“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Friday, February 27, 2009

A short list of ideas...

OK for the commenters who requested some of the ideas...

I had a bit of an internal debate on whether to share anything or not - given the whole bit of personal responsibility thing I feel in life as it were. Then again, given what you can find on the internet these days, it's not like I have anything Earth shattering in terms of revelations. Also - I am by no means an expert, or anyone you should be quoting as gospel. Just sharing some of my thoughts and experiences gained throughout the past 20 years - and the advice to learn on your own & seek out competent training in person.

So - some of the thoughts I'm up for sharing. Nothing near an exhaustive list, just a few simple ideas for those who are faced with travelling or who want to consider options besides a firearm.

The very first two weapons I am going to mention you always have and can use - that is your brain and your feet. Be aware of your surroundings, what is going on & what your gut is telling you. Two groups squaring off in a bar, a group of thugs eyeing you on the street corner, or the suspicious guys on the airplane should all be setting off your alarm buzzers & making you look at your options. This includes making sure that you are ABLE to think. That means leave the serious drinking binge for the night at home, or safe at the hotel bungalow - wandering a strange town, drunk and obviously foreign at 2am is pretty much an invitation for attention. In terms of your feet, it means avoid the conflict when you can. Again - now is not the time to prove your manhood in some brawl, or go charging into a bad situation. For cops in particular this can be hard, given our tendencies and training - but sometimes when travelling it is best to put that all aside & be a good witness. Of course, that's not always possible - but just remember, there is no shame in a good tactical retreat - particularly if you have family & kids along that need your protection more.

Much like when choosing & carrying a concealed pistol, everything is a compromise. You have to balance size, effectiveness, and your level of training and ability in what you choose. I am also a big advocate of multiple options - both in terms of having backups should one thing not work, and in terms of the whole use-of-force continuum. Just as the fact a simple argument between you and the drunk cousin-in-law doesn't justify the use of deadly force at home, being caught in the middle of a bar fight in a foreign country doesn't mean you get to jump right to your latest Bourne Identity favorite lethal move. Particularly when you consider that being involved in any sort of violence, and being an American overseas is pretty much a guarantee of rather severe legal repercussions which are not going to be solved quickly. However you also want the ability to keep your options open in case of those worst-case scenarios.

Along with that you want to minimize the appearance of being armed, or of something being a potential weapon. So - I won't go into what knives to carry, yarawa sticks, kubotons or any of those typical items. Besides which, there are far more qualified people than me to discuss such things. Instead, look at some ideas that are much lower in profile than that.

One simple item that is available anyplace you go in one form or another is the old fashioned blunt instrument. Beer bottles, stools, books, backpacks, etc - pretty much anyplace you go has something you can use to block an attack and hit another if need be. An excellent, and frequently overlooked item, is the simple cane. Anywhere from a 10 dollar pharmacy special to a high-end Irish blackthorn, you can take a cane anyplace at all. Even TSA at the airport isn't going to stop someone from using their walking aid to get on & off the plane. With that cane you now have another 3 feet of reach on someone, a way to keep an attacker at a distance and to effectively respond if need be. Avoid things like sword canes, concealed knives in the handle etc as these will only land you in trouble - just buy something solid. Furthermore, like anything else, if you have a chance to get quality training jump on it. The varients of escrima are taught in most of the major cities now, and even a few months of lessons will give you an idea of how to use a stick much more effectively.

Do note that should you use something like a bottle or other implement that breaks, becomes sharp &/or cuts or permanently injures someone you are facing the same potential consequences as if you had used a knife or other lethal weapon in most areas. So again, make sure you are justified in whatever you do - not saying don't defend yourself, just keep in mind proportional requirements.

Another option is the use of flexible weapons. Belts with a good buckle, a length of cord with or without a weight, even a heavy gold necklace if you're sporting your pimp bling. Again - you have the advantage of an item you can wear or carry that doesn't immediately look like a weapon. Possibilities for use include not only striking out with these, but it is a great tool to entrap and entangle a weapon or limb if you are being attacked. Again, look at practice & training and everything else - don't presume that just because you are carrying it that you are ready.

