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Monday, October 16, 2017

My Interview on New Shooter Canada Podcast

I meant to post this last Tuesday, but we all know what happened then.

So, even though it's a week late, please enjoy my appearance on the podcast New Shooter Canada, where I was interviewed by host Thomas Donnelly. We talk about Operation Blazing Sword, what it's like to be both LGBTQ and a gun owner, how to bring new shooters into the fold and why it's important, how gun ownership is emergency preparedness, and of course I plug the GunBlog VarietyCast.

My interview is the main topic of NSC ep154, and it starts around the 58:30 mark. Give it a listen and tell me how I did!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #165 - The Mega Anti-Gun Nuttery Show

Erin's hurt and everyone else is on vacation or assignment, so Sean and Weer'd talk about the Las Vegas shooting and how Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein rushed to the nearest camera to call for more gun control.

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.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Escape Is My Armor

This whole dog-mauling incident has convinced me of something I've suspected for a long time now:  I'm really, really good at suppressing the fuck out of unpleasant feelings through the time-honored tactic of distracting myself. 

I've always been in love with the fantastic, and I've always preferred playing to working, so it's ridiculously easy to engage my imagination or otherwise immerse myself in something (a game, a book, a TV series) to keep from thinking about something unpleasant. In a lot of ways, I detach from myself and enter the world of the show, like the geekiest out of body experience ever. 

It's much more difficult to do with physical pain, of course. I can't enjoy doing much of anything with a headache -- the constant physical reminder of "Hey, this hurts" makes it hard for me to detach from myself -- but if the pain is emotional, I can block it out with escapism. I'm the one who hurts, you see, so if I stop being me, I stop hurting. 

In related news, I've been watching a lot of television. I thought Archer was pretty terrible for most of season 1, but by season 2 either the Stockholm Syndrome had fully kicked in or the writing had become a lot better, the jokes funnier and the characters less annoying. 

As for the rest of me, the swelling is starting to lessen down, especially on the less-injured part of my face. I can now open my mouth half an inch, rather than a quarter, which makes eating and drinking much less onerous. Mind you, chewing is still a lot of work, because I can only chew with one side of my mouth and even then can't move my teeth very far, but I can at least get larger morsels of food past my lips and fuck me running that is a quality of life improvement. Think about that for a moment: I'm just grateful I can eat my mush from a grown-up size spoon. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dog Mauling Follow-Up

This is Friday, right? The days are blurring into each other.

Tuesday Night - Wednesday
Our 90-pound Shepherd-Lab mix attacked me on Tuesday night, around 10 pm. (Maybe I'll write about what happened in greater detail at some point, but not today.)  We got to the ER at about 10:30, but that hospital didn't have a plastic surgery unit and the doctor felt it was important I get stitched back together ASAP, so they transferred me via ambulance to a hospital in Jacksonville.

The problem with that is we were told this at 11 pm, but the ambulance didn't arrive until 2 am. Then there was an hour-plus ride to Jacksonville, then however long it took to get me processed and stitched up. Long story short, by about 6:30 am they'd put in between 50 and 60 stitches ("Past a dozen, I lose count" the doctor said when I asked him) and then I had to wait for my family to come get me because mom went home to sleep when I went into the ambo.

They picked me up around... 8:30? 9 am?... and then it was another drive through Jax morning rush hour traffic. We got home about 10:30-11ish. I made my Facebook post and went to bed. I woke up in the afternoon, and just sort of floated through a haze of pain and regret and exhaustion.  Sometime during all of this I wrote Wednesday's blog post and the GoFundMe organized by Matt House kicked into gear.

Went back to bed around 9 pm, because sleep is a fantastic way to avoid emotional turmoil. Even if I'm not actually asleep, there's something about the twilight haze of snooze that helps me repress the shit out of things -- I find that I can be consciously aware of things but not really feel them, i.e. "I know that I've just been mauled by the family dog, and I may be scarred the rest of my life, but as long as I'm in bed here none of this really affects me."

Wake up feeling no better, but no worse either, so I have that going for me I guess. My face is still swollen, still a bloody mess (my stitches ooze and my pillowcase looks like the inside of a used band-aid), and still hurts, although not so much that I need prescription stuff though; I get by with Advil, Tylenol, etc. Believe me, I know what pain is; I've had so many kidney stones that I've lost count (i.e. over a dozen), and this is maybe a 2 or a 3 on the pain scale. I've had migraines that hurt worse, although there's a definite "quantity has a quality of its own" thing going with something that hurts nonstop.

Eating is still difficult and slow -- partly because I can't fully open my mouth, and partly because it's hard to chew without pulling on my stitches, so whatever goes into my mouth has to be mashed by my tongue against the roof of my mouth. I end up eating things like applesauce, fruit cups, jello, scrambled eggs, etc. About the most solid thing I can eat right now is tuna salad. 

I look like a monkey who's gone several rounds with a boxer and lost. I didn't think I could look any MORE hideous in the mirror, but I've managed it.

I still mumble when I talk. I fear that there's some nerve damage because, 24 hours later, I still have no feeling in the part of my face that was damaged the worst. (Basically, imagine a lip becoming a peninsula, with just a thin strand of flesh keeping it attached to my face.) I worry that this will change the way that I speak.

The dog who did this has been put down. This was a decision made by mom and the vet as I preemptively removed myself from that consideration because I felt I was too close to the issue to be rational. Even though I know none of this is my fault, I still feel guilty about this, as if maybe there was something I could have done to have prevented it and therefore saved me from injury and saved the life of the dog. Rationally, I know this is bullshit, but this is the realm of emotion and logic has no power here. 

It would have been easier if he'd been an aggressive asshole when I came back, but in typical Lab fashion (Labs seem to be the blondes of the dog world), he didn't seem to remember what happened and was acting happy to see me when I came back from the ER, all waggy tail and kissy tongue and generally acting like the sweet boy I used to know. That's where the guilt comes from; I know it's not my fault -- I KNOW -- but that doesn't make this any easier because it feels like I'm putting a sweet dog to death for a stupid mistake. 

I don't think I have PTSD as a result of this, but I realize I am much more aware of the teeth in our remaining dog's mouth when she moves to lick me. I think I'm going to let her come to me for a while, rather than the other way around. I do end up crying a lot, because everything sucks right now. 

About the only thing which doesn't suck, and the only thing keeping me from feeling like deep-fried shit, is the outpouring of love, concern and compassion by my friends. Not only am I getting messages of hope, hope, prayer, and support, the GoFundMe hit $5K in about 8 hours. Thank you so much!  I have no idea if I'm going to need further surgery, but I feel a lot better about my chances of affording it. 

Mom says the swelling is going down, although I'm probably too close to the issue, both figuratively and literally, to see the improvement. 

Wednesday I was just tired. Thursday I was sad because we put Heath down. Today... today I'm angry. Angry because I hurt, angry because my dog was fucking stupid and it killed him, angry because I'm injured and may be disfigured, angry because I need to eat mush with a fucking baby spoon, angry because I can barely talk above a low mumble and even that starts to hurt after more than a few minutes, angry because my mouth hurts every time I cough (or, worse, sneeze -- agony!), angry because I CAN'T EVEN SCREAM IN FRUSTRATION because doing so will rip the stitches in my mouth.

(Want to know how I feel? Clench your jaw tight, punch yourself in the delicates, and try to scream without unclenching that jaw. Let me tell you, it's distinctly unsatisfying when it comes to stress release.) 

I seem to oscillate between angry, angry-sad, sad-angry, and then angry again. Everything is frustrating. I'm stressed out. I didn't sleep well the night before, and I'm terrified that I'm going to be permanently disfigured and/or I will lose function with part of my mouth. 

And I'm REALLY FUCKING PISSED that the puppy who I loved BIT THE SHIT OUT OF ME. You stupid son of a bitch, I was kissing on your nose and you bit me! YOU KILLED YOURSELF OVER A NOSE KISS.

