Category Archives: Psychology

Coastal Survival

If you live near the coast, you’re in a unique position allowing you to utilize resources from both land and sea. Since there have been and will be many land survival articles, I will focus on the sea aspect in this one.

We’ll start with water. Of course you can’t drink seawater,dis_process until you take the salt out. So how do you take the salt out? There are 3 principle types of desalinization, electrical, thermal, and pressure. Electrical desalinization is a process utilizing an electrical field to remove the salt. It’s technical and papers have been written by universities about it. Due to its complexity it’s really not a helpful process for the average person. Pressure desalinization is the act of using centrifugal force to pull the salt out of the water. Thermal desalinization is the oldest and most natural form of removing salt from seawater.desalinazation So natural, that it occurs by the sun everyday around the world. The water vapor forms clouds and then is released back to earth as rain. We can simply replicate this process a couple different ways. Either using a heat source and distilling the water, or utilizing the suns radiation in a solar still to evaporate the water.

Shelter on the ocean is a serious problem. If you’re in the ocean, you have two serious concerns hypothermia and shark attack. Hypothermia is when the bodies core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. hypothermiaDue to water being an excellent conductor of heat, it can pull the heat out of a body, and since we lose like 80% of our body heat through our head and neck, keep them out of the water. Also don’t shed clothes, they will act as a barrier and your body will heat the water between your skin and your clothes acting as an insulation layer between you and the outside water. On a long enough timeline everyone’s survival rate drops to zero. If the water temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit the danger for shark attack is elevated. The lower the water temperature, the greater the risk of hypothermia due to prolonged exposure, when exposed to cold water the Coast Guard’s 1-10-1 rule applies. The first stage in cold water exposure is Cold Water Shock, you have one minute to control your panic. Studies show that 20 percent of people exposed to cold water die in the first minute; they panic when they are first immersed, breathe in cold water and drowned. The next phase is Cold Water Incapacitation, over approximately 10 minutes you will lose effective control of your body, fingers, hands, legs and arms. You need to deal with self rescue during this brief phase because your ability to swim will become greatly reduced as time passes, if you aren’t  wearing a life jacket at this point and are unable to get out of the water, the odds are pretty good you’re going to drown. The last phase is Hypothermia, you have approximately 1 hour, depending on water temperature, and physical condition until your body shuts down, you lose consciousness and die.fishTrap

Another thing the ocean has in abundance is food; in the form of fish, shellfish and water fowl. Since this isn’t a hunting or fishing article, I won’t get in depth into gathering food but will touch on a few gathering techniques. You can of course always fish with a hook, line and pole. But there are several ways to harvest fish without a line and hook. There are several different types of commercial fish trap available for purchase, but you can also make one from sticks and twine, or using sticks in the sand you can make a tidal fish trap.fishspear16 Making a fishing spear is also an option, it’s a little more complicated than just sharpening a stick, but still not very technical.

When you live near the ocean, like coastal dwelling people throughout history, you must master the sea and to do so you’re going to need a boat. I’m going to talk about boat building next week, but will talk this week a little about some aspects of their use.

When you’re standing on the beach and looking out to sea, due to the curvature of the earth, the horizon is only 8 miles away. You can see larger objects such as cruise ships or aircraft carriers out to 10-12 miles depending on their height but a small motor boat or row boat, you would be lucky to see at 8 miles. If you were sitting in a canoe or kayak out in the water your horizon would be down to perhaps 5-6 miles. This comes into play when we start talking about navigation.N-chart_11451-9

Whether you’re navigating on land or on sea, before you can plan where you’re going; first you must know where you are. To know where you are, you need a map or chart, a compass, and a straight edge. There are a few different grades of certainty that I want to talk about. If you look on your map and find a tower, an antenna, or even a notable landmark or pier that you can see from your location; take a bearing to the object and lay it out on your map with your straight edge, what you have now is a line of bearing. Find another object that is like 50-60 degrees off from the last, and lay it out on your map, you now have an estimated position. Repeating the process and at the point where the 3 lines meet is a fix, for most of what we’re doing here an estimated position will work for what we need, if you’re navigating a deep draft ship in close proximity to shoal water, knowing your exact location is crucial, however if you’re in a row boat, and you know where you are within 100 or 200 yards, you will be fine because from there you can visually navigate to where you want to go.

