Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

You’re stuck at home. You’ve watched everything interesting on Netflix, and it’s only been a week. It might be time to do some of those projects you always knew you should but have been putting off… and off… and off… If you can accomplish all of these, you’ll come out of this time of lockdown with a much more organized life and a clearer head.


Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

1. Get your documents in order

Put all of your family’s essential documents in one place. This includes marriage licenses, birth certificates, passports, social security cards, medical files, car titles, a copy of your LES and orders, the deed to your house and insurance documents. Do you have a will? If not, now is a good time to do one, either online or virtually with a lawyer. Make sure you have all the insurance you need – not just auto and health insurance, but pet insurance, disability insurance, cell phone insurance, and flood insurance. Also insure your wedding and engagement rings. These are the ones people typically overlook.

2. Photograph your house

Take a photo of everything in your house for insurance purposes. Make sure you have a photo of each room, and all of your valuables. If you have a prized book collection, photograph the titles – you’ll want to remember what they all are if you have to replace them. Keep the photos on the cloud and on a USB that you keep in your safe.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

3. Clean your car

Now is the perfect time to clean your car! Like, really clean it. Take everything out – all the car seats, trash, reusable shopping bags, first aid kit, etc. Wipe down everything with a leather or car cleaner. Vacuum everything – get into the nooks and crannies. Clean the inside of the glass and all the crevices of the vents. Then tackle the outside of the car. Get a full tank of gas. You’ll feel SO much better.

4. Go over your finances

First, if you don’t have a budget, make one. It’s especially important now to stick to one and to know what you’re spending (and not spending). If you’re married, do this as a couple. Next, go over all of your bank accounts and make sure both you and your spouse know how to access all funds and what the passwords are (so military spouses don’t know the passwords to pay their bills until a deployment happens). Go over all of your investment accounts. If you have kids, consider setting up a 529 for them. If you haven’t yet, set up an IRA or Roth IRA. Put contributions on auto-debit if you tend to forget. Another tip to consider is splitting your savings accounts into different accounts. For example, have one for “vacation,” one for “auto tax (which usually is billed all at once every year), one for “utilities” or any quarterly bills, one for “auto maintenance fund,” etc. This will make it easier to see what you have in each.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

5. Get rid of stuff

Go through every room and every closet and see what you have that you can either sell online, donate or save for a garage sale this summer (hopefully we’ll be able to have these this summer). This will help free up some extra cash if you need it, and it will also help you see what you have and what you don’t use. You’ll be surprised what you find. Commit to doing one room of the house each week.

6. Home improvement projects

Now is the perfect time to tackle those home improvement projects you’ve always wanted to do. Change out the hardware in your doors and outlets – it will make a big difference. Paint. Change out light fixtures. Replace your faucet or backsplash. Paint your front door. These are simple fixes that have big impact.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

7. Make a list of grocery staples and meals

Write down all of the things you regularly buy at the grocery store – this will make your life so much easier when you’re shopping. Identify a place in your fridge or pantry for each of these items and always put them there; that way, you can see when you’re out. Also, put together a list of five to ten meals and recipes your make regularly. That’s the first step to meal planning, which is the first step to a much more organized dinner life.

8. Back up your files

Make sure all of your computer files are backed up. Clean out any unnecessary computer programs. Print out your favorite photos and put them in an album too, which will give you extra security.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

9. Zero-out your inbox

This may be the most difficult, but it’s so important for your productivity. If you have thousands of emails (too many to sort through), I recommend creating a folder called “Emails until January 2020” and putting them all in there. Then create either work folders or folders for your person emails like “Online orders,” “Kids school,” “House,” “Military,” etc. Go through the last several months and start a new system of filing everything away (or deleting it) once you read it.

10. Talk about your future

Talk about your goals for the future with your spouse, or, if youre single, journal about them. Where do you see yourself in five years? In twenty? What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do? What is that trip you always wanted to take? If you identify what’s important to you now, you can do the steps necessary to get there.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

“Is Stalin a man of genius, or not?”

The reply that came during a seance, according to a defendant’s testimony given at a Kyiv court on March 10, 1948, was that the Soviet dictator was no such thing.

Coming at a time when Josef Stalin’s cult of personality was at its height, such a conversation was sure to attract attention. Especially because the founding father of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, was allegedly the one replying from beyond the grave during the conjuring, more than two decades after his death.

Other court evidence revealed that during one of the seances “Lenin” predicted from the afterlife that war was coming — six countries would soon free the Soviet people from Stalin’s yoke.


When asked about the future of Soviet power, an unidentified Russian revolutionary responded that “it won’t exist, with the help of America.”

Such “conversations” were revealed in archived documents of trial testimony and interrogations carried out by the Soviet State Security Ministry (MGB), which included the secret police.

Aside from Lenin, the court heard from a number of early Soviet A-listers, some of whom might have cause to slander Stalin.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

Lenin and Stalin.

There was archrival Leon Trotsky, who was assassinated in Mexico City in 1940 on the Soviet leader’s orders. And Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin’s second wife, who died under mysterious circumstances after a public argument with her husband in 1932.

Others speaking from the grave included the writers Maxim Gorky and Aleksandr Kuprin, as well as famed rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Their questioners were not members of the Bolshevik inner circle, but ordinary residents of the north-central Ukrainian town of Bila Tserkva who had never even belonged to the Communist Party.

For their role in conjuring up voices from the past, Ilya Gorban, his sister Vera Sorokina, and his lover Olga Rozova were arrested and accused of anti-Soviet acts and the “creation of an illegal religious-mystical group of spiritists.”

