, New Opportunity (The COVID Chronicles Continue)

May 25, 2020img_1473

Good Monday evening VFOT friends, fans, and followers. This blog post was actually due yesterday, but as I started planning it, I deliberately decided to delay it. You see, today is Memorial Day 2020, and this Holiday weekend has been unlike any that I’ve ever experienced…unlike any most of us have experienced. I wanted to write this today.

I’m going to apologize upfront, because I’m going to deviate from the normal organization of these entries, and I’m probably going to go on a little longer than usual. I’m sorry.

Today is Memorial Day. It’s a day that many recognize as the unofficial start of the summer season. It is a day off from work and a day to hold family celebrations with cookouts in the yard, on the beach, or at the lake. However, that is not what Memorial Day is about. Memorial Day is the day that we pause to remember the Fallen members of our Armed Forces…those who paid the last full measure in service of our great nation. Today is a day to pay respect and homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect the rights and privileges that allow us to gather and enjoy those celebrations that I mentioned above. We should never forget their service and sacrifice…and we should never forget what their losses bought for us.

I never served on active duty. My time in uniform was cut short, as I’ve explained in earlier posts. However, in the brief time that I did serve, I lost 2 members of my Company. Neither was lost in combat, but service in uniform is inherently dangerous even in peace time and losses are constant. I’ve been following my classmates’ social media posts this weekend and the roll calls of our Fallen Shipmates that they’ve been posting has been heart-wrenching. At least one of our classmates was killed in an insider terrorist attack on American soil. You just never know.

As I’ve been entertaining these thoughts, I’ve had to balance them with the changes that the ongoing pandemic have required. No parades, no Memorial Service, no large-scale gatherings…just continued physical distancing and family isolation. Protective measures against the virus have made this year’s recognition of Memorial Day completely different, and it requires some reflection.

As we enter the 3rd month of this new reality, our Nation is deeply divided. Our elected officials, aspiring politicians, and citizens on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of most issues disagree about the virulence of the virus, the re-opening of the economy, our right to assemble, attending worship, and dozens of other positions. I think that on Memorial Day, it is important to remember that our rights to hold these divergent opinions is exactly what our Fallen Servicemembers fought and died to protect. As I’ve reflected this weekend, my fear is that many of them would be deeply disappointed in us if they could see how were behaving.

I don’t want this to be a political post. I just want to offer a suggestion. Whatever your beliefs on any of these (or any other) issues, remember that those on the other side enjoy the exact same rights to their opinions and beliefs. Disagreement is not a license to lose our civility. Polite and respectful discourse can still occur even when we disagree with someone. This is what our honored Fallen gave their lives to defend. We, as a nation, owe them better than we’re offering right now. We can do better.

Pro-Reading

I finished Fortitude. I liked that one very much. I’m still working on dare to lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work.

Other Reading

I need to step out of serious reading for a little while. I decided to pull on of Captain Richard Marcinko’s novel off the shelf and re-visit it. My bedtime reading has been Rogue Warrior: Designation Gold (Marcinko, Richard and Weisman, John. Rogue Warrior: Designation Gold.1997. New York: Pocket Books.)

Other Learning Opportunities

The 1st week of this period was Police Week and included National Peace Officer Memorial Day. Obviously, we couldn’t hold our traditional events and ceremonies. Instead, I video recorded my prepared remarks. I was able to upload them to YouTube, then share them with the staff at Pittsfield Community Television and they were able to broadcast them. It was a bit of a learning curve.

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I’ve continued accessing remote learning opportunities for Jiu-jitsu. I added a grappling dummy to my gear to add another element to these classes.

On Tuesday night, we got called out for an Officer Involve Shooting. That derailed that night and most of the next day, but my team pulled together and even though we were restricted to remote meetings, we got through all the required follow up appointments for our personnel utilizing Zoom. I’m very proud of my team for pulling together for that.

As all of this was ramping up, my work social media accounts were frozen, due to a faulty setting in the parent account. Troubleshooting this issue and eventually fixing it by creating new pages and linking them to other accounts was brain-numbing. I got through it and learned a little bit in the process.

FUN

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We’ve continued to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves and each other. Date nights have been about picking great local restaurants for take-out or enjoying homemade pizza. The conversation prompt cards have been getting a workout. We’ve gotten out for some fun walks or hikes.

I’ve logged a few good rucks and some nice flexibility and mobility workouts. The other thing that I’ve managed to do during these unusual times was take care of some outstanding chores that had piled up over the winter. The garage and the shop are looking good right now.

Today, I took the opportunity to sleep in and enjoy some reading. After coffee and the news, it was time to get a workout in. I carried my gear out onto the deck and did a combined flexibility/mobility and strength/conditioning workout in the sun. After that, we went out for a start of summer ice cream. Then we came home, and I cooked burgers on the grill as our Holiday meal. Now, the sun has set, the weekend is coming to a close and it’s time to start focusing on the coming week.

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That’s more than enough for now. Be well. Be healthy. See you soon.

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

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Installment 16: New Adventure, New Opportunity

Happy Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. It’s the 3rd Sunday in September, and that means it’s a football afternoon. The Pats are in Miami and right now they’re up 37-0, so that’s a pretty good thing. This has been an insane couple of weeks, with a lot going on. Where should I start.

Pro-Reading 

I finally managed to get through Grit, by Duckworth. That was definitely worthwhile. Her premise is that persistence and determination often matter more than raw talent. Her arguments are compelling and I got a lot out of this book. I’d recommend this one to anyone.

We’ve actually been away on vacation, so I didn’t start another pro-reading title yet. With some upcoming changes, it might be a little while.

Other Reading 

I finished reading 12 Strong again, and moved onto Murphy’s Law by Jack Murphy (Murphy, Jack. (2019). Murphy’s Law. New York, NY: Threshold Editions.) I really enjoyed that one. While traveling, I listened to Jocko review Outlaw Platoon, by Sean Parnell (Parnell, Sean. (2012). Outlaw Platoon. New York, NY: Harper Collins.), so I loaded that one onto my Kindle to take to the beach. That is an amazing book, about the 10th Mountain Division and a deployment to Afghanistan. Pick that one up.

I’m still flipping through Lethal Force and the Objectively Reasonable Officer. 

Other Learning Opportunities 

I wrapped up the final sessions of the CRASE training for city employees. I also had the opportunity to present to the City’s Citizens’ Academy on the structure and staffing of the Department.

While we were planning for our vacation, I took a call from a colleague looking for coverage for a leadership class at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy. That was a good opportunity, so I took it. It was an honor to spend a day with some motivated, young police supervisors. We had to overcome some logistical challenges to get it done, but we prevailed.