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Having FON Yet?

According to international law, all sea bordering countries are allowed to claim 12 miles off their coast as their sovereign water. Outside 12 miles from every country is considered international waters and can be used by any other country for any internationally legal use. With every rule there are always exceptions. One such exception is that if the sea lane is less than 12 miles wide and there is international water on either side of the sea lane, free travel must be allowed. There are other exceptions as well, but the primary one that I want to discuss is when a country tries to claim more than the 12 miles. This is pretty common because the 12 mile limit is supposed to follow the coastline, however sometimes a country will have a gulf that exists adjacent to their  country and although they’re only entitled to 12 miles off their coast they will claim the whole gulf. After a period of time, that country will then go to the United Nations and claim that since no other countries use that waterway, it should be internationally recognized as theirs.map In places where there are internationally contested waters the US Navy will periodically conduct Freedom Of Navigation (FON) operations. Where a ship will navigate through the contested waters and their movement will then be sent to the UN to prove that it is indeed not undisputed water and that other countries do use it. You may be thinking right now that it’s not their place, why doesn’t the US just mind their own business? Great question let me give you an example. Say Country B claims the whole gulf instead of just the 12 mile limit. If left undisputed, the fishermen from countries A and C couldn’t fish the very rich fisheries in the gulf which they should be able to do.

It’s all very interesting but, so what? Why am I bringing this up? Well its relevance is very simple. We, all must occasionally conduct FON Ops. I’m not talking about buying a boat and heading to some disputed water. I’m talking about exercising your rights sometimes just because you have the right to do it! I’m talking here about peaceful protest, speaking your mind and letting your voice be heard, carrying a gun if and when you can (NOT ILLEGALLY!),chl if the police want to look around your property or search your car, make them get a warrant. Look I’m not saying from now on lets all just be argumentative, I’m not saying that at all. Let me relate an experience that happened to me recently.

People that know me can attest that I’m a pretty big gun rights advocate, not that I’m an activist or anything. I just believe passionately in my Second Amendment rights, that it’s the 2nd that give the rest teeth, and if it goes away the others will follow. As I’ve stated before, I live in Texas and have had a Concealed Handgun License for years. For those of you that don’t know, as of January 1st 2016, anyone that possesses a CHL in Texas, can now carry an open handgun. In other words, handguns, if carried in a designated manner, no longer have to be concealed. I have a full sized 1911 .45 ACP that I have rarely carried because it’s so large that it’s difficult to carry concealed, but it’s also my favorite gun to shoot and the one that I am most accurate with. When the new law passed, I thought “I will finally get to carry my 1911” and occasionally I do, in a shoulder holster.shoulderholster Last week I was shopping in Costco warehouse near my home. I’ve been a member there for over 11 years and have been in there several times, open carrying since it was legal to do so. I was approached at the back of the store by what turned out to be a manager, who informed me that my gun was not allowed in Costco, I asked if it was because I was open carrying, because they didn’t have the required signage prohibiting it. He asserted that all guns were prohibited. To make a very long story short, I left with a refund of my membership fee and vowed I would never go back. I then appealed to the corporate office, hoping that it was just an antigun manager and that I could at least carry concealed in the store.  The response that I got from Costco corporate headquarters was actually more ridiculous than what I was told at the store. I was told that for the safety of Costco guests and staff no firearms were allowed on the premises. I say more ridiculous because most mass shootings happen in gun free zones, so by banning guns they’re actually increasing their risk factor. DS-mass-shootingsI have been asked by friends and associates why, I didn’t just leave and come back either without a gun or just carry concealed. The answer is this: to carry after I have been verbally notified that it is not allowed makes my doing so a crime; to not carry and continue to shop there, requires that I compromise my beliefs and in my eyes at least, put the lives of my family and myself at risk.

