Tag Archives: Situational awareness

Sassy, US State Department, Fulbright, Red-Flags, my bad and evil if humorous imagination

Sassy, now with 153,000+ miles, is sitting at the shop for the next week or two, waiting for a used transmission. That’s a story in itself. The crowd where I was had not one single new vehicle for sale. And used vehicles are through the roof. A new transmission would cost all-told more than $9,000.00, more than the vehicle is worth. So, a used transmission will hopefully work out. Always a gamble. That brings the full price including labor down to 2 or 2.5k, but no guarantee. It is what it is.

While waiting for a friend to come pick me up (some hours wait), I wanted to run an errand. A “driver” was employed to assist me. Being chatty, I asked what the prerequisite background checks and driving history checks are like. He said there are absolutely no checks, zilch, nothing at all. Sorry, but this, for me, was red flag #1, a huge red flag. As I found out later, what he said was either an outright lie or he was misled by his own crowd.

Right after that, this guy told me he had spent his life working with our State Department’s Embassies and Consulates for their Fulbright program. This isn’t the first time I’ve had “accompaniment” informing me of their academic prowess specifically with the Fulbright program, right up to the top council. What are the odds on that? People should get a different story. He kept apologizing, saying that being a driver was just for fun-money, but that Fulbright is where it’s at. But if he retired out from a field-op job needing extensive academic and linguistic and travel-viability qualifications, he wouldn’t be wasting his time like this for fun-money. The retirement for that I’m guessing is about $135,000 a year. It’s all just coincidental, but even coincidences can be red flags. You just notice them, and basically ignore them, unless further red flags come up. I’ll call this red flag #2 just because this most unlikely of stories has been repeated too much over the years with yours truly.

Excursus which might well be the point of this post ;-) — Just my opinion, but the Fulbright program of the taxpayer funded ECA flagrantly manipulates academics in various countries, adjusting cross-cultural paradigms of perspective that those might be brought into closer conformity even if not to the best interests of these USA, at least to the political weirdness of whatever “diplomacy” is temporarily in vogue. Fulbright is a program which gives operators an entirely “insider” view of all players in whatever country, with full access to anyone, anywhere, any time. If someone’s a player in an economy, military, intel community or essential industry of whatever kind in the milieu of 160 participating countries, those individuals were surely a student of the ones with whom the Fulbright program field officers get to know as their targets of manipulation. Those who know what I just said know what I just said. ’nuff said. ///

Anyway, with my little errand accomplished, with the car already in motion, instead of bringing me back to the shop where Sassy was, the guy, out of the blue, went out of his way to bring me elsewhere (red flag #3, I quickly noted), namely, to the lower deck of an expansive and dark parking facility (no GPS signal?) of a shopping mall on Black Friday (red flag #4), instructing me with insistence that he wanted me to go to the food court, even though he knew I already had lunch (red flag #5) and then insisting many times that I surely wanted to go to [a named store], almost like an assignment (red flag #6). I kept refusing. Frustrated, he got out of the vehicle saying he had to make a phone call. It’s always a phone call. But he just quickly darted among other vehicles nearby. This was creeping me out, so I got out of the car to step slightly away, to try to take stock of the weirdness. He continued to go in-between cars, not on his phone, and also going in front of me and his own car (red flag #7). Having gone by some twenty feet, he then suddenly turned around and came back laughing and apologizing, saying he forgot where he left the car (just a few minutes previously) and having just walked by (red flag #8). He insisted again a couple of more times that surely I wanted to go to [that certain store again] (red flag #9). I refused again and again, and said that I just wanted to go back to where Sassy, my-car-under-repair, was in the shop. He brought me back, but then instructed me not to tell anyone of the strange detour (huge red flag #10).

I was creeped out by all of this, but always played it cool throughout, complimenting him, giving him a tip, super friendly. When this kind of stuff happens I usually just try to let it play out as much as possible to see where it goes. Of course, many will say that I therefore should’ve gone to see what would happen if I sat in that food court – 100% nothing, and all seats would’ve been taken anyway on Black Friday – or if I did head toward [that certain store] – 100% nothing, just big crowds, and I hate that store anyway – all just too boring.

The rest of the story: I’m sure you’ve caught on by now. He was likely just running the time up if that’s even possible; I wasn’t paying for the time or trip. But someone was, right?

Moral of the story: Don’t do errands with a driver claiming Fulbright status.

Fine. I get it. That’s a poor attempt for the moral of the story. We always have to do errands, regardless of someone’s all-too-coincidental life story.

It’s just that it’s good to find some little bit of humor in just about anything. Too much dismalness these days methinks.

Also, when this kind of behavior goes on – kind of dangerous because way too entitled and narcissistic in my opinion – I would rather discover this and not let it continue for someone less capable. And yes, having seen something I did say something.

And now, Advent is upon us. Joyful expectation of the one who is Irony Incarnate, who brings justice and mercy together upon the Cross in His own body, for our redemption, please God also for our salvation. Jesus changes the paradigm from hell to heaven for those who want this, not with the cleverness of the Fulbright “diplomacy” that puts people off, but with the wisdom that is truly love, as Jesus is God Himself, and God is love.

Finally, my parishioner friend arrived to pick me up. Great drive back through the mountains. Wholesome conversation. Lots of talk of Jesus. A very pleasant day. Thanks be to God for good friends.

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Filed under Intelligence Community, Road danger, Situational awareness

NC Concealed Handgun Permit Renewal or baiting people into talking about Jesus

The call came in yesterday morning at 8:30 AM. Jumping in the car, continuing with other phone calls on the road about funerals and then about extracting friends out of Afghanistan, ever more dangerous, ever more frustrating, arrival was soon made in the Sheriff’s Office, always a super friendly bunch.

  • Why? Recreation with wild target practice, though that’s difficult at this time with the loss of my private range and the high price and scarcity of ammo. One session of practice can entail really a lot of ammo, with so many courses to run through. So, only rarely. But it’s fun when it happens.
  • Why? Self-defense, and some occasions have arisen when I’m happy to have been at the ready, but always happier when, with the whole “carry” lifestyle of situational awareness as avoidance and verbal deescalation techniques, there are no confrontations at all. This has been a real education.
  • Why? Defense of others, and some occasions have arisen when I’ve been happy to have been at the ready, particularly during one would-be carjacking incident when I was driving a crippled police officer to the hospital. Given permission to leave the scene by the first arriving officer, we counted nine cruisers from one direction, guessing that there were as many coming from the other direction. Imagine if I had let that crippled officer become a hostage to that guy. Ain’t gonna happen with this transporter. ;-)
  • Why? To support the 2nd amendment to this democratic Republic’s Constitution.
  • Why? Because all this prompts wildly wonderful conversations about Jesus all around town and far beyond.

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Filed under Guns

Road danger: FedEx, bat out of hell, Teresa of Avila, Jesus, Guardian Angel…

The other day was such a consolation in the life of this priest. The TLM in the main parish church with confessions before and after, a great get-together with some priest friends, my own going to confession, all glorious. I love being a priest. And that continued later with the best “pauper’s funeral…” I digress.

Saint Teresa of Avila upped her situational awareness when all was going well for her on all levels. She totally expected a smackdown. I know how that goes. I’ve seen it uncountable times. And, sure enough…

The FexEx truck was in a rush passing on a double-yellow on a blind curve and wound up right in front of me in my lane. Brakes slammed. Steering wheel spun. But… Yikes! A guard rail and ravine… But, all was well.

Soon after that it was the bat out of hell. The second I saw her – like a half-mile back in the rearview mirror – I plugged in my ThinkWare F770 knowing there might soon be an accident at when a lane would disappear on the road. Either she’s going to crash out or run someone off the road…

I had already nicely pulled over into the left lane, lest I die. She passed in the arrowed right lane then ripped over to the oncoming traffic lane across the double-yellow in front of a blind curve just where the vehicle in front of me totally ran out of road. Was there an entire family in that vehicle? I don’t care what emergency she had; you don’t mortally endanger the general public for your little self.

This is what happened not all that long ago with such shenanigans:

img_20190520_160330~24934373187224209179..jpg

That’s not a tree. That’s the guardrail. The picture’s from the local newspaper.

Back to situational awareness and Teresa of Avila. Yep, just when you think all is going well, do what she did and recognize who you actually are before our Lord and Savior, Christ our God. Saint Teresa would bring a small image into chapel to assist her in not being distracted with niceness, the all things are going well thing. It was the image of “Ecce Homo”, Pontius Pilate’s monitum to the vicious crowd: “Behold the Man!”

So, for instance, I love being a priest of The High Priest. It’s always stunning to see His priesthood in action during, say, the sacraments. But I am fallen like anyone else. I might be having too good a time of it, with a risk of losing sight of why I’m loving the priesthood so much. And then… BAM! A warning to wake up, “smell the coffee” as my mom would say. And then a second warning (because I’m stubbornly the idiot)… BAM!

I thank my guardian angel for alerting me to the warnings or having my reactions be lightning quick. “Guardian Angel” as I call him, has his work cut out for him with me. I know that. I thank him. And I ask that my spiritual situational awareness also be heightened. That one’s more difficult. But not really. Because it’s just a matter of being happy to have Jesus, by His grace, draw us to be in reverence before the Father in all thanksgiving. Jesus does that work, and it cost Him. Let’s see… where’s that picture of Jesus next to Pontius Pilate?

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Filed under Angels, Road danger

GPS trackers stuck on cars? It is to laugh. There’s something, someone, better. Ha!

Besides your phone tracking where you are especially when you turn off all tracking, shut the phone off entirely, and take out the main battery, with much more accurate tracking than if you just left it all on and enabled, media systems and all their adjunct driving “aids” on cars newer than not also have plenty of GPS trackers.

But more than that vehicles can also be tracked with GPS locators, often placed by the owners of vehicles in high car-theft areas. Car makers often provide an option to have car tracking installed in the factory, providing phone apps to help law enforcement. Remember the Asian guy in the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath? This guy is great.

Trackers can save your life and the lives of others.

And as far as any law enforcement placing a tracker on any car… Great! I love it! The more the merrier! Fill up my car, inside and out!

All that exclamation point excitability is for all things being equal, that is, with the person being tracked not being someone who is discovering untold corruption and racketeering in criminal organizations or criminal cover-up going on where it shouldn’t be happening. We’ll assume the good, so, it’s all good.

I’ve never seen any trackers on my vehicles, not that I ever really searched. For me, it’s like, whatever. Maybe they are there for good. Maybe they are there for other than good reasons. Whatever the case, removing a tracker can possibly be against the law, having you wind up in prison. And – as Hillary once said – what difference does it make? You take one off another more cleverly placed tracker is attached. I’ve no time for such nonsense.

Personally, I like the idea of being tracked. It leaves a computer trail that’s pretty much impossible to erase, you know, what the trails are, who’s doing the tracking. It works both ways, keeping everyone honest. My life is an open book anyway. I just have a more refined situational awareness when stupid situations are going down. And that brings welcome skill sets of how to get out of or avoid untoward situations altogether. De-escalation skills are always good.

Again, whatever. And – hey! – I might just have gone out of my own way to track my own vehicles. You never know. It’s never a bad idea. :-)

TO THE POINT: God always knows where we are, and is registering every thought we have, every move we make: He be watching us (sorry for the musical recall). More than that, our guardian angels are, thank God, doing the same. They see the face of God and us at the same time. You know…

Never mind that. He’s got his eyes open all the time. His situational awareness cannot be beat.

