Family Protection

With every baby born comes the death of an ego. Children will humble you; no doubt, but more than that, when protecting your family, in order to avoid a potentially violent encounter with a stranger, swallowing your pride and apologizing or retreating should be your first move. Road rage may make you feel and sound like a man in some particularly narrow worldviews, but your manhood may get more thoroughly tested when the other driver, who has three of his buddies with him, is now following you and your family home. All avoidable with a second’s worth of self control and the knowledge that your highest duty is not to your ego, but to the needs of your family.

In no area does this hold more true than in my personal philosophy of active self protection. Even more so in the realm of executive protection. Combat operatives are trained to move in the direction of gunfire, but in executive protection, i.e. bodyguards, the goal is to get your principal “off the X”, and as far away from the threat as quickly as possible, putting yourself between that individual and the threat whenever possible.

But, before we get too far into mindset and tactics, it is my belief that 90% of being your family’s protector is more in what you do not do, than it is in threat response. Foster care exists in large part due to the point I’m trying to make. As a parent, you have the potential to be the most dangerous person with whom your child interacts, be it from poor self control, neglect, abuse, or simply a lack of thinking or awareness. I’ll give you an example: Several weeks ago, I was behind a minivan driving slowly, yet erratically, in front of me. The culprit? The glow of a cell phone screen, clearly evident through the rear window. Who, in that moment, presents the highest level of danger to his or her children in the back seat? As the protector of my children, what should my response have been? Honk at the vehicle to get the driver’s attention back on the road? Pass the slow vehicle to get back on schedule while getting the risk in my rear-view mirror? It is my conviction that my principal(s) (to continue with the executive protection mindset) are my own children and, therefore, slowing down to allow the van ahead of me additional space is the only move that fully ensures that I will have the reaction time necessary to respond to anything that vehicle happens to do. This response also avoids the manufacturing of conflict from an enraged minivan driver, now slamming on their breaks in retaliation.

Prevention is paramount in the protection of ones family. Said another way, the best way out of a bad situation is to avoid it in the first place. Said, unnecessarily, yet another way, the best offense is a good defense. What do I mean by that? Rather than devise a plan for how to safely traverse snowy terrain with small children, while dodging cars sliding all over the road, evaluating the tread on your tires before the snow falls, replacing your tires, carrying cables or chains, or, if possible, staying home would all be superior to the best laid plan or tactics for surviving a weather related incident. Being willing to add time to your drive to avoid areas that you may be less safe should you break down for any reason. Where knocking on the first door you find for help isn’t the last thing you ever do. Be methodical and vigilant at finding ways of anticipating and avoiding potentially dangerous situations, so that you never need to utilize the training and preparations you’ve spent countless hours engaged in, in the first place.

Ones home should be inhospitable to opportunists looking for an easy score. The mere existence of a well placed surveillance camera and home security sign can act as a deterrent to the majority of opportunists looking for an easy score, but this is only an illusion of security. Why? For the same reason the popular saying, “The racking of a 12 ga. shotgun is enough to scare off any would be intruder,” is flawed to its core. Both assume that the individual being theoretically deterred is of a sound mind. A variety of circumstances could cause your sign and camera to go unnoticed or ignored, including drugs, alcohol, or strong enough motive to perpetrate violence, etc.

Exterior doors should, without exception, be solid core. With that said, the only thing keeping your expensive deadbolt in the door frame is approximately half an inch of cheap wood in most cases. Your metal plate is generally secured by half-inch screws (or shorter) that will tear out with a single kick to the face of the door. Replacing these with 3 1/2″ or 4″ decking screws will usually require significantly greater force to breach as they are long enough to penetrate into your studs. Adding a metal plate, such as the Door Armor offered by Armor Concepts, with whom I am not affiliated, and a variety of latches and/or door blocks available on the market that can be applied when the family is all safely inside, can make breaching the door incredibly difficult. Certainly adding enough difficulty to the process to give you ample time to mount a response and notify authorities.

I am strongly against the over-sharing of lives and opinions on social media, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. Bragging about your upcoming trip to Hawaii on Facebook is a great way to let criminals (or even kids of your friends looking for a place to find beer) know when you’ll be out of town. A Glock Perfection window decal on your SUV or pick-up truck serves only to let criminals know to approach you prepared for an armed response or, in some places, get your vehicle keyed for being pro-gun. Better to believe how you will without giving an enemy a clear target to aim at. To quote Robert Greene, author or The 33 Strategies Of War and The 48 Laws Of Power, “always say less than necessary”. Not everyone needs to know everything about you, and most people don’t need to know what you think or believe.

