Thursday, January 30, 2014

Setting goals. 
Everyone's favorite New Year's resolution is to lose weight.  I've been guilty of saying it, but not following through.  The best way to reach a goal is to set one that is achievable within a reasonable timeframe.  It's not specific enough to say I'm going to lose 20 pounds this year.  There isn't much urgency for a timeframe that long.  It's also crazy to say I'm going to lose 20 pounds in the first month.  It certainly may be achievable for the most diehard, but seriously, if we've been thinking about losing weight, we've probably not been in the gym for awhile.  So set an achievable goal within a reasonable timeframe.  My goal for January was to lose 5 pounds.  It was measurable and there was a deadline.  Fortunately, I reached the goal in 2 1/2 weeks.  So I set another reachable goal of a total of 8 pounds for January.  Again, measurable and within a reasonable timeframe.  Happy to report this too was met today.  I'll talk about preparation in my next post. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Situational Awareness.

"In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in
everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance."
Miyamoto Musashi, Author
Book of Five Rings

In my opinion, the most important component in self preservation (keeping yourself alive) is situational awareness.  How I define situational awareness is the mental calculation of anything, human or mechanical, in my immediate vicinity that would affect me or my family. 

 Here's a scene from an accident that happened a few months ago ago.  Luckily no one was injured.   

Apparently the driver suffered an acute health problem and lost control of the bus.  As technologies such as smart phones & mp3 players become integrated into our lives, we have become less and less connected with the real world. Having a gun or knife won't mean a thing if this bus careens into you.  You have to be aware of anything that might come into your personal space.

The martial mindset.
I train in filipino martial arts (FMA) and my master gave me a very deep look at how his mind operates.  He said, "when I walk down the street or where ever I am at, my mind is constantly thinking about what I can do to protect myself.  What items around me can I use?  A pipe, a cue ball, a rolled up magazine?  If someone jumped out at me from an alley, what do I do?"

My first thought is paranoia.  This man is PARANOID.  But on my drive home, it made perfect sense.  Situational awareness does not only include scanning, it also includes a plan of action if it comes to it.  For instance, which way would you jump if the bus above came at you?  Would you have decide 5 seconds before hand or 1 second before? 

What does situational awareness look like?
My wife took a candid shot of me and my boys on an outing a month before that bus crashed into the wall.  The yellow and black object to the left is a tour bus on a road that fronts the entrance to the park.  My mind is already aware of the bus and the direction it is going as well as the people around the area. 

Does situational awareness mean I can't have fun?  No.  As you can see from the picture, we do family things such as Sea Life Park and the beach, but it doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself.  It only takes a few seconds to do.  Every so often, I will scan my area and use my senses (see, smell, touch, hear) for anything such as a suspicious characters, smoke, rain, arguments etc.  Also, as I discussed earlier, where are the exits or what is the escape plan? 

My job as a father is to keep my family safe.  I am not a superhero, policeman/firefighter, or mediator.  I cannot put myself in danger at the expense of the safety of my family.  If I am alone, then certainly, I would do my best to help in most situations but I still have to remember that I am no use to my family if I am dead.  Well, maybe for the insurance money.
How do you get started?  If you've done some research on situational awareness, you will, no doubt, come across Col. Jeff Cooper's awareness color codes.  I will not re-iterate them here as there are tons of information about it on the internet.  It is a great way to get started on your path to situational awareness.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why It Is Important to Grow a Garden Before SHTF.

Here's what I think is the Million Dollar Garden Question:

Is this little 4 inch plant or these heirloom seeds I'm buying really the vegetable I have in mind?  Is this thing going to bear fruit that is the size and flavor that I am expecting?  Okay, well, that's two questions, but quite related. 

When I first started gardening last year, the most easiest plant for me to choose was the cherry tomato.  Mostly because I trust the little sliver of paper telling me it is, as well as the picture of what the little tomato will look like.

Eggplants, on the other hand, are a bit harder to figure out at my local nursery.  There was only one eggplant with a picture and that was the large Brinjal eggplant.  That wasn't what I wanted.  I am more used to the slender purple eggplants from Asia.  Last year, the only thing that matched my thoughts were labeled "Japanese Eggplant."  Perfect!  That's the one!  We bought three and with the help of my youngest son, planted our first container garden. 

A month went by and little slender purple fingerlike fruit began to grow.  We were excited.  Then the fruit quit growing at 5 to 6 inches.  Here's a picture:

Wait, that's it?  I let them sit on the plant thinking, hoping for one more growth spurt.  The vegetable tasted the same as what I am used to, but the size was disappointing.  Maybe I needed more water?  Maybe not enough nutrients in the soil?  Maybe it didn't like the coffee grinds I was throwing in.  Whatever I did yielded the same short fruit, now with less frequency because they were on the plant for too long. 

At the beginning of this year, two of the three plants eventually died with the third on life support.  Time to go shopping for another kind of eggplant.  Went to the same place, but this time, they had plants labeled "Filipino eggplant," again with no picture.  "Worth a try."  I told myself.  So I bought just one plant this time.  Here's the result:

Now that's more like it!  Since it passed probation, I went back to the nursery for more.  Too bad, so sad, all gone.  Ah crap.  One week, then two weeks went by and still no Filipino eggplants.  On the third week, I was in luck.  Just one scrawny little plant.  I decided to pass.  The fourth and fifth week went by with no success and the scrawny plant was long gone.  Proving patience is a virtue, six weeks went by and FINALLY!  I grabbed three of the best looking eggplants I could get.  With a big smile on my face, you would have thought I had found gold.  Needless to say, the plants including the once sickly Japanese eggplant are doing well along with the cherry tomatoes and bitter melon.

I hope this helps you decide that starting a garden now is imperative so you not only know what kind of vegetables you like, but also how much watering and nutrients they need to grow. 


