Protecting Cruz, book 2 in the Armando Miranda Mystery Series

Protecting Cruz, the second book in the Armando Miranda Mystery Series is now published on e-book and paperback formats. Order it HERE.

Armando Miranda leads a team of bodyguards to protect Cruz Santos, the island’s beloved Pop singer who is launching his first crossover English album, promotional concert and music video production. Investigating death threats, blackmails and a shocking murder of an island celebrity, Armando is also tasked with protecting the young superstar from his own often reckless behavior. Protecting Cruz is the second in the Armando Miranda mystery series set in the beautiful tropical island of Puerto Rico and the exciting, often decadent world of the island’s entertainment industry.

Fans of Protecting Nahir will love this sequel!2016-12-22

Prepare to get Trumped


The similarities and parallels of Ronald Reagan’s campaign for the presidency and Donald Trump’s are uncanny. Particularly Reagan’s first successful run. Specifically in the reaction of the media and the “elites” to both of their running for office. By the way, I’m not comparing Trump to Reagan. I’m simply pointing out the eerie similarities in the reactions to their candidacies. I was politically aware during Reagan’s campaign and his subsequent two terms. In fact, I credit Reagan with making me politically aware. It’s ironic because at the time, although I was in the US Navy I was a resident of Puerto Rico and therefore ineligible to vote for the President.

When Reagan began his campaign I would read print media and watch the network news and was amused by their portrayals of the man. They were dripping with ridicule and disdain. They called him a joke, a clueless actor, a dangerous cowboy. Mind you, he had already served as Governor of California and this was not his first campaign for the presidency. They warned how the world would ridicule us and how they would lose respect for us. And they quoted other countries leaders and pundits to prove their point.

I have to admit that at the time I also thought the media had our best interests at heart and so I began listening to Reagan himself when he spoke. You know, to be in on the joke. After all, he was just an actor right? They’d parade out clips of the movie Bedtime for Bonzo as if to associate Reagan with a chimpanzee. It was subtle but effective. The elites and liberal media lapped it up. After he became president the hits just got bigger and more and more vicious. I remember a British comedy show that had a skit featuring a Reagan puppet. They portrayed him as a vacuous idiot. And a dangerous one at that. There were one liners in movies about how ridiculous we had become as a country for electing this “actor”.

Anyways, during the campaign I listened whenever Reagan was on television and whenever he was interviewed. I watched the debates. Obviously I had less avenues to listen to him than we have in today’s completely connected world. This was before the World Wide Web after all. We had 3 major networks and a 24 hour news station was just a crazy pipe dream at the time (CNN launched in June of 1980). It is very possible that in today’s world Reagan would not even have been elected!

This was my watershed moment. What the man was actually saying made sense to me. When he spoke I got the distinct impression that this was not the man being raked over the coals by our media, our standup comics, late night talk show hosts and political cartoonists. I began to notice how the media would take his quotes and add words to them. Putting words in his mouth as it were. They would twist them all out of context. I would listen to him and them and it was like they were peeing on my feet and calling it rain. The elites turned their noses up, harrumphed and they mocked Middle America who were heeding his message. You know, the “low info voters” they’re calling Trump supporters today. His popularity with flyover country surged. There was the same resurgence of pride and hope of making America great again that exists today.

I’ll give you a specific example that underscores the correlation between that campaign and this one. At the time things were pretty bad. Unemployment was high, taxes were high, prices were high and people were saying America’s best days were behind us. Iran had invaded our sovereign soil (the US Embassy) and taken over sixty Americans hostage. They would wind up holding them for 444 days only releasing them when Reagan was inaugurated. We had a humiliating failure of a mission to attempt to rescue them. Our military was a hollow shell. The supposed failure of the Vietnam Conflict was a pall hanging over us all. Even though technically the US was actually winning the conflict it became generally unpopular as a result of the protests and the mainstream media portraying it as a failure. Things were pretty bad indeed. Arthur Okun’s misery index was above 16%. For those who don’t know, the misery index was a sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate.

In fact, President Carter said that it was now time for all of us to cinch up our belts and do with a little less. Experts and pundits nodded their heads and agreed. Ronald Reagan responded to this by saying that sounds good for people who have a little more but what about the poor American that had no extra to give up? How were they supposed to do with less? He stated that he believed America’s greatest days were still ahead of us. He pointed out the American can-do spirit and how we led the world in entrepreneurial endeavors. He used the example of a very simple invention that was popular at the time. A metal clip-on handle that you could clip to your soda can so it would not be warmed up by the body heat in your hand. That this invention has gone the way of the pet rock is irrelevant. That spirit still exists today. If you don’t think so watch an episode of Shark Tank. This type of entrepreneurial drive only exists in a society that rewards creativity and innovation. You know, a capitalist society.

The ridicule being heaped on people who support Trump very much parallels the ridicule heaped on people who supported Reagan in his first campaign. There may be some who deny it but I lived through it. In fact, if you wanted to sound “smart” and “nuanced” you simply had to mock Reagan and his voters as a lunatic and a bunch of zombies respectively.

Does any of this sound familiar?

People say we’re angry. We might be, but mostly we want our country to be great again. We do. And America as a great country benefits everyone in the world. We’re tired of being told what horrible, racist, sexist, xenophobic people we are when at our core we are none of those things. We’re tired of electing people to do things which they promise to do and then immediately welch on as soon as they get their golden ticket. We’re tired of people in elite circles tsking at us and treating us as if we don’t have the ability to think critically like they do. That we don’t know any better and we’re easily led. Well I have news for those “experts” and “elites” and kingmakers.
Guess what? We know better. You’ve tried this before too many times. Get ready to get Trumped.

Mental Awareness in Self Defense

warriorMost people who sign up for a formal Martial Arts program do so with the objective of learning self-defense. More often than not, the majority of these programs neglect the mental aspect of street defense. They emphasize physical preparedness by using drills intended to give you physical tools to defuse the attacks. I am not saying that physical self-defense training is a waste of time. This training is equally important, but street attacks are dynamic and chaotic and to prepare a physical response to every possible attack is virtually impossible. Not to mention the limits to the level of physical prowess we are all able to attain. A four foot nine, ninety-pound woman or a seventy five year old man with a physical disability cannot realistically expect to neutralize a six foot, two hundred fifty pound attacker, no matter how long and hard they train.

What is limitless in its potential is the mind, and seventy percent of self-defense it mental. The ideal self- defense mindset is crucial to avoiding the attack before it becomes a physical confrontation. The point is, the fight you will win 100 % of the time is the fight in which you do not engage. Avoidance is the ideal defense, and mental awareness is one of the major keys to avoidance. The good news is, you do not have to spend thousands of dollars and years of your life training your brain to be mentally alert to avoid danger. This skill is inherent to all of us and honing it to a keen edge requires only a conscious effort on our part.

Very simply, it comes down to trusting your own intuition. We make life saving decisions every day based solely on intuition. Just judging when to cross a busy thoroughfare is a decision largely based on intuition and experience. Your mind identifies potential danger and sends messages to the rest of the body to react.

