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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.
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:
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. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

WNW: SNL Grows a Backbone

For the first time in what, this century? SNL has decided to take a swing at the Democrats.

When Donna Brazile first threw Hillary under the bus, I wondered when she would commit suicide by shooting herself in the back of the head multiple times. Now I wonder if the rest of the country smells weakness in the Clinton political machines and is jumping on that.

Alternately, I wonder when Lorne Michaels will be found dead under mysterious circumstances...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Day My Dog Bit Me

Today marks 5 weeks to the night that my mother's dog attacked me. 

I've tried to write about this before, but it was painful because I kept crying. In fact, that's one of the reasons I didn't post anything last week: I tried to write about this at the one month mark, but it coincided with my monthly depression, and I felt I needed to take a mental health break from writing in order to clear my head.

I acknowledge that no one is forcing me to talk about. Heck, no one has even asked me what happened, and that's a credit to them. I just feel like I need to get this off my chest. I don't know why I feel this way, but I do. Perhaps it's a kind of closure.

It was Tuesday, Oct 10, 10pm. I know what time it was because mom always turns off the TV and starts her bedtime preparations around 10, but it takes her between 30 and 45 minutes to actually get to bed. During that period, our dog Heath always became restless, and so I would play with him until it was time for him to get his teeth brushed and go to bed.
Yes, we brush our dogs' teeth. It does wonders for their breath and oral health. 
And yes, I would play with him right before bedtime. Dogs have this amazing ability to go from zero to 60, and 60 to zero, in seconds. 
So this night, like every night, Heath came to get me to play with him. He'd always do this cute little awroo-roo sound that wasn't a quite a howl and it was his universal code for "Play with me!" Some nights I'd find it annoying, especially if I was trying to get work done, or if I was tired and wasn't in the mood, but most nights I'd do it even if I didn't want to because I know too well how short a dog's life is and that I'd regret not playing with him while he was alive more than I'd regret the time lost, and that I'd miss playing with him while he was gone.

And now I'm crying again. Shit.

So he came to get me, and we played the usual games. Heath was an unusual dog in that he always needed to be the center of attention, always needed all the toys, hated to share.. but still loved to play. His ideal form of play was for him to get a toy, and for me to act like I wanted it and try to get it, but never actually take it from him. We played for a bit, and when he got a bit too stimulated I stopped with the hijinks and moved to generalized attention like petting, scritches and kind words.

He was sitting behind my chair in the family room, with a plush toy in his mouth. He was always a nice sitter and he looked very cute holding the toy like that, so I did something that both I and my mother have done literally countless times since we first got him back in 2009: I leaned forward to give him a kiss on the nose.

I had no idea that a dog could move that quickly, especially one with a plush toy in its mouth.

I'm actually not sure if I ever kissed him or not. All I'm aware of is moving up to his nose, while saying my usual "What a sweet boy", and the rest is a blur and a flash of pain before I'm holding my shredded lips in my hands and bleeding all over the carpet.

Here's what I have been able to reconstruct, based upon where the wounds were and where I found things later:
  1. He bites me in the upper lip on the center-left side. Although this split my lip in two places, this was a relatively minor wound as it only needed external stitches. This is probably because it was his incisors that caught me. 
  2. My head instinctively jerks up and to the left. This was unfortunate because it presented the dog with my lower right lip, and this was where the damage was most severe, likely due to a combination of one of his canines getting a grip on my cheek and my head continuing to move. 
  3. My head jerks to a stop because I have a 90 pound dog attached to my face. My glasses go flying, although I don't realize this at the time. 
  4. He lets go. 
  5. I realize I am in pain. To be clear, my body registered the pain when he first bit me, but all of this occurred in what felt like less than a second. If you've ever cut yourself, sometimes you see the cut and have enough time to think "Oh shit, this is going to hurt" before the pain hits, and this was similar; I felt the pain before my brain could process any of it. What's strange is that it didn't feel like a bite; it felt hot, like I was being burned. I also want to associate bright light with the event, but that's probably just my brain trying to integrate the blurry motion of the attack with the heat of the pain. 
  6. I realize the dog has bitten me.
  7. I see the blood on the floor. 
  8. I bring my hands up to my mouth and feel strips of bloody flesh hanging from my mouth.
  9. I see the blood pooling in my hands. 
  10. I realize "Oh, shit, this is serious."
This is the moment when time catches up to me and I have full memories and can act. I literally don't know how much time passed, because in my memories it happens all at once, like information coming in parallel. I don't see how it could have taken longer than two seconds, although I suppose it could have. On the other hand, if you told me it took a second or less, I wouldn't be at all surprised. 

I ran to the bathroom where mom was brushing her teeth, saying (shouting?) "I need to go to the Emergency Room!"  

Mom asked "What happened?", so apparently I didn't make a sound while I was getting bitten, which is something I find odd. 

"Heath bit the shit out of me!" I said, coming into the bathroom to look for something to stop the bleeding. "I'm going to need stitches." I noticed how much blood was dripping from my hands onto the bathroom floor and make some strange split-second decisions:
  • I'm bleeding like crazy. 
  • Fortunately, it's not spurting like an arterial wound. 
  • Head wounds always bleed like crazy, so since it's not spurting, I'm not going to bleed to death any time soon. 
  • I probably don't want to use a traditional gauze pad because it'll soak through instantly and I really don't want to put direct pressure on my shredded mouth. 
  • However, I need something to catch all this mess. 
  • I can't get to the blood-stopper gauze in the trauma kit because my hands are busy holding my face in place (at this point, I don't know how extensive the damage is, I just know that it's BAD) and I don't want to talk mom through getting it out because 1) she's terrible at taking directions under pressure and 2) I want her to concentrate on getting me to the ER. 
  • I look over to the hamper and see a clean red washcloth. I very clearly think "Oh good, it's red, that means it won't stain as badly". In retrospect, this is a very odd thing to be concerned about, but at the time I felt like this was a mission-critical piece of information. 
I told mom to hand me the washcloth and then did a sort of juggling act with my hands so that one of them was always holding the strips of flesh as I got the blood-catcher underneath them. 