Wandering soul

Gorban was an unaccomplished artist when he moved to Bila Tserkva from Kyiv in early 1947, a year before the trial.

The 44-year-old native of the Poltava region had designed museum exhibits and prepared posters and portraits of Lenin for demonstrations. He was wounded during World War II while manning an anti-tank gun near Orel.

He had married and fathered a child. But the marriage ended in divorce and his daughter lived with her mother.

Gorban settled into his new life in Bila Tserkva with his sister, Vera, and got a job at the local industrial plant as a sculptor.

A book lover, he frequented the city library and soon entered into a romance with 39-year-old Olga Rozova, a library employee.

Rozova was married. But her husband — Andrei Rozov, a journalist with a newspaper in Voronezh — had been accused of belonging to an “anti-Soviet Trotskyite terrorist organization” in 1938 and imprisoned for 10 years.

While at work, Gorban had a conversation with colleague Mikhail Ryabinin, who asked the sculptor if he believed in the afterlife and the existence of spirits.

Gorban said he did not, but he did take Ryabinin up on his recommendation that he read the Spirits Book — written in 1856 by Frenchman Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail under the pen name Allan Kardec and considered one of the pillars of spiritism.

Pointed ‘discussions’

The doctrine of spiritism, or Kardecism, centers on the belief that the spirits of the dead survive beyond mortal life and can communicate with the living. The communication usually takes place during seances conducted by a person serving as a medium between this world and the otherworld.

Gorban read it with fascination and proposed that Ryabinin organize a seance. His friend declined, however, saying according to case files that “all these sessions with plates — they are nonsense and baby talk. I contact the spirits at a higher level.”

Gorban’s sister agreed to try, however, and together they conducted a seance based on what they had learned.

They lit candles and sat at a table with a sheet of paper in the center. On the paper the letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and the words “yes” and “no” were drawn in a circle.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

A seance board similar to the one used in Bila Tserkva

A saucer with an arrow from the center to the edge was set over the paper.

The idea was to call on the spirts of a particular person and, if he or she appeared, to ask them questions. If all went well the saucer, beneath the hands of participants, would begin to rotate freely and without force, spelling out answers by pointing to the appropriate symbols on the paper.

Family affair

Altogether, Gorban and his sister conducted 15 to 20 seances in the summer and autumn of 1947. At times they reached out to people outside the Soviet circle. The spirits of deceased relatives were often conjured up, including the siblings’ mother, who allegedly gave the pair everyday advice. They even got a hold of Alexander Pushkin, but the Russian poet “cursed” them.

Gorban’s girlfriend, Olga Rozova, began to join the sessions, and the group conjured up a late writer who began to compliment her.

“I suspected that this was a trick of Gorban’s, with whom I had been in an intimate relationship,” she recalled during her courtroom interrogation. “The whole session was of a purely personal, amorous character.”

Some sessions were held at Rozova’s apartment, which was inside the library. A friend of hers who headed the local school library, Varvara Shelest, took an interest and also started attending the sessions.

The last seance, according to testimony of group members, was held in December 1947.

They asked Lenin’s spirit about the monetary reforms enacted that year, which included the denomination of the ruble and the confiscation of personal savings.

Knock on the door

A couple of months later Chekists — agents of the feared secret service — came for them.

Rozova was detained on Feb. 19, 1948; Sorokina and Gorban were taken away the next day.

The case was transferred to the authorities in Kyiv, and the trial began on March 6, just two weeks after the suspects were detained.

From the MGB’s point of view, the seances were evidence of the formation of an “illegal religious-mystical group” — which on its own could have led to imprisonment. But the authorities took things one step further by adding the more serious “anti-Soviet” charge.

“This seance had a sharply anti-Soviet character,” read one file. “This deliberate slander pertained to one of the leaders of the [Communist] Party and government.”

When initially questioned, the three did not appear to hide that they had participated in seances. Gorban and Sorokina wrote them off as an attempt to have fun; Rozova said there was no intended goal.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

Joseph Stalin, Lenin, and Mikhail Kalinin.

But ultimately their confessions were recorded by their interrogators — the sessions were driven by anti-Soviet sentiment and were just a “convenient screen” for “slanderous agitation.”

In his interrogation report, Gorban was quoted as saying he had “tried to defame and slander the Soviet powers and the leaders of the Party and government” to expose the “talentlessness” of Soviet leaders to his alleged accomplices.

Disgruntled by postwar poverty, it was Gorban who had directed the movements of the saucer, according to the documents.

Harsh ruling

During their trial, those alleged admissions were recanted. Each of the three defendants declared that they did not believe in the otherworld or spirits. When queried about their religious beliefs, each answered that they were atheists. And their sessions, they said, were for entertainment.

“I didn’t think that our sessions were anti-Soviet,” Sorokina testified. “What we did was, of course, not good, but I was, am, and will remain a Soviet person.”

As for the saucer, Gorban said, he had no idea how it moved. All admitted to partial guilt, according to the court files.

The ruling in their case came on March 10, after just two court sessions.

The three were found guilty of anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, and of participation in a counterrevolutionary organization.

Gorban was sentenced to 25 years in a labor camp; Rozova and Sorokina to 10 years each. Gorban would have been executed had the verdict come a year earlier — but the death penalty had recently been suspended.

The mystery of ‘North’

The role of Gorban’s colleague in all this was not forgotten. A criminal case was opened against Ryabinin — the man who had suggested Gorban read the Spirits Book — the same day the others were sentenced.