Guardian angels will do whatever it takes to get us to heaven, whether that means saving us from perils in this life, or NOT. They want that we have our souls pointed to heaven, that we are calling out to our Lord, that we long to go to heaven, and be prepared for that at any time.

No, I don’t care about electronic trackers. No fear! We all have something someone much better:

  • Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.

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Filed under Angels, Law enforcement, Situational awareness, Terrorism

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Beautiful Really Good Town, USA, ed.) Situational awareness stupidity.

Seeing really beautiful sights in the paradise which is Cherokee County in far southwestern North Carolina is so common that it almost amounts to sensory overload. That’s especially the case in my quaint, Really-Good-Town, USA, that is, Andrews. There are Flowers for the Immaculate Conception everywhere. Great!

Oh, I forgot, that’s called virtue signaling, not the bit about Flowers for the Immaculate Conception being everywhere, but the bit about Really Good Town, USA. Could it be that the good Lord had these Flowers for His good mom here in such superabundance because, instead, Really Good Town, USA, is just like any other town USA, or is it actually the most drug filled, den of thieves anywhere, at least that being the reputation far and wide into the surrounding states?

I took this picture from the point of view of the street side gas-pumps here in town just after being really stupid, twice in a row. I’m so stupid.

While filling up Sassy the Subaru for today’s “Day Off” road trip to help in construction of the Communion Rails for our church sanctuary renovation, I was practicing my usual situational awareness, which includes a hobby of memorizing all the cars and license plates in the parking lot of the convenience store / gas station as well as the cars passing by on main street. I get a good look at the walkers and skateboarders and bicyclers and those getting out of their vehicles. It’s good entertainment. This helps in noticing possibilities of de-escalation maneuvers and avoidance of stupidity worse than my own lack of over-the-top skill sets, not that anything is ever going to happen, but it’s just skill sharpening. And it’s good fun.

What happened next – twice – is a good lesson in filling in the gaps of situational awareness. Topping up the gas tank with an extra gallon after it has already clicked off has long been a habit since a “Day Off” will often amount to mileage that will not entirely drain the tank, but will have me running on fumes, quite literally, by the time the return trip is over. Topping off the tank provides a little leeway to burn fuel in the frequent traffic jams on certain highways on the yonder side of the “Day Off”.

The trouble is that when topping off the tank in this way, attention is solidly and only on what you’re doing, lest fuel is spilled onto the car and pavement and yourself. That’s means situational awareness is right at zero. Bad mistake.

While I was doing this topping off, one of the most notorious druggies in town came out of the store (I didn’t know he was in there) and went out of his way to do something I’ve never seen anyone do before. He took a severe detour to slide through the cars on the store side of the pumps, and then squeeze through the space between the pump I was at on the street side and the garbage container / squeegee bucket that was there, just so as to be inches directly in back of me, with my back turned to him, occupied as I was with topping off the tank. I instantly turned. He instantly stopped and froze, hesitating, mumbling unrepeatable things, hesitating, and then slowly walking off, continuing to mumble away. When he arrived to the far side of the parking lot, I went back – oh so stupidly – to doing exactly what I was doing before: topping off the tank, losing once again all situational awareness. Just because one incident is over doesn’t mean it’s over.

The entire scene was repeated again. Another one of the most notorious druggies came out of the store and did the same thing, with me being entirely oblivious. I again turned around realizing someone was inches away in back of me. He stopped, froze, hesitated, and actually started turning around to square off with me. He hesitated again, stopping mid-turn, mumbling unrepeatable things, but then kept moving, mouth yapping away.

Mind you, there was zero threat from me either in movement or in verbiage. I said nothing. I didn’t move from where I was. I was just taking in the scenery.

But here’s a confession: I thought by now any such weirdness would be over, what with two incidents clocked in already. And the weirdness was over. But I didn’t know that. Nevertheless, I continued topping off the tank, again losing all situational awareness. Having said all that, I have to say that once I do learn a lesson, it’s ingrained. I was immediately reflecting on this – post hoc – a learning experience.

Some might say that I should use these occasions as teaching moments of evangelization, but, really, there is a time and place for that – any other time, any other place – but waiting for a lit match to be flicked at your gas pump, hose stuck in your vehicle, blocking an escape route, is not the time or the place. Evangelization at that moment would surely be escalation because it may well be perceived as… virtue signaling…

NOT being aware of the druggies at a vulnerable moment at the gas pumps like this means that I do not perceive myself to be as bad and evil as I congratulate myself to be. If I were to be more honest with myself, who I would be without the grace of God, I would know that this kind of aggressive posturing on the druggies part might be a likely possibility also at the gas pumps. They have already shown their violent aggressiveness, having many times times threatened to beat the brains out of my neighbor’s sweet and ultra-shy-dog (who barks only at the druggies, no one else). But if I were to actually have some honest self-awareness, I would have to have some humility. Oops. I’m guessing I could request some help in humility from my guardian angel. I will ask him to be gentle in the smack downs he might well provide.

Meanwhile… meanwhile… our dear Lord has been providing Flowers for the Immaculate Conception, His good mom, all along. I saw this tree right after the two druggies at the gas pumps experience and, now sitting in the car at the gas pumps, ready to go, I had to take the picture. How surreal, thought I, equally stupidly, with such events being back to back. Not at all surreal.

You know what’s really surreal (so to speak)? It’s the likes of me giving flowers to the Immaculate Conception.

Except that it’s not. Jesus creates these flowers and has us notice them precisely so that we can give them to His good mom. She has interceded for all of us, we who, so oblivious to reality, crucified her Divine Son, the Son of the Living God with our sins following up on original sin. This is God doing this for us, for her, she who stood under the Cross. How could we do such a thing, torturing her Son to death right in front of her? Are we drugged out of our minds, not knowing what we are doing? Pretty much. Yep.

Flowers for you, Mary, right in the middle of Really Good Town, USA, right from one of the worst residents if not but for the grace of God, for which, Mary, you offered intercession. Yes, these flowers for you, dearest Mother of God and ours.

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Filed under Flores, Situational awareness

Road danger. Hazing is love. But who’s who? Situational awareness. Backing the blue.

PREFACE:

Some six years ago, in the Spring of 2015, at the end of National Police Week, after putting on the Officer Down Memorial Dinner here in Andrews, NC, a Dinner attended and thoroughly enjoyed by seven counties of Sheriffs, Police Depts of two cities, the Forestry Police (Federal), the Tribal Police (Federal), the State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, DEA, et alii, I enjoyed rather intensive hazing from some of the same law enforcement agencies by way of accompaniment for nine months straight, like turning on a light switch. Every trip out. Hey! If you’re not hazed, you’re not loved, right? That what the SEALs say.

For the following nine months I counted only one half of one trip up to Graham County from Cherokee County or down into Clay County or into Macon County that I did not have bumper to bumper law enforcement accompaniment, often beginning at the end of my driveway. Bumper to bumper includes about one car length between vehicles regardless of speed or conditions. The one half of one trip that this didn’t happen occurred because it wasn’t my usual time and day to go over the mountain. But they got me on the way back. Sometimes this lasted the usual twenty miles each way. I would get accompanied to the church in Robbinsville, and then they would patrol back and forth until Mass was over, and then jump on my bumper right outside the church and stick with me all the way to Andrews. The record, in another direction, was something like 26 miles, for one guy. But there have been hand-offs, so that one pulls off only to have another literally squealing his tires to get on the bumper once again. I think that’s called gang-butt-rape. Sigh. I think the record for the hand-off thing is 36.2 miles, two counties, just crossing over into a third. This is never once blue-lighted or anything. It’s just a nice and comforting presence.

The vehicles might be marked or “unmarked.” In these parts, “unmarked” cars are rather noticeable, what with being Dodge pursuit vehicles or the usual Ford SUVs, but with crash bars utilized only by law enforcement, and sporting the usual driver-side rotator flood-light atop the sideview mirror, sometimes with a speed-laser on that corner of the dash, often with multiple tiny antennae and, of course, light-bars inside the top of the windshield, not to mention rectangular white and blue LEDs in the grill, you know, all totally undercover. I think they are starting to catch on that that’s all a bit too obvious and are snapping up “druggie cars” utterly unmarked. Finally. Good for them.

Anyway, the longsuffering accompaniment was not only bumper to bumper, but the pursuit vehicle’s right-front bumper might well be next to my back-left bumper, you know, just for fun, as in the video above. That’s the PIT maneuver position. Super dangerous. But it’s all good. Nothing happened, never stopped, except once, which is an epic story of hilarious irony with the Sheriff of that particular county himself (now many sheriffs ago) saying, in apology, that he only wanted to ask the question: “Who are you, anyway?” That stop was listened to by two entire counties over 911 scanners, as I found out later: a huge audience. This is the entertainment for the county. Just doing his job, I’m sure. I almost laughed out loud with the usual “Who are you, anyway?” question that I’ve gotten throughout my life in so many embassies and consulates foreign and of these USA.

But all that fun and hazing spread out almost daily over nine months ended extremely abruptly when I went over to Rome, Italy, for the Missionary of Mercy thing of Pope Francis at the beginning of 2016. When I came back after two weeks away, there was no longer any accompaniment, zero, like a light switch being turned off. Dang! I kind of miss it. But, be careful what you wish for.

“LET’S CAUSE A HEAD-ON COLLISION” INCIDENT:

Just the other week, going up to Graham County, there was what could only be guessed to be a spotter car going up the gorge ridge up from Topton. You just get a sense for things being totally out of place. To get where it was, the person had to stop on a blind curve and reverse without getting rear-ended far into tall weeds without accidentally sliding down the ridge some hundreds of feet, that car being right on the edge of death trying not to be seen. Really precarious. Head lights still on, the driver, eyes peeled, was on the phone. Hmmm. I’m in the habit of noticing things that are just not right. That’s training, or really just common sense. Being aware of one’s surroundings can help avoid trouble and save your life. I’m already cautious, but now the antennae were up all the more.

Graham county is infamous for “insurance” incidents, in which a couple of cars will box you in, cutting you off on the front to be right in front of you and then another hanging to the side in the oncoming lane of traffic, with them simultaneously slamming on their brakes, purposely causing you to rear-end the car to the front, a “driving too closely” incident that will gain the perps life-long insurance payments. This happened to me a number of times, but – having been warned of just such scenarios – I always slammed on the brakes (no one behind me) before they could slam on their brakes – only to have the perps also slam on their brakes just one nanosecond later – but with me escaping their malice by that nanosecond. I even had a couple of cars do this to me twice in a row within minutes on the same stretch of road. If it doesn’t work the first time, try and try again, I guess. It’s not like I didn’t recognize their cars a couple minutes later… Good ol’ Graham County. But I digress.

I didn’t have to wait long for what looked to all intents, purposes and any reconstructions like an ambush, a big white pickup truck fully parked in my lane – sideways – on what is called Dead Man’s Curve, a totally blind and restricting curve. I had to slam on the brakes and go into the at least temporarily vacant oncoming traffic lane on this blind curve in order to avoid T-boning the white pickup. Was it illegal to cross a double-yellow? Not in these precise circumstances. Saving life and limb is paramount, regardless of any possible malice on the part of the guys parking sideways in an active traffic lane on a blind curve. If I had more antennae, you know, like for CBs, Ham Radio, Radio-collar dogs, etc., they would have all have been deployed after this weirdness. I think what they wanted me to do was to avoid them and not go over the double yellow on an entirely blind curve but drift to the right onto what’s called Jack Branch Rd, a perfect place for an ambush if there ever was one. That road comes out from Anthony Branch Rd. It was just after that that I would meet the next installment of stupidity.

