Survive a Snow Blizzard and Help Others

If you own a four-wheel drive vehicle that is capable of getting out when weather conditions are bad, you might consider driving nurses and doctors to and from the hospital. Also, it is a great feeling to simply be a good Samaritan and drive around rescuing folks who are stuck in the snow. If you do decide to help, this article might have some tips and ideas you have not thought of yet… Also, if you know additional tips or ideas, please share in the comments below!

Note: If you do not have four-wheel drive, or are not comfortable in slippery weather, than please stay warm and cozy at home. With today’s equipment, we clear stuff up pretty dang fast… Sit back and enjoy the fire and a movie.

Note two: If you’re going out to get groceries, supplies, and fuel before a storm, consider going early morning or late evening, when the lines will be non-existent.

WARNING: Snow (especially deep snow) and related winter activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend using your head and carefully planning out any winter excursions. Remember that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can easily occur if you sit in an idling car where the exhaust is partially blocked (think snow pile, deep water, closed garage, and so on). Never sit in a running vehicle who’s exhaust system is blocked or hampered in any way. Also, frostbite and exposure are very easy to get during cold times of the year. Dress appropriately (in layers) and bring extra layers just in case.

First… Let’s talk about the equipment that you should have in/on your vehicle for rescue expeditions:

  • Mobile phone and charging cord;
  • GPS and/or appropriate maps (I carry a compass, because a GPS can fail in a blizzard);
  • First Aid kit;
  • Recovery gear (recovery strap, 5/16″ (or thicker) grade 70 chain, D shackles, and so on);
  • Essential tools;
  • Jumper cables;
  • Shovel and/or entrenching tool;
  • Flashlights;
  • Extra jackets;
  • Rain gear (poncho is great);
  • Gloves, gloves, and more gloves;
  • Food;
  • Water;
  • Sleeping bags and/or blankets;
  • Jack, lug nut wrench, and full-sized spare tire.
  •  

    You might also consider carrying a fire extinguisher, extra fuel, toilet paper, air compressor, tire repair kit, and multi-tool (knife). I do.

    Before you head out, make sure that you have a good understanding of your four-wheel drive system and how to properly use it. I literally helped a guy one time who had his Mitsubishi stuck and didn’t realize it wasn’t in four-wheel drive… He thought it was an automatic system. Knowledge will help, big time!

    Also, make sure you let friends and family know where you plan to drive. Check in with them from time-to-time to let them know the conditions, and that you are okay.

    When I rescue, help, or otherwise offer assistance to folks, I do not accept payment. There are a few occasions when folks try to insist on giving you money… So, about 15 years ago, I printed 500 of these business cards that I hand out now:
    Pay It Forward
    Now it is my life-goal to hand all of them out.

    Depending on the depth of snow and road conditions, you might consider lowering your tire pressure. Only do this, if you know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Never drive deflated tires on clear roads at normal speeds. Also, never go below 15 psi unless you have beadlocking rims. Remember that your ground clearance will come down a hair with every 10 psi, so consider only deflating 10 (or so) psi to increase your tread footprint and make the tire more malleable. Deflating all the way to 15 psi will nearly double your tread area, but comes with a price. Not only will your rig sit much lower, you also risk overheating your tires at road speeds. Having a larger tread on the ground will give you more traction (for driving and stopping)… But, you must weigh the depth of snow, conditions, and your experience before deciding to deflate. When in doubt, skip this tip.

    Before using recovery gear, make sure that you are well-versed in your equipment and how to safely use it. ALWAYS be patient and use your head. This is dangerous and can result in injury or death. Do not perform a recovery until you know more about it. I have done dozens of winch rescues and countless snatch strap recoveries and still run into new issues and conundrums each time.