It is unclear, however, what might have happened to him.

Rozova’s friend, Shelest, also remains a mystery. Despite her attendance at the group’s seances, she was apparently never detained.

According to the case files, she disappeared shortly after the others were nabbed. Material related to her was transferred to a different case, a common step intended to avoid the search for the accused slowing down the investigations of those detained.

When it later emerged that the others had been arrested as part of an underground sting operation, Shelest’s name was not listed among the targets. And when the MGB informed other Soviet authorities about the eradication of a group of spiritists in Bila Tserkva, it made mention only of an informant — codenamed “Sever” (North) — who had attended some of the sessions.

But Shelest’s name did pop up. During their trial the three defendants claimed it was Shelest who initiated most of the “political” questions posed to spirits — including Trotsky, Alliluyeva, and Gorky. Rozova said she had suspicions that Shelest had manipulated the saucer’s movements.

In requesting a pardon in 1954, one year after Stalin’s death, Rozova wrote that “at the trial it became clear to me that Shelest had been tasked with creating an anti-Soviet crime from our seances.” She further argued that Shelest continued to live in Bila Tserkva, yet no one was trying to question her.

Around the same time a prosecutor wrote that while Sorokina and Rozova were “addicted to spiritism because of their curiosity and irresponsibility,” their actions did not result in serious consequences. The two, the prosecutor argued, should be released.

The Supreme Court eventually ruled that while the verdicts handed down against Gorban, Sorokina, and Rozova were correct, their sentences were too harsh.

Sorokina and Rozova were released on Feb. 22, 1955, seven years after their arrest. The decision came too late for Gorban, who died in 1950 while incarcerated at a labor camp near the Arctic Circle.

In 1992 — less than one year after the dissolution of the Soviet Union — all three were rehabilitated.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran tried and failed for the fourth time in a row to put a satellite into orbit

Iran’s latest attempt to put a satellite in space in spite of US opposition ended in failure, an Iranian defense ministry official told state media, Reuters reported Sunday.


“It was launched with success and … we have reached most our aims … but the ‘Zafar’ satellite did not reach orbit as planned,” the official told state television Sunday.

The latest failure marks the fourth time in a row Iran has been unable to successfully put a satellite in space.

In January 2019, the Iranian rocket carrying the satellite into space failed to reach the “necessary speed” during the third stage of flight, a senior telecommunications official told state media, the Associated Press reported at the time.

The US has criticized Iran’s efforts, arguing that its satellite program is a cover for the development of long-range ballistic missile technology.

President Donald Trump has said that Iran’s space program could help it “pursue intercontinental ballistic missile capability.” Iran argues that the Simorgh rocket is nothing more than a satellite launch vehicle.

In February of last year, Iran made another attempt. Iran’s foreign minister revealed in an interview with NBC News that it failed as well. He added that his country was looking into the possibility of sabotage after a New York Times report suggested the US could be behind the failures.

Iran tried again in August, but the rocket apparently exploded on the launchpad.

In denying US culpability, Trump inexplicably tweeted out an image of the scorched Iranian launchpad from a classified briefing, a photo that appeared to have come from one of the US’ most secretive spy satellites.

After the second failed test, Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told NPR that this is a “trial and error” situation, explaining that “eventually they’re going to get it right.”

Iran managed to put a satellite into orbit in 2009, 2011, and 2012, but lately their efforts have been unsuccessful.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Medal of Honor recipient was gunned down in a liquor store robbery

It was a day like any other day. Dwight Johnson was on his way to the nearby corner store to get some food for his infant son. When he walked in the store that day in April 1971, he accidentally walked in on the store being robbed. That’s when the storekeeper shot him to death.


While he was in Vietnam, he seemed impervious to bullets. Dwight Hal Johnson wasn’t gunned down until he left his home to go to the nearby liquor store at the wrong time.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

President Lyndon Johnson puts the Medal of Honor around the neck of Sgt. Dwight H. Johnson.

In 1968, Army tank driver Spc. Dwight Johnson was part of a reaction force near Dak To, in Vietnam’s Kontum Province. With his platoon in the middle of fierce combat with North Vietnamese regulars, Johnson’s tank threw a track. It would not move. With friendly forces to his rear, and a heavily entrenched enemy coming at him, a regular person might have told Johnson not to leave the safety of the tank and just wait. That wasn’t Dwight Johnson’s style.

Since Johnson was unable to drive the tank, he figured it was time to stop being a driver. He grabbed his pistol and hopped out of it. He cleared away some of the enemy from the perimeter, and then hopped back into the tank, somehow not getting hit by the hail of enemy gunfire and rockets. He had just run out of ammo.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

He tossed his pistol down and grabbed a submachine gun. Returning to his former position, he began to take out more of the oncoming enemy fighters. Unconcerned with the situation being a well-planned and well-placed ambush, he stayed put, killing the enemy until he ran out of ammo again. After he used the stock of his rifle to kill one more, he moved to his platoon sergeant’s tank, carried a wounded crewman to a nearby armored personnel carrier, then went back to the tank to get a pistol so he could fight his way back to his own tank. Again.

Instead of hopping in, however, he mounted the .50-cal on the back of the tank, using the heavy machine gun to force the enemy back and put an end to the ambush while protecting his wounded comrades in arms. For most of the time he was engaged in close quarters combat, vastly outnumbered by an often-unseen enemy, Spc. Johnson was carrying only a Colt .45 pistol to defend himself.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

Having grown up in some of Detroit’s rough neighborhoods gave Dwight Johnson an edge in keeping his cool under fire. Johnson never quit, never left anyone behind and fought an enemy who outnumbered him ten to one while restoring American dominance to a situation that got out of hand. Sadly, it was those same mean streets that would do him in just a few years after coming home from Vietnam.

