My Rules: I have a code that I live by.
My Rules
Thursday, 19 July 2012 09:41 Hrs
Summary I have a code that I live by

I have a code that I live by.[1] It's the result of observation, listening and making mistakes. Mistakes tend to have consequences, so I make mental notes, then move on. Unexplained, my rules might appear obscure, stupid even. The stories and reasoning behind them aren't.

#6 Got COM?
I hadn't seen Bill for years. I ran into him one morning on a crowded exit ramp of a train station. That week we organised to have a few drinks after work at a Pub in the city and talked shop until it was time to leave. Then he asked,

"Got COM?", "Got COM?",

then more insistently,


I looked at him thinking, "Starship Troopers"? [2] He smiled and then looked at me dead seriously and explained it doesn't matter where you are, always have your COMS at the ready. It had been drilled into Bill to always be contactable, be it in the field at work or the Pub. Years later I'd forgotten this lesson. I was alone in steep terrain, stuck. I eventually climbed out. If I hadn't got out, I would have been stuck in difficult terrain, without COMs. So every time I go out the door, "Got COM?", is it charged up? [3]

#7 The 7P's
The polite version is straight out of IBM corporate America. I heard Greg use this when I was doing post-grad studies in the early 90's. But I'd heard a better, distinctly local version years prior in Kilcunda. Kilcunda is old coal mining country. I was with a group, doing some mapping of significant land marks. Inches of rain fell that week but I wasn't worried. I'd packed my rain gear.

Coming back after a long cold day in the rain and mud, Andy looked at me spit polishing my GP's. Took another looked at the lace-up and said,

"That's not how you do it. Don't cross the laces, 
 zip one up the middle to the top. Then lace the 
 other left and right to the top. That way if 
 you trip, sprain or break an ankle it only takes 
 one cut up the middle."
I proceeded to unlace, then re-lace my left boot.

"Mate, it's all about the 7P's...
 Prior Preparation Planning Prevents 
 PISS-POOR Performance"

Laughing, I continued re-lacing my other boot. The 7P's. [4]

#13 Pack your own kit, old over new
I was stopped at a security checkpoint at Melbourne International departure.

"Did YOU pack your bags Sir?"
Yes, I answer confidently.
"Can you OPEN your bag please?"
Yes. I'm a little less confident now. There's a que behind me. I'm thinking to myself, "whats in my carry-on that warrants a bag search?" Then I remember, I've packed my first-aid kit in my carry-on instead of my suitcase. I grab the red bag out and pull out the offending items. A tiny pair of surgical scissors and some tweezers. They are promptly taken off me and thrown in the contraband bin. I move on to the next station. Next time I'll pack a plastic set. [5]

I knew exactly where to look for the offending item because I'd packed it. It's the same first aid kit I always carry, modified depending on where I'm going. Only pack reliable items. Pack your own kit, old over new.

When you're in the knee deep in shite, CVS2BVS is your best friend. That's what Ian reckons. [6] I'd attended a course on psychology and thinking called "SOT" for work. I was skeptical, a lot of the ideas appeared counter intuitive. But one idea Ian coined CVS2BVS is very useful. Ian made us repeat this, CVS2BVS, CVS2BVS, CVS2BVS just to drum it in. The translation?

Current View of Situation 2 Best View of Situation

How does it work? If you visualise not just where you are at the present, but where you need to be, you are free to concentrate on the path to a solution. CVS2BVS.

#38 Always carry water
It's first light, Moose, Colin and myself are already on the move. I've topped up, gulping down three mugs of water in quick succession. I can't drink any more. The early morning mist is leaving water droplets on my jacket but after a few kilometers, I start warm up and finish the first of many water bottles for the day. Every hour or so I'll drink another bottle and top it up. We move between five and six kilometers per hour. Thirty kilometers takes about 6 hours. That's a lot of water. After lunch we join up with a few others. Moose notices they aren't drinking enough and encourages them to start drinking. Even if they don't feel like it. He then explains the consequences if you don't.

First your blood volume drops, then you get 
dizzy and disorientated and your decision 
making is impaired. The first stages of 
dehydration. If you are dehydrated you won't 
be able to keep up. 

