If It Is Important, Do It Everyday

“If it is important, do it every day, if it isn’t, don’t do it at all.”

-Olympic Gold Medalist Dan Gable

This year my primary goal is to work on my discipline. The way I’ve chosen to practice discipline is to pick several tasks that I will do EVERY DAY, whether I feel like it or not. I’ve dabbled in daily habitual practices, but I never would sweat it much if I missed a day or ten. This year is different.

Technology To Keep Me On Track

To help keep me on track, I’m using a simple service called NAGBOT. It texts you a reminder every day at a chosen time and asks if you’ve done whatever your daily goal is. It uses humorous responses depending on your answers. I have mine set to remind me of my tasks at 7pm, so there’s still enough time to do everything in case I forgot.

I’m getting used to having a robot nag me into doing work.

What Am I Doing Everyday?

I’ve chosen four tasks:

  1. Keep A Journal of daily events and martial arts training notes.
  2. Do 100 pushups every day.
  3. Do Dry-Fire practice every day.
  4. Actively practice Stoicism every day.
Why Journal?

I did a lengthy post on this recently. Check it and see if you think it’s worth doing.

Click to be routed to a nice 2017 Journal to start your record keeping journey.

Why 100 pushups?

My sport is Jiu Jitsu, which I train three times a week. It involves a lot of pulling muscles and flexibility. I’m still technically recovering from a stem cell transplant, so I have limited energy and recovery power. So I chose to do a daily ‘pushing’ exercise to compliment the ‘pulling’ that Jiu Jitsu gets me. Here’s Coach Dan John talking about the fundamental human movements. So far this year I’ve done 2,500 pushups. They add up quickly. 36,500, here I come!

Stoicism and Dry-Fire go together like peas and carrots… or something…
Why Dry-fire?

Dry-fire, while boring to some, is a great way to maintain and improve aspects of your shooting for an extremely low cost (read: free). I also find it meditative. Here’s The Tactical Professor explaining how to avoid “Grabastic Gunclicking”. I subscribe to his method of concise limited duration dry-fire, then I get on with my life. It is (in theory) never more than 24 hours since I’ve seen a sight picture and pressed a trigger. There is no downside to that in my eyes from a defensive shooting perspective. It’s about how recently, not how much you last practiced.

The Dry-Fire range is hidden behind a painting. There is a brick fireplace behind this wall. Set it up, practice, and put it away.
Why Daily Stoicism?

Ever since I read A Guide To The Good Life (link to my book review here), Stoicism has been on my mind almost daily. I have lacked the discipline and guidance to have meaningful study though. One of the key aspects to practicing is daily reflection. Luckily, a book exists that helps provide a short daily quote from a Stoic’s writing and paragraph to reflect on. I don’t know enough about Stoicism to prosthelytize, but I know it resonates with me fundamentally, so I’ll study it daily. The book is The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.

Completing these four tasks every day is something that has become very important to me. I know there will be days when I don’t feel like completing those tasks. It is in those moments that I force myself to that real growth happens.

Discipline equals freedom.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you’re doing to develop  your discipline.

Mark

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Gear Review: Chinese “Tactical Fleece” (TAD Clone)

*Trigger Warning - This review is of a Chinese made clone of a TAD Ranger Hoodie. Turn back now if that bothers you.

I was looking for a kick-around warm and cozy fleece to use on the range and keep in my truck for unexpected foul weather. I was cruising AliExpress (China’s Amazon, basically) late one night and came across what appeared to be a reasonably accurate clone of a TAD Ranger Hoodie. I had been coveting that particular jacket for a few years, so I was pretty excited to see a VERY affordable clone.

$24 and free shipping to the U.S.A.

A note about AliExpress:

This website is basically a huge collection of independent vendors who sell their wares. You’ll see many vendors with the same items, sometimes at vastly different prices. Shop around. Also, look at the seller’s ratings. I have had no issues ordering from reputable vendors. They have been very responsive and I have had good luck ordering with Ali.

Fit:

As you can see in the photos, the jacket fits me quite well. The sleeves are long enough that I can use the thumb holes if needed. The waist of the jacket sits right below belt level, just like a legit TAD jacket. Note that raising my hands above my head reveals what I have on my waist. This was originally designed as a hiking/backpacking jacket, so it’s great for using with a pack. The higher waist is to prevent bunching where the pack sits.

