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Jogger (courtesy

Major Van Harl [via] writes:

The Hi and Lois cartoon in the Monday paper caught my attention because I did not think it was funny. In the first panel Hi while driving his car is beeping the horn. In the next panel you see a pretty young woman jogging with ear buds in her ears. The caption in the second panel has Hi saying “she must be wearing honk-canceling headphones.” We are suppose to laugh but the truth is the young woman is a future victim of an accident she could have avoided or worse yet the dead or injured subject of a criminal attack. All because she has music blaring in her ears via tiny little speakers she pushed deep into her head that block out the sound of the real world she is traveling in . . .

We are talking about sensory deprivation.

You are moving so fast while running that the need for our hearing in order to interpret and react to an emergency is almost as important as eye sight. You can see what is in front of you but you have to hear what is coming up to you from behind or off to your side. Wearing anything that cuts down on your ability to hear danger and then adding loud music to mask most surrounding sounds is a recipe for disaster.

The noise canceling headphones are even worse. They are designed to block out sound. In advertisements you see happy airline travelers enjoying their flight as the headphones they wear block out the noise of the plane and afford a quiet and serene journey. This is great because no one is going to jump out of the bushes on an airplane and attack you since you cannot hear the bad guys coming at 30,000 feet.

The socialists ran Milwaukee County for almost 100 years. One of the few good things to come out of that era is the fact they took control of most of the Lake Michigan lake front property. Instead of expensive high rise condos sitting at water’s edge like in Chicago (80 miles to the south) you have this great system of county parks and miles and miles of paved jogging / biking trails, many going through thick wooded areas.

One of my duties with the Cudahy Police Departments it to patrol the county park jogging trails that pass through our city. In the past year we have had a number of attempted assaults on female joggers in our city and even more throughout the county park system.

Our part of the jogging trail sits right on the lake and is just beautiful. The athletes love it and so do the perpetrators.

In every case the victim of the attempt assault was wearing ear buds and did not hear the assailant coming.

I drive the trails in a marked police jeep. I constantly come up from behind on joggers who do not know I am there, even with the vehicle engine running. I dare not honk my horn because they startle and then we have falling accidents. A little sex-education 101 needs to be understood here. Women bounce when they run. This combined with the minimalist types of athletic apparel they wear is a major attraction to males who have no intention of attacking anyone.

Now add all these factors to the equation, interject the person who is out there on the “hunt” and then disrupt the ability for the jogger to hear danger coming and the woman is going to lose.

When you go to Yellowstone National Park with plans to hike in the “back country” you have to register with the Rangers. What you need to understand is this is so the Rangers have an idea where to start looking for your body when you don’t come out on time. The Rangers are not guaranteeing your safety simple because you told them of your unsafe plans to sleep amongst the bears and other predators.

If you are going to go jogging tell someone and tell them where you are headed. Sadly it is easier even in the big city park system to find your body if we know where to start to look. The world does not owe you safety. Take your cell phone and some pepper spray.

Men get attacked while wearing ear buds also. Take the ear buds out and never ever wear headphones while outside jogging or even walking.

The rate of people hit by trains has almost tripled in the past ten years where electronic head devices were involved. In most cases the dead person had on headphones and did not even hear the very loud train horn blaring at them. You have to hear the bad guys and the trains coming.

Think twice this year about giving your women folk these electronic-devices for Christmas gifts. Safety is more important than short term entertainment.

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]

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  1. “Women bounce when they run. This combined with the minimalist types of athletic apparel they wear is a major attraction to males…”

    Truer words are seldom spoken.

    • Makes me glad I was born a guy. I’m sure some women like to watch some men run, but the percentages are clearly with us.

    • So let me see if I’ve got this straight –
      Major Von Hurl’s job is to protect the parkgoers.
      The purpose of the park is to have a space where people can enjoy nature, exercise, fresh air, and distance themselves from the frenetic modern urban environment.
      Exercise is good, and it may require specialized clothing, and it may require music for distraction/motivation.

      Major Von Harl seems to be suggesting that:
      Female runners with bouncy parts (but not the others?) contribute to or cause the problem.
      Females wearing running clothes contribute to or cause the problem.
      Nobody should wear earbuds while exercising because they might get attacked or hit by a train at any time.

