Yesterday was a Defensive Pistol Skills 2 day at KR Training. I was assisting Karl with class. After class, a few students reshot the Three Seconds or Less test, and I joined them on the line.
I shot with the Sig P365XL Holosun from my Enigma/JMCK. I finally picked up a Sport Belt (where have you been all my life you sweet thing!). I also chose to rotate my carry ammo, so throughout the day I shot up my Gold Dot 124 grain +P.
First thing I noticed was I was going back into the holster by the time students were just breaking their first shot. Getting out of the holster quickly has merit.
Second, I way failed the test.
Where was the fucking dot?
That’s all that kept going through my head.
Where’s the fucking dot?
I tried playing with some things like slide/window indexing. But still… where’s the fucking dot?
During class, I was running the shoothouse. Afterwards I cranked off some 25+ yard rounds to the 3-D reactive targets – behold the power of the dot.
If you can fucking find it. 🤪
I’ve not been dry practicing for a couple weeks. I’ve been massively burned out due to sleep issues. If I can’t increase my reserves I have to cut expenditures. It’s why I took the last week off from the gym, and why I’m readjusting my gym work with regards to fatigue management. In fact, I’m writing this on a late Sunday afternoon, where I’ve napped most of the day and am starting to regain myself. I rewatched this from Rob Leatham:
and I’m feeling a rise within to want to get back to work.
That’s a good sign.
Oh another thing. It’s ok to suck in public. A couple students stayed after and spectated the shooting. I – the instructor – failed and sucked in front of students/clients. On the one hand, I get the ego involvement and protection. On the other, as Jake the Dog said:
Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.
On June 1, 2022 I was a student in the Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course presented by Tom Givens, hosted by Karl Rehn at the KR Training facility. I took this class not only because I appreciate a refresh on Tom’s doctrine, but it’s also part of my journey of the red dot pistol.
The Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course is 8 hours of intensive training in defensive marksmanship, proper gun-handling, and personal tactics. The class started in the classroom with Tom speaking on the importance of mindset. Tom dove into the 1986 FBI Miami shootout and the lessons it holds. Home security matters were addressed (tl;dr “lock your damn doors”). Staying safe in public. Who is around me? What are they doing? Active shooter realities. This classroom portion is the money of the class (or really, any class with Tom Givens) – the mechanical skill of shooting is, relatively, easy. But to have what? 5+ decades of direct knowledge, professionalism, and experience laying it down for you? People… that’s where it’s at.
I get the feeling the design of the class is half-classroom half-range. I say “feeling” because we experienced sudden, unpredicted downpours throughout the day and were confined to the classroom for a fair portion of the day. Tom of course being a wellspring of knowledge there was no shortage of things for him to teach, and so he did. Eventually the rain stopped and we went out. It’s a pleasure watching Tom run a range – I got reminded of a few places I need to tighten up.
Range work was strong on fundamentals. Note: Tom had the following prerequisite for the class:
Registration is strictly limited to students who have had any prior Rangemaster handgun course, such as Combative Pistol, Intensive Pistol, or Instructor Development. This assures that everyone is on the same page on Safety and Basic Marksmanship procedures, so we don’t have to use time in this class to cover those topics. This assures everyone of a better learning experience in this course.
(I think a KRT DPS1 grad would be minimal for this course)
In range work, Tom went over the 4-count drawstroke, refining technique. We did a lot of drawstroke, dry work, present from low ready, DTFAH, multiple hits, Parrot Drill. Good stuff. Very fundamentals, very much ensuring people have (minimum) competency.
For me, the range work wasn’t anything I couldn’t already do… but I had the dot. More on that in a moment.
I’ve taken around 150 hours of training from Tom – I’m familiar with what he teaches. I think this “Practical/Tactical” class makes a fantastic entry into the world of “The Gospel of Givens”. It is solid and well-considerate of topics for a 1-day class offering – it is rich in appropriate and relevant skills and information. I am happy people were introduced to Quickly, Carefully, Precisely. And again, the real money is the classroom material. Folks… THIS IS THE SHIT YOU NEED. And I’ll be real for a moment: I dunno how much longer Tom’s gonna keep doing this, so get your ass into one of his classes.
If you are more on the experienced side, this is still a valuable class. You can ALWAYS stand to hear the classroom stuff again – plus the way Tom tells it, well… you can tell he’s an articulate motherfucker who knows his shit. And the range time is excellent work on fundamentals – you will learn something new, that will help you along.
People go to classes because they want fun: a class has to be fun. It is a bit of an escape for most of us (e.g. I came home refreshed, actually! a day outside away from the computer…). Practical Tactical provides fun – you’ll get “pew-pew time”. But this is one of those classes where your satisfaction comes later, after class, when you realize how richer you’ve become for the experience.