    We average 17 inches of snowfall every year in my part of Maryland. So, it gives me plenty of time to practice my winter skills. I highly recommend going out every snow day and building your skills with practice. My father taught me this, and I am teaching my children the same thing. Never practice out on the road with traffic. Instead, find an empty parking lot and do some practice there. Remember that many parking lots have concrete curbs, light poles, and other obstacles, so carefully drive it (slowly) at first and feel your way around. Once comfortable, you can practice things like recovering from a slide (I think this is most important). Also make sure you practice braking, and how to avoid sliding while stopping. Get used to the way your rig, tires, and setup responds in snow conditions. The more comfortable you are in a parking lot, the better equipped you will be out on the real road.

    Most of all, watch out for others. There are many people out there (especially since the SUV-boom) who really shouldn’t be. Share the road and be courteous, but also keep your eye on them. I’ve seen my share of guys going way to fast in bad conditions, and I have seen more than my share of accidents that resulted from this (and ones that should have/could have been completely avoided). Don’t pass snowplows. Not only do you risk wrecking with the increased speeds, your paint will also take a beating from the ejecting salt and sand. Besides, those guys have the right-of-way. Their job is more important than yours in this scenario. Give ’em room to work!

    Remember that a lot of people walk during these storms. So watch carefully for pedestrians. Often they even walk in the plowed street, because the sidewalk isn’t clear yet. While I consider this insane, I still watch for and am patient with folks. We’re all in this game of life together. Save a life by simply paying attention!

    Let’s finish up with a timeline of some of the more major storms I’ve experienced, and hopefully you will share your stories in the comments below… We’ve had our share of Nor’easter storms, snow storms, and nasty weather that have left Maryland blanketed in snow. These are the ones that stick out the most in my memory (sorry if I got any dates wrong):

    February 1978 (Maryland got three feet of snow) – I was ten. My Dad and I went out in our brand new 1977 GMC Jimmy (K5 full-sized). Back then, very few had four-wheel drive. We drove nurses, doctors, and rescued stuck people (not to mention having a TON of fun). That was the start of my love of helping folks in need during emergencies.

    December 1992 (Maryland got more than three feet of snow) – Between four-wheel drive vehicles, I had gotten rid of my CJ5 and Jimmy. Unfortunately, I blew my transmission in my station wagon while trying to rescue people anyway… Lesson learned.

    March 1993 (Maryland got about 18 inches of snow) – I had a 1963 Willys CJ3B that had more rust holes in it than a sunk ship… That Jeep was incredible and it shined in deep snow. However, the doctor I drove to the hospital hung on for his life, and looked terrified that the military Jeep would fall apart with each bump. Ha!

    January 1996 (Maryland got more than two feet of snow) – My 1994 Toyota 4-Runner was a beast in the wet fluff. Notably, I helped many more stuck vehicles than ever before, as the SUV fad was full tilt and folks took out their vehicles with summer tires on them… Also, this was the first time the hospitals didn’t need my help, because they had tons of 4×4 people offering assistance. My fondest memory was helping a family drive home with their newborn baby. That was a treat and made it all worthwhile!

    February 2003 (Maryland got more than three feet of snow) – Our 2001 Dodge Durango proved it’s worth as I again went out on rescue missions. More-and-more folks were out there with street tires on a moderate SUV… It was mayhem, and I stayed busy yanking them out of ditches.

    February 2006 (Maryland got near two feet of snow) – Our 2004 Chevy Tahoe was aggressive and responsive. This larger vehicle was ridiculously handy for driving half a dozen people around, but I could clearly see the downside of a huge and heavy truck in the deep snow.

    February 2010 (Maryland got a combined four feet over two storms) – Our 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser was a fantastic truck to handle this “snowmageddon.” Too date, this was by far the best truck for the nasty weather.

    Now I’m excited to see if the hype is real for the January 2016 Blizzard… If it is, my 2016 Willys is here and prepared. I have a feeling it will reign champion as the best snow vehicle I’ve ever owned. Bring it!
    2016 Willys

    Thanks for listening (reading), and please focus on safety if you go out,
    Vaughn

    p.s. Give me a ring if you get stuck or stranded and I will try to get out there and rescue you!