One option for this that I have seen a lot amongst certain groups is the old paracord bracelet/lanyard or whatever. Braided, coiled or what have you this not only gives you the potential weapon, but is useful as a survival tool should that situation arise. While useful & something I have myself, do keep in mind that things such as this tend to telegraph your possible knowledge & skills to those "in the know" - which can include the badguys.

So, if you're not carrying a knife, what about the pointed & edged implements? Well - another simple one, that no one is going to have a problem with... how about a pen? A good sturdy pen can stab, scrape, and be used for defense and as a leverage tool. Surefire makes a good sturdy one that also has a glass-breaking tip, and looks like any other high end pen. Cold Steel has another nice version that is a permanent marker, but with much stronger plastic to use as that blunt implement again.

Or, just keep in mind things like restaraunt silverware and all that - again, it sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised what people overlook. Heck, in Feudal Japan the use of chopsticks as a weapon was even addressed...

Two old credit cards glued together with one edge filed can sit in your wallet & not attract any attention.

Again, think of your advantages & disadvantages of all these things - while they are not obvious weapons, they also require you to get close in order to use them. Definitely more defensive items than offensive, but given the choice between that and dying...

Thrown items abound in possibilities. Contrary to the ninja movies, this don't instantly stick deep in your oponent killing them in a second as you drop a dozen in one throw. However, they are a great distraction tool, and can certainly cause plenty of damage when used. Just a quick look around almost any location will reveal things you can throw. The only cardinal rule here is that, again unlike the movies, don't throw away your only weapon leaving yourself with nothing but your hands.

My one "don't do" advice is to avoid things like the polymer "CIA" knives, folding shuriken or any of the other stuff marketed in the back of some magazines. Not only is 90% of it crap but it will put you in danger of criminal charges in most places if found. Not only that, given the nature of such things, imagine how easy it is for the press, prosecutor & judge to label you as violent or crazy based on your possession of these "hidden killer items."

These are just a few simple thoughts - I could go on for hours on this just brainstorming. The easiest way to start thinking yourself through these things is just to practice. When you travel, or sit around a room or go into a new place look around. What are your escape routes? Where are things like lights, phones, alarms, etc? What is there that could be used as a weapon? Play the "what if?" game with yourself - if someone comes in that door and I grab this, what will I do with it? The possibilities are endless. If you're sitting in a taxi at the light look at the cars around you, see who does what. Look for those things that set of the alarm bells & plan in advance - 99.9% of the time you won't need it, but if you do then you are already ahead of the general sheep.

So, a bit longer than I first intended, but maybe this will give folks some stuff to think about.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not normal people...

To set the scene:

Finishing up our dinner break, a collection of instructors having a chat at the range. A few with special ops experience, several SWAT guys, and a couple with other agency/organization backgrounds - so we all have a bit of strangeness anyways about us.

So one of the lieutenants mentions an upcoming trip overseas with his wife, to a country with an unfortunately high crime rate; and he is a bit annoyed that he can't take along any of his normal tools of protection in case of an incident. At which point he asks for our input on ideas for those "just in case" items that hopefully he won't need, but would be nice to have as opposed to the alternative. Which leads to his asking our input & thoughts on the same.

And the next ten minutes was almost frightening in the number of legal, improvised and fully functional implements of defense were brought up and explained when needed - all off-the-cuff, and with none of the "I saw this in a movie or on X-box" about it. Just a collection of professionals who've done their various bits all sharing thoughts that would have made some of the sheeple have a coronary.

As was reminded to the group - the mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool in the toolbox.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Still alive

Quoting Mr. Twain, the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated...

Honestly, between work, school and family over the past few I just haven't felt up to writing. Hopefully that will straighten itself out here this week - the schedule SHOULD be starting to slow down a bit.