Bottom line: a solid 1-day offering beneficial to those who wish to become richer in their knowledge of defensive handgun
I shot my Sig P365XL, curved trigger, Wilson Combat grip module, Holosun 507K (circle-dot), PHLster Enigma & JMCK Enigma Shell (recently adjusted).
My biggest problem was eye focus: I’m heavily myelinated on front-sight focus, so I wound up doing dot-sight focus. I’m also learning how to acquire (hunt for) the dot. I’ve been mostly working on the press-out, which implies ready positions like “high-compressed ready” (which is what is done at KRT). Tom works from the low ready – I haven’t worked that with the dot. The “on press-out” techniques to help you find/acquire the dot like starting slightly muzzle-up waving/dropping the muzzle as you get to extension to allow the dot to “drop in” – you can’t do that from low ready. So how the F do you manage low ready? What’s the trick there? Seriously, I’m asking – comment below.
I just have to continue to (un)learn it. I think I need more live-fire at this point, because recoil, sun, etc. It’s just going to take work – I need to get my eyes/brain seeing what needs to be seen here. I was thankful Doug Greig was AI’ing, as he was a solid resource for dot-specific tips.
To that… remember. The old man is 70, still uses irons, and outshoots all of us. Take that to the bank.
I was better in my grip… almost too good:
Blood blister, I reckon from a bottom-corner on the mag well. I’ll be taking some sandpaper to round off edges. I like the WC module, but it’s a trade-off for the part vs. something like a Boresight module. I have an off-the-shelf BS module, but I think to work in my hands I need a custom job, which is time and money so… yeah.
After adjusting the Enigma/JMCK setup, it’s working better. I need to get a sport belt…
It was an informative time. Things I see I could stand to do:
Do more dry work “at speed”
Think about that DTFAH skill.
Drive the gun, especially during dry work.
Small gun issues…
Continue to work on eye focus
Live work – use Gabe’s 4 technical skills, perhaps.
It was good to see Tom. I’m privileged to know and learn from him.
That is my “vision statement”: I don’t want to be decrepit.
Why do I go to the gym? Sure being bigger and stronger is cool, but it’s because I don’t want to be decrepit.
I made noises getting up and down from the ground to cuddle and play with my then-infant son – I was in my mid-20s? Not right. I was a smoker and got winded walking 2 flights of stairs to the office. Not right. I saw people, middle-aged-and-up, struggling to negotiate a “flight” of 3 steps. Not right.
I made up my mind: I don’t want to be(come) decrepit.
I don’t know when I will die, and I have so little control over it. I’m not rushing headlong into death, but I’m not out to avoid the unavoidable either. What I am doing is enabling myself to live this life while I have it. I don’t need to be wicked strong, but I need to be strong. I don’t need to have wicked endurance, but I need endurance. Being leaner is better. I need to be able to move and used my body in its entirety – picking up something that fell on the floor shouldn’t be an ordeal.
And yes, sometimes my definition of living life includes doing some stupid things and getting hurt (e.g. my pec strains), and understanding that while lifting is generally good for me it does wear on me too – but I enjoy it and I’m ok with the trade-off. And yes I know that despite my best efforts, I will still age, I will still fail, I will still fall apart, and I may become decrepit.
If you enjoy reading about my lifting weights, read on.
I’ve completed 2 microcycles (3 micros in a meso-block) of my “move away from 5/3/1”. I wanted to capture my current state of things.
Summing up the microcycle
3 days a week, 4 sessions per micro (micro thus is 9-10 days long; gym 3x/week is a good balance between stimulus and recovery for me).
Fundamentally upper/lower A/B split
Squat (lower A)
Bench (upper A)
Deadlift (lower B)
Press (upper B)
Each session starts with a main lift: squat, bench press, deadlift, press.
This will be worked for strength. Work up to a crisp single.
Might do 1 backoff set for AMRAP; maybe.
Shifting supplemental and accessory work to more bodybuilding style, with increasing intensity per micro, and changing up every meso-block.
Some accessory upper worked on lower day: accumulate volume over the micro (vs. within the session); helps manage time-in-gym-vs-i-gotta-get-to-work-but-want-to-ensure-I-give-some-bodyparts-the-attention-they-need-over-the-micro. 🙂
I adopted a few conventions
Be conservative. I have goals, and I can’t meet them if I’m injured. Slow progress is still progress.
For a lot of accessory (and some supplemental) work, do 3 sets driving each set to failure. Over the “3 weeks” (3 micros of the meso), it’ll be like this (do you even conjugate, bro?):
Week 1: start dialing in weight and reps, each set to failure. Won’t be a killer 3 sets but it’ll be novel stimulus.
Week 2: weight and reps should be fairly dialed in, so just hit it again the same as week 1, just kinda “straight set pushing it” aiming to get a few more reps/work than week 1, still to failure.