I’ve also had the opportunity to cover some Jiu-Jitsu classes over the past couple of weeks, and that’s always a boost.

While we were traveling, I managed to get all set up and registered for my 1st Grad School class, so I guess I’m really starting my doctoral program. I’m a little nervous.

FUN 

Our date night during the 1st week was improvised. We wanted to hit Firefly, but they were closed. So, we walked up to Nudel and managed to snag a couple of seats at the counter. The food there is always so good. After dinner, we walked across the street to Brava, for a glass of wine and some chocolate. Delicious.

After the Rhode Island class, it was time to get down to some serious vacation. C had managed to find us a beautiful, little AirBnB. It was literally a 2-minute walk over a sand dune to the beach. Score! So, Tuesday evening we played tourist and had a great dinner at The Coast Guard House. Wednesday, we enjoyed a perfect beach day, getting some sun, doing some reading, and smelling the salt-air. We were long overdue. Wednesday night, we went into town for dinner at The Mews Tavern. Thursday was a little cool and overcast, so, we made our annual trek to Newport to check out the sites. That was a fun day. That night, we had dinner with a colleague and her husband at a new place, Trio. It was a great trip. img_0139

Friday was our turnaround day. We traveled home, did the laundry and slept in our own bed. Yesterday, we traveled over to Rhinebeck, NY to attend the wedding of 2 great friends. I’ve never been to a wedding that rated the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. Wow!  img_0164

Well, that’s quite a bit and this is running long, so that’s probably enough for this one. Until next time.

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

 

 

Episode 66: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Fall is here, new opportunities, new housemate, new dining options)

September 26, 2021 

Good Sunday evening VFOT friends and followers. This blog post is fully a week late. No simple oversight like last time. I legitimately was unable to find the time to write it. No excuses. This was entirely on me. I will attempt to offer an explanation a little later, but I won’t make excuses. I’m sorry for my failure to plan and manage my time better. Anyway, it’s Fall here in western Massachusetts. The nights are getting cooler, and the leaves are starting to change. It is a season of change. That goes for me too.  

Pro-Reading 

I’m still plugging away at A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present. 2003. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.) I probably should have said this earlier. This is a massive book. It’s larger than most of the history textbooks that I had in college. This one is going to take a while. I’ve made it through the Spanish-American War, and now am in the expansion of the Labor movement and the growth of socialism in the early 1900s. This is not a fun book. It is educational and provocative. I’m learning quite a bit, and I thought I was pretty strong on U.S. History.  

Other Reading 

I finished Honed, by Dr. Mike Simpson. Doc is a Green Beret and former SF medic who went to med school, then went back to the community as a trauma and ED doc. He’s retired, but he stays in the game as a trainer and SWAT medic. He also trains in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. He has made a study of what older athletes need to do to maximize both longevity and performance. Honed is essentially his prescription for how to maintain your edge as you enter middle age. I can’t do an adequate summary in this space, so you’ll have to get the book. However, I can say that he addresses nutrition, fitness, sleep, supplement and a ton of other stuff. This is a great book. If you’re over 40 and you take your training seriously, you should read this one.  

Other Learning Opportunities 

2 weeks ago, we were supposed to be traveling to New Orleans for the IACP Conference. That didn’t happen. I was disappointed, because that is always a great training opportunity. Oh, well…next year. 

On the 15th, I had the opportunity to present a session to the Mayor’s Office Citizens Academy. The participants visited us at the station, heard from a couple of our special units and toured the facility. I’m always pleased when residents actually see the deplorable conditions that we work in.  

On Monday, the 20th, we had an unbelievable opportunity. A local philanthropist, who has been very generous to county public safety, provided 2 leadership sessions with Lieutenant Jason Redman. Lt. Redman is a former Navy SEAL, who was critically wounded. His journey back is an incredible story of discipline and resiliency. We were blessed to have this opportunity and I was fortunate to have been able to sit through both sessions.  

On Wednesday, I traveled to the Boylston Academy to present to the annual Animal Control Officers’ Academy. I always enjoy this session.  

I’ve managed to keep up with my jiu-jitsu and still dabble in Muay Thai straight through this period.  

The other big learning opportunity is that I’m back in school. If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning, you know that I tried this in 2019. I started the course work toward my EdD in Organizational Leadership. That didn’t work out. I just wasn’t a good match for the program. It didn’t speak to me. This year, I decide to try something different. After checking out a couple of programs, I decide to try my hand at a 2nd Master’s degree. A couple of weeks ago, I started the course work toward a Master’s in Military and Emergency Responder Psychology. When I first registered, I felt like I was in a really good place personally and professionally. Starting the course work seemed manageable. As soon as my 1st class opened up, my work schedule went straight to shit. So, needless to say, the last couple of weeks have been a struggle of trying to squeeze study time in and get assignments submitted on time. I’ve made some adjustments to my schedule and built some study time right into my calendar, so this week was better. It’s going to be a lift, but I’ve got this.  

Some Stuff About Me 

I’m not going to go into any detail in this post, but I had a pretty frightening experience a couple of weeks ago. It was scary for me and scary for C. she was concerned enough that she asked me to discuss it with my therapist. I did. First off, I’m fine. What I’ve learned through this is that the more work I do on my mental health and well-being, the more likely it is that I’m going to unearth some more difficult stuff and have more of these experiences. The difference is that now, with the work I’ve done over the past several years, I have the tools to recognize it for what it is, stop, make note of it, and then deal with it in an appropriate way. I don’t have to wall it off, bottle it up, or drown it. I have resources.  

FUN 
 I’d say the most fun thing that has occurred in the pasts several weeks is that the PD took custody of our new comfort dog. Comfort dog Officer Winston is a 16-week-old Standard Poodle puppy. Due to an unanticipated hiccup in the plan, we’re fostering Officer Winston. He’s been with us for just over a week…and he is awesome.  

For date night a couple of weeks ago, we tried a new Downtown restaurant. RJ’s is a new seafood, steak and chop house. We had a great experience there and I’m looking forward to going back.  

3 weeks ago, we started going to church again. We hadn’t been since C started her doctorate. We got the time wrong, so we were an hour early. We went next door and had a nice breakfast at Otto’s, then made it to church. We’ve been each week since. It feels good to have this back in our lives.  

Last week’s date night was a bit of a disaster. I had 2 virtual meetings that were going to go into the evening. The 2nd one went late. By the time I made it upstairs C had ordered takeout from District. It was a nice dinner, but I felt really bad that I’d screwed that up.  

Last weekend, Jules was in town. We picked her up Saturday afternoon after a full training morning. We took her to Home Range and then to a lovely dinner at District. It was nice to catch up with her.  

