Tag: Training

It’s All About The Training

At the end of the day, we do what we’re trained to do. This applies to everything. When the moment matters, the amygdala portion of the brain takes over and initiates the fight or flight response. The body will fall back to rote muscle memory. If you didn’t train for that scenario, you’ll freeze or do something illogical. Training means exactly that – physically repeating and practicing something. Just reading about a subject and assuming you’ll know what to do is NOT the same thing. This was vividly demonstrated to me last night.

Without opening up a can of worms on a controversial subject, let’s just say that I believe in one’s right to arm themselves to protect hearth and home. I own a number of guns and regularly practice with them (well, before ammo prices skyrocketed). I feel like I am at least minimally proficient and able to handle firearms safely. I am ready to defend myself, my family, and my home should the need arise. All is good, right?

That belief was tested last night. At 2:30 in the morning, Mrs. Troutdog woke me from a sound sleep with the words nobody wants to hear in the middle of the night – “There’s someone standing at the door!”

It was time for my training and preparedness to kick in. So, what did I do? I grabbed a t-shirt and ran to the front door in my underwear. Did I get the gun first? No. Did I even think about the gun? No. Did I grab my phone? No. I looked out the window and had a moment of confusion thinking it was my nephew, who lives in another state, standing on my porch. And then I just yelled, “what do you want?” And then I remember the thought that went through my head… I’d put my t-shirt on backwards. Seriously, that’s what I was thinking about.

When survival mode was needed, I pretty much blanked out on everything. I’ve watched and read a bunch of survival, shooting, and self-defense stuff. In my head I thought I knew exactly how to respond. But because I’d never actually physically practiced or gone through the motions, I had no actual muscle memory to fall back on. I stood there in my underwear contemplating my backwards t-shirt.

Fortunately, it ended up being just a really drunk guy who was at the wrong house. He was so drunk he could barely stand and kept dropping his cell phone. He mumbled sorry and stumbled off into the night. And then I remembered all the things I probably should have done.

The point of this is not some lecture on home defense. It’s training – for any subject. Unless you physically practice something, the odds of you performing well when needed are slim. Driving in the snow. Reading a map when you think you’re lost. CPR. Deadlifts. Cleans. Heavy club swings. Public speaking. Fighting. Self-defense. You cannot simply watch a YouTube video on any of these things and think you’ll be able to do them when needed.

It was a good lesson for me. As an RN, I’ve spent more time than I can count in stressful scenarios. Traumas, bleeding, codes, CPR. Been there, done that. We practice and have to be re-certified every year on those skills. As a result, in those scenarios I’m pretty calm. It doesn’t mean I’ll aways do the right thing, but I have a better than average chance of keeping the thinking part of the brain going and making better decisions. Because of that, I assumed that I’d behave the same in all emergency situations. Clearly, I was wrong.

So now I have to think about my training. I need to create an actual plan for when something goes bump in the night and practice that plan. And then practice some more. You should do the same for whatever things in life you THINK you know what to do. Until you create that muscle memory, you have no idea what your brain will fall back to. It might be worrying about your t-shirt being backwards as your house burns down around you.

P.S. My dog is fired. I have an 80-pound dog who spends his days barking fiercely at anything that moves. The mailman is his mortal enemy. What did this fierce protector do through this whole scenario? Nothing. He slept. Never got out of bed. He will not be getting any treats today.

Headed Off To Bootcamp

How’z those New Year resolutions going? I’m pretty sure in the fitness industry they’re now reaching peak “new year, new me!” frenzy. Somewhere in the next few weeks the new gym membership attendance begins to wane. By late February the committed gym rats have their empty weight rooms again and gym owners can rejoice – all those oversold introductory one-year memberships are now free money. Diets are being broken, and people are realizing they’re stuck with three more months of Jenny Craig meals they won’t eat. That Peloton bike investment and pre-paid 1 year subscription is looking shaky, although it does make a handy spot to dry sweaters.

In Troutdog land, we’re still on the path. Been about 80% good with diet and mostly in ketosis. Zero alcohol for the month. I was really good until I got taken out by the virus which we shall not name. I got hit with the full dump truck of symptoms. Everything except loss of taste and smell. Apparently for me, full fevers and body aches is a license to eat everything I can find in the pantry. I put back a couple of the pounds I’d lost. I’ve now re-lost those pounds, but my end of January weight goal is 1.5 pounds away with three days to go. I’ll probably get close, but no cigar. I blame China.