      So, what, we should just stay home then?
      They might as well have developed the waterfront then, cover it with buildings and condos. Stay home and listen to your earbuds and jog with your Wii. Stay away from dangerous parks which might harbor creepy predatory people, or even just people who “have no intention of attacking anyone” but who get turned-on by bouncy parts and exercise clothing (Major?). Or better yet, don’t go out into nature at all. Stay home instead. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is just too risky.

      • People need to stop confusing the identification of realities with placement of blame. And by people I mean you. Being aware of a risk factor is not being to blame for whatever might come of that risk factor. To suggest this every time someone brings up being aware of risk factors simply flies in the face of all sense.

    • Hmmm….Those don’t quite qualify as `bouncers’ in the pic. Oh well, the payoff for small bosomed women comes in middle age, if you get my drift.

  2. I see people walking in public places so zoned-in to their electronic devices they are oblivious to what’s happening 10 feet away. I grew up in NY City in the ’70s and EVERYBODY had situational awareness. Now, nobody does. I can’t help but think that if I were a predator, how low the fruit now hangs.

    • NYC is a petri dish of unawareness today — earbud city. I kinda understand it, as you need to “make your own space” and tune out the crazies on the subway. But I am constantly amazed there aren’t more attacks, based on how out of it most people seem to be.

    • around here the muggers specifically target people with their face in their phone, hitting them. I do not think they see the punch coming.

    • I’m apparently some descendent of Sherlock Holmes for saying that there is a world outside your phone.

      Not to paint a bleak picture, but your kids and/or grandkids have a great system where looking up is a detriment. Almost running into people is far more favorable than admitting you’ve run into people.

  3. As a hearing conservationist, I often use situational awareness as a reason (besides my obvious goal of preserving people’s delicate hearing!) to keep earbuds turned down. The example I typically use is someone walking their dog, stepping off of a curb- and not realizing there was a truck approaching. The potential for being caught off-guard by an assailant is an excellent teaching point, as well, especially with my customers who are defense-minded folks. I hope you won’t mind if I share this post with them!

    • I have to ask:

      what is a hearing conservationist?

      I’m imagining proto-anarchists storming into rock concerts, spiking the speakers and quietly murmuring “hearing first…” and then quietly shuffling off.

  4. I won’t even wear those at home. When I need to wear them at work I wear a bud in one ear only.

    It totally creeps me out to not be able to hear what’s going on. I walk every day. In the winter my big ol’ ears fuh-reeze because no ear muffs.

    Rain? No hood.

  5. There comes a point where you’re being too paranoid. You might as well add “don’t listen to the stereo while driving” and “don’t go to movie theaters” to the list too. Oh, and don’t wear sunglasses or hats – they might keep you from seeing some minute detail. Don’t wear heavy coats in the winter, they slow you down – and don’t forget that you can’t wear gloves because it makes it harder to fight.

    Seriously guys, as a person who carries regularly, there’s a difference between “being prepared” and being so overwhelmingly paranoid of everyone and everything that it negatively impacts your life.

      • They’re called “eyes”, little Ralphie. Plenty of people who are born deaf manage to not get themselves killed every day by using their eyes. But if you don’t get it by now, you never will. Just because some people are morons doesn’t mean that everyone should lower their quality of life out of fear.

        • I wonder if you can nominate someone for a Darwin Award prospectively? Or do they actually have to make good first?

          What I mean to say Totenglocke, is that I wholeheartedly agree with you. You should put your ear buds in, crank them up and go run in traffic every chance you get! That’ll show the rest of us for sure! I, for one, know I will be both chastened and humbled by your manliness.

          Hop to! Say, are there any freeways near your house?

        • You don’t have eyes in the back of your head, dipstick.

          But I do appreciate the “little Ralphie.” If you knew me, you’d appreciate the irony.

        • No, Ralphie, you DON’T have eyes in the back of your head. But unless you’re paralyzed, you do have the ability to turn your head. Amazing what the human body can do, isn’t it?