Folks, like I said earlier, I’m an advocate. I truly believe more guns make a society safer. To that end, I refuse to do business with companies that don’t allow some form of handgun carry. I understand property owners have rights too, if they don’t want people walking around their store with a hand cannon on their hip, I will still do business with them if they will allow me (and others) to carry concealed. If, like in the case of Costco, they ban all firearms from their store, I believe their policy is foolish and dangerous and I will spend my money elsewhere. Studies show that 32% of Americans own guns. If those gun owners stopped doing business with companies that are openly hostile to gun ownership, those companies profits would tumble to the point, they would necessarily be required to change their policies or go bankrupt.deathsUS

I’m merely using gun ownership as an example; there are many issues out there that people feel strongly about. Take a stand and stop supporting something that you disagree with by blindly going along. Before you start with, one person can’t make a difference, you’re right, one can’t, but it has to start somewhere and if everyone took a stand for what they believe in, then we will make a difference. This includes these Hollywood celebrities that use their popularity to further a cause. If they come out against something you’re passionate about, blacklist them. There are several stars that I won’t watch a movie just because they’re in it! And I’m a big movie fan! I have purchased over 500 movies.

Go out there and exercise your Freedom Of Navigation! Are you having FON yet?

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3 Minutes to Midnight

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It’s not an Iron Maiden song, what is it? Have you ever heard of the cheap generic Dilantin Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists? Yeah, it’s not a magazine I subscribe to either, but in a nutshell; it’s a group of atomic scientists and climate change scientists (not sure how they got in there, I guess they’re everywhere) that predict the total destruction of the world. They use this clock, the doomsday clock that counts down to midnight, where midnight is the destruction of civilization and the earth. Well in truth, it isn’t much of a clock. Since its inception in 1947 the farthest it has been from midnight is 23:43, sorry that’s 11:43 pm for those of you that don’t understand 24 hour time. The closest it has been was 2 minutes to midnight, in the height of the cold war between 1953 and 1960. Then it backed off quite a bit and it’s farthest point was 1991-95, but since 1998 it has dropped pretty hard and steady with a small uptick between 2010 and 2012 but dropped to 3 minutes to midnight in 2015 and at the end of January the group announced the clock would remain there for 2016.doomsday

So yeah, many global scientists have been beating the climate change drum for years… I truly don’t want to debate climate change! All I will say, is that if climate change is truly a threat, it will be 50 to 100 years before the climate is changed so significantly as to affect life as we know it. On the flip side of that coin, there is the atomic threat. There are many atomic/nuclear threats in the world, real or perceived that really do need to be addressed.

Beginning in the late 1990’s there began a general worldwide scare that Russian suitcase nukes or mini-nukes went missing after the fall of the Soviet Union. There was an click Australian television documentary that claimed, out of 132 mini-nukes only 48 were accounted for. The question became, where were the rest? Hollywood released a series of movies based on the subject including Methocarbamol canada Peacemaker and Bad Company, the television series, “24” ran for 9 seasons 2001-2010.suitcase_threat Many of the movies have claimed these nukes could take out an entire city, however in reality with a warhead measuring about 23 inches long and weighing about 70 pounds, would have a yield less than 1 kiloton, less than 1/10 the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. I don’t mean to minimize the threat of these nukes. They’re small, portable, and the perfect terror weapon! They may not level an entire city but would still kill millions!