Some of these thoughts have been more recently popularized with the rise in publications discussing what has been widely accepted as Grey-man Theory. The idea is to blend in, so as not to be identified as a threat or draw attention from criminals or, in some cases, the Government. I recommend doing some personal research into the merits and application of these concepts, adapting what makes sense to you and your personal level of paranoia, and discarding the rest. At the very least, it is my personal opinion that you (or I) do not need to seek constant attention or validation every chance we get. It’s okay to vanish from most people’s radar for a while, or forever in some cases.

IF the above methods of avoidance and retreat fail or fall short, and you find yourself in a situation where you are the only thing between your family and a verified threat to their lives, it is your responsibility as your family’s protector to put yourself between them and that threat, and, if necessary, to end that threat. In the book, When Violence Is The Answer, written by Tim Larkin, the author claims that, “Violence is almost never the answer, but when it is, it is the only answer.” And that, in those rare cases, you need to be prepared to visit violence at a greater level than that of your adversary. Because whatever personal hangups you may have with visiting violence upon another human being (or wild animal, etc.), the person intent on inflicting bodily and potentially life threatening harm upon you or your family, most certainly does not share your reservations and any hesitation on your part could be a fatal mistake for you and/or your family.

I am a proponent of the statement, “I am the weapon, the gun is the tool.” In other words, be trained, be vigilant, aware of your surroundings, actively participate in your own safety and the safety of those around you. Don’t rely on a police officer to be nearby in a bad situation. Don’t put too much trust in the decency of a stranger to intervene on your behalf in an attack. Both are unlikely, unfortunately. In a high stress situation you don’t rise to the occasion, you stoop to the highest level of your training. If you chose to purchase a firearm, buy a quality weapon and learn how it operates. Get training on how to use it safely and effectively. Store it in a quickly accessible, secure location. Teach your children about its intended uses and how to handle it safely, in the event they are required to. My children all know how to check if a weapon is clear or clear it if necessary. They do not have access to firearms, but in the event they were to stumble upon one somewhere, they know what to do and what not to do. At their current age, their instructions are not to touch it and to find an adult immediately.

I am a huge fan of SIRT (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) pistols and the like, which simulate the weight and function of a firearm but cannot chamber ammunition. When the trigger is pressed rearward, it emits a laser beam indicating shot placement. This allows me to train often without even the slightest risk of a negligent discharge impacting one of my children, a neighbor, or myself. The SIRT pistol was not cheap, but has paid for itself many times over in ammunition costs, and allows me to focus on skills that are not necessarily allowed or safe with live ammunition, even at a gun range.

Lastly, if this offends you, ignore it all. Who am I to tell you how best to protect your family? But, at least let us agree on this: If your are going to be protective of anything, be protective over the time you have with your family. Children grow up fast, and once their childhood is gone you will never get those moments back. Don’t let selfish hobbies or destructive vises rob you of that time. Live in the moment and enjoy even the most difficult stages, because you very well may discover they were the best times in your life. Keep a close watch over the influences that come into their lives. Ask questions; invade privacy. You are a parent, not a friend. Don’t obsess over front-sight focus and trigger control and ignore the toxic influences that are pulling your children down a self-destructive path.

Until next time…

10 Things Girls Should Know About Guys

1. We are going to hate everyone who hates you and every guy who likes you too much. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

2. Jealous is what we are. In the same way a lion acts around another lion. We may not do much around the house but, by God, that dude better not be, either.

3. If we tune you out when you’re talking, it’s not because we have short attention spans–give us “Call Of Duty” or “Monday Night Football” and we’ll prove that–it’s because we aren’t interested in what you’re saying. This is our loss because you are WAY more interesting than we are. But our minds work differently. You feel and we fix. If we can’t fix what you’re saying with a suggestion or action, we drift back to a project, work, or sports.

4. Providing for our family IS how we show love. We are wired to do two things: Provide and kill. Case in point, observe children playing “house”. As soon as the fort is built, the boy says, “Alright, Bye. I’m going to work.” Before he understands work, he picks up sticks and pretends to shoot anything that moves. Sorry soft and sensitive America, it’s hard wired from birth.

5. There’s something to be said for a guy who’s comfortable enough in his own skin to wear pink, carry your purse, listen to your every need; and there is such a thing as being too comfortable. If you want to see a man in touch with his feminine side, rent a porn. You ARE our feminine side. You don’t see us asking you to get in touch with your masculine side, do you? You know why? Because we don’t want to be with another man.