Week 3: weight and reps are dialed in. Hit it hard for 3 sets all to failure, then finish with some sort of intensity technique: drop sets, iso-holds, rest-pause, partials, etc. Whatever is appropriate for the movement, e.g. selectorized machines easily support drop sets, John Meadows loved iso-holds and partials at the end of lying leg curls).
If I work a body part additionally on “a different day”, try to find some alternative approach. For example, if on same day you went heavy weight low reps, different day might be medium-weight moderate reps or light weight higher reps. A little variety just for interest.
So it has looked something like this:
Squat. 5-4-3-2-1 rep workup to a crisp single. Backoff: 1×60%
Leg press. 1 warm-up, then 3×20. On 3rd micro, finish with -30% drop set
(I’d add Leg extensions if I needed it, but so far this has been a lot of quad stimulus).
Calves on (selectorized) leg press. 3×8-12, pyramiding up. 3rd mirco, finish with drop set.
Rope-handle cable hammer curls. 350 Method. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
Benched barbell wrist extensions. 3×20
Bench press. I started this “move away” on 5/3/1 3s week so: micro 1, 3s week; micro 2, 1s week + 1 Joker rep; micro 3, 54321 workup plus a Joker single.
Incline DB flies. Slight incline a la John Meadows. 3×15, 3rd micro finish with 2 rest-pause sets. Get that stretch.
Seated DB Press. 4×6-10. 3rd micro finish with drop set
Incline DB Y raise. 3×10-15, 3rd micro finish with partial swings
PJR Pullovers. 3×12-15, 3rd micro finish with 2 rest-pause sets
Cable Row. 4×8-15, pyramiding up in weight. 3rd micro finish with 2 drop sets
Deadlift. 54321 workup.
Seated leg curl. 4×8-10. 3rd micro finish with drop set
Seated calf raises. 350 method. 3rd micro finish with partials/bounce
EZ-Bar pushdowns. 3×8-15. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
Benched barbell wrist extensions. 3×20
Press. Executed same as bench.
Dips. 3×5+. Easing my shoulder/body back into these, so start with 3×5 and 1+ each week.
Barbell row. 4×5-8, pyramid up in weight. 3rd micro finish with 135xAMRAP
Dante row. 3×8-15 pyramid up in weight. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
Face pulls. 3×12-15. 3rd micro finish with drop set
Wide grip EZ bar curls. 4×6-8, 3rd micro finish with partials
Spider curls. 3×12-25 – just rep the fuck out. 3rd micro finish with iso-hold
Results so far
Again, I just finished micro 2.
Gut response: I like it. I’m getting strength work in, and the hypertrophy work is really cranking the shit out of my muscles – I am SORE! I am glad to see hypertrophy happening, because I’m aiming to use this programming to support my cut.
Another big thing for me here is the meso supplemental/accessory progression and rotation. Where week over week it ups the intensity, then next meso you switch to a similar movement. Oh the DOMS! Good pumps have been had too. I think this approach will support where I want to go. We shall see.
Where I want to go
I need to focus on dropping my body fat once and for all. I reckon I could drop 40# of flab and be happy. I really love strength training, and I need to find a way to keep that around during the cut, minimizing (or at least tracking) its state and progress or loss. I need to retain as much muscle as possible, and the best way to do that is to work to build muscle. I need to have a gym program that will support this dietary and lifestyle shift I need to undertake.
I will move the strength work to being a more “54321 workup” sort of thing, maybe with 1 backoff for some reps. I want the 1 to be crisp (I love Paul Carter for that term; it’s razor accurate). If it’s not crisp, I stay there micro over micro until it is. Which direction things move (even if it takes a few weeks) will be informative. I would adore progression, even if slow. So I will attempt a fairly slow progression. Like week over week just increase by maybe 5#. Then step back and do it again. To illustrate, let’s take squat:
Week/micro 1: squat 325
Week 2: squat 330
Week 3: 335
Week 4/meso 2: 330 (hopefully crisper than week 2)
Week 5: 335 (hopefully crisper than week 3)
Week 6: 340 (cool)
Week 7/meso 3: 335, etc.
Again, illustration. Subsequent weeks depend how preceding weeks go. But generally some sort of periodized undulation.