We all have intuition. Call it the sixth sense, the “gut reaction”, or that “something’s not right” feeling is present in us all. And yet, society conditions us to disregard any emotion we cannot rationally justify with tangible evidence. Most victims of a violent attack recount that they had a “bad feeling” about their attacker. It could have been just a subtle, fleeting signal in their minds that registered something out of the ordinary they either did not recognize or failed to acknowledge. The reasons we dismiss those signals are various, ranging from fear of ridicule to apathy and denial.

There is nothing mystical about intuition. Your mind’s eye registers and processes information, which causes subconscious reactions you cannot explain. Something as obvious as a person shifting their eyes rapidly from side to side as they approach you is an unusual situation that may alert you. This may not necessarily signal the inevitability of an attack, but it should at least engage your attention.

There may be no obvious visual clues and yet, you experience a “tingling” sensation at the back of your neck. This happens because there are visual clues your conscious mind just did not register. It is now time to engage your attention, because physical attacks never occur without prior warning, despite popular belief that they “come out of nowhere”. In fact, violent attacks are the most predictable of all crimes. Most of them, committed by people you know, which increases your ability to predict them.

Most often, your heightened state of awareness will preempt the attack. In the victim selection process, criminals act based largely on their own intuition. Your heightened state of mental alertness sends subtle signals that you are not the ideal victim. They move on to the next person, which reinforces your feeling that your instincts were wrong, when what most likely happened was that your potential attacker simply decided to move on to another victim. Regardless, you will now have heightened your awareness, and can take physical action sooner, rather than later when the physical engagement is then inevitable.

I am not advocating a state of paranoia and fear. This creates a stressful condition that is counterproductive to good health. I am simply stating that you become more aware of your environment and trust your own intuition. It is there to protect you as it has since we were running from Saber-tooth tigers. The byproduct of this state is that you can then live in peace, knowing that you will sense danger in time to take preemptive action to avoid the physical confrontation. Live aware and peace will come to you.

Self Defense Training System. Get 90% off


In today’s dangerous world we must be prepared to take responsibility for our own self defense, safety and security. Training in a martial art yields countless rewards but the ability to defend yourself should not be contingent upon training for 10-15 years in a martial arts school. You already have the tools at your disposal. You simply need to learn to use them effectively. Make no mistake, there is no “magic move”. Firearms and guns, although part of the answer are not the end all to be all in a violent attack. You may not always have them at your disposal or your attack may be so sudden that you may have to physically engage in order to transition to your firearm or weapon of choice. Learn how. Get 90% off on the most devastating, proven self defense system available today. Fear nobody.



Surviving an Active Mass Murderer (originally published as Surviving a Mass Shooting in April 2007)

Originally published after the VA Tech Massacre as Surviving a Mass Shooting in April 2007 before the term “Active Shooter” was coined which I have since changed to Active Mass Murderer

Surviving a Mass Shooting (April 2007)

In trying to find the reasons for why Seung-Hui Cho decided on one fine day to commit mass murder the media pundits are tripping all over themselves with explanations save for the obvious. In layman’s terms, this guy was a few bricks shy of a load. The whys are fairly irrelevant. The ways to prevent a person’s circuitry from going so far awry have too many factors to even consider and they are ALL out of the scope of control of everyone he killed. Some of the people he killed may have not even known him; much less that he was a ticking time bomb.

The pundits regurgitate past tragedies, point at commonalities and try to alarm the general public again about the easy availability of guns and whether or not this kind of tragedy is on the rise. Don’t fall for this tactic. They’re trying to SELL news by sensationalizing it. It does not help the victims or their families of this attack, but the fact is, by pure mathematical statistics this is still a relatively rare crime.

They analyze the young man’s past behavior and who may have been able to prevent it or report him to some authority or “expert” who could have helped him before he snapped. There were obvious indicators, but only relevant with the benefit of the crystal clear vision of hindsight.

“He was a fan of ‘First Person Shooter’ video games,” they say and point to the obvious dangers of children and young adults playing these obsessively to later act them out in real life.

Want to know who would do this? That’s right, a nutcase. I’m not a fan of these games and my kids do not play them. There are however thousands of children and even adults of ALL ages who play them without any intention of carrying out these deeds in real life. They are in touch with reality and can make the distinction between a game and real life.

Then there’s the ease with which we can obtain guns in this country. Well I say thank God for that. I was raised in Puerto Rico, a US territory with some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Care to guess what the gun related crime rate on the island is? You don’t have to, it’s staggering. Criminals can get a gun easily and what’s more, the restrictive laws make criminals out of law abiding citizens who own illegal weapons because they’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.

The point I’m trying to make is very few people had the required knowledge and tools to detect this whacko’s intent BEFORE he began his killing spree. There was not much that could have been done. Particularly by the people he killed who had no idea who he was.

However, in the midst of the attack, there were many things that could have been done. I’m not sitting in judgment of the people who fled a psycho with guns blazing. I’m not questioning their courage for one simple reason. They did not have the mental tools to deal with this incongruous act. It was so far out of their frame of reference that they simply reacted as normal people unaccustomed to violence will react. They will waste precious seconds reacting (or NOT reacting) to the seemingly surreal events unfolding before their eyes.

Most people would say there was nothing the victims could have done. That once Cho entered the building their fate was sealed and it would be just a matter of dumb luck, karma or even a miracle if they survived the attack.


There were, and are, several things that could have been done. Three things will contribute to your being a sheep waiting for the slaughter and probably contributed to the deaths of the vast majority of the victims of this tragedy: denial, psychological fear and apathy. I don’t want this blog to be one of those enormous scroll-down pages most people like to dismiss and move on. The message is too important. Therefore, tomorrow I’ll finish with Part II to give SPECIFICS on what to do should something like this (God forbid) happen to you. The specifics I will outline not only have relevance in a mass shooting, they apply universally to all violent attacks.

Part II

I’ve been a practicing martial artist for 35 years. In order to save space I’m not going to list the diverse sources of my training, the bibliography of my research and actual personal experience from which I derive my opinions as it’s just not feasible here. This is a blog and not a book. If you’re curious or want to qualify my opinions email me separately. I’ll be using concepts found in Gavin De Becker’s series of books on fear (The Gift of Fear, Protecting the Gift, Fear Not), LTC Dave Grossman’s On Killing and On Combat, Tony Blauer’s Blauer Tactical Systems (BTS) and Damian Ross’ Self Defense Training System (SDTS) as they are sources that are more contemporary and not exclusively for martial artists. I highly recommend the books and the training Damian offers. You can sign up here.

As a self defense instructor early on I discovered that most organized martial arts curriculum have abandoned or ignore true self-defense training. They’re either sport or art oriented and if they teach self-defense they focus on conditioned physical responses to specific attacks. Self defense in the real world doesn’t work like the sterile environment of the training hall. Many martial artists, myself included, discovered this when involved in a real time attack. Street self defense is too dynamic and the variables are too diverse to cover each and every scenario. There is no magic “crane technique” or “five point palm exploding heart technique” to cover them. This doesn’t mean that technique training is useless and futile. It simply means that often it’s devoid of context. Again, for brevity’s sake, the only type of attack I’m addressing here is the lone gunman mass attack. Even though it’s still a very rare crime, (despite the alarmist over-coverage of the media), it obviously does happen, and it’s very real to the people who have been its victims. Its rarity is certainly no reason to not prepare for it as well. As Tony Blauer says, “Apathy and denial will seal your fate”.

