Sage advisor Shontel Clemons visiting Colorado in 2019.

6 feet under is keeping with the 6-foot rule, but it shouldn’t be your ‘going in’ proposition. 

A quick shout-out to actress Honor Blackman.

Honor played Pussy Galore in the 1964 Bond film “Goldfinger”. I was partial to that film (as well as ‘Stripes’) because they were both filmed in part in and around Fort Knox, Kentucky where I took my Infantry basic training.

I think the funniest, most memorable takeaway from that film was when Blackman introduces herself to James Bond (played then by Sean Connery) and Connery breaks the fourth wall acknowledging the double entendre name.

Bond damsels on either side of the aisle sported such names, so Blackman was no exception. There was Holly Goodhead, Plenty O’Toole, Octopussy, Chewmee, Goodnight and the rest. Each one targeting either the audience for a chuckle or acting as an unanswered shot fired across the bow of the censors.

Don’t allow Goldfinger to define Honor Blackman who died at 94 yesterday, allow her incredible body of work.

I especially enjoyed her roles in Something Big with Brian Keith and Dean Martin or in Bridget Jones’s Diary. She was hot as heck clad in tight leather as Cathy Gale on The Avengers TV series (real scripts, real actors and real roles not the Hollywood Marvel Universe crap).

My crush on Honor during the turbulent 1960’s into the smoke-filled 70’s was replaced by Peggy Lipton. Peggy died a year ago from colon cancer at 72.

Peggy dated the famous Beatle Paul McCartney while on a drug fueled race through the late 1960’s breaking into the 1970’s with modeling and acting while focusing on a singing career. Remember this was during a period from 1968 to 1973 when she was rocking it Hollywood style on the famous television series The Mod Squad playing beautiful, street smart Julie Barnes.

Peggy married the amazing, talented musician Quincy Jones (who is still kicking it at 87 years old, BTW) in 1974 and stepped away from television. You may be familiar with her daughter Rashida as I am from her many exploits including the film (totes m’goats) I Love You Man (2009) and many others before and since. God Bless and give eternal rest to Honor and Peggy. May your contributions never be forgotten.

I would also like to shout out (as I cannot do it publicly with the personal and physical distance rules currently in place) to my neighbors at ‘the Doctor’s house’ on the hill above RMW (rogue manor west). I arranged to feed and water their chickens while they were away on a camping trip.

Lany objects to his likeness.

I called my son Nico and my dear nemesis and hero neighbor Lany and set up that I would take watch twice (once before my most recent trip and one after) and Nico and Lany would take charge once each during the week.

It turns out that none of us could find the feed, and all of the non-essential stores were closed, so we supplemented with table scraps and veg (anything but citrus as my New Zealand neighbor reminded me before he left) which seemed to be working perfectly.

I had a string of luck getting flights back from my recent trip to a major University in Virginia. Remember, our training was a blast and very well received, but the travel challenges during COVID were nearly insurmountable.

Airports were closing or restricting flights, all of my flights were canceled and I had to jump on any available flight to make it back to Denver, then Montrose, and then drive to Gunnison (thanks to National Car Rental, American Airlines and United!) 

My V.P. of Operations, Brian Marren, actually got stuck in Virginia for a bit and didn’t make it back to San Diego until zero dark thirty – but he made it HOME.

So, during this most hectic return trip, I get this cryptic text from my dear Lannister. It’s a sad face emoji followed by a chicken emoji followed by a crying face emoji.

I’m now at the baggage check in Montrose, a very small airport, hoping to God that my truck battery starts.

It’s a cold, windy, bleary day and a uniformed local copper is already yelling at me that Montrose is closed to all non-Montrosians.  And that I must RETURN HOME. I try to call Lany to inquire about his text as I am waving off the assault by the officer.

I flash the secret hand signal to the copper that (a) I am a former copper, (b) I am a Gunnisonite and therefore free to go as I please, and finally; (c) hey dick-muscle, I am on the phone. Just as the local cop sees the light Lany answers.

Lany had found a source for chicken feed and while shaking some stuck food out from a broadcast feeder, it seems a gust of stiff wind blew up the hill and slammed the chicken shed door closed while he was inside. The security latch caught and now dear Lan was locked in the unheated coop.

Being 1.5 hours away I suggested Nico. Nico was in CB Crested Butte and therefore unavailable for at least an hour. Lany had to wait it out on the hill for his son to come home. PS there are no chairs in a chicken coop.

Which brings me to Germany.

Back in the early days of my work with the DoD I was enlisted to teach a course called The Edge.

I had originated the Edge back in East Detroit during the 1970’s and taught a very laser-focused series of moves for military and LE professionals that needed a tactical edge in extraordinary circumstances. Skills such as getting out of handcuffs, flexcuffs, jail cells, vehicle trunks, defeat vehicle door locks and crack columns and the like.

I had honed these skills on the streets of Detroit and in the suburbs for many years and I was fast.

Certain times operators are caught up in situations where these skills would come in handy. Many times the government would pay a local scrap yard or auto graveyard manager for an entire week and I would take the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the US Armed Forces most elite units our and about and we would steal a dozen cars an hour under controlled conditions until they got it right. 

Which brings me to a factoid you can share. Harry Houdini (1874-1926) taught specialized force members how to defeat German handcuffs in the event they were captured during World War I.

Which brings me back to the Germans.

Fear as a teacher.

I was on a ZOOM call with friends and family from Detroit on Friday. For the first time, this call included our German relatives. While everyone was open and jovial, you could see that they were scared. Scared in a variety of ways.

