Why can’t everyone be willing to put their life on the line?

In 2002 an friend of mine was murdered in a “mass murder event“. Her name was Barbara Monroe and we were coworkers at the University of Arizona Medical Center. We didn’t know each other well but I loved working with her and I liked her as a person and she was an excellent  nurse. She was also an instructor over at the nursing school that was attached to the hospital. That is where she was killed by a failure of a person who couldn’t accept self responsibility for his place in life.
I of course felt most of my anger towards the miserable piece of shit that committed the murders, but I noticed I felt a growing amount of anger towards the other people who were present during the murders, many of them I knew. I worked with them too. Why had no one even made any attempt at all to stop the madman? I couldn’t comprehend it. True I was not there, I did not know the layout of the classrooms, where people were positioned, or things like that. I did know that at one point Barb was on her knees and she stood up to the killer before her murder. She didn’t die on her knees. To me that meant that the killer was quite focused on her and was a clear opportunity for someone, anyone, to try and stop him. As I stated before, I wasn’t there….that’s what I told myself when I looked at the faces of people I knew that had been there. I know they felt great loss and pain as well, but my anger with them never went away.
Eventually I would forget about this anger for long periods at a time, years even. However, ever time another mass murder or attempt happened, I would think of Barb. I always wondered why the world is full of people only willing to save their own skin.
I think it had some effect on my choice to leave civilian medicine and join the US Army to become I medic. There were many many factors in that decision, but I wanted to serve the people who actually ran toward the sound of gunfire. I wanted to make sure they came home to their friends and family. In the Wadak province of Afghanistan I got to really learn what it meant to be scared shitless and but still have to do what needed to be done. When your friends’ lives are on the line, you will do anything. That doesn’t mean you completely lose your head, but it does mean you will run out into incoming mortar fire because you think a tent got hit and they need you now.
Recent events like the train attack in France and the mass shooting in Oregon highlight what military personnel and veterans are willing to do when the shit hits the fan.
Today is also the anniversary of the battle of Mogadishu, where Delta, Rangers,  and Nightstalkers fought for their lives. Two particular men lost their lives that day knowing that they wouldn’t make it out. Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart had themselves inserted to help protect the life of the downed crew of Super62.
The last two days I am still left wondering,  why can’t the world be filled with Garys, Randys, and Chris Mintzs? Wouldn’t it be a better world? A world where when people are hurt, when evil raises up and threatens lives, people are willing to put everything on the line to stop it. Again, I reflect on Barb dying in her classroom with nobody like Chris, Randy, or Gary there to stop evil and madness with swift violence of action. I felt that familiar anger come again and become sick with 99% of the population. Fucking self centered cowards.
A really good friend posted an horrific article from India today. It through me for a short loop as it’s obvious that these people who murdered their own neighbor believed they were doing the right moral thing to do. If the world was full of people I have described would that make things worse? Would they be willing to kill more often when things went wrong? Or were perceived wrong? Ultimately I don’t think they would. The mob that killed the man in India did it on principal, not because someone’s life was in immediate danger. In fact, that was what played a part in the death of Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon. The local warlord in Mogadishu had been spreading rumors about the UN forces for weeks, telling people that the soldiers would steal their babies and convert them into Christianity. So the mobs of Mogudishu were not so unlike the mob that murdered their neighbor for possibly consuming beef. They killed out of principal, but I cannot equate that with people who put their lives on the line to save others.
So I am back to the original question, why can’t the world be full of people like Gary, Randy, And Chris Mintz?

~Ken

Bring out your dead (blogs)

It’s been over a year and half since I last posted here. I never meant to let that amount of time pass without writing. When I started this blog I wanted it to be a creative outlet for myself and a place to let my thoughts flow. It’s a lot easier to get thoughts together and really make sense of them when they are out in front of you in black and white. I also just happen to enjoy writing, but for some reason I don’t give myself time to indulge in it. Since the creation of this blog I have found and been training in a new way to explore my creativity, gunsmithing. What a rabbithole! In the next few weeks I hope to highlight the many ways that going to school for gunsmithing has opened up a new door to creativity for me. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Time to really buckle down.