On Tuesday, Chuck M was in town to inspect his BEARCat, prior to delivery. I met him and his partner, Mark, for dinner at Patrick’s. I hadn’t seen him since my last Safariland conference, so that was awesome.  

This week’s date night was Thistle & Mirth. I love their ramen. This is such a nice addition to our local dining scene. I’m glad that they’re here.  

Yesterday, I trained in the morning, then ran a couple of errands to get ready for last evening. I managed to surprise C with a small gathering of friends to celebrate her birthday. We got a private table at Proprietor’s and were joined by 6 of our friends. She was surprised and it was a lovely time. Happy Birthday to my Bride! 

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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 65–New Adventure, New Opportunity (Origin Camp, return to normal life, reconnecting at home)

September 5, 2021 

Good Sunday evening, VFOT fans and followers. It is the Sunday of the Labor Day Holiday weekend. We started the weekend with a visit from the in-laws. We took them to the Home Range winery yesterday afternoon, followed by a lovely dinner (more on that later). This morning, we prepared a nice breakfast and sent them on their way. It’s been a rainy, dreary day here, so mostly I’ve spent it resting and relaxing.  

Pro-Reading 

I’m making steady progress on A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present. 2003. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.) Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read about the farm riots in upstate NY against the landowning patroons, the draft riots that occurred in major cities during the civil war and the westward expansion of the railroads. Now I’m reading about the robber barons and the growth of the first industrialists. It’s a very different perspective on our shared histories.  

Other Reading 

I finished Fire, and downloaded Honed, by Dr. Mike Simpson. However, before I started that title, I decided to re-read Breathe, by Rickson Gracie. It felt appropriate to revisit it while I was at the Origin Camp. I’m almost done with it for the second time. I’m looking forward to starting Honed. 

Other Learning Opportunities 

Of course, my biggest learning opportunity of the past 2 weeks was the 7 days that I spent at the Origin Immersion Camp in Mt. Vernon, ME. That was an amazing week, but it was also exhausting and humbling. I have to say that spending the entire week, instead of just a few days caused me to face my age. Camp is built around 3 training sessions each day. I just don’t recover quickly anymore. Making it to 3 sessions a day meant that I had to be deliberate and choosy in in how much live rolling I did. I wanted to attend all the educational sessions, so I had to cut back on sparring. It was a stark realization.  

Camp started on Sunday night with the 1st scheduled training session. That was mind-blowing. Professor Ricardo Liborio introduced us to the concepts of the week. Grips, Levels, Distance, and Angles. Position, Transition, then Submission. It’s all about the details. On Monday we started with guard passes and ended with the first Q&A. Tuesday, we hit it hard again. By Tuesday evening, the west coast crew made it in after their changed flights. Wednesday was our scheduled rest day, but I did do a little live rolling, plus a 1-on-1 tutorial for Ray with DeDeco. I also did a shoulder mobility workout with a doctor of physical therapy. That was eye-opening. On Thursday, I got a roll in with newly promoted black belt, B-Little. The day ended with a clinic by Dean Lister on straight ankle locks. Friday was another full training day. We did both gi and no-gi, then I attended a session on bottom ½ guard with a modified knee shield. By Saturday, I was beat up on. I attended the morning session and the afternoon, Q&A, but by the time the evening open mat rolled around, I was ready for bed. I was in the rack by 2040. Sunday morning was breakfast with John Milan and packing out the gear for the trip home. It was another long travel day.  

Last week, I was back to a regular work week. The only training opportunity, besides my own jiu-jitsu training was on Tuesday morning, when I provided a Use of Force training for my fellow POST Commissioners. That went very well. 

Some Stuff About Me 

Occasionally I suffer from impostor syndrome, particularly when it I find myself surrounded by people who are far better than me at something. That happened when I was at Camp. Walking into a large gym full of young, fit and aggressive jiu-jitsu players I suddenly found myself questioning my own abilities. Getting into some live rolls with some very good purple belts and even some very talented blue belts added to my anxiety. Having a couple of bad rolls in the heat and humidity had me questioning why I was even there.  

However, by Wednesday, I managed to pull my head out. The point was that I was there. I’d gone through a lot of trouble to get there to learn and improve my jiu-jitsu. How I was doing in the rolls was irrelevant. All that mattered was that I was training the way that I wanted to and getting better…and I was. I’m only in competition with the person that I was yesterday.  

FUN  

Since I’ve been home, we had some catching up to do. Wednesday was Date Night. We started with cocktails at District, then headed over to try the fare at the new Flat Burger Society. On Friday, we had dinner with friends at The Proprietor’s Lodge. Last night, we took the in-laws to Trattoria Rustica, for a fabulous dinner and amazing desserts. After dinner we headed home for a fire and cocktails. It has been a pretty awesome week.  

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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 64: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Time at the beach and now a week on the mats)

August 22, 2021 

Happy Sunday evening VFOT friends and followers. It’s a little late in the day for me to be posting, but it has been a long, eventful travel day and I’m typing this post from the Maine woods. More on that later, but for now, I’ve got a little down time before I gear up for a training session and I’m not sure I’ll be able to access a device once the sun goes down, so it is time to get some writing done.  

Pro-Reading 

I’m still working on A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present. 2003. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.)  The book doesn’t progress in strict chronological order, I got through the beginning of the post-emancipation period. Before I started vacation, I left off with the western expansion and the Trail of Tears. It’s been over a week, so I don’t have much more to report on that.  

Other Reading 

While we were at the beach, I knocked out the end of War. I went right from that to Rickson Gracie’s new book, Breathe: A Life Spent in Flow. Man…I loved that book. What a fascinating life. After I finished Breathe, I moved onto Sebastian Junger’s Fire. That was amazing too. The timing wasn’t ideal…it has a lot of essays about Afghanistan, but it was a great book.  

I’m back to an action novel on my Kindle for this trip. Too much other stuff going on for anything heavy.  

Other Learning Opportunities 

The past 2 weeks haven’t presented a lot of opportunities for learning and training. We did run one good Supervisory Roundtable. On the other hand, I did find an academic program that I might want to pursue. I’m waiting to see how that works out.  

Some Stuff About Me 

I’m going to hold off on anything revealing about me this time. I’m in Maine to train. I don’t want to get analytical.  

FUN  

The most fun is that last week C and I were at the beach in Rhode Island for 4 days. It was a blast. 2 full, beautiful days on the beach, plus 1 more, short afternoon. 1 full day in Newport exploring and sampling. We came home on Friday and headed right to a fundraising gala for the museum. Yesterday was a full travel prep day. 

