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Monday, December 11, 2017

"Go Guarded": I Cannot Even

I cannot even so much that I am, in fact, odd.

What.. what the fuck is this happy horse shit?

It's plastic. PLASTIC. So not only can you not punch with it like the ad would have you suggest (well, I suppose you could, but something's going to break, and chances are it'll be your finger or worse), but you're scratching an assailant with a dubiously sharp and "serrated" piece of plastic. Unless you manage to get incredibly lucky and stab the guy in the eye, the most you're going to do is poke him and maybe draw some blood. So now he's not just attacking you, he's attacking you and he's pissed off.

Put as bluntly as I think the Go Guarded's edge is, this will only be effective at turning a rape into a murder. 

Look, ladies: on average, men are taller than women, which means they have a longer reach than us (every foot taller is 6" of additional reach), and they're also heavier and have greater upper-body strength. At no point do I want to get into a hand-to-hand struggle with anyone who can pin my arms to my sides with his longer reach and use his greater weight to force me to the ground. Hell, I carry a fighting knife and I still don't want to get into melee combat with a man -- or with anyone, for that matter.

No thank you, George Takei. A firearm neutralizes the height/ weight/ reach/ muscle mass disparity between the sexes and it allows me to keep a safe distance, so I'll use my concealed pistol (which also functions as a very loud rape whistle) to make sure my assailant, and whatever accomplices he has, don't get within striking distance of me.

Do not buy this product. It is stupid and ineffective and will get you hurt. Even if you live in an anti-gun state (interestingly enough, Go Guarded is based in Arizona, a state with Constitutional Carry), you have better options than this. Heck, even pepper spray is preferable to this.

And speaking of George Takei, isn't it funny how he hates guns which place women on equal footing with men but approves of a plastic scratcher which requires a physical struggle where women are likely to lose? I'm fairly certain there's a problematic term for this, like "disempowering" or "mansplaining" or possibly even "misogynistic".

As my friend Firehand says:  "Captain, can someone escort Mr. Sulu to the doctor? He forgot to take his meds again."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #173 - Too Many Acronyms

GOA and NAGR tried to make HR38 DOA with FUD.
  • Self Defense with Kids and Dogs! No, not using your kids as shields or throwing dogs at intruders. Instead, Beth discusses the self-defense options that are available when you have small children and/or dogs.
  • In a story that hits a little too close to home, Sean knew the victim (but not the son) in "Friends, family grieve after Franklinton man killed, allegedly by his son."
  • Barron is back with us this week to talk about why you should keep your cell phone number secure, safe, and private.
  • Miguel has a temper. The guy in that truck you just accidentally cut off has a temper. You have a temper. In this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Miguel offers some tips for how to avoid having the worst part of you make the worst decisions possible.
  • In this week's Main Topic, Sean and Erin discuss the "Fix NICS" half of HR38, and why you shouldn't let the freakout by GOA and NAGR over NICS frighten you away from supporting this important bill.
  • Tiffany is attending a week-long Deadly Force Instructor course in Live Oak, FL. She has just enough time on a break to record  her thoughts on why you should attend… and stay tuned for a surprise cameo!
  • It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year for you to buy stocking stuffers for the preppers in your life. Erin makes a list, and you should check it twice.
  • There was so much anti-gun nuttery on the “Professor Puppet” video Weer’d did last week, he had to come back for more.
  • And our Plug of the Week is Contact Your Senators and ask them to support HR38 Concealed Carry Reciprocity.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript: 
Stocking Stuffers for Preppers
Hello preppers! If you are listening to this podcast on Sunday night, you have exactly 14 days until Christmas! 

Hopefully you have all prepared for the season by buying your presents early, or at the very least you know what you plan to get and you have the shipping times worked so that all your gifts arrive on schedule. 

As for myself -- well, not to brag, but I completed all of my Christmas shopping before it was even December and now I’m working on my famous (or perhaps infamous) My Little Pony Christmas Cards. 

But for those of you who haven’t finished your shopping (or for those of you who are just now going “Oh crap, I really need to get started”), Santa’s Elf Erin is here to give you some ideas for inexpensive but useful stocking stuffers for friends and family. Give them to people who aren’t yet into prepping as a combination gift and kick in the butt, or get a bunch of things and make a smorgasbord box of handy preps. 

Everyone needs a good flashlight! I recommend the 300 lumen mini Cree LED flashlight by UltraFire. It uses a single AA battery, is super-efficient, has a zoomable focus and at only 4 inches long it fits comfortably in pockets and purses. It’s only $6 and, like most of the items I’m going to recommend, as Amazon’s two-day Prime shipping. 

Everyone also needs a good fixed blade knife. I’ve talked about Mora knives before, and they’re still the best-kept secret in the knife world. They’re amazingly ergonomic, don’t need sharpening out of the box, and come in a variety of colors including military green, tactical black and magenta. They range in price from $10 to $22 depending on which color you get. 

Worried about loved ones getting lost or succumbing to the elements? No worries, fam, I gotcha covered. There’s a company called SOL for “Survive Outdoors Longer” and they make a panoply of  survival tools for use when you’re the other kind of SOL.  A two-person survival blanket costs $6 and will keep them warm and dry, while a $9 signal mirror and a $6 package of rescue whistles will ensure they are seen and heard. 

If you’re looking for something to put you over the limit for free shipping, get an eyeglass repair kit for $4 that comes with a magnifying glass, 12 screws for eyeglass hinges and nosepieces, and a tiny screwdriver for those tiny screws. These kits are essential if, like me, you need glasses to function, but they’re still nice to have if your sunglasses break. 

Other good things to put inside stockings are things which you can pick up at just about any grocery store, like batteries (AA or AAA), disposable lighters and rolls of duct tape. Did you know that duct tape is made of cotton and can be used as a fire starter?

This last item isn’t really a stocking stuffer, and it’s quite odd, but I’m including it here because there’s a humorous Christmas story attached to it. Three years ago, my mother had cataract surgery and that made it harder for her to focus her eyes enough to do the knitting and stitching that she enjoys. In desperation, I ordered her a multi-power head magnifer -- you know, the magnifying lenses on headbands that jewelers and watchmakers use -- because it was only $9 and I could get it to her in two days. I figured that even if she hated it, I could still find a use for it. 

To my extreme amazement and delight, my mother LOVED IT and uses it daily. It’s given her years of faithful use and has brought peace and joy to the house because she is no longer frustrated about being unable to see her hobbies. So if you have a family member who has poor vision and whose hobbies include precision work like making models or painting miniatures or tying fishing lures, get one of these. I guarantee that you won’t regret it!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hoist By Their Own Petard

No lie, I had to look up what a 'petard' was. Apparently it's a kind of explosive. Thanks, Assassin's Creed, for teaching me all about pre-Renaissance weaponry! 

A lifetime ago, it seems, I wrote about Bahar Mustafa. I wrote about how using hateful language, even if you think you're 'punching up', is still going to come back to bite you because of the rules you set forth, because you've thrown away context in favour of outrage, because you're more worried about scoring Good Person Points than you are talking to someone you disagree with.

And here we go again. I find myself growing more and more accustomed to the phrase "I told you so."

I'll be addressing some points from an article from The Daily Beast, but first a brief musical interlude.


Such a catchy song. I think the whole point of it is that it's ironic that a song about irony dredges up example after example of things that aren't ironic but instead just suck.

