Life brought it’s “A game” today… It should’ve brought more.

I’m putting two videos up tonight because I really want to knock the shit out of the world tonight.

See, the world whooped my ass for a good couple of hours today. Matter of fact, hadn’t been whooped like that in a while.

A little quick background. My wife and I spent this weekend working with a contractor (providing some labor to save some dough) fixing a major home repair we’d been procrastinating on for a bit. So, we fixed a couple major leaks, replaced a gutter, put up some new sheetrock, and resealed it all with trim. Lot of work, took better than two days.

And it obviously cost a decent amount of money.

But it felt great afterward. You know how when you do a big project like that, you feel a million times better afterward? You feel relieved. You feel proud. You feel less stressed.

Well, this morning we woke up to the leaks having returned, only worse. So, I spent two hours just about ready to pull my hair out. I was out in the rain on the roof trying to see what had happened. I was in our tiny, cramped attic, hitting my head in the pitch-black dark while waving a tiny flashlight around in an act that basically bordered on complete helplessness. (Why in the world don’t we have a larger flashlight?!)

And, of course, life knew that wasn’t enough, so it brought back a serious dose of pain for a crown I recently had replaced, and decided that for good measure, it would throw in five days of low books sale, which are 1/3 of what they had been.

So, for about two hours, life had me pinned. Life had me thinking, “You know, Stan, you just thought life could be good. That life could be something other than a nearly desperate struggle. We’ll show your ass. You’re weak. You’re nothing special. We’re going to break your ass, get you back working some shitty job, and you’ll be giving up on these insane dreams you’ve been holding onto for too long to recall.”

I’ll give it to life. They brought their A game today. And there I thought I had kicked their ass enough so that they’d leave me the hell alone.

Well, it took a while for me to regroup, but we’ve got two tarps up and the day in the rain reminded me how miserable it is to be soaked. And how I’m so thankful I no longer spend much of my time in such a state. (Huge props and mad respect to all infantry and combat arms warriors out there serving in the rain this very night.)

Tomorrow, we’ll start getting quotes on replacing the roof, and I’ll find time to get by the dentist again. Oh, and I just checked, and it looks like the day ended with a a partial return on my sales and nice book review.

And that leaves just one thing left to do on this beautiful day.

First, a quick message to life. “Listen, you stupid SOB. You think today’s little bit of fun was enough to change my life direction?

“Have you forgotten the months I spent living in a friends basement practically homeless, with no ability to pay myself from my company or even pay any money toward my friends for rent? Have you forgotten the nearly $150k I invested into that dream, against nearly all my friends and family’s wishes? The ‘failure’ of that dream should of broken my spirit. Newsflash: It didn’t.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to write more and work still harder toward my dream.

“Furthermore, I’m going to keep inspiring others. And you know what? You better watch your back because they’re coming after you, too.”

Now for those two videos. Remember my friends. You’re never too old, and there’s never a valid excuse.

Actually, on further thought, I’m still pissed life thought it could take me, so here’s one more video. This one is of a man who set the record for most pull ups in 24 hours. And get this: He’s 54!!! Not 18 or 21 or 30. Fifty. Four. If that doesn’t inspire you, then I’m not sure what else I can say…

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

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Be Phenomenal

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

P.S. You’re nuts if you don’t buy this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way.

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How safe is our banking system?

A couple of weeks back, I received a fraud alert from my bank. Clearly, this scared the crap out of me.

I immediately jumped online and saw with relief that my account was still accurate. The money was still there.

But the scare ignited a fear I used to not sweat, since I rarely had more than a thousand dollars in my bank account after going all in to launch a newspaper. These days, thanks to you guys, I worry a little more. : )

So following the scare, I started digging online. I had heard in the past from a few prepper-type folks say how screwed we’d be as a country if hackers — or a foreign government such as Russia or China — attacked our banking system and wiped out all of our digital accounts. Of course, there’d be complete anarchy if such a thing happened, and it is a scary thought.

But the more I dug, the less reliable information I found. It seems not many people want to talk about this, or if they do, you can’t find the info with a cursory internet search. (And what you do find initially is stuff written by preppers, which only further frightens you.)

I finally broke down and burned some political capital. I wrote a person who’s an insider on computer security. I can’t identify this person, but they agreed that I could print their answer, after I persuaded them it was the best answer I had seen anywhere. (They’ll probably send a virus to wipe my server after I post this, to protect their anonymity — they’re big on staying below the radar like that.)

At any rate, it’s safe to say this girl — or guy? — works for a major Fortune 500 company in their IT/Internet Security Department, and this person really knows their shit.

Their degree comes from a prestigious university, they regularly travel to pricey conferences with the best in the business, and they work with a talented team to remain vigilant 24/7 protecting an incredibly important asset from tons of super-sophisticated hackers.

Here’s the person’s answer to my question of “How safe is our banking system:”

My short answer is that against catastrophic attacks our banking system is very safe; much safer than our water, power, transportation and healthcare systems anyway.

