It has been months since my last post. There’s no excuse for this gap in training of course, but explanations, at the very least, are in order.
A lot has happened since my skydiving training in February. First, I started a new job which requires a certain amount of business development. My surplus writing time has been channeled towards pursuits of an entirely different nature. Second, I’m starting to exhaust my initial set of single-serving training options. In the past two years I’ve added many skills to my dossier, but they’ve largely been easy commitments time wise. Firearm proficiency, performance driving, skydiving – all done in a weekend or less.
However, my list of desired skills extend well beyond those that can easily be acquired by the weekend warrior. So, it’s time to commit to acquiring some hard-won competencies. I’m back in the classroom taking French 3 at City University. The embarrassing part is that I should be in French 4 or 5. I’ve studied French off and on since high school, but foreign languages are the ultimate use-it-or-lose-it skill. And linguistic skills aren’t something I come by naturally.
This will be a slog. I’m supplementing with Rosetta Stone and the Duolingo iPad app in hopes that a diversity of choice will appeal to my lacking attention span.
Now where was I?
Rule #1. Smile and have fun!
All things considered the nightmare wasn’t as bad as I expected.
I’m in a cargo plane with Dan. My instructor is attaching my chute and harness, but instead of securing it properly he is fastening it to my shoelaces. Not surprisingly, this is met with some concern. When I inquire I’m quickly dismissed. This is how it’s done, you’ll be fine, stop worrying – the perilous platitudes one might expect from someone devising your demise.
In a daze I take slow steps forward like a prisoner on a chain gang after a day of hard labor. The cargo bay door opens, I inch forward unable to understand why my chute is affixed to my laces, and, more pressing, why I’m continuing to advance. I step off the platform and wake up right as I start to fall.
I’ll admit it. My training has grown stagnant.
Since my last post I’ve done little more than blow holes in paper targets. I’m clearly in need of a jump start. The hard part is choosing what to do next. I could embark on building out a new competency, but many of the items on ‘the list‘ require months and even years of training and won’t provide sufficient creative kindling. I need something bold – the kind of activity that makes Dan and my mother worry (or at least roll their eyes).
What’s an aspiring agent to do? I know…
Don’t tell mom.
The 2 Fast 2 Furious version of my car. Subtle.
Nothing starts the day like the promise of a newly acquired skill. And few skills are more exciting than learning how to drive from the professionals. As the saying goes ‘drive it like you stole it.’ Setting criminal intent aside, that’s my goal for the day.
A brief moment of performance anxiety.
BMW, Lotus, Aston Martin. For the automotive enthusiast the brands of Bond are the stuff of legend. From oil slicks and ejector seats to submarine conversions and holograms, Commander Bond’s rides were far from stock and, for the everyday driver, quite out of reach (if not reality). Also, most of us don’t have Her Majesty’s Treasury or Q Branch at our disposal. However, if we learned anything from For Her Eyes Only, the only thing more important than what’s under the hood is who’s behind the wheel. I just lack the requisite training.
Surely I’ve waited long enough.
Training for secret agent status is not without its trials and tribulations. One day you’re in deep cover trying to infiltrate a Scandinavian arms deal, the next you’re gambling away blood and treasure at the Baccarat table. It’s about getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
So, a few months ago I decided it was time to prove my resolve. I needed to do something out of character; so against the grain that my mettle would be tested. I decided to delay gratification.
Patience, surely the lowest rung on the ladder of virtue, has never been a strong suit.
Are smart guns the future of gun safety?
A few weeks ago I purchased a new handgun.
I wanted to write about it, but in light of the shooting in California I decided to delay the post. Blogging about my enjoyment at the purchase of a new firearm didn’t seem appropriate considering. And then there was a shooting mere blocks from my family home at Seattle Pacific University. And then another at a High School in Oregon.
Like or it not I now have a role in this conversation.
While discussing the events with friends I’ve seen the question forming on their lips. Very few of my friends have a firearm. What did I, a seemingly reasonable person and friend, think of gun control?
Pussy, Pussy Galore. Who were you expecting?
Part 3 in a 24 part series of secret agent ‘research‘, this is my third 007 film review. If you missed my last, you can read my review of 1963′s From Russia with Love.
Google ‘best bond movie’ and you’ll get a variety of opinions. Purists will tell you From Russia with Love (FRWL) is the superior film. And it’s no doubt in the top five. Contrarians will claim On Her Majesty’s Secret Service deserves consideration. Certainly George Lazenby was a more than serviceable one-time Bond. And the conclusion was a dour and emotional scene that is unparalleled in over twenty films. But we both know it’s Goldfinger don’t we? Of course we do.
Those books in the background may not be an accident.
Any agent worth his Walther will tell you that you need a proper ‘Go Bag.’
When things go south, and that can happen in a hurry in this profession, you might just need to disappear at a moment’s notice. And a proper Go Bag contains the just right essentials that can be the difference between your new life as a humble fisherman in Chile and a double-tap to the head.
Speed is a key element. If you’re in need you’ve likely run afoul of someone who has means and who means business. This might be your standard international terrorist or even your former colleagues. Those towel-snapping mates you bonded with during training sessions on ‘The Farm’ can go from bro to foe in milliseconds.
Sunday morning firearm training on a hangover? Not my finest hour.
(This is part two in a two part series – you can read about my first day of defensive handgun training here)
It’s 6:00 a.m., still dark outside, and I haven’t done my homework. As I fumble for the ridiculously small off-switch on my alarm clock, I realize I also have a hangover. I knew I should have finished my reading last night after getting home, but another episode (possibly two) of The Walking Dead was more compelling than reading a training manual for armed security guards. Turning down the third glass of Merlot would also have been a good idea.
Hindsight be damned.