Point tho is strength work is just kinda this sort of thing. As well, I have thought about adopting an RPE-based and/or kinda sorta that Simmons/Tate “max effort” shit; that sort of approach got me to my strongest ever. 🤔 And there’s a part of me that wants to squat 405 again…
Accessory work is hypertrophy oriented. I’m working to ensure stimulus is constantly novel. Can you get it done in 3 sets? You betcha, if you push that shit hard. First week you basically know what you can do, so crank that. Because of novelty, it’ll be good stimulus. Week 2, you have the weight and reps more dialed in, so simply due to that you’ll be able to push a little harder with an appropriate weight. That will be sufficient stimulus. But if you keep just “doing straight sets”, you adapt. So to prevent that, week 3 you again can push a little harder, and then we finish with some sort of intensity technique. Week 1 is novel, week 2 is adapting, week 3 pushes beyond. Always pushing towards failure, increasing intensity each micro. THEN, in the next micro you switch to a new movement and start over again. So maybe you did barbell curls, now you do ez-bar curls; wide then narrow, narrow then wide, cable curls, whatever… just pick a variation (conjugate bro). Lather, rinse, repeat over the mesos.
Plus, the fact I change up every 3 weeks means I never really know how much strength I’m losing. LOL. Yes, I’ll probably stop doing SBDP eventually and replace with similar movements (e.g. return to front squat). But, if my strength stalls, that tells me something regarding my diet/loss progress too. So, it’s all good, telling, diagnostic. I may be able to do things like when I see the stall, have diet go maintenance, achieve new set point (perhaps strength increases slightly like my reps start to go back up 1 per micro), then start a new cut. It may be cycles like this… 🤔
I have seen some decent musculature appearing in just 2 weeks – it’s not huge, but there’s a difference. This bodes well for supporting weight/fat loss.
I remember being a teenager and thinking “shit… 30? That’s fucking OLD.” And I couldn’t fathom what it meant to be “thirtysomething“. And here I am, about to turn 50.
About a year ago I thought to myself how it’d be cool to diet down, get lean, and post a thirst trap for my 50th birthday.
That won’t be happening.
I continue to fail at diet. But I continue to work at it. A few months ago I came to realize part of my problem is I’ve been very outcome-focused with my diet work – I should be process-focused. I am and can be process-focused in many other areas of my life, but diet for whatever reason escaped me. I’ve been focusing on process in my diet and while it’s not making a difference in my scale weight, it’s building habit – the habit that I will need when I start taking specific steps to drop weight (e.g. reduce caloric intake). So, it remains a struggle, but I struggle on.
The discomfort of the past few months is behind me. I’m settling into my new position at the primary job. And ahead I have no hard things to prepare for, like in 2019 when I had to stash off the Sig P365 adventure because I had to prep for Gabe White and Rangemaster Master Instructor. I mean, I shot my franken-P365 at the TacCon22 match – no qualms about sucking in public (much anymore). Seems now’s the time to make the switch to the red dot. I’ll suck for a while, and that’s fine.
There’s some other things about myself that I want to unfuck.
But that’s often the thing. People see all these things, big things, many things, monumental things. They dive headlong in with only so much plan and direction, or even manageability – and it often leads to failure. In software development we don’t implement a HUGE new feature (a “13 point story”) in one fell shot. No, we analyze the big and work to break it down into smaller, more workable, more consumable chunks (break it into 13 1-point stories). It’s also easier to pivot mid-way, if necessary.
I have big places I want to be with and for myself – but I need to start small. As I’ve been saying lately (inspired by Jim Wendler):
Slow progress is still progress.
That whole “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” thing. A lot of baby steps consistently over time add up into some big changes. It’s easier to take baby steps every day.
“It’s always been one of my goals to standing press 300 pounds. In the summer of 2008, I did just that. When someone asked me what my next goal was, my response was simple: “305 pounds.” If you bench press 225 pounds and want to get 275, you have to bench 230 first.”
So here’s what I’m planning to do:
Read every day
I must read something every day. It doesn’t matter what, just so long as it’s meaningful, useful, growth-oriented. It doesn’t matter how much, tho keep it reasonable (I’d rather read 2 pages than fail to read 20… that whole “if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly” thing). It can be a blog post (e.g. anything by Claude Werner), it can be a chapter or passage of a book. It can even be a YouTube video if it’s educational (e.g. I watched a Scott Jedlinski instructional video while on the treadmill earlier this week).
I want to ensure I consume something meaningful and growth-oriented every day. Not just the scroll of the feed and what the algorithms put in front of me. I want to build my tolerance for “sitting and staring at dead trees” and just be reading more.
“Yoga” every day
It’s not really yoga. Rather, it’s me making sure I move and use my body fully every day. I sit (curl into a ball) in front of a computer every day. I need to stand, I need to stretch, I need to squat and bend and twist and extend and flex and all those things. I want to ensure that every day I USE my body and all its muscles, joints, and parts.
I know what my body needs (e.g. right now it’s a lot of door stretches to open up my pec minor). So I am devising my own routine. I might even make 2, like a quick in-between-meeting thing or a longer session thing… a morning, an evening… I dunno, and I’ll see how it evolves.
I want to move my body every day. I would love to increase my mobility/flexibility. I don’t have to be a gymnast, but I know some improvement would help with some body alignments, issues, etc.