Today, I was up early and packing out. I changed my travel route to swing through Portland. I raced Tropical Storm Henri east and north, made it to the airport by 2:30. Met and picked up my new friend Jacob at PWM after his cross-country flights. We got gas and snacks and headed to Camp. We made it here by about 3:30. Then it was time to move into the cabin, find the wifi, get some dinner and get ready to train. I’ve got about an hour before our 1st session. 

So greetings from Origin Immersion Camp, here in beautiful, Vernon, ME. I’m recording some videos of the trip, so you might see some of that footage in the next installment.  

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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.” 

Comments Off on Episode 64: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Time at the beach and now a week on the mats) Posted in Development, Learning, Training

Episode 63–New Adventure, New Opportunity (Fun new books, dog days of summer, recognizing when I’m off my game)

August 8, 2021

Happy Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. I’m having a bit of a rough weekend. There have been a couple of strange things going on. I’ll get into that more later. However, it is a beautiful, sunny, and hot day here in WMass. I haven’t gotten out to enjoy it yet, but I will. Well, let’s get started.

Pro-Reading

I’m continuing to make progress on A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present. 2003. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.)  The book doesn’t progress in strict chronological order, so now we’re in the pre-Civil War south and examining pre-emancipation slavery and the immediate aftermath of emancipation and what that meant for prior slaves. I found it amazing to read the sections about freemen and newly emancipated slaves making their way to the South Carolina barrier islands. I’ve been there, and my ancestral surname is very common there. It felt like a glimpse into my family history.  

Other Reading

I finished reading The Trident, by Lt. Jason Redman. Coincidentally, right after I finished it, I had a phone conversation with the lieutenant. We’ve scheduled him to come provide some training to some of our personnel in September. I’m really looking forward to that.

I quickly made my way through Sebastian Junger’s Freedom. I immediately rolled out of that into War. I’m about a third of the way through that one. Picking up these 3 titles means that I’ve continued to defer Zebras and On Spiritual Combat. I’ll get back to them soon.

Other Learning Opportunities

It is certainly mid-summer. Training is kind of in a lull. I’ve participated in some webinars about some prospective community engagement projects. I also traveled down to the Academy for a program update with the Commonwealth’s Use of Force Coordinator. Other than that, it has been a slow couple of weeks.

Over the past several months, I’ve been doing some studying about “Stop the Bleed” training and trauma casualty care in a civilian environment. As a result of this studying, I decided to invest in more trauma care supplies to keep around the house, in the car, and in my backpacks. I’ve procured a couple of different kits to put into use.

Some Stuff About Me

A few years ago, when I was negotiating my contract, I held out for some concessions based on my experiences under the 2 previous administrations. Most of them had to do with professional development and travel. However, 1 of them was an effort to provide myself some degree of insurance in the event of psychological casualties. Basically, what I did was have crisis leave written into the contract language. Essentially, it extended the same degree of protection that we’d provided to our officers on to me, in the event of a stress response to acute or cumulative trauma.

It’s been in my contract for several years. I haven’t used it yet. In the past 6 weeks, I’ve come close a few times. On more than 1 occasion in the past month and a half, I’ve found myself sitting on the couch late at night with my phone in my hand, getting ready to send a 2-word text message: “Crisis Leave.” I’ve never hit send. Maybe I’ll explain why in a later blog post.

Anyway, the last time I went through a period like this, I didn’t have the language and skills to recognize what was happening and to describe it. This time I do. The downside of that, is because I can see it and talk about it, it can be frightening to C. When I told her that I was in a bad headspace and was holding tightly on the edge, she got worried. I hate doing that to her, but I’m glad that I’ve learned to recognize what is happening.

One of the indicators that I’ve learned to recognize that I’m getting overwhelmed is when I lose control of my calendar. We’ve had a lot of people on time off and moving in a lot of different directions. We’ve got a bunch of programs going on and there have been some muddled communications. As a result, on Friday morning, I missed a very important meeting. That was the clue that I needed to pay more attention to what was going on with me.

By Friday evening, I felt like I was doing ok. I trained in the early evening class and went home for a relaxing night. Things felt normal. However, yesterday morning, things went a little sideways. I was at the dojo for the youth class, and I started feeling light-headed. I made it through the skills and the game. By the end of class, as I started getting ready for my class, it had gotten worse. When I went outside to the car, I knew that I was in trouble. I let my Professor know that I wasn’t feeling well and carefully made my way home. I hydrated with some electrolyte solution and climbed into bed. I read and slept for a couple of hours.

In the afternoon, we had plans to attend a couple of different social events. By the time we made it home for dinner, I was back in a funk. C convinced me to turn in early and get a good night’s sleep. I let my fire burn down low and headed to bed.

I’m ok. I’m just slightly overwhelmed. There is so much going on. We have some leave coming up and it’s overdue. The plus side is that at this point in my journey, I now have the language and the skills to recognize and talk about what I’m going through. This is a much better place to be than I’ve been in the past.

FUN

Well, that was another dark episode. Time to reintroduce some light into the conversation.

The last 2 weeks have been marked by the Summer Olympics, so we’ve watched a lot of Olympic events instead of normal television or streaming. That’s been a lot of fun. The makeup games were fascinating, and I actually learned a lot about different sports.

A couple of months ago, C asked me to consider replacing the old Weider Crossbow fitness machine in my office with a traditional rack and some free weights. After checking out some stuff online, I picked a bench and a rack/cage and an Olympic bar. Over the past couple of weeks, they were delivered. We took the old machine apart and carried it out and brought in the new parts and built them. It’s a good upgrade.

Last weekend, we traveled out east to the in-laws for the summer barbecue. We celebrated spring birthdays, met Ainsley for the 1st time and caught up with her cousins, aunts, and uncles. It was a nice time.

This week I booked my camp travel and the travel for fall training. On Tuesday, I was at work for National Night Out. It was a small re-introduction, but we pulled it off. I was happy with what we accomplished.

We’ve had a couple of interesting date nights. I’m not going to get into the 1st one, because that was a little frustrating. This week we went to Shire Breu-Haus for dinner, then to Thistle & Mirth for a cocktail. Shire was hosting a trivia night. That got a little loud, so we decided to get out of there. It was an interesting night.

Today, I’ve done some chores, maintained my training equipment, and cleared out several old gis. Now it’s time to plan for next week and get my head back in the game. We’ve got a big week ahead, and then it’s time for some annual leave.

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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 62–New Adventure, New Opportunity (New titles, summer fun, reconnecting with friends)

July 25, 2021

Good Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. Today has been a weird weather day, here in the Berkshires. It rained hard overnight and this morning. It has cleared up since, but it’s still overcast, and everything is wet. This seemed like a good day to catch up on some indoor chores. I’ve been slowly puttering around, but I’ve gotten a bunch done. One of the biggest accomplishments was probably culling my t-shirt collection and disposing of some older, infrequently worn ones to make room for some recent acquisitions.