So the gist of the article is that there are women, ostensibly comedians, being banned from Facebook (and Twitter, Instagram, etc) for such benign, harmless phrases such as "men are trash," "men are scum," and "all men are ugly." And yes, this is bad. People shouldn't be banned for writing harmless (but stupid) things like that. This is not a Good Thing.

But, to quote Tony Stark, this is the end of the path you have started us on. When you've spent the last few years attacking, flagging, and reporting everything as harmful and hateful, you shouldn't be surprised when all of the sudden your particular favoured target is now considered 'protected' and your speech is stifled. After all, Facebook is a private company, right? They're not the government and therefore not bound by the First Amendment, right? You're not crying over your freeze peach, are you?

No, of course not. Because it's Different When I Do It™, right? Because your faceless, featureless, monolith of groupthinking physical traits are morally superiour to the other faceless, featureless, monolith of groupthinking physical traits.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, countless women have taken to Facebook to express their frustration and disappointment with men and have been promptly shut down or silenced, banned from the platform for periods ranging from one to seven days.
See, I want to respond to this. And there's such an obvious comeback, but the kindergarten-level #NotAllMen is what I'd receive in return, not any introspection about judging people by their actions and character and not by their genitals.
Kayla Avery, a comedian in Boston said she’s been banned close to 10 times by Facebook and is currently serving out the end of her third 30-day ban.
I'm not sure who Kayla Avery is. Google just shows me someone convicted of murder. Maybe if I add "comedian" to the search something will...
Oh... she seems nice.
The post features screenshots provided by Sanni where Facebook does not deem comments calling her the N-word hate speech.
You know, this one time I stumbled across a profile that was full of sexualized images of young boys. I reported that profile. This is what I got in return. 
It's almost like Facebook just sucks at moderation in general.
As ProPublica revealed in an investigation in June, white men are listed as a protected group by the platform.
A Facebook spokesperson clarified that this is because all genders, races, and religions are all protected characteristics under Facebook’s current policy.
Like it or not, whether you even knew it or not, this is what you were asking for. You wanted all manner of protected classes. Did you think Facebook, one of the world's biggest companies (and a fat financial target for litigation) would open itself up to a discrimination suit by a hungry lawyer by not making a certain group or other a 'protected class'?
Female comedians have speculated that it’s internalized misogyny on the behalf of Facebook’s content moderation team that leads to punishment such as banning to be doled out unequally. Several have tried posting “women are scum,” had their friends report the posts, and subsequently suffered zero consequences.
"Speculation and anecdotal evidence have led us to believe that they're putting chemicals in the water that are turnin' the friggin frogs gay!" Come on, now. 
One issue with the way Facebook moderators currently review posts is that many “problematic” posts are viewed individually, without context because of privacy concerns. Facebook moderators also aren’t able to view personal or demographic information about the original poster. This means that they sometimes don’t know whether a piece of content was posted by a black queer woman or a white straight male.
2015: Fuck your context, you're _____ and that's problematic!
In the past, ironic misandry has been a popular way for women to deal with living in a world where they’re exposed to frequent abuse at the hands of powerful men. Yet, if a woman takes to Facebook to vent about how she “wants to imprison men and milk them for their male tears,” she could quickly lose access to her account.
But wouldn't ironic misandry normalize misandric statements, and therefore allow them to creep into the mainstream? You don't want that, do you?

Do you?
...has become a favored tactic of the alt-right, Gamergate, and movements known for their coordinated harassment...
B4? That's B4, right? I'VE GOT BINGO!
“I get cold feet to post stuff, especially if I try to share something that’s going on that I want to bring attention to. because I feel like I’m going to get in trouble somehow,” she said. “Sharing anything is nerve racking. It’s like, ‘What’s ok? What’s not ok? What’s going to cross the line this time?’ It makes me feel crazy, like Facebook is gaslighting us.”
Cold feet? Almost like this sort of thing has a chilling effect on free speech? Oh my, that does sound like a problem I sure wish someone had tried to warn us about this for the last few years

Ok, I'm done picking at The Daily Beast for now. Look, this sucks. It does. I don't want people banned from social media for writing something dumb. If that were the norm, I'd have been banned from Blogger by now, for sure. But this is what you've been pushing us towards. This is the end of the path you started us on, and now we're stuck here. Social media companies have tried so hard to kowtow to your demands that they overreached and now you've been hit, too.

I'm sorry, I truly am. But you had this coming, and so many of us tried to warn you.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pellatarrum: The Many Names of Dwarves

As has been mentioned before, the dwarven language is one of extreme concision because their culture prizes conceptual refinement over all other concerns. This pattern extends to naming conventions as well, with only the most illustrious dwarves of myth and legend (or gods) having one-word names and therefore being considers exemplars of their type; all other dwarves have additional names which further describe and therefore diminish them.

The Overname describes what a particular dwarf has chosen to do with his or her life: a devotee of the Church of Light, a worker at a forge, a warrior in service to the defense of the great Citadel-Forge of Agnakorem. Other races often perceive the overname as a title or job description, but it so much more than that: the overname declares a dwarf's purpose, and it comes first because a dwarf without purpose is no dwarf at all and might as well be a lump of stone.

A dwarven ranger who guards the underside of Agnakorem gainst aberrant horrors from the opposite side of the disk would have an overname like "Horizon Warden". *
*Horizon being the term for the line bisecting the disc of Pellatarrum lengthwise, separating the land of the Dayspire from the land of the Nightspire, and serving as a border between What Is Pure and What Is Not. You know you have crossed the Horizon when gravity reverses.

Next is the Clan name, because dwarven culture states that the family is more important than the individual, and the clan is more important than family. This is sometimes observed more in the breach than in practice -- it is difficult to place the needs of blood relatives below the desires of a collective of distant kin -- but this format is stressed because it allows for the formation of dwarven city-states. A contemporary cultural approximation would be the way military personnel swear to serve their country and put its needs before all others, including familial separation and/or death.

Since most dwarf clans are created through heroic action that earns a sobriquet. For example, Clan Ironfoot earned its name through the actions of its founder who used an iron-shod boot to crush the skull of a hated orc chieftain in heroic combat. (Technically all dwarf clan names ought to be rendered in dwarven, but for purposes of flavor and style and ease of use by player characters, the English translation is used instead.)

A horizon warden of the Ironfoot clan would be addressed as Horizon Warden Ironfoot, and this is all the name that needs be used during performance of duties or non-social interaction. Example: "Horizon Warden Ironfoot, is this tunnel safe to use?"

The Patriarchal name is used to denote family ties through marriage. The eldest competent male dwarf of the line is the patriarch of the family, and while he has the ability to speak for the entire family this ability is rarely exercised outside of emergencies or times of war. (Dwarves understand the necessity of a single command voice during a crisis, but the patriarch is often too old, too busy, or both to effectively micromanage every aspect of the family.) During normal life the patriarch acts as the voice of wisdom: giving advice to parents, mediating disputes between adults that threaten to split the family, granting official (read: ceremonial) permission for marriages, and the like.

The patriarchal name is the name of the patriarch plus the suffix -dom, meaning "house of".

If you needed to address a ranger of a particular family -- perhaps you are the commander of a patrol unit and need to inform the troops that a relative has died -- you would say "Horizon Warden Ironfoot Tovhendom, please see me at once" to ensure that only the dwarves whose patriarch is Tovhen would report to you.

