Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Combat - The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace [Lt. Col. Dave Grossman]

I finished reading Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s On Combat last night. Overall, I'm extremely happy with this book! Grossman gave me a walk through on how physically and mentally I will deal with human agression before, during, and after a deadly encounter.

He points out different Condition Zones (White, Yellow, Red, Gray, Black) in which your heart rate, complex and fine motor skills, and stress symptoms differ depending on how much stress you are under. Grossman explains auditory blinks, memory loss, visual clarity, slow motion time, temporary paralysis, and sensory overload in respect to what is reported by officers and soldiers versus what actually took place after a deadly encounter. He talks about our ability to go into “autopilot” and how this is derived from our training (stress inoculation). Whether we develop training scars, or as he calls it bad muscle memory, from faulty training or develop extrodinary fine motor skills, he emphasizes that “You do not rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.”

Another teaching that I strongly relate to is his violent video game section. He refers to them as mass murder simulators.

“Violent video games offer kids pathological & dysfunctional play due to the award system for repeatedly killing realistic human figures in a virtual realm”

These award systems usually involve setting a highscore for name recognition or unlocking guns which inflict more damage. His main points are that children playing these games desensitize themselves to shooting real people and they lack the dicipline to decipher what is right from wrong. Grossman states that in school shootings there is a trend to kill not just one target but many targets. He relates this to the many human like figures children repeatedly shoot on their t.v. screen during their violent video game play.

On Combat includes many references to modern day police officers and soldiers which are bearing the shield as those have done in the past: Spartan, Knights, etc. It also explains the evolution of combat and what it costs, mentally and physically to the people involved directly and indirectly with repsect to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So why did I read the book? I’m currently re-testing and applying to the San Jose Police Department and I started reading it at first because it was recommended to me by a friend of mine in Law Enforcement. Shortly after reading the preface, I got really into the book and realized I have much in common of what he describes as a sheepdog. It sounds funny yes, but his example throughout the whole book is that we have the wolves (criminals), the sheep (people in denial and not prepared for human aggression), and the sheep dogs (police officers and soldiers).

From the very start he says, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I never may need to be involved in a deadly encounter but I better prepare myself mentally for it. A great example he used in the book was that of a firefighter. They throw themselves in the fire repeadtedly during training so that when it comes time to fight a real fire, they are mentally prepared.

There are so many things I’ve gained and learned from this book but they all boil down to the philosophy taken from Officer Stacy Lim who stated, “You need to prepare your mind for where your body may have to go.” She said this in response to being shot in the chest with a .357 magnum, having the bullet pentrate her heart and leave a tennis ball size exit wound in her back. Yet she stayed in the fight, stood up became the aggressor and killed the shooter and scared the rest of the gang off.

Do I feel totally prepared to deal with human agression after reading this book? I believe I still have a long ways to go. However, I do feel I've taken a great mental step above others and will start to use Grossman’s teachings, such as tactical breathing, to overcome any level of stress or human aggression in the near future.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

3Mile Run

Today I set out to time myself for a 3mile run at 1:30pm at SJSU's glorious track. This is my prime running time because there is absolutely no one on the track, especially today with a heat index of 79 °F! Within the last lap, I re-found my focus to give the job market one more chance. How, you may ask.

Many of you know I take running very seriously. Today, I had full intentions to set out and do 8minute splits for each of the three miles. The first two miles were pretty routine due to my previous training and and as promised 16minutes was the result of my second mile. That time is okay, but its not my best. Breaking a pretty big sweat, I started to notice at the end of the 2miles that my sweat was no longer sweat but dried up white crust on my face. *gross hunh* At this point I was concerned that I may have dehydration problems if I were to push out another 8minute mile. Fulfilling my promise, I made the first few steps to grind out one more 8minute mile, or so I thought...

After 100meters in the ninth lap, wind against the front of my body, a "AH, HELL NAW, WTF are YOU doing!" was transmitted from my entire physical body to my brain. In these types of situations, you really need to focus your energy at the task at hand and grind it out, regardless of the pain. *At least that's how I think and it sounds super hardcore* Ultimately, it was up to me of when and where I wanted to stop this run.

I dogged it big time for the next two laps. Instead of feeding in the constant reminder of my lungs and legs telling me to stop, I concentrated on my breathing and kept reminding myself that I was on the last four laps. By the middle of my third lap, I really considered calling it quits because of the amount of water that I lost and my uncontrollable breathing. These are really big signs of dehydration.

Then I started my final lap. What a big mess: my leg brace nearly fell off, my breathing was obstructed by severe cotton mouth, mentally I was doubting myself if I was going to finish, and physically I was severely passed my comfort limit. It was at this point when I closed my eyes, looked up, and with one big breath and push left in me, ran FASTER. That's right, rather than keeping pace or slowing down, I ran faster. Surprisingly, upon finishing my 3mile run, I had the total time of 24:40. Not too far off my of my original goal of 24minutes. I was totally surprised! Upon finishing, I had a feeling of accomplishment, but more than that, I related it to my effort towards my current situation: College degree, jobless for seven months, and hella jaded off of the job search.