Workout every day
Basically this is that I go to the gym. If it’s a no-gym day, then I must dry fire.
While it’s not hard to motivate me to get to the gym, somedays I don’t want to go and must do it because discipline. This is pretty core to my habits and behavior and “who I am”. So while I don’t expect problems here, I also must use this as a tempering – I cannot afford to get injured, so I must curb my enthusiasm and play the long game.
I need to dry fire more, especially if I want to move to the red dot. I want to carry/shoot the P365XL (with Wilson Combat grip module, curved trigger, Holosun 507K-X2 2 MOA Dot or 32 MOA Circle Miniature Red Dot Sight – Red). Givens is coming in June and that’ll be a nice checkpoint. So… I better put in the dry and live work.
I want to grow stronger in these two disciplines.
Eating – and being less fat
I’m tired of being fat. I’m tired of carrying this around. I’ve been tired for a long time, but it’s been a struggle. As I wrote above, I’ve adopted a more process-focused mindset and approach. I think it’s helping, but it’s going to take time. As someone said, it took you years to get fat; don’t think you’ll become lean overnight. It’s about getting the habits in place, really. I’ve been evolving habit for a long time, and it’s good, just slow. But again, slow progress is still progress.
One huge change? Mrs. Hsoi is helping. I love her cooking. I think that’s been the missing ingredient. I can make macro-correct food, but there’s no love. She’s been doing this for a few weeks now and it’s making a HUGE difference. Sure the food repeats every day, but it’s still something SHE made – and it’s just wonderful. For someone who has emotion and eating tied together, Mrs. Hsoi’s cooking hits the spot. I’m still focusing on just building habit right now (there’s more to it than this), but so far so good.
Ultimately I do want to be lean. I look at Vincent Dizenzo and his 11 years of progress. Process. That will give me progress. It’s also been wonderfully freeing to not stress so hard about the “scale weight” (and how I look naked); truly go through the process and don’t sweat it – it will come.
Here I go…
So there we are. Four things. I have a few other things, but those are private. To me, the “ask/demand/expectation” within each day is reasonable and small. But even if I only read 1 page a day, when I turn 50 I’ll have read 100 pages.
That’s pretty cool.
I’m keeping a spreadsheet. Provides a bit of a diary, but also some accountability.
When Tom Givens asked me to present at TacCon21, holy shit – I had never felt so uncomfortable in my life. I embraced it, because I knew I would grow. And grow I did.
I was asked back for TacCon22. Of course I presented AIWB Skills, but I wanted to present something of my own. I presented my Minimum Competency stuff.
My discomfort level spiked.
I’m putting myself out there. I’m seeking to grow a body of knowledge, but I gotta make some assertions and back them up. And doing it in front of the TacCon audience? An audience of new impressionable minds, and seasoned “they forgot more than I know” veterans – my peers, my mentors. I mean… tough crowd, but that’s who I want. If I’m full of shit, I need to know.
It’s a little scary putting yourself out there like this.
I came out on the other side.
We’ll see where this goes… and how I grow.
Because it is through discomfort that we grow. When your discomfort (level) grows, remember that the discomfort (that you’re feeling is what) grows (you).
I taught 4 blocks: 2 AIWB Skills (live fire), 1 panel with Lee Weems & Erick Gelhaus, and my presentation on Minimum Competency. I participated in 1 live fire class, and observed a few presentations. I stunk up the match. Of course, being able to hang with “the family” for a few days is what makes this awesome. So many hugs given and received – my heart is full.
I first presented at TacCon21. Tom asked me to step in for brother Spencer Keepers (Spencer had some medical issues to tend to; all good). I was quite surprised yet honored to be asked. My imposter syndrome skyrocketed to 11. I was honored to be asked back for TacCon22.
AIWB Skills went over well. Saturday lunch, Scott Jedlinski asked me if I had any open slots in my Sunday class – I did, and Scott joined. Imposter syndrome 12. It was cool tho. My first time really hanging with Scott – my fellow large Asian mammal – and it was good. He gave me some excellent feedback, and taught me the meaning of “cheater”. 😉
Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol is something I’ve been researching since 2013. I presented my original work, along with my recent thinking. I also presented my “Minimum Competency Assessment” and thinking behind it. My present thinking is to write this up in long form and update my “Drills, Standards, Qualifications, & Tests” eBook. Matter of time and priorities. Stay tuned.