In contrast to the patriarchal name which indicates marriage, the Matrilineal name indicates blood relation. While dwarves are hardly a promiscuous people, they are also a very practical one, and realize that while the father of a child may be in doubt, the mother is not. (In cases of foundlings or other adoptions, the adoptive mother gives her name to the child. The reasoning is that anyone who raises a child as her own is that child's mother, biology be damned, because love trumps biology every time.)

The matrilineal name is the name of the mother plus the suffix -vord for son and -vorn for daughter. Unless you are on familiar terms with a dwarf, this is the most specific form of address you may use. After all, how many female Horizon Wardens of the Ironfoot clan whose patriarch is Tovhen and whose mother is Kreska can there be?

Again, keep in mind that dwarven culture perceives concision as ideal; the more descriptors you add, the more familiar (and in the case of strangers, the more insulting) you become. If you call her "Horizon Warden Ironfoot Tovhendom Kreskavorn", she will realize that she is being singled out and will likely be wary, if not outright testy, at the specification.

The Personal name is the given name, or what we in the west call the first name. It is a name of incredible familiarity, and to address an unfamiliar dwarf in such a manner is a grave insult (think "little Bobby" or "little Suzie"). While dwarves are not specifically against a tavern-clearing brawl, per se, most of them have the manners and self-control not to engage in such indecorous behavior; rather, they prefer to nurse their grudges and think of ways to thwart, impoverish and harm their opponents over the long term. On the other hand, sometimes a fist is thrown in the heat of the moment, in which case honor demands that aggression is returned with aggression.

However, if a dwarf requests that you address her by her personal name, it is a great honor. Most acquaintances only use the patronym and matronym, but a true friend not only uses the personal name but often uses only the personal name; in deference to dwarven concision, this is a way of saying "You are elevated in my eyes."

For example. Horizon Warden Ironfoot Tovhendom Kreskavorn Taszvya is known as Taszvya only to her blood family and dearest friends ("blood not of blood"). Her extended family refers to her as Kreskavorn Taszvya, and she is known to acquaintances as Tovhendom Kreskavorn. Use of her full name by non-family diminishes and dishonors her, and requires either apology or blood to cure it.

The Love name is the only name not given by family. It is a diminutive of the personal name and is so shockingly intimate that it is rarely spoken outside of the bedroom, and almost never outside of the home. Shortening a name in dwarven culture effectively says "I elevate you above all, even the gods themselves" and while such affection is encouraged and expected in dwarf culture, it is something which simply Is Not Done In Public. In the best case, it is seem as two lovebirds demonstrating extremely inappropriate and vulgar public displays of attention; in the worst case, it's humiliating (like being called "sugar buns" in front of co-workers and superiors). Inappropriate use of a love name can destroy relationships and start wars, but the lovers who are so confident in their love that they can whisper it in public are quietly lauded as the ideal of dwarven romance.

If you call Kreskavorn Taszvya by the name "Taya", you had better be alone and on intimate terms, and preferably engaged to be wed.

Finally, there is the Titular name, which exists outside the spectrum of overname to love name as it is expected to change over time as the dwarf improves her skills and therefore her position within the community. A ranger who has only just finished training would be referred to as "Horizon Warden Recruit", whereas her superior would be "Horizon Warden Sergeant". Similarly, Blacksmith Apprentice is just that, while a Blacksmith would be his mentor. A highly skilled dwarf would be referred to as simply Smith, which denotes mastery of multiple fields.

It is possible for a dwarf to change his overname, but it is rare and always in conjunction with the ascension of titular name. For example, a Horizon Warden Smith (one who is skilled in the crafting of defenses, patrols, traps and asymmetrical warfare) could become elevated to Grand Protector, the dwarf who is in charge of all defense of Agnakorem. In this case the titular name would reset to Grand Protector Novice, indicating a fresh promotion. A Grand Protector Smith is terrifyingly competent, having spent literal centuries in his profession.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #172 - Vacuums Suck

But in a good way!
  • Beth has never done yoga because she’s not flexible. But that’s the whole point of yoga! Similarly, some people don’t get involved with firearms training because they aren’t proficient with firearms.
  • It's a story with a happy ending, then a sad one: a robbery suspect is beaten with bat by Raleigh store clerk. Sean explains.
  • Barron is on assignment
  • Talk is cheap, and talk without the skills and knowledge to back it up is even cheaper. Miguel is tired of the fake outrage at those who didn’t help a woman and child shot by a gunman.
  • In this week's Main Topic, Sean and Erin talk about HR38, the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity, which just passed the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Tiffany is on assignment.
  • Just because something sucks doesn't mean it's bad. Erin talks about vacuum sealers.
  • All through life,  one must seek intellectual guidance on complicated issues. Who better to seek knowledge from than a puppet,  especially a puppet that’s an anti-gun nut! Yes, Weer'd is about to Fisk a puppet.
  • And our Plug of the Week is the TOPOKO 25 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript: 
Vacuum Sealers
If you’ve assembled a bug-out bag, you have no doubt run into situations where you wish you compress items into smaller forms so that you could pack more of them into your bag. 

And if you’ve ever fallen while crossing a stream, or gotten caught in a sudden downpour, you know how important it is to have dry clothes and how difficult it is to keep them that way when your bag is drenched. The same also goes for valuable electronic devices like cell phones, weather radios, and the like.

Fortunately there’s a way to accomplish both of these tasks, and that’s with a vacuum sealer. While you’d be hard-pressed to use one after the SHTF due to their need for electricity, they’re great for setting up long-term storage before disaster, and and they make your life easier in the meantime.

Vacuum sealers are quite simple in operation:
  1. Take the item you want to seal and place it inside the smallest bag which will fit it, leaving an inch between the end of the bag and whatever you put inside it. (Most vacuum sealers come with pre-made bags with only one open end, but you can also make your own using rolls of plastic; more on that later.)
  2. Place the open end into the sealer, close it, and press the activation button.
  3. The sealer will then suck all of the air out of the bag. When there is no more air to be sucked out, a heating element will fuse part of the top and bottom of the bag together, creating a seam. 
  4. You now have a vacuum-sealed bag that is both watertight and airtight!
The applications for a vacuum sealer are limited only by imagination and what you can fit inside the bags. Here are just a few uses:
  • Foods like beans, rice, and dehydrated meals can be protected from spoilage and pests. 
  • Clothes are not only kept dry, but are compressed into a compact shape. I have a friend who sent me a set of surplus BDUs by vacuum sealing them so that they fit into a flat rate box. 
  • Protect things which would be damaged by water like medicine, first aid supplies, electronics or important documents. 
  • If you throw in some desiccant packets -- the moisture absorbers which are included in a lot of over-the-counter medicine and supplement bottles -- you can waterproof ammunition, and possibly even an handgun. 
  • And heck, you can even use it for its original purpose: vacuum sealing meat and fish so that they last longer and don’t suffer freezer burn.
I mentioned making your own bags with rolls of plastic, and while it involves a bit more effort -- you have to measure out the bag, seal one end, then fill it and seal the other -- it’s actually more economical because not only do sheets of plastic cost much less than pre-made bags, you also have the ability to make custom-sized bags instead of being forced to use the ones made by the manufacturer. We’re talking the difference between 100 feet of 8-inch tube plastic for $20 vs $20 for 44 bags.

