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Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also the time the year when thieves ramp-up their activities. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a target rich environment, with shoppers carrying cash and schlepping expensive goods. Parking lots are crowded. People are distracted. It gets dark early. You get the picture. At the same time, homeowners leaving on holiday are a burglar’s bonanza. Not to mention all those packages asking to be “re-purposed.”

I escalate my situational awareness during the holidays, making sure I’m aware, armed and fabulous. Do you take any special precautions during the holidays, or is it just same-old same-old self-defense scenario?

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  1. “Do you take any special precautions during the holidays, or is it just same-old same-old self-defense scenario?”

    No. Doing so would be sufficient evidence that I’m not paying enough attention other times of the year. I don’t look five times before crossing the street at some certain time of year either.

    Any time you end up paying attention to the wrong thing, like when you’re staring at that hottie with the club foot, FAS eyes and cleft palate while your at Wally-World around 0200 instead of browsing the family planning section like you were supposed to be, just imagine the bloodied ghost of Biggie Smalls whispering in your ear “Nah n***a ya slippin’!”. Snaps me right out of it.

    No really, there are some games you can play to up your situational awareness to the point you don’t even realize how much information you’re taking in until you stop and think about it. I suggest playing them. They’re pretty simple like starting with small places like a coffee shop how many men and women are there? Once that’s easy how many blondes, brunettes, redheads etc. How many hats? How many people on their phones. It gets easier the more you do it. When it gets easy add things. When it’s sufficiently easy add small stuff. Earrings, rings, necklaces, specific articles of clothing like Uggs. Look for people who have a “gun boner” (printing) in their clothing or a failure to conceal and count them too.

    Eventually you can recall how many freckles and face piercings the above mentioned pinup has without even trying.

    • What does the threat look like? You can play all the SA games you want but if you have no idea what the threat looks you are aware of nothing. The anyone, anywhere, any place concept of the threat equates an 80 year Swedish grandma to a crazed 20 year old shouting “Allahu Akbar”. It’s the TSA concept of operations. There is more to getting situation awareness than identifying objects in your field of view. SA is really determing “who’s who in the zoo.”

        • Like most of the armed intelligentsia you really do not understand what SA really is. We live in a world where threats are few relative to non threats. I am going to go “operator” on you but not the kind of operator operating operationally that you like.

          There is matrix of environment vs threat density. The environments on the columns are empty and crowded and the threat density on the rows are sparse and dense. I didn’t make this stuff up. If you are the “dense” threat row you are in a war zone or Ferguson during the riots. So if you live in the rural area you face a sparse threat in n empty environment, a fairly easy place to operate, however by population most us live in suburban/urban environment which dense. It’s really hard finding a sparse threat in this environment unless you know what you are looking for.

          Here is a operator operating operationally example but once again not the one that most people here get turned on by. It comes from the undersea warfare world. If I send a Maritime Patrol Aircraft out to a piece of ocean where there may be a submarine and tell the crew to dump a bunch buoys in the water without knowing what they are looking for their chances of success for even the best crew is pretty close to zero even for noisy target. There are all sorts of sounds in the water that may be a target but most aren’t and you will just burn up your on station time to no effect chasing them down. Now if you tell the crew that Victor III hull number 25 is in the search zone they will detect and classify that target within a minute of the submarine coming into range of a buoy. Why? because intelligence has told them exactly what to look for.

          It’s the same way in self defense. If you have no idea what the threat is then everything is a threat and you have to keep track everybody in your field of view. Can’t be done, even by the guy who was the CIA’s #1 surveillance/countersurveillance instructor. He got mugged in Rio. Go figure. It’s a nice exercise to identify the number and type of people in the bar but there are probably all good guys and everybody who looks surly isn’t a bad guy. Even a bad guy may just want to get beer and not be interested in doing bad things. If you are paying attention you will encounter more false threats than actual threats, in fact if you do it right then you won’t be able to tell difference because you will have avoided them.

        • “Like most of the armed intelligentsia you really do not understand what SA really is.”

          Whoa buddy. Slow your roll a bit there. Telling me what I know and don’t know based on obvious assumptions you’ve made? Your horse is getting a bit high and we don’t need you to get all Christopher Reeves’d here. I didn’t cover distinguishing a threat from a non-threat because that’s not the point of this game.