This leads me to the three things I listed yesterday: apathy, denial and psychological fear. I’ll dissect all three as they apply here.

Apathy and denial go hand in hand and were the mental states of every person on the VT campus. They were in a “no gun zone” right? That, artificial shield lured everyone into apathy under the liberal attitude that it would be “unfair” to violate the rule. Being apathetic about the potential of being attacked doesn’t limit itself to the “no gun zone”. Most people are apathetic or are in denial about the potential simply based on where they live. Smalltown USA is safe. Those horrible crimes only happen in big cities. Or the prevailing attitude is they happen to someone else, not you.

This apathy leads to the next state when you are actually being attacked. Denial. The immediate conscious thought “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” Most people think it and some even vocalize it aloud. The obvious problem with both these mindsets is that you waste invaluable reaction time responding when the attack begins. Know this, YOUR attacker (the use of the personal pronoun is deliberate), has pre-planned the attack and is already in a calm, but highly adrenalized state. You need to get there and now have to play catch up

Lastly, the next overpowering mental state many feel is psychological fear. In his books, Gavin De Becker outlines the difference between physiological, or true fear, and psychological fear. True fear is a good thing. It narrows your focus (some people state that although the attack happened very quickly, they saw it in slow motion), causes physiological changes to your body to prepare you to sustain wounds. Flight or fight stuff. It makes you stronger, faster, better. The human body is an amazingly powerful instrument when we get out of its way. True fear does this subconsciously. It’s what world class athletes describe as “being in the zone” or the Zen state of “no mind”.

Psychological fear leads to what De Becker calls False Expectations Appearing Real. It is irrational, paralyzing (deer in headlights) and based on an outcome that has not yet happened. Often the people who feel this (beyond “diagnosed” phobias) don’t even know what they specifically fear. Here’s my example; the reaction to a poisonous spider (or any spider). We can’t rationally fear an insect we can kill by simply stepping on it. We fear the insect’s bite that can lead to serious injury and possibly death. Neither of these things have happened when we encounter the spider, but often people freeze at the mere sight of one. Don’t get me started on the whole fear of mice.

In the case of the gunman, the psychological fear is obviously more complex, but still based on the same things that have not yet happened. A gun can kill you right? Simply knowing someone is shooting indiscriminately at people in your vicinity is not a cause of death. In fact, even if you’ve been shot, you’re still not dead. Death has its own finality. You ain’t there till you’re there, but some people’s reaction to taking a bullet is to naturally go down and cover even if they still have full use of their limbs. Psychological fear leads people who have NOT been shot or are NOT even in the line of fire to simply curl into the fetal position or hide behind objects and close their eyes, perhaps hoping if they can’t see the attacker, he can’t see them (the proverbial ostrich with head in sand). It’s an extremely difficult thing to fight once it’s gripped you.

Alright, I promised specific actions today and I haven’t really gotten to them yet. Tomorrow, I promise. I felt the need to outline the above concepts in more detail than I originally planned because your mental state DURING the attack is the key to what actions you take. The mental states listed above are the attacker’s unwitting allies. They are the difference between hoping for a miracle or banking on your luck and taking personal action to help guarantee your survival. Having specific actions to take are useless without getting in the right frame of mind; specifically in the first few seconds of an attack. So, there will be a part III. Stay tuned.

Part III

Alright, to the specifics. The good news is you do not necessarily have to spend decades and a small fortune training in the martial arts to be able to defend yourself. I’m a lifelong martial artist so this concept is foreign to me, but I’ll concede the point for those who have no desire to do so. My opinion is that a life dedicated to the study and training in the arts is a most worthwhile endeavor for many other reasons beyond self defense. I do know personally and have read countless accounts of average citizens with no training whatsoever who survived a violent attack. My wife is a trained martial artist (trained her myself), but when I first met her I remember being amazed at her security conscious frame of mind without any formal training whatsoever. This manifested itself most acutely when she became a mother. There are few forces in nature that rival the fierceness with which a mother will protect her offspring.

I will caveat this by saying that you will have to do some physical training in the event you have to physically respond, so that you’re response has a chance of succeeding. But how you train physically is of equal importance to actually training. The methodology and the physical moves, as well as the philosophy of the system determines its effectiveness. It should be tried and true in a combat environment.

Your most valuable weapon is your mental state as I pointed out in yesterday’s segment. As a bodyguard, this became very apparent to me immediately. I was hired because of my training and physical skills, but my success in that job was 90% mental. It’s a matter of being aware, observant and engaged in your reality. To fight apathy, you have to get past the notion that it cannot happen to you. Period. It CAN happen anywhere. This will eliminate the surprised DENIAL state. If you expect it can happen you won’t wrap yourself in disbelief. I’m not advocating a frightened mouse paranoid view of the world. No one can live like that 24/7. Being aware and alert is actually more empowering than it is stressful. What I’m talking about is simply following your instincts. You inherently know when something is not right and danger may be present. You get a “vibe” from someone you meet or see. This is not magic. It’s simply subconsciously picking up visual clues that your mind processes and does not register in the conscious mind. You just don’t like what you see or feel. What people like to call a “sixth sense” (I prefer “Spidey sense”. I know, juvenile. Sue me). EVERYONE has this skill. It can be nurtured and refined with practice. Trust this instinct always. Do not dismiss it. It is rarely “nothing”. If nothing results from the feeling it could very well be that your attacker has picked up (again subconsciously) on your alert state and decided to pass you up. In other words, you don’t project prey behavior. This obviously doesn’t apply in the lunatic gunman scenario. To him you’re all prey.

The first few seconds of an attack are critical. It amazes me when people hear gunshots and they look at each other and say “Was that a gunshot?” when instinctively they know it is. They look to other people for affirmation and if no one else is alarmed they assume their instincts were incorrect. Lemming mentality. Gunshots are very distinct and even having never heard one fire, most people can identify them. If you doubt you can, then I suggest you find out what they sound like by going to a range. Not to shoot, but to listen. If a private range will not allow you to do this, go the police department and explain to them why you want to do it. Trust me, they’ll be glad to help.

Let me get this out of the way first. The best defense you have against a gunman with evil intent is the obvious. Having a concealed license to carry and having your firearm with you. In fact, the mere potential of return fire is often a deterrent for the gunman. Not knowing who may be carrying a concealed weapon changes his strategy during planning and I firmly believe Cho planned this attack meticulously. Notice how none of these lunatics ever walk into a police station to start shooting?

The apathetic attitude on the VT campus as a result of the whole “Gun Free Zone” rule speaks to the folly of the gun control lobby. If only one individual in that building had a firearm the body count may have been significantly reduced. Don’t believe me? Case in point: the Salt Lake City mall attack just a few months back. That gunman was hindered by an off duty cop who pinned him down. Had it not been for that hero, many more would have died in that attack.