The Aftermath, my panel presentation with Lee & Erick. This was… special. I spoke about my 2015 home invasion. Erick about his incident. Lee about 2 incidents his deputies were involved in. Funny thing about this is we did barely any planning/organization work prior to TacCon: each made a few slides, Lee collated, Lee projected them… and then the 3 of us stood in front of the audience figuring out how we wanted to do this presentation. 😂 I went first, then Erick, finally Lee, each giving a short account of our incident focusing heavily on issues of the aftermath. Erick turned to me and asked if he could reference one of my slides (of course!). Before today, Erick and I were strangers to each other. Our stories are different, yet our aftermaths are similar. We didn’t plan our presentation, and I think the organic nature of it all made for a special and emotional session. Erick and I (and those deputies) are in a club, for better or worse. I’m fortunate to have found a new brother. Love you, Erick.
Shot the match with my franken-P365: WC XL grip, curved trigger, P365 slide with irons. Scored paper: 245/250, tie: 35/50 4.49 sec: 252.795. Finished 76/174. On paper, dropped the first WHO shot to just outside the box; tie had 3 just outside 6 o’clock. With that gun, basically cold, after the emotional drain I just went through? If this is where my skill degrades to, I can accept that.
Took class from Wayne Dobbs (HiTS) channeling Larry Mudgett; most excellent stuff, giving me new tools to diagnose problems and help students improve. The excellent learning resources Jon & Sarah Hauptman (PHLster) are producing through their Concealment Workshop will become industry reference. I finally got to partake of John Holschen’s wisdom. I listened to Erick present research. Greg Ellifritz had an informative session on medicine under austere circumstances. Good learning being had.
And of course, seeing old friends, making so many new ones. Eating good food. Having to eat Whataburger. Many many selfies. Endless hugs. More selfies. Hot AF tents (Meadhall Range cookies!). Going to bed late and getting up early. Big thanks to the Dallas Pistol Club for the facility and contribution. Thanks to Tiffany Johnson, Martin Hoffert, Aqil Qadir, the RSOs, the crew. And of course, Tom & Lynn Givens of Rangemaster. What a special event; I am truly blessed to be a part of it. ❤️
Next week is TacCon22. I am presenting 4 blocks on 3 topics: 2 AIWB Skills live fire blocks, 1 panelist with Erick Gelhaus and Lee Weems on “The Aftermath”, 1 presenter on my pet project: “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol” including presenting new thinking on the topic. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little stressed. 😬
When Tom Givens asked me to step in for Spencer Keepers at TacCon21, of course I answered “Yes, sir!”. My imposter syndrome spiked to 11. But I presented 3 live fire blocks and I guess I didn’t totally suck because I was asked back for TacCon22. I’m almost finished with my prep (as prepped as I can be). It’s been stressful, but I know the Conference will be good.
Some people are surprised to learn I’m not an extrovert. Sure, I’m good at peopleing, but it consumes a lot of energy, and I need alone/quiet time to recharge (introvert). TacCon is a LOT of peopleing. It’s good, I have a great time, but it’s still a lot of peopleing. Then the added energy of teaching (“being on stage”), and it’s a draining time for me. Doing the math on that right now is building up some anxiety. I know it’ll all be fine and I’ll live, nevertheless I’ve had the stress-tick of bouncing my foot/leg creeping back in.
The Aftermath stresses me minorly. I’ve told this story before, so it’s a matter of ensuring I mind time constraints and ensure topic mindfulness. That’s all that gets me. Plus it’ll be nice to meet Erick.
AWIB Skills stresses me a bit more, but not tons. I developed the curriculum, but I don’t get to run it much so it’s not as “in my head” as say a KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills 1 class. I also made some iterative refinements, and I think it’ll work better this year. One lesson from last year? Print it out, put it on a clipboard – I can do it from my head, but there’s a lot of details to convey so having a reference on-demand is good.
But the presentation about Minimum Competency? That’s got me stressed. It’s not the public speaking part – I’m good at that. It’s the topic – but meta stuff about the topic. The original blog post has been around since 2013 and the reprint in our 2019 book. I reckon if I was totally off base someone might have called my ass out by now? Or maybe no one gives a shit – my brain naturally gravitates towards the latter. Thing is, I termed the session “a discussion” because I want to present but I want to then open the floor. I want to be questioned! The audience is the right one to ask this to, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little intimidated by the potential of who may be in the audience and the questions that may be asked. But that’s what I want and why I’m doing it. I want to seek truth, this is how we get there. It’s uncomfortable to go through, but ain’t gonna grow otherwise.
It’ll be a good time. I’ll be thankful for it when it’s over, but right now I’m prepping and managing my stress/anxiety about it. 😄
I know the importance of being better. I work to convey this to my children, my students, my mentees, the people I work and interact with throughout each day. And I do work by and for myself to become better.
But I’ve grown comfortable.
On the one hand, I’m happy about it because I’ve worked hard for a long time to achieve where I am in life. Still, the comfort has made me complacent. It’s also a conflicting tension between wanting to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and feeling bad about being static and growing stale. Yes, life ebbs and flows – and while I want to stay in this ebb, I need to force myself to flow again.