          Now, just so that we get this out of the way, when I got to “operator” I stopped reading. Nothing you had to say after that interests me at all. The level of condescension that term is clearly meant to carry causes me to ignore whatever else you have to say. You want to talk to Gecko45 that way, be my guest. Talk to me that way and I’ll tell you where to go and what to do when you get there.

          Now, to the meat of the matter: The game I am discussing is not about picking out threats, creating a matrix or anything to do with threat analysis. It is about increasing your ability to process information rapidly and accurately so that you can find those potential threats much more rapidly and/or deal with them if shit pops off.

          Just because you know that Ali-Ben-Gaba-Allahu-Akbar-fuckface is a threat when you see him means exactly fuck all if you cannot rapidly and accurately distinguish him from Jose the Gardener in a crowd as you move through it. The same is true of the obviously shifty pickpocket, meth head or soon-to-be armed robbery boy. You can read Left of Bang all you want. You can memorize those clusters of behavior and cues. In and of itself that knowledge is next to useless. The information contained therein doesn’t mean jack shit unless you can rapidly process incoming information and apply what you already know about your surroundings to what you’re seeing in front of you. The ability to know “who’s who in the zoo” means even less if shit actually goes sideways and rapid, accurate information processing becomes absolutely critical but is something you can’t do.

          Even more, the ability to recall the information from something you saw a minute ago is critical. Was Ali-Ben-Gaba-Allahu-Akbar-fuckface you saw with three buddies just before you looked at your daughter and suddenly heard someone start screaming and gunfire or was what Jose the Gardner with his landscaping crew? Did that meth head you figured might stick a gun in someone’s face have friends? What did they look like? No sense dropping BG 1 to get a bullet in the side of your head from BG 2 because you didn’t know he was there.

          The ability to do this is a learned skill and I’m telling you how to learn it.

          Rapid and accurate information processing and enhanced recall ability after the fact such as remembering who was where in a room last time you looked at them, who is friendly with whom etc. that’s the point of the game. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s useful tool but like a box wrench it’s only part of the mechanic’s tool set. You have to put it together with other things to come up with a complete package. At no time was I talking about applying the same level of consideration to “80 year Swedish grandma” and “to a crazed 20 year old”. That is a threat analysis and it isoutside the scope of this game and therefore outside the scope of what I was talking about.

  2. Seems to me this is a city problem. Someone tried to rob a bank here once. I think they are still in jail. 🙂 Not many criminals running around loose here, but we do have an “honor camp” to the north. One day the automated alert system telephoned us old farts out in the boonies that one of the inmates had walked away and asked us to be on the look out for him. About an hour later, got another call that he’d turned himself in. Spoke to one of the employees out there at the camp the next day and he was laughing. Seems the inmate had walked around for a while, decided he couldn’t rob or break in anywhere because everyone has guns… and couldn’t figure how to get out of town with no money and no transportation. So he went back to his three hots (or maybe only one these days) and a cot…

    So no, I’m not worried about much of anything except getting snowed in.

    But I don’t actually “do” Christmas at all, and mostly stay home when it’s cold. Any burglar coming to my house would be in for a seriously bad surprise. Any time of the year.

      • No, I’d forget and consume them myself. I roll up a a bomber and that way, when I don’t get to it first, the burglar or Santa is still here trying to find the cookies when I get up in the morning. No, as a point of fact, it hasn’t worked yet.

  3. Like strych9 said: If you have to up your awareness at one time of year, then your awareness isn’t up to snuff the rest of the time.

    Walk into a room, or exit your car in a parking lot, or any other time you are around people, take a moment and glance at every person you see. With practice it only takes a fraction of a second to look a person over for signs of stress or bad intentions. Do it enough and it becomes automatic. Never sit with your back to a door, assess everyone who walks in and periodically look up and reassess everyone present.

    It might sound a little paranoid, but I’ve been doing this everyday for almost twenty years, and it would take effort NOT to do it sometime.

  4. I do, but mostly in parking lots, and mostly for preoccupied and distracted (to be charitable) drivers heading out for Xmas shopping.

  5. Extra alert for Christmas? Not really. Sometimes I do get a little paranoid about somebody breaking in while we’re gone, but anybody who was really serious about it could do that anytime. Just double-check the locks that I already always lock anyway and keep my eyes peeled when I’m out, same as always.


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