Simply owning a legal firearm is obviously not the answer either. You have to train yourself to draw it quickly and shoot it true in a stressful situation. A friend of mine and fellow bodyguard used to practice drawing his weapon out of his “fanny pack” holster daily. You can actually replicate stress in your mind during practice by injecting the climate. This is accomplished by scenario training. Your body cannot distinguish between imagined stress and real stress and you can adrenalize yourself in an instant. People ridicule the Robert De Niro scene in Taxi driver when he’s facing the mirror saying “you talking to me?”, and then drawing his gun. Yes, if you own a weapon (any weapon) you MUST practice with that weapon or it may be more dangerous to you than helpful. Know it intimately. Learning to draw and fire from all angles and positions (weak hand included) is invaluable training. Cheaper than enrolling in a martial arts class too (I said cheaper, not better).

For those who will NEVER have a firearm in their home under ANY circumstance the scenario training above applies as well to sticks, bladed weapons and empty hand combat. It is a mental state of awareness that I’m advocating.

As a young martial arts instructor I used to tell my students that if an assailant had a knife and I could not escape, he had better know how to use it, but if he had a gun I would be as cooperative as possible. I had an epiphany years ago when I thought “what would I do if the intention of the assailant was to shoot and kill me regardless?” I reverse engineered the mechanics of shooting a firearm (rifles, pistols, single action, dual action, semi-auto and automatics) and what my options were. You’d be surprised at the results.

If the gunman is at a distance, the obvious action applies. Escape. Even if you cannot see the gunman, once you hear the shot your escape should be in the opposite direction. I know this is obvious stuff, but again, you’d be surprised at how many people stand there as the seconds tick by trying to figure out whether they can believe their own ears or not. Here’s where denial will get you killed.

Conversely, if you start hot footing it to the nearest exit you’d be surprised at how many people follow you. What’s the worst that can result from it being a false alarm? Embarrassment? A funny story to tell? Beats the confirmation that, yes indeed that was a gunshot and oh, there’s the gunman now. I make it a habit to see where all exits and entrances are when I walk into any building. If I sit at a restaurant I’m facing the entrance.

Many students and teachers hid in classrooms behind locked doors, and then crouched behind tables or desks. This is only partially effective and relies on dumb luck. Don’t simply lock the door, place obstacles against it if you have the time. If you cannot escape any further than that room, do NOT then hide beneath a table or furniture within the room. If the gunman gains access you’re a sitting duck. Find yourself a weapon. The weapon should be something that will cause the most amount of damage in the least amount of swings. Something you can swing easily, preferably with a sharp edge. Striking power on impact is dependent on speed. Two weapons, one in each hand, are preferable.

Then, place yourself strategically at the entrance to the room, (not directly in front of the door), as much as possible, out of sight of the gunman. As soon as he gains access, attack without hesitation. Your first strike should be at the first visible part of the gunman. That will usually be the firearm. Strike it so the impact will push the business end as far AWAY from you as possible, strike the hand wielding it, the arm etc. Don’t stop striking if the gunman drops the firearm unless you can get to it without both of you wrestling for it. Strike savagely and repeatedly. Targeting is important, but since adrenaline will rob you of fine motor skills, what’s important is to become a blender of attacks. If you can target the head after the gun, that is preferable. Take away his sight. If he turns to run or back up, pursue him, striking repeatedly. If there are others in the room you should all be doing this. If you can coordinate beforehand have some striking high, some midsection and some low to avoid colliding. If there are only two people, go high and low. If you can knock the attacker off his feet you gain significant advantage.

If you are outside during an attack, your escape is obviously easier since you have more options. Try your best to turn corners, keeping obstacles between you and the gunman. In an open area with no cover, run erratically, changing directions and adjusting your height until you find cover and/or can turn a corner. Buying time works in your favor and against the gunman.

If you decide to engage the gunman physically ensure you commit to the attack 100%. Compassion has no place here.

This is obviously longer than I had intended, so I’ll stop here. Tomorrow, I’ll post “worst case scenario, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.” and the conclusion. I had not intended for this to be this long. I usually like to keep blogs to one screenshot as much as possible and never continuations. Obviously this is a relevant subject that is near and dear to me and I’m tired of reading the misconceptions and misdirection being put out by the MSM and their supposed experts. Bear with me. If you’ve seen nothing worth your time to read so far, then by all means, stop reading here.

Part IV

Worst case scenario; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no weapons in your hands. How you got there is now irrelevant, but you are now at point blank range. Is this the point at which you a) beg for your life, b) pray for your life (some would even pray for the gunman as well), c) curl up into the fetal position and hope for the best, since being agnostic, you’re certain God ain’t gonna help you or d) Attack?

I couldn’t tell you what you would do, but I’m taking option d. You may say that’s a brainless choice for me. That may be true but it’s also viable for anyone, and I’ll explain below at the conclusion. Indulge me just a bit longer.

After my epiphany about defending against a gunman whose intention is to kill me regardless, I reverse engineered the mechanics and behavior of shooting a human being, trying to find commonalities of physical behavior and emotional cues. There are several. So, by the same token, there are counters that should work. I came up with a few and over the years learned quite a few more from instructors I consider to have real expertise. I am after all still a student (being an instructor simply means being a SERIOUS student). Besides, I’ve only been shot at twice (well not me personally, but the area I happened to be walking) and held at gunpoint once, so I don’t have that breadth of experience. The best thing I learned beyond physical technique is that the effective principals apply universally and the actions can be done by anyone who has use of their limbs and some mobility. Whether or not you train physically, the proper mindset will guide you. I’m not saying you should not train and practice physical technique, you most certainly should, but too many people neglect the mental aspect. The mind is the captain of the vessel isn’t it? (I know, nautical references. Whaddaya expect?). And here’s the thing, often, ineffective training will hinder you as you will rely on technique that just will not work or is too specific. So here are some physical actions without relying on specifics. Remember, we’re talking about the fact that escape is no longer an option and you are at POINT BLANK RANGE. I would say anything within 6-10 feet it would be extremely difficult to escape a gunman. Not impossible, just difficult. Personally, if I’m in that range I will attack. I don’t expect anyone else to follow this. What I describe below is at a distance of 1-2 feet of the gunman.

I’ve learned that any weapon held against me or within a foot can be countered fairly easily. I could escape the shot and go for the weapon itself. This is not Bruce Lee or Superman stuff; it’s just a matter of action being faster than reaction. Human kinetics. It sounds doubtful because of the deadly nature of firearms (its mystique). The firearm is a mechanical instrument; in itself inert. It depends on the shooter for success. Here’s where the axiom “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is invaluable. There are countless gunshot victims who had wounds on their hands, NOT because they were going for the weapon, but because, instinctively they raised their hands in defense. Obviously not an effective shield, but they did have TIME to do this BEFORE the bullet hit their bodies. So what exactly do you do? Again, without the “magic move”, here are as specific a set of actions as I can give you.

If you have time to raise your hand in front of a bullet, it stands to reason that you have time to shift your body away, often just a quarter turn will do. I’m not telling you to move back, I’m saying shift your body away from the barrel. Your shifting must be done while simultaneously going for the hand(s) holding the firearm as well as initiating your attack with the other hand. Don’t hesitate and keep your body out of the trajectory of the bullets (wherever the barrel is pointed). If you can secure the shooter’s arm or weapon in your hands, you can wrap yourself around them like a cheap coat. The problem with this is you now do not have a hand to attack but you may also get assistance from others once they see the gunman is being controlled. A single armed response in the case of a handgun is to wrap your mirrored arm (your left to his right) around his wrist once you’ve deflected it. You pinch it in the crook of your elbow, locking it by bringing your hand to your chest. Facing him is more desirable, but getting in close is key.

