Author Topic: How not to be oblivious?  (Read 18642 times)

Offline Twibble

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How not to be oblivious?
« on: January 23, 2013, 01:19:59 PM »
This isn't strictly for women, but I couldn't figure out where to stick it.

The fact that I tend to be rather oblivious to people around me is a running joke in our family.  My husband used to work as security, a prison guard, and various other things, so he's constantly noticing things that I'd never notice, like the guy who's wearing a coat and keeping his hands in his pocket in a store.  I'm also bad at remembering faces, so we generally warn people who seem the joking type that they might not want to do anything that might scare me if I don't know they're there.  I have good reflexes, I've broken my own father's nose because he scared the crap out of me, so we're a bit worried about that.

How do you train yourself to be more vigilant and not be oblivious to your surroundings?  How do you train yourself to remember faces, so that the next time you see them you remember that the last time you saw them, they were acting suspiciously or were very friendly and told you which herbs are working well for them?

This is definitely something I need to work on.

Offline cheryl1

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 02:39:46 PM »
I have issues with this too, mostly because I am usually tired and my attention is already being pulled on by 3 children. I have to make a conscious effort to look at people's faces. Even then, I won't remember the face, but at least I try to look for immediate threats.

Offline Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2013, 02:46:46 PM »
Take a drink and a snack and sit on a park/shopping mall bench for an hour once a week. How do people walk? Someone's feet or back hurt? Who is the most outgoing in their walk? Who is in a hurry on lunch break to get a couple errands accomplished. What are they wearing? Did they get it out of the closet or maybe it was the cleanest pair of jeans they had found that morning? Anyone meeting up for an affair? The tired mom who is slightly impatient with her kids? Anyone really shy and stay against the walls more and refuses to look at anyone? Someone more sure of themselves and walking in the middle of the mall and going against traffic? Anyone looking like they might shoplift?

Can't get out much? Observe people at work. Or out the window at lunch break.

The trick is to also watch without looking like you are. It is amazing what you can see and hear. Just like anything else it takes practice.

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Offline hoosiermom

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2013, 07:58:11 PM »
Twibble - this is a great topic.  I posted this suggestion on another thread but it really fits here.  I highly, highly recommend a book titled "The Gift of Fear", by Gavin de Becker. I read it many years ago, and should reread, and I think about it all the time.  It is all about situational awareness and other things.  I think it would help with your quest to remember faces/people more.

Honestly, I don't remember everything from the book but this:  if you get the feeling that something is "not right", you have probably picked up on it somehow, maybe w/o realizing it, and you should act on your intuition.  What follows is how I applied that in real life once:

In the summer of 2011, I drove my son & a friend to a rugby camp at West Point (which was totally awesome), and then drove to my hotel in a nearby town.  I was new to New York, knew no one, and planned to basically scrapbook for 2 days in my hotel (Residence Inn, stand-alone units).  I unloaded my car - tons of scrapbooking items - and even ran to the deli quickly.  I kept shaking off a feeling that something wasn't right.  Finally, I caved, called Marriott to see if I could get out of my reservation (they were extremely supportive and helpful), called my husband to see if he minded that I book the nights at the hotel on the West Point campus (I liked the idea of being surrounded by soldiers at this point), loaded up all of my stuff, and was out of there before evening.  I did not want to come back; I had a very bad feeling.  What tipped me off?  Maybe a few things... it was an older Residence Inn w/ the stand-alone units, not a building with locked outside doors - just my door w/ windows I felt were not secure for a woman on her own; couple of guys who were just hanging out - one in the parking lot next to his car smoking, one talking on a cell phone in the courtyard - both of whom saw me alone, carrying in all this stuff; I drove through a rotten area prior to my arrival; I can't put my finger on any one thing.  But the whole package together just screamed get me out of here!

That was the long version; so sorry.  But please check out this book.  It taught me a lot about situational awareness, something I think we all need to focus on.  I've even focused on it when I go in a gas station, recently w/ my youngest daughter (9 yrs old).  Mentally I go through what I would do if it were robbed while I was inside, and told my daughter to always listen to me even if my instructions sound crazy.  What tipped me off that time?  A couple of guys with hoodie sweatshirts, hands in their pocket.  They were fine; I just used it as an opportunity to be aware and help teach my daughter. 

I'm not always great at this; I often get distracted, too, and I'm horrible at remembering new faces.  I do better if we talk about something, and I can associate words with the person, but honestly I'm absolutely horrible at it.