In addition to the suitcase nukes, there are rogue nations pursuing their own nuclear weapon programs. North Korea has conducted 4 nuclear weapons tests in the past 10 years including one last month (January 2016). Don’t get me started on Secretary Kerry’s Iranian nuclear deal. In short, yes there is a very real nuclear threat out there.nudet However both Iran and North Korea are still in the infant or toddler stages of a nuclear weapons program. For them to develop a strike capable nuke, they’re still several years away unless maybe you are their neighbor. In the case of North Korea, they have to know that any nuclear aggressive action on their part toward any advanced nuclear country would result in the entire country of North Korea experiencing a heat wave, like a 100 million degree Celsius heat wave. Iran on the other hand, due to the fundamentalist nature of their leadership, may actually use a nuclear weapon, consequences to their own country be damned.

My question is, “does it warrant 3 minutes to midnight?” One minute farther away than the height of the cold war. Its 4 minutes closer than the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when many in the west thought nuclear war was imminent! We’re sitting at one minute closer than when NATO ran their “Able Archer” war game in Germany in 1983. So why is the threat of world destruction so close in 2015-16? I don’t think it’s the nuclear threat from rogue states since the real threat there is still perhaps 10 years away. The missing suitcase nukes, if indeed they do exist have been floating around out there for 30 years. True, we didn’t have the ISIS threat for the last 30 years, but we did have other brands of radical Islam. After all they did detonate a truck bomb under tower one of the world trade center in 1993 in an attempt to topple both towers. I don’t even think it is about climate change, with all due respect to the current President of the United States, climate change is not the number one threat to America! Since the earth’s climate is cyclic and has been warming and cooling for many millions of years, the fact that humans could cause, let alone prevent global climate fluctuation is arrogant at a minimum.nuclear-winter

There is definitely the ability for the nations of the world to engage in a thermonuclear war, the fallout from which could block out the sun and throw the globe into a nuclear winter, because the weapons do exist. However please forgive my skeptical cynicism, but I think the “Doomsday Clock” is a way, for a group of scientists that have not had a meaningful scientific contribution to the world in years, to bring some global attention to their group and attempt to promote funding for their research. I find it highly doubtful we are closer to a nuclear or any other type global disaster than we were during most of the cold war.

 

 

 

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Head on a Swivel

PayAttentionAfter a survival mentality, what is the one skill a person can possess that will save their life? There are many important skills, many that will improve your chances of continued survival, but the most critical is situational awareness. What is situational awareness? There is more to this than simply paying attention to one’s surroundings.

Due to our being born and raised in a civilized society for hundreds of years, most humans have had many of their natural instincts bred out of them. In a world of smart phones, tablets, personal computers, internet, email, text messages, social media and the 24 hour availability of hand-held electronic entertainment, it is far too easy to be sucked into that device and become oblivious to the world around us.situational-awareness We can however, with effort and training get those instincts back. We need to retrain ourselves to use all of our senses, when analyzing our surroundings. Am I saying trash the smartphone, move to the Klondike and live off the grid? If that’s the lifestyle you desire then knock yourself out, but it’s not at all what I’m suggesting, nor is it a conceivable reality for most people. Most of us still have a 9-5 (or in my case a work when the phone rings) that we depend on to pay the mortgage, bring home the groceries and put braces on the kids! What I’m suggesting is master the technology, don’t become its servant.

At home, in your environment you can be totally relaxed, watch movies, listen to headphones and be blissfully unaware of your surroundings, but when you walk out that door you should go to relaxed alert. You should put the cell phone in the purse or pocket, have your eyes and ears (and nose) open and functioning. If you don’t have a good feeling about something or someone listen to your instincts. It’s that primal part of your brain waking back up and warning you that danger could be ahead.

Because your brain can only process so much information and there’s little chance that it possesses the capability to be aware of every person or situation in your environment, you need to take some shortcuts.brain In your daily life establish a normalcy baseline for your environment, and then analyze anything or anyone that falls outside your baseline. For example, if you’re in Aurora Colorado walking to a Starbucks on a snowy January morning and if you see a woman in a tank top sitting beside the road, that is someone that deserves a second look. Now this woman may not be an obvious threat, but there is a story here and that story is what we want to figure out. If she’s muttering to herself and has blood on her clothes, we may want to keep clear and notify the authorities. However maybe she just got out of her car to get coffee and locked her keys in her car and is upset at herself for doing so and she just needs to use a cell phone to call a locksmith. Similarly a guy in tactical dress with a bulky jacket on an August afternoon in Manhattan is also outside any normal baseline.

