Engineer & Entertain

Ideas I grapple with

GORUCK Challenge Class 2027 Flagstaff 2016

I completed my second challenge and fifth Goruck event on 29 July 2016 in Flagstaff with Cadre Chad, an SF engineer. I plan on doing any event which appears in Flagstaff and as many events as I can which are in Arizona. If you have the opportunity to do an event with Cadre Chad, then jump on it. He is tough, but personable and shares a lot of his experiences.

For previous events I trained for the event following Goruck’s six week program. This time around I followed the Tactical Barbell Zulu program which lays out a lifting schedule. Combined with the Tactical Barbell Conditioning program, I had a general fitness program which makes me good for any event, but not great at anything in particular. Four times a week I would lift: squats & bench press two days and dead lift & dips the other two days. After lifting I would either do a high intensity conditioning workout or I would go for a ruck. I have since switched my training to the Tactical Barbell Fighter scheme because it works with my schedule. I lift twice a week, condition twice a week, and ruck twice a week.

The only change in my gear was a new headlamp; I destroyed my previous one in the Pacific Ocean during the Pearl Harbor Challenge. I now used a Black Diamond Spot 2016. The rest of my gear and its placement in my GR1 remained the same.

The 20 lbs weight plate is in the laptop compartment with a cut-down-duct-taped yoga brick above and below it. The main compartment holds my 3 liter Source water bladder, cheap cycling wind breaker, spare AAA batteries, and a Pelican 1020 case. In the Pelican 1020 case I keep my ID, $20 bill, and first aid kit. The first aid kit is nothing more than duct tape, gauze, benadryl, tylenol, and aleve. The outside slash pocket held a Source UTA and a dry bag. The dry bag had my food (4 Clif bars) and electrolyte tablets (Enduralyte Fizz Lemon Lime).

Our event began in a city park. There were only seven of us and initially it looked like we were only going to have four members. Cadre joked that if we didn’t have enough the event would go from a Challenge to a war stories and beer. I almost wish that had happened because Cadre Chad has some great stories.

Our team weight was a waste oil can filled with sand and covered in Route 66 stickers. Before any great American road trip, especially one on Route 66, you should have an oil change. Our flag also had to be freestanding and weigh 25 lbs. A team member built a base with deployable legs. There are some refinements which could be made to make it faster, but her engineering was quite impressive.

We nearly had a med drop during the Welcome Party. The individual was from Phoenix, and though physically fit, was not used to the altitude. Phoenix is at 1,000 ft elevation compared to Flagstaff’s 7,000 ft. The individual was able to recover and, spoiler alert, made it to the end.flagstaff-mt-elden-lookout-cadre-chad

During the Welcome Party we also learned the importance of having a standard operating procedure (SOP). We lined up to do flutter kicks and some of our feet were pointing to the cadre and some of heads were pointing to him. When told to roll to the right we rolled over each other. Lesson learned. It does not matter if our feet are pointing toward or away from the cadre as long as we have a standard we will end up with the same results and avoid rolling over each other.

Cadre asked for a team leader and I quickly volunteered as I did not want to be penalized for lollygagging or hesitating. I led the remainder of PT during the Welcome Party and then was instructed to move us to a nearby high school.

At the high school, I was fired from being team leader and a new one was selected. We then had some bear crawl races and bear crawl wrestling at the high school. The races were straight forward. Bear crawl to a point and return the fastest. The fights involved being in the bear crawl position and causing your opponent to put their knee on the ground or otherwise drop out of position. Initially we did one and one and then expanded to melees. Our finally battle was every man for himself. Honestly this was one of the most fun things I have done.

With our new team leader we rucked to a church. We also received a coupon before we headed out. It was a one handed rock. The rock could only be carried with one hand. If I passed the rock to another teammate, then I had to do it with one hand and my teammate had to receive it with one hand. The purpose of this was to make us consider our veterans who are returning without all of their limbs or without function in their limbs. The point was definitely made.

We did not make our time hack in part because we did not listen to our TL or our bodies. TL would tell us to run and those up front did not set a pace because of their own inexperience and physical inabilities. We could have done it had we set a decent pace.

