Thursday, July 9, 2020

Yellow River Forest and Backbone July 2020

My Labrador and hiking companion Mel went with me on a short overnight hiking trip this past week.

We took off on Tuesday about 0800 for the 2 hour drive to Yellow River State Forest in Northeast Iowa. Once we showed up we geared up signed in and headed out. This is the same place we did some hiking last year so I was familiar with the area. We decided to do some exploring and go a different route from last year. That lead to our first tactical error. The first mile on the trail we selected was super steep. It took us about 45 minutes and Mel was blowing pretty hard. Being a black Lab she gets overheated quickly and its was over 90 degrees. We rested, ate  and I took her pack off for awhile. We drank about half our water so my next plan was to make towards the camp we had stayed at last year be because I knew there was a creek there. So we hiked that way drinking the rest of our water enroute.  When we got there I refilled water and let Mel drink her fill. I also got her soaked down from the creek. We then made our way a short distance to the camp site. To take a break. When we got there we ate again and this was about 3:30 in the afternoon. I decided to take a small nap and let us both cool down.  After about 15 minutes I heard what appeared to be thunder and the wind picked up. I decided to set up the tent "just in case." Lucky I did because right after I got the tent up and everything inside it started a torrential downpour. Mel and I stayed in the tent for about 90 minutes before it stopped. At that point neither of us felt like going farther so we decided to spend the night. Day one mileage 5 miles.

The next morning we got up about 0545, ate and filled our water up at the stream. We were back on the trail about 0715. I planned on hiking back to the vehicle and then heading south to our next park. Cooler temperatures and easy terrain made the morning hike enjoyable. We basically followed the backpacker loop except when we veered off to climb a bluff and come back down for the views. Getting back to the vehicle about 1045 we had knocked out another 4.2 miles. 

We then headed south to Backbone State Park. It was about an hour drive to the campsite I had reserved. We laid out our gear to dry from the previous days rain storm. We decided to wait on setting up the tent which turned out to be a good move. I took a day pack and Mel had her pack with a small amount of food. We decided to hike the West and East Lake trail loop. We started about 1200. The first few miles were shady and easy going. But then the terrain changed and Mel was getting noticeably hot. I stopped multiple times during the loop to get her water and dunk her in the lake or streams. She continued to overheat and was getting exhausted. When we got back to the truck I decided to call it a trip. I needed to get her cooled off as I thought she was close to heat exhaustion. This loop was 6.8 miles. Total for the day was 11 miles. When we got home she was sore and very lethargic. I got a little concerned but today she was perked back up after food and water. All and all a great trip and shakeout.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

By now you have all probably seen and read about the St Louis couple that confronted a large group of protestors with armed resistance as the protestors moved an around their property. I am not going to argue the legality of the situation as we don't have all the facts. What I want to talk about is how they could have potentially handled the situation better. 

Ultimately it appears this couple reacted out of fear. Fear causes people to improvise. Improvisation is what you saw on display. People improvise when they have no plan. 

An important concept to understand before coming up with a plan is Should vs Could. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. Pointing guns at people and displaying atrocious weapons handling skills is something you probably shouldn't do even if you can. 

Here is a simple plan anyone can and should follow when they plan the defense of their home and property.

The Five Fundamentals of Home Defense

1. Evade- Put yourself in a position where the threat cannot hurt you. Simply put seek a position of advantage. This is tactics 101. Seek the high ground. Abandoning your home to confront a mob on your lawn is a mistake. 

2. Barricade- Make it harder for the threat to get to you. Build a defense in depth. Primary, alternate, contingency and emergency fighting positions. Strengthen your perimeter externally and internally. Have a barricade spot prepared and designated. 

3. Arm- Obtain a tool that can increase your ability to disable a threat ( and prepare it for use). Obviously this couple did that. However part of preparing a lethal force tool for use is knowing basic manual of arms and safety procedures with that tool. This appears to have been lacking. 

4. Communicate- Communicate with the 911 operator. Tell them where you are, what is happening, who is armed and with what. Description of the threat and description of you. This couple claims they called 911, Police dispatch disputes that assertion. Call 911 and stay on the line. 

5. Respond- Respond appropriately of you need to. Know what constitutes a lethal threat and be able to articulate why you believed so. Did the threat have the ability to hurt you? Did they possess the power to kill or cause great bodily harm.  Did the threat have the opportunity? Did they have the capability to immediately employ deadly force or cause great bodily harm? Did the threat put you in jeopardy? Did they show manifest intent to kill or cause great bodily harm?This is referred to as the AOJ triangle. It is important if you respond you be able to articulate why you felt it was justified. 

