December 2, 2021

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Spotter Up, Having a Frame of Reference and What it Means to Me

10 min read

The Greeks

My 10th grade Western Civilization teacher Mr. Archer, was one of the many big influences on my young life. He might not have known it, but I appreciated how passionate he was about teaching us history. He was an educated man, spoke ancient Latin fluently and always mentioned Frame of Reference. What did he mean by this?

Frame of Reference, he noted is, “the past experiences that cause a person to see a certain thing in a certain way.” But what happens to those who go purely by the way they feel? What is a person’s Frame of Reference for handling emotions that tells you to ‘cut and run’ while everyone else is standing there and fighting?

Mr. Archer essentially noted that Frame of Reference was the set of ideas or philosophy, in terms of which other ideas are interpreted or assigned meaning. And if you didn’t have a stable frame of reference, than you were just drifting in the wind. We learned how the Greeks were cultural standouts amongst others because they actually had some very strong core beliefs. Decades later, I still think about this subject matter taught to me in class. Mr. Archer told us what it took to shape the Greek character and why they had an undying influence on all the other ages.


The Greeks didn’t waste time discovering their subjective self. Their’s was a process of education to become your true form that was rooted in the universal laws of nature. If you were able to tune out the noise and focus, you could find it. You took command of yourself. You didn’t make excuses for your failures, or take credit for others successes, and what you achieved came by hard work.

The Greeks learned history, gymnastics, poetry, wrestling, geography and so on. Today this could be substituted for men who learn about world history, Crossfit, and Land Navigation. They used a technique called Paideia (pahee-di’-ah) for making a man. When I wasn’t getting busted for shooting spit wads that stuck on the movie screen, or fighting with other students, my eyes were sometimes fixed on the aspects of Paideia and learning how to be a well-rounded man and achieve excellence.

Today I think we have a generation raised on the idea that everything we know is based solely on how we feel; it’s all about emotions, opinions, and attitudes but nothing rooted in truth. We do what feels good rather than doing what is right. Objectivity is ruled out over subjective preferences.

Try doing land navigation by wrong group consensus versus using facts, evidence and common sense. How did our nation get out of focus? It’s because our Frame of Reference shifted.

My Father in Vietnam
My Father in Vietnam

My Father

The other person that greatly influenced me was my father, a reed-thin man of exceptional intelligence, physical constitution and willpower. We took weekend trips to the library, made to do very tough manual labor and learned to have a love of books. Excuse making was never allowed in our home. Today we have ineffectual leadership that makes excuses and won’t take any blame.  We see no shareable moral knowledge and we have a generation that lacks a unifying intellectual ideal. Our nation is the greatest nation yet how is this possible?

Many have given up trying to become excellent. Many don’t know how to try to become excellent. What helps a boy become a strong man? Should we let him watch more TV?

My father spent 4 years in the Navy and then 10 years in Vietnam. From 1962 to 1972 he worked as a contractor trying to make a difference. He didn’t serve on the bloody battle fields of the Ia Drang Valley or in Khe Sanh but he saw enough and respected the men that fought and died there. And we were raised up to respect them too.

We were ‘lucky’ where others were not. I am a fortunate son, in that I was brought here by airplane long before Saigon fell. I came here comfortably, long before countless refugees arrived by boat. I am the son of an American father and a Vietnamese mother and I’m proud to be an American. The greatest country ever.

By 1975 it is likely many of these soldiers would be dead or fleeing Vietnam in order to get to America. Picture taken by my Dad.
By 1975 it is likely many of these soldiers would be dead or fleeing Vietnam in order to get to America. Picture taken by my Dad.

By 1975 it is likely many of these soldiers would be dead or fleeing Vietnam in order to get to America.


My 11th grade History teacher delighted in showing us her 1960’s Anti-Vietnam War protest film. The film briefly showed her face, along with thousands of other anti-war protesters, as they lined up to burn their bras at a football stadium. How could I receive two different kinds of education? She clearly didn’t know the devastating effect the death of my uncle, at the hands of the Viet Cong had on my mother. But I knew and lived through that.

In one memorable year my mother in pain and tears from sorrow and rage gathered every piece of her American purchased clothing from the closet and destroyed them in an enormous fire she created. As our American neighbors gathered to watch the toxic flume rise across our backyard, and the fire trucks arrive to diffuse the stinking blaze, I asked my father why it was happening.

My mother, he said to me, read from a letter that had come smuggled by a neighbor. Her youngest brother was dead. He had been killed getting an ‘education’ in the new regimes education camps. She tore at her clothes and wailed while my father tried to contain her pain. But, it was impossible and she destroyed everything in her path. She had fled her country for this new one, and in doing so left her family, her culture and her nation. The guilt and the shame she felt at that moment was hard for her to bear. The new life that was to be hopeful felt helpless to her. She cut every inch of black hair from her head with scissors while we stared in disbelief and confusion. My mother ran away to a Buddhist temple.

