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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Status Report on my Face

It's just about 2.5 months since the attack. I'd say I have about 90 to 95% functionality back, because while I can talk normally I still can't open that side of my mouth completely -- partly because the injured area still feels tight when I do that and I sure as heck don't want to stretch it, and partly because I'm waiting for the plastic surgeon to give me the go ahead -- so eating some foods is awkward and dental exams are still out of the question.

I also have some awkwardness with facial expressions, mostly because the swelling is right in the pocket that the corner of my mouth forms on my cheek when I smile, grimace, etc. The best way to describe how that feels is to compare it to trying to bend a joint when the skin is swollen and puffy: there's a bit of give, and then then surrounding tissue and fluid go "Nope, uh-uh, that's as far as you go with that."

Plus, it's just a weird feeling having this swollen growth-like thing on my face. Thankfully, the swelling is going down slowly but steadily. I estimate that by mid-January it ought to be gone and we can start talking about surgery. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate everyone who helped me through these past months by giving me love and support and encouragement and donations?

If I haven't: thank you very much. 

If I have:  thank you again. 

Here's to a much better 2018!

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #176 - So Long and Thanks for all the Downloads

It's a wrap! Episode 176, our finale, is the end of more than three years of weekly podcasting. We have farewell segments from Beth, Barron, former contributor Nicki, Miguel, Tiffany (and her Mom!), Co-host Emeritus Adam, Weer'd, and of course Erin and Sean.

Our sincerest thanks to our sponsors, both current (LuckyGunner and Remington, as well as Carolina Ceramic Coating) and former (The Law of Self Defense). We especially thank our longtime supporters at Firearms Policy Coalition for their generous support over the years.

Our biggest thanks are however reserved for you, our listeners. Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. It was an honor to be invited into your lives each week.

Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript: 

Erin's Secret Prep

Back in April, I alluded to a secret prep involving the uses of a strategically-folded sheet of toilet paper. I didn’t talk about it then because I couldn’t find a way to be classy about it, but this is our last podcast (what’s Sean going to do, fire me?) and so I’m going to share it with you.

This may not be your most important prep, and it definitely isn’t the sexiest, but I guarantee that you’re going to get more use out of it than any other prep I’ve taught you.

Do you suffer from what is colloquially known as “Monkey Butt”? Do you live or work in a hot environment, where sweat trickles down your back and into your crack? Do you frequently suffer from, shall we say, gastrointestinal distress?

If so, the next time you’re sitting on the toilet and you’ve finished your cleanup, take a few sheets of fresh toilet paper (how many is an individual matter, you’re going to need to experiment), fold them into a rectangle, and place it as snugly against your rectum as possible. When you stand up, your buttocks will hold the paper in place. If you feel like you’ve given yourself a wedgie, you’ve used too much!

Now some of you are probably wondering “Erin, what in the wide world of Equestria will having a wad of TP up against my anus accomplish?” And I’m so glad you asked that question, because I’m going to tell you.

  • If it’s hot and sweaty, that paper is going to absorb the sweat and moisture that will accumulate in your butt cleavage. If you’ve ever had an itch so severe that you’ve needed to use the bathroom and then wash your hands afterwards, you know why this is important. 
  • If you pass a lot of gas, the paper acts as a muffler which suppresses the noise of your flatulence and helps diffuse the smell of it as well. If you’re nervous about making a good impression, such at on a date or at a job interview, the peace of mind that this will give you is priceless. 
  • Finally, if you have a testy bowel that doesn’t quite behave, or if you can’t quite make it to the bathroom in time, this barrier serves as an Emergency Backup that protects your clothing and prevents a larger mess. 

I promise you that all of these examples are true. This technique has saved my butt (heh) more times than any other prep.

Thank you for listening to my advice for the past three years. Remember, It Doesn’t Cost a Fortune to Be Prepared!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Thoughts on the Disney Star Wars Movies

The Force Awakens
Essentially a retelling of A New Hope: a force-sensitive orphan on a backwater desert planet finds a lost astromech droid, escapes on the Milennium Falcon, and gets caught up in an insurgency against a superior military force with a planet-busting weapon. Her mentor is killed by a loved one who has gone to the dark side and who serves an ominous holographic master, but in revenge she blows up the superweapon and gives new hope to the insurgency.