It's a really weird feeling, wanting to beat the crap out of a dead dog who I also dearly wish I could cuddle once more.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Looks Like I Jinxed It

Last night, my parents' 90-pound dog attacked me for no reason, savagely biting and partially severing my lips.

I went to the emergency room, whereupon they shipped me to a hospital in Jacksonville to have immediate reconstructive surgery. I have only just returned home.

I am fortunate in that no pieces were missing. The plastic surgeon said it was a "good approximation" and that's apparently a good outcome. I required over 50 stitches.

I have no idea if I will suffer scarring or loss of function. Right now I look like a zombie victim from The Walking Dead. I can only partially open my mouth and talking is difficult as half my lips are literally stitched together. Between that and the swelling, I can only open my mouth about a quarter inch. This means that non-liquid food need to be "smooshed through the food hole" like I'm a toddler and a fair amount of it ends up on my chin, my clothing, the table, etc.

Also, I'm pretty sure I suffered nerve damage because the mangled corner is numb and any topical anesthetic they gave me would have worn off by now (12+ hours later).

Right now my hospital bill is over $1,000 and that doesn't cover prescriptions (I have 5), follow-up appointments, stitch removal, and any additional plastic surgery needed to make my face look less horrifying.

My good friend Matthew House has set up a GoFundMe page if you'd like to contribute toward my medical expenses. Another good friend, Oleg Volk, has created an incentive to encourage people to donate $125 or more.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Things Are Pretty Good

(Please, God, don't let me jinx it by talking about it...)

It's taken a while for this to sink in, but now that I've had time to process the events of GRPC, I've concluded that my life is pretty good right now.

I was invited to speak at THE gun rights event of the year.  
While this is a big deal professionally speaking, it's also amazingly validating on a personal level. I still worry that Operation Blazing Sword isn't accomplishing things quickly enough, but the fact that I was invited to speak at GRPC only year after creating OBS means that I must be doing something right. And hopefully my appearance at GRPC will open new avenues for OBS!

People accept me as a woman.
This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it's a huge freaking deal to me! I could go into the whys and wherefores of this, but you've probably heard it all before. I just want to point out three important factors in all of this:
  1. There's a difference between "treat as" and "accept as". It's a very fine point, and perhaps it's all in my head, but to me it's the difference between thinking people are just humoring me out of a sense of decorum and actually defaulting to "Erin is legitimately female." This was driven home by the other two factors
  2. Women are paying me legitimate compliments. We all know I'm insecure about how I look and that may never change, but when a freaking beauty pageant winner tells me I look cute, then I start to believe that maybe I actually DO look cute. I received similar compliments about my clothing, my makeup, my hair, and (amusingly enough) my boobs. It gives me hope that I might actually figure out this "how to be a girl" thing!
  3. Men are treating me like a lady. Again, this isn't just "OK, we will call Erin 'she' in order to maintain civility"; they are actually defaulting to gentlemanly behavior around me by holding doors for me, calling me "miss" and "young lady", and generally just making me feel like a million bucks by treating me with kindness and deference. I freaking LOVE this.

My life feels like it's on the right track for the first time since high school.  
The best way I can describe this is "Pal's in her heaven, all's right with the world."  I feel like I am who I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Not only is this reaffirming, it's an incredible relief because for too damn long I've felt like I've been pushing a bowling ball uphill with my nose and now things are lining up and becoming easier. It's magnificent, and I hope I haven't just ruined things by acknowledging it.

There are a few more things I need to achieve before I feel like I have succeeded, but even so, it feel really good to be where I am right now. I can't recall the last time I felt this good, both about myself and about where my life was headed. Maybe "who I am" and "what I am meant to do" have finally aligned and I'm working with the flow of destiny/the universe/whatever you want to call it instead or working against it or being tossed around by it. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #164 - Will the Junk in Sean's Trunk Crush a Crowd in a Hurricane?

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk,
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'm a get get get get a TrunkCratePro!
  • Beth is on assignment and will return soon.
  • The Charlotte police and fire departments have no plans to search for a Dilworth, NC carjacking suspect who may have drowned. Given what Sean found out about the suspect that they did capture, it's not surprising that no one seems to care.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • Why would anyone live in Florida when it has all those hurricanes? Miguel explains.
  • Erin is back from Gun Rights Policy Conference, and she's ready to tell us all about what she learned, who she met, and how her presentation went.
  • Tiffany is on assignment and will return soon.
  • When you're in a crowd of 20,000 people and someone starts shooting at you, bullets are probably the only thing you're thinking about. Erin teaches us about another less-known killer: Crowd Crush.
  • After the mass murder in Nevada, Jimmy Kimmel leaped onto the stage to give an anti-gun monologue. Weer’d takes it apart in his unique fashion.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for the TrunkCratePro Collapsible Trunk Organizer.
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 -
Surviving Crowd Crush

By now everyone knows about the mass murder in Las Vegas, and you’re probably expecting me to do a segment on it. 

Sean even asked me to do a segment called “Carry Medical Gear”, but the truth of the matter is that this subject has already been covered quite expertly. In episode 160, Sean talked to paramedic Kelly Grayson on what first aid gear we preppers and gun owners should carry on a regular basis: tourniquet, hemostatic dressing, chest seal, wound care supplies like gauze, gloves and a CPR pocket mask.

If you carry an SFR Responder around your ankle like Sean does, you’re all set. Or you can carry these in a purse, backpack, or cargo pocket.

There. That’s your Every Day Carry Medical Gear. Boom, done, end of segment. Right?

... except that there’s something which has been bothering me about Vegas. The hard numbers haven’t yet crystallized, but here’s what I’ve seen:
  • 59 dead, one of which may have been the shooter. I personally never count the perpetrators in the death count of any murder, because fuck those assholes, only innocent victims count. 
  • 527 injured. This number keeps fluctuating; I’ve seen it as low as 515 and as high as 528, but 527 seems to pop up the most. 
What we don’t know -- what we may never know -- is how many people died as a result of the stampede to escape the gunshots vs. those who were actually shot.

This is of interest to me because there were 22,000 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Past a certain density, crowds stop behaving like groups of people and begin acting like fluids. When this happens, all sorts of tragedies occur, because the mass and motion of the people at the back of the crowd can literally pick up people at the front of the crowd and move them against their will… or, worse, crush them against an obstacle.

Just six or seven adult humans pushing in the same direction can generate up to a thousand pounds of force, enough to break down gates and bend steel guardrails. If that force can bend metal, imagine what it can do to a human body!

Actually, there’s no need to imagine; it’s been documented. The proper name for this is Crowd Crush, and it kills hundreds of people a year. This is most common during the Muslim pilgrimage known as the Hajj, where large numbers of people are forced through a small area on a tight schedule. Hundreds of people die on a regular basis during the Hajj; the worst of which was the 2015 Mina Stampede, which killed over two thousand people.

The critical number for a crowd crush scenario is five people per square yard. 
  • At four people per square yard, you are being touched on all four sides BUT you still have the ability to turn around through a full 360 degrees. At this point, you still have room to make decisions and you move as an individual. 
  • At 5 people per, you are unable to turn around. This is the point where the crowd begins to act like a fluid, with shockwaves that ripple through it as a result of the people pushing and being pushed. You are no longer part of the crowd; you are the crowd, and you go where it goes. 
  • At 6 people per, your life is in danger from two equally horrible fates: crowd collapse and crowd crush. 
Crowd Collapse is when someone in a crowd falls, and the mass and motion of the crowd forces the people behind that person forward. They trip over the fallen person, and fall down themselves, usually atop the first person. This continues as more people from the back are forced forward in a fatal dogpile. This results in broken bones and even death.