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    World AIDS Day 2014

    Today is World AIDS Day. Look for folks wearing a red ribbon! Speaking of which… Do you know where the red ribbon for AIDS awareness comes from? Way back in good ole 1991, a creative group (made up of photographers, painters, film makers, and costume designers) of twelve people gathered to discuss a new project; a New York arts organization that raises awareness for HIV. After a short brainstorming session, they came up with an idea that later became one of the most recognized symbols of the time – the red ribbon. It is worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

    Since the red ribbon was popularized for AIDS awareness, literally dozens of other colors have appeared, including: pink for breast cancer, yellow for deployed U.S. military forces, white for lung cancer, and so on and so forth. Technically, the yellow ribbon came out more than a century ago and has appeared in several songs and poems. But, the official ribbon stipulation started with the red AIDS ribbon.

    Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

    As usual, I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • It’s estimated that around 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Almost 40 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16 million orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for around 30 years. Over the years I have asked myself countless times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? I believe that I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from last year called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging around six years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted more than 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer.

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Giveaway for Hemophilia Awareness Month

    Do you want to win a COo.oOL prize?

    I’m giving away a $67 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C at the end of March. March is Hemophilia Awareness Month, and I decided to run a contest/giveaway to support Hemophilia Awareness, give back to my friends, and gain blog followers at the same time!

    It’s easy to enter and I will draw one lucky winner from the contestants on Monday, March 31, 2014. In order to qualify you simply need to subscribe to my blog. Subscribing is easy and I never SPAM my followers. Subscription to my blog will simply get you an email anytime a new blog article appears on the Healthy Wealthy Tribe blog! You will find the subscribe entry at the top or right side of this blog. Type in your email address and hit the “subscribe” button.

    That’s really all there is to it! If you are already a subscriber, then you are already entered!

    Previous Years Winners
    2013 – Liselle Easto
    2014 – TBD

    If you dig, please share this with your friends and followers. Also, please drop by my FB pages and like them:
    My author fan page
    Healthy Wealthy Tribe blog page
    Survivor page

    Thank you for your support, friends!

    Note: You must enter by 11:11 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Also, see the “fine print” below for contest rules.

    Also, please checkout the following sites for more information about hemophiliacs and Hemophilia Awareness Month:
    National Hemophilia Foundation Website
    Hemophilia Federation of America Website

    Good luck!

    Signed, your easy bleeding friend and compatriot,
    Vaughn Ripley


    CONTEST RULES AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER
    Only one (1) winner will be selected for this contest. Vaughn Ripley reserves sole and final judgment as to all matters concerning contests and interpretation of contest rules.

    By entering this contest, you agree to abide by the following terms:

    How To Enter/Eligibility
    No purchase is necessary to enter this contests.
    Contestants must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the USA, Canada, UK, or Australia. Entries must be sent using the format provided above.

    Contest Deadlines
    All entries must be submitted on or before 11:11 p.m. EST on March 29, 2014.

    Winner Selection and Notification
    The winner will be randomly selected on March 31, 2014. The odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. The drawing winner will be notified via Tweet, Facebook message, and through announcement on Vaughn’s fan page. The decisions made by the judge (Vaughn Ripley) regarding this contest are final and binding.

    Winner Disqualification
    If a winner cannot be reached after a reasonable amount of effort has been made to notify the winner of the prize, the winner forfeits his/her rights to the winning prize. If a winner does not get in touch with Vaughn Ripley within 21 days of winning, the winner forfeits his/her prize. Vaughn Ripley assumes no responsibility to ensure winner response.

    General Conditions
    No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. All decisions of Vaughn Ripley are final. By entering, participants warrant and represent that they agree to be bound by these contest rules and the final decisions of Vaughn Ripley. All taxes on any prize won are the sole responsibility of each winner, including, without limitation, any federal, state, or local taxes, which may be deemed applicable in such winner’s jurisdiction of residence. The winner shall be solely responsible for the reporting and payment of all taxes incurred by acceptance and use of the prize(s) (or any portion thereof), if applicable.