6. Every guy rates every girl on a scale of 1 to 10. If this seems disrespectful, it’s not. One man’s 1 is another man’s 10. We will sleep with 4′s and above, but we marry 10′s. So, if you are married, congratulations! You are somebody’s 10. That is why you shouldn’t cheat. Because a girl who cheats is every guy’s 1, including the guy who downgraded you from being someone’s 10. Is this fair? I don’t know. If I did I’d probably understand why you’ll ignore guys who would treat you like a 10 to date guys who use and abuse you like you’re a 1.

7. We don’t compliment your hair because guys don’t notice it. We notice that you look great. If you change your hair and we like it, we notice you look great, but different. We usually aren’t sure why. But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the time you take to make yourselves look amazing. It means we don’t notice hair individually. We notice the culmination of all those little nuances put together. We do, however, notice when someone else notices. When you then say things like, “You didn’t even notice, at least he noticed” you forget that the first time a guy sizes you up, he is evaluating you on his own personal scale, checking off the details he approves of and disapproves of. He may have noticed your hair, but he might also walk away without saying a damn word if he knew some of your little quirks that the guy you’re with knows and finds adorable about you.

8. When we say hurtful things in an argument, it is because something hurts in us and we’re lashing out because we don’t know any other way to communicate it. You’ve touched on an insecurity. If you avoid that button in the future, you will avoid the lashing out that comes from pressing it. If you want the button to become less sensitive, nurture it. Make him feel secure about that area of his life. When he feels secure, he’ll naturally improve it, and he won’t feel like he has to protect it.

9. Guys need time with their buddies. Other guys are the best thing imaginable for your relationship. Why? Because other guys allow your guy to be a guy. That leaves him feeling like a guy. That way, when you hand him your purse while pointing out the guy who noticed your hair as he sports his pink shirt with the collar popped and wearing sunglasses inside, you won’t have to watch your guy as he begins to imagine hanging himself in the shower. Instead, he’ll smile without feeling threatened, nod, and think to himself, “That’s right, douche-bag. She’s with me.”

10. Lastly, someone once said it this way. Guys have two emotions: Hungry and horny. If he doesn’t have an erection, make him a sandwich.

When I was much younger, I was waiting in line at a supermarket when someone dropped a can on the floor behind me. Naturally, I turned to look for the source of the sound I’d heard, only to find one of the most beautiful blonds I’d every seen, bending over in a red and white, plaid mini-skirt to pick it up. When I turned back around, an elderly gentleman was staring at me. Immediately, I felt my face burning with embarrassment, expecting a lecture about respecting women. Or worse, what if she was his granddaughter? To my surprise, what he said next I’ll never forget. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked down at me like I was four years old, and said, “Son, no matter how thin she is; no matter how beautiful she looks; no matter how sweet the honey that flows from her mouth; somewhere, some guy, is completely sick of her shit.” Then he signed a check, gave it to the cashier, and I realized that I had just met the Dalai Lama.

Cynical Twist

Hey,! Your boys went from a broken down car to mansions, painted self-portraits, and country clubs. Good thing that having good credit translates into financial intelligence or they could have over-extended themselves like the rest of America. You know, when we all had good credit. Oh, by the way, checking your credit online doesn’t give you good credit. Over-extending yourself like those singing douche-bags does. In this economy, it won’t be long before they’ll be calling Monte Williams for a payday loan to make their minimums. Unless, of course, having good credit is the same thing as making a CEO’s salary, in which case, enjoy your bailout!

Have you ever noticed how poor the quality of advertisements catered to the elderly are? Case in point, the Rascal commercial, that one for Life Alert, AARP Supplemental Medical Insurance, the list goes on and on. It’s like the companies are saying, “We realize there’s a market for this, we’re just not willing to invest a lot of time or money into a dying demographic when the retention rate is so low.” Sorry, but it’s true. They’re offensive. I pay all this money for HDTV and have to suffer through ten minutes of low quality, poorly targeted commercials an hour.

Romantic Comedy

Recently my Fiance’, whom I had been with for the past five years, dumped me. Not only did the initial sting intensify with the settling in of separate lives, but the endless string of payments on a pricey engagement ring are little monthly reminders all screaming, “You giant tool.”

Truth is, I was miserable, too. She wanted me to be someone I’m not (Jake Gyllenhaal I think). And I wanted her to be someone she isn’t (A wife and the mother of my unborn children). I’m still looking for a wife and want children more and more each day. Really, I think I want a reason to wake up everyday that involves more than just me doing “X” (read: work, reading, writing, viewing virus riddled videos filled with poor acting and great lighting, etc). So, in my desperate attempt at uncovering the hidden qualities that make men desirable mates for suitable wives and future mothers I turned to the Dalai Lama of modern romantics, Matthew McConaughey.