This is the exact moment when I realized "Oh, shit, I might have pieces of my face missing." I don't know if I said this out loud or not, but I remember asking mom to take a quick look to see if she sees any parts of my face out in the room. I sent her to look because I didn't know if the dog would attack me again or not. I'm embarrassed to admit that it never once crossed my mind to wonder "What if the dog attacks her?" My only defense is that I was in survival mode, and that induced a form of selfishness; had I thought the dog was a danger to her I wouldn't have asked her, but it literally never crossed my mind because I was thinking only of myself at that moment. It's probably a survival instinct and therefore completely understandable, but it still bothers me.

At this point, mom was either getting dressed to drive me to the ER or was waking dad up, I'm not sure. There's a long story here regarding why dad can't just drive me, but the short version is:
  • Mom and dad sleep in separate bedrooms;
  • Dad went to sleep 2 hours prior;
  • Dad has Parkinson's and so doesn't react well to sudden changes, like being woken from a sound sleep;
  • My car isn't driveable due to electrical problems;
  • Dad's car is parked behind mom's;
  • I can't drive his car because I'm holding my face together;
  • Therefore, dad needs to move his care before we can go to the ER. 
I went looking for my shoes, my glasses, and my phone which had my ID in the case. I found two out of the three; the shoes were where I'd left them, but I couldn't find my phone because I didn't know where my glasses were. I eventually found them lying on the ground, ten feet away from where I'd been standing when I was bitten.

By the time I'd found my glasses and given up looking for my ID, dad had staggered out of his bedroom wearing only a pair of sweatpants. (He sleeps nude, so thanks for small favors there.) For whatever reason -- Parkinson's, groggy from sleep, both -- he couldn't figure out how to unlock the front door. Our front door has a deadbolt, you see, but the deadbolt is key-operated because for some dumb reason, there’s a window right next to the door. Since a burglar could easily smash that window and then open the lock, we keep the key out of arm’s reach.

Dad either couldn't figure out the lock, or was moving too slowly to make me happy -- I was scared and in pain and bleeding all over the place, and a grown-ass man couldn't open a lock in a timely manner, so I feel somewhat justified in that attitude -- so I took the key from him to unlock the door my own damn self.

Unfortunately, I had rather a lot of adrenaline in my body at the time, and "putting a key into a lock" requires more fine motor control than you'd think. I remember, quite vividly, missing the key hole and hitting the plate around it several times. I don't know how many times this happened; for all I know, it could have been only 2-3 times, but it felt like a dozen or more.

Again, this is where my brain gets weird, because I actually seriously considered breaking the window in order to facilitate getting the door open. I don't know why I thought this, because it's not like it would be easier to open on the other side; I think I was just scared and frustrated and willing to destroy anything which thwarted me. (It's probably a good thing I didn't have a crowbar nearby.)

In hindsight, what I should have done was have my father go out through the garage. That's where mom keeps her car, so we were going to open it anyway. But I wasn't thinking about that at all; I had tunnel vision and could only think of one way of getting outside.

I did eventually get the key in the lock by taking a deep breath and forcing myself to calm down before I finally got it inserted and the door opened. I turned around to do... something, I'm not sure what... and Heath was coming up to me to investigate the commotion. He wasn't aggressive any more, he just seemed curious about the noise and the door opening and all the humans scurrying around. This was weird, and is part of the reason I think that him biting me was some kind of psychotic break, because 1) while I know dogs don't have much in the way of long-term memory, this was recent enough that it shouldn't have passed out of short term memory and 2) in my 40+ years of owning dogs, every single time of them has accidentally hurt us, it either runs away to hide or acts submissive. Either way, the dog knows it has messed up. But he wasn't acting like he even knew what had happened.

Meanwhile, I was having none of it. "Get away from me! You're not my dog anymore!" I shouted, and he ran off. Then I heard a sound behind me and saw my father lying on the ground just outside the front door. He has fallen and broken his hip once before, and I figured because it was a fall onto concrete and because it would be just my luck, that he'd broken his hip again. I believe my exact words were "Fuck this, I’m calling an ambulance." as I stomped my way to the house phone. The only reason I didn't make the call is because I heard my mother coming around from the garage and helping him up; apparently she'd gotten the garage door open and her car started, and wanted to see what was causing the delay.

Incredibly, dad didn’t break anything when he fell, so he managed to get to his car and back it up. I made one final pass to look for my phone, and then I went out and got into mom's car.

All told, the entire thing probably took about five minutes, but it felt like it took about 30. The entire thing with dad probably would have been rather funny in a "Benny Hill total clusterfuck" kind of way if I hadn't been bleeding and scared at the time. 