I don’t need to be the best, I just want to be better. Little improvements over time add up to major progress. One principle of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program (the weight-lifting program much of my lifting philosophy is based upon) is “Progress Slowly”.
Slow progress might not get you the best rewards today but it will tomorrow. The longer you can progress, even if it’s by one rep or 2.5 pounds, the more it means that you’re actually making progress.… The game of lifting isn’t an 8-week pursuit. It doesn’t last as long as your latest program does. Rather, it’s a lifetime pursuit. If you understand this, then progressing slowly isn’t a big deal. In fact, this can be a huge weight lifting off your back. Now you can focus on getting those 5 extra pounds rather than 50.… If you bench press 225 pounds and want to get to 275, you have to bench 230 first.”
Jim Wendler “5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System to Increase Raw Strength”
Jim isn’t just talking about lifting weights – he’s really talking about how to make progress. Aiming to be 1% better and achieving it is better than aiming for some unrealistic or undefined target and achieving 0% improvement (or regressing). A little progress is still progress. Granted this process isn’t applicable to all efforts in life, but for efforts that are life-long I think it’s a good perspective and approach to allow for continued improvement in a manageable and sustainable way.
I want to become better; it’s a never-ending process. I have selected a few areas in which I wish to improve. The difference? I’m not aiming for some huge change. I don’t need to take over the world in the next month. In fact, I don’t really have a particular end-goal in sight for these nor do I think there really is one. If simply I can be a smidge better in this area today than I was yesterday, it’ll add up.
This is a vague and sweeping topic, but it’s accurate. It literally is telling myself to choose a path of discipline when faced with a decision.
For example, ensuring I maintain boundaries, especially at the day job, towards sustainability. Remembering posture, not just when I’m standing but when I’m sitting in front of the computer all day. And then, standing up and working once in a while – that’s why I bought an UpLift desk. Not snacking and accepting a little hunger both physically and metaphorically.
I love collecting books. I collect them far faster than I read them. I trimmed my nightstand books down to three that are relevant, useful, and interesting to me right now. I will work through them, even if it’s just 2 pages while I’m on the shitter, it’s 2 pages.
This also implies that I’m on my phone less. Choose book over phone.
Reduce body fat
I’m tried of gaining and losing, gaining and losing. I’m tired of carrying around the flab. I don’t find it attractive. There are physical problems it causes me too. This has to stop.
And let’s be real. I’ve spent years building some sort of body – I’d like to see what’s under all the cream cheese.
I’m finding a more manageable approach is to ensure I get sufficient protein, hit target calories, and beyond that don’t sweat it too much. As of this writing, I’ve been at it about a month and frankly I haven’t made much progress on the scale, but I see some progress in the mirror. What has progressed more is a greatly improved mindset and finding how to make my fat loss efforts more sustainable. If I take the long view, taking a few months that may not make scale-progress but help me find the ways and habits that will lead to scale progress? Those few months don’t seem like such an expense any more.
We’re in a big life transition period. Last year we moved out of Austin to B/CS. The kids are fledging, which has numerous implications. I took a big promotion at the day job. Life’s in transition; what got me here isn’t necessarily going to keep me going so I must adapt to the changing conditions.
Be more of a husband
For the past couple decades, life is primarily centered around raising the kids. The road ahead is no longer about the kids as primary – it has to shift to be about me and the Missus. This is a great thing, and it is something that will require explicit work. We can’t just continue as we have been because that won’t serve how things are (becoming).
So… we’re going to go dancing.
We have always joked about dancing. I can’t dance. Heck, at our wedding we did the old “junior prom” thing of holding each other and just swaying back and forth for a song. So to take dance lessons and go dancing has always been a joke for us. Well, lessons were my Christmas gift to her.
We’re also going out more and doing different things. We’re thinking about our next house and how this next house has a different audience and purpose. It’s good to turn now more towards each other; just it is something we have to care about and explicitly given attention to – don’t take anything for granted.
Chart my new career path
A few months ago I made a major (to me) career shift: after 25+ years as a professional programmer I moved into management as a Director. Still in the realm of software development, but I’m no longer making the software. So far I’m enjoying the shift because it’s where I’ve naturally been evolving: more towards building the company and the people within. But it is a new job to me, with so many new things to learn.
I’m choosing to stay in the job at least one year (barring any black swan events), to give me some amount of experience and exposure to stuff that such a job can bring. What I do after the year I’ll figure out once I get there. In the meantime, I need to invest in growing in this new role: reading relevant books, attending seminars, finding mentors. I am thinking about where I want to go in this phase of my career.
This is really what it’s all about. All the above is ultimately about this:
It doesn’t matter what it’s about: in my day computer-world job, in my side shooting-world job, lifting weights, shedding fat, entertainment habits, dancing in public, daily small things I do.