My guardian angel being my antenna, I was now very actively looking for another vehicle to do something stupid. Sure enough, shortly thereafter, on another blind curve also involving logistics of a blind hill – just after Anthony Branch Rd – I again had to slam on the brakes. A very large work truck sporting a snowplow usually found on a Mack Truck had stopped in the lane in front of me for no reason that I could figure out. No flashers, in gear, with the brake-lights on, ready to chase in this 55 mph zone. There were guard rails tight to the white lines on both sides. I didn’t want to cross the double yellow line and pass him even though there was no traffic coming because he could easily catch up to my little Subaru and apply the snowplow. Ain’t gonna happen.

Instead – never taking the bait to drive recklessly in these kinds of situations – I fully stopped and put on my emergency flashers some hundred yards back. I outwaited the guy until he saw the line of vehicles behind me slowing up as they crested the hill, including the original white truck parked sideways on the blind curve. This was now creeping me out as the plow-vehicle started moving along only far below the speed limit, but allowing me to stay back a couple of hundred yards, even as the white truck and the others kept back a couple of hundred yards despite the low speeds. That’s something that simply doesn’t happen in these parts unless something else is afoot.

If these were law enforcement officers working undercover, all I have to say is that they obviously don’t know how to conduct what’s called a “felony stop” which has very specific defensive tactics. This was pitiful. If this was law enforcement, they wouldn’t get any trouble from me whatsoever. If I happened to be dangerous felon, considering the unprotected logistics they put themselves in, twice, well, I hate to think about it. If these guys are law enforcement they really, really gotta get some training for felony stops. But – Hey! – maybe this is all hazing and a showing of love in good humor! Great!

Arriving into town I pulled off at a tiny strip mall that had many entrances/exits (just in case) so as to watch the parade pass by, or stop. If anyone would have pulled over next to me, 911 would have been called while I was hightailing it to the Sheriffs Department just down the road. The parade all slowed down to about ten to fifteen miles and hour, four to five times below the speed limit. The driver of the original truck blocking the road sideways was rather apoplectic as he passed by slowing down even more. I was dumbfounded when I now saw the orange – State – license plate and the letters […] on the back as he and his passenger passed by. More hazing? More love? I’m not going to criticize any of this. This was one of the more exciting accompaniments I’ve had. Great entertainment. It’s certainly good training for situational awareness. I’m sure that’s what this was all about. Great! It’s to laugh, now that it’s over. But in all actuality, it was likely a bunch of felons who stole a State license plate and put it on their own vehicle. Really. Not. Smart. Felons never are.

So, don’t get me wrong, if it isn’t something felons were up to, I’m sure it’s all for good-natured accompaniment keeping me on my toes. I’m sure someone will confess soon, laughing, all in good fun. It’s all good. I love it! :-)

ANALOGY WITH SHADOW-DOG:

As an analogy, I am reminded of the protection-accompaniment I get from Shadow-dog:

Shadow-dog also trains me up in situational awareness. Just my opinion, but methinks that Shadow-dog counts as law enforcement since it was law enforcement and our local first responders who arranged that I get him. In the wee hours the other morning (usually about 3:30 AM) the local druggies were making quite the ruckus outside the rectory. They seemed to be mightily pumped up on adrenaline, perhaps chemically assisted. Fortunately, they were making a beeline to the neighborhood drug house. They had set all the dogs of the neighborhood into loud commentary. The druggies have often threatened to beat the brains out of Macie-dog, catty-corner from me. The pellet gun shootings are now eight for Shadow-dog, two for Laudie-dog, and one for Franky-dog across the street. All survived, but some with permanent injuries. Shadow-dog won the prize for his staid rhetoric and confident oratory, keeping the druggies moving right along. I’m happy to have also this – if you will – canine law-enforcement accompaniment. Gooood daaaawwg!

ANOTHER RECENT BUMPER TO BUMPER ACCOMPANIMENT

This time, a marked car got in behind me within a couple of hundred yards from home and stayed right on the bumper for 25 miles, no push marks on my back bumper mind you, but it was really close, which, I contend, is really dangerous. I had tried to avoid all this by pulling off and not getting back on until he was long past, but no. He did the same and got right back on the bumper, right on the bumper. If you do have to slam on the brakes because there’s a tree down (common in the Nantahala Gorge after a rain) or some other traffic oddity just around a blind curve, the nice officer isn’t going to see that. He might judge that to be nefarious brake-checking, and then you’ll immediately have guns to your head. That would rather make the love-hazing all the more complete, don’t you think? So, I don’t much like this, but there’s nothing one can do. This kind of thing, now frequent once again, started up after I asked a certain law enforcement agency (of which there are many in the area: Police Depts, Sheriff’s Depts, Troopers, Tribal-Federal, Forestry, etc.) what the ratio of chaplains to counties is for their particular branch of law enforcement. One for every ten counties he said as we waited together at the check out line at the grocery store. I can’t imagine that this would make anyone upset. So I guess this is bumper to bumper thing is just more love-hazing, seeing if I can tough it out all calm, cool and collected. Well, yes, to all that. I find it humorous even while it’s also a learning experience.

I guess it’s so bad these days that all law enforcement has to assume that there is no longer any kind of support from the community. Sad, that. I always support the thin blue line. There are some bad eggs. But that’s true in every sector of society. Not that any of those possibly mentioned above are bad eggs. Not at all. These are all good guys. I’ve seen that myself, and had heard the same from many. Thanks, always, to law enforcement. That trust might get me killed. Whatever. It is what it is. lol

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Filed under Law enforcement, Road danger, Situational awareness

There’s “I’m watching you…” and then there’s “I’m watching you…” LOL?

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There’s a local thug and buffoon who’s been aggressively doing up the fingers in the eye thing to me on various and sundry occasions so as to say, I guess, that he’s watching me. Sometimes people get upset just because you don’t fall into line with their train-wreck-lives, frustrated that there is someone who won’t conform to their idiocy. That tells me that there a lot of people who do bow down to any bully who happens along. Kinda creepy, that, all of that. But it also makes me laugh out loud.

Situational awareness is all about assessing situations with a view to deescalation and avoiding trouble if possible. With this kind of silliness, you just let people hang themselves (that’s a trope, by the way), and they do just that, being too self-confident, too powerful in their own eyes, way too narcissistic. Give it time and it takes care of itself.

What I find humorous is the realization that there really are people who are unaware that angels guardian see all, that God sees all. I mean, I tried to be this way in decades gone by. I mean, there were youthful days of idiocy in my life whereby there was even a Sunday or two that I didn’t go to church, to my everlasting regret. I failed in escaping God and my angel guardian. God, who sees all, with the angels, impressed upon me His presence, and brought me quite forcefully by His grace to go to Confession.

While it is sad to see those who are still oblivious in their lives, I see their weak-nothing-aggression as failing before God’s grace. I have hope that they will come around. I laugh previous to any conversion in the hope that they will also take up God’s prompting to turn their lives around. Surely they will laugh at their own antics in time to come. I don’t laugh AT such people. I laugh WITH such people. They just don’t know it, yet.

Meanwhile, it is, in fact, the Lord Himself, who, seeing all, will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. The Lord is, to be sure, deadly serious:

  • “The Lord laughs them to scorn” (Wisdom 4:18). Yikes!

Pick up your Catholic Bible and look up that oft-neglected passage, taking note of the context. You will find out that, for the Lord, this is no laughing matter. Not at all.

Being situationally aware that God sees all, that our angels guardian see all, brings situational awareness in general to an entirely different level. I recommend it.

Conclusion? Go to Confession!

 

 

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Filed under Confession, Humor, Situational awareness, Spiritual life

Capsaicin in one hand, pistol in other?

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At least that’s the way it looked to me. I’m probably wrong, right?

While driving in my own driveway – whether that’s still allowed by the thugs and buffoons – I noted that my good neighbor was out on her porch. I wanted to give her an update on the local state of affairs, that is, from literally thirty seconds previous. I’ve written about that here:

“Pablo Escobar” communicates “non-” threats to Fr George (as Dr Dolittle)

So, I walked over and she was happy to get an update. She immediately pointed out a creepy guy standing out front of a now defunct drug house, the SWAT style raid of which I was in on. I’m not saying that the “Pablo Escobar” incident is connected with this guy pictured above, but here’s the other creepy details besides what he might have in his hand:

  • I’m just after getting a “non-” threat at another […] house.
  • Creepy guy above – whatever of what he’s carrying – is S T A R I N G over at us. I mean, this is like a full thirty minutes. That’s really hard to do.
  • Super nervous, he’s surveilling the streets, like he’s up to no good. From that point, he can see the other entrances to the other […] house in one direction, see fully three other entrances to the other […] house in another direction, and all the way down to just about 100 yards away from the police station in another direction. And he’s forever glancing in those directions besides keeping up the S T A R I N G thing.
  • Finally, he walks towards us, with the neighbor’s vehicle in between us.
  • He hesitates, walks on their lawn behind the vehicle, stops, walks back out on the road, hesitates, gets closer, hesitates, walks directly in back of the vehicle on the neighbor’s driveway, at the doors, hesitates for like ten seconds, messing around with his shirt, finally walks back out on the street and comes in front of us.
  • I asked if he was looking for something. He said he was waiting for someone and then continued walking down the road, super hesitating the whole way, then stopping, undecided.
  • The owner of where he was suspiciously lurking drove by him, and that guy didn’t stop him to discuss if the place could be rented.
  • As he walked back ever so hesitatingly I told him that if he’s looking to speak to the owner of that dwelling, it’s too late, as it was just rented out that very morning. He was exasperated…. “Already! There’s no place to live around here!” But he could have asked the owner, who stopped in front of the dwelling, to see if anything else was available. He did not.
  • The S T A R I N G then continued. His glancing up to the entrances of the other […] house continued. We waited until he finally left.

I am going to defend my neighbors. They are like family to me.

  • On the one hand, what I think he was doing was, as a perhaps homeless guy… he was perhaps looking to break into that dwelling. He was walking round back when he wasn’t S T A R I N G.
  • On the other hand, if he was telling the truth, I’m guessing that he was a lookout for the other […] house mentioned in the link above, and the guy he was waiting for was the guy that I had been talking to, and who threatened me with the, you know, conditional “non”-threat. I mean, he was going to die of nervousness as he looked also at all the entrances to the other […] house. That would have been interesting if the other guy came over and they started firing. Things like that can catch your attention.

Meanwhile, resignations are coming in fast and furious, so to speak, at our tiniest of all tiny police departments: our great chief is gone, another great officer is gone, yet another great officer is gone. There’s a question mark over few who remain. The thing is, the thugs and buffoons know all this, and it’s making them a little bolder in all their cowardice.

  • God, help us!
  • Saint Michael, help us!
  • Guardian angels, help us!

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Filed under Drugs, Guns, Situational awareness

“Who Let the Dogs Out?” Shadow-dog baits anti-Catholic. State Dept to the rescue.

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Due to a Shadow-dog related incident this past Monday, mid-morning, this post is offered for the record, in case a very much one-sided confrontation is escalated.

who let the dogs out opening scene

So, as the police chaplain, I have to ask:

During the day the security situation is like this with innocent Shadow-dog:

When confronting a GSD like Shadow-dog, don’t be afraid, don’t be aggressive, don’t be suspicious, don’t be malicious, don’t be scolding, don’t be fake-nice (dogs see through all that passive-aggressive rubbish), just be yourself. This is how it should be when encountering people, right?