This post is already pushing 2500 words and I haven't even gotten to the hospital yet, so let's save that part for my next post. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #169 - The Personification of the Firearm

“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.” ― Col. Jeff Cooper, Art of the Rifle
  • Beth detests the phrase “gun violence”. She’s talked about that before, so if she brings it up again, it must mean it's important! She has more examples and details.
  • A cop walks into a gas station just in time to interrupt an armed robbery. Sean tells us how this story ends.
  • Barron is on assignment.
  • In this week's Mental Flea Market, Miguel reminds us that some SOB won't try to murder you just because you're worshiping God.
  • David Yamane, sociologist and new member of the Gun Culture, has been saying it for a while now, but it bears repeating: the laser focus of gun control advocates on the criminal use of firearms ignores the REAL gun culture, which is the average gun-owning citizen.
  • Tiffany is on assignment.
  • Avoid that sedative! Erin explains how sleeping too soon after trauma can negatively affect your ability to recover from it.
  • A lone anti-gun crusader has proposed a "national gun buyback day".  Weer’d looks at the lies and delusions of grandeur as this nut promotes his little pipe dream.
  • And our Plug of the Week is MAG-20 / Classroom – Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement.
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:
Trauma and Sleep Disorder
It will come as no surprise to anyone that ever since I was attacked, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I should clarify this, though: to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t been having nightmares or reliving the experience. I just feel tired all the time, like I’m sleeping but not getting enough rest, if that makes any sense.

So as a result of this I started looking into how traumatic experiences affect sleep patterns, and I discovered some interesting information. The biggest surprise was learning that sleep after a trauma actually helps to cement the trauma within your mind!

In a 2012 study, two groups of rodents were exposed to a predator's scent, which was a traumatic event for them. One group was prevented from sleeping for six hours afterward, and one group was not. Interestingly, the sleep-deprived group displayed fewer physiological signs of stress and less PTSD-like behavior, such as freezing and a heightened startle response, than the group which was allowed to sleep. This was later confirmed with human experiments in 2015.

When you stop to think about it, this makes sense. It’s widely believed that while we sleep, our brain attempts to make sense of of the events of the day, filing them away into memories and running “what-if” scenarios. So it stands to reason that if you avoid sleep while the traumatic event is still fresh in your mind, there will be more “stuff” for your brain to process when you do sleep, and the likelihood of those events being turned into traumatic memories is reduced.

Fortunately for me, I suffered sleep deprivation after my attack: it happened at 10 pm and I didn’t get to bed until 11 am the next day, and I was only under local anesthesia instead of general when the plastic surgeon was sewing me up. This may explain why I don’t seem to be exhibiting PTSD characteristics.

I also asked for an anti-anxiety medication while I was in the ER, because I was quite understandably upset at my face being in tatters and was worried that I might have pieces missing. They gave me ativan, which did indeed help me calm down without making me want to sleep. I don’t know if this is causation or just correlation, but keep it in mind for future use, especially if the doctors want to prescribe a sedative.

If something like this happens to you, and you decide to delay sleep, you may have difficulty getting back on your normal sleep schedule. Here are a few tips and tricks for that:
  • Realize that there’s no such thing as a “sleep bank.” If you miss 8 hours of sleep, you don’t then need to sleep for 16 hours the next night. Just try to sleep your regular amount, going to bed and getting up at your usual time. 
  • Exercise before sleep is a bad idea, because it is more likely to energize your body and keep you awake longer. However, gentle stretching is a good idea as it should release tension in your muscles. 
  • Take a hot shower before bedtime. The body cools off as it sleeps, and so after a hot shower your body will start to cool off and that will send a message to your brain that it’s time for sleep. 
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bed. While it is a depressant and will indeed help you fall asleep, it will depress everything in your body including your REM sleep. Alcoholics claim they don’t dream when they sleep, and dreaming is essential to your health. 
  • Finally, if you’ve been lying in bed for an hour and still can’t sleep, don’t force yourself to stay there, Instead, get up and do something relaxing. Avoid watching TV or getting on the computer, because the light from the screen will stimulate your brain and make it think it’s time to get up. Instead, do something low-stress and relatively boring, like dusting the furniture or doing laundry. 
So to summarize:Avoid sleep for at least 6 hours after a traumatic experience, but after that, you should get back to your regular sleep schedule.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Memento Mori Corolla Cari

Well, it finally, more-or-less, kinda-sorta happened.

The little red deathtrap I'd previously written about has just about bit the dust. Kicked the bucket. Bought the proverbial farm. It is pining for the fjords, shuffling off of that mortal coil, running down the curtain and joining the choir invisible.

In short, the Corolla's had it. It likely wasn't even the stress of actually driving it the meager 14 miles a day, 5 days a week to the new job. Not a week before my interview, it refused to start. I called one of the only people in Albuquerque that I know and got a jump-start. It died again halfway to the Firestone a mile away, at which point we jumped it again. $500 and 2 days later, I had a new battery and starter, and it felt fine again. A month later, and here we are again.

I was leaving work about 10 days ago, and it was a normal evening. The temperature was a hair under 70, which feels quite nice here in Albuquerque, and the setting sun was painting the sky with smears of all manner of reds and purples. Heading east and uphill, I noticed the lights on the dashboard didn't look right. The brake and battery warning lights were both on.

Breaking all etiquette of the road, I pulled out my phone and googled "brake and battery light on" and was dismayed that the likely culprit was a failing alternator, especially as Firestone had tested the alternator when I brought in the car a month prior. I called them back, and ended up dropping off the car for them to look at first thing in the morning.

Turns out, the alternator might not have been the culprit, but to even test it properly, it would have to be replaced. A fuse had blown in the small fuse box attached to the positive battery terminal and melted the entire assembly. Which they don't sell and can't seem to find anywhere.

Frankly, the Corolla just isn't worth repairing anymore. There's too much wrong with it. But it did come along when I needed it most (just after my divorce, and getting back on my feet), saw me through a few relationships (especially interesting was the sex fiend who loved the way the car vibrated when idling) and evacuated me from at least two hurricanes. It's time to put it to rest.