When preparing to defend your home and property you need to have a plan. Its not as simple as walking outside barefoot with your AR to confront the threat. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Blog is Ten Years Old

This blog just turned ten. I realized that as I was answering some comments on previous posts. The anniversary had kinda slipped by me as I haven't been posting here as much as I used to. Are blogs even a thing anymore? I find myself posting more often with short posts on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. I originally started this blog to have a centralized location to place my recollections and thoughts on my military service before I forgot them. Eventually as my military service faded into the less recent past this blog became a place to archive my activities and review training. Now it is a place where I throw down a random thought or two as they pop up. I'm not quite sure how much longer I will keep it active. I really like the idea of having a place to archive my thoughts so for now it stays active albeit nominally so.

A lot has changed since I started this blog. The actual day I wrote my first post I was working as a Semi Truck dispatcher on the night and weekend shift and I was 5 years retired from the military. I am now close to 16 years retired and I have moved on from that job. In the last 10 years I have worked as a Security Officer, Security Manager, Small Business Owner, EMT, Paramedic and currently I am working as Faculty at a Community College and managing a small rural ambulance service.

10 years ago I ran my first Ultramarathon. It was a local 50K. Over the next 6 years I ran 37 races of marathon distance (26.2 miles) or longer to include finishing a 100 mile trail race in under 30 hours.I sustain a nagging injury that curtailed my long distance running but introduced me to the rucking community. Since my injury I have completed 6 GoRuck Light, 1 GoRuck Tough and a GoRuck Star course.

I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu five years ago and while I might never make it to black belt I consistently train and have even competed on 6 occasions. Currently I am a one stripe Blue Belt and I continue on the path.

5 years ago I started my own training company and make a decent side hustle training people in defensive pistol and rifle use,medical training, active shooter response plans and general defensive tactics. I enjoy it and can make my own schedule. Its good to get in front of folks and make them better.

When I started this blog I had one child graduated and working,one in high school and one in junior high. Currently all my kids are graduated and working. One is married and living in another state. My wife was managing a fast food kitchen and now she is retired.

I set a goal to try and post twice  amonth onthis blog in 2020. I am a little behind right now so I need to step it up.A lot has changed in the last 10 years here is to ten more

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Landing the Plane 3.22.2020

I attended Landing the Plane presented by My friend Mike Anderson this last weekend. With all the COVID nonsense going on it was great to be able to actually train a little. Since the entire focus of the class is managing space and distance with unknown persons it was a perfect context. I have been to this class over a dozen times and I always learn something. When people ask me what the need to learn to defend themselves I tell them the top 3 are CPR, Stop the Bleed and Managing Unknown Contacts. This class is all about MUC. One percent better.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Carl Principle

This scene from the movie Sling Blade caused me to formulate a principle that I have tried to stick to over the years. I call it the Carl Principle. The Carl Principle is simple. It states " Always check the obvious problem first." Utilizing the Carl Principle has saved me countless issues and wasted time over the years. Remote not working..check the batteries.  Phone/computer not synching..turn it off then on again. 

The Carl Principle is especially relevant to my job as a Paramedic. Patient not oxygenating? Make sure to Oxygen is actually on. ECG looking funky..make sure the patches are connected.

Always check the easiest thing first and go from there. Give it a try

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Moving Forward

I've been reading about and listening to a lot of podcasts on stoicism the last few years. The stoic philosophy appeals to me. Primarily it has helped me mitigate my temper as it teaches you not to worry about what you can't control. The other thing it has helped me with is living a life worth living. I have come to the realization that if you are not happy you are wasting the limited time you have on this earth. I am not sure if that is actually the stoicism or just maturity.

In Meditations Marcus Aurelius reminds us that once we die eventually we will be forgotten. Unfortunately this is true. So living as if you will live forever is folly. You can't live without a care in the world but you need to do things now because if you don't you may not ever get a chance.

About 5 years ago I was working a job that paid me well but I was miserable. I hated going to work everyday. I was working part time as a Paramedic and a full time opportunity opened up. I decided to take the leap even though I would take a significant pay cut. Fast forward and I am happier doing a job I enjoy and I am actually making more money with better opportunities than I was before.