Meanwhile, Shadow-dog is ready to play, carrying his fetch-toy wherever he goes on his patrols of the fenceline, always game for gaming. He will ever so gently touch Laudie-dog on her shoulder with this fetch-toy. She will jack up the stakes, gaming his gaming, to his delight.

Shadow-dog likes the playfulness of Laudie-dog, but invites playfulness with the backyard neighbor’s old yet playful and big white dog (possibly some kind of quite shaggy Sheep-dog). The invitation – of course in the form of squeaky barking and hopping around on his own side of the fence – isn’t reciprocated, which is frustrating for Shadow-dog.

The situation for Shadow-dog isn’t much better with the next door neighbor’s therapy pony – not much bigger than Shadow-dog. Cooper, the therapy pony, will munch on the same blade of grass for minutes at a time, egging on the invitations of Shadow-dog to play. When Shadow-dog calms down, Cooper the therapy pony will slightly move a hoof, starting the barking invitations of Shadow-dog all over again.

But here’s the deal: all the neighbors find all this to be entirely humorous, laughing at how Shadow-dog is baited by other dogs and ponies. All are perfectly fine with Shadow-dog’s playfulness and voiced invitations to play. Not only are they not bothered, but they are grateful for his antics. They know that he is the reason for a lack of home invasions in our immediate section of the neighborhood. There are rough elements with equally rough crimes (such as murder and assault) which we are all happy to avoid.

On another level – apart from playfulness -Shadow-dog cannot be baited, but instead does the baiting. Anyone taking a fleeting glance at Shadow-dog knows that he could literally rip any human being to shreds should they prove to be malicious in ripping yours truly apart in front of him. He wouldn’t just let that go. Neither would relatively diminuative Laudie-dog for that matter. Shadow-dog could jump fence anytime with zero effort. But he doesn’t. GSDs are loyal to their human servants and their own well-defined territory of responsibility. Some few human beings are mean to him, even having shot at him, accurately, with a pellet gun a number of times. Laudie-dog was also shot, once with bird-shot of – I’m guessing – a 4.10, and once with a pellet gun. Neither of them retaliate. Laudie-dog is too sweet. Shadow-dog is also good to go, as long as he has his own domain under control, with no one who is entirely malicious to the death inside his environs.

During the night the security situation is like this with innocent Shadow-dog:

At night it’s more difficult to ascertain who human beings are, where they are, and what they are doing. Ask LEOs. They say that nothing good happens on the street after 10:00 PM. Nighttime brings out a whole other population of human beings, many of whom are, in fact, malicious. So many beheadings and murders and burnings of other human beings in the area and region demonstrate the objective malice. Shadow-dog knows this well enough.

Shadow-dog, as a GSD – a kind of wolf – has an upped sense of situational awareness. Far from paranoia, categorically diverse from paranoia – not even on the same spectrum – is situational awareness, which instead looks for solutions of deescalation in any given situation, of escape in any situation, or, if it cannot be avoided, how to fight in any situation, etc.

But Shadow-dog ups this by baiting out and downright provoking a reaction. This is not necessarily what human beings should do in direct encounters with possibly and especially probably malicious individuals. But dogs are spectacularly adept at providing running commentary on questionable circumstances so that they can all the more accurately report how contingencies are playing out. Dogs are front-line operatives.

Shadow-dog is now over three years old, and has mellowed out enough for me to have moved him outside the house 24/7/365. His commentary, wonderfully, is limited to possibly malicious human beings. So he barks rarely enough, even at night. But if it’s at night, I pay close attention.

There was a barking-baiting session at 1:30 AM the other night. I listened intently. I heard the cause, loudly: what had to be a maul-ax smashing of a door for a home invasion, or probably just smashing up branches for a druggie fire as it was a really cold night and they wanted to keep warm, which I’m certainly not going to begrudge them. And Shadow-dog should have barked. The maul-ax strikes were really quite violent. Goood daawwg Shadow-dog!!!

But someone in our little town didn’t like it one little bit…

… and came by the next morning to tell me what a terrible sorry excuse for a Catholic priest I am, letting Shadow-dog bark like that and everything. This person was so aggressive, charging me again and again, and not letting me get in a word of explanation in edgewise, that I just retreated, again, and again and again. This person kept charging, so I ran under that back patio and closed the gate. This person kept berating me so I said that I’m requesting leaving the property. And then many drive-bys by this person took place. One of neighbors came to warn me that this person had circled back to my house like four times in as many minutes. Yikes! I’m happy to have neighbors who are concerned for my welfare.

I disagree with poor Shadow-dog being used by this complainer-person as an excuse for anti-Catholic bigotry, you know, against all the damned Catholics and all their damned dogs.

Was it not at the time that Antony was predicting the result of Julius Caesar’s assassination that we hear this:

A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy.
Blood and Destruction shall be so in use
and dreadful objects so familiar
that mothers shall but smile when they behold
their infants quartered by the hands of war,
all pity choked by custom of fell deeds.
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge
With Ate by his side, come hot from hell
shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
cry “Havoc!” and release the dogs of war
that this foul deed should smell above the earth
with carrion men, groaning for burial.

Ah, yes! Cry “Havoc!” and release the dogs of war.

I’m not going to release any dogs – and they won’t jump fence – but I’m not going to correct his behavior. He’s quiet all night, every night, unless there is something violent going on. And then, as a town manager said to me, mentioning someone complaining about Shadow-dog, not letting me defend Shadow-dog, but instead himself interrupting me to defend Shadow-dog, asking me whether or not Shadow-dog cuts down on home invasions for all my neighbors. Yes, of course, and they all say it, all appreciative of Shadow-dogs efforts to put himself in danger on the front lines and protect us all. All my neighbors appreciate Shadow-dog’s efforts. All of them. — Of course, he said. And that was that.

Getting the State Department involved:

Meanwhile, in recounting this story to a fellow priest, it was suggested to me to make a comment about my best friend in the State Department (retired) being somewhat delinquent in sending treats for both Shadow-dog and, of course, Laudie-dog, whom she wants to adopt. She’s only said that a million times. But, the problem is, Laudie-dog adopted me. And she softens some of the sharper edges of Shadow-dog. ;-) But actually, dearest Charlene always keeps both Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog in good standing with treats of all kinds. They are “rurnt” as they say these parts, “ruined” or spoiled, totally in expectation of treats all the time for any or no reason. Being falsely accused of grave crimes and misdemeanors – such as doing the service of alerting to violent actions – is more than enough reason to load down both Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog with treats. I’ll do that right now. I think dearest Charlene will agree with that pampering of her furry friends.

Dearest Charlene has a blog called the Prodigal Catholic Writer, and she’s written a post about what she says is “definitely the most embarrassing evening of my life,” quite funny about one of her State Department experiences in Tanzania. If you want some good humor in your life – and I recommend this to the complainer described above – here’s dearest Charlene:

http://prodigalcatholicwriter.blogspot.com/

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Filed under Dogs, Humor

Profiling TRIAD killer before the fact: DARPA COMPASS indicators predictors

Excuse the language of that video. The point of it is that those who are not at the top in “power” and profession might just be the best in profiling. “Maya”, in the scene above, is correct about the whereabouts of Usama bin Laden. But she’s just a “mere” analyst. Her indicators were taken as predictors and it all turned out. This time. But…

There’s really a lot of arson going on here in Andrews, NC. I don’t know if this is a single person, unrelated persons with unrelated incidents, or a group of people together. I don’t know him/her/them personally, so the profile of a TRIAD psychopath killer outlined below may or may not be applicable to him/her/them. But the profile is worth noting for future reference regardless, just as an awareness thing, but we’ll nuance that.

Before going through this, note that these are only indicators, NOT predictors, and that there are two parts to the present post: (A) Using indicators as predictors (this will heavily provide on side of the argument); (B) Recognizing indicators post-hoc but the impossibility of using indicators as predictors before the fact (this will heavily provide the other side of the argument). The latter (B) has everything to do with making a critique of DARPA COMPASS, which does precisely that, using indicators as predictors. But let’s start at the beginning so as to be able to establish some reference points.

(A) Using TRIAD indicators as predictors for serial killers

The very many arson events have been, as you can imagine, the talk of this tiny town. People bring it up wherever I go. For instance, during my rounds to the home-bound and nursing homes just yesterday, a good friend who has much wherewithal in the medical / psychiatric / law enforcement fields wanted to explain to me at length – motu proprio – the profile of a killer, the TRIAD, as she called it. She’s knows I’m now with the Andrews Police Department as a Chaplain. Perhaps she wanted me to pass this info along. She went on at length about the three things which, when they go together, point to a psychopath, a future killer, she says: 100%. Again, I’ll dispute that just a bit further below.

  • I immediately asked: “All cases? One hundred percent?”
  • “Yes. All cases,” she replied with emphasis, “One hundred percent. Those three things together: bed-wetting, torture of animals, arson.”

(1) Bed-wetting

Millions of kids, mostly boys, mostly as toddlers, wet the bed. This is ubiquitous and means absolutely nothing on its own. It’s when the bed wetting continues into early teens that… no… it still means nothing as far as profiling, but at this later age when it goes with a couple of other things, then there’s a concern. There’s shame that goes along with this. If parents are supportive, she says, that lessens any psychological scars, if any. But if the parents freak out, this can make things worse, leading to night terrors, and there can be some negative and even lasting scars. Be supportive of your kids.

(2) Torturing animals, real torture

I don’t understand this. It happens. I mean look at this picture of Laudie-dog below. How could anyone torture her or any animal? My friend says that for the psychopath in the making, this is all about abstraction from the personal, so that the “other” is no longer “other”, but rather a mere object that is under one’s power. Animals are experiments, she says, in how to go about depersonalizing sentient beings, not only animals, but human beings.

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It’s practice for stepping up the game, she said. Stepping things up refers to transferring from animals to human beings. And, in fact, we find out that the stats on people who mistreat animals are doing this to human beings, pretty much 100%, not quite 100% because it might still be in process for some, and that process might take some decades. My comment below is that this is confusing indicators with predictors. But let’s continue…

My friend said that the torture of animals is a way to take out on a scapegoat the “guilt” for the bed wetting. So, in this narrative, there’s a progression. I would add that if that torture is done in front of another person, such as kicking a dog through drywall, terrorizing that other person as much as the dog (note the proportion), with the kicking done so as to accomplish the terror in the other, we’re moving quickly to the next step of the TRIAD.

(3) Arson

Here we move to the destruction of that which involves human beings very directly, regardless of whether the house is presently occupied or not, regardless of any “cover” for motivation such as whether or not such dwellings were insured or not. “Cover.” Get it? If uninsured, it hurts human beings more. If just one or two are insured, that make just be deeper “cover” yet. Psychopaths are usually of way-above average intelligence. Note that with arson:

  • There’s always a risk that squatters are inside.
  • It creates a risk of life and limb to firefighters: authority figures…
  • It creates a risk of life and limb to law enforcement: authority figures…
  • It hurts people economically, even to bankruptcy.
  • It terrorizes people.

Have you noted the progression? But be careful to draw conclusions, as we will see. That might just be an opinion of a narrative of someone trying to make sense of things…

Therefore, is it hopeless for such a person to come around?

My friend speaks from her own experience with profiles of people she has worked with herself, and from her own studies. Don’t ask me how accurate that all is. I don’t know. I don’t have too much experience in that area.