Ladies, gentlemen, and multiforms, with all that said I present you my new ride:
Free Candy!
Yep. That's a 99 Ford Econoline. It started life as a Budweiser delivery truck. As I'm told, Budweiser took the van to a mechanic one day, said "Fix everything" and the mechanic said "OK, done, here's the bill." Budweiser didn't want to pay the bill, so he kept it. No rims, tinted windows in the front, no windows in the back. There's a cage behind the front seats. It's packing a Triton V8 and sits higher than a short bus. It's also entirely anonymous, as nearly everywhere you go, you'll see one just like it. It was originally intended as a stop-gap between the Corolla dying and whatever new car I can finance with the new job, but it's really started to grow on me over the past week.

I think I'm going to keep Free Candy, the Great Beast of Black Mesa for now.

I'm not sure Erin has convinced me to actually paint the words "FREE CANDY" on the side yet, though.

Editor's Note: Actually, I want him to paint it to look like this:

Monday, November 6, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #168 - The "I Can't Think of a Good Title" Episode

Erin is back, Miguel hurts, Tiffany pops bubbles and Beth loves socks.
  • What do flashlights, tourniquets, and socks have in common? Beth answers that question as she tells us about attending a class taught by The Complete Combatant.
  • The suspect in a Halifax quadruple murder was out on bond at the time of the killings. What had he been charged with? Sean looks a little deeper
  • Barron is on assignment.
  • The past is catching up with Miguel. The bills from his past misdeeds are coming due, and it’s all because he lived by the mantra "No Pain, No Gain".
  • The anti-gun podcast Loaded Conversations had what they billed as a “Constitutional Scholar" on episode 16 who made all sorts of untrue statements about guns, the law, and the Constitution. We asked noted gun law expert Alan Korwin to weigh in on what this 3rd Year law student had to say.
  • What can Second Amendment advocates learn from lefty liberal lifelong democrat and former NPR CEO, Ken Stern? Tiffany explains in this week’s episode of The Bridge.
  • After every emergency, good preppers evaluate what they did wrong and what needs to change so things go right next time. Erin lists the lessons learned from her dog attack.
  • To bring light to the misinformation on the 2nd Amendment Debate, a Progressive host invites a bunch of Bloomberg stooges to spout their propaganda in response to softball straw-man questions!  Weer’d brings the voice of reason they intentionally excluded in.
  • And out Plug of the Week is the Dirty John podcast.

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:
Prepping Lessons Learned From Erin's Injury
We preppers always strive to be ready for anything and everything. However, despite this goal, we can never truly be prepared for EVERY thing that happens. It’s just not physically possible; you can be ready for 99.9% of all things, and you’ll still get blindsided by that one time in a thousand. What you do in those cases is use your prepping experience to adapt to the situation, and then figure out what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

So let’s use as a case study what happened to me when I was attacked by my mother’s dog. The first question people ask me is “Why didn’t you just shoot the dog?” and the answer to that is very simple -  First, I was in my house behind locked doors and getting ready to go to bed, so my firearms were not within easy reach. Second, the attack was -- fortunately for me -- not sustained; he bit twice and then stopped. Shooting him in the house would have made an unnecessary mess.

I concede the point that if he had continued to attack I would have needed a weapon to defend myself, and not having one could have resulted in a worse maiming or death.

The obvious answer to this is “Always have a gun on your body unless you’re bathing or sleeping”. This is troublesome because it is based on the premise that anyone in my family could attack me at any time, and that’s not a healthy level of distrust to sustain in a home. A much better answer is “If a person or an animal is dangerous, don’t allow them inside your home.” And we didn’t. Up to that point, the dog had shown no signs of aggressive behavior toward us, so it came as a surprise, but after that we removed the animal from our home.

One thing we did do properly is that we immediately got the bleeding under control. Getting out of the house wasn’t so smooth, however, because
  • My father’s car was parked behind my mother’s car, 
  • My father had gone to bed several hours earlier, 
  • My mother doesn’t know how to drive my father’s car, and
  • I couldn’t have driven even if I’d wanted to, because I was using both hands to hold my face together. 
This resulted in a Charlie Foxtrot that would have been funny if it hadn’t been happening to me:

First, mom woke dad up out of a dead sleep by pounding on the bedroom door, telling him to move his car. While she went to put on clothes to drive me to the ER, he stumbled out of bed, still incoherent with sleep. He was then unable to open the front door to get to his car, probably due to a combination of grogginess and being unable to adapt to new situations because of his Parkinson’s Disease, so I took the key from him to open the door.

Our front door has a deadbolt, but the deadbolt is key-operated because for some dumb reason, there’s a window right next to the door. Because a burglar could easily smash that window and then open the lock, we keep the key out of arm’s reach. Unfortunately, “putting a key into a lock” requires fine motor control, and when the adrenaline dumps a lot of fine motor control goes out the window. I remember, quite vividly, the key bouncing off the lock plate several times before I finally got it inserted and the door opened.

In hindsight, what I should have done was just have my father go out the garage. I can’t recall if the door was already open or not, but we had to open it anyway to get mom’s car out. At the time, though, I had a bit of tunnel vision and could only think of one way of getting outside. So the protip here is “Always think of other ways to get outside.”

After we got the door open, my father took a step outside… and fell on his hip onto concrete. At this point, I figured he’d broken it because he’s 81, so I believe my exact words were “F**k this, I’m calling an ambulance.” and I went for the house phone to dial 911. Somehow, however, my mother ended up by the front door and helped him up. Incredibly, he didn’t break anything in the fall, so he got in his car and moved it so mom could get hers out of the garage and take me to the hospital.