The one drawback to vacuum-sealed bags is that once you open them, they aren’t air- and watertight any more. This is fine for food items, but you might want a way to keep your clothes, electronics and fire-starting tinder dry afterwards. The solution to that is simple: Include some ziploc bags for small items, and waterproof dry bags for larger items, in your bug-out or get-home bags.

I’ve included a link in the show notes to a good, all-around vacuum sealer that has high ratings on Amazon and only costs $30. If you’d like to know more about vacuum sealers, or want recommendations on different options, I suggest you read the two Blue Collar Prepping blog articles written by Chaplain Tim -- they’ll put you on the right path.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Salem Watches A Movie: Justice League

Let's have a little chat about DC and their films, shall we?
  • Man of Steel: When this movie first came out, I wasn't going to go see movies in the theatres regularly (and in fact wasn't until about Winter Soldier or so). If I'm completely honest, I found it boring. It was very dull. I fell asleep the first time I watched it, and that may just be me not being a big fan of Superman, as the same thing happened watching Superman Returns and I have no nostalgia for the Christopher Reeves movies. 
  • Batman vs Superman: Look, don't watch this. Just don't. It's a disjointed mess. In fact, skip the one before it, and look for a fan film called Man of Tomorrow. It splices Man of Steel into Batman vs Superman and does so in a way fixes all the pacing and tonal issues of this movie, while keeping the great Wonder Woman and Batman/Alfred scenes. Affleck is great. Irons is great. Gadot is great. Eisenberg's Luthor is a crime against cinema. 
  • Suicide Squad: Shut up, I like this one. I know it's bad. I love it anyway. It had some really great performances, great new takes on old characters, some great action, a cameo from Batfleck or two, and introduced me to the dreamy Cara Delevigne. 
  • Wonder Woman: aka 'the good one.' I honestly have no criticism of this movie, aside from maybe they played it a little too safe on the story side. The performances were good, the action was good, the story was good. It stands alongside the better MCU films. 
So, DC is 1 out of 4 so far going into Justice League. How did it fare?

Well... surprisingly well. Maybe it was Whedon taking over from Snyder. Maybe it was them learning lessons of what worked and what didn't from previous movies. Whatever it was, Justice League is actually a decent movie. It's no classic of the genre, like Winter Soldier, but it's at least as good as, say, Age of Ultron, just without that familiarity with the characters that we had there that allowed us to overlook some otherwise glaring problems.

That's not to say that it doesn't have problems. It does.
  • Flash is annoying. Like seriously annoying. Maybe I'm biased, watching him on television being portrayed masterfully by Grant Gustin, but Ezra Miller's Flash is just hard to watch. He's not funny and goofy, he's awkward and cringe-worthy. Maybe in theory that's a realistic portrayal of some kind of condition that's brave to show on film or something, but it's hard to watch in practice. 
  • The movie's villain, Steppenwolf, looks terrible. It's embarrassing looking at him, then seeing Thanos in the Infinity War trailer.
  • Likewise, Cyborg suffers from the poor CGI that Steppenwolf does, but in a much less organic way. Cyborg ends up looking like one of Michael Bay's Transformers until an ending sequence that shows him sheathing himself in much better armour. 
  • The story is a bit light, too, nearly scraping the depths to which the aforementioned Transformers series regularly descended: Big Bad wants to steal Magic McGuffins to take over the world and destroy stuff, good guys must band together to stop Big Bad with explosion that could possibly kill them.
On the good side, there's more of Batfleck and Gadot's Wonder Woman, and a very touching scene in which Diana helps Bruce with some of his injuries while Bruce muses on his own mortality while contrasting that with why the world needs Superman instead of him, owing to Superman's humanity. And speaking of which, I'm sorry if this is a spoiler (and if it is, congratulations on staying in the dark despite everyone's best efforts), but this is the movie that finally got Superman right. After Batman's plan is completed, the cavalry flies in to save the day with an upbeat, witty remark and a cataclysmic haymaker. Cyborg turns out to be a very good character as well, and Aquaman is a much better character than the hokey joke the trailers make him out to be. I'd like to shake the hand of Jason Mamoa's acting coach as well, as he's finally learned to emote on-screen.

There's a stand-out scene where the first battle against Steppenwolf is shown, being recounted as a legend, where the armies of man, Atlantis, and the Amazons drive him off-world with the help of certain familiar aliens and gods, and even a Green Lantern showing up.

All in all, this is definitely a movie worth watching, and it worries me a little that DC is rumoured to be giving up on the interconnected universe idea after this one, as this feels like the franchise finally getting up on its feet. It's by no means a perfect movie, but it's got potential. It's got life. Now they just need to do it again. And again. And keep doing it until they find the right balance of warmth, humour, action, and danger.

And I hope they do. I just hope it doesn't involve a Joss Whedon Batgirl. Stay away from my Barbara, Joss. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Guest Appearance on Geeks Gadgets and Guns

It took them a while to post the darn thing, but my guest appearance on episode 174 of the Geeks Gadgets and Guns podcast has finally been published!

Smile as I ramble on nerdily about Dungeons & Dragons/Pathfinder!

Thrill as I verbally trample people who try to interrupt me!

Titter salaciously as I compare a role-playing game to a consensual BDSM scenario!

Strap in, gang. It's nearly two hours of hard-core nerding.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Giving Tuesday

(I'm getting caught up on posts missed due to family obligations. This was actually written Thursday night.)

This past Tuesday was "Giving Tuesday", which is something I'd never heard of until this year but has apparently been a thing since 2012, so you can imagine my surprise when I got up Tuesday morning to read on Facebook that the Gates Foundation was matching donations to charities and nonprofits.

After I recovered from my surprise (and after a good chortle over the irony of it all), I started a Giving Tuesday fundraiser for Operation Blazing Sword with a modest goal of $1,000. I honestly didn't think we would meet that goal, since I started it well after people were at work.

As it turns out, we not only hit the $1,000 mark, we surpassed it. And it wasn't even a close thing, either; I believe we hit our goal around suppertime.

So how much money are we going to get? Good question. The honest answer is "I don't know."

I can tell you that OBS is going to get at least $1,125, because Facebook waived its processessing fees for both Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm not sure if we're going to get that matched simply because there were a LOT of donations made that day, and apparently the Gates Foundation earmarked only $2 million for fund-matching.

But regardless of whether Operation Blazing Sword receives $1,125 or $2,250, I want you to all to know this:
  1. None of this could have happened without you. 
  2. You blew me away with your generosity. 
  3. I'm going to apply this money towards making the "One Aim: Safety First!"
    seminar happen. 
Thank you all very much! Take a bow and be proud of what you've accomplished!

Monday, November 27, 2017


(I'm getting caught up on my writing from the past week. This was actually written Thursday night.)

One of the nice things about Pathfinder is if there's a specific vision you have for a player character, you can probably make it happen. Sure, it may take some compromising and some tweaking, and maybe even some hammering, but you can make it happen. And I don't know about you, but I find it immensely satisfying when that happens.

For example, what I really wanted was a Cleric/Rogue hybrid class for an NPC that my players rescued from a dungeon. Poor ol' Erky Timbers, first-level cleric of the goddess of luck and travel, just happened to get unlucky while walking around and got captured by a tribe of goblins. Fortunately for him, the PCs (by then second level) killed all the goblins and set him free, and so as a thank-you he hung around to help keep them alive (and to get some much-needed money, because he was down to rags). 