    All prizes will be mailed to participants free of charge. Delivery method is at the sole discretion of Vaughn Ripley.

    Vaughn Ripley reserves the right to cancel contests at any time for any reason. Vaughn Ripley reserves the right to modify the dates and/or terms of contests at any time without prior notice.

    Prizes are offered “as is” with no written, express, or implied warranty.

    Vaughn Ripley is not responsible for late, lost, illegible, misdirected, mutilated or incomplete entries.

    Anyone using fraudulent means to participate and/or win the contest will be disqualified. ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. VAUGHN RIPLEY RESERVES ALL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDIES AND DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY ENTRANT ATTEMPTING TO DO SO TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW, INCLUDING REPORTING SUCH ACTIVITIES TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES WHICH MAY RESULT IN OR LEAD TO CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

    Contestant Releases
    Acceptance of prize constitutes permission to use winners name, city, state, and country for promotional purposes.

    Contestants agree that the sole and final judgment as to all matters concerning contests and interpretation of contest rules are at the sole discretion of Vaughn Ripley.

    Whew! Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… Let the games begin!

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Twenty Seven Years of Survival

    Fasten your seat belts, folks. This article may have a “me-me-me” bend to it. And, that’s because it does. Most of my articles are focused on “us” (you and me). But, this one is my celebration of life. More specifically… A celebration of MY life.

    Yay me!

    Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…

    This post is about My Surviving Anniversary – On January 3, 1987 I was diagnosed as being HIV+. Somewhere between mid 1985 and late 1987, I was transfused with a bad batch of blood. To quote Huey Lewis, “Sometimes, bad is bad.”

    Officially, I have been diagnosed with HIV for 27 years. Unofficially, we don’t know when I got it, because I’m a mild hemophiliac and don’t have to get factor VIII or cryoprecipitate (clotting factor) on a regular basis. I have a letter from my doctor, which arrived days after Rock Hudson’s death, dated October 9, 1985, stating that I tested HTLV-III negative. The old test they used couldn’t detect the virus unless it had been in your body for more than three months… This means that I was infected somewhere between (circa) July, 1985 and October, 1987.

    Semantics aside, suffice it to say that it’s been more than 27 and fewer than 30 years. Regardless, I have lived more than a quarter of a century past where my doctor predicted. Hoo-Rah!

    Circa 1989 I got shingles and then a pneumonia. My CD4 levels were brutally low and when they dipped below 200 I was considered to have ARC (AIDS-related complex). Later, doctors said that if your levels dropped below 200 you had “full-blown” AIDS. I think they did this for medical insurance reasons, yada. Again I was told that my life would end in a very short time. By now, I was used to being told, “You ain’t got much time left, kid.”

    Well… I didn’t die. Now I’m one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, there are others who have survived and lived as long as me (or even longer). However, when you think about the numbers… More than 25,000,000 have died and only a handful have survived this long… You get the picture.

    My wife, Kristine, and I found out about a new and “safe” way for us to have children in circa 2002. It is called ICSI (you can read more about this in my in vitro article) in vitro fertilization. We made several attempts before finally being successful and having our little girl in early 2005. This was a milestone of epic proporations, because we always assumed we’d never have children.

    Back in 2007 I celebrated my 40th birthday. The theme was, Forty Years of Life and Twenty Years of Survival. Kristine and I invited 105 of my closest friends and we rented out two adjoining hotel ballrooms. We hired a live band ( The Reagan Years are a 80’s throwback cover band, and they are AWESOME!) We had a catered dinner. And, we had an open bar. This was my knockdown, drag-out, bash! And, it was quite the celebration!

    Then in 2010 I published my memoirs, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This book details my battle and struggle to thrive.