He struggled with regular life when he returned home, as most veterans did and still do. He struggled with debt and depression until he walked into the Open Pantry Market on April 30, 1971, just one mile from his home. There are conflicting reports of what happened next – some say Johnson had a gun at his side and was robbing the store, other sources say that Johnson was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. While we can’t be sure what motivated the store owner to open fire, we can say he shot one of America’s heroes four times, killing him. Dwight Hal Johnson was later buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army looks at neurostimulation to enhance its soldiers

Can the Army produce faster, stronger and smarter soldiers through electrical stimulation of the brain?

Neurostimulation is not actually a process the Army intends to use for creating “super soldiers.” However, Army researchers have been experimenting with it as a means to accelerate training.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive effects of neurostimulation in our lab,” said Dr. Tad Brunye, senior cognitive scientist at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, known as NSRDEC, in Natick, Massachusetts. He heads up neurostimulation research there along with Dr. Erika Hussey.


Brunye and members of his staff were in the Pentagon courtyard May 23-24, 2018, during a Close Combat Lethality Tech Day.

Brunye has been experimenting with neurostimulation at Natick over the past four years and at the nearby Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Sciences in Medford, Massachusetts. The center was created in 2015 through a partnership between the Army and the School of Engineering at Tufts University. It is co-directed by NSRDEC’s Cognitive Science and Applications Team along with Tufts faculty.

The center includes what Brunye calls “large virtual-reality caves.”

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t
Staff Sgt. Christian King-Lincoln tries on a headset that is providing neurostimulation from a wireless transmitter behind him. The stimulation is not going through his ear pads, but instead through an array of small flexible inducers along the adjustable headband.
(U.S. Army photo by Gary Sheftick)


Volunteers at the center receive low-intensity electrical current through headphone-style stimulation systems or electrodes mounted on what looks like a bathing cap. Then their performance in the virtual-reality environment is measured. Neurostimulation has shown the following benefits:

— Increased ability to recognize suspected terrorists from a list of faces studied hours earlier during neurostimulation.

— Improved navigation performance, especially for individuals with lower spatial abilities. Soldiers in large-scale virtual urban environments did better moving between objectives during neurostimulation.

— Increased attention span. Attention might wane after 20 minutes when watching a security monitor and neurostimulation could increase that attention span to 20 hours.

— Enhanced motor skills, such as the standing broad jump, when a particular area of the brain is stimulated during practice.

“We want to make sure that we stimulate the right areas of the brain, at the right time, in the right individual, in a manner targeted to specific tasks that we need them to excel on,” Brunye said.

“The consumer market is exploding with do-it-yourself brain stimulation devices right now, and Soldiers are willing to try just about anything to enhance their mental and physical performance,” Brunye continued. “But we need to be sure that any commercial claims are supported by rigorous experimental science, and that the systems are being used only in appropriate and beneficial ways. Our science and technology efforts are helping ensure that is the case.”

Creating high performers

Soldiers from a variety of military occupational specialties volunteer to come to Natick immediately following their initial-entry training, Brunye said. They serve about three months at Natick before moving on to their first unit. These soldiers are used in the experiments, along with volunteers from local communities around Boston.

The volunteers feel just a tingling, itchy sensation on their scalp during the neurostimulation, he said.

“In terms of long-term impact, there are no known negative or adverse effects of neurostimulation,” he said.

Neurostimulation will help accelerate learning and can bring Soldiers up to a level of high performance quickly. “It will compensate for some of the variability we see” during learning, Brunye said.

The effects of neurostimulation, however, are less noticeable on those who are already high performers on a specific task, he said. In fact, neurostimulation can sometimes have a slightly detrimental effect on high performers. Those individuals already have a fine-tuned system for completing a task and neurostimulation will help them wire a new neuron highway for that task — one that may not be initially as effective, he explained.

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t
Dr. Aaron Gardony, cognitive scientist at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, points out the type of headset that is normally used for neurostimulation research.
(U.S. Army photo by Gary Sheftick)

Innovative partnership

The Army signed a five-year cooperative agreement with the Tufts School of Engineering almost four years ago and established the Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

“It’s a very unique reciprocal relationship we have with the university,” Brunye said.

The university provided the physical facility and infrastructure, such as the heating and cooling systems, networking, and computer hardware and software. Tufts also provided personnel for manning the facility and post-doctoral researchers to help run it.

The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center — part of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command — provided everything else. The virtual reality programs all came from Natick.

About half of the participants in experiments at the center are soldiers, Brunye said.

The neurostimulation is provided via a wireless device. Much was learned from experiments that involved searching and clearing buildings over the last five months, he said. In these experiments, neurostimulation began about five minutes before a task and continued through the task, Brunye said.

The voltage varied from 7 to 18 volts, at very low amperage (usually between 1 and 2 milliamps). Direct current is the norm, but the lab is beginning to use alternating current to target more specific areas of the brain, he said.

Special ops interest

The Army’s Special Operations community is becoming more interested in neurostimulation, Brunye said.

Recently, Special Operations Command and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, have been experimenting with neurostimulation. They have been especially interested in developing motor skills and new procedures with weapons systems, Brunye said.

