I have learned in the last six months that weakness takes many forms. Few of them, in fact, are weaknesses of the flesh - rather I find weaknesses of the mind. What I am learning is that anything that prevents you from performing your best is a weakness. It's not just muscular, and it isn't just skill either.
For instance - Do you like the occasional drink? Do you like the occasional 7 drinks? Aside from that being bad for you, it is a weakness. You have lost control over yourself - just as bad as losing control in conflict. You have also given other people power over you. You have also compromised your ability to fight, both during and after drinking.
Overweight? That is also a weakness. It can be significantly exploited by an adversary. You likely have a lower endurance than a lighter compatriot. In a conflict you would be more apt to be overcome with exhaustion than a lighter adversary.
How about attitude? Is that a potential for weakness? You bet it is. I found myself in randori the other night basically 'laying down my king' - just giving up because I had lost the will to go on in that conflict. It is a completely ridiculous attitude, and I can't explain it. A bad attitude is a major weakness in conflict and in life.
The reason I bring all of this up is that Charles Daniel in his book Taijutsu: Ninja Art of Unarmed Combat stresses that increasing your strengths is not the goal of studying Taijutsu, but rather reducing your exploitable weaknesses. I agree, but take it a step further. Don't just look for weakness in your taijutsu. Look for it in your life.
I would have liked to post live, but things got a little out of control. Stuff happens and all that. If anyone is interested, let me know and we can take it offline.
I had a good TechEd. There was a good mix of courses. The Technical Learning Center was impressive - with the notable exceptions of Office Live, Visio team members and MapPoint. There were about 50% IT Pro vendors, and about 50% programming vendors. It was a well designed conference.
I attended a panel of Open Source advocates who made me blush to be in their presence. There was much discussion about the reasons that Open Source is beneficial to the developer community, without my well known views of programmer education even making an appearance. (My mouth was full) So I'll blog about that this week.
I attended a GREAT talk by Steve Lasker about SQL CE replication that I will blog about later. He covered Merge and Replication and RDS, as well as the new Sync modules taht are coming in Orcas and CE 3.5. I plan on using what I learned to further the Clarity Workgroup Edition (Oh, didn't I mention that?) and generally become a better DBA-friendly architect.
I talked with my old friend Simon Guest (I remember how we know each other, Simon. Apress!) about the Microsoft Certified Architect program. I have a few thoughts about that program that I would like to share with the community. A few of the nay-sayers make a lot of sense to me.
I missed the Birds of a Feather sessions. Rich Hundhausen is gonna roast my toes. He even gave me a flamingo. Anyway, the guys from Community Server were there and I am sorry I missed them. I'll blog about the implementation of the OmniPath AICC LMS that I have put on top of CS later this month.
I also went to a great talk by Tom Fuller about SOA. This applied directly to a project that I am starting later this summer, and I will have a lot to say about what I learned. (See what I am doing here? Setting myself up to HAVE to blog a bout this stuff.)
Another career changing talk was the Composite Application chat by Scott Jamison. He showed me how the SharePoint services stack that is included in the Windows 2003 install can be used to provide search, object management and a bunch of other neet stuff. Very cool. I'll post about that session later too.
Finally, I got Gabrielle a new HP tx1000z with a conference-only deal that they had going. It's pretty snazzy. I'll post about it if it is good, and post 10,000 times if it is a dog.
Carry on as before.
Preparation isn't just about carrying a weapon wherever you go. There is more to it than that. Preparation is having the tools that you need, when you need them.
Practically, there is a problem with that. Clearly you might need a bathtub here and there. You know, those times when you think 'man, I could really use a bath'? But you don't carry one. When you travel, though, might it not be a bad idea to have a bit of soap in case you fine a place you can get clean?
That's the kind of preparation I am talking about here. Pragmatic preparation is my goal. I am a fairly parochial chap; I go to see clients, and come home. I travel only occasionally, and live in the suburbs. This defines in part my preparation tactics. If you are in a rural setting, or travel a lot, and your strategy includes preparation, your needs will differ.
My personal preparation includes two phases. I have certain things that are always on my person. There is also a 'kit' of items that I stash in a hall closet to those 'better grab the kit before I go out' kind of trips.
On my person, I have three things that I always carry: a belt, a Leatherman Wave, and a lighter. I believe that each of these things - none a weapon in most minds - is an important part of hour by hour preparedness. A belt fives you two extra feet of reach, is a Kusari Fundo, and can be used as a restraint. A Leatherman trims toenails, disassembles anything, and has a four inch blade with a thumb release. A lighter gives light, can be a distraction, and lights cigars.
The kit is a little more complete. I don't have a complete inventory at the moment, but off the top of my head, I have the following:
- a crowbar
- an emergency blanket
- first aid
- smoke bombs
- waterproof, windproof matches
- water purification
- a mechanical flashlight
- thermite and starter
- a glass cutter
- wire cutters
- a small butane torch
- a slingshot
- duct tape
- and a few other things
When your brother and law calls and says "I have a problem, can you come over?" it is time to grab the kit. When you have to go to a strange part of town, grab the kit. If there is an odd noise outside, grab the kit. Get the idea? It is self protection times twelve.
What to you do to assure preparedness?
If you had to run a mile, could you do it? I don't mean in a race, or among friends. I mean running a mile as if your life depended on it? How about the life of your spouse, or your child?
Really? How about after a full meal? Or after three drinks? Or if you were ill? Or injured?
How about through pouring rain? Or through standing water?
What if you were carrying someone else?
Just to test, I ran around a lake with my son on my shoulders, while we were on vacation. We were near the recent shuttle launch, and I used the Magic If. "What if that shuttle exploded and there was rubble landing all around me?" I needed to get to shelter: to save myself and my son. I had just had a full meal, and a beer. I couldn't do it.
While you never know what adrenaline can do, wouldn't it be good to know that it was possible to run like that in a Magic If situation? If you had the energy of a real life or death situation it should be even easier - you should be able to go twice as far.
This is something that everyone should think about - not just warriors. It doesn't take the shuttle exploding to make for a situation in which a person might have to run a mile under less-than-optimal situations. Train like you needed to run that mile to save what is dear to you.