I am determined to actually take time off during my time off this year. Enjoy life

2020 Power list

Workout 30 minutes 4X per week including:

10,000 Push ups
10,000 Sit ups
5000 Burpees
2500 Pull ups

Lift weights 2 X per week

Run/ Hike 3 X per week

Run/Hike/Walk 1000 miles

2 BJJ sessions per week

2 No Gi BJJ Session per month

Attend at least 2 professional classes

Read 20 books

Listen to 10 books

2 athletic events ( race, GoRuck, BJJ)

Study Cardiology 1 hour per month

Study Respiratory issues 1 hour per month

Certification as a Tactical Paramedic

Shoot or dry fire 30 minutes per week

Influence change

Monday, December 30, 2019

By the Numbers

Image result for 2019 pictures 

Sixth annual yearly numbers recap

Physical activity

738.04 miles ran,rucked or walked. Hit my goal of 700 miles. That's about 300 more miles than last year. Next year I hope to hit 1000 miles for the first time in about 5 years.

165 workouts that's an average of 3.17 a week, Hit my goal of 3 workouts per week. Next year will raise the goal to 4. 

10,000 push-ups and sit-ups and 5000 burpees for the year.  Hit my goal on this. I will keep this goal for next year and add 2500 pull ups.

69 BJJ sessions and 156 hours of training. That's an average of 1.32 sessions/3 hours per week.  Hit my goal of at least 1 session per week. Currently on a 125 week unbroken attendance streak. I will set my new goal at 2 times per week.

18 No Gi BJJ training sessions for the year. My original goal was 2 session per month. I averaged 1.5 times. I will keep this goal the same.

2 BJJ competitions. Got a 1 gold and 2 silvers. I am probably on hiatus from competition for awhile.

4 GoRuck events 3 Lights, 1 Tough and a 26.2 mile Star Course

1 25K Race. I rucked it with 30 lbs 

Mental Activity and Personal Training

13 books read. My goal was 20. I will keep this goal the same. 

1 BJJ Seminar. Week long seminar and got certified as a Gracie Survival Tactics Instructor 

1 Home Defense Tactics Class

1 K9 TCCC course

1 Land the Plane session. I have probably attended this curriculum at least 10 times. Still the best bang for the buck in the self defense realm. 

My own training suffered a bit this year, since I took a full time teaching position. Ill try to do better.  However teaching is a form of training so there is that. 

Teaching Activity and classes taught

3 Community Stop the Bleed classes 

3 CPR classes

1 Pre Hospital Trauma Life Support Course

1 Advanced Medical Life Support Course

1 Emergency Medical Responder Course

2 Emergency Medical Technician Courses

1 Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Course

1 Paramedic Course

3 Active Shooter Response Courses

6 Casualty Care 1 Courses

1 Casualty Care 2 Course

3 Introduction to Defensive Pistol classes

3 Intuitive Defensive Shooting classes

1 Intuitive Defensive Carbine classes

3 Seminars spoken at- Hiawatha EMS Day, Jones County EMS Day and Critical Care Paramedic Refresher

Writing and Podcasts

2 Podcasts episodes produced

14 Personal blog entries

19 Professional blog entries

Slow year on the writing front. No published articles for the first time in a few years. Will get back up to speed in 2020. My personal blog will hit 10 years in 2020. Are blogs still a thing?

EMS and PD

246 EMS calls. I took a full time job as an EMS instructor at a local Community College and quit my full time Paramedic job. This caused my personal call volume to drop some. I also took over as Service Director of a rural ambulance service. Still working about 24 hours a week as a Medic.

116.5 hours worked as a Reserve Police Officer. 

Random Numbers

37 years since Army enlistment
15 years since Army retirement

31 years since Ranger School graduation

29 years since Special Forces Qualification Course Graduation

13 years since becoming an EMT

5 years since becoming a Paramedic

32 years since marriage

That's it. Another great year

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

12 Months 12 Pictures 2019

I started this last year. This will be the second annual













Saturday, December 7, 2019

I love GoRuck I hate GoRuck

GoRuck is a gear company that has events. GoRuck is a event company that sells gear. Its the age old chicken and egg controversy.  GoRuck was originally a company making high end backpacks( rucks) that started using events to market their product. The events took off and then so did the gear and so on and so on. From the Goruck website . I originally heard about GoRuck around 2014 and looked at their original "Radio Ruck" as a everyday carry bag. I didn't buy one quite honestly because it was pretty pricy. Fast forward 6 years and I own 4 GoRuck backpacks of different sizes, A GoRuck Kitbag, a GoRuck gymbag, 2 pairs of GoRuck boots, and a GoRuck pullover. They saw me coming a mile away. I have almost $1000 in GoRuck gear in my house yet I don't consider myself a GoRuck fanboy. That is the dichotomy that is GoRuck.