Later on in the adventure, Erky leveled up and I decided to have him take a level of rogue, as it suited his deity and his fighting style (by this time he'd picked up a spear and some leather armor, so he'd wait until the PCs has grabbed aggro to run in and poke someone in the flank with his spear in between handing out Blessings and Curing Light Wounds). 

By the time the adventure was done, the PCs had hit third level and decided that not only had Erky earned a full share of profits, they wanted him to join their party and come along with them on more adventures. 

The problem is that I just wasn't happy with how Erky was shaping up mechanically. I had no problem with him being a level behind the PCs, but alternating Cleric and Rogue would put him so far behind that he would be less useful. And while that might not be a problem as these things go (he is after all an NPC hireling), it bothered me on some level. So, like any proper GM, I decided I'd tinker with things to see if I could get what I wanted. 

I tried making Erky a gestalt, but that was an over-correction; instead of being forever one level behind the players, he'd be effectively earning 1.5 levels for each one of theirs. Worse, the NPC would commit the unforgiveable sin of stealing player character thunder by being better at their jobs than they were. 

I tried making my own class in Hero Lab based on the Divine Agent, but there's a steep learning curve to the Hero Lab editor, and I was having a hell of a time getting the Sneak Attack to play nicely with the Channel Energy (classes with special abilities have all sorts of complicated coding interdependencies). 

Then I thought, "Well, let's just look at the Vigilante from Ultimate Intrigue. It's a wacky class that does all sorts of weird stuff depending on which choices you take*. Maybe one of them will work."

And to my surprise, it did, and not even in a "hammer the square peg into the round hold until it fits" kind of way, but more like a "round off the edges of the hexagon until it's roughly circular" way. Sure, I picked an archetype that replaced an ability I wanted to keep, but I'm the GM so I can make the call of not replacing that ability. Muahahahahah!

(In fairness, to maintain balance I also disabled the ability which disabled the ability I wanted to keep.) 

So yes, I am pleased to report that a Zealot archetype Vigilante with the Stalker specialization (along with the proper selection of feats and traits) does everything I need it to and gives me what I want: an energy-channeling divine spellcaster with a sneak attack. Sure, I had some trouble finding an Inquisition that was similar to the Luck Doman (Zealots cast spells like Inquisitors), but it's close enough that I'm happy with how it turned out, and it's nearly legal too!

And because we're talking about a gnome vigilante, and because I have a bad habit of making puns involving gnomes yet I didn't do one for Erky Timbers, I give you xkcd's The Legend of Gnome Ann.

* And it's true. Want to play a Sailor Moon-like Magical Girl in Pathfinder? Play a Vigilante. Want to make a fantasy version of Wolverine, Spider-Man or Aquaman? Play a Vigilante. (Heck, the base Vigilante is practically Batman.) Want to be a split-personality serial killer? Play a Vigilante.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #171 - Talking Turkey

We recorded this on Thanksgiving, between Erin's lunch and Sean's dinner. We apologize if listening makes you hungry.
  • Beth is on assignment.
  • A burglar is shot and captured. But what did he do just before that? And who were they, really? Sean takes a look.
  • Risk vs. Reward is as important a consideration in the Tech world as in real life. Barron is back to talk about doing a proper risk assessment.
  • Miguel is still on assignment.
  • In this week's Main Topic, Sean and Erin the tackles the "Giffords! Courage to Fight Gun Violence!" new position paper "Legal and Lethal: 9 Products That Could be the Next Bump Stock."
  • Tiffany recently appeared on the Polite Society Podcast with fellow Rangemaster-certified instructor Aqil Qadir. She was so intrigued by his story that she asked if he would sit for an interview.
  • Erin spent the week shooting a gun in her back yard. Don't worry, it was an air gun. She's going to tell you about it and the heavy duty bullet trap she needed to make sure everything was safe.
  • Anti-Gun Researcher Tom Gabor is back, and he's not any more factual than last week. Weer'd issues the appropriate corrective.
  • And our Plug of the Week is Silver Spoon, a really awesome Russian cop drama on Netflix.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript: 
Air Guns
As I mentioned in the introduction, I received an air rifle, a Gamo Wildcat Whisper, from my friend Charles Lee Scudder. While not strictly necessary, an air rifle is something very nice to have in your preps for a variety of reasons.
  • They are inexpensive. A decent air rifle costs between $100 and $150, depending on what options you choose. 
  • So is the ammunition. The most common caliber for air rifles is .177 -- from now on, I’ll just call this .17, okay? -- and this stuff is ridiculously cheap. 500 rounds of .17 cost about $6. 
  • Because of this, you can practice a perishable skill economically. Air guns are better than .22 rifles in that regard. 
  • It’s a good training platform for children. The rifles are light, there’s no recoil, and there’s no “bang”, which means there’s no startle reflex to overcome.
  • They’re quiet. When I used mine in the backyard, the only sound I could hear was the PING! from the bullet hitting the trap. My mother, who was about 20 feet away inside the house, couldn’t hear it at all. This means you don’t have to go to a range to practice; you can practice in your yard or inside your home, so long as you have a good backstop. 
  • It’s not a legal firearm. This means that you can buy it online, have it delivered to your home, and there’s no paperwork to fill out. 
When considering an air rifle for purchase, there are two big choices to make: caliber and action.

While there are actually four popular airgun calibers - 17, 20, 22 and 25 - to my mind there are only two worth considering due to availability and effectiveness: 17 and 22.
  • .17 caliber is cheaper, more readily available in stores, and comes in variety of ammo types: greater penetration, greater impact, greater expansion, and match grade for practice and competition. It is also a flatter-shooting round.
  • .22 caliber pellets are slightly harder to find in stores and cost twice as much, but have MUCH more impact when used for hunting.
Ultimately, caliber choice comes down to what you want your rifle to do.
  • If you want to hunt with it, you should get a .22, because a .17 is likely to pass through an animal without killing it, allowing it to run away and die later.
  • If you want it for practice or training, get a .17.
  • If you plan to use it for vermin control, either caliber will do, although .17 is probably more cost-effective.
When it comes to what kind of action to use, your choices are CO2 cartridge vs Pump.
  • CO2 rifles are easier to use and faster to shoot, because you won’t have to pump the rifle up after each shot, but add another consumable to your preps and extra layer of complication.
  • Pumps are slower to load, and it can be a pain in the rear to un-shoulder the rifle, put the buttstock on the ground, break the barrel open, load the pellet, close the barrel, re-shoulder, and fire, but they also have fewer complicated parts and all you need are pellets.
  • For this reason, I recommend pump action rifles for preppers.
When it comes to pump actions, there are different choices, but that risks getting into the weeds of break-barrel versus pneumatics. For those who are interested in learning more about air rifles, please check the show notes for a link to a Blue Collar Prepping article on air rifles. Give it a read!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Nobody Expects the Hollywood Inquisition!

Well. Almost nobody. It was bound to happen eventually. 

Well, it's been an interesting few weeks for me. After being in isolation for so long, my immune system was woefully unprepared for exposure to the outside world and I promptly caught a cold. I'm getting over it, slowly but surely.