As a priest, I have to ask as to whether I am naive to hold out hope for people who are caught up in this cycle. I don’t know enough about psychopaths to know if they are reachable. As a priest, I would never say someone is hopeless. I can’t do that. I can’t. But, if someone has some advice on all that, let me know. If you don’t want your comment published, just say so, and I’ll totally respect that.

(4) The TRIAD psychopath is bound to become a killer: TRIAD or QUADRAD? 

I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t want to give an excuse of “prophesying” like this to a TRIAD psychopath. However, my friend says that if a no-longer-a-child-bed-wetter who tortures animals also destroys things with fire, so that the “TRIAD” is present, you can bet that such a person, a psychopath, super-intelligent, has already been fantasizing murdering a human being, sometimes for decades. So, I’m guessing that when trying to reach such a person, to bring them out of such a cycle, they are looking at you as a mere object, someone who is not hearing you at all, but rather looking at you with the thought that they can torture and kill you just like they did with animals. There’s a wall.

I think of someone who has slashed his girl friend, torturing her, and who poured fuel down her throat, and then lit her on fire. But this is emotional sensationalism. My friend says the TRIAD is a 100% predictor. I don’t know. I think we’re more complicated than that. For instance:

She also said that if you are caught defenseless against such a person, you do have one hope of surviving, that is, she said, if you can somehow get them to use your name, as that personalizes things. That goes against the grain of objectifying someone. It might well at least buy you time. Re-personalizing is perhaps the key to bringing someone out of this cycle, but that would take years of psych work in a maximum security psych institution. But even there, the psychopath might well be much more intelligent than the doctors and shrinks, and fool them into having them think he’s cured, just to get out and kill again. That would almost act like a mandate to kill again. They’ve conquered the best in psych care and so have all power in their mind-game.

She said the TRIAD psychopath’s first killing is an experimental gateway. After the first killing there “has to be” many more, very many more. It’s like the arson thing going on right now. They could be copycat, but really, they are close together, one after the other, almost like a challenge. That’s how it is with serial killers. She said that all the serial killer cases she is familiar with have the TRIAD. But…

(B) Recognizing indicators post-hoc (too late) but the impossibility of using indicators as predictors before the fact.

I spoke at length with a world class psychologist friend of very many years. He says that while you can say that every psychopath killer has this TRIAD happenstance, it is an illogicity to say that those who have TRIAD behavioral history will certainly become serial killers. Indicators not predictors. Thus:

  • Self-entitled white boys don’t all become church or shopping mall shooters.
  • Not all poor black boys become gang members shooting each other down.
  • Not all mosque attending Muslim men become or plot to become terrorists.
  • Not all white Puritan women in Salem, Massachusetts were guilty of being witches just because they were accused. Etc.

Those are just analogies, limping at that, as they are based on prejudicial profiling instead of individual behavioral history. But what my other friend was trying to say is that indicators are not the whole story. You might note those indicators, but they are not proof. We are not so absolutely determined by unrepeatable personal histories of whatever behaviors. To say that we are entirely determined by historical indicators actually pushes people into jacking up the stakes. It gives them as excuse. It’s what society has done to them. They’re not culpable. They are the animal that has been tortured and made into an object. They are now simply lashing out. Who can blame them? So, it’s all a mind game. On the one hand, you don’t want a TRIAD offender to kill someone. On the other hand, you don’t want to give him an excuse. And you sure don’t want to say all TRIAD offenders are serial killers waiting for opportunities.

(C) There’s actually a third part ending with such as DARPA COMPASS

I personally know someone who has this TRIAD history on steroids, big time, all three, the bed-wetting, the torture of animals, the arson. That person has shot at me many times. You don’t easily forget bullets whizzing past your head. It took him no time at all after the arson bit. That person became an arms dealer for the Sinaloa cartel. That person told me recently enough that he wants to kill Jews. But when you say to appropriate people – “I’ve always heard, if you see something, say something, so this is what’s going down…” – the invariable response interrupting any reporting has been:

Look, I don’t have any idea about any arsonist(s) here in Andrews. But, like Maya in the video up top of this post, I’m 100% on the intent of this guy I know. All the indicators are there. Ooops! I just crossed the line from indicators to predictors, didn’t I? Yes. That’s because there’s a bit of emotion in it for me. That confuses things right quick for anybody. That’s a no go. But, can someone set me straight on this, say, in the field of criminology? Again, I won’t publish your comment if you tell me not to do that. I gotta wonder if the DARPA COMPASS crowd are subject to emotion. Reading their presentation is like reading a rationalization for assassination based not on any wrongdoing but merely confusing indicators to predictors. The rationalization:

  • The geeks behind computer screens indicating possible targets for field officers to decide to kill or not: “We’re not pulling the trigger. That’s the decision of the field officer.”
  • The field officer getting target info from the geeks: “We’re not really pulling the trigger. That’s the decision of the geeks at DARPA. How can I question their gaming theory combined with situational awareness. Take the guy out.”

Meanwhile, a guy who shuns terrorism is killed because it’s thought he might think about it, maybe, perhaps. Confusing indicators and predictors. Hmmm….

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Filed under Firefighters, Intelligence Community, Law enforcement, Situational awareness

Christmas shooters Hanukkah stabbers: security teams visitors ongoing training

I have much to say about this kind of thing given that DHS has trashed pretty much everything they did have for encouragement of self-protection and training (which was a lot at the time) in favor of ripping everything from their own FEMA and giving it over to a brand new agency that is still in its infancy and still sporting its first Director: CISA. The incredible magnitude of CISA’s effort in so short a time is nothing short of amazing. I’ll get to that in future. For myself, for my parish, for churches and synagogues, I have some practical suggestions at least for this locale. I’ll get to that in future as well, I hope.

For now, I would like to repeat some advice from a previous post on the old FEMA out-of-date and broken-linked effort of more than two years ago, which post has been seen by pretty much every justice department and law enforcement agency from local to state to federal, and has been visited by pretty much every educational institution, private, city, county, or state, from podunk to the ivy league, also internationally, making it one of the most visited posts ever on this blog. That post is now out of date, except for the added advice:

  • I would like to see among first responders to an active shooter critical incident on a church campus my own parishioners who are already on campus, and who are LEOs, military operators, or otherwise highly trained individuals who can instantly respond to and neutralize any threat, that is, those who don’t rest on their laurels, but who are frosty, always and instantly at the ready.
  • I would NOT like to see parishioners participating in this program who have a concealed carry permit but who, other than their first qualification just to sit in the course have never fired their stop-the-threat-tool, or have only rarely done so. I can see it now: fumbling around in a purse or ultra-complicated safety holster (with all sorts of unnecessary safeties employed on the gun itself), trying to figure out how to use for the first time red-dot sights or lasers with all their switches or not (depending), with batteries being useful or dead, with zero scenario training, zero indicator awareness, zero situational awareness, and therefore little possibility of recognizing and isolating a target and therefore being caught off guard with a lack of confidence and therefore way too much hesitation and liability to foggy confusion, and therefore with an increased possibility of causing friendly fire casualties.
  • I would like to see the very same parishioners and others help to get those around them out of the building or, if that’s impossible, to the floor, even while getting out their phones and calling 911 and/or (depending on the circumstances and logistics) fighting with anything at hand: hymn books, loose chairs, music stands, instruments… oneself…
  • But here’s where the importance of a plan comes in, when everyone should know their part to play, so that flight or dropping to the floor is important so as to give clear access to defenders who have the proper tools to stop to a threat (regardless of policy on firearms), therefore reducing the possibility of a friendly fire causality. The placement of defenders in good positions of situational awareness and the possibility of responding is key.
  • Flight-hide-fight. This is about love.

But in viewing that church shooting video above, one more point needs to be added. I praise the church for having a security team and for allowing firearms in church for self-defense. That team might have been trained up well. But…

  • There were four fellows who drew their weapons – a couple of them moving from left to right in the foreground aisle – and I don’t know if those latter two were on the security team or not. They could just be visitors trying to help out. They might have been well trained, even military or police, but lost it when the adrenaline hit, perhaps falling back on house clearing training for SWAT or military. But even then – sorry – they’re not doing that well. Those two don’t have a target as the perp is already on the ground behind the pews. Those two are super dangerous to all around them. They’re continuously flagging their fellow parishioners with the muzzles of their own weapons. If that’s just because of adrenaline and they have their fingers on their triggers, they might have extremely easily pulled the trigger in the chaos. If they were that controlled by the adrenaline (and there are ways to control it, and use it), they might just as well have pulled down the muzzle had they had to pull the trigger, again risking hitting not the perp but another parishioner. In this kind of a situation – with no target in sight and lots of people in between – they should have had their weapons high entry, so to speak, not low entry and certainly not aimed right at other parishioners the entire time. It’s high because if you draw up, in this situation, you’re directly flagging the very ones you want to protect.

No one gets out of training. Churches present a different situation from SWAT or military house clearing, as the above video makes evident. Military and Law Enforcement exceptions are not to be made in scenario based training with the exact incident in the video above as evidence of this. Everyone dismisses the soft target as that which is easy to protect. The opposite is true, especially because of this attitude. “I got this!” is the typical exclamation based on truly heroic careers of those who have been highly decorated for their bravery in violent incidents. I get that. It’s the temptation of any and all to rest on their laurels when it comes to soft targets. It is what it is. Unless there is scenario based training also for the differences of high entry and low entry, even the greatest of heroes isn’t to be on the security team. We don’t need anyone thinking “they have this”. Watch those two guys in the foreground of the video above again. That’s as scary as the active shooter guy.

Just because you own a tool doesn’t mean you know how to use it. Even if you have your drills down, that doesn’t mean you have your scenario practice in. And that certainly doesn’t mean you have situational awareness skills or deescalation skills. I’m NOT claiming I’m great at any of those, but I do some study. I try to keep up. I think that’s an obligation for everyone who carries. It’s a service to society to carry. Just make sure you have at least some competence.

Let’s look at some stills:

  • In the picture above the defender in the top middle circle has already taken down the perp and has his weapon pointed at him with clear line of sight. Great!
  • The defender in the white shirt and black vest at the top left has his weapon drawn low entry. Not great for the circumstances. If he does have to draw up, he will have to flag his own parishioners. Not good. He should be high entry. But he’s clearly scanning and taking in the situation as it really is. Perfect. I like this guy.
  • Meanwhile, the guy in the dark maroon shirt has his weapon pointed directly at our defender up top as he moves along flagging everyone in front of him. NOT good at all. I’m guessing he’s a visitor. But even then he should see that the guy up top has dropped the perp and is simply keeping a bead on him, and not shooting others. The defender guy up top is NOT the perp.

Let’s move on a nanosecond:

  • In the picture above we see the defender guy up top still with a bead on the perp, and the guy in the upper left still at low entry – we’ll let that go – but he’s still scanning and evaluating. Great!
  • But the guy in the maroon shirt in the lower center of the above picture is still aiming directly at his security team guy who took down the perp. What the heck? This guy has gotta be a visitor. But even so, he should be noticing the guy to the upper left, where he is instead looking, and note that he’s low entry. But, not at all. This guy in the maroon shirt, in my opinion, is dangerous. Look, I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in the scene. I wasn’t filled with adrenaline. I didn’t suffer tunnel vision. I’m sure the guy means well, but, the point is, he needs some training or retraining for how to do up things in a church.