My first GoRuck Event in 2016 GoRuck Light 1264

One of my issues with GoRuck is the gear. And really its not the gear. Its me and the gear. GoRuck brilliantly markets their gear and events to the GoRuck community. They have built up a community of "GRT" around their events and gear that is vocal and loyal. Its built on a feeling of exclusivity that I will talk about later. However lets be honest GoRucks gear while very durable isn't really the best thing for the actual task at hand. I also own an actual OSPREY backpack for hiking and it is infinitely more comfortable and utilitarian than my GoRuck bags. GoRuck uses a frame sheet rather than an actual frame which provides some support but essentially you are just carrying a large bookbag. However when I am hiking for training it is my GoRuck bag I use. Why? Because they make it so easy to just throw some weight in it and go. Its simple.

I own 2 pairs of GoRuck Macv-1 boots. I don't use them to ruck in even though GoRuck claims they are the best for that activity. Why they are very comfortable, the soles are flat much like sneakers. The lack of aggressive tread keeps them out of my rucking rotation. I prefer to ruck in trail shoes. I wear the boots everyday to work however. So why if the gear is pricey and not really the absolute best do I own so much. In a word..Sales. GoRuck a few times a year launches incredible deals where you can get their $300-$400 items at 30-40% off. That is about $100 on most items. They also offer a year round 25% discount for active,retired military, and first responders. That's how they get me. They allow you to stack discounts and it makes you feel like you are getting quite the bargain. So even though you know that they are treating you like a 17 year old Private buying from a used car salesman you buy anyway. It makes you feel kinda dirty.

My second GoRuck Event in 2017 GoRuck Light Class 1487

Lets talk about GoRuck events. GoRuck says their events are modeled on Special Forces Assessment and Selection. All events are led by Cadre that have served or are serving in US Military Special Operations. Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Air Force PJ, Marine Force Recon/Raiders and many other "Special T shirt" units are represented. Some true American Heros. The founder of the company himself spent 2 years in 10th Special Forces Group my old unit. However this is my problem with the events. The events are definitely "modeled" on SFAS but it is not SFAS and that is the rub. I get irritated when a "GRT" that has drank the koolaid ( many out there) acts as if they have completed selection when for the most part they have completed the equivalent of a hard workout. They main difference is that there are no real consequences, You quit or fail at a GoRuck event you hang you head and go home. You quit or fail at SFAS and your military career takes a 180 degree turn never to be the same. GoRuck  is not real life and it definitely is not living and working as a special operator which I did for 14 years. As I always say "Everyday is a selection event."

What those events are very good at, if you keep them in perspective, is building teamwork and getting folks from different demographics to work together. The mainstay of most events is the equivalent of activities I did during "team week" of selection. Carrying lots of heavy shit, never taking your ruck off. Paying attention to detail, solving leadership issues, completing seeming insurmountable team tasks and staying awake. I recently completed an event where through out the wee hours of the morning four of us carried a 400 lb log for 5 miles. As the log was crushing my soul I looked up at the moon and started smiling. This moment frozen in time reminded me of other similar moments in my life. I was totally happy in that moment. Total teamwork and happiness is something missing from most of our everyday lives. With less than 1% of the US population serving in the all volunteer military its something people crave but may never have experienced prior to GoRuck.

GoRuck Light 2496

GoRuck Light 3038

Naperville 630 Ruck Club Custom Light

Minneapolis 26.2 mile GoRuck Star Course 
GoRuck Tough 3258
GoRuck Light 3320
I joke with my friends that I have "retired" from GoRuck. However  I ruck all the time and my entire workout program is based on sandbag and ruck workouts, bear crawls, burpees, pushups, and other stupid shit that they make you do at events. Recently in silent protest I bought nothing on the most recent sale. I didn't register for any events in 2020. But I have my eye on one this summer none the less. It is what it is.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

15 years

15 years ago today I officially retired from the US Army. Left a job I had been doing since I was 19. Poof done! 

I was lost for a few years after. Did some jobs I didn’t like but I fed my family while finding my passion. Fast forward to today I am a totally different guy. In fact I almost forgot what day it was. I am now an EMS educator and EMS Service Director. I am a leader in several volunteer organizations. I serve on a city commission . I am a reserve law enforcement officer. I am a college graduate with a Masters degree. I am a martial artist and a published author. The list goes on. I was none of these prior to my retirement. 

I spent today teaching some new shooters how to use their handguns and teaching them what to buy. I played frisbee with my dog and watched some college football. My military service will always be a huge part of me but it doesn’t define me. I have made a new equally as successful life. The saga continues.