I posted on Facebook earlier today that I’d be not spending much time there anymore (or at least for a while). It’s not like I’m deactivating my account not not checking it at all, I just don’t want to waste hours scrolling through the thousands of posts or every person, group, or business I follow. I wish I could take it all in and look at every link, picture, etc. that gets posted. The truth is I just don’t have the time, not if I want to get anything else done. That’s the point of this post. There are so many things I want to spend my time on that I now have to get picky.

The short list of things I want to work on are; reloading, artwork (to develop skill that will hopefully translate to engraving), studying up on gunsmithing, learning the guitar, and working out with my kettelbells. This is just a list for right now and is subject to change as there are so many other things I want to learn or practice. I also will continue a lot of other activities or try to reboot other activities.

It’s really difficult for me to get to the range right now so I need to consider getting a serious dry fire practice going again. I have rifle dry fire ‘protocol’ that I will share another time but basically it is an Appleseed AQT done dryfire at very short range. I need to figure out a pistol protocol that will work for me too.

This blog is something I also want to spend more time on. I started it well but then just let it go. I hope to rectify that by posting here rather than just on my Facebook page. I think it will make for a much better venue for chronicling what I am up to. A periodic “podcast” edition of this blog is something I may do in the future but only time will tell if that gets done.

Anyway, soon I hope to be blogging about the activities listed above and share cool things along the way as I can.

Ken

A new rifle is born.

Last night my friend Tommy and I completed a couple of AR-15 uppers. His in 300 Blackout and mine in 6.5 Grendel. For me this has been a project long in the making. I ordered my barrel and bolt carrier group early last year while I was still deployed. After I got home I slowly began buying the other parts I’d need to complete the build. The gas block, gas tube, muzzlebrake, a Cavalry Arms A1 buttstock, and finally a free float hand guard from Midwest Industries that took two months to get delivered thanks to the post Sandy Hook madness on everything AR.

I’m really pleased how my 6.5 Grendel Rifle turned out. It still needs a couple of things, but it is complete enough to take to the range and see how well it can shoot. Currently it is only wearing a 1-4x Millet DMS scope. However with that I think I’ll still be able to easily make shots out about 500 yards. My plan is to get it zeroed in and the proceed to shoot steel silhouettes at 200, 300, 400, and then 500 in progression.

For now, this is how she looks:

 

Sharpening the sword.

Headway is being made in the physical department. Yesterday I was able to meet with my PA, and thanks to him I not only got referrals to Pulmonology (including a new Pulmonary Function Test) and Rheumatology, but also a nice handful of medications to help me get back on track. One of which is a steroid, Methylpredlsolone, works well for me on a couple of different fronts. It helps relieve my asthma like symptoms but also my joint pain. It is a very powerful anti-inflamatory and since all of my symptoms are inflammatory in nature I feel better after only one day of taking it.

To celebrate my feeling better, I did a full (if only basic) TRX workout today. It felt great to put my body to work. I really enjoy functional exercise and recommend suspension training  to anyone. One particular feature I like about suspension training is that no matter which exercise you are performing, you will use virtually your entire body. This is particularly true of your core muscles. Having a strong core, pretty much every muscle in your torso and abdomen, will not only make you athletically better at anything you may want to do, but will also help keep you from getting injured. I only did two sets of my exercises to not overdo it. I’m not really trying to break myself off just yet.  The goal here is to heal, recover, and gain back strength and endurance.

I’ll miss out on taking my unit’s next Army Physical Fitness Test due to all my recent illness, but back in September I took a post deployment diagnostic APFT and I scored a 229 out of a possible 300. I can do a lot better. My goal for the next PT test that i can take, whenever that is, would be to score a 270 or better. Frankly I see that as a very realistic goal because I already score about 90 each on both push ups and sit ups. I just need to trim down my run time. My prescription for that is to do some additional running on my own involving both long runs and some very serious interval runs. My long runs will probably look something like slow runs with eight to nine minutes of jogging and one to two minutes of fast walking. I’ll start with  three or four of these cycles and build up something like four hour runs once every week or every other week. On the flip side to the long and slow will be the interval runs. I’ll have to experiment with my starting point, but the general idea is that after I am warmed up I run slightly faster than  my goal pace (for the APFT) for something like 1/8 to 1/4 of a mile, the walk an equal distance. I repeat this cycle until I have run (discounting the walking) a total of two miles. Two miles happens to be the run distance for the APFT. After a couple of these runs I’ll gradually increase the run distance for the intervals to 3.1 miles (or 10km). Once I am comfortable with that, I’ll begin to increase my run time and decrease my walk time for the intervals until I am running 1/2 mile and walking 1/8 mile.