The pockets sit higher on the chest, above where a waist strap would sit from a pack. It has some goofy arm pockets that I’m not quite sure what to do with. It also has a lumbar kangaroo pouch for a hat or gloves, I’d wager.

The hoodie is spacious. It doesn’t flop over my eyes when it’s up, and the visor of the hood acts as the bill of a hat.

Sizing:

I’m 6′ and 215Lbs. I ordered a Large and it fits very well.

Price:

About $24 shipped from China. The only downside is the long transport time. It took about 3 weeks. But I can hardly complain. I’ve very pleased.

Quality:

It’s obviously not real TAD quality. There are a few loose threads, but nothing is unraveling yet. I washed it upon receiving and got a nice wad of fleece in my dryer. I don’t expect this to have a decade long life, but I suspect it’ll live for a few seasons. It had a strong chemical odor when I first received it. I washed it and let it air out for a few days, and the smell has now completely gone away.

Available Colors:

Black, Grey (what I bought), OD green, and Brown are your color options.

In Summary, I’d definitely recommend this to my friends who want a kick around ‘Tactical Jacket’ and don’t want to break the bank. If you were going on real expeditions and your safety counted on quality gear, I’d say spring for the real deal. For us weekend warriors, I think this is plenty.

MY NEXT ALI PURCHASE:

A softshell that has a bit more rain repellency.

 

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The Worthless Youtube Gun Review And My Proposal

I take issue with how most popular youtube firearms channels conduct their gun reviews. It’s like the hollow, superficial gun magazine reviews have bled onto the internet in long form video. I get it. Guns are guns. They’re generally boring and you have to pretend there’s something fancy and new about this specific gun you’re reviewing to fill time and have something to post every week. However, I think it could be done better. Reviews in gun magazines when I was reading them in the early 2000’s went like this:

  • “This pistol well balanced and feels good in the hand”
  • “Ate all 100 rounds I tested flawlessly”
  • “Here’s a shot grouping with XYZ defensive ammo”
  • “Innovative features” that are minor variations of features on all other guns
  • …more drivel…
  • The End

The blatantly bought and sold gun reviews in print media became the laughing stock of the internet. Fast forward to the mid-2000s and we saw independent folks started having a voice with forums, blogs, and eventually YouTube. Once Youtube took off and people realized they could monetize views, we started to see these semi-professional independent gun reviewers gain popularity. Arguably, today these folks are the most recognized people in the industry at large.

Good for Plinkin’, but completely lacking in substance

Tips for Spotting Useless Information

Here’s some things to keep in mind if you’re relatively new to guns and are watching one of those YouTube gun celebrities review a gun on their home range with all the steel targets and soda bottles.

    • “Feels good in the hand” is completely subjective and is totally dependent on the person holding the gun. It also doesn’t matter what it feels like at the gun shop, it matters how it feels while it’s being shot. Some guns that feel good, shoot poorly. For instance, a very comfortable framed gun can be like a bar of soap in recoil that has no index points when establishing grip in the holster. This results in inconsistent presentations on target. Some that “feel blocky” in the hand, actually allow a more repeatable hand index and presentation.
    • “Follow up shots are really fast!” Show me a timer. Show me a grouping on paper. If they don’t have a timer and corresponding holes in a target, you can safely disregard that comment. Here’s a clip of Ernest Langdon talking about his ‘lie detector’ (Shot Timer):

  • “The Trigger is great!” Another subjective comment. More useful information is the method of operation, trigger weight, length of pull, and a description of the feel of the trigger press throughout the shot cycle.
  • “This gun is really accurate” For me, watching someone shoot a 10″ piece of steel at 10 yards isn’t proof of accuracy. Most guns are mechanically more accurate than the shooter. I’d like to see benched 25-yard groupings, which show mechanical accuracy, as well as off-hand 25 yard groups which factor in trigger, sights, and operator ability all together.
  • “This gun is a hoot to shoot!” Maybe. All guns are. I personally am after reliability and performance. Does this pistol allow the reviewer to do something better, worse, or the same as he can do with any other pistol. What? Why? How? This is what I want to know.