Crowd Crush is what happens when you are packed together so tightly that the weight of the person behind you crushes you against the object or person in front of you with such force that you are unable to inhale. This is called compressive asphyxia. In effect, the crowd acts like a gigantic constrictor snake, waiting for you to exhale and then pinning your chest so you cannot breathe in and you suffocate while standing up.

How do you avoid dying from crowd crush or collapse?
Follow these simple rules.
  1. If you find yourself packed so tightly that you cannot turn around, get out of the crowd. You should already know where the emergency exits are, so start moving in that direction. 
    • I shall reiterate for clarity: head for the nearest emergency exit, not the main exit. 
  2. Keep your arms in front of your chest in a classic boxer stance. This will protect your chest so that you have room to breathe. 
  3. Lift your feet high in the air as you move - at least six inches. This will allow you to step over most obstacles that could trip you and cause a crowd collapse. 
  4. Do not push against the crowd. Instead, move in a lateral direction -- to the side, or at a diagonal -- to get to the edges. Not only will this get you to the exits and safety, but pressure will be lighter the further out you go. Do this by waiting for a lull in the pushing of the crowd and move quickly.
    • Again, for clarity: You are moving laterally or diagonally in relation to the crowd. Your body should be moving forward whenever possible, not side-stepping.
  5. However, be aware of where you’re going. You don’t want to be at the edge of the crowd and trapped between it and a wall, because if the crowd is panicked -- such as from gunshots on the other side -- it crowd could decide that where you are is now where it wants to go and crush you against that wall. 
  6. Make sure you’re headed for an exit. If necessary, make one! I recall that one of the concert goers at Route 51 kicked down a segment of fence to escape. 
  7. If you can’t escape, try to find a large, immovable object -- like a car or a pillar -- behind which you can hide. Remember, the crowd is a fluid, and when fluids flow around objects, there’s a space on the side opposite the flow that the fluid avoids. Take shelter there.
  8. If you do fall, get up quickly. If you can’t, curl onto your side in the fetal position, with your arms protecting your face and your knees to your elbows in order to protect your chest. Your only priority at this point is to keep breathing. I’m not going to lie; you’re going to take a beating. But broken bones heal; death, on the other hand, is forever. 
Essentially, surviving crowd crush or collapse boils down to situational awareness: know where the exits are, look for the warning signs, stay near the edges, and get out before trouble finds you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Catching an ST:D

I'm not letting that joke go. You can pry it from my cold, dead hands. 

Over the last week, I've watched 5 entire seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and just today I watched all three JJ Abrams movies. This helped me get a perspective on where Trek has been, and where it's going.

On the night of its release, I watched the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and and the third episode of The Orville. Suffice it to say, I had a much better time on one of those three episodes.

I feel that it's necessary, before I begin properly, to point out that there's a strawman argument going on right now amongst critics of critics of ST:D's marketing. The story goes that people are objecting to the diversity of ST:D's cast, and that it would be a real (irony here) shame if Trek were to have a cast that included a black woman, a Russian, a Japanese man, a Scotsman, and a half-human, or if it were to have a blind man and a formerly hostile alien race on the bridge. That's an excellent point, but it's countering an argument that no significant number of people actually have. No one is objecting to a diverse cast in Star Trek. Trek has always had a diverse cast, even when it wasn't 'safe' to do so. Rather, people are objecting to the show being marketed as "good because it's diverse" when Trek has always simply been diverse without having a brass band trumpeting it from the heavens of Hollywood's finest spin rags.

With that out of the way, what did I think?

I'm torn. Had you removed the Starfleet livery, called the "Klingons" something else, and just called it Discovery, I might have felt very differently. Much like The Orville, this could have worked as a tribute to Trek while making an entirely new IP. But being in Trek's playground, this just doesn't work, for a number of reasons.

While there may be inconsistencies between the Kelvin Timeline (of the Abrams movies) and vintage Trek's Prime Timelikne, there is a very good reason for that. The Narada Incident irreparably changed the timeline, with highly advanced and experimental technology being introduced in a very public and very messy way hundreds of years before it should have been developed. This accelerated both the technological level of advancement (which is why the Kelvin Enterprise is larger than Picard's Sovereign class Enterprise) and historical events (Kirk taking command, the Khan incident). However, Discovery takes place mere years after Star Trek: Enterprise -- long before the timeline was disrupted -- so there's no explanation for certain things that don't fit, including:
  • The robot (?) woman on the bridge of the Shenzhou when Lt. Commander Data was the first AI in Starfleet. 
  • The use of holographic communicators, when they were at an experimental phase in the later years of Deep Space 9
  • The design of Burnham's space suit being lighter and thinner than suits shown in series that take place over a hundred years later. 
  • The Klingons possessing a cloaking device when those were obtained from the Romulans during Kirk's service.
Another common complaint that I see is that Trek shouldn't focus on war and that Discovery is dropping us into a war in the first episode. I'd be a hypocrite myself if I said Trek shouldn't handle war, as DS9 is my favourite series, but it needs to be handled properly. DS9 spent years setting up the characters and the setting, letting us get to know the crew, before they raised the stakes and had us invested in their experiences. DS9, in short, earned their war.

Then there's the things that are just inconsistent in and of themselves. For example, the Klingons:

  • Their language seems to have changed fundamentally. Despite there already being an entire existing language for the Klingons, they're speaking something that doesn't sound at all like the Klingon language, with such a stilted cadence to their speech that it makes them difficult to listen to.
  • Visually, they've changed again. They don't look anything like the Prime timeline (which the show claims to be part of) or the Kelvin timeline Klingons (which expanded the bone ridges across the head, but retained the iconic visuals). They look like they're wearing misshapen cockroaches on their heads. 
  • The Captain and First Officer speaking loudly to each other about not violating General Order One (aka the Prime Directive - do not interfere in the natural development of a pre-warp species) while in the hatchery of a pre-warp species on their way to interfere with the natural development of that species? 
  • And how is a mind meld from years ago allowing a Vulcan to communicate telepathically across light-years?

There were a few things I liked, although most of them were undercut by the end of the second episode. I adored Captain Philippa Georgiou and the Shenzhou. The ship was quite well-designed, and Michelle Yeoh's performance was top-notch. She had the perfect blend of mature serenity and well-earned smugness, with a French name and a decidedly not-French origin that reminded me quite a bit of Captain Picard. Had the show followed her, I felt she could have become a fine proto-Picard figure, and seeing her use a phase rifle as a tool early in the episode, even if it was in violation of the Prime Directive, was pleasing as well. I was also fond of Doug Jones's alien Lt. Saru, the highly intelligent and highly bent on self-preservation attitude providing a smile.

The show is inconsistent with its pre-release messaging as well, considering that the Klingons were billed as a very clear analogue for Trump voters and the emphasis on diversity. The main character, Burnham - a black woman with a male first name raised by Vulcans - gets chewed out by a white male Admiral for judging by race, by which she responds to 'not confuse race with culture' - something that critics of Islam frequently have to say to progressive accusations of Islamophobia. In short, ST:D is so woke it comes back out the other side, as the episode climax is brown-skinned religious zealots destroying a ship called Europa headed by a white man by driving a vehicle into it. In trying to build the perfect analogue of Trump voters, it crashed headlong into every ugly stereotype of people from the Middle East.

The most frustrating part, though, is I have no idea if these criticisms will stand. Burnham -- whom I dislike as she's written basically like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory -- is seemingly the only returning cast member come episode 3, when she joins the crew of an entirely new ship with a new captain. The show might take a completely new direction, or it may hang on tightly to all of the complaints I have with it.

It's almost a shame I won't know, as I have no intentions of paying CBS $7 a month to watch one show that I don't know if I'll be invested in and still have to watch commercials on CBS All Access, and I can't help but feel that's not a coincidence. Internally, ST:D will be judged by how many account sign-ups it garners for CBS, but that's not data we'll ever see. Instead, we'll see that The Orville, which airs on the same night that ST:D premiered, got significantly higher ratings. And maybe that was the plan all along.