The lesson to be learned from this is “The person who goes to bed first shouldn’t box in the people who go to bed last.” After this, dad started parking behind my car in the driveway instead next to me, behind mom’s car in the garage.

Those are all the lessons I can think we learned from that night, although I will tell you this: Walking into an ER with a bloody face is a great way to bypass all the waiting and administrative BS and get seen by a doctor immediately.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Medical Bills Update

A huge THANK YOU!!! with hugs to everyone who donated to my GoFundMe. As of today, I have paid off the first two bills (for the initial ER visit and for the  doctor there who treated me -- why the doctor's services weren't bundled with the ER bill is a mystery to me) in full and  managed to get a discount on both due to being able to pay them immediately, in full, and in cash.

I talked them down to $643.80
I'm still waiting to get the bill from the ambulance drive from initial ER up to the hospital in Jacksonville, that ER's bill, and the plastic surgeons's bill) but I am confident I'll have enough money to pay those off as well.

The big question is "How much will it cost to get my face back to normal?" and that's not something which can be answered now, because as explained earlier, that has to wait until 2018.

Regardless of what procedures are required and what they will cost, I am confident that you lovely people will help me get through this difficult situation. While I know I cannot repay you (some of you donated anonymously, and some wouldn't accept payment from me anyway), I hope that one day I can pay you back with entertaining words, commitment to rights, and of course my friendship.

Thank you all!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy Halloween

So, another year's Halloween has come and gone. Given my lack of any cohesive social circle, and the decade or so I've spent working from home or in other situations not conducive to it, I can't remember the last time I celebrated the holiday. Maybe next year; this year I've been too tired and too busy to plan anything.

In all honestly, I get a little depressed around this time of year. I should love Halloween. I think I do, but I don't really have anyone to share it with, and if I had some kind of extensive friend-or-family unit, I'd just be too terribly annoyed with them to bother.

But before I went to bed the other night, one of my favourite horror-themed YouTubers posted a delightfully good video, and it's one that I'd recommend you watch. He's done a comprehensive run-down on the various major Slenderman series as well, so if you've got about 12 hours to kill and are interested in an enthusiastic analysis of independent horror, give it a watch.

Ladies, gentlemen, and various multiforms, I now concede the floor to a fellow animatronic cat, one Nick Nocturne, as he takes yet another unauthorized dig into the files of the SCP Foundation. Hopefully he'll make it out the other side in one piece.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This IS Who I Am, and This IS Okay

So at this point, I think we've all seen the "We're a Culture, Not a Costume" series of pictures, since they've been around since 2011. That's old news, but because it's Halloween the usual, tired, predictable onslaught of nagging lectures by mirthless harridans about what we aren't allowed to wear has raised its ugly head again.

Only this time, the harridans have managed to top themselves, because this year it has been screechily decreed that little white girls cannot dress as Moana, because that's culural appropriation, but neither can they dress as Elsa from Frozen, because that promote "white beauty".

No, I'm not making that up, although I wish I were. I wonder if said screeching harridan happens to practice yoga, drinks tea or coffee, or enjoys Asian food? If so, someone really ought to tell her what a shitlady she is. But while that article was the impetus behind this post, it isn't why I'm writing. I just want to tell you one thing:
If you want to experiment with crossdressing this Halloween, go ahead. It is not offensive. 
No, really. I truly mean this. I'm transgender, so I am technically a crossdresser, which means I'm allowed to tell you that this is who I am, and that this is okay. Not only do I not think you're mocking women, crossdressers or transwomen, I think it's great that you'd do this! Hell, the first time I went out in public in women's clothing was on Halloween, and for "deniability" -- i.e. because I was afraid people would take it the wrong way -- I wore a full beard with my witch's costume and told people "The spell must have gone wrong."

Needless to say, that night went really well for me, and I received lots of lovely compliments on my costume (and my bravery), and it turned into an Oleg Volk photoshoot which ultimately led to me believing that I could indeed pass as female if I just put in the work -- a belief which has since been vindicated.

So if you think you might be transgender, or just have a crossdressing fetish, go ahead and crossdress for Halloween. It's the one time of the year where you can get away with it safely, so indulge. Find out if this is the life for you. If it's not, you can laugh it off by saying it was a silly Halloween thing that you got talked into/ you lost a bet/ you were drunk and thought it was a good idea at the time.

If you aren't transgender or have an urge to crossdress in public, and are just wearing a woman's costume for laughs, guess what? That's okay too. Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun or funny or silly, and a lot of people get a laugh out of seeing men in drag. So if you want to pour your macho bearded self into a sassy, sexy little outfit, more power to you and I can almost promise that at least one woman will sincerely compliment you on how you look. Maybe they'll say you have nice legs, or a cute ass (I'm not kidding here, women go crazy over men in kilts, and my kilt-wearing friends get these compliments all the damn time), or maybe they'll tell you that you make a really attractive woman.

That last one, by the way, is NOT the emasculating insult you might feel it to be; it's actually a very large, very honest compliment. Interpret it as "I know you're a dude and you STILL look pretty (and possibly even prettier than me)! That's amazing and kind of not fair."

I must confess, however, that I posses an ulterior motive for encouraging people to crossdress this Halloween, and it's this: The more people do it, the more it's normalized by society. It used to be scandalous for women to wear trousers, because those were men's clothes; now they do it all the time, and no one thinks twice about it. I think it's terribly unfair that women can dress like men and no one blinks an eye, but the moment a man puts on a skirt and heels he's mocked and his sexuality and gender are called into question.