In addition to coordinating with RDECOM, the Natick team works closely with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command on neurostimulation to enhance training, Brunye said. They also work closely with the Air Force Research Laboratory and have partnered with them on a NATO exploratory team examining several techniques for cognitive neuroenhancement.

Other government partners in research include the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the Army Research Lab’s Human Research and Engineering Directorate and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA has been conducting related brain-stimulation research called Targeted Neuroplasticity Training, or TNT.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Widow goes extra mile to carry on husband’s legacy

Maj. Philip D. Ambard was killed in 2011 in Kabul, Afghanistan. A decade after the death of her husband, a Gold Star wife continues to go the distance to carry her airman’s memory around the globe.

Air Force Maj. Phil Ambard deployed to Afghanistan to serve on a NATO team training the Afghan Air Force when he was killed during a shooting at Kabul International Airport, according to the Air Force. He was 44. His widow, Linda Ambard, describes him as a husband and father who exuded kindness and fun. She refers to him as the “Disneyland parent.” 

Linda said she didn’t mind being the rule maker, knowing that Phil’s childhood shaped so much of who he was. Phil was a French-Venezuelan immigrant who didn’t even know English when he arrived on American soil at the age of 12. A self-taught linguist, he would go on to learn 10 languages and, in 2003, started a career at the Air Force Academy’s Department of Foreign Languages. 

A fellow professor described Phil’s impact on his student.

“You would always see a line of cadets at his office,” Lt. Col. LeAnn Derby said in an interview with the Air Force shortly after Phil’s death. “It was easy to see the impact he had on them.”

Growing up in Venezuela was a tumultuous experience for Phil, Linda says, but it also inspired him to always prioritize his family and value all people in his adult life. 

“One thing that I learned from my husband was to really love my country, warts and all,” Linda said with a smile. 

But he almost wasn’t her husband. Phil asked Linda out more than a dozen times before she said yes. 

“I didn’t want anything to do with him because he was almost six years younger than me,” she said. “We became friends through the course of him asking the first 19 times and it became a joke. Then one day he said, ‘This is the last time I am going to ask you out if you say no.’” 

Four months later they eloped. 

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t
Air Force Maj. Phil Ambard and his wife, Linda.

“He was the kindest and most humble person I knew … He saw the invisible people. You know, the people who come and do the cleaning at your workplace? He would practice any of his 10 languages to figure out which one they spoke,” Linda said. “He’d find out about their families or sodas and snacks they liked, then he’d show up with them. He felt like you could change people more by being kind and meeting them where they were.”

Phil enlisted in the Air Force to not only serve but also to earn his citizenship. He would go on to become an officer and teacher. Despite the security of his position teaching at the Air Force Academy, he volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2011. 

Being productive: 10 things you’ve been putting off doing but shouldn’t

One of the hardest parts about the day he lost his life was that he knew his assassin, Linda explained. The Afghan soldier who ambushed those airmen was someone Phil considered a friend. They often lunched together and conversed in different languages. Phil’s death changed everything for his family and there was more trauma to come. 

Air Force Maj. Phil Ambard and his wife, Linda.

Read: Family of Fallen soldier encourages others to “Live like John”

“Two years after he was killed, I was at the Boston Marathon when all hell broke loose,” Linda said. “I was one stop away from the finish line and I was smiling; it was a good day. I was running to honor and remember Phil. They had chosen me to do that. Then the first boom hit … I became terrified and it lives on in my nightmare and it overlaps with Phil. But it woke something up in me. I can’t let terrorism have anything else from me … I have to fight to thrive, and by doing that I am honoring Phil.”

Linda went on to earn a master’s degree in military resiliency counseling and began using her voice. 

“The military is very good at recognizing the funerals … but they aren’t so good at what comes next,” she explained. “The cost keeps going. It doesn’t go away just because it’s been 10 years.” 

Linda shared that trauma severely impacts those who experience it and can continue to wreak devastation on lives. It’s with this in mind that she continues to counsel, train, and educate, hoping to change and improve the lives of other military families.  

A decade later, Linda is still running marathons to honor Phil on every continent except Antarctica — but that’s coming in March 2022. She also found love again and is engaged to be married. One lesson she’d like people to take away from her story is to love more deeply and take the time to show it because we never know how much we have left. 

The Unquiet Professional is honoring Spc. John A. Pelham, Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick D. Feeks, and Maj. Philip D. Ambard for their 2021 Virtual Memorial Mile.
To register for the #TUPMile, click here and visit TUP’s Facebook Page for more information. While there, learn more about their stories and lives. And don’t forget to tag #TUPMile and #MotivatedByTheirLives in your mile.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Avengers actors were lied to about this key ‘Endgame’ scene

Avengers: Endgame stars are sharing never-before-seen footage from the filming of Tony Stark’s funeral scene. As revealed by Twitter posts from Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans, none of the actors (including Tom Holland and Chris Hemsworth) knew exactly what was in store for them that day.

In Ruffalo’s Twitter post, he shared that the actors were told they’d be shooting a wedding scene. “We’re filming a wedding scene, they said. #TBT,” he wrote, along with several photos of his castmates on set by the lakefront. In the video, Ruffalo pans to his fellow actors, some of whom are also recording their own videos, while Chris Hemsworth jokingly warns, “Guys, no phones allowed. No cameras.”


Due to the top-secret nature of the film, actors were only given partial scripts of certain key scenes. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have even said that only Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. were given the script in its entirety.