I'm going back to re-watching DS9. I still have a season and a half to get through before I start a new job.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why You Should Attend GRPC

I have had the pleasure to attend two Gun Rights Policy Conferences and four NRA Annual Meetings, and while they are two very different creatures, if you're a firearms enthusiast you should attend both.

The NRAAM is 25% NRA policy meeting, 25% guest speakers giving lectures, and 50% massive convention floor which you wander while looking at all the guns, gun accessories, gun-related stuff and gun-adjacent merchandise (like knives, camping gear, etc). There's a lot of neat stuff to gawk at and/or purchase, but it's also crowded as unholy hell and the prices for food and drink are convention-level ridiculous. The NRAAM is basically "bread and circuses" for gunnies: mainly spectacle and consumerism (not that there's anything wrong with that).

GRPC, on the other hand, is far more substance over style. There's only one thing going on during the day -- the presentations by guest speakers -- and there isn't much fanfare, just a lot of information being thrown at you. But what's neat about is that you get to see a lot of luminaries in the gun rights world, and if you're lucky you can catch them during a break, or at the mixers on Friday and Saturday night, and actually talk to them. Do you want your picture taken with Dr. John Lott? You can probably get one!

Plus, if you attend, you'll get to see me give a presentation. I've been informally asked to speak at next year's GRPC in Chicago, given the strength of my presentation this year.

(I come in at the 4:15 mark)

A transcript of my speech:
Hello! My name is Erin Palette, and I am a performance tranny.

Now whenever I say that, there are usually three reactions: shocked silence; laughter; and people asking “What’s your gear ratio?” And the answer is a four-eleven final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

For people who don’t know what I just said, it means that I’m built for drag racing.

Folks, it’s okay to laugh. If I didn’t want you laugh at what I said, I wouldn’t be saying it. I feel comfortable and safe here, and I want you to feel comfortable and safe with me as well.
So as a transgender lesbian,I am frequently asked, “Erin, what do I say to someone who is flamingly gay, or is transgender, or is so androgynous I don’t know what sex they are?” and my answer is always “Hi! Want to learn how to shoot?”

It really is that simple! Just be friendly and make a sincere offer to teach them. This is the clearest and easiest way to grow support within the LGBTQ community for gun rights, because people who go shooting realize how fun and empowering that can be. People who have fun shooting become gun owners, and gun owners become gun voters. And if you can convert someone who was anti-gun into someone who is pro-gun, that’s a double victory, because not only do we gain a pro-gun vote but we also deny an anti-gun vote to our opposition. That’s why gun owners should make an effort to reach out to queer individuals and offer to teach them to shoot.

If you’re worried about your offer being rejected, let me reassure you: the queer community is incredibly aware of its vulnerability. The Pulse Massacre was our 9/11 moment; we realized that we were hated not as individuals, but as a demographic, and that the police won’t necessarily arrive in time, or act properly when they do arrive.

How much danger are we in? LGBTQ individuals are a tiny fraction of Americans - only 3.4% of the population - but we are disproportionately affected by crime, with 1 in every 4 of us victims of hate-based violence within our lifetime. So there are very good reasons why a queer person would want to learn how to operate a firearm.

And even if you are rejected, the fact that you cared enough to offer goes a long way towards healing the manufactured divide which splits our country. Because, despite what the media tells us, queer people do NOT hate straight people, and the success of Operation Blazing Sword is a testament to the fact that straight people do not hate queer people.

For those who haven’t heard of Operation Blazing Sword, we are a grassroots organization dedicated to pairing gun-curious -- I love that word -- gun-curious queer people with gun owners for basic firearm safety instruction. This is more important than you might think, because due to the aforementioned manufactured divide, the average queer person doesn’t feel comfortable going to a gun store or a shooting range for instruction because they’ve been told for decades that gun owners hate them.

So we pair these gun-curious folks with volunteer teachers who will teach them the basics of firearm safety, operation and ownership for no cost and without judgement for a student’s color, gender, sexual orientation, biology, or manner of dress.

And what I love about Blazing Sword is that the education goes both ways: not only are the LGBTQ students learning about firearms, but the teachers are learning about what it’s like to be queer in America. As an example, in the early days of Blazing Sword someone told me “You know. I’m happy to help train people, but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with being named as a gun owner on an internet map.” And my reply was, “Oh, so you’re afraid of the repercussions of coming out because people might treat you differently?” It was delightful to track the dawning of enlightenment as he realized the similarity between being a gun owner and being gay in terms of public acceptance.

But I acknowledge that it can be intimidating to talk to us, because you can get in trouble for using the wrong pronouns and the acronym keeps changing. The last I checked, the current preferred nomenclature is LGBTTQQIAAP, which if you ask me sounds like something a cheerleader would chant.

Ell GEE! Bee Tee Tee! Cue Cue Eye! Ayy Ayy Pee! Goooooooo GAY!

So what I’m going to do is make your lives easier by giving you a quick lesson on how to talk to people with non-mainstream genders or sexuality.

First, you don’t have to learn how to pronounce LGBTQ. Just say “queer”. It encompasses all of us and it’s a sight easier to say than a mouthful of consonants. It’s okay, I give you permission to say queer. Just remember to use it as an adjective, not a noun. For example, “Nicki is a queer person” is good. “Nicki is a queer” is bad. It’s a fine point, I know, but think of it as our version of “clip vs. magazine”. Correct terminology matters!

Second, if you aren’t sure how to refer to someone, just ask them “What are your pronouns?” That’s an inoffensive way to discover how to refer to them. If in doubt, go with “them” and “they”. I understand that using a plural term to describe an individual is sloppy -- it makes my grammarian soul shudder -- but it’s SO much better than guessing and getting it wrong, or worse, calling that person “it”. Just… don’t do that.

Third: You know how when someone says “I’m a gun owner, BUT” you immediately tune out everything they say after that? So for the same reason, I beg you, DO NOT say “I disagree with your lifestyle, but …” because whatever you say after that will not be heard. Now to be clear, it’s okay to disagree with anyone’s lifestyle; it’s just counterproductive to bring this us, especially in an initial conversation. Consider this our version of the “9mm vs. 45” argument.

Ultimately, what you need to realize is that the gun community and the queer community have more in common than either realize:

  • Both groups believe in rights. The right to love whoever we want, and the right to defend our lives effectively, are both natural rights. We may disagree on which rights are more important, and disagree on how best to implement these rights and their concomitant responsibilities, but we ultimately agree that rights are paramount.
  • Both groups believe that life is precious and worth protecting. Ultimately, we both want to prevent the murder of innocent people, and that is inherently noble.
  • And both groups believe that silence equals death. If we are silent, if we cannot be heard, then we might as well not exist in the mind of the public, and that is how we become marginalized and stepped upon.

I realize that I’ve dumped a lot of information on you. There’s SO much more to talk about, and I’m certain that you have questions. So I want to let you know that I am VERY approachable: if you have questions, just come and talk to me. Don’t worry about offending me! So long as you have a sincere desire to know, I will be happy to turn your curious discomfort into a teachable moment. Ben Branam can testify to that.

Again, my name is Erin Palette, my organization is Operation Blazing Sword, and you can find out more about us on Facebook and on our website,

Thank you.
Because we finished early (we had a 30 minute block and only used 15), we simultaneously made our hosts very happy for getting back on schedule and caused them to scramble because the next panel wasn't yet ready. So the moderator had us do an impromptu Q&A session while the next speakers got into position.

(As an aside, I love my "WTF I dunno LOL" expression.)

