About Darren


The First SAR All-Hands Exercise of 2018

The first all hands training exercise of 2018 was hosted at Vulcan Mountain Trails and some private roads in Julian, CA. The exercise started at 0700 and thanks to the Vulcan Mountain Winery, the many participating SAR members had sufficient parking.

Each of us had to be self-sufficient. That means to pack our own meals for the day, carry enough water for the day, chair, layered clothing in addition to all of our SAR instruments. I should kindly mention that donuts and coffee were generously provided to team members, and that was the only exception to the self-sufficiency rule of the day. Thanks to whomever supplied that!

After parking, I boarded one of the 4x4s of the motorized team which transported all non-motorized team members to the Command Post (CP). There, I set my personal belongings down, submitted my completed T-card to the check-in table, and let my unit leader know that I am present. I stood near my comm unit team members beside the door of the MC5 truck (but out of the way). There is a good turn out of pre-academy Citizen Volunteers like myself for this mission. As we observed the SAR set up process and helped to move things forward at every opportunity, there was much time in between to socialize.

At 0830 we all gathered around the Incident Commander and Unit Leaders for the first mission debrief. Although this was only a training exercise it was carried out as if it were a live mission. The differences between the live missions and the training exercise, was the following:
1. we were allowed to take photos with our personal cameras, because during live missions all photos and photo-taking instruments (including smart phones) had to be forfeited as evidence.
2. everyone was more relaxed about our humor because during live missions we did not want to present anything other than a focused and professional attitude in case the subject’s loved ones (and the press) were observing us at work.

During this debriefing we learned the following facts that may be applicable across all other missions:
1. Mountain lions are less of an issue at Vulcan Mountain, but be aware of your surroundings anyway.
2. Be aware that ticks are an issue and gaiters are highly recommended.
3. Layered clothing is recommended for all day events.

The other take-aways that I learned during this mission:
1. The equipment check-out form is a crucial document to maintain because the Radio and GPS devices which are handed out are expensive to replace. Should the responsibility of maintaining this document be handed to another SAR member, it should be clearly communicated. I misunderstood a team member when they advised me to hand off team members to her after equipment check-out to only perform the task of equipment handout and let her document the handoff. By the time we found out about the miscommunication, we already had 2 radios checked out without names on the checkout form. Thankfully, all equipment was returned to the comm unit at the end of the day.
2. Personally, I was over-confident about my ability to bear the cool temperatures throughout the day so I only had 3 layers on and left the gloves behind at home. This was a mistake.

Overall, this training exercise was a great experience, and it was fun getting to know my team members better.

Photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm8V4zdL

My Creative Writing – When a Road Passes Through a Forest

“When a Road passes through a forest does it make a sound?”

Seems a lifetime ago this riddle passed my mind while riding through the Old Julian Forest on the Suzuki SV650s.
Only recently did the solution come to me.

The sportbike is unlike any other type of motorcycle.
The art of extracting the maximum performance has little margin for error from both man and machine;
because Death awaits just grams and milliseconds away from excellence.
Fear of Death has been the ally that sharpened my senses,
but a moderation of that fear has protected me from it’s betrayal.

The connection starts with the controls.
I hold the handlebars as one must hold a lover’s heart.
Too firmly, and I will not feel the machine speak the road;
too carelessly, and the machine will not know my intention.
This high fidelity connection is key to precision;
and precision is Life.


Twin cylinders beat in a neutral harmony
His heart beats also in a neutral harmony
He pulls in the clutch, and plucks the gear.
The chain gently twitches forward, and eagerly awaits
As his right hand twists the throttle, the machine growls into motion.
Thus, begins the battle between the forces of Life and Death.

The forest is a silent chalice for the road which sways and twists through it’s gentle valleys and hills.
It is in these curves, where Life is most precise, and Death’s claws are most cruel.
It is in the magical moment, when both man and machine lean into the curve their fates intertwine.

As they approach the curve, He plucks the gear down
The machine roars in defiance,
Again, another gear is plucked down,
The machine roars with greater rage, which echoes throughout the forest
Although fear thrashes at his heart,
still his hand holds steadily as before,
reading the Road beneath them while simultaneously orchestrating the lean into the corner.

His leg opens to the inside of the turn – ready to glide it’s knee over the Road.
His other leg holds firmly onto the machine, anchoring his torso as he lowers his center of gravity
In this very moment, his ears are closest to the machine’s twin cylinders
Crisp cold forest air gently breathed in by the machine’s airbox, creating a soft humming
The machine’s valves softly tick in precise harmony, mixing the air with mists of thunder.
The machine precisely delivers the power invested in his right hand to the Road beneath them with furious grace.

These two Hearts – one soul dance to the melody of a nameless Road

When a Road passes through a forest does it make a sound?
Does this road live in your heart? 

An Illustrated Guide to export Garmin Connect’s Training Calendar to Google Calendar

For those who use Google Calendar as a personal time management tool, you’ll be glad to know that you can export your Garmin Connect training calendar!  Here’s how it is done:

  1. Login to Garmin Connect  (https://connect.garmin.com/).
  2. Select a Training Plan: step1a
  3. Schedule the training schedule in order to add it to your Dashboard: step 1a
  4. Continue reading

San Diego’s Most Important Tweeters!

If you own a mobile phone and know how to access the internets, subscribing to Twitter is hardly something to scoff about.  Twitter is a practical communication tool that combines the best of the web with your cell phone without the need for a mobile data contract.   Whether you have a data plan or not, you are sure to benefit greatly from free service if you “follow” the right “tweeters.”

Tweeters here are chosen for their quality and usefulness of their tweets.  No fluff here! You can subscribe to my local-news twitter list, or simply read more about why you should follow: Continue reading

How to change your Work and Home address in Google Latitude

Google Latitude can now tell you how much time you spend at work and home.  Latitude will set your work and home addresses by default using your location history.  The address will very likely be inaccurate because it is usually based on cell phone tower triangulated location data.

You can let Google Latitude track your time spent at work and home more accurately by updating the work and home addresses.  Here’s how:

Sign into your Google account, and go to the Google Latitude dashboard: https://www.google.com/latitude/b/0/history/dashboard

Click Change next to the Work or Home Address to Change it.Next to your Work or Home address, click “Change” to change the respective address.  That’s it!


Secret Garden

by DramaFever.com

I won this T-Shirt in the DramaFever.com Secret Garden T-Shirt Contest!  Secret Garden is a mega hit KDrama series that recently completed airing in South Korea.  I never knew Korean Dramas could be so funny and entertaining, but lately I found out that the variety of Korean TV genres span just as wide as American TV Shows.  If anything, Korean shows much are funnier and have more depth in plot!!!  They really deserve to be rebranded as Korean Comedies.
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