If in the process of securing the gunman’s hand/arm you create an awkward position for his joints (wrist, elbow or shoulder) which leads to disarming him, great! But I wouldn’t count on any fancy or complex joint manipulation move you may have learned in the sterile environment of the training hall. For one thing, in the moment, you probably won’t have the fine motor skills to pull this off. For another, they rarely work unless your partner is cooperating with you. I don’t think he’s gonna cooperate. Gross motor movements are best.

Wrestling with the individual to disarm him only works if you have the strength and skills to do this. However, striking skills are innate to all of us. So strike! Begin attacking with one hand/arm while the other one maintains control of the gun arm. The key here is to keep the firearm pointed away from you while you begin the blender/banana attack. You are the blender, he’s the banana. The mental image of that concept is accurate. You begin to strike, blender style with every weapon at your disposal. Since you’re close you have more weapons from which to choose. Elbow, claw, bite, head butt, knee, even shoulder wherever there’s an opening or wherever you create one. Attack savagely and ruthlessly because your life DOES depend on it. You may manage to subdue him, or you may create time and opportunity for others to join. Don’t count on anyone else. Continue to attack while you’re still breathing and he’s still able to fire.

If you are behind the attacker and he hasn’t seen you when he begins to fire, you may or may not be safe, but you also may want to DO something to prevent him from killing anyone or at least anyone else if he’s already killed. An example of this was the man who was firing an automatic rifle at the White House a couple of years back. A passerby leaped at him and knocked him down before he could turn the weapon around on him. Then another joined him and they both subdued him for the authorities. The gunman’s senses are usually focused toward the front, where he’s firing. A good way to take him down from behind is to slam both palms on his shoulders while you either kick the back of one knee or jump on the back of both knees with your feet. If you can secure his arm with one hand and strike downward with a hand yoke to the back of his neck this will take him to the ground every single time. Plus it ensures he lands on his face and not his back, possibly landing on top of his own weapon. These techniques are derived from the SDTS system.

I wish I could tell you which one is the magic move to accomplish all these things. There isn’t one single move. The angle at which you strike or rush him will be determined mostly by him, as will the targets you strike, his reaction, his position, whether he has a handgun or a rifle. The point is the situation is dynamic and fluid.

Would this strategy be 100 percent infallible? No, but your potential for survival would be better than if you simply stood there, shut your eyes and began praying. The element of surprise and the ferocity of your moves may be enough to confuse the gunman for that second you need to get to the weapon and begin your attack. Attacking him may buy you the time needed for the cavalry to arrive.

All the physical things I’ve outlined in this series may seem outlandish to some of you. You may be skeptical (and you always should be when someone offers advice) and may even question your capability to do any of it. I couldn’t tell you what to do, but faced with no other option but death or relying on dumb luck creates the sheep mentality. There are other options. Better or worse depends on your mindset WHICH YOU CAN CHANGE. You have to create the mindset to do those things BEFORE you’re faced with an attack. This applies to any violent attack. If you believe that your fate is sealed when faced with a gunman whose goal is to kill as many as possible and himself then you are absolutely correct. YOU have decided your fate and have given yourself permission to fail.

Here’s how you create a mindset to survive. Tony Blauer calls it a Mission Directive. It’s a statement you make, giving yourself permission to defend yourself. It’s not very specific as far as actions are concerned but it is very specific as to intent. Here’s an example:

“If my family or I are threatened, I will fight to defend myself and them. I will try to inflict as little damage as I humanly can to my attacker, but I will fight him while he still poses a threat.”

That’s a simple example. The wording is contingent upon your belief system and how you talk to yourself. Write it down. Repeat it to yourself daily. Again, this is not magic or new agey stuff. The increased physical capabilities resulting from specific mental imagery are documented fact. The mind is the captain right? What this does is program that hard drive in your brain to act immediately when a threat is perceived. It puts you in the right mindset immediately. It gives you permission to defend yourself and does not predicate the outcome, one way or another. It also does not allow thoughts of failure. These do not belong. You want to give yourself permission to act BEFORE you’re faced with violence. It will suffuse you with confidence and create the necessary mindset you may not be gifted with innately.

The actions and scenarios I’ve presented specifically targeted that mass conflagration of a lone gunman intent on killing as many as possible before killing himself. For whatever reason, he has no concern for human life; his or anyone else’s. However, this information is relevant and applies to all violent attacks. I teach my students that defending yourself physically is what you have to do when your self-defense strategy has failed. In other words, you weren’t alert enough, aware enough or engaged in your reality enough to prevent from being attacked. You did not take preventive measures. Once the physical attack begins, all of that is irrelevant and you have to get into the moment fast!

Lastly, opinions of me vary and I can’t change your perception based on your limited exposure to me. Some may want to dismiss this message as the ramblings of some hot-headed, war-loving, gladiator wannabe. Some people seems to think all of us who favor guns are wishfully extending our penises. Frankly, I’ve always thought that theory was hilarious!

I’ve presented this rant because I’m also a teacher. You can dismiss me and my opinion if you’d like and do your own research. I encourage it. The reference material I quoted at the beginning is an excellent place to start.

At root, I’m a peace loving man who loves his family, his friends and his country. I may be a serious student of the martial arts, who loves to spar, but I DON’T get involved in street fights. In fact, I’m the hardest to lure into a street fight as my ego does not bruise easily, and I don’t feel that a bruised ego is reason enough to hurt someone. I know my capabilities. I use my innate people skills when confronted with aggressors and back away immediately. I have a keen sense for when I’m going to be physically attacked. Once that happens, it’s no longer a street fight, but a self-defense situation and after it’s all over, I’ll have to prove in court (criminal or civil) that I did everything humanly possible to not engage. The posture I maintain continuously has allowed me to not have to engage anyone physically in over twenty years, except when working physical or close protection security. Obviously a different animal there.

But I do know that there are evil, criminal, and violent people in the world and always have been. It’s not just a sign of our times and I don’t resign myself to the mentality that it’s a modern phenomenon. They have always been here. For those with a Judeo-Christian worldview it’s been this way since Cain slew Abel. I made this comment on another blog that if people were essentially good, there would be no need for laws and no weapons would have ever been created to take a human life. People are inherently sinful. Acceptance of these facts will help to change your mental state and not wax nostalgic for the good ole peace luvin days. Follow the Boy Scout model. Be Prepared.

If not, you can continue to live in denial, but you will then have to rely on luck. To paraphrase Dirty Harry, the question is, how lucky do you feel?

Do you want to roll those dice?


The Joy of Competition


At this time I can safely (albeit unofficially) say that I have finished the ATA tournament year as the 2015 Arizona State Champion in Combat Weapons Sparring, Extreme Forms and Creative Forms. I finished in the Top Ten for state in 7 of 8 categories and finished in the Top Ten of the World in 5 of them. I am ranked number one in the World right now in Combat Weapons Sparring. I still have to compete for Southwest District Champion and then finally for World Champion. I have opportunities in 5 divisions to become World Champion. Whether I become District or World Champion does not lessen for me what I consider to be a successful tournament year. It has been a wild ride for sure.