Pro-Reading

I’ve been plugging away at A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present. 2003. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.)  I had some travel this week, so I missed a couple of days, but it’s going well. I’m in the middle of the Industrial Revolution and reading about the Women’s Labor movement and the beginnings of Women’s Suffrage. This is heavy stuff. More to come on this as I progress.

Other Reading

I blew through Medusa and had to pick some new titles. I’d learned from a recent installment of the Brass & Unity Podcast that Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman had recently released a new book, On Spiritual Combat. I downloaded that and got started on it. I’m really enjoying it, but its format doesn’t lend itself to short bursts throughout the course of the day. I’m still working through it, but I needed another title just to have handy.

Based on a recent conversation about scheduling some training next month, I decided to revisit The Trident, by Lt. Jason Redman. I’m just about finished reading this for the 2nd time. Man, I missed a whole bunch of stuff the 1st time through. I’m enjoying this re-read…and I’m really hoping that I get to meet Lt. Redman.

On top of those titles, I also learned about a couple of Sebastian Junger’s recent titles, including War and Freedom.  So, I downloaded both of those onto my Kindle…just to have them available.

Other Learning Opportunities

In addition to my “normal” training routines, I had a new and unique opportunity this week. A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a good friend. He wanted to put me in touch with the criminal justice program manager at a nearby college. After making contact, the program manager explained to me that they were working with a local police department on professional development for 1st line supervisors. After a couple of conversations, I was asked if I would consider putting together a custom leadership seminar for small groups of new sergeants. I was happy to agree.

This Tuesday and Wednesday, I delivered the 1st round of this seminar to 10 relatively new sergeants. It appears to have been a success. The plan is to offer the same seminar to 2 more groups in September and October.

1st custom supervisors’ course for SPD.

Some Stuff About Me

I’m not going to revisit the discussion from the previous blog. Let’s lighten this up a bit. I was recently telling a story about my stepfather to a friend. I’m going to repeat that story for you.

When I was a young boy, my stepfather was a long-haul trucker. He was what the industry described as an owner-operator. He owned his own tractors and a couple of trailers. Sometimes he hauled his own trailers, loaded with cargo. Sometimes, he would drop a trailer, hook up to someone else’s trailer and head to another destination warehouse. While he hauled a lot of different stuff, his mainstay was produce out of California back to the east coast, and frozen foods between the US and Canada. At various times, he tried his hand at a bunch of other stuff. For one long period, he and his team were hauling toys for KayBee Toy and Hobby to open all of their expansion stores.

One summer, when both my brother and I were in elementary school, my mom and stepfather came up with a plan. We were going to go to California to visit Disneyland. However, we weren’t going to travel out there like a normal family and fly. Instead, we were going to travel across the country and back in the truck. We loaded up our bags with clothes and books and games and threw our bags into the sleeper. Then we were off.

My mom, brother and I would take turns in the passenger seat. The others would sit or sleep in the sleeper compartment. On that trip, I had the best fried chicken of my life at a place called Ray’s Roost in Kentucky. We saw amazing landmarks all across the country. Ray pointed out a fort on the side of the highway that had been the set of the 70’s sitcom, F-Troop. We drove through the Mojave Desert at night. Once we arrived in California, we dropped the trailer we were hauling. After getting a full night’s sleep, we drove to the parking lot of Disneyland…in the truck. We parked in the remote lot among the normal families’ RVs, then went and spent the day as a family in the happiest place on earth.

After that, we picked up another trailer and headed home.

That fall, when we went back to school, my brother had to write an essay on what he did that summer. He wrote about this trip. His teacher accused him of making it up and sent him to the principal’s office. What young child could have made that story up?

FUN

We’ve had quite a bit of fun in the past 2 weeks. Our 1st date night was at Proprietor’s Lodge. While we were there, we ran into some old friends who were celebrating their wedding anniversary. It was lovely to see them. After dinner, it was home for dancing and prompt cards.

Last weekend, we went to have dinner and cocktails with some friends who had been out of state for several weeks. We hadn’t seen them since early June, and it was nice to catch up with them again. After dinner, we played games with them and their daughters. It was a fun night.

This week for date night, we started with cocktails at District. After a delicious specialty cocktail, we walked next door for steamed buns and ramen at Thistle & Mirth. This was a beautiful and fun night.

Yummy Ramen!

On Friday night, I had an early Jits class. Originally, the plan was to spend a quiet evening at home. However, during the day, C had learned that our same friends from above had experienced a loss in their family. C decided that we should take the pup to visit them and provide a little canine therapy. That was a good call. It was another fun night.

Yesterday was a full training morning. Once I got home, the weather broke, and it turned into a beautiful summer day. I spent the afternoon reading on the back deck and soaking in the sun. C wanted to try out her new Ninja air-fryer, so she cooked, and we ate on the deck. Then we retired inside and watched the 1st day of the Summer Olympics.

Today has been household chores and catching up.

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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 61: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Travel, training, seafood on the deck, and building relationships)

July 12, 2021

Good evening VFOT friends and followers. This episode is late. It is Monday evening, rather than Sunday afternoon/evening. I’ll explain a little bit more about that later…well, hang on…I guess I’ll just do it here.

Yesterday was, technically, my last day of vacation. It didn’t end up being that much of a vacation, but we had some fun planned and by the time we got home, I just didn’t want to switch back into “work mode” again. Today was going to be a long day, and I wanted the evening to be uninterrupted. I think I made the correct decision.

Pro-Reading

After a slight delay, I finally picked a new pro-reading title. This one was also recommended by the friend who recommended the Coates’ title. However, this one is much more academic. The title of the book is A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States—1492-Present. 2003. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.) This volume is essentially a history textbook. I won’t say that it redefines or re-writes history. Instead, what it does is go back through the history of the Americas since Columbus’ landing and look at it from the perspectives of those residents who didn’t ordinarily get to write their history. So far, I’m up to the pre-Revolutionary colonial period. I’m enjoying this one very much. I’ll keep you posted as I get farther into it.

Other Reading

I’m thinking about pulling the pin on Zebras. I’m struggling with it and every time I read a couple of pages, I find myself wanting to throw it down. I’ll let you know if I get back on track with it.

I finished reading Seven Troop, by Andy McNabb (McNabb, Andy. Seven Troop. 2021. London: Welbeck Fiction Limited.) I loved this book. Like McNabb’s prior two autobiographies, this book is about his career in the British SAS. However, unlike the other two, this one is not focused on the adventures and operations. Instead, it focuses on the impacts and traumas of his career, and his fellow troopers. It really focuses on their fallen. He pays attention to those who were lost during operations, but also on those who took their own lives. This is a harrowing and vulnerable tale. I appreciate his openness and candor. This volume taught me a lot.