    I feel pretty good, considering I was told I had fewer than two years to live when I was 19 years old… My plan is to live another 30 years. I figure 77 years old is a cool number, so that’s the one I’m going with. However, if death comes knocking on my door sooner, it better have an army with it, because I’m a warrior. Death does not scare me. Not in the least. However, I won’t simply lie down. Count on that!

    (:

    In the meantime, I have some lofty goals. Here are a few of them (in no particular order):

  • Travel to Italy, Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, Fiji, and Australia with my family;
  • Compete in 100 triathlons;
  • Publish a dozen or more books;
  • Finish a full Ironman distance triathlon;
  • Travel the world inspiring diverse people;
  • Make a difference in the hemophilia community;
  • Teach my children wrong from right;
  • Figure out my spirituality and what I believe in;
  • Climb Mount Rainier (and maybe a few others);
  • Love my darling wife until my dying day.
  •  
    Thank you for all of the support, friendship, and downright caring that each and every one of you gives me. Hopefully this “me-me-me” article was fun for you guys too. Now let’s get back to the “us” articles!

    Love you all,
    Vaughn Foster Ripley

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    World AIDS Day 2013

    Today is World AIDS Day. Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

    I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • That as of 2008, there are 33.4 million people currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16,000,000 orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs and are my blood brothers.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for 28+ years. Over the years I have asked myself more than a thousand times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? Now that I’ve survived for nearly three decades, I think I can finally (and honestly) answer that question. I think I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from a few months back called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging nearly five years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted nearly 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Gears for Good 2013

    I’m riding (for the third year in a row) 156 miles (from Paw Paw to Washington, D.C.) over three days (September 27-29, 2013). Funds that are raised (last year we raised over $38,000) from this ride are directed to the Helping Hands program to assist families in the bleeding disorder community who are going through financial difficulty. It not only helps these families, but we also raise awareness and build a growing, strong community of friends! Gears for Good is an AWESOME cause!!!

    please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    I wrote an article for the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) in their quarterly Dateline magazine. You can find my article on page 10 of this issue: hemophiliafed.org/dateline/HFA_Dateline_2013_Q2_Summer. Please checkout my article and let me know what you think!

    In this article I give the Top ten reasons why you might want to join us on the Gears for Good Ride… Here they are:

    Top Ten Reasons to Join Us

    10. Meditative effect and fresh air (instead of being cooped-up in a stinky gym)

    9. Strength and aerobic improvement (plus it builds stamina)

    8. Boost your overall mood and self esteem

    7. Longevity

    6. Burns calories (and most importantly – fat!)

    5. Improves coordination and balance

    4. Low impact exercise

    3. Strengthen joints (knees, ankles, and hips)

    2. Raising money and awareness for an amazing cause

    1. Meet and hang out with some incredible people who are living with a bleeding disorder just like you

    Checkout this COo.oOL HFA video from last year to see a brief clip about our ride, our camaraderie, and our community!

    If you can’t join us, you can at least be there in spirit… And, your donation is going to an incredibly good cause!

    As I said before, please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    If you prefer to donate manually (not online) you can write a check to the Hemophilia Federation of America. Please write “donation in support of Vaughn Ripley” in the memo and mail the check to:

    Hemophilia Federation of America
    210 7th SE
    Suite 200B
    Washington, DC 20003

    I will continue to ride this event every year (until I can no longer ride) in support of my blood brothers. Please help me to help others!!

    Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Love you all,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    The Fountain of Youth

    Don’t laugh; the Fountain of Youth really does exist. Living longer does not only apply to HIV+ folks, this information will work for everyone. Following some simple guidelines and principals can have you on the path to increasing your life expectancy.

    Many people from different walks of life told me precisely what I needed to do to prolong my life while dealing with HIV. What I found along the way, and with my experience is that these ideals also apply to everyday human beings.