I hope to see you in Chicago for GRPC 2018!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #163 - Magic Carpet Ride

On a cloud of sound we drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
  • What happens when more than 350 gun-toting ladies get together? Beth travels to Utah to attend a conference by The Well-Armed Woman to find out! 
  • Man Shot By Police After Holding Pregnant Woman Hostage. Sean and Erin love a happy ending. 
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon. 
  • Miguel is NOT on assignment this week! He wants everyone to know that he’s “playing Mad Scientist with things nature never intended to be played with.”[Evil Laugh] 
  • We look deeper in the SHARE Act for our Main Topic. 
  • Tiffany is on assignment and will return soon. 
  • Florida is hot. And not "Swedish Bikini Team" hot; it's "Dropped into pan of boiling water inside an oven" hot. So how do you keep cool when the power is out and the AC is off? Erin has some tips. 
  • Weer'd finishes his Audio Fisk sendoff of former Brady Campaign president, Dan Gross. 
  • And our Plug of the Week is for Magic Carpet Cruise Control, AKA Toyota Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. 
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 -

Beating the Heat 
Without Power
As you know, most of Florida was without power for up to a week after Irma. While it does indeed suck to be away from the internet and entertainment, the biggest complaint I’ve seen has been from people who lost their air conditioning.

And this makes sense: Florida is a hot, humid place, and it suuuuuucks to be without AC. As Miguel said some weeks ago, during most of the year we Floridians essentially live in bubbles of air conditioning. But sometimes the power goes out and we’re forced to find unplugged ways to cool off. Here are some tips and tricks that ought to help.

Use water to cool off. If you have water pressure, then cool showers will rinse off the sticky sweat and lower your skin temperature. Wet hair is also the gift that keeps giving, because the longer it stays damp, the longer your head feels.

You can also sleep under a damp sheet. Don’t go overboard with this; just get a spare cotton sheet and run it under the faucet, then wring it out and spread it over you before you sleep. If you end up feeling too cold, or don’t like the feeling of wet cotton on top of you, put a towel between you and the sheet.

If you live in a multi-story building, sleep as close to the ground as possible. This is because hot air rises but cool air sinks. Now’s a great time to break out those air mattresses!

Speaking of sleeping, nap during the hottest parts of the day. If you’re hot you won’t feel like doing anything, and sleep is an excellent way to escape discomfort, so endure the afternoon heat by sleeping through it. The siesta, or post-lunch nap, is popular in Spain and Latin America for this very reason.

If you’re having difficulty sleeping during the day because of the amount of light in your room, invest in some blackout curtains for the house. These are great for a variety of reasons: not only do they block the light so you can sleep, they also prevent the house from warming up through the windows. What’s more, if you have a generator in your house and you don’t want the neighborhood to know that you have power, these curtains prevent light from leaking out at night.

I have found that I can endure higher temperatures and humidity if I can just get some air blowing on my face. Portable fans and a supply of batteries will go a long way towards personal comfort. Turn one on when you feel hot and carry it with you when you change rooms, because you don’t need to cool off the whole room, just a few feet around you. I recommend the O2COOL 5-inch portable fan - it requires two D cell batteries and only costs five dollars with free shipping on Amazon.

Finally, don’t forget about your pets. Cats and dogs get hot, too! My mother bought a pair of pressure-activated cooling gel pads for our dogs, and let me tell you, they work really well. I know this because one of our dogs refused to lie on her cooling pad -- I don’t know WHY, she’s just silly -- and so mom put that pad on her own bed and slept on it, which made her life more comfortable. When I came back home, mom gave that cooling pad to me, because I’m always hot in this house, and it’s on the back of my chair in the living room. Mm-mm, comfy!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Non-Euclidean 8-Sided Dice

So Saturday night, after my weekly roleplaying session, I posted this:

And of course, people didn't really understand what I was talking about. And it was one of those things where I sound like a right lunatic when I try to explain it, but if you can just SEE what I'm talking about you'll realize I'm not crazy.

Well, not crazy because of this, at any rate.

So I dug out my webcam and made a video so you could see for yourselves. You can SEE and UNDERSTAND.

[gibbers quietly in the corner]

Sunday, September 24, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #162 - South Florida Knows How To Hurricane

That's "be prepared for a hurricane" and not "make a rum cocktail."
  • Have you ever attended a Friends of the NRA Banquet? Are you curious about what it’s like? Beth shares her experience so you can decide if it’s something you’d like to do.
  • A man is accused of robbing three Charlotte businesses, but Sean finds out that his conviction record isn't the worst part of the story.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • In any situation you’ll get groups of people who have different skills and levels of preparedness. How prepared was Coral Gables, Florida for the long term loss of electricity? They apparently had their lawyers on speed dial. Miguel tells you what he thinks.
  • Our Main Topic is "Dry Fire Practice: Is It Boring?"
  • Tiffany finishes her three-part segment on the NRA Carry Guard Expo by talking about the good things she encountered within the Expo itself, especially the programs made for “the laaadieeeez.”
  • Back from her Evacu-cation, Erin has some tips and tricks for you to make your evacuation plans easier.
  • Now that the Brady Campaign’s Dan Gross  has been fired, Weer’d bids a farewell to Dan in the best way he knows how.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for the Pocket Pro II shot timer.
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 -
 Evacuation Tips and Tricks
This was the second year in a row that I evacuated for a hurricane, and I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at it. So let me share with you some tips and tricks that I’ve learned. 

1) Know the order in which you want to load your stuff
For me, this is pretty simple:
  1. First I load my bug-out bag. Even if I can’t load anything else, that and the Get-Home bag I already have in my car will enable me to be a pretty comfortable refugee for several days. 
  2. The next thing I load are my guns and just enough ammo for them to fit inside their cases. Now, most people are wondering why I don’t load clothes next, and there’s are multiple reasons for that:
    • Clothes are cheap and easily replaced, while guns are expensive and a pain in the butt to replace. Besides, I already have changes of clothes in my bug out and get home bags. 
    • I don’t want my guns to fall into the wrong hands if looters get to my house before I can return. As a gun owner, I feel that I have an ethical duty to make sure my firearms aren’t used by criminals. 
    • In a worst-case scenario, I can trade a gun for something necessary, like food or shelter or transportation, because guns have intrinsic value. Clothes, not so much. 
  3. Then I add whatever gear isn’t in my bug-out bag but which would be useful for an extended absence (like camping supplies) or for sorting through wreckage, (like tools or protective clothing). 
  4. Next up are whatever portable electronic devices I can fit into a backpack, like my tablet computer and podcasting gear, along with recharging cables and docking stations. If I have the time, I’ll remove the hard drive from my desktop and put them into a protective waterproof box, like a Pelican Case.
  5. All of these have been items which are expensive and difficult to replace, going in order form “most useful” to “least useful”. If you’re making a list of your own, this is where you should put valuable luxuries like expensive jewelry, or irreplaceable sentimental items like heirlooms. 
  6. Then, and ONLY then, do I pack extra clothing. This is where your “nice to haves” go - things which would be nice to have with you but can be be replaced easily. 
  7. The last thing to go into my car are snacks and drinks. 
2) Have duplicates of your toiletries
I don’t know about the rest of you, but having a repeatable, reliable bathroom routine goes a long way towards making me feel normal and comfortable.

I recommend against packing up your toiletries as part of the evacuation process, because this will slow you down and you will probably forget things, like your favorite loofah sponge in the shower.

Instead, build an “overnight bag” complete with duplicates of all the things you use when showering, brushing your teeth, etc, and then grab that bag along with others in step one. That’s one less step to worry about and one more thing on your list that’s already packed.

What’s more, you can use this for things other than evacuations. If you’re going on vacation, or need to take a business trip, you can grab your overnight bag instead of having to pack, then un-pack, then re-pack your toiletries for another trip.

3) Have wonderful friends
Both times that I’ve evacuated, I have been blessed to have really great people volunteer their homes for me to stay in.