Once I finished Seven Troop, I needed to destress again, so I turned back to Clive Cussler. I downloaded Medusa, another of the novels in the Kurt Austin series. This one is fun and I’m enjoying it. Palette cleanser.

Other Learning Opportunities

During the 1st week of this period, I started with on online class on De-escalation. I know 1 of the 2 instructors pretty well. I’m not going to complain about the course. It just didn’t have a ton of new material. For a less experienced officer/trainer, it might have been great. I was a little bored.

Later that week, I had the chance to travel out east to visit the new Homeland Security Operations Center. I’m not going into any details about that visit, but it was pretty fascinating.

This week, as I said above, I was supposed to be off. That didn’t exactly go as planned. On Tuesday, I picked up an extra Muay Thai class and a jiu-jitsu class. That was awesome.

Wednesday, I slid into a morning Jits class before I had to go in for a meeting.

Thursday, I got in a short ruck march in the afternoon then slid into a jiu-jitsu class in the evening.

Friday morning, I sat down to start writing a draft document of a proposed police jiu-jitsu class. That evening, I picked up a fundamentals Jits class.

Saturday, I got to my normal training day. Helped coach the youth class, got in my regular Jits class, then rolled into Muay Thai. By that time, I was beat, so I called it a day at the dojo.

Some Stuff About Me

I lost my dad when I was very young. 8 days after my 3rd birthday, my younger brother was born. That night, my dad celebrated with his friends like 20-somethings did in the 70’s. Early the next morning, he wrapped his car around a tree and died. I’ve spent my entire life trying to learn how to deal with this loss. I’ve learned some things in the last several years about that night that I’d never known before. I’ve had men who were with him that night seek me out to apologize. This loss has affected every aspect of my life.

One of the positives that came out of that loss, was that it brought my stepfather into my life. I’m not going to get into details about how that came about, because it isn’t my story to tell. My stepfather has been one of the major influences in my life. He taught me the value of hard work, taught me to turn a wrench, introduced me to camping, boating, and swimming. He put me to work in his shop in middle school, high school, and college. He drove us across the country in a tractor trailer when I was in elementary school.

I saw my stepfather for a short visit recently. I know who he is, but he didn’t look like himself. Instead, he looked like my memories of his father, who was elderly when I met him. My stepfather is literally shuffling in the steps of his father, and for the 1st time in my life, I was struck by his age. He’s no longer the hearty and hale man I remember from my youth, manhandling engine blocks and transmissions. He looks old.

It finally hit me. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I’m going to have to face the inevitability of his mortality. Then, I’m going to lose my dad for the second time in my life. I’m much more capable of handling it this time, but I’m also completely aware of what I’m going to be losing this time. I’m not ready for this. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

FUN

Well, that was dark. Sorry. Let’s get to some fun.

Last Tuesday, I had to decide whether I was going to train or not. C was expecting a friend of ours for company. We hadn’t spent any time with her in a long time. I decided to stay home. We had a lovely takeout dinner from La Fogata, a few glasses of wine and watched some beautiful storms roll in from over the horizon. It was a lovely evening.

For date night, we headed down to south county for dinner at Rouge. We hadn’t been since before the pandemic, and this was an awesome night out. Tasty cocktails, delicious food. The conversations of our fellow diners were a little unusual, but all in all it was an amazing night.

Starting that Friday, we went into full-on holiday entertaining mode. On Friday, C had one of her work teams over for a small gathering on the deck. Food, fun, games, and libations. This was a fun group. Saturday, after training, we headed to a nearby farm for a work cookout. We spent a couple of hours with some of my colleagues and their families. That evening, we had 2 other couples and one of the couple’s 2 children. This was fun in a different way. We cracked crabs and crawfish and ate charbroiled oysters as we watched the fireflies. Sunday was Independence Day, we slept in. That afternoon, we headed to one of my training partner’s homes for their holiday cookout. On Monday, we returned the favor, had a couple more training partners over and tackled the rest of the crabs and crawfish out on that deck.

That was the beginning of my time off. I’ve already written about my extra training sessions.

For date night, C wasn’t feeling well. Instead of going out, we ordered takeout from District and settled in to watch movies. That’s a good date night choice too.

Saturday, I got my training in. After I got cleaned up, we headed to Balderdash for a glass of wine and to pick up our cellar club. It was busy, so after a glass, we headed over to Home Range Winery for a more relaxed experience. We shared a bottle of wine there. Then we headed home for another takeout dinner. This time from Arizona Pizza.

Sunday, we had to repair and replace some mats at the dojo. That took up a good chunk of the middle of the day. After that, we headed to the Beacon Cinema to check out the new Black Widow movie. Loved it! Then it was headed north to Ye Olde Forge for dinner.

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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 60: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Traveling, Reading, Learning, and Resting)

June 27, 2021 

Good sunny, Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. It is a beautiful summer day here in the Berkshires. Far too nice to spend any time in the basement writing and journaling. So, I grabbed the tablet and carried it out onto the back deck, where I had been sitting and getting some sun. I started my day with a really unique community engagement opportunity, but I’ll explain more about that later.  

I hope that you are all well and enjoying your summer so far.   

Pro-Reading  

I finally finished Between the World and Me, by Ta-nehisi Coates. I’ll be honest. I struggled with this. It’s a well written book and he is obviously a talented researcher and author. His lived experiences are heart-rending, and his perspective is important. However, as I stated in the last installment, I have a different perspective based on my lived experiences. I have rarely felt the fear he describes in this book. He has my sympathy.   

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Since I finished it earlier this week, I haven’t taken the time to select a new pro-reading volume yet.   

Other Reading  

My last update on other titles is still valid. I’ve made a little progress with Zebras, but not much. I finished my adventure novel, started a new audio book and then selected a new military autobiography to distract me.  I’m flipping between all of these and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. Slow progress indeed.   

Early last week, I was listening to an episode of the Order of Man Podcast, by Ryan Michler. In that episode, Mr. Michler was interviewing Matthew McConoughey about his new book, Greenlights. (McConoughey, Matthew. Greenlights. 2020. New York: Crown Publishing Group.) I had heard about this book earlier this year but had pretty much just ignored it. During the interview their discussion intrigued me, so I decided to get the audiobook version and give it a listen. I’m really glad that I did. While I’m usually very good at looking for opportunities, hearing these stories about how Mr. McConoughey learned to look for openings and seize them renewed my thoughts about this. It was a good listen. I recommend the audio verson, since he reads his own words and it’s like listening to stories around the campfire.  