Big plans for just getting back on board, but I do need a plan of attack and the run has always been my weakness. We’ll see how it goes.

-KK

The Value of Shared Knowledge and Experience.

For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed teaching. Occasionally, what I have had to teach was not well received. For instance, I once tried to explain cloning to my fourth grade teacher. She dismissed my explanation as a fanciful tale of my preteen mind. Most of the time I find teaching to be very rewarding.

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“Make You A Sword of Me!!”

The quote above is from the Shakespeare play Coriolanus. I watched a version of it tonight on Netflix. All the essential dialogue and components of the story are present as they are in the play. This version, however, was dressed modern clothes. The Romans wore ACU uniforms while at war and used M4 carbines. The Volscian army used Yugoslavian built AKM rifles. The whole movie had a very Baltic Wars feel to it despite being a story told about Rome. I very much enjoy Shakespeare and creative retellings of his plays.

I especially appreciated the quote from Coriolaunus the character because of the tattoo on my left shoulder. It is my only tattoo to date and took about 37 years for me to decide on. It is a very simple design of a bicycle chain ring, 42 tooth to be precise, on the outside of a Japanese Kanji.

No, the Kanji is not a cliche symbol for love, peace, war, good luck, or anything else you may find in the pages of a tattoo shop’s flash book. My Kanji is the Japanese word Ken. Yes, that does happen to be my first name, or the shortened version of it anyway. I did not get it to remind myself of what my name is; I would have picked my surname in calligraphic letters if that was my goal. It is to remind me of what I am; of one way I view myself. The word Ken in Japanese means sword. It was not too long after I received the ink that I joined the Army. I chose to be an Army Combat Medic. I could have comfortably lived out my life in civilian work. I felt the call to be the sword; the sword that can both give life and hand out death.

Lately I have felt as if my edge had become very dull. Last year before I deployed, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Sarcoidosis. This disease works against me in keeping my edge sharp. I must work harder than the disease does. However, I have not been able to work out or do PT for over a month. This is frustrating, as I believe it just worsens how I feel. The cause of my my month off was simply having a tooth pulled. In doing so, the dentist accidentally perforated my sinus cavity. This led to a sinus abscess and more oral surgery. Tomorrow I go for yet another appointment which is a pre-surgery visit to close the holes that the first two surgeries left. I very much hope that this will be the end of it. I am sick of the antibiotics, the pain, and most of all I’m sick of sitting on my ass while I heal. I very much need to get out and sharpen this sword again.

 

Projects.

One frustrating thing lately for me is how many unfinished projects I have. Two of the top projects involve my mostly complete 6.5 Grendel upper and my .308 VEPR. I have everything to complete the Grendel except for a gas block, gas tube, free-float hand guard, iron sights, and scope/mount. The scope will cost the most of of the needed parts, but I can get the upper running without a scope. I’m forgetting that I also need magazines for the Grendel.
The VEPR need more magazines, and appropriate scope, and a good cheekrest. Honestly it’s probably the cheaper of the two projects to finish. It’ll also make a great hog/deer gun as well as my MBR.
The Grendel will be much more of a precision rifle. I’ll be putting something in the order of a 4-14x scope on it. The VEPR will probably end up with something more like 1-5x or 6x fixed. We’ll see, I’m open to suggestion.
It’s been tempting to sell the Grendel parts to buy a 308 bolt action, but I think the Grendel will serve a nice purpose as a longer range hunter. I want to experiment with hand loading some of the 6.5mm Barnes LRX bullets.

-KK

An Education in WordPress

I started this blog hoping to use the built in iWeb on my Macbook, but it did not want to work and play well with my webhost GoDaddy. So back to using wordpress. I’m going to try and look around for some good tutorials or YouTube videos for a little education on how to be a little more creative on how to use WordPress. For instance, I know I need to figure out how to make images viewable only by clicking on them. This is due to the fact that I keep and breed both tarantulas and snakes. I like to post about them from time to time but I know that not everyone appreciates looking at them, as I do.

Beyond the basics, I’d like to create a nice visual experience for people who check out this blog. If you have any links to good resources, please let me know.

Thanks- KK