Let’s move on a nanosecond:

  • The hero defender guy – unmoving – still has a bead on the perp. Great!
  • You would think the guy in the maroon now all the way to the right, would have figured things out by now, but he’s still flagging everyone and still has a bead on the hero defender. Dang. Who the heck is he?
  • The guy in white shirt and black vest in the upper middle left circle, still really low entry now, has already figured out the outcome, light years ahead of the guy in the maroon shirt. Great.
  • Now we see another guy in black to the far left. He’s also flagging everyone, but really seems to be aiming right at the two defender guys in the middle top. Dang. These guys might have plenty of laurels to rest on and be great heroes for whatever they’ve done in the past – even both have Congressional Medals of Honor for that matter – and I’m not denigrating them… it’s just that, seriously, any training has gone out the door and they have no clue as to what they are doing, flagging everyone and not noticing the two defenders are looking somewhere else and NOT shooting anymore. Those three should all be high entry…

What I’m saying is this: Scenario based training in the environment in which you are going to be a defender is important. Churches and synagogues are much different than “kill house” training, you know, house-clearing training. It’s not enough to carry. It’s not enough to know your drills. You have to know how to approach a situation. You have to know how to read a situation.

Again, I’m the armchair pundit here. I’m a zillion miles away from that church. I wasn’t there. I didn’t have the adrenaline pumping. I didn’t suffer from myopic vision because of adrenaline. All I’m saying is that there is a world of difference – easily between life and death – between the two defenders up top and the two to either side. It’s not enough to have a security team even made up of war heroes and law enforcement. This is a different situation. It’s a soft target that’s actually more difficult to defend.

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Officer Mader style deescalation: two anecdotes including suicide by cop

It’s been well over 3 1/2 years ago that Officer Mader put his off-the-charts skill sets in deescalation into action, and saved the life of a guy wanting to do a suicide-by-cop, well, until another officer just shot the guy three times to the body and once to the head (the latter being the instant kill shot). Then Officer Mader was fired for not firing his gun himself. Mader went on to win a $175,000 settlement for wrongful termination. But then he had to move out of his hometown as the harassment was too great for he and his family. “He’s a coward!” it was said. No. Deescalation is not cowardice. It is supreme bravery if the circumstances were right. It just seems that the officer who arrived in media res might have asked what the deal was. Maybe he did. I wasn’t there.

I would like to share just a couple of incidents about deescalation, one related to me by a Sheriff who did the same as Officer Mader as told to me by that Sheriff himself, and another I personally saw during a heavily armed incident. Both stunning stories. I do this because I’ve seen the same off-the-charts skill sets in deescalation more recently. Hugely impressive. Let’s start with something I saw myself:

[1] The above picture is the entrance to the Fijian Parliament. I was there in the year 2000 taking over the courses for the chair of the Scripture department of the Pacific Regional Seminary which is situated to the right just some hundreds of yards away. The problem was that all the students, staff, faculty and administration to a man, to a woman, had all fled as far away as possible, even to their own countries, to avoid a somewhat violent coup d’état with 21 hostages, members of the parliament, including the Prime Minister, that was taking place in the parliament itself.

Being left behind, as it were, and being behind the last military check point, left to the whims of the hostage takers, I decided – me being me – to read all of the Bible, cover to cover, writing marginal notes and cross indexing everything in my mind and on those pages, all while walking the surf on that southeastern seaboard of the tiny country, directly in front of the parliament. :-)

Sometimes I would end up walking along the road that bordered the sometimes too violent surf, even right at the entrance of the parliament itself, even when some of the hostage takers were also out front on the road. At that point, the side of the road sported a smoking, ashen, burned out fruit bar / restaurant, and now mounting skeletons of cattle the hostage takers had been eating. Deescalation skills came in handy a number of times when I was approached. There were plenty of murders around the mostly peaceful country in now extremely tense times.

Then, just from the POV of the picture above, I saw a dozen soldiers on the one side and a dozen on the other aggressively walk-running toward each other just at this point. They all had their rifles brandished in front of them, pointing at each other, yelling whatever it is that one yells in such a situation. I ran to the left of the picture, trying to get cover from any violence that seemed sure to break out, but I must say that I had a front row seat to what would now follow. There were plenty of bullets that would zip through the seminary grounds (also right next to me, repeatedly… ah… that sound of bullets passing by your head…), so it wasn’t as if anyone was hesitant about pulling the trigger for any or no reason.

When they came together I witnessed the most incredible restraint-as-deescalation I have ever seen or can ever imagine seeing. Both sides did a kind of dance in which they would lunge at each other in the air – pointing their rifles directly at the opposition – only to drop their rifles mid-air (still secured by slings) so that their hands were free to grab the ends of the barrels of the rifles of the enemy soldiers pointing right at them. There would be a tussle for the control of weapons, but then the lunger would retreat having yelled some choice words. After some long minutes of this – and it started to get boring even as they got tired of this surreal dance – the verbal assaults turned into a somewhat more intelligible back and forth between the two leaders of the clashing parties. Surely these were demands being made and such like, you know, like delivering pizza, or re-writing the constitution. The Fijian way. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone went to school with everyone. Everyone went through United Nations military training with each other.

In other words, it’s alright to know your enemy, what he will and will not at all do in certain situations. No one was going to fire a weapon in such a situation. Zero chance. Is deescalation by restraint allowed? It can be dangerous, but yes. There may be a life or two lost here or there because of misreading of certain signs or subterfuge about the same, but hundreds or thousands of lives may be saved because of that restraint.

[2] But even more to the point, let’s take a more local law enforcement suicide-by-cop attempt that took place somewhere here in Western North Carolina (I know exactly where) and told to me by the Sheriff involved, who did the same thing as Officer Mader in the video above. That Sheriff has been reelected many times.

What happened was that the perp had purposely caused a scuffle in town, waiting for law enforcement to show up. It was the Sheriff himself. The perp ran to the nearest creek, some 1,600 feet. The Sheriff caught him, but he broke loose and jumped in the creek, now brandishing a gun and shooting “at” the Sheriff. I put “at” in scare quotes because the shots were way wide. The Sheriff immediately understood that the guy meant him no harm, but was wanting a suicide-by-cop. The Sheriff then went in after him, the perp continuing to pull the trigger, firing more shots “at” the Sheriff. The Sheriff simply tackled him, took the gun, and dragged the perp to the river bank, cuffing him and marching him back into town. The guy goes to jail. A year later, the perp asked to see the Sheriff, who went to see his “assailant.” Sure enough, the perp admitted he had been attempting to do a suicide-by-cop, and thanked the Sheriff for having saved his life with restraint as deescalation. Amazing.

The thing is, you have to keep level headed in such situations. You have to have lots of scenario training, including suicide-by-cop training. Not having that doesn’t make for a happy ending. But sometimes there are those who are super trained up:

So, however sad the situation, that was really funny. Hahahahaha. Sorry, I played this multiple times. I laughed every time.

I mean, just think about it. How many suicide-by-cop incidents, with the perp brandishing a gun, have resulted in no one being injured. Quite a few. Remember the one in which the guy just sat in a chair on the middle of a road after a spat with his girlfriend and brandished a gun? They didn’t shoot him. They knew what was going on. They quietly got a sniper in place. The sniper guy shot and hit the trigger mechanism of the gun, making the gun fly out of his hands. The perp guy didn’t even lose any fingers. But maybe some departments don’t have snipers, etc., etc. I know. I know.

And, yes, I know, all cases are different and very many times you do have to pull the trigger on someone regardless of what they say or do signifying a suicide-by-cop attempt. They are just too dangerous, too out of control, too wild. It is what it is.

Analogy with all matters spiritual in evangelization: Do we ever dismiss anyone ever because they seem to have gone too far, that they are too far gone? It’s not to be done. Our Lord is working on everyone. As long as we are alive, that in itself is proof that our Lord is giving us a chance to get to heaven.

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Filed under Deescalation, Humor, Law enforcement, Situational awareness, Suicide

Dirección General de Aduanas. Disabuse me of my curiosity please.

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Surely someone just doing a random internet search for Jesus from the main offices for customs in Guatemala? Could be. Probably. That’s it. For sure. Usually Bing and Google and even DuckDuckGo show up in the stats, with or without search terms. “No referring link.” No “Came from.” Nothing mysterious there either. The stat program is waaaaay behind the times. I’ve only flown over Guatemala, being on a manifest instead for Beliz City, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, and finally Managua. That was back in the day. Curiosity kills, I know. But. And I know precisely zero about computers. It’s just a bit of recreation for me to do pointless, stupid things. I’m at the top of my game in being an idiot. So, I wasted my time dumping the IP (which means nothing, I know) into an extremely inaccurate locator aggregator, which reports three different methodologies, and came up with this:

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A quick whois.lacnic.net query, because I’m a world class expert in wasting time, so very proficient in useless recreation:

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AMNET and TIGO are international internet providers. I get it. Is it Managua or Guatemala City that we’re talking about as the originator of the traffic? How does Invercasa fit into this? Those questions should tell you how much of nothing I know about anything. For me, in such a fairy tale land, it’s a matter of curiouser and curiouser, all for inconsequential recreation. But if it’s actually Managua… Anyway, if anyone could disabuse me of my curiosity in a moderated-comment I would be most grateful. Be nice.

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Church & School Shootings: Next Step

SWAT church

I have a number of FFL friends, that is, those who are Federally Licensed to sell Firearms. They tell me stuff. I heard something just now that provided an obvious next step to be brain-stormed and implemented as a Federal program – so that’s it’s consistent throughout the nation – but whose input is especially from local law enforcement vetting “if you see something, say something” information.

The idea would be to have a dedicated web-page with a color coded threat scale for a particular region. People would take a regional threat scale much more seriously than something as generic as North America or the contiguous United States. With the color coding for a local region, no one could game the system and have any certainty of results for any desired fame and notoriety: they said something and the coding changed, but they don’t know why.

What happened is that a guy showed up at an FFL and creeped out my friends so badly that they called law enforcement to listen in ever so nonchalantly to the lengthy conversation. Mind you, these FFL guys had been sworn law enforcement themselves and they’ve seen about everything and don’t get creeped out over nothing. The on-duty guys couldn’t catch out the guy in conversation and so left. But the guy was so creepy, going into the finest detail of the recent shootings, and into the finest detail of what he wanted to be able to do with the most damaging ammo in the most damaging way to the human body that the FFL guys called the on-duty law enforcement guys again.

I’m NOT talking about red-flag laws here. I’m talking about warnings to those who could alert security teams of churches and schools that there is a possible risk in the local region, you know, by color coded levels of threat. Again, just for, say, regions of a state.

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Call 911! Simultaneous church incidents. Confessing situational UN-awareness.

PATRIOTS DAY gotcha.png

We had some sort of emergency in the far back corner of Holy Redeemer Church this past Sunday, September 8, at the end of the offertory of the 11:00 AM Mass. Our entire church can fit into most sanctuaries of most churches, so, the far back corner of the church is, like, merely 25 feet away from the altar.

Someone cried out: “Call 911!” And the chorus of “Call 911!” multiplied in seconds. But there was no noisy commotion. No one said what the emergency was in those first seconds. I hiked it down from the altar to the back of the church in those few seconds. Pastor is as pastor does, right? As I then found out, it was a medical emergency for one of our ushers. In mere seconds, I gave an emergency anointing of the sick to the usher even before they were able to lay him down on the floor. EMS arrived minutes later and our usher is just fine now.