          It’s rather sad that you think the entire human race is as simple minded as you appear to be. Believe it or not, most people are perfectly capable of using a couple of brain cells and looking at their environment while walking / running / biking / driving / eating / whatever activity. Just because you lack the ability to exercise such minimal intelligence does not mean it is beyond human beings.

        • If your eyes are good, you have a roughly 180-degree field of vision in front of you.

          Even if your ears aren’t so hot, you can hear 360 degrees around you. Earbuds in public places are a bad idea.

        • Good gravy, what an ass. With hearing, you don’t need to worry nearly as much about trying to look behind you while you’re also trying to look ahead of you because you’re, you know, jogging or bike riding in a forward direction. It can also be about people AROUND you. You’re one of the jerks running in the middle of the trail that don’t move when I yell “on your left” as I approach to pass you on my bike. You can’t hear, and contrary to what you say, you aren’t looking, and you don’t see. You’re just too self absorbed to ever realize this or care. The next one of you I come across I may just kick as I pass by. Woops. Sorry. Guess you didn’t hear my warning.

        • Totes we evolved five senses because any group with just the one (vision) would be eaten as they would be weak and insufficient for propagation. Tout your daredevil vision all you want but most hyumons need eyes and ears to approach even 10% awareness of their surroundings.

    • I agree. Sort of. My thought is that I live in a relatively low crime area and refuse to live my life obsessed with every potential place a boogieman could jump out. The odds of being attacked are miniscule and the odds of me ending up on the wrong side of a violent encounter are even lower seeing as how I will be armed. Of course it doesn’t hurt that I look absolutely hideous in a spandex halter top. Everyone has to assess their own situation. I’d think it would make sense to keep the volume down low enough to avoid being hit by a bus though.

  6. This article is great advice, and in no way is advocating “paranoia”. There are lots of dangers out there for hikers, walkers and joggers. Whether the threat is two-legged, four-legged, or wheeled, you should never voluntarily give up one of your senses when out and about. Hell, I wouldn’t go jogging with a blindfold on.

    That said, a little music sure makes it easier to drag my butt out the door for a jog. I have been wearing these:

    for the last couple of years, and I find them to be the answer for me. I can hear my music, and still hear everything around me (as long as I don’t get carried away with the volume). The style I bought has a mic built in, so I can take calls if necessary without having to even slow down.

    I just discovered they now offer a Bluetooth version while looking up that link. Damn, going to have to get those now, the cord does get to be a kind of a pain sometimes.

    Anyway, that my two cents worth, and no, I don’t work for the Aftershokz company. Just a satisfied user of their product.

  7. I deal with this on the bike trails all the time. It’s so annoying when I roll up behind someone, while laying on my bell, and can tell the person is absolutely oblivious to my approach. I used to slow down and pass slowly, until one of these idiots, startled by his sudden awareness of my presence, stepped in front of me. Now I just blaze past them as fast as possible. By the time they realize I’m there, I’m safely past.
    Another thing that annoys the crap out of me is people walking with their eyes glued to their phone, again completely oblivious to what is happening around, and in front of, them.
    Finally, I would like to stomp the snot out of the assholes who do either of these while driving. It’s really become an epidemic of phone related accidents, it seems to get worse every day, to where I can almost guarantee some sort of traffic incident every single fricken day. I’d be willing to bet a majority of these are caused by careless use of these devices.

  8. Major, have you been to Chicago? The Lakefront is a solid city park from Foster down to Rainbow Beach. That is about 17 miles. That is longer than all of Milwaukee.

  9. Funny as hell. I actually witnessed a guy get mugged at the Hayward Bart station 1 night. He had earphones in and 2 guys knocked him the fvck out and took his electronic gadgets, bling and shoes.

    hayward Bart was a bad place to have your head up your a2s. I saw lots of funny things there. Mostly because people were distracted. The funniest thing I saw there was a woman slapping a cop. Bad move. We’d all seen the Rodney King video at that point. That girl could take a beating.