As we grew up, my father continually reminded his children that sometimes those who enjoy the greatest liberties teach others a revised history, and forget the war dead who made that liberty possible.

She lost an entire family by coming to America and often felt she should have stayed in Vietnam and died with the rest of her family. Her Uncle and her mother were also killed by  ‘re-education’ in Vietnam’s higher centers of learning. Her elder brother, who worked along with the Viet Cong, was given an esteemed position as a chauffeur. But America gave my mother a lot of opportunities. Her privileges and rights came by way of sacrifice. We owe this nation much.

My mother: She left a lot of relatives behind, yet was fortunate to come to come America.
My mother: She left a lot of relatives behind, yet was fortunate to come to come America.

Greek Pillars

Strong pillars under a structure allows a watchman to see clearly out along the horizon, all 360 degrees. But if just one pillar is offset, than his view is canted, and the information he receives is askew. A pillar used for decorative purposes is just a piece of art. We have a generation that is more focused on what they look like than what they can do. And a lot of people feel stuck and they wonder why. Our frame of reference has truly changed.

Frame of Reference

I’m not going to discuss frame of reference too deeply at this time. You can draw your own conclusions of what I think or believe by reading my brief story above, and by reading through our website articles. I am often confused by those who believe themselves to be patriots, and yet do things that fulfill their own self-interests, rather than do things that are in the interest of preserving a nation. I believe that some of our leadership is involved in the art of practicing brinkmanship (whether knowingly or unknowingly).  They push dangerous events to the brink of disaster in order to achieve something they believe is advantageous for the nation. A nation without a solid frame of reference is like a rudderless ship.


I am now going to list some of the things that we believe are important and help keep focus in order to daily craft Spotter Up and our Frame of Reference.

Number One: God. Nuff said.

Number Two: America is the greatest place on earth. Let’s work to keep it that way.

Number Three: Spotter Up means to ‘man up!’ or ‘woman up!’ for that matter. It means to live life without making excuses and to look for ways out of a bad situation. Primarily it is about finding a way out of danger, but it can be about finding a way out of a lousy job, a way to connect with your kids, find a way to be a better leader…you get the point. Don’t just quit. Give it a try.

Number Four: There’s something honorable and fulfilling in loving and respecting God, our families, our country and the Service (Airmen, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Coast-guardsmen, Firemen, & Police Officers). Thank you.

Number Five: There are a lot of amazingly smart and physically gifted people out there. If we can’t do something, than we want someone to teach us how. In a world where people think, “Don’t judge me, and I’m not going to judge you”, our attitude is about team-work and community because we don’t have all the immediate answers. And a lot of really good people do.  Judge us and call us out. Tell us what we did wrong and we’ll fix it, and we’ll help fix our brother. This can still be done while retaining our individualism.

Number Six: Blame and excuses have no place in my world view. If we can’t find a way out of a mess, we’re going to make a way out and so should you. Anyone that is an expert had to start as a beginner at some point in their life. Tearing down others who don’t have a tactical mindset, knowledge base or experience base is not being profound, it’s actually being petty. There are better ways to instruct and we want to try to do this.

Do something better; lead, follow, or get out of the way. Read Roosevelt’s quote (below) on the matter of being a critic.

Number Seven: Being a better strategist means learning about things that aren’t necessarily interesting or cool to you. Reading or writing poetry doesn’t mean someone is a sissy. If  you said that to General Patton I think he’d punch you in the nose. Yep, he wrote poetry.

Number Eight: This website cannot be built without our writers; some of them are not of the Christian faith, but I respect their right to express who they are. When it comes to facts, I need them to provide that and when it comes to opinion, they need to make the distinction between the two; and when opinion matters it will be rooted in fact. We’re only able to write anything, because good people have done the ground work; they have failed or succeeded but at least tried. (Military and First Responders, etc.) We will attempt to give credit when we can, and if we don’t, let us know.

Number Nine: Our website is about learning to be the best Chessman we can possibly be, regardless of the circumstances in life that we’ve been given. Life is not fair, but do something good about it. Making a direct attempt to build up rather than tear down is my goal. Boot-camp has its purpose and its place. I’m talking about the strategic picture. We want Spotter Up to provide useful information to the military, law enforcement, fitness and survival community alike in order to gain skill-sets that help us bypass threats. We want people to be good tacticians in all aspects of their life. Spotter Up is for those who want to learn, teach and share. We appreciate and respect anyone who wants to do the same. Survival for one is good, survival so others may live is best.

Number Ten: Yes, the quote “Aut Invenium…” is Latin but it sounds cool and I just had to use it. It was supposedly spoken by Hannibal the Great when his generals told him they didn’t think he could get through the Alps.

I hope you’ll subscribe to this philosophy.  If you already do, then thank you. We need men and women just like you to make a difference. Thanks for reading Spotter Up and I hope you’ll contribute what you know to help others who want to try to become Chessmen.

AUT INVENIUM VIAM AUT FACIAM-I will either find a way or I will make one.

Michael Kurcina-Founder

The Man in the Arena by Teddy Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


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