Avengers: Endgame is the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is still killing it at the box office, raking in over .7 billion dollars so far. As its success plays out, Endgame filmmakers continue to reveal behind-the-scenes factoids, like that Tony Stark almost traveled back to the most poorly rated Avengers film, Thor: Dark World. Writers also recently set the record straight regarding that crazy moment when Captain America proved worthy enough to lift Thor’s hammer.

Remember the days of old when fandoms couldn’t immediately get juicy, behind-the-scenes answers from social media? Hard to even imagine.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

Why you should be using your VA Loan for investment properties

Have you ever had one of those lightbulb moments that flips your perspective upside down? I had one of those exactly five years ago while training to be a copilot on the mighty CH-53E at MCAS New River, NC. I still remember talking to my dad on the phone after the oncoming duty-stander reported late at night and turned over the watch with me. “I don’t care if the market crashes!” I proclaimed into the phone.

That was a powerful statement to say out loud and it felt especially good saying it to my dad, who was very conservative financially. Our family lived like royalty when my family lived in Ukraine for the better part of two decades, but coming back to the United States created all sorts of financial turmoil.

Of course, the somewhat hot-headed remark begged the question, “Well, why the hell don’t you?”

”Because we’ve been thinking about real estate investing all wrong,” I continued. “We shouldn’t rely on an unpredictable market to control our return on investment. I don’t care about appreciation anymore, I care about monthly income, or cash flow. From now on, we are going to look for properties that put money in our pockets every dang month.

You could almost hear the audible click over the phone line. A light bulb had just gone off.

The phone conversation continued for another hour or so before we finally hung up and decided to talk about real estate some more the next day.

Let me take a quick step back and make sure we are all on the same page here. The epiphany moment I had five years ago – I was so passionately trying to pass on to my dad over the phone – was simple, yet incredibly powerful. What I realized was what my family valued more even than a large heap of cash in my savings account was a consistent stream of income. To put it bluntly, I wanted to create streams of mini pensions through multiple rental properties to pay for all our regular expenses and then some. I wanted this because I wanted to be financially free.

Why did I ever think that buying a house and waiting for it to appreciate was the right way to invest? If that was the case, another 2008 real estate crash would surely ruin everything.

Realizing there was a different way to invest in real estate was almost nauseating because of how mad it made me for not understanding or learning about it earlier in life. My next thought was, “Why doesn’t EVERY eligible service member use their VA Loan then?” After all, as long as the rent was high enough to cover the mortgage, a dependable property manager, reasonable maintenance expenses, some reserves and still have some cash to spare (read: cash flow), this should be a no brainer. Right?!

Maybe it is because a lot of veterans are really turned off by the thought of a VA Loan — they think it’s a huge liability or just a boring thing to talk about, but nine times out of 10 it typically boils down to access to education and trusted professionals to help someone get their foot in the door. The reality is, it’s not just a few veterans . . . There are millions of veterans who have yet to use this incredible wealth-building benefit. In the military, we get used to working in fire teams and squads and it just makes sense for us to want a trusted team of Real Estate agents and Lenders that are all investment-minded and have a military background to work with. The secret weapon that a lot of these investment-minded agents and lenders have, is the understanding of what to look for when it comes to Military House Hacking (check this book out to learn more) and how to run the numbers quickly and efficiently when trying to filter out the homes with no future cashflow potential. Remember, the objective isn’t potential appreciation (that’s just a cherry on top!). The objective is to create a stream of income when it’s time to rent out your home.

Find an agent or lender here

About a year after that phone call with my dad, I partnered on my first rental home and first apartment complex. My life and the lives of my parents and siblings had changed forever. We were on track to create financial freedom and legacy wealth for generations to come WITHOUT worrying about the market crashing down on us. Sure, everything has its risks, but there was a particular comfort that came with the more education I immersed myself into. It seemed as though real estate was more transparent and without the smoke and mirrors. Still, it was a lot of information and not necessarily easy, but it felt so real and doable that I knew I was hooked for life. It was around that time, that I decided I had to start sharing these principles and little-known strategies with other military members and their families.

Register to watch the Military Real Estate Investing Masterclass

This article originally appeared on Active Duty Passive Income. Follow them on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

This week’s Borne the Battle features Wayne Hanson, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Wreaths Across America (WAA).

WAA is a national campaign that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at over 1,700 national cemeteries, culminating at Arlington National Cemetery. The three-fold purpose of WAA aims to remember fallen U.S Veterans, honor those who currently serve, and teach children the value of freedom. Here, Hanson explains WAA’s humble beginnings and its rise into the national organization that it is today.


What is Wreaths Across America?

www.youtube.com

In this episode, Hanson discusses his time in the Army and the socio-political atmosphere of when he returned from Vietnam. He talks about transition and his gradual involvement at WAA. Lastly, he shares the four words from a stranger that kept him motivated to work even to this day.

For more information on Wreaths Across America, or for info on how to volunteer, visit the WAA website.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Raytheon unveils new drone-killing missile to pack onto fighter jets

Defense industry giant Raytheon unveiled its newest weapon, the Peregrine air-to-air missile, Sept. 16, 2019.

The weapon, designed for use on fourth-and fifth-generation fighter aircraft — anything from an F-16 to an F-35 — is about 150 pounds and 6 feet long, making “the most efficient use of the real estate on a fighter aircraft,” according to Mark Noyes, business development executive at Raytheon.

“Peregrine will allow U.S. and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to maintain air dominance,” Thomas Bussing, the vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems, said in a statement.