  10. You are describing Washington DC. I visited last year and 8 of 10 folks had dual earbuds and their nose in their phone/MP3 player/etc. I could have reached out and slapped any one of them at any time and they would have never seen it coming. Match this with their propensity to wait on a street corner on the very edge of the curb (or in the flippin’ roadway!) and it could have been mugger city. Along with the Millennial Generation’s need to listen to their music/post to MyTwitterFaceSpaceBook and you’ve got a boatload of victims just begging to be taken advantage of. If I only had such faith in the goodness of my fellow citizens…

  11. Now it’s my fault. I ride a motorcycle and have lots of friends who wear the friggin’ ear buds. They cannot hear crap and expect the rest of the world to accomodate the fact they cannot hear. I have little sympathy if you’re jogging, riding or driving you should have the ability to accomodate being able to hear. If the volume is too high and you get run over then YOU should have some cupability for the accident. In the workplace people now wear the earbuds becaue of their “right” to listen to music, communication or whatever and as the owner of a company I’m supposed to accomodate them?????? Hearing is second only to sight as a sense, if you remove it from the planet then you deserve being hit by a train. You should have some accountability for your own actions. I’m paying someone to work not listen to music.

    • People wear earbuds in the workplace because employers have now gotten rid of any separation between desks and now without any cube walls or sound barriers of any kind whatsoever, you have to listen to every conversation, every phone call, every key click, every last bit of noise a coworker produces. If you want any time in your head at all to think about anything, you have to make it yourself, and that often involves shutting out your coworkers with some other sound.

  12. Here I am outside the box again. Started a new job on Monday and noticed most everyone wearing ear buds, listening to music as they work. Boss encouraged it as it’s very solo type work. While it’s not a truly secure environment, I wore my buds after finding my ipod for the first time in years today. I thoroughly enjoyed jamming to some tunes all day.
    Wouldn’t think of wearing them in public, or even along side my favorite stream while gold panning.

    • There are actually bears and mountain lions and coyotes where I gold pan. I try to take a partner with me and keep my head on a swivel. Plus, it’s isolated. Good idea to have a partner with you.

  13. Stopped wearing earbuds on walks after my last run in with a mountain lion. Walking along oblivious late at night, stopped to have a smoke and in doing so turn. There was the mountain lion right behind me. Don’t think it was interested in me, probably interested in the deer I had been staring at, and it was a young, not fully mature one and took off when it saw that I saw it. Couldn’t have been more than 10ft away though.

    But still.

    I do think there is a balance. Obviously walking down your suburban neighborhood, in bright daylight, on the sidewalk with many people that you know moving about is quite different than walking in the dark, with only a rare other soul on the street. I do think sanity demands that we sometimes go condition white. But I do think noisy ear plugs are incompatible with claiming situational awareness like condition yellow.

  14. Using earbuds while outdoors is stupid. I’d rank the odds of a criminal attack very low, but the odds of an accident much higher. You’re blanking out a lot of sensory input, which is dumb. I love my earbuds for hotel rooms, flights, and the treadmill…that’s about it.

  15. NYC is “different”. I heard a former ESU Sgt describe how, years ago, his raid team had to force their way through rush hour pedestrians. Physically pushing their way through the stream of people, all of whom were looking at their feet. This was a team of uniformed cops in tactical body armor, helmets and carrying long guns at port arms. No earbugs then, it’s just that everyone in NYC avoided looking at anyone else when in public.

  16. I guess I’m lucky in that my preferred running/walking/biking area is a wide, paved, dedicated path around a lake, so I’m perfectly comfortable plugging in and turning the world off. There’s a few places where roads must be crossed, but it’s not hard to exercise due care at those times.

  17. Now you’ve done it. Outdoor ear bud users will scream in rage at your perceived patronizing ways to take responsibility for their own safety as people did when a Canadian police chief advised women not to dress like sluts to reduce the possibility of being raped. The reaction was the Slut Walks then and now, after reading your call not to wear ear buds, there will be demands for worldwide protests with Ear Bud Walks.

  18. I have no problem with the Darwin effect, but one of the problems is that the one who runs over the oblivious one can get into a lot of trouble. I also use my bike, but on the sidewalk I think pedestrians have the right of way, so I try to accommodate them in any case. When they pause to let me go by, I always say, “thank you” with a smile.