This hospitality is amazing, because not only does it save me the cost of a hotel room, but it also means I get to meet great people in real life and enjoy their company.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: if you’re a prepper, you can’t do it alone. You need people to help you out. Friends, extended family, other preppers in your group - all of these people constitute your Tribe, and you should cultivate those relationships. Go out of your way to help people, and they’ll be more willing to go out of their way to help you when you need it. 

A Quick Update

Looking over the blog, it appears that I haven't posted anything for an entire week. That's terrible.

I have a pretty good explanation, though:
  1. Last weekend, I received word that my part of Florida had the power restored, so I made plans to return home. 
  2. Monday, the person I thought I was going to get to visit on the way home had to beg off on account of sick kids, so that changed my schedule and meant that I was probably leaving too late in the day to make it home in one trip. 
  3. Fortunately, a lovely friend in Columbia, SC offered his guest room to me and I spent the night. So that's why there was no Monday post. 
  4. Damn near the rest of Tuesday was spent driving, and by the time I arrive home I was flat-out brain-fried and only wanted to rest. So, no Tuesday post. 
  5. Wednesday was spent unpacking. No, really. It seems to take me twice as long to unpack as it does to pack, because putting things where they belong (ordering them) takes a lot longer than putting them into suitcases (a mild form of disordering them) -- fighting entropy always takes effort. Plus I had to wash dirty clothes, remove the wrinkles from clean clothes that got mashed in the suitcase, etc. 
  6. Thursday was a headache in the morning and then recording the podcast in the afternoon, so I did actually accomplish something visible that day... you just don't get to see the fruit of that effort until tonight, when the podcast drops. Then my internet went out until morning. 
  7. Friday was just an utter cluster of everything that could go wrong actually going wrong. Most notable was when my keyboard stopped working for no apparent reason, and trying to get it fixed took up most of my time. Then I had to go shopping for a new one, and I didn't find one I liked, so I ended up ordering a new one on Amazon. 
  8. Yesterday was Salem Saturday. 

And the sad irony of the situation is that next week I will have to start packing all over again, because Friday-Sunday is the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Dallas. I'm so freaking tired of travelling, y'all, and I'm going to do it again on Thursday.

Plus I have to finish my speech.

And I've been invited to model for a Concealed Carry Fashion Show at GRPC, which is 50% flattering and 50% terrifying.

So basically... I'm fine, my family is fine, my dogs are fine, my house is fine, but I'm probably going to be an Amazing Stress Bitch this next week, so please don't hold it against me if you don't hear back from me until October 2.

And many thanks for being my readers despite my flakiness. Much love to you all!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

These Raptures Are Getting Tedious

By my count, I have now lived through three major (and countless minor) Raptures:

  1. The Great Rapture of '88, which actually was delayed until 1989, inconveniencing nearly everyone. 
  2. The Silent Rapture of 1994, predicted by Harold Camping, actually did happen despite what many naysayers claim, we just can't remember it. 
  3. And now, today, as I'm trying to go about my daily routine, another Rapture happens.

I got up today - a day like any other day - had my coffee and took my shower. I got dressed and forgot my wallet, so had to turn around and get it. I stopped in at Subway to get a good breakfast. Bacon, egg, and cheese on multigrain flatbread. Megan's a good Sandwich Artist, and always keeps a few eggs in the refrigerator for me, because she knows I'm terrible at waking up early. Unfortunately, when I got there, she'd already been Raptured, so there was nothing but a visor and a pile of clothes draped over the counter and no egg in the refrigerator.

Having to forego breakfast, I decided to pick up some groceries, so my next stop was Target. Target, unlike Wal-Mart, doesn't have door greeters, so I didn't notice anything amiss when I first passed through the automatic doors and walked past the Starbucks near the entrance. I thought the store was surprisingly empty, but it wasn't until I walked up to my usual checkout aisle that I noticed that Cheryl, the pretty older woman who always has a bit of an extra smile for me, was gone. Another frustratingly empty pile of clothes on the floor next to her register.

Unable to obtain groceries, I left the food spoiling in the cart at the registers and decided to go pick up a package from the post office. As you can imagine, this went as well as the rest of my visits - the entire post office had been Raptured. I'm not kidding. Every person in the place, customers included, was gone. In fact, the front windows, all of the packing materials, and an entire wall of PO boxes were gone as well, but whether that was from looting or some new kind of Rapture I'm not qualified to say.

I've now returned home, and I intend to spend the rest of the day fuming in frustration, watching Star Trek on Netflix and playing video games, as I apparently can't get anything done thanks to these annoying Rapt

[note: the preceding is all that exists of this article. The author cannot be located, but this was found in his home]

Sunday, September 17, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #161 - We Are But Mad North-North-West

Erin's neighborhood was supposed to get its power restored this weekend. Now it's been pushed back until Tuesday next week.

  • Beth says it's always the right time to talk to children about firearms, and the new book "Safety On" by Yehuda Remer can help you with that.
  • A second suspect has been identified in a NW Charlotte homicide, and good news! He's not quite as awful as the suspect they have already charged!
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • To be, or not to be: that is the question. Or perhaps the question is "to stay, or not to stay." And when the hurricane blows southerly, Miguel knows a hawk from a handsaw.
  • Our Main Topic is the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing that more Americans than ever have a gun in their homes.
  • Tiffany covers a few of the Every Day Carry travel considerations that aren't usually discussed in the average concealed carry permit class.
  • Erin left the hurricane behind. But she has preps in place, so why evacuate? She shares her thoughts on avoiding troubles as a valid prepping strategy.
  • The Joyce Foundation Shell Group, States United, has cooked up a “Video Game” to oppose concealed carry Reciprocity, and gets the reaction from alleged Real People™. Weer'd has the audio.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.

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 -

Why Evacuate When You Have Preps?
As I write this, I’m comfortably ensconced at Castello Sorrentino, enjoying the delightfully cool North Carolina weather. The reason I’m able to  enjoy it so much is because Hurricane Irma largely missed my part  of Florida, contenting herself with knocking down trees and power lines. This means I no longer have to worry about the safety of my family or the integrity of our house, and my evacuation has become a vacation. 

Despite all this, though. I’m still having trouble shaking the feeling that I am now 2 for 2 at being a gigantic pussy when it comes to hurricanes. After all, what kind of prepper am I if I chose not to reply upon those preps, but instead to run away at the first opportunity?

Friend of the show Josh made a great point last week when he posted this to the BCP Facebook group:
It occurs to me that training with a firearm and preparing for disasters are very similar.
In both cases you are gathering the tools and knowledge to handle a situation if it gets bad. In both cases your education tells you to leave the area as soon as it seems likely things actually will go bad.
And I believe this with 100% conviction. Just like concealed carriers 
believe "You win every gunfight you avoid", we preppers believe that we survive every disaster we aren’t present for. Sure, you might be able to out-draw or out-shoot a bad guy, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get through the experience unscathed. You might get hurt anyway, or be arrested and tried for murder by an overzealous prosecutor, or be harassed by the media and hated by your community. 

Similarly, if you rely on your preps to get you through a disaster you could have avoided, at the very least you’ve consumed those preps and need to replace them. Progressing up the scale of awful, take a moment to realize that “surviving a disaster” and “surviving a disaster unscathed” are two completely different things. If you’re crippled, but you lived, then technically you’ve survived…

Now I understand that there are some situations where people cannot evacuate. Perhaps you have a family member who cannot be moved, and evacuating without them would be the same as abandoning them. Perhaps you don’t have a car or the funds required to get out. Perhaps you have a job as an emergency responder, and it’s your duty to help those who didn’t leave. In all of these cases, I understand why you didn’t go, and I don’t fault you for your choice. 