The new missile will combat a number of airborne threats, including other missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) and other aircraft, while saving space. The AMRAAM missile, for example, is 335 pounds and 12 feet long.

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Mockup of the Peregrine air-to-air missile.

(Raytheon)

“With its advanced sensor, guidance and propulsion systems packed into a much smaller airframe, this new weapon represents a significant leap forward in air-to-air missile development,” Bussing said.

The missile’s guidance and sensor systems allow it to “detect and track moving or stationary targets at any time of day and in challenging weather conditions,” according to the release.

The Peregrine combines “the autonomy of AMRAAM [Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile]” with the maneuverability of the 9X Sidewinder missile, Noyes told Insider. The three weapons together, he said, provide warfighters with “just an incredibly potent and catastrophic capability against the enemy.”

The Peregrine incorporates already available materials, military off-the-shelf components, and additive manufacturing processes, making it a low-cost option for militaries facing increased air threats, particularly missiles and UAVs.

Noyes praised the Peregrine’s ability to “autonomously track and destroy a target,” saying, “The ability of this new seeker is just incredible for all weather, day and night.”

The Peregrine’s small size, combined with its high-performance propulsion system, allows airfighters to fire more rounds, faster, as well — enabling it to “overwhelm the enemy with affordable mass.”

As Defense News points out, the Peregrine announcement dovetails with a Raytheon executive’s comments about the proliferation of counter-drone technology, indicating that the company’s focus on defeating drones won’t stop any time soon.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Lists

6 surprising things that are against the laws of war

They may seem like they’re tying troops’ hands behind their backs — especially given that today’s wars are very different from those when the former laws of war were written — but there’s a good reason why certain rules have been imposed to protect troops in combat.


Though not every country ratified all of the protocols of the Geneva Convention, and fewer still signed the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, many still hold to the general provisions and restrictions.

The laws of war contain a lot of things that make sense. Don’t hurt civilians. Don’t attack places of worship or medical aid. They may seem small at first glance, but they are a line US troops cannot cross.

While the major laws of war are well known, there are some provisions that may surprise the average reader.

#1: Filing down your bullet. (The 1899 Hague Declaration IV,3 and Geneva Convention Protocol I Art. 35)

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(Screen grab via YouTube)

There is always the loophole of “military necessity” — that’s why flamethrowers are okay, because they have an actual purpose if used on foliage and clearing tunnels.

So while hollow points are legal, filing down a bullet to make in improvised dum-dum round is a no no. The purpose of doing that is to cause unnecessary harm.

So that 5.56 round some jackass took a Multi-tool to to “make it hurt more” committed a serious offense.

#2: A chaplain picking up a weapon. (Geneva Convention Art. 24)

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

 

If troops become shipwrecked or parachute out of a destroyed aircraft, they now have non-combatant status. They’re technically out of the fight.

The most protected service member in the ranks is still the chaplain, who should never enter combatant status.

Regardless of their denomination, chaplains have a duty to uphold the spiritual, moral, and religious well-being of everyone on the battlefield. They will enter combat zones, but only to provide aid. To date, 419 U.S. Chaplains have died in war and eight Medals of Honor were bestowed to chaplains.

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It is a part of their duty to never lose non-combatant status to help the needs of all. Picking up a weapon immediately revokes that status. If you ever wondered why armed chaplain assistants are so valuable, that’s why.

#3: Taking war trophies. (Fourth Geneva Convention. Art. 33-34)

 

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There’s a fine line between taking a souvenir and pillaging.

Anything you take off the battlefield is pillaging — even if it belonged to an enemy combatant. It is subject to strict regulations after it’s turned over for inspection and clearance. If it’s a weapon, it must also be made unserviceable at the expense of whomever is taking it back.

Stashing it goes against tons of laws.

#4: Putting a large Red Cross on your equipment for combat operations. (Geneva Convention Protocol I Art. 85)

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(U.S. Army photo by Spc. JD Sacharok, Operations Group, National Training Center)

The Red Cross, Red Crescent, Red Crystal, and Red Shield of David are all protected as the international symbol for medical aid. When it is painted on a vehicle or on an armband, it lets everyone know that they are only there to render aid. Like chaplains having protections, so too do medics if they are performing aid and evacuation.

If a combat medic takes up arms, they lose their status as a non-combatant, which has been the norm in modern conflicts. If they drop their weapon to give aid, they regain that status.

But the red cross symbol doesn’t give you noncombatant status. If the symbol is on a piece of equipment, such as a first aid kit or pack, it is only signifying that the contents are for first aid.

#5: Not protecting journalists. (Geneva Convention Protocol I Art. 79)

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Legendary BBC War Corespondent, Robin Duff, on D-Day (Image via BBC)

War corespondents are just as protected as any other civilian on the battlefield. They must never pick up arms or else they losing their status. The difference between members of the press and other non-combatants is that they are required by their job to be in the middle of a firefight to report what is happening.

In the modern era, journalists have been easier and more valuable targets than ever. If one is embedded in a unit, no matter how pesky and nosy as they seem, they are valuable assets to the war effort and still must be protected.

#6: Insulting prisoners of war. (Third Geneva Convention. Arts. 13-16)

Writer’s Note: For the final point on this list, there will not be a photograph of a prisoner of war, regardless of nationality, in reference to their mistreatment.

One of the goals of the Hague and Geneva Convention was to protect the rights of prisoners of war. They must be given medical attention (Art. 15). They keep the civil capacities they had at the time of capture (Art. 14) and must always be treated humanely (Art. 13).