Why him? Because he’s been in more of those types of movies than Bradley Cooper. Because, in his worst day, he is everything that men strive to be (to women), and because, if given the opportunity, I would sleep with Matthew McConaughey–just kidding. But all kidding aside, he’s been in plenty of movie depicting the “sail away into the sunset” endings we have all been fed since birth. Problem is–it’s bullsh**!

Okay, in all fairness, I should offer myself for rebuke from the masses (which, btw, is who I hope finds this blog). So, if you have a “sailed into the sunset” type of relationship, now is your chance to rebut me. I’ll be back momentarily.

Okay, looking here while swallowing the last bite of a turkey on rye and–damn. Just as I thought. No rebuts. Why? Because as human beings we are all wired to have flaws and see the flaws in everyone else and everything else. But we are all secretly hopeless romantics who filter our world views through Matthew McConaughey’s eyes. We weigh our realities against the illusion that everything will eventually work out in the end, and you know what–sometimes it does.

So, because this isn’t a therapy session or the sequel to “Eat, Pray, Love” I will make my point and conclude. In addition to being hopeless romantics, we are also a species that believes in fairy tales to the point that we judge reality against a weighted scale of fantasy endings. It sounds sad, but in truth, these stories exemplify that which is at the depth of our cores: The desire to love and to be loved; the need for companionship; to care for someone and be cared for in return. Or, in my case, to not die alone, wallowing in a pool of self loathing, Bourbon soaked depression believing that the only suitable mate was there and I lost her. She was beautiful, funny, thin, shallow, and unwilling to put anyone else (especially children) before her own desires. In short, the wrong one who I still desperately miss.

In the end, it’s time. Time to start fresh and let the painful lessons that life throws our way sink in. It’s time to move on. So, here’s to moving on, and the start of a new adventure. I believe it’s called, “Failure To Launch” or “Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past”. Not sure. ‘Til next time.

Why I Hate Pop Culture

This morning, while enjoying the popular pass-time of internet exploration, I found that the number one trending article on Yahoo was “Beyonce’s Daring Dress”. Now, I hate Beyonce’. Not on a personal level or because she is currently trending above politics and economics and certainly not because her dress is, so called, daring. No, I hate Beyonce’ because, in addition to being responsible for the lyrics: “Boy I’m just playing, come here baby. Hope you still like me, If you hate me. My persuasion can build a nation. Endless power, our love we can devour. You’ll do anything for me” —Beyonce’ epitomizes the same narcissism that  IS pop culture.

But Beyonce’ is not alone. Nicki Minaj, for instance, sang, “It’s my empire, I get what I desire.” Which is what? Money? Fame? The expectation of being featured on celebrity rehab? They have everything they could want; yet, pop culture produces some of the shallowest, most ego centric, narcissistic waste of all of the influences featured in the media today. People who truly believe the world revolves around them and sing and dance about it while the rest of America loses their homes and struggle to find jobs. Everywhere you go; featured in storefronts, record stores, clothing ads, TV commercials and on billboards. Some celebrity spraying themselves down with forty dollar perfume that smells like a used car delivering floral arrangements to a Justin Bieber concert on Valentine’s Day. As if watching J Lo dancing on the hood of a Fiat is going to make that clown car any less impractical. We all know she doesn’t drive a Fiat. She drives (or uses) the newest free thing her agent pimps her out for.  These infamous court jesters are even featured on popular opinion shows for their input into things that actually matter. “Well, he played lawyer in a movie a couple times, let’s see what Matthew McConaughey thinks about the incident at Penn State.”

So what is the point? The point is this: Who cares? Why even try to “keep up” with a couple rich snobs being exploited by their delusional mother? Maybe if people spent that same amount of energy taking an interest in their own lives rather than being glued to whatever pointless argument the Kardashian’s are having, or witnessing the hazards of brain damage as it relates to spray tanning on the Jersey shore, than maybe the rest of the world would have some reason to respect us that doesn’t involve fearing our arsenal of nuclear warheads. And maybe, just maybe, if we focused a little of the time and money we spend trying to model our lives after the income and image of some of the shallowest people on the planet, many of whom are @twitter for your following pleasure, and spent a little of both helping our neighbors and focusing our attention outward, our communities wouldn’t be such depressing, dog-eat-dog places.

Just a thought. Now back to MTV cribs.