But what gets me are the people who have the ability to leave but choose not to evacuate -- like my parents, who say “We evacuated once back in 2003. We were stuck in traffic, and the dogs were hot, and we couldn’t find a hotel that would take us and our pets. We’re just going to stay behind.”  To me, this is like saying “We’d rather risk death than be inconvenienced by an evacuation.” I don’t get this. I just DON’T. It’s like hearing the anti-vaccine folks talk and realize that they’re saying “Having a dead child is preferable to having one with autism.”

So I just leave at the first sign of impending doom, because the best prep is not gear, not training, but the ability to get yourself out of dangerous situations - and the best way to get out of dangerous situations is not to get into them in the first place. 

This is why I’m up here in North Carolina, enjoying lovely weather and power and internet, while my family are sweltering in summer Florida heat without air conditioning. 

Yup. They really saved themselves some inconvenience, didn’t they?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Salem Watches Television: An Unexpected Discovery

Wooo that was a misleading title, wasn't it?

I love Star Trek. Not to the extent of my big three, which are Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, and Mystery Science Theater 3000, but in the eternal debate of Star Wars vs Star Trek, I'll always pick Trek. I remember seeing some of the movies when I was visiting my dad's family in Boston as a wee one, catching reruns in the afternoon, and staying up late to watch The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.

I still haven't (and most likely never will) finish watching Voyager. I keep meaning to watch the last two seasons of Enterprise, but can never find the time for it. I suppose this is for the best; those series will never reach the brilliance of story-telling that DS9 did, so I'll let them go.

I even enjoy the relaunch movies to an extent. Into Darkness was still visually pleasing despite being inferior to its inspiration, and it's a shame that nobody saw Beyond, because it was a lot of fun

What am I getting at with this nostalgic reminiscence? Well, Star Trek: Discovery will be coming out soon... I think. I say "I think" because I actually have no intention of watching it -  not from some misguided boycott or sense of betrayal or anything like that, but just out of a lack of interest. I've kept up with behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt on the series, and given the re-writing, re-casting, and overall mess that's been going on around it, I just don't see a reason to get invested.

I've seen public statements that have been comparing the Klingons in ST:D (and who thought that abbreviation was a good idea?) to both Muslims and "Trump's America", and which celebrated the gender and racial diversity of the main cast, but there has been absolutely no confidence shown whatsoever in the actual writing of the show.

ST:D (I'm not going to stop calling it that) just does not look interesting at all. Something which has caught my eye - though in a very surprising way - is The Orville.
That's... a nice ride.
I hate Family Guy. I viscerally hate it. I don't think I've ever enjoyed something that's had the creative hand of Seth MacFarlane on it; there's just something about his humour that doesn't click with me. So when I heard he was making something of a comedic tribute to Star Trek, I decided I was going to just stick to ST:D and be done with it.

Except for two things:
  1. ST:D is going to be on CBS All-Access, and I can't really think of anything else on CBS I want to watch, so I don't really want to pay for a subscription service for one show. I have a feeling this is going to be a fairly common sentiment as well, so a large portion of ST:D's audience is going to be torrenters, downloaders, and pirates. 
  2. The Orville is... actually pretty good. 
That last one was a shocker to me. I wasn't going to watch The Orville, but given how many people on my timeline were singing its praises, I gave it a shot. The effects aren't bad (a plus, given how it will save on budget with its minimalist style and slightly cheap CGI); the writing isn't over-the-top inexplicable Family Guy humour; the acting is serviceable; and most importantly, it's got heart.

While I feel that ST:D is going to be a lot of super-serious people pulling super-serious faces while bashing us over the head with a Trump-hammer painted in a vaguely Klingon-esque manner, The Orville promises a light-hearted space adventure somewhere between TNG and Galaxy Quest. And really, I think that's what I want right now. I think that's what a lot of people want right now, if the ratings are any indication. 
"Are they right? Am I out of touch? No... it's the viewers."
Here's to you, Seth. While Trek may be lost to heavy-handed message fiction, you've earned a chance. Don't waste it. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

An Even Five

I am convinced that the number 5 is even.

Not mathematically even, mind you, but conceptually even because humans have 5 fingers per hand , thus a "whole hand" is an even value.

If you want proof, think of it like this:
  • The number 4 is indisputably even. 
  • So is the number 6. 
  • But 7 is indisputably odd. 
  • So if you are given the sequence 4, 5, 6, 7 and told to eliminate the number which doesn't belong (or doesn't "feel right"), which one do you cross out?

You could pick "5, 6, 7" and not be wrong (because there's no wrong answer to this), but I'd wager that most people will pick "4, 5, 6" . This is because 5 both "feels" even and is right in the middle where it "ought" to be (because 5 is half -- right in the middle -- of Base 10). "4, 5, 6" just feels like a string of three even numbers that other sequences don't give.

Five is the "even" number that belongs in the middle. (Or at the end, which is why we love counting in units of five. Again, Half of Base 10.)

Post-Irma Erin

An update on how my family and I are doing can be found over at Blue Collar Prepping.

Monday, September 11, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #160 - Round and Round

Blood going round and round: Good.

Hurricanes going round and round: Bad.
  • Beth is on assignment and will return next week.
  • What kind of sicko breaks into rehab facilities and sexually assaults the patients? Sean takes a closer look.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • What do you do when a Category Five hurricane is barreling down on you? If you’re Miguel, you fret that you don’t have enough propane, because you’ve already used yours to smoke ribs and brisket.
  • Our Special Guest this week is Kelly Grayson, the Ambulance Driver, here to explain what lifesaving medical equipment lay rescuers should have in their kits… and more importantly, what they shouldn't have.
  • Tiffany’s back with her first after-action report on NRA’s Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You’re going to love her off-the-cuff interview with her Uber driver.
  • Unlike Miguel, Erin is evacuating Florida before Hurricane Irma arrives. On the eve of her departure, she gives us her thoughts on the bug-out process.
  • Weer'd talks about the Kellermann Study in nearly every episode. This week he finally gives that piece of anti-gun “Scientific” research the Patented Weer'd Fisk Treatment that it so richly deserves.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for Smuggler's Notch Litigation Wheat Whiskey.

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.

There is no Blue Collar Prepping Transcript this week because Erin recorded her segment extemporaneously and so there are no notes to transcribe. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I Hate To Say I Told You So

Ah, who am I kidding?

  • Clinton vs Sanders.
  • Trump vs Clinton. 
  • Battfleck. 
  • The Fall of The House of Whedon.
  • Antifa is not your friend

I keep predicting these things, and I keep getting them right, and nobody listens. I'm starting to get a Cassandra Complex over here.

In the mid 1960's, UC Berkeley was home to the one of the biggest acts of mass civil disobedience, led by students demanding the campus lift restrictions against political speech on the campus, it was dubbed "the home of the free speech movement." Decades later, it was the catalyst point when professional troll Milo Yannapoulis arrived to give a speech and on the same night Antifa decided he shouldn't, and the casualties against the "racist, fascist KKK" (according to the chants) were ATMs, Starbucks windows, and various trash bins.

And the times, they are a-changin'
A month or so before, Alt-Right poster boy (and, I suspect, controlled opposition) Richard Spencer was punched by somebody in a mask and black hoodie. That YouTube video has over 3 million views and spawned the frankly annoying #PunchANazi meme. I can't help but think of the stock response to the strawman MRA argument of "why can't I punch women if they punch me first?" that I always hear: Stop punching people. Why do you want to go around punching people?

 And in the months before even this, during the election, there were scrawny black-clad figures attacking people at political rallies. And they haven't stopped. The sad thing is you can't disavow them or their actions without the inevitable cries of "Oh so you support the Nazis huh?" As if it's somehow impossible to dislike Nazis while also disliking LARPing Anarcho-communist kids with silver spoons in their mouth and bike locks and pepper spray in their hands.