When I finished that, I was searching for titles from authors that I’m already familiar wiith and I discovered a 3rd autobiographical title from Andy McNabb. Mr. McNabb is a retired British Special Air Service trooper and the author if Bravo Two Zero and Immediate Action. I just started his 3rdSeven Troop. I’ll let you know how this one goes.   

Other Learning Opportunities 

 I’m finally back to helping out with the youth classes at the dojo. During the pandemic, under the tightest health protocols, since I didn’t have a child in the class, I was staying away, just to cut down on possible vectors. With the Commonwealth re-opening, I’m allowed back in the room, and I had really missed that. It means that Saturdays start pretty early. It’s youth jiu-jitsu, then my regular class, then Muay Thai then open mat. It makes for a busy morning.  

This week I had to finish 2 more online in-service classes. The topics were Defensive Tactics and Domestic Terrorism. I’m not going to spend any time talking about these blocks. Pointless.   

On Monday night I listened to a podcast that featured my friend, Frank, and his wife. Frank is the Chief in Yarmouth. His wife is a rape survivor. Frank worked her case when he was a new detective. That was an amazing story, but it’s there’s to tell. It was a powerful interview. Moving.   

On Wednesday, we had a great Coffee With a Cop. We were in-person for the 1st time in 15 months. It was nice to be back.   

Thursday, we had a short Supervisory Round table to round out the quarter. We talked about police reform and where the department should be looking to shift. It’s a work in progress.    

Yesterday was a busy training day with jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and an Advanced Concepts seminar.   

Some Stuff About Me  

I’m a really poor swimmer. That’s not something most people would expect about me. I’ve been a lifeguard, an off-shore sailor, a SCUBA diver, and a SCUBA instructor. I’ve taken swim call in the middle of the Atlantic from a sailboat and in the Pacific from a gray hull. I’ve managed to do all of that and still not be very good in the water.   

I know most of the key strokes and can demonstrate them. I just expend a lot of energy to stay on top of the water. I tend to sink. This is so extreme that I can dive thin neoprene in fresh water with no additional weight. When I was instructing, I would put weight pouches in my BC pockets just so I could use them to weight students.  

I’m also very comfortable and confident in my equipment. I’ve performed real-world live rescues with my SCUBA rig on. No factor. I’ve also performed swimmer rescues with throw bags and by boat.   

None of this makes up for the fact that I’m a lousy swimmer. I’ve decided to take adult swimming lessons. This is a deficiency that I can correct. So, I will.   

FUN  

During the 1st week of this reporting period, I had to be in Boston for an early morning meeting, so I headed east the night before and spent the evening at my in-laws. They took great care of me, and we had fun.   

When I got home from my meeting, it was time for date night. We managed to sneak into Alta and snag a couple of seats at the bar, before the place filled up. We were joined at the bar by our friend, Cat, and her new friend. That was a fortuitous coincidence, and we all had a nice time. We probably won’t get dinner seating in Lenox again until fall.   img_0231

On Friday, we met our friend Lauren at Prime for another Lenox dinner. We hadn’t seen her since pre-pandemic and it was awesome to catch up with her and hear about her family.   

Saturday was a normal training day, followed by travel back to Marlborough to be at the in-laws for Father’s Day. That was a fun visit too.   

On Wednesday, we kept our date night local and had dinner at District. After dinner, we returned home. The night was cooler, so I fired up the new outdoor propane heater and we had some wine on the deck, with our new solar lights.   

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Thursday, we entertained one of C’s colleagues on the back deck. The improvements that we’ve made this year have basically made this an outdoor living room. We are really blessed to have it.   

Yesterday was a full training day with youth jiu-jitsu, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, then an Advanced Concepts seminar. We saw 3 teammates promoted to Blue Belt and one to Brown Belt. It was a great day for our Academy. In evening, I felt like I owed C a night out, so we went to check out the newly refreshed space and the new menu at Mission. After that we went to dinner at Thistle and Mirth. Then it was home for sundowners on the deck. It was a little buggy, so we were inside early.   

Today, I started my day at the track up at Taconic for a Law Enforcement Torch Run event for the Special Olympics. A bunch of us warmed up, stretched and worked out with the athletes in a developmental program. We did running events, field events, and soccer drills. I won the javelin toss among the cops. At the end of each session, we got to present the athletes with medals. It was great way to spend a Sunday morning. Now, I’m enjoying our deck, blogging and recharging for next week.   

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Well, that’s 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 59: New Adventure, New Opportunity (Pro-reading, Jiu-jitsu road trip, and an entertaining weekend)

June 13, 2021

Good Sunday evening, VFTO fans and followers. It’s the middle of the dinner hour, but I just finished a meeting, so I’m feeling a little off my game. It’s been a lovely weekend here in the Shire and we had plans that kept us busy, so blogging a little bit later today. I’ve been doing some self-reflection, so I have some things to share later.

Pro-Reading

I’m making slow progress with Between the World and Me, by Ta-nehisi Coates. As I stated in the last installment, I didn’t take it to the Cape with me and I had a bunch of travel this week, so only a couple of days of pro-reading. I’m into the main body of the text but still don’t know how I’m feeling about it. I’ll explain more on that later.  

Other Reading

I’m struggling with Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky (Sapolsky, Robert, M. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. 2004. New York: Holt Paperbacks.)  When I started it, I was really into it, but the deeper I got, the more technical it got. It also references back on earlier chapters a lot, and I feel like I’m getting lost. I’m switching between that and mystery adventure novels on my Kindle. It feels like I’m staying in the novels longer and longer between attempts.

Other Learning Opportunities

Late last week, I had to get started on an online in-service requirement that I was late on. The title of the segment was Longevity in Law Enforcement. That may be the most misleading title in the history of training. Essentially it was a deep dive into the cumulative effects of stress and stress inoculation on law enforcement officers, a detailed explanation of all the negative health effects that the job can have, statistics about the shortened life expectancy of LEOs, and an appeal to focus more attention on health, fitness, nutrition, and sleep. Everyone I know who completed it found it depressing. So much for training to counter stress.

Other than being derailed by travel, I’ve managed to keep up on my training. I actually doubled down on Muay Thai last weekend. I also tacked a drop-in class at Professor Dedeco’s academy in Weymouth on my way to RI to teach at the institute. Yesterday was my 1st chance to get back to coaching the younglings in the Pythons class. I’ve missed that.

This week was marked with travel back out to the JST&RI for another First Line Supervisors’ course. This is the last 1 for the training year. This was a great group of motivated supervisors and I gained a lot of energy from them.