After paying our debt for not making the time hack to the church, Cadre provided Get-To-Know-Your-Cadre-Time. During this time we were allowed to sit, take care of our feet, eat, and ask Cadre Chris anything. He said he would answer anything that was asked, but cautioned us to consider what we were asking because he would give an honest answer. Not everyone will want to hear the answers of a combat veteran. That said, his stories were amazing and what he shared was truly appreciated. Get-To-Know-Your-Cadre-Time should be mandatory for Goruck events.

quote-george-orwell-we-sleep-safe-in-our-beds-because-50519

I am pretty sure this quote comes from Richard Grenier, but the point remains. 

 

Switching TLs, our next movement was to the trail head of Mount Elden. Once there our next time hack was to make it to the peak of Mt. Elden before sunrise. Our American flag had to be flying with all of us posed around it as the sun was rising. We took breaks frequently and checked for altitude sickness. Thankfully no one succumbed to the altitude. Our team just barely made it to the top in time. We could have made it with time to spare, but our team broke down. We were doing so well until this moment; in our exhaustion our personalities clashed.

flagstaff-mt-elden-lookout

After a team photo, we hiked down the mountain and earned our patches. I would not hesitate to do another event with Cadre Chad. He definitely gave more than any other cadre I have experienced. This event, though a “typical” challenge and not a special event, was definitely more enjoyable than any other GORUCK event I have done.

patches

Vonnegut Was Right!

Research from the Computational Story Lab at University of Vermont found there are six main plots in story telling.

  • Fall-rise-fall
  • Rise and then a fall
  • Fall and then a rise
  • Steady fall
  • Steady rise
  • Rise-fall-rise

I am glad to see we finally have research to confirm Kurt Vonnegut’s hypothesis decades later.

Burning Rubber

Rangers light the way

I used a section of old 700×23 cc bicycle tube to create a waterproof sleeve for a mini Bic lighter. The design was completely stolen copied peer reviewed from Gearward’s Ranger Bic.

Materials

  • Old 700×23 cc bicycle tube
  • E6000 glue
  • 1/4″ Grommet

Tools

  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Spring clamp
  • Hammer

Rangers light the way

The tube was cut a little longer than the length of a Bic mini lighter.

Rangers light the way

The lighter was placed in the tube to provide some structure. Clear E6000 glue was squirted into the tube and a spring clamp was applied. Wax paper was placed between the jaws of the clamp to prevent glue squeeze out from sticking to the clamp.

The next day a hole was punched and 1/4″ grommet was installed. The grommets used were incredibly cheap from Walmart. One of the grommets came loose after installation. It may be worth it to get better grommets or to use a flaring tool. I used a deadblow hammer and an anvil. I also tried replacing the anvil with a piece of scrap wood. Results were the same. Your mileage may vary.

Flimsy grommets aside, I am pleased with the result. Put the lighter in flint first and it is waterproof. The grommet provides an attachment point which is always convenient when camping.

Untitled

Mettle Forger HTL/HTLS Training Plan Review

I will be completing a GORUCK Jedburgh in July. I have heard recommendations you should at least be in shape to complete a Challenge, but if you are in shape for a Heavy then even better. I purchased the Mettle Forger HTL/HTLS training plan to help me prep for the event. TL;DR I do not recommend the guide for the cost. The tips, set ups, and training methods can be found in after action reports for free without any effort.

  • Pro
    • Equipment requirements are minimal (ruck, sandbag, and pull up bar) if you are okay with substitutions.
    • Teaches how to make gear e.g. a pull up bar and sandbag
    • Provides clear photos of the gear load outs and ruck set ups.
  • Neutral
    • The layout is atrocious in the Kindle app. The quotes, sidebars, and special characters did not translate into the Kindle app. As a PDF the layout is perfectly fine. It is easily read with the Gumroad app which is the service which sells the book. The Gumroad app is free.
    • You’ll be flipping back and forth between the general schedule and the actual workouts. I find this to be annoying, but par for the course for workout manuals.
  • Con
    • All of the information can easily be found for free with no effort. Spending $35 did not save me time in comparison to doing a quick Google search.
    • It is helpful to have a barbell for deadlifts, a kettlebell for swings and farmer’s carries, and equipment to test UBRR
    • It refers you out to another site for some workouts: “Go to Sealfit.com and search for Monster Mash and pick a WOD”. Might as well tell me to go to my local library and look at the books in 796.41.