Without quantifiable data, you’re just shooting bottles of soda. Look at it as entertainment, not an actual review. Subjective reviews have certain limited value, but numbers matter. Only Performance counts.

What Does The Perfect Gun Channel Look Like (to me)?

If I ran a youtube channel, one of the main features would be to start a performance board similar to how the BBC Show TOP GEAR would review cars around their home track, and rank them on a chart. Think of all the possibilities for quantifying a gun’s attributes! I would pick a few drills that I decided would best demonstrate all important attributes of a gun’s operation by removing outside variables as much as possible, put them on a timer, and rank them by the numbers. The shooter’s ability doesn’t have to be world class, it just needs to be the same shooter for all the tests (me in this case). The viewer would have a direct comparison between any guns I ran through that battery of tests. Scores, Times, Weight, Size, Caliber, reliability are all quantifiable. There would be some subjective input, but I’d keep it minimal. I realize that might be boring to the casual gun person. It’s probably a dumb idea. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to watching Hickok45 shoot steel rams and chuckle at the *GONGGGGG*.

 

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On Journals: Tracking Your Progress

“What gets measured, gets managed”
– Peter Drucker

If you are trying to change something about your life in the new year, my biggest advice is to start keeping a journal or logbook. I have been keeping some sort of journal, either in print or in electronic format, since 2003.  Over time as my interests expanded into martial arts, diet, and self defense, the metrics I track have evolved. As my focus has shifted around, so too has my method of notekeeping. But it’s always there in some form.

Click the photo to be forwarded to Amazon for this Diary. $17.50 at time of writing.
There are two kinds of people that keep a notebook… total amateurs and advanced practitioners. The amateurs need reminding of what they’re supposed to do that day, and the advanced practitioner knows that logging progress is the key to long term success. If you start your record keeping now, I believe it will accelerate your path to mastery.

I am a huge believer in keeping a logbook/journal of my daily practices.

Why Is It Worth Doing?

  • Holds me accountable to complete a task I’ve laid out for myself
  • Filling notebooks lets me know that I’m doing something with my time on the Earth.
  • Helps me organize my thoughts and remember what I did that day. This is especially helpful for martial arts. Here’s one of my posts from 2012 for example.
  • Putting pen to paper seems to reinforce my retention of new material.
  • Describing a physical action in my own words allows for me to have a better understanding for what has to happen to complete an action, which allows me to retain, teach, and coach that movement better.
  • Recording Sets, Reps, Weight, Rest Times allow you to ‘beat the notebook’ and grind out improvement.
  • Recording my mental and emotional state has multiple benefits, including figuring out what triggers negative emotional states and causes emotional ups and downs and self-defeating thought patterns.
  • Forces me to be mindful of what I’m eating. There have been studies that show people who log their food lose 3x more fat than those that don’t. When I write it down, or use an app, I am owning the fact that, “Yes, I just ate 20 wings and smashed 4 beers, and the caloric numbers don’t lie”
  • I’m more likely to complete a workout, if for no other reason than I feel ashamed for leaving a day blank.
  • Checking the box and recording my progress gives me a sense of accomplishment
  • Completing the logbook and watching improvement over time becomes a game you play with yourself

Things Worth Remembering

If you’re just starting, pick a single area you’re trying to improve and journal that. Once completing your journal becomes a daily habit you can add other topics and more detail. If you realize what you’re recording isn’t useful, you can stop tracking that metric. It’s an ongoing process. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Diet: Calories, Macro Nutrients, Water consumed
  • Dry-Fire practice: Routines, Courses of fire,  Par times, Skills Practiced
  • Live-Fire Sessions: Drills, Round Count, Weapon/Ammo Reliability, Scores/Times/Distances
  • Competition: shooting, martial arts competitions, etc. Note scores, placement, mental aspects
  • Cardio Sessions: Type, Distance, Duration, Heart Rate information
  • Seminar and Training class notes
  • Martial Arts: Movement details, sparring notes, striking combinations, frustrations and victories
  • Strength Training: Programming, Reps/Sets/Weights/Rest Times.
  • Day to Day life: What’s bringing you joy, grief, fear, anxiety

When there are so many topics to track in our multidisciplinary lifestyle, it becomes necessary to log the daily work in order to see meaningful improvement over time. Start now, you’ll thank me.

Do The Work.

Write It Down.

 

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