To guard against dehydration, you HAVE to drink 
at least one 600ml bottle every hour you're 
moving. A good check, at each piss-break get 
your mate to check for colour. Straw yellow is 
good, clear is best. That's how seriously you 
have take hydration moving these distances in 
this terrain.

The last bit doesn't go down well, a few odd stares. End of lecture. Everyone nods, we keep drinking. [7]

#42 The trained run towards trouble
It's a warm Friday evening and mums and dads are winding down after a hard week at work. Kids in club uniforms are waiting to compete. All eyes look in the same direction as the sound of the starter pistol cracks over the noise of the crowd.

Me, I've spent the afternoon cooking in a blur of sausages and hamburgers. The high pitch scream of a V8 engine grabs my attention. It's going fast, way over the limit. Not good in the narrow suburban streets decked with cars. Then comes the sounds you don't want to hear. Rubber loosing grip, metal on metal and the final crash as the car jumps the curb, smashing a fence, destroying a bus shelter.

It's silent as Hicks law kicks in and people are deciding how to react.[8] The first group remains silent and freeze. The second can't grasp what has happened are visibly shaken and loose control. Random women start screaming, instinctively looking for their kids. The third group react without hesitation and run with purpose towards the car. As I observe this, I adjust and ease off.

Half a dozen short back and sides swarm over the car. The driver has begun to get up. The first two on site, force the driver back into his seat. Others check around the car and bus shelter for survivors. I reckon a dozen calls to the emergency services were made in the minutes after the accident. If the callers had looked carefully, they'd have realised, first responders were already at the scene. [9]

This is a pattern you see time and time again. When there's a dangerous situation requiring attention, the trained run towards trouble.


[1] seldomlogical, "Rules and resolutions",
[Accessed Wednesday 17th, July 2012]

[2] In Starship Troopers - A 1997 film directed by Paul Verhoeven, based on the book of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein - you can hear the lead scream, "got Com?" just as the bugs over-run the FOB.
[Accessed Wednesday 17th, July 2012]

[3] Don't panic. At this point I could have panicked! Don't panic should be written in big letters across your diary. I didn't panic. I sat down, then stood up, had a cup of tea. This is how I took the shots. Then sat down again and thought carefully before I did anything. This is important because i was a long way up, trees where sparse, the ground wet.

[4] You can see the lace-up I describe and more clearly here. Kilcunda is a small seaside town around 120km south east of Melbourne, Victoria.
[Accessed Wednesday 17th, July 2012]

[5] I was tired after a long climb up Bowden Spur, over a decade before this shot was taken. I knew Chris lived in the area so I hiked a few more kilometers till I got to his house for a much needed afternoon tea. It was here that Chris told me of a more serious packing mistake. He'd made arrangements to travel. He was in South America. A pretty wild place at the best of times, but Chris was cautious. He told his maid that he'd be away for a couple of weeks and assuming it would be local, the maid didn't think twice packing the Walther and a spare clip into a suitcase. But Chris wasn't traveling local, he was taking a direct flight to the UK, skipping Heathrow and flying straight to Manchester. The security wasn't as tight then. It was only when he got home that he realised what he'd done.

[6] wikipedia, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, "PhD Lateral Thinking 1980 and SOT. Ian credits SOT with his training as a PO and service in 1st AFT, Vietnam."
[Accessed Wednesday 17th, July 2012]

[7] The environment dictates "what type" of water you need? On hot days it's much easier to drink cooled water. Moving long distances in the heat? Add "Green Slime", my name for electrolytic additives such as Gatorade. Cold? I make sure I pack some "hot" water because that extra calorific boost can be the difference between good decisions and bad ones. As you might guess we carried our own water. This is one way to guarantee it's quality though not always practical.

[8] Hicks law is defined as the time taken to make decisions for given choices. In this case the response was around one second.
[Accessed Thursday 2nd August, 2012]

[9] The result: One person injured and thankfully nobody was at the bus stop or walking on the pavement. An arrest resulted for the driver. The charges, DUI, reckless driving and possession. A drug stash was discovered in the boot. The driver made a mistake crashing at a local sporting event. In attendance were at least half a dozen, off-duty Victorian Police officers.

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