The main take away for me is that I should examine the tools I already have before I purchase another. I was aware of this lesson before I purchased the book, but when we are tired we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago. My fault; lesson learned. If you knew you wanted to do a Heavy, but had no clue where to begin, then there is a slim possibility this text is worth $35. For the rest of us:

GORUCK Pearl Harbor

At some point during nursing school I learned the 2-5-1 method of doing after action reports. Two introductions, five fingers, and one take away.

Two Introductions: Who you are & Summary of the experience

I have completed two lights and the Pearl Harbor Memorial was my first Challenge/Tough. My second light I completed a week before this event. It was a GORUCK Thanksgiving Light in Phoenix.

Completing a GORUCK Challenge has been a goal since learning about it. The experience was positive as a GORUCK event, but a bit of a let down for a special event. I wanted to hear stories, history, or correlations about Pearl Harbor with other events. The event was light in this area which was a shame given the significance of Pearl Harbor. I was unimpressed by this cadre’s planning and I would certainly do another special event with another cadre.

TLDR up front: While the details change, the events are the same. The cadre didn’t do his homework, but there was a welcome party filled with PT, there was plenty of rucking while carrying heavy things & people, and there was plenty esprit de corps at a beautiful and historic site.

Little Finger: What went unnoticed?

The waterproof rating on my headlamp went unnoticed. The lamp is splash proof and perfect for running in the rain or camping in damp conditions, but there was a lot of PT in water. Once the salt water entered in the lamp, it was perpetually flickering and changing brightness settings.

At one point in time I did not notice I incorrectly fastened my dry bag allowing sea water to enter. The packaging on all of my food held up and none of my food became waterlogged or inedible.

Ring Finger: What relationships were formed?

The night before the event there was a ruck-off at a local bar. My previous events did not have a ruck-off. I now think they are required as everyone I met at the ruck-off was a solid participant during the event and quickly formed as a team.

There was some friction from those who did not attend. Class 1832 would lose three members during the Welcome Party. Their issues were knee pain and lightheadedness. I assessed them and did my best to render aid, but they ended up dropping. A few Marines who signed up for the event also almost quit about ⅔ or ¾ of the way in. A contingent from the ruck-off convinced them to finish. It is never good to have people quit or almost quit, but I would say morale remained high regardless of the drops and almost-drops.

We violated Rule 2 and we got lost. We were in a field where there were unsavory dealings. Even though we were lost in a crack den, every one tried to make the situation better and most people kept a bemused detachment. We weren’t quite a team at this point, but everyone was actively trying to work to make the situation better and maintained a detached bemusement. Regrettably, we were all pulling in different directions rather than one. We were at the storming stage of Tuckman’s group development, or, in more technical terms, a clusterfuck.

Eventually we figured things out, formed as a team, and performed as a team. Class 1832 would be patched at the World War II Valor In The Pacific Monument. Most surprising and most pleasant was the fact that several of us met up to do things after the event. Given that most of us were tourists, it would have been easy for us to do the GRC and then go on and enjoy our vacation separately. To my pleasant surprise we were still texting each other to meet up for drinks, going to the beach, and sharing our vacations.

Shout out to JJ, a local GRT, who was kind enough to drive a couple of GRTs to the ruck-off and event. Props to Lex, a sailor stationed in Hawaii, who completed his first GRC.

Middle Finger: What did you dislike? What made you frustrated?