I need to shed my desire for comfort and embrace the uncomfortable.
The big shift for me is a shift to the little. I am not thinking about one big change; I’m looking for little changes that will add up. I am not thinking about outcomes, other than to provide me with a direction.
I’ve attempted improvement in a number of these areas before, and while I learned much from the failures, I still haven’t achieved what I want. Outcomes still matter; it’s about finding the right process to get there, breaking it into smaller steps that facilitate achievement, and watching the steps add up.
If I can do one small thing consistently, that will amount to big things.
When I started this blog in 2009 I made the rule I had to post every day. It didn’t have to be something deep – and often it was just gym logs – but at least there was the discipline of a post every day: that I wrote one, that I published one, that readers saw (and maybe read). Come 2015, a major event in my life caused blogging to abruptly stop and my streak broken. That event lasted a while, and when I came back to it the spark was extinguished. Plus various things in life were changing and time and energy to write just wasn’t there. As of late, the blog’s just been nothing but Sunday Metal posts, which at least I was able to keep going because I could sit for a couple hours, schedule 6 months of posts, then move on.
A few years ago I had a major day job shift. I found myself writing less – or sometimes no – code at all. I was leading projects, considering bigger pictures, people-ing. Programming was a primary creative outlet for me – it’s my art. Solving someone else’s problem is merely my canvas. But as my day job duties shifted, so too did my creative outlet fade away. Oh sure I COULD do programming on nights and weekends, but in reality after a long day I want to get away from the computer, and my weekends are mostly filled up with teaching at KR Training. Then add in time for family, gym, etc. and there’s just not time nor energy remaining.
Oh sure, I did a complete rewrite of PanemQuotidianum in SwiftUI a few months back. That was fun. But interestingly it didn’t move me that much. As I’ve been telling people “Oooooh… yet another TableView”. It was cool to fiddle around more in the new hotness of SwiftUI, but there didn’t feel much challenge. It didn’t sing to me like programming once did.
I’ve realized… my creative outlets have faded. In fact, since taking on my new day job position as Director of Technology, all I do is meetings and people-ing. Don’t get me wrong, that in and of itself is fine for where I am in life – it’s just not an artistic/creative outlet.
I was lamenting to Mrs. Hsoi how I just don’t have any creative outlets any more. I don’t program nor have the time or energy for it. KR Training work is fun, but it’s work and not a lot of creative outlet (tho it has research outlets). The gym isn’t creative – it’s work, it’s fun, there’s satisfaction, but it’s not a place to pour my creative juices.
I started to think I needed a hobby – all my hobbies have turned into jobs/work. LOL I’ve always wanted to explore blacksmithing, but that’s not feasible right now. Working on engines was cool, but is that necessarily creative for me? And the more I thought about it, I realized it’s not a hobby I need.
I’ve noticed over the past some whiles as I take longer distance/time drives, I don’t listen to music or podcasts – I just think. I’m alone in the car, I can talk out loud, I can be silent, I can do whatever. I realize what I’ve been needing is just that: time to think. I spend all my days just acting and reacting to what’s going on (a fire over here, a problem over there, another meeting, etc.) – when do I ever get to just deeply think any more? I don’t. I miss that. My best work came from being able to just think about stuff. And it’s not something I can schedule: “Oh, it’s 10:00am, time for 1 hour of thinking!”. It’s about just allowing my schedule to have time to breathe.
The other day while driving to the KR Training facility it really hit me:
What I need: it’s not so much creative building, it’s creative thinking.
To program for the sake of programming – to make an app – that’s building. It’s not the building, it’s the thinking that goes into that building. Looking back, it’s why I have so many unfinished projects: it wasn’t about building that thing, it was thinking through a concept or a method or exploring or some other thinking, and once I finished that thought, it was done.
I’ve been collecting a lot of things in my notes – things that I would love to write about, but I don’t because of lack of time. But if I really look, I do have some time. I cut back on gym visits from 4x to 3x per week to better mesh with helping my sons train. But I still wake up early on Tuesday and Thursday, and I’ve found myself wasting that time because I don’t want to start the day job but I can’t do other life things either (e.g. make phone calls, schedule work, etc. because the people I need to talk with aren’t up and working yet). So I watch YouTube videos or other things to pass the time, and while a little relaxation is good, I’ve been finding myself feeling like I’m wasting time.
So… why not try writing again.
I’ve got things I want to write about. I’ve actually got a little time here and there.
I don’t plan on forcing myself to post every day or even every week. I have no idea what the cadence will be. I would like my writing to be better. This post is rambling because I’m just pouring my thinking out, and those posts are fine for what they are. But I also want to better compose particular thoughts. I want to see if I can be a better writer, or at least a more thoughtful one.
So let’s see… let’s see if this breathes life back into me.