And I'm fine with this. In 2015 it had been 10 years since any Star Wars film and 30 years since a good Star Wars film, so I recognized the necessity of going "Hey fans, it's going to be okay. We know how to make a good Star Wars movie. Look, we're following the comfortable formula."  I like TFA because it was fun and exciting and I wanted to know more about the universe. Surely Episode 7 would explain all of my unanswered questions, right?
  • Why is the First Order a Diet Empire?
  • Why isn't the New Republic stomping them into dirt?
  • Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?
  • Will we see more of Commander Phasma?

Rogue One
I refer to R1 as "the best film that I've ever hated." It's true, and I'll tell you why, but first let me address this:
Me not liking a movie is my opinion. You are free to think I'm wrong, but arguing with me isn't going to convince me otherwise. You can't debate people into changing their minds over matters of taste, and opinion of art is taste. 
The biggest fault that R1 had is that unlike every single other Star Wars movie, it wasn't fun.  There was no joy in it at all. There were some cool scenes, yes, some very thrilling heroics, but everything was so goddamn grim.  Now I realize that this was meant to be a gritty film, the franchise's version of Dirty Dozen, but for crying out loud that doesn't mean everyone needs to die!

The whole thing just felt very 90s grimdark, where happy endings are verboten and people die horribly because "it's all, like, realistic and stuff."  Well, I don't watch Star Wars for the realism! Would it have be so terrible for this to have happened?

Okay, maybe not with EVERYONE surviving, but definitely with K-2SO making a backup and rescuing Jyn and Cassian.

And then that bit with Vader... okay, I can appreciate Vader being a badass, but having the Tantive IV literally at the battle changes the entire tenor of the beginning of ANH and not in a good way, I feel.

See, this is my other objection to R1: it alters canon and doesn't explain why.
  • Who are the stormtroopers in black armor, and why have we not seen them before or since? No explanation given. 
  • What are these new TIE fighters called? How are they better than regular TIEs? Why have we not seen them before or since? No explanation given. 
  • That guy wearing a white uniform, is he a Grand Admiral like Thrawn? No, he's just a "Director". Huh, okay. So I guess directors wear white uniforms because they're awesome? No, Grand Moff Tarkin is wearing gray and he makes Director Krennik his bitch. Then... why? No explanation given.
So to me, R1 was just a bundle of dissatisfaction. I could have accepted the unanswered questions if it didn't have such a depressing "Everyone Dies!" ending, and I could have accepted a grimdark joyless ending if there had been more attention paid to continuity. But I didn't get either, so I didn't enjoy it. If you enjoyed it, that's cool. 

The Last Jedi
Remember all those questions from TFA I hoped would be answered? Yeah, the answer seems to be "Fuck you, that's why."  They not only don't answer any of them, the movie then seems to take a massive steaming shit on the original trilogy by destroying all the things we like. 
  • Hey kids! Did you like Luke Skywalker, Jedi? Guess what, he's back to being whiny old Wormy from Tattooine, only with force powers! Oh, and we're going to kill him too, because we don't want him to actually accomplish anything in this movie!
    • (and seriously, he didn't. Sure, he delayed Kylo Ren long enough for the Diet Alliance to escape from the Diet Empire, but he could have done that and more if he'd actually come back with Rey and Chewie on the Falcon.)
  • Hey! Did you like the battle sequences on Hoth with speeders against walkers? Sure you did! So we're going to make a sequence like that, only it'll be a salt planet instead of snow, and the speeders will be incredibly lame, and at the end the rebels will have accomplished fuck-all!
  • Hey! Did you like the lightsaber battle at the end of Return of Jedi in the Emperor's throne room?  Sure you did! So we're going to do it again, only we're going to murder the Emperor stand-in and then have an almost-Sith and a sorta-Jedi kill a bunch of kinda-Imperial Guards!
    • I have to tell you that I was actively rooting for Rey to take Ben's hand after that battle. When she saw him shirtless I realized that the writers were suggesting a romance between them, and so when he asked her to join him ("So we can rule the galaxy as father and son together") I thought "Yes! Do it! I want to see what happens when a Dark Side user loves a Light Side user. That is one hell of a mixed marriage. Will the have children who use both sides and are therefore Gray? Dammit, show me something new!"
    • Instead, we got... what we got. Sigh. 
  • I also had a moment of extreme being-impressed-ness when the command ship was hit and Leia was sucked into space. I was all "Holy crap, no wonder the writers didn't seem bothered that Carrie Fisher died before the trilogy was over! This is BRILLIANT!"... and then you know what happened. 
    • So now we have Han murdered, Luke disappearing into the Force (he might turn up as a Force Ghost. If so, I'd sure like to know where the fuck was Anakin's force ghost as his grandson was being turned to evil? I mean, Yoda can come back but not Anakin? Bullshit. Someone go get Hayden Christiansen and beat him with a stick until he gives a non-wooden performance) and now with Fisher dead and the writers saying they won't CGI her, she's going to die offscreen. I think the writers should have changed the script and re-shot some scenes -- they had the time, Fisher died a year before the movie was released -- so that Leia would have a meaningful death. 
  • But I don't think they want meaning. They want what Kylo wants: to kill the past, to burn it all down. I fully expect that in episode 9, the Falcon is going to be destroyed and Chewbacca is going to die. 
  • And don't even get me started on Laura Dern's dumbass admiral who should have communicated her plan to her CAG, who should have had the other ships doing lightspeed kamikaze runs, and who should have interposed her ship -- you know, the one with the shields that could withstand ISD turbolasers? -- between the Diet Empire's fleet and the escaping shuttles. 