Early on we were asked trivia about the Pearl Harbor attacks. I knew the answers without hesitation in part because I went to the memorial that day. Answering the trivia staved off a round of PT. Later in the event, my trivial knowledge did not hold up and we ended up doing some PT in an ocean inlet. Every wrong answer was corrected with PT which involved a motion to submerge you in the water. Despite the ocean being warm, I became very cold and very frustrated I couldn’t recall answers I read earlier that day. I am a Ravenclaw; I value wit and critical thinking. My memory failed at a time when I needed it most. Although I never thought about quitting this was my darkest time.

My own personal frustrations aside, I was frustrated with our cadre because he did not do his homework. He stated he only planned the event by looking at Google Maps. As the map is not the territory, cadre typically walk the route to ensure they can accomplish their mission and that it is safe to do so.

Moreover, he only shared a few bits of trivia about the attacks on Pearl Harbor. GRTs who did the event last year shared how the event was awe inspiring and that the cadre went above and beyond to make you think about what unfolded on 07 Dec 1941. What has transpired from then through now. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt like I received an event rather than GORUCK’s advertise special event.

Index Finger: How to be number one? What would you do better next time around?

Salt tabs would have been useful to add to my first aid kit (duct tape & gauze). One GRT was cramping up despite using an electrolyte additive in his water. Another member had salt tabs and that cleared up problems fairly quickly.

Improving my physical fitness would certainly make me better at my next event. I am strong enough to complete the event and strong enough to not create more problems. I would like to be stronger so I can contribute more to the team.

Thumb: What went well? What was good?

I think I have figured out my rucking kit for three season rucking. I would not know exactly what I would need to ruck in Chicago in December. For the remaining seasons, I could assemble my ruck, weight, and accouterments seconds after you asked, “Want to do a GRC?”

Despite the med drops, I was able to provide medical care to keep others in the game. By the end of the event, several of the military GRTs were calling me, “Doc”. It’s always nice when you can contribute your skills to the team.

One Take Away: The most important take away from the event

It can always be worse. I was cold while doing PT and trying to answer poor bar trivia while at Pearl Harbor. But at least I wasn’t being shot at by Japanese aircraft or swimming through water covered in flaming oil. No matter what tragedy befalls me, it can always be worse.

Get off your high horse

Traditional Japanese woodworking is performed while seated on the ground. So as to not cut into your tatami, saw horses low to the ground are used.

I do not frequently crosscut while sitting in seiza, but I have found many uses for the horses

  • Several sets of them on the floor of your shop make it very easy to break down sheet goods
  • Take a pair and a saw when you go to purchase lumber. Yes, most places will cut the lumber for a small fee, but where is the fun in that?
  • Use them on your workbench to lift work off the bench.
  • Push up bars. Crank out a few push ups while you contemplate your next saw cut.

The low horses are also a great project to help you bootstrap your wood shop. They are cheap and easy to build. Also, they can be built with only hand tools.

I largely followed the procedure laid out by Make Skill Builder: Building Woodworking Low HorsesI cut four legs at 8 inches long and two beams at 22 inches long.

Some assembly required.

I found the center of the beams’ thickness. I also found the center of the legs’ length. These marks allow for dead-on layout for the Lincoln log notches which will be sawn out.

The notches are 1/2″ deep. I did not measure their width. I marked where I wanted the notches and then used the connecting piece to mark the width. Measurement is the enemy of precision. I used a coping saw to cut the walls of the notches.

I then used the coping saw to remove the waste from the notches.

Cut as close to the line as you can. It will make for less clean up with a chisel & mallet later.

A chisel will clean up the notch. Like an electron killing psychopath, I used a trim router with a straight bit to square everything up.

I cut relief with the coping saw in the bottoms of the legs to create feet. Again I used the trim router to tidy my cuts, but a mallet and chisel could be used.

I applied glue to the notches and clamped everything together.

The other one looks exactly like the first. I love a good set of twins.

I skipped cutting any design into the legs. Despite my aversion to aesthetics, sawing curves into the horses provides practice for curved cutting and makes them easy to identify as yours.

Spiraling into control

I am building a table for my Handibot as one of my biggest challenges thus far is registering the machine in the same spot when I move it to change bits. The table will have dog holes bored every 3 inches. The Handibot will have a fence and work pieces will be clamped against the fence via offset clamps.