  19. It may surprise some, but I do wear my noise-isolating earbuds to listen to music occasionally, but also because I wanted to mitigate the “acoustic shock” of firing a weapon without hearing protection… often, I’m simply wearing the earbuds with nothing playing. Sometimes I only keep my strong side plugged in.

  20. I am deaf in my left ear–the inner ear went on autodestruct about ten years ago (and since that organ also tells you when you are accelerating, that process sometimes resulted in some marathon prayer sessions before the porcelain throne, but I digress). It’s bad enough having only one ear–you hear a noise and you have NO idea where it’s coming from; some people seem to get a kick out of watching me look around to figure out where the noise is coming from. I can’t imagine volunteering to have no hearing.

  21. No way. I run every day and running for an hour + without tunes would be so boring I’d probably quit. I don’t plug in and tune out though. I pay attention to my surroundings. Like Jodie calls, music helps me keep my pace consistent, which is important for people who are serious about running. I can understand how this might be relevant to people who live in urban areas prone to muggings and whatnot, but my neighborhood has around 10 miles of dedicated jogging and bike paths, so traffic is only a consideration on the route to the trail. This is a non issue for me. Like anything else, be aware of what’s going on around you, keep your head on a swivel and you won’t have a problem. I never have…Then again, I’m a pretty big guy and not really what most criminals would consider an easy target. YMMV.

    • Funny. I’m just the opposite. While I love music, I can’t stand to have earphones in when I run or workout. Do a lot of good thinking though during an 8 mile run.

      • My phone dies on me at around half way into an 8-10 mile run from time to time and every time I was bored to tears, I usually end up singing cadences to myself, which sucks.

        • I think my aversion is due to my age. Started running/working out before even the existence of the Sony Walkman. So developed workout habits before the ability to plug in a small sized music player. Too set in my ways I guess.

    • Why on earth are you running for an hour or more? Live in a bad neighborhood do ya?

      But honestly, I understand the boredom part without music while out running, I’d get bored if I had no music as I’m passing by people like you in my Tahoe all day with no tunes. But you can’t say you don’t lose awareness of surroundings, that’s bs. Hearing is many cases is the sense most used in identifying your surroundings and possible dangers, so to say jamming ear buds in your brain while out jogging like Jim Fixx doesn’t take away your security at some level is just not true.

      • I run 7-10 miles almost every day, it takes time man!

        You’re probably right though, there have been times when people on bikes sneak up behind me when I’m running, but it’s pretty rare. It helps that there are tons of MILFs and young hotties out running the same paths, you know, to keep me focused on my surroundings. I live in suburbia, so getting mugged isn’t a huge concern of mine. I’m more worried about tripping on big cracks in the sidewalk and looking like an idiot in front of hot chicks. It has happened and is pretty decent motivation to watch out.

        In any case, a potential robber would be severely disappointed in his take. All I have on me is an old beat up iPhone (that I will promptly disable), and some sweaty running shorts and shoes? Probably not worth the risk of getting pounded into the pavement by a dude my size. I’m banking on them choosing an easier target, which is pretty likely considering how much of a target rich environment it is…but hey, you never know right?

      • Why on earth are you running for an hour or more?

        Training for a half or full marathon? A half can take 90-150 minutes for your “average good” runner. Do the math. Your comments here (“firearm people don’t wear earbuds” and “why would you run for an hour”) make it seem that you have no concept of the world outside your own experiences.

        • I say, if you want to run, knock yourself out; I simply can’t understand why anybody would want to. Why is it that you never see a runner smiling?

  22. People do stupid things. they die, thins the herd.

    Don’t so stupid things, survive and have kids who do not do stupid things.

    Pretty simple, really.

  23. lol Don’t wear ear buds. Tell that to the majority of people who walk, run and bike daily. Almost every single one of those people that I see are wearing ear buds or some type of headphone. I don’t know a single firearm person who wears ear buds outside a range, and those are of course for ear protection not for entertainment.
    Tell it to the mountain Robert, but even better tell it to a group of people that actually wear ear buds. We don’t.

    • Well, I wear foamies or ear buds- no music, when I ride motorcycles. Wind noise gets very loud at speed, Wore foamies while flying helicopters in the military, and I managed an entire career without any measurable hearing loss.