    I have spent (and continue to spend) countless hours meeting with gurus, coaches, doctors, and experts in different fields to figure out how to improve my chances for living longer. I’ve also read countless books, articles, and blog posts. Along the way, I have compiled information from friends, family members, authors, scientists, and a plethora of other sources. Here is a little bit of what each of them had to say:

  • Doctors told me that the only way to prolong my life was to take a daily regimen of medication and never miss a dose. They explained that I must work hard at always taking my prescriptions at specific times.
  • Fitness Fanatics said that the only way to live past my doctor’s timeline was to lift weights, do cardio, and maintain a fit body. They encouraged me to join a gym and make sure that I worked out at least five or six times per week for an allotment of 45 minutes or longer.
  • Religious Zealots told me that the only way to survive was to give myself up to God, pray for his support, and leave everything in God’s hands. They explained that there was no man-made solution to my problems and that only through God would I last on this earthly domicile.
  • Health Nuts encouraged me to refrain from smoking, drinking, and indulging in recreational drugs. They also explained that I needed to eat only organic foods and stay away from processed “shelf food.”
  • Positive Thinkers revealed that I had to think only positive thoughts and breathe out the negative thoughts. They went on to show me how a positive attitude and outlook would go a long way in helping me survive on this pale blue dot we affectionately call Earth.
  • Nutritional Nuts explained that eating a healthy diet and banning junk food was the only way to live longer. They explained that I must carefully calculate my calorie intake and distribute the macronutrients properly.
  • Yoga Enthusiasts relayed that in order to make it, I must meditate, stretch, and find my inner self. These gurus and yogis laid out a plan of daily relaxation and a stress-free living style that would allow me to accomplish my goal of prolonged life.
  •  

    While I see the power in each person’s viewpoint, I also saw that they were strong in individual ways. So, I found myself asking the question, Who is right?

    After ~28 years of survival with HIV… After studying literally hundreds of books… I can tell you that I believe that I am here, one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe, because…

    …Drum roll please…

    It is my honest opinion that I am here today, typing away, because I have combined the advice and knowledge from everyone on those lists and created my own plan based on my lifestyle and needs. The short answer to my question is, They are ALL right!

    It’s also my guarantee (or you can get your money back, no questions asked), that if you apply these same principals in your life, that you will live longer.

    I hope you have a great day!

    -Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Sheepdog in Sheep’s Clothing

    I am a warrior. And, I have warrior’s blood flowing in my veins. My father fought in the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star for acts of bravery. That said, the joke is on me… I was born in the body of a hemophiliac. And, on top of that, I contracted HIV back in the 80’s from a bad blood transfusion. That is why I call myself a sheepdog in sheep’s clothing. You see, I’m constantly on the lookout for the wolf, but if I find him, we may both die (this is an acceptable option to me). I’m an honorable and chivalrous protector of my sheep brethren. For an example of my sheepdog prowess, read chapter seven in my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C.

    The funny thing is, I’ve always known I’m a warrior, but I never thought of myself as a sheepdog until my buddy, Jerry, recently pointed me to a most excellent excerpt from a book, “On Combat.” The author, Lieutenant Colonel Grossman (retired), breaks down people into three categories: Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves. I agree with this article with one caveat (actually two)… I believe there’s a fourth class that I call a “sheepherder” (in keeping with Col. Grossman’s analogy of sheep). The sheepherder is different from the sheepdog in that he does not necessarily try to protect us like the sheepdog does… Instead, he understands that people are sheep and he steps up to lead them. I also firmly believe that many of us (except the sheepherders) believe we’re sheepdogs even though in actuality, we are sheep. I’ll take that further and step out on a limb to state that I believe that even many wolves believe their sheepdogs. Think about it, and you might agree. Either way, please comment and let me know your thoughts.

    Editor’s Note: The following passage is from the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.), and is being reprinted with permission from the author. When I asked for permission, this is the response I received:

    Vaughn,

    Dave Grossman here. I would be honored for you to post the “Sheepdog” piece on your blog. You can find a clean, up-to-date copy on our www.killology.com website.

    Good luck and God bless in all your endeavors.

    Hunt the wolf! And bring the light to the dark places where others fear to go!
    -Dave

    Without further ado, I would be honored to share an amazing article with you. Please read it all the way through, and by all means, chime-in with comments below after reading it.