The screw does not go through the center of the circle. It is offset so the circle rotates like a cam.

Rather than cut circles and mount them offset, I decide to make cams based on the Fibonacci spiral. I am not sure if there is any advantage or disadvantage to this. My reasoning was that a spiral would have a smoother transition in clamping. We’ll see how this works in practice.

I laid out a rectangle and spiral based on the Fibonacci numbers with a pair of dividers. Alternatives to using dividers/compass include:

  1. Multiplication – the 3″x3″ square is effectively the number 8 square in the picture below. To make the 5 square, multiply 3 by 5/8ths. The 5 square is 1.875″ x 1.875″. To make the 3 square multiply 3″ by 3/8ths and you will find the 3 square is 1.125″ x 1.125″
  2. Print a spiral. Adhere the paper to your work piece with spray adhesive and cut it out.

I laid out a 3″ x 3″ square on a scrap of 3/4″ thick plywood. I set my dividers to divide the square into 8ths.

The 3″x3″ square can effectively be thought of as the 8 square

From the outer corner of the 3″ x 3″ square I paced out five spaces. This is the corner for my 5 square.

Five little steps and I made the 5 square

I repeated this process to create the 3 square, 2 square, and 1 squares.

I used a compass with a pencil to trace the arc in each square. The compass legs are spaced the length of a side of a square.

Then I cut out a small rectangle from the 8 square. This provides a handle for me to grip when tightening the clamp.

Cut with a handsaw.

Next I used my fret saw to cut the spiral. I used a sander to sand down to the line.

Golden

I drilled a 3/4″ diameter hole in the spiral for a dowel. The dowel is 1.5″ long and glued in place.

Looks like a duck

The clamp does hold pieces against a fence, but I am unsure if it will be strong enough while using a CNC router. I’ll report back with those results eventually.

Band names of 2015

Is your resolution to learn to play guitar, form a band, rise to fame, do coke off a hooker’s ass, trash a hotel room, fall from fame, and make a comeback? If so, here are the band names I came up with in 2015. If you use one of these names, please remember me in your Grammy acceptance speech.

  • Midnight Hawk Snack
  • Tiger Blender
  • Most of a Pizza
  • Raw Floor Biscuit
  • Cock Orphan
  • Break the hymen
  • Bring a change of underwear
  • CLITHERO
  • Two guys, a girl, and a pizza place

GORUCK Light Thanksgiving AAR

Light Class 1044

I signed up for several GORUCK events and impulse purchased a light for Thanksgiving weekend. Class 1044 started and finished with 71 people. My first light had 8. My first light went for 6 hours, had a 1 hour welcome party and covered 8 miles. The Thanksgiving light went for 5.5 hours, had 3 hour welcome party, and covered 4 miles. Though the specifics are different the outcomes were the same: I had a great time with some good livin’.

The event started late because the Challenge which started the night before ended just before the light started. The Challenge had to push a 70,000 lbs (31,751 kg) semi truck. 15 of the people who did the challenge also did the light. They essentially performed one long event which ran 20 hours as they did not have time between to reload and refuel.

Cadre Sean and Cadre Daniel, both Army Special Forces, started our event with sprints and PT with our ruck. We also had some team building activities in there like inch worm pushups (think the human centipede performing pushups), low crawling under our teammates, body surfing our teammates to the end of a line, and rolling underneath our team.

Inch worms

Tunnel of Love

Body surfing

These events were followed by bear crawls, wheel barrow races, buddy carries, and more PT.

Cadre Sean then shared how mortar fire saved him and his team several times in Afghanistan. A nearby volleyball court allowed us to appreciate his love for mortars. After crawling on our backs and dragging our rucks between our legs, we linked up – legs around the waist of the guy in front of you. We grabbed handfuls of sand and threw it straight up in the air. This was repeated until the mortars provided the necessary support.

Fire in the hole!