      • +1 foamies are an aircrew member’s best friend. 7 years in the cockpit and I can still hear just fine. One of my crew chiefs refused to wear them, he now needs a hearing aid. Blackhawks are loud.

        • C-130s are loud too, but never had anyone try to attack me on one. You are correct tho, there are a lot of people that have hearing problems over constant drone of aircraft engines.

        • When I was in the USAF, people who worked around jets had to wear both earplugs and ear defenders. (plastic earmuffs). In fact, they issued everybody a set of soft rubber plugs. When I’m bicycling and a siren goes by, I have to stop and stick my fingers in my ears because sirens these days exceed the threshold of pain.

    • The responses to this post seem to put the lie to your theory that we “people of the gun” don’t wear ear buds.

  24. I wear ear buds that don’t insert directly into the ear canal and hang on the ear. I find the typical ear buds that do go inside the ear canal hurt my ears in addition to reducing situational awareness. Not only are they comfortable, I can almost hear just as good as if I didn’t have them in.

    Joggers need to always run against traffic, so the cars coming can be seen and avoided if needed.

    • The article was not about how comfy the ear buds are in your ears, it was about how listening to music while out and about causes one to lose their awareness and makes them more vulnerable.

  25. Think what you will, your choice. I rode touring bicycles for ten years, anywhere from 50 mile to 3000 mile round trips. Eyes, ears, nose, hair rising, anything helped in being aware of my surroundings. The bicycle weighed 22# empty, 25# camping gear, 130# of me. I was gonna be the bug on the windshield if I did not pay attention. My ears are what saved my ass most often. Nothing to do with firearms, I know, but, everything to do with situational awareness.

  26. I never go running with any music devices so I can hear vehicles hauling ass behind me before they pass.

    It seems a number of people are unaware that many sports headphones don’t block out ambient sound.

    I have a pair in right now, and my wife’s conversation is very easy to hear, there is no reduction in sound or situational awareness, even if the music is on (as long as the volume isn’t too high).

    My pair is from Polk Audio, you can wear them and jog, hear music, and hear cars and command, and even use it for talking on the phone, and still being able to hear what is around you.

    • Just about any headphones can do that, just not if you’ve got them turned up to +11 where the noise is bothering the neighbors.

  27. “The rate of people hit by trains has almost tripled in the past ten years where electronic head devices were involved. In most cases the dead person had on headphones and did not even hear the very loud train horn blaring at them. You have to hear the bad guys and the trains coming.”

    Think of this in terms of Darwinian selection – weeding out the stupid and incompetent.

  28. “This… is a major attraction to males who have no intention of attacking anyone.”

    Did the Major just blame the victims of rape because of what they are wearing?! I’m surprised they even have personal music devices back in the 18th century, where he must be posting from.

    “Think twice this year about giving your women folk these electronic-devices for Christmas gifts. Safety is more important than short term entertainment.”

    That’s right, because women-folk don’t have jobs and can’t possibly purchase these things for themselves.

  29. I avoid headphones while I’m cycling/walking round explicitly for this reason (though I’m male and not fat enough to be “bouncy,” thank Christ). Also because inattentiveness on bike + less than three feet of shoulder + 50 mph passing vehicles = potential street pizza.

  30. I’m sorry, but if you’ve been hit by a train, you deserved it. Unless you were pushed, or the damn thing derailed, there is absolutely no excuse to be hit by a train under normal circumstances, including those involving headphones.

    Look both ways, it’s one of the first things we learn as children.

  31. Three weeks ago a women was attacked here in our town ,she was jogging in a fairly nice neighborhood when a Hispanic man came out of the brush beside the roadway and grabbed her,pulled her shirt up to lock her arms ,them proceeded to rape her while he was chocking her.She was wearing an iPod .She was able to escape when the lights of a car startled the attacker.The bad news ,he escaped as well.they believe he left the state which means he’ll do it again!

  32. acceptable justifiable reason
    ing ,two recent assaults murders in New
    York. These women were daughters , sisters and wives possibility . What would
    be your response then , if you happened
    upon them in your search to find them ,
    only to find your loved ones violated then
    murdered , Think about this now .


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