When you observe people around you look at their eyes, the old saying, “the eyes are the window to the soul” is true. If you’ve been in combat or know people that have you’re probably familiar with the “thousand yard stare” when you see it, that is a person that is alone within and attempts to make contact may be met with hostility. This is a person you want to keep at a distance. Likewise squinting of the eyes narrows your vision and increases your depth perception and is a classic attack stare.Mugger-and-Woman

Similarly according to Psychology Today criminals frequently pick their victims based on body language. A person that is aware of their surroundings, walks like they have a purpose and meets the gaze of other people is far less likely to be targeted than someone who is distracted, disengaged or fearful. In other words, shuffling down the sidewalk, with ear buds in your ears checking Facebook or your Twitter feed makes you a prime target for criminals no matter what sex or age you are!

We’ve talked about what situational awareness is, but why is it important? How is it beneficial? As we have discussed having situational awareness is the practice of using your senses to establish and be aware of baselines of appearance and behavior in your surroundings. Once those baselines have been established we note behavior outside the baseline and interpret those anomalies using an OODA Loop.

The OODA Loop is a decision making loop developed by USAF Col. John Boyd who was a military strategist and pilot. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decision, and Action. Boyd’s theory was that the person that completed the loop first had the tactical advantage. The loop then continues based on the new observations of the actions taken. So utilizing the OODA Loop, if you are constantly observing and orienting your surroundings, you will not only see a threat before it becomes a threat, but will know possible escape routes, barricades or hindering terrain to avoid and/or exploit, allowing for immediate decision and action because you will already have a head start in the OODA Loop.OODA_Boyd_svg

As you go through your daily activities and begin to practice your situational awareness, often you will observe the sheep of society with their heads and attentions absorbed in their electronic devices. You will see families or people at restaurants that although they are sitting together each has their attention focused on their personal device. So much so, in fact, many places this will become a normalcy baseline in your environment.

Although I have talked about setting a normalcy baseline, this is much different than a person’s normalcy bias. A normalcy bias is a person’s attempt to fit some outside behavior into what’s normal.normalcy-bias-wwz-800x510 Many times when you hear eye-witness accounts of shootings, people often times describe what they thought were firecrackers. That is the persons attempt to fit gun shots (a very abnormal thing) into what is normal so they don’t have to deal with this new and uncomfortable situation. By setting a normalcy baseline, it allows us to observe and act on anything that is outside the baseline, what is not normal, it doesn’t try to fit anomalies into our baseline. So a normalcy baseline allows us to notice things that are not normal and can save your life, while a normalcy bias is the minds tendency to rationalize abnormal things as normal and can get you killed!

 

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New Year, Fresh Look

So… 2016 ready or not here we are! As I look to the new year and wonder what life has in store for me, I’m filled with hope and resolve. Resolve, because only victims leave their lives to chance alone and I will not be a victim! Hope, because no matter how prepared we are luck is always a factor! All of us should have a plan, then a backup plan, a contingency plan and an emergency plan for every situation we can imagine. That’s a lot of planning, well yeah… and like in a fight your main plan goes out the window the first time you get hit!

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I heard a saying many years ago and I don’t remember who or where I heard it but it’s kind of a mantra for me…

“If you continue to think what you’ve always thought, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got”

Let that just sit and sink in for a second.

The only way to effect change in your life is to change your current paradigm, the way you think or see the world! If you smoke and want to stop… be a non-smoker! Don’t try to stop… In the immortal words of Robin Williams in The Fisher King, either do it, or don’t do it! Trying is just a pussy that can’t commit!