The German and his wife were going to have their first baby on 30 July (my birthday) and I suggested they called the baby Rammstein. It is going to be a girl and no one in the universe is going to mess with a baby girl named Rammstein. (PS my dear friend and Rammstein lead singer Till Lindemann is sick with the Coronavirus as I write this, Godspeed and health dear Till! Please pray for him.)

The German is a member of the Autobahnpolizei, a unit formed to quell the high-speed accidents and traffic congestion on German roads and highways. I had trained members of the GSG 9 at a base in Greece and then members of the KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte at a base in Ireland but I had yet to train individual units of the Landespolizei or the Autobahnpolizei.

My intent on the ZOOM call was to catch up with friends and family. My ulterior motive was to get the German to take our podcasts and Lessons Learned to German LE Professionals.

During our call, one person shared a story about calling the local police for what would seem a legitimate call requiring the police to respond by sending a scout car.

The police (according to the witness, not a third party, so this wasn’t hearsay) stated they weren’t going to come out to investigate activities which were counter to the shelter-in-place order in Michigan as the orders of the GovernorWere vague and therefore we cannot enforce them”.

Imagine how a common citizen feels knowing that their Governor’s directives were vague enough that local law wasn’t going to enforce them.

This political power play crushed the caller on the phone who only wanted to do their civic duty and report what she saw as a crime in progress.

Fabric of society weakens.

Our CEO and my incredible wife Shelly Williams once asked me why Hollywood suspected that the entire fabric of human life on our planet would fall so quickly after a perceived disaster.

We were watching The Walking Dead (back when it was good, anything after season 6 is shite) and she noted that storylines for War of the Worlds, TWD, virtually any post-apocalyptic film or ZOMPIC story had society breaking down with polarized humans attacking and killing one another rather than focusing on taking out a zombie or two. 

I proposed an answer…

Years back, H5N1 (aka The Bird Flu) had a fatality rate of 60%. If you contracted H5N1 it was very likely you were going to die. Even with such a high mortality rate, H5N1 has only killed 500 people in 17 years.

COVID 19 (technically SARS-CoV-2) has a much lower fatality rate, yet it is now responsible for killing 4 times that amount in the US alone.

Like an offshore storm, COVID is hard to predict and it seems the news media wants to respond in a similar fashion. All hype with no substance, walking around in the rain, soaked to the bone with a broken umbrella to show us that the storm is relentless even as they are fearless.

Again, it’s shite.

Shite in Shite out.

The media is whipping us into a needless frenzy over a very scary disease that is deadly – but not deadly enough to scare everyone into submission. I would hope that a healthy fear of this virus and future viruses will come with time, leadership and training.

Many people that contract COVID are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Some don’t know they have the Coronavirus until they are tested.

In any outbreak, CONTAINMENT is critical, literally the first step. COVID changed the rules by seemingly turning into a pandemic in a week. All flues (influenzas) are dangerous to those folks who already have medical conditions and specifically deadly to those who are older or already have chronic lung diseases.

The fear shouldn’t be whether COVID is beyond containment because it is, but rather can we manage our futures with COVID19? It may be around forever and we have to learn to live with this one and prepare for the next one in the chute. There is ALWAYS a next one in the chute!

The pharmaceutical industry will likely come up with a cure or a vaccine. The pendulum will swing back and because COVID won’t be at pandemic status, research and development dollars will dry up, the restrictions will be eased or lifted altogether and sooner than later we will be facing another outbreak, a new, different strain bringing with it new and novel challenges.

So What?

The “so what?” here is that things change over time. We lost some dear friends but we gained new ones. Fads left and were replaced with new ones. So were fears. This virus will leave – but will it leave us with a renewed vitality to prepare for the future?

Training prepares us for events that will likely occur. Being prepared is part of any training regimen.

If you ran your country like a dojo, there would be part-task training and practical application scenarios for those things that occur regularly – but equally as importantly – for those unseen things that don’t occur very often but are LIKELY.

I often liken the response to that of motor vehicle accidents. Vehicle crashes are not only predictable they are preventable. Even so, we RARELY seek out or attend driver’s training once we get our driver’s licenses.

Isn’t it odd that police officers only attend driver’s training (emergency vehicle operation, pursuit driving etc.) at the police academy? Try to get in a post-academy continuing education driver’s training course and watch your administration and training officer laugh you out of the office.

If we look at crashes globally, almost 1.35 million people die a year on the world’s many roads. That works out to 3,700 deaths a day. Those that don’t die account for the 25 to 55 million not fatal but treatment-necessary injuries, many of which become long term (treatment and rehabilitation necessary) disabilities.

In the United States, we lost 37,500 people to traffic fatalities at a rate over 100 people a day.

Some would argue that vehicles are safer because of the new built-in autonomous features. I say that while vehicles are safer now than at any time before, taking the Human out of the Loop is the biggest mistake one could make. When people don’t personally experience large scale loss or protracted pain – they forget quickly.

Perhaps this pandemic will change how we view the world. How we view each other.

Perhaps compassion will replace skepticism. Perhaps love will trump hate while facts and faith displace fear. History says I’m wrong. My heart and my head say that we can re-write history.

It happens all the time.

We control our message.

We are largely responsible for our future (collective and singularly).

To finish out the traffic analogy that started way back with the German highway patrolman, things will get better. Vehicles like people will get safer. But if we think that somebody else is watching out for us or will do all of the heavy liftings, we are wrong.

People change laws. And politicians. People determine what the future will hold. We are surviving the isolation. We will get our world back.

The big question is, what will we do with it when we get it back?

Training changes behavior.

  • Greg
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