    On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs
    (From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)

    ”Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
    The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”

    – William J. Bennett
    In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
    November 24, 1997

    One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

    Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

    Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

    I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

    “Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

    “Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”

    If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath–a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

    The gift of aggression

    “What goes on around you… compares little with what goes on inside you.”
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Everyone has been given a gift in life. Some people have a gift for science and some have a flair for art. And warriors have been given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift than a doctor would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to help others. These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift of aggression and a love for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our warriors.

    One career police officer wrote to me about this after attending one of my Bulletproof Mind training sessions:
    “I want to say thank you for finally shedding some light on why it is that I can do what I do. I always knew why I did it. I love my [citizens], even the bad ones, and had a talent that I could return to my community. I just couldn’t put my finger on why I could wade through the chaos, the gore, the sadness, if given a chance try to make it all better, and walk right out the other side.”

    Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.

    The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

    Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”

    Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about “Tommy” the British soldier:

    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

    The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001, when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

    Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

    Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

    While there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, he does have one real advantage. Only one. He is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

    There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory acts of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

    However, when there were cues given by potential victims that indicated they would not go easily, the cons said that they would walk away. If the cons sensed that the target was a “counter-predator,” that is, a sheepdog, they would leave him alone unless there was no other choice but to engage.

    One police officer told me that he rode a commuter train to work each day. One day, as was his usual, he was standing in the crowded car, dressed in blue jeans, T-shirt and jacket, holding onto a pole and reading a paperback. At one of the stops, two street toughs boarded, shouting and cursing and doing every obnoxious thing possible to intimidate the other riders. The officer continued to read his book, though he kept a watchful eye on the two punks as they strolled along the aisle making comments to female passengers, and banging shoulders with men as they passed.

    As they approached the officer, he lowered his novel and made eye contact with them. “You got a problem, man?” one of the IQ-challenged punks asked. “You think you’re tough, or somethin’?” the other asked, obviously offended that this one was not shirking away from them.

    “As a matter of fact, I am tough,” the officer said, calmly and with a steady gaze.

    The two looked at him for a long moment, and then without saying a word, turned and moved back down the aisle to continue their taunting of the other passengers, the sheep.

    Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

    Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers–athletes, business people and parents–from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

    “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”

    “There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.”
    – Edmund Burke
    Reflections on the Revolution in France

    Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

    If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

    For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to slaughter you and your loved ones.

    I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in church.” I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a police officer he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down 14 people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”

    Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for “heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’ school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them. Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?”

    The warrior must cleanse denial from his thinking. Coach Bob Lindsey, a renowned law enforcement trainer, says that warriors must practice “when/then” thinking, not “if/when.” Instead of saying, “If it happens then I will take action,” the warrior says, “When it happens then I will be ready.”

    It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

    Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun; you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth.

    Chuck Yeager, the famous test pilot and first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, says that he knew he could die. There was no denial for him. He did not allow himself the luxury of denial. This acceptance of reality can cause fear, but it is a healthy, controlled fear that will keep you alive:

    “I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.”
    – Brigadier General Chuck Yeager
    Yeager, An Autobiography

    Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation:

    “..denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling. Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.”

    And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

    If you are a warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7 for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself… “Baa.”

    This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-grass sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.


    Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. Col. Grossman is a West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which has been termed “killology.” In this new field, Col. Grossman has made revolutionary new contributions to our understanding of killing in war, the psychological costs of war, the root causes of the current “virus” of violent crime that is raging around the world, and the process of healing the victims of violence, in war and peace.


    Also… Take a look at www.GetBulletProofMind.com and see the little promo video, to get an idea of what Col. Grossman is doing in the civilian/CCW field. (I already bought my copy!)

    I hope you enjoyed this post! Are you a sheep, sheepdog, sheepherder, or wolf? What do you want to be? Please comment and let me know your opinion…

    Your faithful sheepdog,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.