A few months ago, Snopes debunked the claim that Antifa had been declared by the DHS a terrorist organization. You'll have to take my word for it, as I can't even find an archive of that now, and that article is gone from their internal search engine, but just a weeks ago, it happened very publicly and since then the media narrative has started to shift. A petition first started circulating through the internet over at to formally recognize Antifa as a terrorist organization. It now has almost 350 thousand signatures and still another week before it closes. Just this last week it was revealed that a joint task force between the FBI and DHS classified their activities as domestic terrorism and had been doing so since early 2016... before Trump was even elected.

So again, I really hate to say I told you so (I don't, I really don't), but I called it once again, Left. I called it and instead of listening, you all just went out and hashtag-punched-a-Nazi. Or anyone on the Right. Or someone who looked like a Nazi. Or someone who disagreed with you. Or someone who disagreed with punching a Nazi. Or someone on your own side who also wanted to punch Nazis.

Before last week, you'd normally only see only conservative sites like The Daily Caller or Conservative Review pushing for this designation. Now you have The Daily Beast, The Hill, and Bustle weighing in on it. Only Salon has remained strangely silent, offering up a feeble piece about how Antifa is helping in aid for Hurricane Harvey (yet doesn't seem to cover any actual Antifa groups in the article). The Democratic Party has been distancing themselves, with even the Mayor of Berkeley (once tied to the group "By Any Means Necessary" and infamous for directing the police not to engage rioters in Berkeley) and House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi denouncing them. There's blood in the water, metaphorically this time.

I tried to warn you, Left. I really did.

Due to evacuating from Hurricane Irma, our esteemed editor is not available to proofreed my article this week. Any missed opportunities for fancy editing or typographical errors are entirely my fault. We wish you well, Erin. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma Predictions & Bug Out Mobility

People have been asking me, and if I'm worried about Irma, and if I've started to evacuate or not. I've written a detailed post about that over at Blue Collar Prepping.

Also, because I forgot to mention it here, on Saturday I wrote a post about my new mobility option for bugging out with gear. Here's the article, if for some reason you also aren't subscribed to my prepping blog.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #159 - We Agree With Nancy Pelosi. Yes, We're As Surprised As You Are.

"Lickspittle" is an excellent pejorative that deserves more usage.
  • Beth taught a USCCA class in Connecticut this past weekend, where apparently the state wants to make it as difficult as possible for people to get CCW permits or firearms, with blocks at every turn! Where's reciprocity when you need it?!?!
  • What kind of person robs a bank and murders 2 tellers in the process? The story quotes the FBI report, but Sean reads the criminal record.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • Do you know a loved one's most important medical details when they need to be taken to the ER? Stuff that will be needed RIGHT THIS MOMENT? Miguel has some suggestions for us.
  • Our Main Topic is The End of Antifa. Their left wing allies are telling them to knock it off. It's a cynical Sister Souljah moment by the establishment.
  • Tiffany is on assignment and will return soon.
  • You survived the hurricane - now you have to survive the flooding. Erin gives prepping advice based on what she's seen in Houston.
  • Former Bloomberg lickspittle Mark Glaze goes out on his own, and now he’s out for blood! Weer’d looks at Glaze’s talking points through the ages.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for the Wondery podcast, "Tides of History."
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 -
Flood Preps
Back in episode 51, when Tampa was flooded, I discussed what to do if your car was caught in floodwaters. Given the situation in Houston, it seems timely and relevant to discuss what to do if your home is flooded. The most important piece of advice I can give you is something that I’ve echoed many times before: If you know a disaster is coming and you have the ability to get out, do so.

I know the mayor of Houston told people not to evacuate, and I can sort of see his reasoning for it: the Houston interstate system is also its flood control system, with the water designed to follow the roads until it lets out into the Gulf - and the last time Houstonians evacuated, which was in 2005 for Hurricane Rita, the roads quickly became jammed because Houston is the 4th largest city in America. A combination of gridlock and a heatwave resulted in up to 118 deaths before the storm even arrived, as opposed to only 113 deaths caused by Rita itself.

So from a logistical point of view, I can see why Mayor Turner didn’t demand mandatory evacuation. But the key word there is “demand”; just because you don’t have to go doesn’t mean you shouldn't go. From my point of view, evacuation not being mandatory just means I have an easier time getting out of town! But let’s say you’ve decided not to evacuate for whatever reason. You’ve stockpiled food, water, batteries, and medical supplies, and your house made it through the storm in one piece - but now you have to deal with flooding.

Ideally, you live on high ground, which means your house isn’t flooded. But even if that’s the case, you are likely without power and running water, and you may need to leave your house to get supplies. If you aren’t on high ground, you definitely need to move so that you can get a warm, dry place to sleep, because floodwaters cause hypothermia, structural damage to houses, and disease with them. Your three biggest needs are waterproofing your preps, communication, and transport. 

Waterproofing is a subject that I discussed in its own segment in episode 29. I won’t repeat all of that here, just add that if you’re going to go to the trouble of making preps, you need to keep them dry and keep them from floating away. Having food in a waterproof box does you no good if that box has floated off in the floodwaters! So lash your preps your something strong. 

And I do mean strong. Two feet of water can pick up and move trucks, so don’t think that lashing your boxes to a 100 pound shelf is going to do you any good. I mean strong as in a structural support or part of the foundation.

Where you put them is also a bit of a gamble. You don’t want you preps on the ground floor if you’re expecting floods, so many preppers store theirs in the attic - which is great, except for the fact that hurricane-force winds have a distressing tendency to peel roofs off. 

The best advice I can give is to keep your preps with you wherever you shelter, so keep them portable, and have a variety of places where you can secure them. Make sure they are visible, with bright colors on the lids and sides, so you can find them if they are covered by dark water. 

Communication sounds difficult because the best kind in a situation like this is a HAM radio. Most people think this requires a lot of expensive gear and a large antenna, but they’re wrong. For the low price of around $25 you can get the Baofeng UV5RA, a handheld HAM radio that looks like a thick walkie-talkie. This means that they’re not only portable, but that you can also keep them in waterproof containers until needed. 

Best of all, not only can the Baofeng listen to FM and weather bands, but there are also local repeaters nearly everywhere. You can set your radio up to link into these repeaters, and the repeaters then send your signal out at a significantly stronger and more efficient range. This means that your inexpensive handheld 2-5 watts radio can communicate up to several hundred miles if you get into a linked repeater system.

The drawback to these is that you need a HAM license in order to broadcast on them. But from my point of view, if it’s a survival situation, you use what you have to call for help and to paraphrase Ellen Ripley from Aliens, “The FCC can bill me later.”

Transportation is where it gets expensive, because I’ve been told that the owner’s definition of “a boat” is “a hole in the water into which you throw money”. But if you have a fishing boat, a flat-bottom utility boat, or even a rowboat, you’re doing well -- assuming, of course, it didn’t get floated away.

If you don’t own a boat, the cheapest option would be to buy an inflatable raft of some kind and store it along with your preps. Right now, the best kind I can find is an Intex Excursion 5-person inflatable raft with oars for $115 on eBay.

If you go this route, make sure you have the following accessories with it:
  • A tow line for securing it
  • Life vests for everyone who will use it, including pets
  • Extra oars - if you have 5 people, then 4 should be paddling and 1 should be steering
  • Repair kits, in case debris in the water pokes a hole in it
  • Some way to get it and yourself out of the attic, such as a fire ax, if that’s where you keep the raft. 
A raised inflatable mattress, like the kind you get from Serta, can also serve as a makeshift cargo barge. The twin version is rated to support 250 pounds or more, and the queen size ought to be at least double that. A cargo net, or one made from paracord, would not only secure what’s on it but also give you tie-downs for towing and securing it. Check out the video in the show notes.

Stay strong and stay dry, Texas.

The Fine Print

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