Ted Nugent describes in one of his books how he always checks out rooms/businesses he's in, looks for exits, basically assesses an exit strategy.  I've never forgotten this, and need to be applying it on a delay basis.

Here in my city, bank robberies have skyrocketed - 15 last year, and all over the place.  Walgreen's, gas stations - all have had robberies, 2 right across the street from my kids' high school.  I don't know if it's more robberies than usual, but it definitely has me thinking twice about visiting certain places, and just trying to know what's going on.

Sorry to drag on... but this is such an important topic, and I'm so glad you raised it!  Check out the book - we should all read it, and have a book discussion!  I think it would be hugely helpful.

Offline Twibble

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013, 08:09:15 PM »
I actually have The Gift of Fear in both hardback and e-book formats. :P

Apparently it's time to read it again.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2013, 08:09:38 PM »
How do you train yourself to be more vigilant and not be oblivious to your surroundings?
Talk to yourself. It works for me. Example. You walk into a store. I will say to myself ok where are the exits. I then look for them. Whats that person doing over there? Make metal note. Continue on like this notice everything until Im out of the store.

Offline hoosiermom

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2013, 08:12:44 PM »
I think I will order it on Amazon so I have a copy at home as well.  I need to reread it, also.  :)  Thanks for posting this - you have inspired me!!

Offline Twibble

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2013, 08:23:53 PM »
I'll start trying some of these tips tomorrow.  Thanks, y'all!

Offline Bennington1776

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2013, 09:47:10 PM »
Increasing your situational awareness starts by making a concerted effort to be more observant.  That said eliminate things that are distracting.  Watch peoples hands, as NCJeeper said look for exits.  Cedar made a good point about observing people in a public place to see how they interact.  When you walk somewhere, (car to store) walk with a purpose, keep our hands free, move your head slightly from side to side, scan the parked and moving cars.  If you are in a restaurant sit facing the entrance.  Employ your five senses, especially sight, hearing and smell.  Trust you instinks if someone or something does not look right. 

Offline Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2013, 09:56:02 PM »
The other thing we did when I was in SAR was when I was with one of my other unit members driving along to training or something... One of us (usually my CEO) would say "OK... we are having an earthquake right now. What do you do"... and you have to figure out a gameplan of getting out of the vehicle and seeing what obstacles and possible obstacles from the event happening. Like overhead powerlines/telephone lines (can you tell the difference?) across the monorail tracks.. The glass from the convention center shattered.. etc... so even to this day 20-some years later, it is totally ingrained into me and I catch myself 'playing that game' without really being conscience of it.

Cedar

Offline Theswerd

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2013, 07:28:04 AM »
I used to work at a building supply store and as part of the job I would need to go out into the yard and collect loading tickets from the outside crew. Who drove around on Forklifts. Some times at high speed. Around corners.  :o


It didn't take long to learn to keep my head on a swivel and listen and watch. If you ever meet me, and we walk out into an open area, you'll see me slow down look around. I'm looking for idiots on forklifts (or other threats) by instinct now because I just had to do it for work.


I guess for me at least, the best way to learn to watch for things is to assume someone/thing is out to hurt you, or will hurt you accidentally if you aren't watching. Just accept it as fact, as then the burden is on you to prevent it. (Not to say that the idiot forklift driver isn't responsible, but that does you little good when you are laying on the ground with a few thousand pounds of metal on you.)

Offline rikkrack

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2013, 09:20:01 AM »
The other thing we did when I was in SAR was when I was with one of my other unit members driving along to training or something... One of us (usually my CEO) would say "OK... we are having an earthquake right now. What do you do"... and you have to figure out a gameplan of getting out of the vehicle and seeing what obstacles and possible obstacles from the event happening. Like overhead powerlines/telephone lines (can you tell the difference?) across the monorail tracks.. The glass from the convention center shattered.. etc... so even to this day 20-some years later, it is totally ingrained into me and I catch myself 'playing that game' without really being conscience of it.

Cedar


We play this game with our kids. When we have a few minutes in line, or in the car, or even at dinner. "OK there is a fire, in the kitchen, what do you do? What if mom was unconscious? Now what? Did you think of the baby?" They have actually come up with good answers and sometimes suprise me I didn't think of what they came up with.

I do it myself, but is good when talking with people who either haven't woken up yet, or are on the edge of waking up.