Sufficiently sandy we were ready to start rucking with the worm – a group of sandbags connected by carabiners. A young man was tasked with adding the weight of the worm. It weighed 560 lbs (254 kg). The worm had some specific requests. At first it wanted to be carried low, then it wanted to be carried on our shoulders. Its most interesting request was to be carried between our legs.

While rucking to Encanto Park, some teammates were deemed casualties and had to be buddy carried. The worm and our casualties arrived safely in the park. We reformed rank and file. Half of the team jumped in a pond while the other half held plank. Then we switched. During this movement a participant received an actual injury. A girl fractured her ankle although we thought she sprained it at the time.

Not cold enough to elicit the mammalian dive reflex.

I am grateful that I repeatedly jumped in Lake Michigan in the winter. The pond class 1044 jumped in was cold, but those dives in Lake Michigan taught me the water can always be colder. In order to warm up we performed more PT. 5 minutes of arm circles turned into 8 minutes because we had to restart any time someone’s arms dropped. Once we were warmed, we rucked back to the Margaret T. Hance Park.

Chop your own firewood and you will be warm twice.

Passing our rucks back and forth while doing sit-ups.

A mile out from the park 50% of our females were casualties who had to be carried. We were given a time limit to make it back to the park. For every minute we were over, five more females became casualties. Once back at the park we formed rank and file again. We held our rucks overhead and began marching. With that drill we earned our GORUCK Light Thanksgiving patches.

New piece of flair.

Cadre Sean also handed out patches to individuals who had participated in 5, 10, or 15 events with him. He gave a patch to a woman who had done 15 events and to his recollection, she is the only one to do that thus far.

Pictured left to right: Beer, Cadre Daniel, Me

Cadre Sean also shared how the patches are just swathes of cloth that mean nothing. It is how it is earned that means something. He displayed a cloth sample which meant nothing, but was earned in an extraordinary way – his green beret. The cadre shared some interesting experiences with us and kept us motivated and entertained the whole way through.

Cadre Sean

Wear & Gear

Not much changed between my first light and this one.

  • Merrell Grassbow Air trail runners instead of my Saucony ones (they were finally worn out)
  • Patagonia Rockcraft pants instead of shorts
  • GORUCK 10 lbs (4.53 kg) rucking plate instead of two bricks duct taped together. The plate was supported by a yoga brick which was cut down to width. The plate was stowed in the laptop compartment of my GR1.

My gear, what I wore, and how I trained were otherwise all the same. I performed the GORUCK 6 week training plan before this event and felt well conditioned. If I continue to ruck and PT I think it is safe to say I would be ready for any GORUCK Light in a moment’s notice.

My most recent failure

There is really no such thing as failure, only more data. Here is my most recent bout of data collection.

I attempted to make a Roubo book stand. This stand is made from a single piece of wood and has chiseled hinges.

The hinge is laid out on the side of the board and its dimensions are carried across the front and back of the board. The board is divided into five equal segments which are then alternately chiseled down at a 45* angle from the center line. The board is then flipped over and the opposite segments are chiseled down at a 45* angle from the center line.

My next attempt will involve using my combination square as a 45 degree angle jig.

Next the stand and feet are rip sawn down the center of the board to open the hinges.

I look forward to using a proper ripsaw like this guy at the Woodwright’s School

 

Only at the end of all this work do you learn if you made a book stand or firewood. I made firewood.

When testing where I needed to remove waste to open the hinges I split the stand. While I am out a book stand I think I understand where I failed. My cuts were not complete; I chiseled too shallow on some of the segments.

I made this!

So what did I learn?

  1. I need to give more attention to the chiseling.
  2. I am taking a class on the Roubo book stand with Roy Underhill in the future. Consulting with an expert always helps to learn the nuances of a project or process.
  3. I dislike resawing by hand. I can understand arguments for and against using hand tools in any process, but I cannot understand an argument for resawing by hand. A band saw will be in my future.
  4. I am proud of the ogee I made at the base of the stand. Laying it out with a ruler and compass was enjoyable. I am always pleased when I can apply something I learned (especially if that something is geometry).

Ogee! O wow!

If you want to make your own, Roy Underhill will provide you instruction courtesy of PBS. View it here.

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