I was pleasantly surprised by both Thor: Ragnarok and Assassin's Creed: Origins, both coming from franchises with shaky previous entries. The former was a refreshingly fun entry that may as well have been another Guardians of the Galaxy film, but I can't help but feel that humans have been a bad influence on Thor. The latter came after a break from the yearly release cycle of the series and cribs shamelessly from other great games in what ends up being an actually really good game. And on Black Friday, I picked up Subject Delta from Bioshock 2 from my local shop. He'd been sitting there for probably 2 years, tantalizingly out of my price range, until the big sale came and he was 60% off, putting him back at his original retail price, if not less.

Forget your flat screens and 200 dollar laptops, I got Mr Bubbles!

I suppose I can only stall talking about this for so long, so let's go.

Following the aftermath of the #MeToo campaign, it feels like one in every three or four famous men in Hollywood has been accused of some form of sexual misconduct, starting with Harvey Weinstein (Clinton campaign donor, once referred to by Michelle Obama as 'a wonderful human being') and sucking in anyone in its path and spitting them out all over the headlines of progressive websites everywhere.

I've thought long and hard about whether or not I should say this, but I'm going to: Look, we all know how left-leaning Hollywood is. So left-leaning it's fallen off the table and made a mess all over the floor that no one wants to clean up. The current state of the allegation game leads me to no other conclusion than that it's little wonder that progressives believe there is a rape culture in America, because just look at the type of men they surround themselves with.

See, you can be an asshole. I'm an asshole. But when you strut around in your coastal elite circles condemning anyone who thinks differently or even lives in a zip code too far away from New York or Los Angeles, I'm no longer surprised when you're outed as a sexual predator. I'm watching my progressive friends fall apart, like they've got that scene from Revenge of the Sith playing on loop shouting "You were the chosen one!" every time another Joss Whedon or Vice writer gets outed as a complete scumbag. I'm just sitting here doing a half-hearted imitation of Paul Joseph Watson saying "Imagine My Shock" and  remembering all the entertainment sex scandal rumours and fundamentalist hypocrites I spent the first half of my life paying attention to and bringing up to the discomfort of the masses that idolized them.

See, I like assholes.

Stop that, that's not what I meant and you know it. 

But I do like assholes. Assholes are rude, sarcastic, sometimes aggressive, but by god they're honest. If you meet an asshole, you have nowhere to go but up: they might genuinely be an asshole and you know what you can expect; or they might have been hurt too many times and are deep down a good person but react poorly because of what they've lived through. But if you meet a saint, you're gambling that they are what they appear to be, and history and experience has taught me that the better someone appears, the more potential for disappointment they provide you.

Think I'm wrong? The crown jewel in the Good People's Club of modern social media, George Takei has had his name run through the muck. What's even better was his reaction-- not only did he break the cardinal rule of denying allegations, he also went on to blame Russia for inflating the claims. I swear he could run for DNC Candidate for President at this point.

Then, with Al Franken's allegations, some people seemed to lose all semblance of self-awareness, afraid that they'd target too many of their own tame white men that the evil white men would be left in charge. The Gamergate Where Are They Now List got a few more new entries. Cognitive dissonance flew wild when one of Lena Dunham's friends was accused, and she tried to defend him.

Life comes at you fast, eh Lena?

Anyway, where am I going with all this? It's simple: be you. Whether you're a bleeding heart liberal or staunchly conservative, whether you call it being self-righteous or virtue-signalling, stop. Just be you. Don't try and portray yourself as a saint because I wasn't buying it to begin with, and fewer and fewer people are buying it every day. I never trusted a saint to begin with, and it seems a lot of people are starting to feel my way.

That said, I've got 50 to 1 odds that Chris Evans, sterling paragon of Goodness and Captain America himself, is up for an allegation inside of the month. Contact me if you want to place bets. After all, if Wonder Woman isn't safe, who is?

A Troubling Epiphany

A strange thing happened on Thursday and it's taken me a while to figure out what was so strange about it.

This is the beginning of what I call The Crazy Times when mom tries to do too much at once, overextends herself, and the stress levels go through the roof. It starts at Thanksgiving because mom is the only person in the house who can cook worth a damn, and so the stress begins early because she's up early cooking the turkey and making all the dishes.

Why does she get up early? Because for as long as I've been alive, she's needed a four-hour afternoon nap to get her through the day, and if she's cooking she can't take a nap, so we eat our big Thanksgiving meal at lunch.

Even though I can't cook, I help in other ways: I open the can of compressed biscuits that goes pop and scares mom silly; I help get the turkey ready for cooking and then later I take it out of the oven and move it to the counter without spilling hot grease all over everywhere; I get out the nice dishes to set the table; I hand-wash the dishes afterwards (mom dries them); and of course I clean the clutter off the dining room table because we don't eat at the table except for special occasions -- we eat on TV trays and our table is basically one large, low shelf for stuff.

Come, I will conceal nothing from you: a good chunk of that clutter is mine, and I really shouldn't let it get like that, and cleaning off the table a few times a year is a minor responsibility, all told.

Of course, literally HALF the stuff on the table is dad's, because he uses the table as a desk. He has piles of paper that are nearing a foot high and several feet deep. I am not kidding when I say that his stuff takes up half the table.

So Tuesday night I ask mom, "When do you want me to clear off the table?" because I want to do is before she's annoyed but I also have stuff I want to do in the meantime.

She tells me, "Don't. It's too much trouble with the clearing and the dishes and the washing after."

Surprised but pleased at this, I inquire "So we're going to eat Thanksgiving dinner on TV trays? What about all the dishes?"

"I'll put them on the counter like we do for supper. You can load up your plate and then come sit down."

Now I am all for this, because anything that spares me labor and doesn't stress mom out is peachy-keen in my book. I think it's kind of weird that we'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner while watching some canned show from Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, but whatever, I'm keen to see how this works out.

Lo and behold, the appointed day comes, and as the matriarch decreed, we did indeed laden our plates in the style of the buffet, and thence did sit upon our recliners to watch Tanked. And it was the most boring, most artificial, most "This is not Thanksgiving, this is just a turkey dinner" thing I've ever experienced. The family was there, but we weren't there as a family, you dig?

And the whole thing was weird and disappointing, but that's not what bothered me. I was instead bothered by a feeling that there was an important realization that I hadn't quite grasped, and it took me a while to grasp it.

What I finally grasped was this: This Thanksgiving dinner wasn't different from the others. It only looked like it was. 

You see, my immediate family really doesn't do bonding. Hell, we don't do activities. The last time my siblings visited was in 2012, and that was... special... in a screaming kind of way. So we really don't enjoy each other's company, we just sort of tolerate it like we're roommates.

My realization was We could be sitting at the table, eating off the fine china, and we still wouldn't be here as a family. We'd just be three people eating in silence. The only difference between then and now is that we have a television program on to distract us from the silence. 

This explains why Christmases have been miserable for me for so long. The holidays are a time of being with family and I'm living in a house with two people who don't enjoy being with each other.

Well, no wonder things are fucked up. No wonder my brother is a serial man-slut, my sister is a virgin spinster in her mid-50s, and all of my relationships have failed horribly.

No wonder I'm so miserable from now until New Year's: It's a constant reminder that everyone has a loving family and I... don't.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

D&D Alignments Seen Through a Pseudo-Nolan Matrix

If you've ever played D&D or Pathfinder, you know that sometimes alignments are difficult to wrap one's head around. If you're a Game Master, you've likely had to explain them to a new player, which can be difficult as the explanations are rather longwinded.