It helps me in the same way that wearing a bindi helps Neetu Chandak. As she says in her "Cultural Appreciation, Not Appropriation" article:
Growing up in a small, predominantly white town where my culture was not well known, I encouraged others to wear Indian inspired accessories, including the bindi, and to try Indian food. It helped build awareness about my culture and created a sense of unity.

I’ve seen first-hand on my campus that many people who are actively against cultural appropriation are not of the cultures that they claim are being appropriated. In doing so, they advocate for restrictions on the behavior of people like me — who actively encourage others to be involved in my culture.

How ironic considering they claim to be promoting the rights of minorities and immigrants through this “crusade” while also domineering them and telling them what opinions they can and can’t have.
So go ahead, get your drag on. Have a good time, laugh, strike ridiculous poses while throwing the duckface for selfies. The only words of caution I give you are these: You might discover that you like how it feels, and want to do it again.

And if you do? Welcome to the community. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

State of the Erin Report

I had my second appointment with the plastic surgeon today. The diagnosis is mixed but overall positive. 

The Good News:
 All of the sutures have been removed, along with a really nasty-looking thing that was either a giant scab or a bit of dead scar tissue(or maybe some of each). I don't know if the removal of the sutures and stiff scar tissue really does make it easier to talk and open my mouth, or if it's just psychosomatic, but either way I'm taking the victory. I was actually able to eat a real sandwich for supper, and it was GLORIOUS. 

The Middling News: Right now things look good for function, but form is iffy. The area to the side of my lower lip is still swollen and is healing slower than expected. There's also a piece of scar tissue remaining that is so thick it's almost cartilaginous, which will need to be removed once the swelling subsides. There's also a tear right at the corner of my mouth, which essentially widens my mouth by approximately 1/3 inches. I'm not sure why this wasn't stitched up; if I had to guess, I'd say it was because my mouth was a swollen mess and the doctor couldn't see it or get to it. I had hoped this would heal with the rest of me, and I've been trying to speak out of the undamaged side of my mouth in order to encourage those parts to fuse back together, but the doctor said this might be my "new anatomy", which was kind of heartbreaking. I did however pester him until he admitted that if the lower lips needs more surgery, he can probably fix the mouth since he's basically in the neighborhood. 

The Unfortunate News:
 By the surgeon's estimation, it looks like it'll be at least two months before the swelling goes down enough to warrant seeing him again, and then we can see what kind of surgery I may need. I've been told, point blank, that there WILL be scarring; how bad it is, and therefore whether I'll need cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, is something we won't know until my face has fully healed. And then there's finding a place in his surgical schedule, recovering from that surgery, etc. 

All of this means it will literally be next year before I stop looking disgusting (no, this isn't a self-image thing; I literally have what looks like a large open sore the size of my thumbnail right on my face, and it's nasty) and then who knows how long it'll be until I can make public appearances as Erin Palette. I hope that I will have all this finished and look presentable by the time the NRA Annual Meeting comes around (May 4-6), but I'm not holding my breath. If I don't look presentable, I have two equally unpleasant choices to make: go there anonymously (i.e. in drab) and not make any professional connections for Operation Blazing Sword, or just not attend at all. 

I suppose I'm fortunate that I have no speaking engagements booked, because the only way I'd feel comfortable making an appearance would be if I wore some kind of gaiter over the lower half of my face.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #167 - Dog Bites and Murder Insurance

Weer'd is still pulling Stunt Cohost duty (no word on what kind of dress he's wearing this week).

  • MURDER INSURANCE!!! That’s what some anti-gun people are calling paid self-defense plans. Our own Beth Alcazar, who works for a company which offers such plans, talks about her encounter with the media on this issue.
  • Police chase a teen driver after a drive-by shooting,and his mom hits every trope in the interview. Sean tells us more.
  • Barron, Miguel, and Tiffany are on assignment.
  • Erin is back... sort of. She's not up to hosting just yet, but she did record a lengthy segment about her incident and her recovery so far.
  • Michael Bloomberg is pushing hard against the SHARE act and Concealed Carry Reciprocity using “Celebrities” and virtually no production values! You know that Weer'd couldn't pass that up.
  • And out Plug of the Week is The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.

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 28, 2017

My Little Pony the Movie: a Review

Executive Summary: Wait for it to come out on video.

Longer Review: This season's finale, the two part Shadow Play, was a much better story, despite being shorter and not having fancy CGI and famous voice actors. In fact, if MLPtM had spent less on aforementioned voice actors and CGI and spent more of that money on the story, it might have been better.

Bitchy Fan Review with Spoilers: The short version of the plot is that a traitor with undefined but potent powers comes to Equestria in order to subjugate it in return for promises made by the Big Bad. Said subjugation involves capturing all four Alicorn Princesses, draining them of their magic, and then using that magic to further empower the Big Bad. However, that plan is thwarted somewhat when Twilight Sparkle, with the help of her friends, escapes for a time. When all seems lost, however, the traitor realizes that the Big Bad never intended to live up to his promises, and so sides with the Mane Six in order to defeat him, after which the traitor is welcomed back into Equestrian society.

You know, I liked this story a lot better back when it was 2014's two-part season ender Twilight's Kingdom. 

Seriously. All that money, and they chose to spend it on giving the ponies sparkly irises and giving every damn thing a drop shadow rather than, oh I don't know, coming up with a new plot?

Plus, the songs just weren't that catchy, several allegedly smart characters made really dumb decisions (I call this "being given the idiot ball"), and several voice actors seemed to be in the film just to be there (Sia, I'm looking at you) instead of advancing the plot. Those who did advance the plot did so at the cost of making the Mane Six -- you know, the ponies who have saved the damn world multiple times -- look incompetent, and the less said about Capper the better.