This is not written as a boast, although I’m pretty pleased with myself. We all know my ego doesn’t really need an extra boost. My purpose here is to talk about the joy of competition. Competition has received a fair amount of flak over the last decade or so and particularly when it comes to our young folk. We can’t be seen to be picking winners or losers can we? Heavens forbid we may damage our little one’s fragile psyches.

And yet life its ownself will pick winners or losers whether we like it or not. We will succeed and we will fail. It is life’s undeniable trait. From politics, to business, to work, to love, life is a steady stream of wins and losses and that annoying scorekeeper keeps his tally whether we want to see it or not. It often shines in big freaking bright red neon for all the world to see. I’ve heard people say they are “not very competitive” and only compete “against themselves”. What they’re really saying is they’ve already thrown in the towel. There are many reasons people abstain from active and overt competition. Sometimes not having the means and wherewithal is a factor. But if you can and don’t it’s mostly because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of injury etc. I’m sure some quit because of frustration and disappointment, but even that’s rooted in fear. It’s mostly psychological fear. Or F.E.A.R (False Expectation Appearing Real). I’m not really judging anyone and we all suffer from it. I simply think everyone should be completely honest with themselves.

It’s not an insignificant thing for me to be able to step into the ring. I’m truly grateful that I still can. A little over five years ago I had the first of two hip replacements. At the time it had been years since I had entered a martial arts tournament. The possibility of not being able to do it again filled me with regret for the years I had missed. Not that there was anything I could have done. As John Lennon wrote “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” But now the door was seemingly being shut on me for good. Or so I thought. Nine months after that first surgery I entered my first tournament since the ATA Fall Nationals of 2002. Ironically my “comeback” tournament was the ATA Fall Nationals in 2009. My performance at that tournament was less than stellar. In fact I didn’t place in a single event. But here’s the thing. I LOVED IT! I loved it because I felt I could, at the very least, be competitive. I’ve been competing ever since. In fact, six months after my second surgery in 2012 I competed for World Champion. That I didn’t win did not lessen the fact that I was competing for World Champion six months after getting my left hip replaced.

So at the beginning of the 2015 season (July 2014) I set a goal to compete in all 8 events in every tournament I entered. I had never done that before. I was going to kick myself out of the comfort zone. Throughout this tournament year I have managed to do just that (with one exception where I had to bow out due to back injury after 4 events) with varying degrees of success. At times it has been brutal. Particularly at tournaments where I’ve also had to perform my Assistant Regional Tournament Team Lead duties, running up and down the venue all day. Finding time to train properly between tournaments has been a challenge as well. I have a full time day job in addition to my own school to run. But I wondered to myself how I would do taking on the full monty. It was another dragon for me to slay. I’ve won some, and lost some. I’ve done exceptionally well and also crashed and burned, but one thing is certain. At least to me. This satisfying feeling of accomplishment was worth every second of it.

In the process I also learned tons about myself, and others. Things I could not have learned otherwise. Some are very personal things I keep to myself; others I don’t mind sharing openly. The most important lesson I have learned is one of the true joy of competition. It is not trite or a cliché that competition changes you and, I believe, always for the better. Regardless of your age, and regardless whether you win or lose spectacularly. Having great people to compete against helps but even competing against poor sports imparts valuable lessons (like how NOT to act like an ass when you win or lose). I’m lucky in that the vast majority of the graybeards in my ring are great guys. Fierce competitors but great guys. Indeed I count some of them as some of my very best friends. Most of them really. They truly make it fun. There’s something to be said for being able to kick and punch and hit your friends with a stick. And afterwards you shake hands, hug and no one gets arrested.

I’m not one for unsolicited advice, so I’ll pretend there was a collective question out there from everyone reading this rant. Here it is. Find an activity in which you have to pit yourself against others. Immerse yourself in it. It doesn’t matter what the venue or event may be, big or small, so long as you have to match yourself against other people. “Competing against yourself” is not enough. There has to be a foe other than yourself. The lessons you will learn will be worth any pain or embarrassment you may have to endure. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a physical competition. It could be Chess or Tiddly-Winks so long as there are people against whom you have to compete and show where your game is weak. It’s the only place you’ll learn that.

The lessons in winning and losing have the same value today as they have always had but there are too many people who want to protect themselves, or their little ones from what they perceive to be a negative experience in losing. That is a mistake. As I said, life its ownself is going to be a journey of successes and failures. When you lose, find out what you contributed to get the loss. Too many people attribute their losses to external factors without accepting responsibility for their own contribution. The one thing they can control and they abdicate it to others. Competition can teach you this message of personal accountability if you’re brutally honest with yourself. Even if you’re not honest with others about it you will know yourself. Knowing that will perhaps put you on the road to self-improvement which may bleed into other areas of your life. And that, in of itself would make it all worth it.

When you win, simply wrap yourself in its toasty blanket and keep that W in your mind for when you need a motivator. Winning is its own reward but the greatest lessons are derived from your losses. I like a quote from Mr. Han in Enter the Dragon. “We are all ready to win, just as we are born knowing only life. It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for.” At the very least, fear of losing should be the last reason you use to abstain from competing. It in fact should be the engine that propels you to conquer it. After all, that dragon isn’t going to slay itself. In the end, make friends, have fun, do your best, learn something, these are all good things you can get from competing. But you have to step into the ring. No other way around it. In other words, to quote an overused commercial slogan “Just do it!”. You won’t be sorry you did. I guarantee it!

Too soon for Christmas?


So Sirius/XM has activated the “Holly Channel”, a music channel dedicated to playing Christmas music 24/7 during the holidays. The music is mostly secular, but also a few classic songs which may mention *gasp* my Lord Jesus Christ’s name in the lyrics. I don’t know what day they activated it but when I heard it was active I immediately programmed it into my presets.

Too soon? It’s too soon to hear positive and uplifting music with cute, often quirky and funny lyrics that express joy and sharing and nostalgia and happiness and all that sappy stuff? It’s too soon to hear about fat elves giving toys to children and reindeer with bright shiny noses and sleigh bells and snow? (Actually you can keep the snow). Too soon to hear about being home with family and loved ones and eggnog and hot chocolate and chestnuts and turkey? Too soon to hear about Dominic the Christmas donkey and grandma getting run over by a reindeer and wanting front teeth or a hippopotamus for Christmas and mama kissing Santa Claus? Too soon you say? Well I say it’s about time! Bring it ON!

If you don’t know how I feel about this season you can read a Christmas rant I wrote a few years ago. Still relevant today. I love this season and for more than the chance to celebrate the birth of Jesus which has little to nothing to do with December 25th. I’ve loved this season since childhood and my childhood was mostly spent in poverty so the materialism of the season was not a relevant factor for me. Of course then I had no idea how poor we were but that didn’t even matter.