After ranting on and on in my last blog about how I feel about "Corporate America", its obvious to see that I have a strong disliking for anything in a cubicle or cubicle like. What to do from here is still a big blur. I definitely have legitimate career paths in the Army. After talking to a recruiter and doing tons of research, I found several career outlets for myself. Then again, what about the other career paths I made for myself here in California? Should I totally throw them out the window now that I can't find anything?

I honestly don't know where I will be in the next few months but I do know for a fact that I most likely will transfer into public service. As for the Army, its still a major option and back up plan. I look forward to continuing my path towards local law enforcement. Thanks to some good old B.S.T. I was able to reanalyze my situation and find a positive challenge rather than a negative dead end.

Friday, July 31, 2009

When life gives you lemons and no one likes your lemonade...

This has by far been the most difficult parts of my life to date.

25 years old with a B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Asian American Studies has left me wondering where to go again; again again.

After being laid off in January, I’ve been through plenty of emotions that the average 25 year old wouldn't even think about: the rush from the breathe of new air, excited for my career future and anticipation. Then I had feeling of what am I doing wrong, losing my motivation, anger, frustration, depression, re-motivation. All of it to me is a cycle. Since January, I’ve applied to more than 300 openings. That means within seven months, I’ve basically applied to a little over 40 jobs a month. To many of you, this may seem like a minimal amount. I say to you, go on a job searching site or job fair or company website and apply to as many jobs as you can. After this, the following week, tell me how many new jobs you see posted and apply to them. This too is a cycle, a cycle that ultimately leaves you frustrated after seven months of playing the waiting game. Sadly, I’ve yet to land ONE INTERVIEW.

The feeling of, so close, yet so far away has left me to change my entire career path outlook from analyst-product manager-team manager-entrepreneur-retirement, to: find whatever I can, leave the tech industry and settle for whatever job I can land and then hopefully one day I can possibly meet that one goal I had. I’ve changed my career goal so much that recently, for the last few months, I’ve been attempting to apply for law enforcement here in the South Bay of California. This has been another strong interest of mine, but it has little comparison to my main focus I once had on technology. (Servers, PCs, trends, etc.)

After missing the first round for new officers here in the South Bay for the upcoming January academy, and analyzing the increasing budget cuts, even this job looks like its not going to be guaranteed. Over 1100 people apply for something like 40 seats in an academy. The next time I get to try out is July 2010! I don’t know about you guys but I don’t have another year of emergency funds and this week alone I’ve been turned down from 5 temp/part-time jobs. One thing for certain and gaining priority in my mind are my EDD checks. They are nearly EOL! What will I do after the money is gone?

It’s very safe to say that I’m pretty lost right now. The feeling of me failing to currently meet my goals and the huge potential of risk this has to my possible future family has made me reconsider where to go from here. I have a strong immediate family, a very loving girlfriend, and bad ass puppy who have all really kept me sane in this time of disappointment. However, I still feel that...

No one knows how much frustration I have inside of me. I mean, I've yet to really vent out what I actually feel how these past seven months has really changed my life. Given life changes all the time, I've felt I've changed a lot more than others (old friends). We all come to a point where we need to get rid of certain people and make new friends and trade in that college life-style for something called a job. The difference for a lot of us in the Millennial generation is that that job isn't going to be the same job as our parents. It's not like we will have that job in that one company and move around a lot and retire with the same people we started out with.

Ha WTF is my loyalty to a hiring company in the job market today? A blonde lady asked me this at a job fair I attended in May. How can you even ask that today? I gave her the answer she was looking for while in my head I have close to none. With the way things are now, you have to be selfish. There is no job security for any of us! My brother was notified of his job being terminated at the end of this month back in December of last year, my mother got hired onto another team this past Wednesday because she was told her current job "may be" terminated in the near future, my father was notified that in the next year, his position will be moving to another state!? Really, where is my loyalty again?

I’ve always been a leader. Ask my parents, coaches, teachers, close friends and you will find that one major difference I had over others is that I set out to be the best in everything, period. I wasn't scared of change, until now. Funny, I look back on all the team captain positions, leadership roles, awards that I've earned, accomplishments I've over come and it is in plain site that I was made to be a leader. Yet none of these has prepared me to deal with this current situation. I currently am questioning myself, who am I again, where am I going, what am I leading, and what accomplishments have I currently made. Good motivation these days are very far and in between for me. Realistically, I feel that...

I’m at a dead end and I don’t know where to go. There is one place I know I can go but it will definitely hurt a lot of loved ones if I do. In the end, this is my life and if I were to go to where I’m referring to, I feel it would help my family to come in the long run. If someone is going to step up and get my life on track with future benefits, it’s going to have to be me. Where the hell am I thinking of going, you may ask. The military...