Given today's political climate, I thought it would be interesting to define the alignments along David Nolan's political spectrum chart.

Evil: Selfish.
Good: Selfless.
Neutral: I do whatever I need to do.

Chaotic: Individualist.
Lawful: Statist.
Neutral: Stop bothering me.

So put them together and this is what you get:

Lawful Good: The state is more important than any one person, including me. I'll give my life to defend it.
Lawful Neutral: The state IS. It needs no reason to exist other than its existence.
Lawful Evil: The state is more important than anyone except me. I'll use its power to get what I want.

Neutral Good: I'll use whatever means necessary to accomplish the most good.
Neutral: I do whatever I need to do. Stop bothering me.
Neutral Evil: I'll use whatever means necessary to accomplish whatever I want.

Chaotic Good: The individual is more important than the state. If necessary, the state should die to protect the rights of the individual.
Chaotic Neutral: Smash the state! Stasis kills, be dynamic!
Chaotic Evil: State or no state, I am more important than you. You should die to make me happy.

I know that this glosses over lots of fine points and fiddly bits that grognards love, but I really like this simplification for a "root level" of alignment. Everything else is just derived from this.


Monday, November 20, 2017

The Night My Face Was Ruined

(Continued from The Day My Dog Bit Me)

There are a few things you ought to know about me.
  • I'm good in emergencies because I don't freeze and I'm pretty good at solving problems on the fly. 
  • But if I don't have any problems to solve or tasks to complete, I become a bundle of anxious energy. 
  • When I am anxious or scared (or angry), I talk -- loudly and in great quantity. It's my main stress relief, probably because if I'm thinking about talking I'm not thinking about how bad things are and/or what else could go wrong. 
  • I absolutely HATE waiting. 
As you have probably figured out, I had nothing to do BUT wait as mom drove me to the hospital. I was sitting there, full of adrenaline and with no problems to solve and nothing to focus on but my shredded, bleeding face. Which meant I talked the entire time to the ER. 

I'm not gonna lie, I threw myself one heck of a pity party. Here were some popular refrains:
  • Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?
  • This is my own damn fault. I talked about how I was happy. I called attention to my happiness and so the universe balanced things out, because when I talk about good things they go away. 
  • Why did he bite me? I didn't do anything wrong. 
  • He is NOT my dog any more. MY dog wouldn't have bitten me. 
  • I'm not going to demand he be put down. That's a decision you (mom) will have to make. But he's not my dog and I don't want him around me anymore. 
  • I'm a public speaker. Will I even be able to talk again? And if so, will anyone still want to look at me?
  • Oh god. I'm going to be permanently disfigured, aren't I? I didn't think it was possible to be uglier than I am, but now I'm hideous. 
  • How am I ever going to afford any of this? Not just the ER bills, but what if I need surgical reconstruction of my face?
Put those on loop for about 20 minutes and that's what it was like in the car. Mom was trying to reassure me, but another thing you should know about me is that when I am deep in the shit I am completely immune to being reassured:
  • It's fine.  My FACE is in TATTERS! This is the exact opposite of 'fine'!
  • All right then, you will be fine!  I'm in pain, I lost my dog, and I don't know if I'm missing parts of my face. 
  • Everything will work out. You don't know that! You're not a doctor!
  • We'll be there soon. Well, drive faster!
I'm basically a "mean drunk without the booze" when I'm like this, because everything is awful and you're bullshitting me like all first responders do and I don't believe your filthy lies so someone please tell me how truly fucked I am right now because I am imagining some really awful things that positive words just aren't banishing. 

It's kind of a wonder that my family still speaks to me, if I'm being honest. 

Mom dropped me off at the ER and went to park the car. I walked in, the front desk nurse said "Can I help you?" and I lowered the washcloth from my face just enough to give her the full effect and said "A dog ate my face and I'm bleeding all over."

The good news is that I didn't have to fill out any paperwork first (although she did ask for my name and telephone number. Given that my last name isn't English and I was talking through bloody shreds, this was frustrating, and for the first time out of many I wished I had my phone with me, because it held my ID and I could just hand that to her). The bad news is that she still had to take my blood pressure and pulse before I could get back to see the doctors, and I'm reasonably sure that if I hadn't had a mouth injury she'd have tried to take my temperature too. You just can't escape some bureaucracy...

Fortunately we got through the foreplay pretty quickly and I was ushered back to a room. I had no fewer than two nurses there, and the first thing they did was to take my red washcloth from me and throw it away in the biohazard bag. I was upset by this, but apparently not upset enough to make a scene about it. Mainly I was thinking  "But I can clean that! The blood won't even show!... ah, fuck it, it's not that important and I want them concentrating on me. But dammit, what a waste."

They replaced my red washcloth with something that was thinner than a washcloth but thicker than a gauze pad (and white, of course. My brain seized on that as being important. "You can see all the blood!" Although seeing the blood was probably deliberate, and it was disposable anyway, my brain didn't think of that) and then had me hold my lip-shred as low as I could without letting them dangle -- they didn't need to tell me, but it was pretty obvious that they were concerned the pieces might finish tearing and fall off if I let them dangle -- and then used two or three big syringes of saline to irrigate my lips. 

I kept asking them how it looked, and if I had any pieces missing, and their replies were "We've seen worse" -- which didn't trip my BS meter, because this was an ER and so of course they'd seen worse, and it wasn't a trite reassurance -- and "We aren't doctors, but it looks like you're in one piece." Once they'd finished irrigating my wounds, they told me to keep the now-wet cloth up to my face, because they didn't want anything to dry out. 

Then the main nurse (I don't know how these work, but to use military parlance, this guy was clearly a sergeant or higher while the other two were corporals at best) came in, hooked me up to various stuff, asked how I was doing, etc. 

"Well, I'm in pain, and I'm scared shitless, and my face is torn up and bleeding." So naturally he bled me some more by taking several vials of blood for testing. Then he asked how long ago I'd had a tetanus shot, and I answered "Seven years ago," and I was told I'd get another one. 

Around about this time the nurse-receptionist came in, because Papierkram, bitte, and I politely snarled that I was in no condition to fill it out, but my mother had driven me here and was probably in the waiting room, so please send her back and she'll fill out the forms. 

It's kind of amazing what kind of behavior you can get away with when you're bleeding. 

So mom came back, and did all the paperwork BS, and the doctor finally came in to take a look at me. He announced that the damage was too extensive for him to suture and that it would take a plastic surgeon. However, none of the plastics who worked at that hospital were there that night, or even on-call, and he'd have to find another hospital with a plastic surgeon who would see me that night. 

He did however prescribe both a painkiller (dilaudid) and an anti-anxiety medication (ativan), both intravenously. 
  • Dilaudid is like the most glorious nausea ever. I felt like I was on the urge of throwing up, but I knew I wouldn't because my stomach wasn't spasming; and I felt dizzy and disoriented and headachey. What was odd was that I knew I felt these awful things -- I wasn't numb -- I simply didn't care. It was like my body said "Yeah, I feel like I'm going to puke and pass out, but who gives a shit?"
  • Ativan, though, is some good stuff. I never asked for more dilaudid, but I asked for more ativan later. It's too bad it can be habit-forming, because I'd like a prescription for that when I'm stressing out about life and wanting to scream and throw things. I don't know if I can describe its effects other than "I started to chill out and stop thinking such negative thoughts. I was calm enough to be bored."
Then came a lot of waiting. I remember wishing I had my phone again, because I had nothing to do except wait to hear which hospital would take me, and if I had a phone I could talk to people on Facebook about what I was going through. 