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Are You on Youtube?"

"Always be presentable because you never know who you might run into."
                                                                             Wise saying from my Father In Law.

In Hawaii, you will notice that almost everyone smiles here.   When I am out and about, I smile back at everyone that smiles at me.  It's just a habit.  Sometimes I get a "I know you" smile from someone and they'll walk away.  I just brush it off thinking it was probably someone I knew from a long time ago.  Maybe it was from college or maybe from one of the many places I have worked at.  Never did I think someone would recognize me from youtube.

I was at a fun shoot at the range over the weekend and a gentleman smiled and came over to me and asked if I was on youtube.  I replied that I am and he thanked me for doing the videos about the fun shoots.  He wasn't sure if the fun shoots were something he wanted to try so he searched it and found my video.  I felt great pride and, at the same time, very humbled by the fact that I was able to connect with someone through youtube.  We had great fun and in honor of the first person that recognized me from youtube, he will be in my next fun shoot video.  He wanted to stay anonymous so I will honor that.

How does this relate to the wise saying from my Father In Law?    The fun shoots are dusty and dry and in these conditions my nose tends to drip.  After tearing down the tents and putting the targets and supplies away, I plopped in my truck to take a breather and glanced in the rear view mirror.  And there it was...a golden nugget hanging from my nose.  Goodness, how long has that been there!  All the way home I kept touching my nose making sure I got it all off.  Even as I type this, I'm making sure my nose is clean.  So...I may no longer be known as the guy from youtube...just the guy with the golden nugget in his nose.  I'm shaking my head just thinking about it.

So, if you ever see me around.  Please introduce yourself and if I have something hanging from my nose, please tell me so I don't feel so embarrassed later.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Since the garden is doing so well, I've decided to look into raising chickens for eggs and meat.  I found the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery very useful in deciding whether or not raising chickens is what I want to take on.  It contains lots of information on care & feeding of chickens as well as different types of birds for meat or eggs. 

Just so happens that there is also an article in the local newspaper about the increased interest in backyard chickens for a source of eggs.  All the information I needed regarding chickens where I live was right there.  According to the article, City & County of Honolulu ordinances only allow 2 chickens per household. At full production, a chicken can lay an egg a day; providing 14 eggs a week.  There are some noise ordinances as well, but mostly pertains to the roosters crowing. 

While driving to work one day, I asked my son if he would like to have some chickens as pets.  I'm hoping he would take to caring for the chickens as his little brother did for the garden we have.  He thought a dog or a cat would be a better idea.  I then reasoned with him that we could get eggs and meat.  He agreed with the eggs, but couldn't get his head around eating the chicken because it would be a pet.  I told him he ate chicken at least every week and he liked fried chicken very much.  It still didn't sit well with him.  When the time comes, I guess I'll have to dispatch the chicken when he's not home. 

So I'm off looking at chicken coop plans.  There are some really wild and crazy ones, but I'd settle for something simple like this...


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Remembering the Rodney King Riots of 1992.

I can't believe it's been 20 years since the riots.  I was still in high school in the So Cal area.  Even though we lived far from the riots, it was close enough that it still affected us.  Here's some observations I made in retrospect:

1.  Don't hesitate to use vacation time.  My dad, who worked for the city of LA, decided he wasn't going to work until things blew over.  His office was in the middle of downtown LA.  Even if he did go to work, he was sure there would be little work done as everyone would be monitoring the radios.  Good move Dad.

2.  Keep a weeks worth of food at minimum.  We weren't preppers, but we did keep a full pantry.  Living in So Cal, having a stash of 2 gallon bottles of filtered water was normal.  We did not need to make unnecessary trips to the store.

3.  Keep your routine.  Nothing changed.  Friday nights were my nights to cook dinner.  Scrabble night was on Sunday.  The news stayed on for a night or two, but when the images started to be replayed, my parents decided that we didn't need to watch it 24 hours a day.

4.  Guns for protection.  I remember images of Korean business owners perched on their rooftops with rifles and shotguns in hand.  I remember some stores had "Black Owned" signs.  Some of them on burnt store fronts.  Whether they were truly black owned or a last minute effort to save the store.  Whatever it was, it didn't work.  A show of force did.

5.  Stay calm.  It was a really frightful time.  We didn't know how long it was going to last or if it would spread to our area.  It helped that my parents stayed calm. 

What makes a man what he is today is what happened to him along the way.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Tying it all together. Why we pray at dinner.

We were having dinner last week when my eldest boy, age 4, began playing with the head of the fried fish we were going to eat.  Our normal response is to tell him not to play with food and that it will give him a tummy ache.  He stopped, but only long enough to stuff his mouth with rice and fish.  While chewing, he went back to molesting the fish head. I furrowed my brow, flared my nose, and tensed my lips to display to him my displeasure.  Apparently, to a 4 year old, this means to keep going.  So I silently asked the Lord to give me the right words.

I held his hand, looked in his eyes and said, "Lito, you must respect the food that you eat."
      "Why Daddy?" he asked pulling his hand away.
      "That fish gave up it's life so that we can have food in our tummies."  Oh, I felt so proud of myself and I smiled a big happy smile.
      "But why did the fish do that?"  My smile soon vanished as I thought for an instant.  I remembered the advice I had gotten at a parenting workshop; counter a "why" question with a "why" question of your own.
"Do you know why we pray before dinner?"  I asked Lito.  There was no answer.  "We pray to thank God for providing this fish so that we can eat and be full and live."  I see the wheels turning in his head as he nodded.  For the rest of the dinner that night, the fish head lay in peace.

It must have worked because it's been a week and he has yet to abuse food on the table.  Thank you Lord for giving me the right words and putting the right people in front of me.  Now what to do with him using soo much toilet paper.