Spent a lot of last week sitting our selection boards for new Field Training Officers - the officers responsible for training recruits just after the academy and getting them ready for solo duty. FTO's have a tremendous responsibility (and liability should someone make mistakes), and I am fortunate in that my agency tends to take the people we have doing it pretty seriously. Like a lot of departments we used to just point at folks and say "OK, you're a training officer now." but a few years ago we went through an effort as a department to professionalize the progarm, take applications and screen the people doing it. The results have definitely been worth it in my opinion at least - you don't want someone training new officers who isn't competent, or doesn't want to be doing it. I was also rather complimented, in that the supervisor who runs the program only asked a certain few of us to help him sit these boards - he doesn't want people he can't trust to not only know the job, but share an honest opinion with him. (Funny side note - he's the person who was the training officer for my FTO - so kind of an interesting generation thing going on there, but anyway...) So, it was a set of long days of interviewing people on not only policies and laws, but on "what if" scenarios. Definitely a tough job too - all the candidates were good officers, and it's really tough to have to tell someone who is motivated that they are not suited for training others (or at least at this moment they need to work on things.) Especially since working as an FTO is a big factor looked at in promotions and transfers down the road - being told "no" can certainly be frustrating I understand. Overall we managed to get some people who are going to be great at training the new officers, and we were able to give the others pointers on what can help them next go around.

This week I'm out at the range with our current academy - which is a completely different brand of frustration... I know society has changed, and the culture out here is different from where I grew up - but it still consistently stuns me the number of new recruits we get who have zero firearms experience or exposure. On the one hand it is great, because you don't have to break bad habits when you are teaching them. But it's tough also, because they tend to have no comfort level around guns either - several of the guys are still holding their sidearm like it's a rattlesnake getting set to animate and do stuff all by its lonesome, even though this is the second week for the group doing this stuff. Plus this set in particular seems to be facing an uphill struggle in thinking tactically - trying to get their minds beyond putting holes into paper & understanding that this may very well keep them or someone else alive very soon. All combined, it's left me kind of drained the past couple of days...

Anyway, didn't want to turn this into a whiny, bitchy post - just wanted to get something written. No good dog stories right now, beyond the fact he is feeling neglected since we've only been getting short bits of training in & he's in the mood to WORK dangit! Going to try to get him a good long session tomorrow during the dinner break.

Someone send a good call my way, so I have a story to blog... I'm running dry here!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Range time

Finally had the chance to go shooting on Friday, after a three-month break due to the surgery & work timing of everything... Just a few magazines through each of the work guns, all I was working on was the fundamentals - no moving, malfunction drills or any of that. Taking the time to reinforce the basics after the break, since dry-firing only does so much.

Actually didn't do that bad either. Rifle was dead on where I wanted, which wasn't too shocking - I was working at 50 yards and in, and the hand surgery really doesn't affect what I do with a long gun. Still a nice feeling.

Pistol up close was good - nice tight groups. My grip is a bit different than it used to be, since my little finger doesn't have quite the strength it used to & I need to work on that, particularly with the larger calibers. Out at the 25 things opened up a bit more than I wanted - about 12-16" groups standing & kneeling. Still shooting "minute of bad guy" but I know I can do better.

So, still feel comfortable enough to do the job if I have to, but I know what to concentrate on the next few go arounds. I have an academy class coming up to teach the week after next so I should get some practice time in then & will see if things improve.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nicely Said

Well they did it

Those Tender Moments

As some folks may have gathered over time, we don't do so much with holidays around here. Anniversary, birthdays, etc - sure... but the "Hallmark Holidays" as we call them, not so much. My wife & I just don't end up getting wrapped around a manufactured excuse for spending money (which I do just fine WITHOUT an excuse anyways) or pretending to care about someone. So they tend to sneak up on us at times.

Case in point would be Valentine's Day yet again. Last night before getting set for bed, as we discuss tentative weekend plans (as we are both still getting somewhat used to me actually being off on weekends and caring what day of the week it is,) I ask her if there is anything special she wanted to do for Valentine's.

Her response was a quick "Oh crap!" which took the load off my mind of not being the only one who had nothing prepared.

So after a few moment's discussion where we both agree neither of us needs or wants anything out of the ordinary she is still kind of annoyed at herself and I ask "Why?"

She replies that she's upset because she didn't help the kids get anything ready for me for the day.