Offline Shaunypoo

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 09:32:19 AM »
Increasing your situational awareness starts by making a concerted effort to be more observant.  That said eliminate things that are distracting.  Watch peoples hands, as NCJeeper said look for exits.  Cedar made a good point about observing people in a public place to see how they interact.  When you walk somewhere, (car to store) walk with a purpose, keep our hands free, move your head slightly from side to side, scan the parked and moving cars.  If you are in a restaurant sit facing the entrance.  Employ your five senses, especially sight, hearing and smell.  Trust you instinks if someone or something does not look right.

I find myself noticing other people who have a higher degree of situational awareness as well.  They are scanning the room, looking up from their meal once in awhile.  These are people who aren't so absorbed into what they are doing right now that they can't take a periodical assessment of the situation.  I find myself looking at who is entering the room more often.  And since I also carry I look at people to see whether they are wearing clothes they could conceal or if someone is printing.

I need to take a look into "The Gift of Fear" as well.


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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 09:38:27 AM »
I'm looking around all the time too....particularly when I'm driving.   I'll notice how many deer are in the field by our house, or that there was a new car in that crappy looking house on the drive home from the store.   It gets me in yelled at sometimes....I hear the "will you just watch the road" all the time :).   And I do, its just that I can't help but see something that is out of place. 

On vacation at the hotel, she is more worried about whether the sheets on the bed are clean, and I'm looking for the stairs, the fire extinguisher, etc.   We'll drive 7 hours to the beach, and she couldn't tell you how to get home, but I'll have two routes memorized in my head.

Another thing I've seen no one mention regarding gas stations....I will look for people just standing around outside, not with any car.   How many of you leave the car unlocked at the pump to run in for a soda, or the receipt?   Less than a year ago I never thought twice about it, until I got stuff stolen.  CD's, emergency money, a good flashlight, knife out of the glove box.   

Offline Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2013, 09:40:58 AM »
I find myself noticing other people who have a higher degree of situational awareness as well.  They are scanning the room, looking up from their meal once in awhile. 

I have noticed LEO and ex/current military seem to sit where they can see the doors and not right at the windows either. Constantly scanning the area.

Cedar

Offline Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2013, 09:45:26 AM »
How many of you leave the car unlocked at the pump to run in for a soda, or the receipt?   Less than a year ago I never thought twice about it, until I got stuff stolen.  CD's, emergency money, a good flashlight, knife out of the glove box.   

I never leave my car or home unlocked, even if I run into the backyard, the front door is always locked. Downstairs windows always locked, just the upstairs ones open. Never leave my car unlocked. For many years I had to be super vigilant about that. Always keep a spare key hidden somewhere, as you automatically start locking things and then ... ooops.. that odd time you get locked out  :-[

Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2013, 09:46:50 AM »
I have noticed LEO and ex/current military seem to sit where they can see the doors and not right at the windows either. Constantly scanning the area.

Cedar

Pretty funny, I get asked if I am LEO or ex/current military on a regular basis.  No, just raised by a career Navy man and have the same bearing.

I was looking into "The Gift of Fear" on Amazon and some of the negative review rang a bell with me.  One in depth review stated an anti-gun bias and the use of unsupported statistics for some of his examples.  I might still get the book because there are probably a lot of tips to improve my situational awareness, but take it with a grain of salt.

Cedar, love the advice for just taking it in.  I have done that when I take my wife and kids to the mall and don't want to go into a particular store.  People watching is a hobby unto itself.

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2013, 09:50:16 AM »
I never leave my car or home unlocked, even if I run into the backyard, the front door is always locked. Downstairs windows always locked, just the upstairs ones open. Never leave my car unlocked. For many years I had to be super vigilant about that. Always keep a spare key hidden somewhere, as you automatically start locking things and then ... ooops.. that odd time you get locked out  :-[

Cedar


You bet, learned my lesson.   I get the occasional weird look when the horn beeps as I lock it walking away from the pump....like I've offended someone by doing it....don't care, not getting robbed again.

Which reminds me of another gas station no no....the parents that leave the kid in the back seat because they are "just running in for a minute".   Talk about your idiot situational awareness blunders.   My girlfriend and her ex have gone a round or two over this when her daughter had mentioned him doing it.

d3nni5

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2013, 09:52:58 AM »
Cedar, love the advice for just taking it in.  I have done that when I take my wife and kids to the mall and don't want to go into a particular store.  People watching is a hobby unto itself.