Some Stuff About Me

I said above that I’d explain more about Coates’ book and my uncertain feelings about it. Let me begin by saying that I certainly hear and appreciate his perspective. I find no fault with him, or his narrative. However, my gut response to it is to shout that his experience is not my experience. While I have certainly experienced racism in my life, rarely have I ever felt the type of fear and apprehension that he describes in this book. Occasionally while traveling in the deep South, those fears have crept into my mind, but certainly not in my day-to-day existence. I feel his emotion. I just don’t share it.

Reflecting on his words during my pro-reading unearthed a memory from my past that I had long forgotten and have never written about. To share the story, I have to explain a little about myself. I grew up right here in the small City that I still live and work in. I was born to a white mother and a black father, and my dad passed when I was very young. I have one bi-racial younger brother. Both of us were raised by our white mother and white step-father. We were raised in an entirely white neighborhood. While I interacted with other children of color as a child, it was always away from home. When we visited our bi-racial cousins in another neighborhood, we regularly played with an ethnically diverse group of children on the block and in the parks, but our neighborhood was white. I was in the 6th grade before I had a black classmate. I was in the 8th grade before I attended a school with more than 2 other black students. At the time, I didn’t know that there was anything unusual about this. As a child, there was some name calling and even some hate speech, but the adults handled that and it didn’t seem like that big a deal.

In high school, of course I had black classmates, but they normally weren’t in my classes. In the college prep classes that I was enrolled in, it was normally just me and 1 young lady, surrounded by our white classmates. I’d interact with other black students in the hallways, in the cafeteria, in the gym and in the shops, but it was rare for there to be more than the 2 of us in a classroom.

My 1st college was the United States Naval Academy. While there was certainly more diversity in the Navy in 1988, it wasn’t necessarily represented at the Academy. I just went and took a look at my plebe year yearbook. Of 34 midshipmen in my plebe company, 6 of us were persons of color. The time I spent with the fleet certainly exposed me to a much more diverse population, but even my time on the boats with the sailing team was spent with a pretty homogenous population. I remember being told to avoid going to certain post-race parties on the Eastern Shore, because we might not be entirely welcomed at some of the clubs. I knew this was racism, but it was easy enough just to pick another party. It never seemed violent.

I’ve shared all of this, just to get to these stories. I left Navy in the middle of my 3rd semester. I returned home to my normally vanilla existence to figure out how to finish my education. I spent most of that year working in retail at a specialty outdoor shop. I wasn’t exactly immersed in a diverse crowd there. Eventually, I returned to school to continue my education at Williams. When I got there, it was the first time that I found myself in a place that was composed of truly diverse cultures. Certainly, people of color were still a significant minority, but they were there, and I was interacting with people of different backgrounds on a regular basis in class. Outside of class, my lived experience didn’t change much. My housing selection put me in a dormitory that was almost entirely white. I took most of my meals right in the dorm, so that was pretty consistent also.

During my 1st couple of weeks on campus, a beautiful young 1st year approached me and asked me to a dance. I didn’t think twice about saying yes. My circle of friends was small, and she was very pretty. It was a disaster. I excused myself after less than an hour. My being there wasn’t fair to her. Her housing selection and her ECAs led to dance being entirely 1st year students of color. I didn’t know the music, I didn’t know the dances, I didn’t share any common experiences with most of them. I didn’t even understand some of the vernacular language. Even though I was only a couple of years older than most of them, my upbringing and my time in the Navy had opened a wide gulf. I felt adrift in that room. Needless to say, she was less than happy with me.

Shortly after that disastrous episode, I joined the wrestling team. I had black and Latinx teammates, but most of the team was white. Joining the team led to one of the ugliest confrontations I experienced during my time at Williams. Being on the team meant that we normally practiced through the normal dinner hour. Due to that schedule, we were given the option of taking late meals in the campus’ central dining facility. When we did that, we normally sat at tables as a team. It was just tradition. One night, after a late practice, we made our way to Baxter. We dropped our duffle bags and made our way upstairs to the dining hall. We were all wearing team warmups, and everyone knew we were the wrestling team. We grabbed our trays and found a couple of empty tables. As we did, it was apparent that other student activity organizations besides the teams were taking advantage of the late meal option. The dining room was actually pretty busy.

As we sat down and started eating, there was a stir behind me. I looked up to find a couple of black men inviting me to sit with them for dinner. I didn’t know either of these guys, so I declined. They repeated their invitation and pointed over to where they were sitting. It was a large table of only black students, and it was obvious that they were members of the Black Student Union. They again indicated that I should leave my teammates and “come sit with us.” I again declined. At that point, they became insistent. Now, they demanded that I follow them and join their group. I told them politely, but pointedly, that I was eating with my teammates, and I had no intention of joining them. Then it got loud. It never got physical, but it certainly got tense. Eventually, they made their way back to their table and my teammates, who had come to my aid sat back down. Needless to say, I’d made my choice and I was no longer welcome within that group. Over time, I’d become friends with some of the people who were at that table that night. One even became my security partner. Even so, I was never part of “them.”

“Othering” takes many forms. Most of the time when it’s happened to me, I’ve done it to myself, but not always. We all have our own lived experiences. Based on that episode, I try really hard not to make other people accept mine as their own. Don’t expect to find yourself in others.

FUN

Well, that was heavy and depressing, so let’s lighten it up a bit. The 1st week was taken up with meeting and hearings, so date nights got bumped. On the 1st Saturday, I had a heavy training morning with Muay Thai, Jits, more Muay Thai and open mat rolling. After that, we headed north with my brother to go visit our great Aunt and celebrate her 93rd birthday. That evening, we visited friends in their new home and enjoyed a lovely dinner and evening.

Sunday was my birthday, and C had done the planning. After sleeping in a bit, we headed north again for lunch at The Barn at the new Williams Inn. We strolled Spring Street, picked up some swag at The Williams Shop, then headed to North Adams to check out the new exhibits at MassMOCA. We wrapped up with a couple of dark beers at Bright Ideas Brewery.

Monday evening was another social engagement up in north county. We spent the evening with several of C’s colleagues at the President’s house. It was a lovely time.

On Wednesday, I started my travel for the week. Wednesday night was the drop-in class at Dedeco’s followed by a late check in at the hotel. Thursday and Friday were teaching days.

Yesterday, was training in the morning, then serving as the Master of Ceremonies for an Eagle Scout Court of Honor in the afternoon. After that, I had time for a short nap, then we headed to West Springfield for a streamed Florida Georgia Line concert at the drive-in movie theater. That was a blast.

Today was a late rise. Once we got the morning rituals done, it was off to see the new musical, In the Heights, at the Beacon Cinema. After that it was a quick household errand, then home to prep for the coming week.

Well, that’s 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=affiliate) for 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 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.”