My Christmas seasons have been far from what you may call “traditional” and the contrasts have often been pretty sharp. I’ve spent the Christmas season in the Caribbean tropics and in New York City. They are very different feels. I’ve spent Christmases alone and surrounded by family and loved ones. I’ve spent it on ships in the middle of the ocean and in a barracks room in the Middle Eastern desert. I spent my first Christmas in the Navy in Boot Camp. I’ve gotten slews of gifts and I’ve also gotten just one. For Christmas dinner I’ve eaten turkey with stuffing and duck stuffed with veal (trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve had that). I’ve had pig roasted on a spit with rice and pigeon peas and lamb with Nan and Hummus. I’ve built snowmen on Christmas and I’ve spent Christmas on a beach. I’ve been to Christmas mass, to Baptist services and rousing Pentecostal services. I’ve sung on Puerto Rican Parrandas and I’ve gone Christmas Caroling. Heck one year I even sang Christmas carols with a group of Philippinos to a bunch of Muslims linguists (my rendition of Feliz Navidad was a huge hit!).

My point being that I don’t need the external stimuli of “traditional” rote to feel the Christmas spirit. I’m annoyingly upbeat anyways so it doesn’t take much. I’m a sucker for it. You can throw as much cynicism and myth busting you want at me and it will slide off of me like water off a duck’s back (mmmm duck with veal stuffing). I don’t know why anyone would try.

Christmas is too commercial? I say bring it on! Bring on the money spending which create jobs and success and entrepreneurialism and improve people’s lives not just in this country but all around the world. This is an undeniable fact dismissed by too many who think only a select few benefit. Trust me, everyone benefits. Even the act of shopping makes people better. Thinking of family and friends as you try to find the best gift for them; whether you’re spending little or too much. Whether you buy the gift or buy the supplies to make the gift. It’s all a good thing.

People ignore the reason for the season? Sure it would be nice if at least once a year Jesus Christ were honored by all of humanity for which He sacrificed so much. Once a year is clearly not enough, but who knows? Someone, somewhere will take a knee and because His name is being bandied about (albeit unintentionally by some) that someone will give their lives to Him this season. And their lives will become better for all eternity. That is a guaranteed fact.

What is clear is that most everyone will be better human beings, if only for a little while. Some pettiness will fade, some acrimoniousness will lessen, someone will be forgiven and fences will be mended. People will express joy and love and it won’t seem sappy or contrived. They will genuinely mean it. I admit, some may be completely unmoved by the entire season. I feel so sorry for those people.

I am not immune to the pain and suffering throughout the world. Some will experience tragedy for sure because life its ownself doesn’t take a break, but this season offers more solace and comfort than any other time of year for those who reach for it. Those who won’t would reject a cup of water in the middle of a searing desert because it has no ice.

I get the atheists and the secularists points. I really do. If I had their belief system the mere act of Jesus Christ’s or our Father God’s name being mentioned more frequently would make me want to dig in my heels too. After all, even atheists believe in God and Jesus Christ. Otherwise why would they fight them so hard? There is definitely a battle going on that happens about this time every year in this country. But none of that is relevant. I’m not gonna even engage in it. Because you just can’t beat something as powerful as Christmas no matter how hard you try.

Too soon? I think not. I think it’s definitely about time. So cinch up Mr. and Mrs. Crankypants! If you want to remain jaded and cranky you’re in for a bumpy ride. Or, just give in. Embrace the joy of the season as it is truly a choice for you because it is. A choice I mean. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and celebrate His birth and His sacrifice for the redemption of your sin or not. But I certainly invite you to forgive more, give more, love more and generally enjoy life more. And listen to Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey if you never have. It’ll get you every time.

My Open Letter to President George W Bush dated 1/20/20909

In honor of the President’s birthday I am re-printing an open letter I posted when he passed on the watch in 2009. Not much more to say other than how much more I admire him since that day.

Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your service to our great country! You have served under one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history. It is easy to judge and critique your administration from the comfort of our armchairs, but the decisions of leadership are always shouldered by the ones sitting in the leadership chair. You have never shirked that duty and I know that your decisions were always governed by what you felt was best for this country. I know this to be true. Whether I agreed with them or not, your decisions were selfless, noble and honorably driven. I never had to question your motives. It is obvious to me that you were not concerned with popular opinion or your historic legacy. You did the job I hired you to do.
I want to specifically thank you for keeping this nation safe from attack since September 11, 2001.You said two things in the days following that I have kept with me. In speaking to the Terrorists you looked directly into the camera and said “You are now the focus of my administration.”And “I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security of the American people”. In those two things you have never wavered.. For that I will be eternally grateful.
You have been the target of some of the most despicable and cowardly attacks I have witnessed ever heaped on a sitting president. The personal invective of these attacks was unprecedented. The culmination of which was a physical attack in a country you, ironically, made freedom possible enough to be able to conduct that type of protest. You handled all those with enviable grace and class, never going on the attack yourself, regardless how despicable the act or how foul the verbiage. I will forever aspire to emulate that behavior, probably never coming close.
I am positive that history will be kind to you Mr. President. I’m also fairly certain that this will not weigh heavily upon your conscience. I hope not. You have burdens aplenty. I am certainly not going to be your judge. We both know who that ultimate entity will be and it is that knowledge that probably gives you peace. He will also be kind. In any case sir, I speak for many I’m sure when I say simply, thank you
May you always have fair winds and following seas
Anthony D. Hubble, RMC(SW), USN(Ret)

10 Things I wish I would have done, done better, or not done raising my children

I don’t have many regrets as a parent. Not because I haven’t made mistakes as we clearly all do. I parented with the tools I had at the time and I had absolutely no good example to follow from my own parents. I’m clear any mistakes I made I did so out of trying to ensure my children made it to adulthood alive and as productive adults. As they have checked both those boxes I consider my parenting a reasonable success. There are some things I’d rather have done, not done or done better. I’m just going to list ten of them. Why ten? It’s an easy rounded number. Besides I’m not my wife so I can’t think of more than ten mistakes I may have made. They are presented here in no significant order of importance.