At this point, I think I'm done with this storyline. I'll give the upcoming Solo: a Star Wars Story a try because it's got a good pedigree (written by Lawrence Kasdan, who gave us Empire Strikes Back) and because how badly could they fuck up a one-shot prequel (don't answer that), but after that I'm not likely to watch more. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take some geritol and yell at some kids to get off my lawn. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cool Stuff For Christmas

I had actually intended this to be a Boxing Day post, and then do my best to get a lot of writing done during the "vacation week" I give the authors at Blue Collar Prepping... but life had other ideas. I've been damn busy this week, but at least I've also been damn productive:
  1. I'm getting caught up on rest and becoming de-stressed
  2. My health is improving
  3. I'm making significant improvements in organizing and de-cluttering my life
  4. I'm doing end-of-year paperwork on what Operation Blazing Sword has accomplished (look for a "state of the sword" post next week)
  5. All while continuing to perform my usual familial duties. 
But enough of that! You folks want to see the cool things I was given, right?

120-sided die
Yes, you read that correctly: not a 100-sided die, but 120. It's improbably large, as you can see in the photograph, and given it's size it's about as heavy as you'd expect. 

I don't roll it the way I roll my other gaming dice (which is to say, I hold them in my palm above the table before rapidly rotating my hand away, leaving the dice to fall more or less vertically before bouncing to a halt) because it makes such a loud THUNK that I'm worried I will break something. Instead, I place my left hand on the table like a goal and then literally roll the die towards it in a most-horizontal manner. 

This was given to me by The_Jack, who is a player in the various RPGs that I run. I have no idea what I'm going to use it for, but it amuses me.
Now this is something that I have used, albeit briefly: after we got home from Christmas Eve service, it was dark outside but I needed to walk the dog. I can confirm that this lamp is both comfortable and bright. 

It has three settings
  1. Set Things On Fire
  2. Rather Dim, Actually
  3. Let's Induce Epilepsy!
Setting one is great for doing things at night, but you need to be careful not to blind your buddies by looking at their faces when you talk to them, and you also need to be careful not to blind yourself with "light splash" when you get too close to a surface (or when your hand goes up to adjust the angle or zoom of the light). 

Setting two avoids that entirely, but like my name for it suggests it's rather anemic. It feels like it's only about 100 lumens or so, but perhaps I'm biased because of how powerful setting 1 is. 

Setting 3 is basically a strobe version of setting one. It might make for a good tactical light if not for the dual faults of being mounted to your head and requiring you to take a hand off your weapon to turn the light on and off. 

Other things to like about this are a red light in the back for your buddies to see you and the ability to charge the two lithium batteries inside the case. It comes with three chargers: one for wall outlets, one for cars, and one for USB ports. 