Honestly, the ONLY good new character in this movie is Tempest Shadow, who actually managed to make a non-alicorn look powerful and menacing. Although while I'm on the subject, Equestria apparently needs a bunch of child psychologists, because unresolved childhood trauma seems to be the leading cause of unicorn villains in this universe.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Five Oh Three

No automatic alt text available.

Ding Dong the GAF is dead! 

Which old GAF? The NeoGAF!
Ding Dong the NeoGAF is dead!

Wake up, ye vidya-heads, mouse in hand and sets on heads!
Ding Dong the NeoGAF is dead! 

It's gone where dead servers go below, below, below, yo-ho! 

It may seem incredibly petty to boast and gloat over the downfall of a forum. That's probably because it is petty. Unbelievably petty. But that's okay, as I'm in an extremely petty mood.

When I was growing up, it seemed that the Religious Right were the ones that first attacked music, movies, video games, and role-playing games for being morally incorrect and then later having their representatives outed as being 'immoral.' Now it's all come full circle and the 'Religious Left', as you will, having attacked music, movies, video games, pinball, role-playing games, comic books, and whatever else it could target for being 'morally incorrect', has now had it's fall from grace.

Ally after ally are being outed as harassers, abusers, stalkers, pedophiles, and any other number of deviance. From Devin Faraci to Joss Whedon and more, one holier than thou Progressive Fundamentalist after another falls, with the latest being Tyler Malka, aka Evilore, founder of NeoGAF.

NeoGAF was the most progressive and 'inclusive' gaming forums on the internet, achieving that lofty status by banning anyone that disagreed with the lockstep agreement of the moderation team and launching harassment campaigns against anyone with a voice that dared disagree.

During the #MeToo campaign (which I could have contributed to, but decided against being attacked for speaking up because of my genitals and/or level of melanin), a filmmaker I won't name made a very, very bad allegation against Malka. GAF promptly went up in flames, with moderators quitting left and right and the forum eventually being shut down "for maintenance."

As I'm writing this, I've been notified that Tyler Malka has made a public statement. Interestingly, he flatly denies the allegations against him and declares his accuser 'not credible.' A far cry, if you ask me, from "listen and believe" and certainly not how others in the gaming journalism world have suggested one should approach such a situation.

Either way, I'm unreasonably giddy about this. Someone gets a weight off their chest, an asshole burns for it, and one of the internet's most (actually) toxic cesspools will never be the same. NeoGAF is morally, ethic'lly, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead.

Not only is it merely dead, it's really most sincerely dead.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Perfect Ammo for Han Solo Season

You folks remember that Hornady Z-Max ammo from five years ago, right? The stuff that was basically Critical Defense, but with a green tip instead of a red tip and zombie branding on the box, to cash in on the big zombie craze?

But there's an even bigger craze out there that's been sweeping the country for longer than zombies, and I think that Hornady needs to get on this right now to tap a hitherto-neglected market.

What's my big idea?  Pumpkin Spice Ammunition. No, wait, hear me out:
  1. Hornady makes pumpkin orange colored inserts for their ammunition and a seasonal "Pumpkin Spice Ammo" box. 
  2. Throw in a little cachet of actual pumpkin spice to make the ammo smell nice. 
  3. Sell this ammo to all the pumpkin spice-obsessed people. 
  4. PROFIT. 
Why is this not a thing already? Sell it right next to those North Face vests and you'll make a mint!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Thoughts on Eating

Having been on a restricted diet of soft foods for two weeks due to my injury, I have realized a few things about food that otherwise might not have occurred to me:
  1. Texture affects taste. You won't notice it at first, but after about a week, foods with the same texture will start to taste alike. I don't know if it's psychological, or texture interacts with taste buds, or maybe my tongue is just lazy, but pureed food has all started to taste the same and shredded food has all started to taste the same. The thing is I know that ham salad tastes different from tuna salad, but at this point my mouth is going "Okay, another meat salad meal, yawn" and having everything taste the same.
  2. Chewing is more important than I thought. Related to the #1, I've come to the realization that the act of chewing increases the satisfaction level of food. Perhaps chewing releases more flavor, but I think it's more likely to be a deeply psychological or biochemical effect related to our predator heritage. Eating a thick, juicy steak just tastes fundamentally different from eating shredded steak, even if they're cooked in exactly the same manner.
  3. Appetite fatigue is real.  Come dinner time, I am almost desperately hungry but I have a hell of a time finding anything I want to eat, because nothing looks or sounds good,  because it all feels the same in my mouth. All I want is to take a big bite of something and chew, chew, chew, and I can't do that. 
Just do me this one favor, gang: When you eat your dinner tonight, or lunch tomorrow, take a moment to savor the texture of each bite and the simple joy of chewing. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hero Points (but not really)

I've been giving a lot of thought on how to address the tendency of Pathfinder players to have a 15-minute adventuring day. I fixed it somewhat with importing Arcane Recovery from 5th Edition D&D to Pathfinder as a feat, but that only affects wizards and leaves all the other classes out in the cold. (Admittedly, as wizards are basically glass cannons, especially at low levels, it could be argued that they needed special attention anyway.)

But Arcane Recovery and 5e's differentiation between the Short Rest and the Long Rest got me to thinking about how to implement that within Pathfinder. I liked the concept of using hit dice to top up spent hit points between combats, but how best to use that in my game which makes heavy use of Hero Lab to keep things running?

The answer is a Frankenstein-style mash-up between 5e's hit dice and Pathfinder's hero points.

TLDR version: they're gained like PF hero points, but they're spent and regained like 5e hit dice.