Since our faith family is small, we’re pretty tightly knit, so you can imagine our hearts were entirely in solidarity with our usher. You might say that we were distracted, that anyone bothering to have any situational awareness could now relax as it’s surely impossible that any other critical incident indicators that might present themselves cannot happen, because, you know, emergencies rarely happen, and un-associated and entirely diverse critical incidents never happen at the same time. So, go ahead, let your guard down, right? Wrong.

We immediately continued Mass starting with the Preface. “The Lord be with you!” “And with your spirit!” came the strikingly strong response. I can’t imagine that anyone would or, humanly speaking, could complain about these few seconds given over for the anointing, either time-wise or appropriateness-wise. So, no big deal, right? But something else happened in those few seconds in back of the church which should have had me run after someone so as to get a licence plate without him realizing it, you know, right after that anointing. That would have been logistically pretty easy in our circumstances. But I didn’t do it. Stupid me. Let’s review.

We had an unusually high number of visitors throughout the church. The emergency and the calls to call 911 were happening right in back of a certain visitor, who, unlike the others, did not come with a family. Never seen him before. He was alone [… description removed…]. By the time I got next to that certain visitor who was sitting at the end of the pew in the side aisle in that back corner of the church, with me just about to reach over others to anoint our usher, the visitor guy came out of the end of the pew and simply pushed me into those holding up the usher, that is, out of his own way. The visitor guy then bolted to the front-side door of the church and made good his escape. “Escape…”

The push wasn’t anything violent, but it was forceful enough to get the job done (I’m a pretty big guy), forceful enough that I had to turn to look at him while he bolted out. It was all too surreal. I was instantly all questions about who he was and what he was up to. I watched him until he went out the door next to the sanctuary in, say, four seconds. Whatever about him, I then turned my attention over to the usher so as to get him anointed.

Many are able to keep a sense of situational awareness for a singular critical incident that may take place at any given time, but it is not so easy to be entirely in the midst of one incident while another, entirely un-associated and entirely diverse and utterly unexpected critical incident begins at the same time in the same place. That’s what was happening here. This was an excellent experience easily able to demonstrate lack of readiness. Humility is always needed. To be noted:

  • The visitor was visibly shaken when the calls to call 911 rang out right behind him. A description of his fear from someone who, having turned around in the pew directly in front of him, looking him square in the face, was that he was all worked up in fear, something you can’t do instantaneously. Shock is one thing, freezing up. But being worked up in fear is another thing altogether. This was a fear he was already in the midst of, during which the calls to call 911 took him by surprise. He did NOT turn to see what was happening right in back of him in those first seconds when it was not being said if this was a medical emergency or a law enforcement emergency of some kind. Everyone else turned to see what was happening. That he didn’t turn to see what was going on right behind him is quite impossible. Was it that any medical emergency was insignificant compared to what he himself was about to cause? Did he feel caught out in some way, that someone recognized him?

Recall the discovery of “White Hat”, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two terrorist bombers of the Boston Marathon, now locked up in the ultra-super-max ADX facility in Florence, Colorado. He was the only one who did NOT look at the explosion as it took place on Boylston Street near the finish line of the race. He is the only one who looked away from the explosion, and then made good his escape:

I have the link of that video set to 49:36. Watch until 50:35, just under a minute. This is a lesson in catching out a bad actor. Note how the terrorist guy doesn’t look, but looks away. This is important. Also:

  • The visitor guy quietly said something with quiet deliberate determination as a proclamation to himself, to God, to neighbor, though as a kind of soliloquy:

“No! – I can’t do this! – I have to leave!”

This was not a frantic, panic attack statement, nor a statement issuing from PTSD. It was all quite deliberate, even ever so slightly tinged with anger, but not at any of us, but rather with himself, disappointed, it seems, perhaps, that he had actually decided to do something horrific, but was just now changing his mind. He wasn’t at all in panic-like fear. Nor was he suffering from wartime violent sensory overload and couldn’t bear to see anything anymore even in the form of a non-violent medical emergency. He didn’t know if it was a medical emergency or he was being called out. If he was a bad actor and was just now changing his mind to not do the unthinkable, a medical emergency and calls to 911 would act as a preview of what he himself was about to bring about. He couldn’t take it.

(1) “No!” — This is an answer, voiced for himself to hear physically, regarding an internal agonizing dialogue that he had been having, much longer than just a few seconds.

(2) “I can’t do this!” — The reasoned conclusion isn’t about someone deciding to get over agoraphobia and feeling like a failure, so that he had heroically decided to be in a place as public as a church but was failing in the attempt. No. For all his fear, his words were way too deliberate to be issuing from panic. The reference of “this” is not a reference to a PTSD episode. Again, note that the statement was reasoned and deliberate. He was thinking about doing some thing, not thinking about suffering some episode. He’s entrenching his “No!”

(3) “I have to leave!” — He was a heap of chaotic emotions. IF he was a bad actor – and I’m not saying that he was (I’m just using this as a lesson in situational awareness) – but if he was a bad actor and had repented on the spot, he would want to get himself the heck out of there lest he change his mind. And the dichotomy between what he was seeing in the calm worshiping and his would-be senseless violence was too much to handle in front of others. He needed to be alone to sort things out. Such on the spot repentance is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Good for him. He did it. He did the right thing. This was grace at work. The Holy Spirit working on him. His conscience getting to him. Great!

If that guy is reading this, and I’m wrong about all this, please, accept my apologies. It’s just that this makes for a good lesson in situational awareness. If you’re a good actor, you’ll understand that we can’t be too careful in these weird days of waaaay toooo many critical incidents, and that we have to learn from out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. It’s not you I’m judging. I’m just wondering about the ensemble of indicators. That’s all.

If that guy is reading this, and I’m right about all this, please, know that God loves you and wants you in heaven for ever. Yep. God’s love is more powerful than anything we could ever come up with. He wants us back. Always. If you’re Catholic, Go to Confession! Taking your own life is not allowed. You are not beyond redemption, not beyond salvation. God loves you. We love you. God’s love is more powerful. Don’t hate yourself. Just receive our Lord’s forgiveness. I, for one, would give you a do-able penance for sure. And the secret of any Confession is absolute. This is what we have to be about in this world, helping each other to get to heaven. We can be thankful to the Lord together, for Jesus’ mercy endures forever. Amen.

The time that the visitor guy was noticed in particular and until he left the church was, like, eight seconds. These things take place very quickly.

If there was a scary part, it was that he hesitated, wavered for just a split second before exiting out the side door, like he had to make one final decision not to do something.

Finally: Thanks go to guardian angels.

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Filed under Confession, Intelligence Community, Law enforcement, Missionaries of Mercy, Situational awareness, Terrorism

Getting smacked down: How Voltaire-esque!

François-Marie Arouet (Zozo, or “Voltaire”) was disgusting in pretty much every way and in every manner and on every level possible. His rule number one in baiting is related in the cartoon above, but in this he is wrong as he is with pretty much everything else he – it seems to me – merely reacted against, thus always equating himself with all that is bad and evil or, more probably in pretty much every instance, all that which is bad and evil in his own perception. A mere reaction is merely equal and opposite, right?

Our Lord Jesus gives us full freedom to speak whatever criticism we want regarding His goodness and kindness and truth, His self-sacrificing love for us. But, of course, He does rule over us and is the Lord of History. He will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. But we can misuse our freedom if we would like to do so. It’s just that there are consequences.

When I write, if not with a flurry at the end of which I just hit the publish button with no further edits, I instead tend to do drafts of expanding notes which begin with that which I don’t want to publish because it’s what I don’t think about the matter at all. Those drafts are done up in an even greater flurry than anything else, not in a reactionary way, but by purposely entering the mindset of all that which is not right at all. A third party reading those mere drafts without also reading my mind on the matter would certainly be like reading an entirely obnoxious Voltaire on his worst day. Anyway, those drafts eventually come around to something a bit more readable but they are still not what I think, not in the least. They are merely something akin to what statistically most people might think to be somewhat civilized. This adds a bit of “culture”! Pfft! All things to all men, or words of Saint Paul to that effect. Then those drafts are in turn brought to another level with an appraisal of the way things actually are, perhaps with an analogy about what happens with Jesus entering into our dodgy human history.

Which brings me to what’s been happening behind the scenes with “Arise! Let us be going!” So, it’s like this… […stay tuned…]

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Pre-critical-incident forced psych lockup program for would-be active-mass-shooter domestic terrorists already underway? DARPA COMPASS

Google this: DARPA COMPASS. It’s the first entry. This started a while back. The confluence of information replacing the census citizenship question goes a long way to making this happen for those of whatever status in these USA. Algorithms of gaming theory and the OODA Loop can sort out who needs targeting. This seems to be the obvious reference of Trump’s reaction to the El Paso and Dayton shootings on Monday August 5, what his quick due process means. The psych lockup is a dumbed down version. The program usually just gives a target-name to a field operator who terminates the possible terroristic threat. The mere psych lockup for those in these USA makes the program seem a bit more acceptable as a way to do something about mass shootings.

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Danger near the rectory and at church? Scottish Bagpipes to the rescue!

A week ago I published this about some incidents: Banging on the window at 1:38 AM like a thief in the night.

Within a week, there have been more incidents:

  • There was again banging on the window of the rectory after midnight. Same place, too, next to the sticker that says 24/7 video surveillance. It’s like, knock and then read. I mean…
  • I mentioned this to a neighbor, who said that another neighbor, a super-generous minister of one of the faith communities here in Andrews – a friend – had a breaking and entering incident in which the bicycles of their little kids were stolen. Wow. When an incident involves little kids, the antennae go up…
  • The same neighbor said that he found two drug syringes and the above pictured knife next to the windows on the side of his house.

Then, another event, this time up at the church. Having gone to the supermarket and filling up the car with gas for the weekend travels to the churches and rehabs, just at nightfall, I had one of those “feelings” that I should then go up to the church and check the doors and such. There had been a number of events: re-construction of the confessional in the church, a conference by a great visiting priest in the social hall, and a continuance of the rosary novena for persecuted Christians. Surely one of the doors had been left open, thought I. Because of another “feeling”, I parked in the upper gravel parking lot out back, I made my way along the doors, spotting this huge mama wolf spider with a trillion babies on her back:

Nature is fascinating. But that’s a distraction. Back to checking the doors. Fine. All the doors were locked and all was tranquil. Everything was over and no one was on campus. Great! Soooo quiet…. Crickets…

Just then a phone call came in about logistics for celebrations of Mass the next week as renovations will involve the church itself. Having gotten through that phone call in front of the shrine pictured above, I went back to my car in the upper back parking lot, making my way between the buildings. That back parking lot has a history of being a druggy drop site, day or night, as it is all kind of hidden. I once called in an escaped felon in a stolen vehicle. The driveway is gravelly and tires spin turning up into that back upper parking lot as the driveway is so very steep. No one would park there just to do it, especially at night, all hidden away like that. After all, with all the thieves and druggies round about the past week, with all the pretty much continuous mass shootings at churches and schools and businesses, it would look suspicious to park up there all hidden away…

But, sure enough, there was another car parked within inches of mine, side to side. That’s what tipped me off that this was way too weird to just discount as a nothing burger. Inches away in an empty parking lot signals trouble, even if it’s a good person with good motivation, because in that case there surely has to be drinking or drugs involved. So, being bad and evil myself, I immediately thought that whoever it is may well have malicious intentions.