Ever been to Wal-Mart late at night?   Talk about fun people watching!   

Offline Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2013, 09:57:53 AM »
People watching is a hobby unto itself.

It can get quite addicting too.

I think how I got into people watching is... when my parents were building our house at the vineyard, we lived in a 8 ft camper as the contractor said the new house was supposed to be done in 4 weeks. My parent's had sold the other house and so decided that since we camp for 3-4 weeks at a time in the bush, we could do that on the property since the house was sold and they wanted to move out to the farm. Well.. it took another 3-4 months to get the house finished as there was some contractor strike or something. So 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 beagles and 2 goldfish living in a tin can in the middle of a former turkey farm field. It got to be 105F for outside temps that summer for a week or two. So during those hot days, mom took us to the only place that had air conditioning. Washington Square Shopping Mall, which had just been built. We sat on the benches alot and people watched, for hours to beat the heat. I think we might have gotten a bit bored (I was 5, my brother 3?) and mom probably said "Watch all the people." to get us kids to quit fighting probably.  ;)

But that is my thinking of why I do it, as I have people watched for as long as I can remember.

Cedar

Offline Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2013, 10:03:04 AM »
Which reminds me of another gas station no no....the parents that leave the kid in the back seat because they are "just running in for a minute". 

I never do this... and it is BAD... but I avoid the gas stations which cause you to run into the building to pay for your gas. I pay cash only and when I do have to go to a station where the gas attendant says I have to pay inside, I point to SweetPea in her carseat and say I have a small child and she is sleeping or just falling asleep. Then they usually take my cash from me and I thank them so very much. It is not that I am being lazy, but it is a pain to put her in and then take her out, lock the doors, unlock the doors.. put her back in and if we have been traveling awhile, sometimes she just does not want to go back in. Only once in 3 years has an attendant insisted that I go in. And I am grateful for that.

Cedar

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2013, 12:32:38 PM »
There's a very fine line between being aware of your situations and being nosey.

Hovering around the office break room and attempting to listen to peoples personal conversations is really not a very good idea at all. Best case situation, someone asks you to leave... worst case, you're sitting in HR trying to explain your actions and you get a horrible reputation around the building.


That being said, every time I walk into ANY location, I always take a simple few seconds to make a 180 degree sweep of the area and notate where exits are, where other individuals are, and identify any potential threats/hazards. Even when I come to normal locations like my office every weekday, I'm looking around the parking garage as I pull in and leave my car, I'm taking an angle to the stairs leading out of the garage to where I can see into the corners, when I get up the steps I'm performing a quick peak back over my shoulder and then doing a 180 of the direction I'm going in. 99.9% of the time everything is fine, but occasionally I'll pick up on something and will take another second or two to dig a little deeper and really process it and see if it is a danger or not. If you were walking behind me, you wouldn't think I was doing any of those things... they are built into my daily routine and look perfectly natural.

That leads into my main point... the biggest thing is making the attempt to be aware and from there, establishing simple routines that will help improve awareness. If you do that and practice it constantly, you're only going to improve as the years roll on.

Do I have a photographic memory? No. Can I tell you the color of the convenience stores shirt from a couple weeks ago? No.

It's not about remembering little minor details, it's about analyzing situations and determining based on a gut reaction if those details need to be looked into further. If I walked into the convenience store and there was a person who looked very out of place for the neighborhood I was in at the register, I would take a note of that and monitor the situation as I went about my activities within the store.


When you're in your car, establish a routine. Make periodic checks of your mirrors to see where other cars around you are positioned. Look ahead when you hit a bend to see what traffic a half a mile down the road looks like. Don't tailgate people, make sure you have enough space. Build a habit out of it so that over time it's not even something you need to make an effort to focus on, it's just part of your routine every time you drive.

When I'm leaving for a business trip or vacation, I have an established routine that I will go through to ensure that all essential items are brought. My routine might not work for others, but it works for me. Ditto with where I store prep items around my condo, I know where they are, if I use one I put it back where I found it. It becomes habit over time.

It doesn't need to be at the level of paranoia where you're constantly checking your surroundings and reacting out of fear to little things... it's just about keeping that general level of vigilance and trusting yourself to react when you notice something that is amiss.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2013, 01:26:19 PM »
I never do this... and it is BAD... but I avoid the gas stations which cause you to run into the building to pay for your gas. I pay cash only and when I do have to go to a station where the gas attendant says I have to pay inside, I point to SweetPea in her carseat and say I have a small child and she is sleeping or just falling asleep. Then they usually take my cash from me and I thank them so very much. It is not that I am being lazy, but it is a pain to put her in and then take her out, lock the doors, unlock the doors.. put her back in and if we have been traveling awhile, sometimes she just does not want to go back in. Only once in 3 years has an attendant insisted that I go in. And I am grateful for that.