Well, I can't help the smartass in me (I know, I'm horrible) and my response was "Sweety, I know that a lot of your family is from North Carolina and stuff, where getting your father/cousin a card is important, but really I don't want the kids getting me Valentine's Day stuff. It's kind of freaky!"

I won't share her response...

*Note to the family who reads this - just jokes people, just kidding!*

Friday, February 13, 2009

Follow up to yesterday...

Just to follow up on yesterday's post with a well-written article link - for those who don't read my comments:


He covers the whole "higher standard vs. first amendment" subject pretty well I think.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stifling speech

First off, go read this article at Laginappe's Lair:

The censorship nazis are at it again. This time, a 27 year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol has just been suspended for 30 days over an e-mail that he sent while off-duty and at home. According to KTEV:
Then, please take a moment to drop a line with your thoughts to the Iowa State Patrol.

Folks, I really do try to avoid most of the political crap around here - there are lots who write it better than I do anyway. And there are a lot of stories I don't share, or details I change, out of respect for privacy and keeping my job details somewhat low-key.

But I will be damned if I live in a country where I am not ALLOWED to share my opinion, particularly off-duty. Particularly when it is in no way illegal, immoral or unethical.

They are just plain wrong on this one - I hope you agree.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Early night

Certifications went well today, although SOMEONE felt more like playing than working - not a big deal but we'll be taking some time later this week to refresh on some things together just to set my mind at ease. Think he was just in a mood with the nice weather.

Have to be up at 0430 for a job tomorrow, so it's an early bedtime. Just wanted to share the results.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Customer Lip-service

Well, it's been a month since the little Comcast service incident and customer service email referenced here...

Nope, not one more word heard. No follow-ups. No emails. No phone calls.

So - it's a nice gesture to surf the blogosphere & attempt to contact disgruntled folks talking about you.

But - if you don't follow up on it, you're more than wasting your time. You're pretty much showing that you don't care beyond making the gesture. I'm not a certified customer service expert or anything, but I do know that much.

Just something for folks to keep in mind when you're shopping for your providers in the future...

The bacon flow chart

I'm not the same fan as others, but figured I'd post it for all to enjoy...

Mixed stuff

Certifying with the dog tomorrow - did the first part on Friday and just finishing up. Amazing to think how much we've learned to work together already, even though of course it will take more time to truly gel. But yes, this week I can finally get out of the training mode & back to some work stuff again. I'd ask for luck, but I'm not worrying about it - he's very good at what he does, and I just have to let him do what he knows how & we will be fine!

Family is doing well - Kyleigh is feeling much better and the last doctor's visit was actually productive. Even sleeping through the night - now if she'd just sleep past 6am everyone would be thrilled, but I'll take what I can get.

Dealing with catching up on school stuff (as usual), paying bills & doing taxes this weekend. I'd ask for an administration post & just ignore the taxes, except we will get a return and I don't want to mess that up...

Got an email from an acquaintance last night. Who has "decided I want to buy a new rifle before they are banned again, what would you recommend?" *EYE ROLLS because this just snuck up on him....* Be that as it may - I've given him some product advice, explained that his budget needs to be increased due to the seller's market right now and all that. Now if anyone can recommend a good store in Texas (DFW area) that actually has stuff in stock so I can send him that way... I'd appreciate it.

T-t-t-that's all folks!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just a few random bits

Not enough on my mind for a full post, so just some random catch-up...

Did a few hours of overtime Sunday night looking for drunks (since my interest in football is just slightly lower than that of listening to a discussion of post-modern art conducted by mimes while I am on sedatives....) - nothing exciting, but I got to see some of the old shift for a bit & catch up on the happenings, plus write a few tickets for people who needed them. Unfortunately, no luck catching drunks, but I'll find more opportunities.

Cooked some good steaks the other night - the size that made you wonder if dinosaurs where really extinct, or just hiding. Plus fresh bread & veggies on the side, a great meal if I do say so myself! The whole brining thing is definitely worth the effort I have decided.

Kyleigh still can't figure out what nights she wants to sleep and which she will be fussy. Kind of catching up with us, but we have another doctor's appointment this week to look at things.

Other than that, it's just work & school & family stuff keeping us all busy.