  1. Give them more of my time. I was not a neglectful father. Of this I’m sure, but we can always give them more time cant we? More tea parties with the girls, more rough housing with the boys (okay the girls too), more talks about nothing at all, more sports, more hiking, more movies to see, more everything. Whether it would make a big difference to them (it would) or not it would surely make for more and richer memories for me as it is the ones I have of them that are the most precious ones I have of my life. I’m sure they say the same. Right? Right?
  2. Never ever raise my voice. There is a large gap in ages between my three older children and my two younger ones. I became a father very young and I was a very different parent between the younger and older ones. More patient as I got older. But throughout I felt compelled at times to yell at them for something they may have done or neglected to do. I’m not talking raging or belittling, but simply raising my voice. Whether justified or not, I was usually filled with regret afterwards and pride stopped me from apologizing most of the time. I marvel at the patience level my sons and daughter have with their own children. It’s truly a sight to watch and learn from, albeit this late for me. Of course I have not found any reason whatsoever for which to yell at my grandsons. They are clearly less annoying than their parents.
  3. Let them know how proud I am of them. I did and continue to do this, but I could do it much more often. My mother ensures I know how proud she is of me every time I talk to her. She’s absolutely effusive about it to the point of annoyance. Yeah, that’s why I don’t do it. I don’t want to annoy them. You’re welcome kids!
  4. Explain to my daughters the truly disgusting nature of teenage boys. I mean seriously, they are disgusting. I know. I was one. Yet despite this, they both managed to navigate those years successfully. One is happily married to a doting and loving husband, thus far (he’s still under the spotlight and probably will be for life). The other has managed to dodge getting her heart broken and doesn’t allow herself to be taken advantage of. I take no credit for either of their choices. Must be their mother’s upbringing. Then again she chose me so what does she know?
  5. Buy my son the piece of crap overpriced car he seemed to have fallen in love with when he was a teenager. I saw exactly that. A piece of crap, overpriced money pit that would probably break down on a weekly basis. What I failed to see was the car through his eyes and he probably saw only potential. Believe me, the car had none. But most importantly, he would have had a better story to tell than his Dad refusing to buy the first car he fell in love with. Sometimes the smarter decision is not necessarily the better one. He should still thank me for the heartbreak I helped him avoid by not buying it the ungrateful cuss.
  6. Force them to learn Spanish. I say Spanish because it’s the other language I speak/read/write fluently, but any second language would do. My father, although also fluent in Spanish (for a gringo) refused to speak to us in any language other than English. He was militant about it. Why? We were living on a Spanish speaking island and he did not want us to forget English. Result? We didn’t. I should have been more militant about it. They resisted and I caved. Soooo my solution was to take them to that Spanish speaking island so they’d be forced to learn by immersion. I should have taken them to Mexico instead. Everyone in Puerto Rico speaks English, poorly or not, they do speak it.  Fail!
  7. Teach them to dance. My mother taught me to dance very young as she is a dancer at heart. At the time I hated those lessons but I was very appreciative of them when I was in my teens. I was a dancing fool in my teens and where I was raised that’s how you got the girls. My youngest is a natural dancer who’s pretty much self taught. To be honest I’m not sure if my other four can dance a lick. I made up for this by teaching them all martial arts. Only one of them has not made it to black belt. I’m not giving up on her.  Perhaps when I start training her children she’ll start again.
  8. Take them out to sea. I spent ten years of my Naval career on ships and I’ve seen some of the most majestic sights out at sea, night and day. Only one of my children has gone out to sea with me. He actually got to shoot the 5”54 caliber gun mount on my last ship (thanks Captain Frank Demasi!). They were memorable trips and I treasure the memories. My oldest served in the Navy so he’s been out there. My three younger ones have been aboard my ships but only while tied to the pier on my duty nights. Perhaps I’ll purchase a family cruise one of these days. My wife having been out to sea with me once will probably skip that cruise.
  9. Build a treehouse fort. I didn’t have one growing up so I’m not sure how much they missed out on this one but I always wanted to do this. Probably a good thing I didn’t as I’m not much of a builder and I probably spared them some broken bones. In fact they should all thank me for this one too!
  10. Create a college fund. This one is not necessarily so they could all go to college but so they would have the option. My wife and I sacrificed much financially so she could stay home, raise and educate our children. Not much was left over. They never lacked for anything but we did not put anything away for them. I would have liked to have given them the option of going to college or taking the money and bumming around the world for a few years. Wait! Bum around the world for a few years? Why should they get to do that??? Never mind. I’m glad I bought that Corvette and that motorcycle. Okay, I didn’t get those either but I sure did think about it.

I’m not done parenting my adult children so I have some time to make up for these lapses in my parenting record. I just want them to understand how precious and special they are and that because they are, I have managed to do something precious and special in my life. At least five times. Happy Fathers day to me!

The Philosophy of Billy Joel

Music has always played a big part in my life. If you were to view my musical collection you would probably be thinking “Now this boy is confused!”. I prefer to think of my musical tastes as eclectic. I listen to almost all genres provided they’re not too extreme. I can’t really pin down what it is about certain artists that tweak my ear. Too diverse. I like complex lyrics, but I think the simplicity of some songs (Joe Cocker’s “You are so beautiful”) are timeless in themselves. I just like what I like is all.

I’ve listened to two artists consistently since my early teens and like just about 99% of what they’ve put out. Billy Joel and Ruben Blades. I consider both the best singer/songwriters of all time. I’ll admit people look at me strangely when I issue that statement, but I attribute it to their inability to see the diverse genius of their melodies and the innate philosophy of their lyrics. Ironically, although I’ve met Ruben Blades, I’ve seen neither in concert.

Where Billy Joel is concerned, I’ve owned everything he’s ever made. I’ve replaced each with every advance in technology, from vinyl to 8 track (stifle the old jokes please), cassette and now cd. I’m not one of those fixated fans. I don’t know what his political philosophy is (nor do I care), I dont know what his favorite color is, his birthday, what he drives etc. I know the name of only one of his wives (can ya blame me? Christine Brinkley? Hello?). I just like his music.

Listed below are some snippets from some of Billy Joel’s songs with my interpretation. Admittedly yours may be different. In the interest of brevity and since often things are lost in translation, I’ll save Ruben Blades for another blog. I have to translate his anyways as he recorded primarily in Spanish. He’s somewhat of an elitist latin snob.

“Some people stay far away from the door if there’s a chance of it opening up. They hear a voice in the hall outside and hope that it just passes by.” – An Innocent Man

Speaks to the timidity of the human soul, of those fearful of taking a chance. There’s no criticism or judgment. It is a simple observation. Another choice lyric to this song is:

“But I’ve been there and if I can survive, I will keep you alive. I’m not above going through it again. I’m not above being cool for a while, if you’re cruel to me I’ll understand.”

It’ll be okay. Lean on me. I’ll be patient and strong for both of us.

“You may be right! I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for”-You May be Right

Bring out your inner lunatic every once in a while. He/she needs to breathe.

“I thought I was the Duke of Earl when I made it with a redhead girl in a Chevrolet” -Keeping the Faith

The wisdom of age reflects the insignificance of what we thought all important when we were younger. This applies to all ages.

“Once I used to believe I was such a great romancer, then I came home to a woman that I could not recognize. When I pressed her for a reason, she refused to give an answer. It was then I felt the stranger kick me right between the eyes.”- The Stranger

Karma’s a bitch.

“Oh your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation. She never cared for me, but did she ever say a prayer for me?”- Only the Good Die Young

Self righteous people are often hypocritical and judgmental.

“Brenda and Eddie had had it already by the summer of 75. At the height of the note at the end of the show for the rest of their lives.” – Dinner at an Italian Restaurant.

Pace yourself. Don’t peak too early.

She never gives up and she never gives in. She just changes her mind.”-She’s Only a Woman

Rule number 4 of the things I know about 99.9% of women.

“I’m sure you have some cosmic rational. But here you are with your faith and your Peter Pan advice. You have no scars on your face and you cannot handle pressure.”- Pressure

Ellitist smug liberal a-holes have no idea what they’re talking about. They just think they do.

I don’t have enough room here to list the rest of the subtle genius of Mr. Joel’s music. There are many other “philosopher songwriters I like as well. Harry Chapin, Alejandro Sanz, Jimmy Buffett, etc. I like them too, but I don’t think either of them speak for most of us.

For those compelled to disagree with me, Billy Joel has the appropriate response:

“I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life. Go ahead with your own life leave me alone!”-My life.

Don’t think I have to interpret that one.