Cedar

Most states don't have gas station attendants anywhere outside at all. If you don't pay with cc or debit card, you literally have to go inside to pay.

Offline Theswerd

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2013, 01:59:40 PM »
As a former Gas Station worker, sometimes they worker will go out and talk to the (.... usually annoying) customer who keeps pressing "pay inside" button and won't come in or talk to us over the intercom.


If you explain *why* you won't leave the vehicle to come pay, and it isn't really busy, many attendants will be happy to come take your money. But please remember that it IS outside their job description, so please be nice to them. They deal with some real scum every day, and a Please and Thank You will take you a long way.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2013, 04:08:57 PM »
Twibble  I'm an advocate of conceal carry.  THIS will absolutely guarantee you will be paying attention to your surroundings and everyone you see.  For some reason this really does work.  After I started carrying a gun I see everything and everyone.  The guy sitting in his car in the parking lot two cars down.  The "kid" hanging out by the front of the store who thinks he can stroll  up behind me to ask for a handout.  The homeless man who hangs out by Lowes and watches the cars at Texas Roadhouse as I get takeout.  I see them all now.  Because I have to be prepared for any situation.  Do I look for a reason to pull out my gun? Never, absolutely not.  But I don't want to be surprised and become someone's victim because I wasn't paying attention when I have the means to protect myself and any loved one with me.  Anyway just my .02.  Blessings, TBM

Offline Twibble

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2013, 01:22:08 PM »
I have my conceal carry.  I pretty much carry all the time now (just started doing that a few months ago), and I have noticed that I seem to getting a bit more aware of what's going on around me. 

I've always automatically looked for exits when I go somewhere I might be for a while, and I hate sitting with my back to a door.

We were trained from a young age to ALWAYS lock the doors whether you're in your house or your car.  Irritates the crap out of my husband when he tries to get back in. :P

Cedar, back in high school, I kept extra keys to my car in both my wallet and my band locker because I was notorious for locking myself out.  I now have a car with a clicky, so I don't lock the car from the car.  I get out, with my keys in my hand, and click it locked.  Yes, I make sure it's locked.  If I'm not sure, I make it beep at me. :)

Gift of Fear does come off as being anti-gun when you read the section on gun safety.  He doesn't think we should necessarily get rid of guns, but he thinks they should be locked up or designed where only their user can use them and encourages people to contact gun manufacturers.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2013, 02:48:03 PM »
+1 for having CCW because I think all women should carry.  Just saying.  ;)

Offline hoosiermom

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2013, 08:46:34 PM »
Funny, I don't remember The Gift of Fear being anti-gun (and it's been years since I've read it).  I think I must have just taken away the important points about being aware and trusting your intuition.  Those points are what really stuck with me.  I would ignore the anti-gun stuff, and/or take it with a grain of salt.  If he says those that carry should be well-trained, well that I would agree with.

Two nights ago I was at a grocery store around 9:30, fairly deserted parking lot but in a low-crime area and fairly well-off area.  However, the car parked in the middle, running (although, to be fair, it was FREEZING), with the guy inside smoking and playing music, made me a little leery and I made sure to be extra attentive.  The words "situational awareness" popped in my head!

Offline Twibble

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2013, 08:33:35 AM »
Hoosier Mom, the section in Gift of Fear is 3 pages in the Appendix.  Still well worth the read, and re-read.

I also just picked up "The Sociopath Next Door" from the library.  :)

Offline soupbone

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Re: How not to be oblivious?
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2013, 06:38:36 PM »
Here's a way to get rid of your obliviousness that has nothing to do with CC, self defense, survivalism or prepping........ Get yourself a small digital camera. Take it with you wherever you go. Read a few books or blogs or articles on photography. Take pictures. Pretty soon, you will develop a new mindset, a new way to look at the world around you - through the viewfinder. You notice people, light, colors, geometry, things out of place, etc. And have some fun while you are doing it.

For me, "an afternoon shooting in the woods", has taken on a whole new meaning.



soup

PS: Got a better camera since I took this.