Workouts have been spotty, but I’m doing it. Again, the damn virus put a damper on things. When you’re newly lifting weights, it’s hard to tell if that head-to-toe body ache is because of DOMS, or Covid fever? The biggest accomplishment is that I started running again. And by running, I mean a lumbering walk-jog with occasional bouts of wild flailing around in an attempt to not slip on the ice. People my age break hips falling on the ice, so I’m extra careful.

All of this, combined with days and days of contemplating my navel while waiting to pass quarantine, prompted me to make a rash decision. I committed to something I’ve never done before. I hired a personal trainer. Gasp! It was either that or join the military so I can go through bootcamp. With tensions mounting in the Ukraine and South China Sea, I figured a local fitness expert was a safer choice.

I’m not sure what to expect. I don’t see him until next week. I told him I was looking for help putting together a program that incorporates strength training with improving aerobic endurance. I started putting together an extensive resume of past fitness and sport achievements, a list of gear and equipment in my home gym, daily nutrition data, and then a proposed schedule of workout times that correspond with my circadian rhythms. I then realized that he’ll probably throw that in the trash and say, “Uh, can you lift that weight? No? Ok how about that one? Still no? Can you lift that pink one? Hmmm. Maybe this isn’t the best fit…”

I’m starting to realize that what I really need is someone to simply hold me accountable. To yell at me to stop complaining and just get it done. To ask me what the hell I’ve been eating that my weight went back up three pounds in a day. To slap that 2,000 calorie Starbucks Frappuccino out of my pudgy little fingers. In short, I need to go to bootcamp.

Maybe there’s a military branch for middle aged dudes with poor eyesight and more computer skills than physical attributes. Weekends only would be a bonus. I’m thinking that I’m a walking recruiting poster boy for… The UNITED STATES SPACEFORCE!

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while I’m either binge watching Bill Murry in Stripes or I got called up to report for duty. I wonder if they’ll make me get a haircut?

A Case For Universal Basic Income

I should start out by saying that I do not agree with implementing a Universal Basic Income (UBI). However I recently listened to a podcast with Andrew Yang, a 2020 presidential candidate, and he made the most compelling case yet for it. I think the alarm bell he’s ringing is true… I’m just am not convinced UBI is the right solution.

Mr. Yang’s premise is that due to AI and automation one-third of all working Americans are going to lose their job in the next 12 years. Most of these workers are going to have a very hard time finding new employment. He makes the case that it’s not realistic to think that you’re going to re-train a truck driver from rural Iowa to write code. By giving every working age American $1000 a month you provide a safety net that will be put back into the economy in the form of gas, groceries, fuel, etc… A UBI paid for by a VAT tax. You have a choice of taking the UBI or social services (e.g. food stamps) but not both.

I agree that the coming AI boom is going to displace mass numbers of people. The Mckinsey research group estimates between 400 and 800 million people will be replaced by automation by 2030 worldwide. In the US, the top ten professions are mostly all lower wage jobs. The top five are:

  • #1 for males – truck driver
  • Retail sales
  • cashier
  • office clerk
  • food prep
  • customer service

The mean annual income in the US is $46,000. Every single one of those most common jobs listed is replaceable by automation. A third of the country out of work is a recipe for a real economic crisis that I’m not sure we can survive. The taxpayers are going to pay one way or another – in the form of food stamps, medical, etc…

There are folks who claim we’ve always had revolutions in technology that displace workers – let them #learntocode (don’t put that on Twitter!) The difference between the first and second industrial revolutions and today’s displaced workers is twofold; first the scale of displaced workers was much smaller and second, those revolutions actually spawned a middle class. An uneducated displaced farm worker could move to the city, work in a factory and support a family. Today it’s actually those lower-middle class jobs we’re removing.

So what’s my solution? I don’t know. As a libertarian-ish person I have a very hard time seizing taxpayer money and giving it to others because they made poor decisions and aren’t busting their ass to improve themselves. I also recognize that a mob of hungry, desperate people rioting with pitchforks isn’t in societies interest either.

Most politicians will push for ungodly expensive government boondoggle spending programs to “re-train” workers. Those are usually bottomless money pits with little positive outcome. I applaud Mr. Yang for at least being brave enough to raise the issue and give a plausible solution.

Is UBI the right solution? The more I think about it, the more I’m on the fence. It’s not often I stumble upon an issue where I don’t have a clear opinion. What do we do with 100 million people in this country out of work and no skills to bridge the gap? I’m curious what you think? What’s the right answer? Is this even a problem? Maybe the revolution will happen slower than we think. It’s certainly worth having a discussion… but I suspect we’ll ignore it until too late.