Longer answer: Large scale banking attacks are one of those rare attacks that are much harder than they sound to carry out (most cyber attacks are the opposite, unfortunately). Besides layers of security protecting the account information, copies of all the information is stored in multiple redundant databases all over the world and any transaction or change in the account sizes is cross checked against all those separate databases in a cyclical fashion that has to pass through multiple fraud and error checks. Thus, changing someones account size from 10 to 10 million dollars isn’t as simple as breaking into the right machine and changing a single database entry; it would require breaking into a least a dozen machines at different sites and changing the information in all of them within a few milliseconds of each other and then changing the logs and transaction records in each of them to hide what you did and avoid getting caught. Wiping out all the account information entirely would be even harder because it would be recognized immediately and automatically reversed from a regular backup unless you managed to nuke all the different storage and backup systems simultaneously.

It’s not impossible, if my career in cyber has taught me anything it’s that nothing is, but it’s an extremely tall order for one account set and exponentially harder to do for a bunch of them. More to the point, as the Target and Home Depot break ins taught the world last year, there are much much easier ways to get rich in the hacker world than knocking over banks directly. As long as credit cards are plentiful and easy to skim, they’ll continue to get the lion’s share of the criminals’ attention.

Hope that helps set your mind at ease and wasn’t too verbose (I do go on sometimes …)

So there you go. Reading his answer helped me feel better about the situation, and I’m sharing it in the hopes that it gives you some peace of mind, as well.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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Will write for ammo, but I had forgotten that real shooting is tough…

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The start of the day, when it was still chilly. This is the view from the 1,000-yard line. And if you click the photo and zoom in, you’ll see some vehicles at the upper left-hand corner. They are parked at the 200 yard line. (Seriously, just think of this view the next time you read about some sniper shooting a thousand yards.)

I had the most amazing thing happen this past weekend. I had a reader/follower of the site take me shooting.

We had tried to set this up last month, but it fell through due to all the snow and ice. Last Saturday, the weather was perfect and we made good on our promise.

I’ll be honest though… When the offer was made, I tried to decline. After all, I have very few guns now, having been forced to sell most of them to keep the newspaper going back when it was in its start up phase and not making any money.

Additionally, I hadn’t shot a rifle in in seven or nine years. (Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time, and trying to remember based on the life-landmarks of divorces, near bankruptcies, and practically being homeless just isn’t much fun, so let’s just say it’s been a hell of a long time since I have shot a rifle.)

So I was worried to death I’d embarrass myself, and figured stating the truth — that the only rifle I still own is an ole’ lever action given to me from a deceased relative, and that I hadn’t shot in forever — might be enough of a reason to politely decline an incredible offer from a fellow veteran.

But, this veteran came back with the even more absurdly generous offer to bring his M14 (or the civilian version, the M1A) and all the gear we needed, PLUS ammo, AND he’d even come to Oak Ridge (where I live).

At that point, I just couldn’t say “no.” Not to mention, I’ve always dreamed of shooting an M14.

Thus, we made the shoot happen this past Saturday. It was truly an incredible day and since we shot from 200 and 300 yards with iron sights, complete with raised and lowered targets, it really took me back to my Marine Corps days.

Two things stand out from the day.

First, I had forgotten that real shooting is work. Sure, plinking at cans or stumps is fun. But when you back up to 200 or 300 yards, you’re going to be in very uncomfortable positions and you’re going to be concentrating at Zen-like levels. Additionally, if your arm’s not numb from a sling cutting it in half and your back’s not killing you from being bent over in the sitting position for thirteen minutes, then you’re probably not doing it right.

Secondly, it was incredible how giving many of the instructors were that day. It was an open shoot for mostly new shooters and there were many super experienced shooters there, who seemed happy to be teaching a bunch of newbies. Four or five of them, who I won’t name, were ranked national shooters, i.e. the best in the country who shoot in ferocious competitions at Camp Perry. These included several “Distinguished Riflemen,” “President’s 100” shooters, and at least one former National Champion.

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Me, at the end of the day: Sweaty and exhausted.

The way these near legends just gave and gave last Saturday was nothing short of remarkable — and I found out afterward that it’s not out of the norm; they do this regularly.

So, to wrap up, I want to send out a huge word of thanks to Old Gyrene, who let me borrow his rifle and reminded me how a Marine should shoot, as well as all the instructors who helped make it happen that day.

It was truly an incredible day for a prior Marine who hadn’t shot in such a serious way for FAR TOO LONG, and it was really a remarkable feeling to have as an author. I mean, some guy I had never met found me on the internet, subscribed as a follower, enjoyed my books, and eventually wanted to meet me.

Is that not every author’s dream? (Add in that he’s a two-tour Vietnam vet, who earned a Purple Heart, and it’s just impossible to describe how honored and humbled I am by the entire experience.)

Again, thanks Old Gyrene, and all involved.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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The search for happiness

I needed this tonight. Hope it helps you, as well!

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

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