The driver did not get out when I walked into the parking lot. I just went straight to my car without hesitation. I got into my car, turned it on, waited for a minute. Nothing. I moved the car around to park behind the guy and shine the bright lights on his car. This usually moves the druggies right along. They hate that. Nothing. I took a few pictures of the car. They hate that even more. Nothing:

Out of state plate. Interesting. Probably a local who is back in town for a moment. No “year” sticker on the plate. Probably too new, right? Also, it’s a “fleet car” with a “fleet” number and code number. That’s like an advertisement for people to know who you are. So, surely it’s all innocent. Nothing to hide. If it’s a rental car to escape notice, the person probably hasn’t thought it through. You can’t rent a car except with a credit card. Anyway, it’s probably just someone praying for a loved one who passed recently. We’re always to think good things of others. And that’s what I was thinking.

After all, there was only one guy in the car. I should just go and introduce myself. Be welcoming. Despite the red flags.

But then I saw something that just ripped all those good thoughts out of my head. I had only seen a driver when I had walked up to my car and could clearly see into that car. Just the driver. But now I saw a second person who had been hiding in the passenger seat as there was movement of a head of hair for just a split second up against the lower edge of the passenger window. There’s no chance they were up to hanky panky, as they wouldn’t park inches away lengthwise with my car, the only other car on the entire campus. As far as I’m concerned, that most likely makes them fit the modus operandi of aggressors of whatever kind.

So, that momentary red flag made me want to move this crowd along quickly, that is, to have them remove themselves from this private property. Something’s just not right…

What’s my usual method? It makes my laugh. It always works. It worked when I was being shot at out at the hermitage with me having no escape. I played Handel’s Messiah on my phone and the shooting stopped, just like that. Now what I did was to lower the windows and turn on some music, loudly, and with the bright lights shining on his car from behind, off to the side a bit. Here’s what I played for all of Andrews to hear:

He lasted right through the pro-Police “I’m Bleeding Out” but only made it about 3/4 of the way through “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Too religious, I guess. Too patriotic, I guess. Too much to do with cemeteries, I guess. Too unapologetically loud, I guess. I gotta admit, there is nothing louder than Amazing Grace on Scottish bagpipes at night in an an otherwise sleepy neighborhood with the sound multiplied by the high-beam headlights shining on the back of your car from the side, you know, for all to see and hear. I’m really bad and evil. He drove away, ever so very slowly. That was the end of it. Today I’m sure I’ll find out that this was an American hero of some kind, a ex-parishioner of some kind, come back home. Right?

I’m all for being embarrassed, because safety comes first, regardless of being embarrassed about being over-careful. No apologies for that. Too many red flags with this incident. But still, there’s probably some very good and boring and entirely embarrassing (to me) explanation, making it look like I shouldn’t have been such a knucklehead. It is what it is.

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Filed under Law enforcement, Situational awareness

Choosing targets for targeted churches The rule is: It’s not about you

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All churches, because they are soft targets, are targets. They have been for years. Cowards abound. They only hit soft targets.

Got a security team? Do they practice? Not really? Why is that?

In my experience, easy is the only way. No one is going to do something difficult.

Materials needed:

  • A political-election-sign-pigtail-wire carried by, say, Lowes. I get them by the handful since, with my bad aim, I’ll sometimes cut a wire with a bullet, usually and unhelpfully in the loop holding up the plate.
  • Dessert foam plate (7″), the flat bottom of which is about the width of the inside bottle of the QIT 97-99 targets, about the size of the “stop the threat box” for eyes and forehead. For example, here’s a donated 4″ splatter target pasted over the plate, useful if you have the target out at 75 feet. I guess. I haven’t used them.

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By the way and just to say, terrorist active shooter idiots are now much more commonly using body armor. Head shots are that four inch box. That’s it. I measured it out putting a ruler to my own face in a mirror. Even more, the box is half that height, only two inches.

Anyway, assembly and placement, not counting the pacing distances is five seconds:

  • Slip the plate into the top pigtail loop. I put it in at an angle (as seen above) so as not to interfere with the virtual vertical inside bottle. (3ss)
  • Pace out the distance for the stage of the course you’re doing.
  • Poke the wire into the ground, which doesn’t have to be level. (2ss)

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The rule is: If it’s too difficult, you’re not going to do it. The pig-tailed plate is sooo easy.

Massive paper targets or pre-printed on cardboard QIT targets still need to be attached to frames that need constructing (you’re really gonna do that?) and transporting (you gotta truck, right?) and then lugging and placing on a flat surface (I don’t have a flat surface on the ridge) and then removing them afterward and then retransporting them and then storing them (you’re gonna get away with storing them?).

THAT ain’t a gonna happen more than a couple times at the most, even for the most enthusiastic, and then you’ll just give up on range work. Not good. So, forget big targets. They are harmful in every way. If you shoot with a massive target, you’ll not stop the threat from any real target and you’ll very likely endanger the very ones you’re trying to protect.

The rule is: Aim small, shoot small.

This makes you more accurate, which makes you more safe regarding those you are trying to protect in any critical incident.

The rule is: practice under pressure.

  • Use a timer, use small targets, and use variable staged courses that are quick.
  • Use courses that make you run, go prostrate, kneel, stand, that get the adrenaline going, that make you change out mags with some left and when all is empty (“tactical” and “combat”).
  • Use courses that make you use only your strong hand, only your weak hand, make you change hands mid-stage, and also both hands.

Think about it. You’re in close quarters with lots of people. When an active shooter terrorist idiot opens fire, you’ll have, at most, a three second grace period, so to speak, that is, if you’re not hit while he’s shooting as fast as he can. The utterly unexpected and very loud noise will make people shy away from the perp, giving you a clear shot, but only for those three seconds. You’ll not have more time than that. No matter what you say and practice, people may still rush the perp at risk to themselves so as to attempt to stop the threat, perhaps, with likely many getting killed by this method. And they won’t hear your shots, however loud, as adrenaline will already have blocked their senses. But you don’t want them to rush into the line of fire and so you are the one to stop the threat even before that reaction of theirs could possibly take place. It’ll all be over before they can react.

The rule is:

  • You have to be the one who’s not surprised.
  • You have to be the one at the ready.
  • You have to be the one who is a bit edgy.
  • You have to be the one with situational awareness.
  • You have to be the one who practices all the time.
  • You have to be the one who makes it easy for yourself to practice by using, say, the targets recommended above.

The rule is:

  • It’s not about you. If it’s not about service to others out of love of God and neighbor, you’ll freeze, you’ll run, you’ll hide, but you won’t fight. You’ll let it happen.

We’re so weak and so don’t want to be bothered that we’ll let difficult targets get in the way. Do everyone a favor, make your targets super inexpensive, super easy to set up.

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Filed under Guns, Situational awareness, Terrorism

Road Danger: 2016 Subaru Forester vs 2019 Mustang Bullitt

A Good Samaritan is who we all strive to be, and after a long day of celebrations of the birth of the Prince of the Most Profound Peace on Christmas we are especially encouraged to be one of those the angels sang about that first Christmas night, those of good will who have the peace of God provided to them and who want to bring that to others.

But that doesn’t mean that one is to be so naive as to think that there are not those who are not in peace in this dark world. [Three negatives in one sentence! :-) ] After all, that’s why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, radiating Light so as to illumine our darkness in which some nevertheless choose to remain. There are bad things that happen also on Christmas. My situational awareness was a bit edgy, as usual.

Christmas is, as one might imagine, super busy for a priest. After all the Christmas Masses, away I went to add some hundreds of more miles to the day. Not a particularly safe day to be on the roads, mind you. But now the long day was over and I was driving back to the rectory from some hours away. Up to this time, the entire trip had been wonderful, peaceful, everyone driving in a safe and courteous manner. And then I saw the headlights breaking through the darkness of night.

As I headed down the last super steep descent into the Nantahala Gorge on Highway 19 – 74, just where the speed limit goes from 45 to 35 after the “Gem Mine” on the right, I noted in the rear-view mirror the extraordinary velocity of a car just cresting the hill more than a half-mile up the hill behind me. I immediately pulled off into the gas station on the left to get out of the way. Well… “pulled off into…” It was more like entering the parking lot full speed and slamming on the brakes, ripping the steering wheel to the right to be pointed back in the direction of the road just in case. Yes, I actually thought of that. I pulled up near the road so that I couldn’t be blocked in by his stopping in front of me. If he did that it would have escalated things right quickly.

I’m guessing the Speeder guy was doing well over 100 mph on the straightaway down the hill and no sooner had I stopped than he – how to say it – violently pulled up next to me – driver door to driver door, meaning that he was pointed away from the road. He was just far enough away to be able to open his door. It was night, and it seemed that his windows were darkly tinted. But my windows are clear as clear can be, and he could see me by way of the bright lights of the gas station. I didn’t wait for him to stop but chased back out on to the road heading steeply down into the gorge on the curvy two-lane road once again, going the speed limit (only) as I tend to do.

Here’s the deal: when someone is in trouble and needs help, they are full of adrenaline and do stupid things, inappropriate things. They are not thinking correctly. I know that. However, such people in need of help are going to be erring on the side of getting help. Thus, in this situation, such a distressed person would have the window rolled down and have an arm out (with no gun) beckoning for help. Other helpful things would be emergency blinkers, or flashing one’s headlights, or honking. But none of this was happening. This guy knew how to drive and seemed to be fully in control.

Not that I know anything whatsoever about cars, but it looked to be a 2019 Mustang Bullitt, pricey, powerful, and you gotta really, really know how to drive to handle this kind of a car.

Was this a car-jacking, the ol’ switch the gem of a sports car for a tin-box of a car trick? Could be. When you’re on the run after committing a horrific crime, you just don’t care. You just want to escape. It’s hard to go unnoticed in a super flashy sports car. But, that wasn’t it. The back of my car is rather unique, not generic at all. Immediately recognizable even from great distance. This is not the car you would switch to if you were trying to remain low-key. There was another, easier because still unsuspecting car right after this that he did not chase after, and then another, and then another hundred cars and a dozen businesses just some hundreds of yards away.

Anyway, he forthwith got on my back bumper going down the curvy road to the “river’s end” of the gorge. He decided to drive alongside me – not speeding so as to pass me – on a double yellow coming up to a rock-wall-on-both-sides-blind-curve-section of the road, you know, with a car coming in the opposite direction, a situation that was going to make for a head-on collision with him. So, whatever he intended to do while driving next to me, now he was wanting to run me off the road to save himself. I oblige. There was a pull-off right then at a house to the right side. I ripped over and only then slammed on the brakes, going to the end of that pull-off, so that there was no room for him to do the same. He didn’t need to, since he was now in “my” lane on the road and could and did successfully avoid the head-on collision. But you could see the frustration. He had a thing about doing something with me, and that was again his concern, but now with two failures in a row racked up, the second potentially deadly, he knew he had been had.

At this point, whether he was a good guy looking for help in a stupid manner, or a bad guy looking to do harm, it would clearly speak to nefariousness to try something for a third time when he could go to any other car or any business. The weak little 2016 Subaru Forester had beat out the ultra-powerful Mustang Bullitt. He then took off, not heading back up the hill to some emergency or other.

It’s surprising how much situational awareness will serve you. It’s saved my life countless times. Never let your guard down. Never.

Mind you, I had 911 up on the phone, ready to call, but didn’t need to do that. And anyway, it could have taken hours for anyone to get there when seconds count. But had he tried the third time I would have let the call go through and let the scenario that was surely to follow be recorded at dispatch, you know, because a guy driving a zillion dollar sports car surely doesn’t have money for a phone.

Meanwhile, I think my guardian angel is sporting a wry smile, knowing that he saved the day more times than I know. I guess this was his Christmas present to me.

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Filed under Road danger