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Oh we can come up with all kinds of excuses to let ourselves off the hook! My wife, or my boss, or the promotion didn’t come through, or that professor doesn’t like me… WHATEVER! That is all victim mentality, somebody stopped me and I wasn’t strong enough to persevere! So what does this have to do with the new year? Start setting goals! But Dave I don’t do New Years Resolutions… Did I say make a new years resolution? NO! I said set goals! And Goals not written down are just dreams, and dreams are vague ideas that disappear in time. Goals on the other hand have a timeline and a plan… oh wait weren’t we talking about plans earlier? Just in case you aren’t a goal setter and haven’t ever done so, I’ll go over the way its done…

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First, identify your long term goal, with a timeline. Since we’re talking about survival… How about, I want to be completely self-sufficient in 10 years.

Next, identify what steps (3 to 5) will take you to the above long term goal and a timeline for each… I want to be off the energy and water grid in 5 years. I want to have a self sustainable food source with 6 months of food storage within 3 years. Within 7 years, I want to have access to a steady supply of meat in the event of a catastrophe. These are your medium range goals.

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Next identify what steps will take you to your medium range goals along with your accomplishment timeline… To be energy independent I need to research and identify 3 ways to produce energy this year, along with the feasibility of self maintaining these energy sources in the long run. Possible energy sources to be looked at are solar, wind turbine and water turbine. We will break down each of our medium range goals in this manner.

Finally, we set our “to do” list mile stones… How much energy do we consume monthly? This week, Identify from past electricity bills how much energy we consume. By months end fact find: Is past electricity use a realistic baseline for an emergency situation? How much energy is produced by one solar panel? Do solar panels come in different sizes? What is the cost per panel? Will the panels work during a storm or cloudy day? How do I store energy for use when the panels don’t produce energy?

In this last step we’re trying to find out how much we don’t know, how much we do know, what we need to learn and we want to assign everything a deadline. If you don’t meet your deadline, take a knee, do a reevaluation. What caused you to fail? Was your goal or deadline unrealistic? Was there an outside force acting upon your goal accomplishment? Can you reevaluate and realign your timeline?

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Above all, be honest with yourself!

Now go set your goals and make your plans! Have fun and we’ll see you next week…

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Survivor Mentality

According to Psychology Today, the survivor mentality has a list of traits: Hope, True Grit, the ability to Soldier On, the ability to Grow after Trauma and a Spiritual Component. There have been hundreds if not thousands of books analyzing the subject. You see and read about survival all around you every day: Cancer survivors, terror survivors, storm survivors and drug abuse survivors just to name a few.

The field is called “human factors in survival” basically the study of why some people die and others survive. Everyone goes through trials and adversity in their lives, some are ground down, others come out the other side stronger and more capable. Victim or survivor; what’s the difference? Well, for starters, accountability! Being a victim is easy, whenever something happens or goes wrong, a victim can always blame someone else, a situation or society in general. The problem with being a victim is that you aren’t in charge of your own destiny. A victim always looks to someone else to save them, care for them or validate them. In other words, in a crisis victims are the bodies that get cleaned up afterward.

There is nothing physically different about a survivor, no special training is required. In fact, no matter what training you’ve had there is no guarantee that you will be a survivor! Wait Dave! What about members of the Special Forces? SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers; they’re all survivors! Yes, you’re right they are, but their training didn’t make them survivors, only the survivors made it through training! 29 years ago this month, I graduated from bootcamp in San Diego. While I was going through training, several of my fellow recruits would say, “I don’t know how much more I can take”, my response was always the same, “it’s almost over just hold on, it’s all in your head!”.

That ladies and gentlemen, is the secret to survival, attitude! Easy huh?!? Don’t you believe it, being a survivor is hard! There’s no one to blame, it’s all you! No matter what you’re going through, you will triumph you will come out on top. I will die someday, but it won’t be today and not by your hand! I will get through this, there is no way I die here, or like this, not this way! It’s easy to say, the problem is meaning it when it counts.

However you have to start somewhere!

I issue this challenge: Take control of your own destiny! Adopt the philosophy that you will not be a victim!

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