Oh, and probably take the grossest selfie ever, because I was chilled enough that I had accepted the fact I was in professional hands and they'd take care of me. After all, they were getting me a plastic surgeon to stitch me up!

Then something happened which was almost, but not quite, wonderful. Thanks to the ativan, and thanks to mom being there and being concerned about me, I figured "You know, if I'm ever going to come out to her, now might be the time. She's probably not going to freak out too terribly because she's still concerned about me, and if she does there are doctors here." Also, if things go weird and I need to abort the conversation, I can blame them on the drugs later. 

But of course I just can't tell her straight out "Mom, I was born in the wrong body. I'm transgender. I wish I had been born a girl," I have to work my way up to it. I started off by saying "Mom, if I end up staying in the hospital for days, please don't go into my room to get me clothes or anything."

Mom knows I value my privacy, so instead of asking me why, she just nodded and said "Okay" in the same way she'd say "Well, if you WANT to be uncomfortable, that's on you."


"You're not going to ask me why? You aren't curious?"

"Of course I'm curious, but I figured if you wanted me to know, you'd have told me."

Now,  I remember saying "It's because if you go in there, it will change how you feel about me," but Mom has since told me that she remembers me saying "If you go in there, you won't love me any more." I think my version is more accurate, but she got the gist of it. 

I was working my way up to explaining that if she went into my room, she'd find wigs and makeup and women's clothing, and for once it seemed like she was really listening to me, not just hearing but truly listening and processing, and maybe it was because I was injured but there seemed to be a lot of tenderness and love at the moment. 

...and right when I thought maybe I could tell her, the doctor walks in to tell me that there's a plastic surgeon in a hospital 90 minutes away, but that I need to get there via ambulance, and the soonest one of them could transport me would be 2 am. 

It was 11:30 pm when we were told this.

I asked if mom could just drive me herself, and was told no, because I might pass out or have a bad drug reaction or et cetera, and I needed to wait to be taken. I went along with this mainly because mom is terrible with directions, especially at night, and I couldn't use GPS because I didn't have my phone. Besides, I knew mom would want to get to bed, so when the ambulance came she headed home.

By this time the dilaudid had worn off, and I felt that the connection we had was gone and I didn't want to try again and be interrupted again by nurses checking on me, taking my blood, etc.

It was a very long wait, because the ambulance didn't arrive at 2 am; it arrived at 2:45 am and we didn't leave the hospital until 3 am.

My next post will be about getting stitched up by the plastic surgeon in Jacksonville. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #170 - Weer'd Underpants

Erin wanted to call this the "Zombie Miguel Episode" but figured that would just confuse people.
  • Beth feels that  RSO's (Range Safety Officers) are basically the black belts of the gun world. She and her husband explain why.
  • Homeless guy beats another man to death in a trailer. Sean looks at his permanent record.
  • Barron is on assignment.
  • Miguel is not so much on assignment as "wandering about Southern Florida, looking for his brain." His words, not ours.
  • In this week's Main Topic, Sean and Erin discuss the dumbest GQ article ever: "Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns".
  • Pro-gun votes are good, but integrity is better. Tiffany weighs in with her opinion on the matter of Roy Moore.
  • Erin finally noticed that in 169 episodes, she's never once talked about sharpening your knives. 
  • Anti-Gun Researcher Tom Gabor speaks out against Stand Your Ground and whatever else comes to mind. Weer'd brings the facts.
  • And our Plug of the Week is the "Captain Underpants" series of books. Weer'd's daughter LaWeer'da tells us more.
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Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
Keep Your Knife Sharp
I have been doing this segment for three years and I only just now realized that while I’ve talked a lot about knives, I haven’t talked about sharpening them. This is an oversight I intend to correct immediately. 

A sharp knife is essential for safe knife use. Not only does a sharp edge cut more efficiently, but it prevents operator injury; a sharp blade produces a smooth cut, while a dull blade can twist in your hand while cutting or come to an unexpected stop.  

However, sharpening a knife is more art than science. It’s very, very easy to do it wrong and damage your knife and maybe even yourself in the process. Fortunately for us, there are some handy and affordable sharpeners out there which are pretty much idiot-proof. 

My current favorite is the Lansky Quadsharp. Like the name suggest, it has four sharpening angles for different applications:
  • a 17 degree angle, which gives an incredibly sharp edge suitable for filleting and fine slicing, but which is also easily dulled or damaged through hard work;
  • A 20 degree angle, which is less of a razor but is better suited for repetitive or difficult work, such as skinning or kitchen tasks;
  • A 25 degree angle, which is far more robust and is a good all-around edge for outdoor knives;
  • And a 30 degree angle, which is for heavy-duty cutting and chopping blades, like axes, hatches and machetes. 
The use is very simple: Select an angle; put the blade in the slot, and gently -- DO NOT PRESS DOWN -- pull the blade through the carbide cutters. 
There’s no set number of times you should do this; just keep going until it's as sharp as you like or it isn't getting sharper. You can usually hear the sound of the knife change, and the pull will feel different, when the majority of the work is done.

Sometimes a pull-through sharpener will build up a burr line on one side of the blade. This is not unusual; variations in stroke or carbide surface can do that, and I fix this by alternating the direction of sharpening strokes. Just turn the knife around so that you’re pulling away from yourself rather than toward yourself, and a few strokes ought to clean that burr right up. 

However, there are times when you can’t use a pull-through sharpener. Maybe it’s an axe and the blade won’t fit, or maybe there’s a ding or other damage to the edge that needs to be repaired before it can be sharpened. When that happens, you need more aggressive tools. My go-to tool in situations like this is a two-grit puck sharpener. This is less easy than the pull-through sharpeners, so you’ll want to watch the video linked in the show notes, but it’s pretty forgiving for beginners. 

A sharpening puck will put an edge on practically anything; I use it to sharpen my mother’s hedge trimmers, but it will put a working edge -- i.e. not terribly sharp, but sharp enough -- on practically anything. This is fine for tools which do most of their cutting with weight and impact, like an axe; if you want a finer edge, you’ll need go to something different. 

Diamond sharpeners are great for sharpening troublesome knives, but you need to be careful with them. Not only do they require more skill because you are essentially eyeballing the angle and freehanding the sharpener, but they also have a tendency to scratch the heck out of the knife. If you have a knife with an attractive finish or patina along the surface, be advised that diamond work will leave track marks! However, with some practice you’ll soon discover you can quickly fix most knife problems and sharpen them in the field, so don’t be afraid to practice on a cheap knife!

When you become comfortable with estimating angles by eye and sharpening without a guide, you should consider carrying sharpening tools with you as part of your every day carry. After all, if you carry a knife as part of your EDC, you should carry a means to sharpen that knife as well. I carry the EZE-Lap Pen Style Diamond Sharpener and the Speedy Sharp carbide tool. Both of them are small enough to be carried in a pocket, and between the two of them you ought to be able to repair, sharpen and hone any blade. 

Speaking of honing, did you know that you can touch up any blade using just a coffee cup? It’s true. Take a ceramic coffee cup, turn it upside-down, and hone the blade on the unglazed portion of the cup using small, circular strokes. There’s a link in the show notes with plenty of illustrations on how to do this. 

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