Hero Points in my Pathfinder RPG

Acquiring Hero Points
PCs have X Hero Points, where X = PC level. Every time a character levels up,  a new Hero Point is earned. The GM may also hand out non-persistent Hero Points as a reward for good problem-solving or role-playing (non-persistent means "Spend it once and it's gone forever"). 

Spending Hero Points
Players can spend one or more Hero Points at the end of a short rest. For each Hero Point spent in this way, they roll a die corresponding to their character's hit dice and add their character’s Constitution modifier to it. These are hit points that have been regained as a result of resting and tending to wounds. Players can roll as many times as you like until they're out of dice. 

Players can also spend a Hero Point to regain a single use of extraordinary or supernatural abilities, including but not limited to:
  • Bardic Performance
  • Channel Energy
  • Rage
  • Smite Evil
  • Lay On Hands
  • Raging Song
  • Grit
  • Panache
Note: I am uncertain about long-term effects of letting players use Hero Points to recover spells. If I do, this will be expensive, on the order of 1 Hero Point per spell times the spell level.

The main idea here is that the PCs spend hero points while taking a short rest in order to "catch their breath" and recover some combat efficiency, encouraging players to adventure a bit longer before resting.

If in doubt, charge them more to regain abilities. 

Recovering Hero Points
PCs regain spent Hero Points at the rate of one-half their level (minimum 1) only after a long rest.

Note that per the definition of a long rest, any strenuous activity before it's completed (like combat or running away), the 8-hour clock on the rest period "resets" and must begin again.

Additional note for clarification: I am NOT implementing the 5e "regain all lost hit points after a long rest" rule.

Ideally, this new system will encourage my players to press forward a bit more boldly rather than stopping to rest every time the wizard is out of spells or the cleric is out of heals. We shall see.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #166 - The Tiffany Challenge

Erin is at a plastic surgeon for suture removal, so Weer'd is once again our Stunt Erin. He may or may not be wearing a dress. (This is radio, use your imagination.)
  • Beth, Miguel, and Barron are still on assignment. 
  • A gas station shootout! Have the claims that concealed carry leads to blood in the streets finally been vindicated?... well, no. 
  • In the Main Topic, Tiffany talks about her experiences on the Resolutions Committee at GRPC. Will you take the Tiffany Challenge? 
  • Anti-gun billionaire and nasty little fascist Michael Bloomberg wants a Gun DNA Database, which means that his mouthpiece "The Trace" wants it as well. Weer'd explains how it's a waste of time and money.
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.

My Interview on Handgun World Podcast

While I was at GRPC I had the honor of being interviewed by Bob Mayne of Handgun World Podcast. I also acquired a groupie in the form of Ben Branam, who sat in on the interview because he wanted to hear what I was going to say.

Give it a listen; there's some new stuff in there, as well as a lovely story about how Ben sold a transgender lady her first firearm.

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Status So Far

I know that a lot of you are worried about me. Thank you for that, and I'm sorry that I haven't been posting more regularly. When I saw the doctor on Tuesday, he asked me if I was depressed, and I responded with a dour "Considering the family dog disfigured me, I'd say I'm entitled to some depression while I heal, thanks." He acknowledged that I had a point. 

Instead of trying to reconstruct what's happened on a day-to-day basis since the past update, I'll just hit the important bits:

The swelling continues to diminish. 
My upper lip is mostly back to normal, although I have some numbness there (perhaps due to scar tissue, perhaps due to nerve damage -- I don't know). My lower lip and right cheek are still a scabby mess, but I can actually brush (gently) my teeth on that side, which is a big improvement. 

I can eat non-mush foods now.
I wouldn't say that I've graduated to solids like a big girl, but I no longer have to eat minced foods like tuna salad and applesauce. So long as it'll fit inside my mouth and doesn't require a lot of chewing, I can eat it, so now I've moved up to shredded foods. 

As soon as I'm able, I am eating the biggest steak I can fit into my mouth.

I don't seem to have any muscle damage. 
This was imparted to me with a cheerful "Good news!" tone. While I don't disagree that it's good news, it's hard for me to be cheery when I have no idea how mangled my mouth will be when it heals. I am terribly worried that I will have a speech impediment or otherwise sound strange even after I have healed. 

Some of the stitches have come out.
The ones on the inside of my mouth are made of vicryl and are slowly dissolving. I'm trying not to pull them out, but my tongue keeps worrying at them. 

The ones on my upper lip were removed by the plastic surgeon's assistant yesterday, and I feel like I have greater range of motion and can talk more understandably. I don't know if this is true, coincidental with reduced swelling, or just psychosomatic, but regardless this is a big win for me. 

Other stitches have to wait until the 30th.
That's my next appointment with the plastic surgeon. Maybe then I can get an idea of what needs to be done next. 

I'm told that there WILL be scarring. 
Fucking YAY. I'm a transwoman who was never particularly pretty to begin with, and now I have scars on my cheeks and lips. I'm probably going to require some degree of cosmetic surgery, and hopefully I can afford that with the money you lovely folks have donated. 

I still have survivor's guilt.
Or whatever this is called. Every other time we've had to put down a dog, it was because they were sick or injured. I felt like it was the kindest thing to do,  because I was taking away their pain. But this dog was healthy, and easily had 2 more years left. Putting him down may have been the right thing to do, but it doesn't FEEL like it was right. 

I still wonder what I could have done differently. What subtle signs did I miss? What line did I cross. 

Maybe this is what it's like to be a parent whose child is convicted of a capital crime, where you love them and don't want them to go (heart) but still understand that it's just and responsible to remove them so that they don't hurt others (head). 

This sucks, and I hate it. 

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