The definition of humane treatment covers no physical mutilation (including torture). This also means you must provide protection from acts of violence, intimidation, and verbal insults.

It doesn’t matter who the person is or what they did before they are captured, they are now a prisoner of war.

popular

These British troops launched a ‘proper angry’ bayonet charge during the Iraq War

In May 2004, about 20 British troops were on the move 15 miles south of al-Amara, near the major city of Basra in Iraq. They were on the way to assist another unit that was under fire when their convoy was hit by a surprise of its own.


Shia militias averaged five attacks per day in Basra when the U.K. troops arrived. British soldiers tried to arrest Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for supporting the violence and the locals were not happy about it. An unpredictable level of violence broke out. British troops were frequently under assault – an estimated 300 ambushes within three months.

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UK troops in Southern Iraq (U.S. Army photo)

“We were constantly under attack,” Sgt. Brian Wood told the BBC. “If mortars weren’t coming into our base, then we were dragged out into the city to help other units under fire.”

Wood and other troops from the 1st Battallion of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment were on their way to aid Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who were attacked by 100 militiamen from al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army when their vehicle struck an IED. The surprise attack actually hit two vehicles carrying 20 troops on a highway south of Amarah. Mortars, rockets, and machine guns peppered the unarmored vehicles.

Rather than drive through the ambush, the vehicles took so much punishment they had to stop on the road. The troops inside dismounted, established a perimeter, and had to call in some help of their own. Ammunition soon ran low.

The decision was made: the British troops fixed bayonets.

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A Lynx Helicopter of the Army Air Corps ready to touch down on a desert road south of Basra Airport (Wikimedia Commons)

They ran across 600 feet of open ground toward the entrenched enemy. Once on top of the Mahdi fighters, the British bayoneted 20 of the militia. Fierce hand-to-hand combat followed for five hours. The Queen’s men suffered only three injuries.

“We were pumped up on adrenaline — proper angry,” Pvt. Anthony Rushforth told The Sun, a London-based newspaper. “It’s only afterwards you think, ‘Jesus, I actually did that.’ “

What started as a surprise attack on a British convoy ended with 28 dead militiamen and three wounded U.K. troops.

Jihadi propaganda at the time told young fighters that Western armies would run from ambushes and never engage in close combat. They were wrong. Irregular, unexpected combat tactics overwhelmed a numerically superior enemy who had the advantage in surprise and firepower.


Feature image: British MoD photo

popular

4 reasons why North Korea’s AK variant is just dumb

Plenty of care and thought must go into manufacturing a standard-issue rifle to field with the fourth-largest standing army in the world. To find success, you must be concerned with the ease of mass production, reliability in the field, mobility and ease of use, and the lethality it offers the troops.


With that in mind, there’s only one benefit to the Type 88-2 variant of the AK-74 used by the North Korean Army: It’s cheap.

The AK-74 is the go-to weapon among former Soviet states and Eastern European nations because it can be easily produced and performs well in the hands of troops. North Korea created the Type 88-2 entirely within their own country and made plenty of useless tweaks to a proven design.

1. Ease of mass production

The Type 88-2 is cheap and it makes sense that a warmongering nation stuck with tech from over 60 years ago needs to cut corners when creating new stuff. The collapsible buttstock on the Type 88-2 is designed to fold over the top of the upper receiver. Folding stocks are common among many smaller-caliber SMGs, but on a fully-automatic carbine, it’s kinda worthless in both positions.

The collapsible buttstock is said to be small enough that the iron sights aren’t obstructed when collapsed. That alone is a terrible idea for accurate use while going full-auto. It also means that if the stock is extended, it wouldn’t have any support to handle the weapon as it fires.

 

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And that’s not even the dumbest part. (Photo by DEFCON Warning System)

2. Reliability in the field

At first glance of the Type 88-2, the most obvious “WTF?” is the helical magazine that is said to hold 150 5.45x39mm rounds*. Keep in mind, the PP-19 Bizon also uses as high-capacity, helical magazine and isn’t without its minor flaws, but it holds 64 9mm rounds.

At a slightly lower rate of fire and with much larger rounds, the Type 88-2 is likely much more prone to jamming and feed failures. The magazine extends almost to the muzzle and is also attached to the under-barrel rail. Magazine swaps would be a pain in the ass as you connect a heavy magazine at two spots.

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Ounces make pounds… (KCNA)

3. Mobility and ease of use

Balance is important to maintaining accurate fire. The weight distribution must be even throughout a weapon to maintain tight shot grouping. The helical magazine of the Type 88-2 and the overall weight of 5.45x39mm rounds* will cause the center of balance shifts back slightly after each round is fired. Fully-automatic rifles naturally kick up during sustained fire. Improper weight distribution will send the kick higher.

The size of the magazine also prohibits any sort of forward grip. The only way this weapon would accurately fire is if the troop was in the prone position and could rest the rifle on the ground.

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Then again, the North Korean Ninja Turtles aren’t known for proper weapon discipline.  (KCNA)

4. Actual power

Type 88-2s are unique to North Korea and not much is truly known about the weapon since it hasn’t left the Hermit Kingdom. Nearly everything known is a mix of speculation, reverse engineering from photographs, and knowledge of the standard AK-74.

That being said, everything about the design of the Type 88-2 just seems to have been done to cut every possible corner.


Writer’s Note: The article originally described the Type 88-2 as being chambered in 7.62mm when in reality it uses 5.45mm.

Feature image: Korean soldiers parading carrying the Type 68 variant, rather than the Type 88 (Wikimedia Commons)

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