Chaplain Tim recommended this to readers last year and I was finally able to get one. I haven't used it a lot -- mainly just to vacuum-seal clothes and fire-starting materials and food for my Bug Out and Get Home Bags -- but I really like what I see and so far it's operated flawlessly. The sole complaint I have about it is that the vaccuum is LOUD, but at this price point I can live with that. 

Note to those interested in getting one:  Don't buy the pre-cut bags. Instead, buy 100 feet of roll for $20 and make your own bags; not only is it cheaper, but you can make the plastic last longer by cutting them to size. 

This was given to me by my friend David Blackard. It's supposed to be a neck knife, but he had someone mount a belt clip to it. 

This sucker is sharp and handy. I'm not sure where to put it, but I'm definitely going to find a use for it. Until then, I'm wearing it on my belt. 

By the way: the scales on the handle are great for grip but aren't pleasant against the skin of abdomen. I learned that when trying to carry it concealed. 

Trauma Kit from Lucky Gunner
I've always gotten cool gifts from Anthony Welsch at Lucky Gunner, but this one wins points for being both cool and useful. 

That's a SOFTT-W tourniquet with a Phlster Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier and a mini compression bandage, compressed gauze and hemostatic gauze that fits into a Snake Eater Tactical stretchy-wallet-thing (I couldn't find it on their website) which carries all of that as well as a pair of gloves (those are the blue peeking out from the gray). 

This is the biggest item I received, and it's because I told my family "Look, I flew three times this year and it looks like I'm going to fly at least that many times again next year. I don't mind using mom's suitcase but it's soft-sided and I'd really like something hard-sided so I can have more confidence when I fly with a checked firearm. Also, spinner wheels would make my life so much easier. I know it's expensive, so how about [brother] and [sister] just send my share of birthday money to [parents] so I can get this?"

And I got it. And I'm excited to have luggage. This makes me feel so damn old, y'all. But I can't deny that I'm looking forward to taking this with me when I go on cool adventures to new places, meeting new people and talking about Operation Blazing Sword.

(I also received some girly stuff, but I doubt my mostly-male readers want to read about that.)

So what cool things did you guys for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation by Salem MacGourley, age 12

Okay, okay, I had my tantrum last week. I'm better now. 

To anyone who failed #Whamageddon last week because of me, I sincerely apologize. I am never in my right mind when Christmas comes around. I'm not a holiday person to begin with, and frequently go into self-imposed exile on Christmas so I do not ruin the holidays of others.

I do have a couple of people in my life who are both stubborn enough and caring enough to disregard my wishes and let their care for me be well-known nonetheless, and to them I say thank you.

Our lovely editor Erin is one of them. The Batgirl is wonderful, thank you.
My new insurance company provided a present as well. A trip to CVS Minute Clinic was 100% covered, and the amoxicillin and ipratroprium were only $5 apiece. The sinus infection is lifting slowly but surely and despite the protestations of my digestive system's devastated flora.

I decided I'd sit down and play a Christmas game, so I played Dead Rising 4 again, and found that Capcom had mere days before added a mode with all manner of costumes based on other Capcom games from Mega Man to Street Fighter with their respective powers, and I've had a good time finishing holiday quests in Destiny 2.

Twice Upon a Time, the Doctor Who Christmas Special came on, and it was really quite good. With only a few minor cringe-inducing lines given to the First Doctor (come now, he wasn't that sexist, even by modern standards), it was exceedingly well written, performed, and produced, and was a fantastic send-off for Peter Capaldi (who is too pure for this world). Also, spoiler or not, I am happy to say that they absolutely did let Jodie crash the TARDIS, in a spectacular fashion. I was genuinely concerned they wouldn't let her do that. That gives me hope for her run.

All in all, though, it was quiet. And quiet is all I ask for these days. I hope the rest of you enjoyed your holiday as well.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #175 - 'Twas the 'Cast Before Christmas

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good podcast!
  • It will be Christmas Eve when this podcast drops, so in order to get everyone into the proper spirit, Beth performs a reading of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas... but with a twist!
  • A minister foils an Orange County church break-in by shooting out the tire on the fleeing suspect's car. Sean takes a look.
  • You thought they just wanted to steal your data, but  now there's malware that turns your computer into a Bitcoin miner for someone else. Barron tells you how to avoid having someone steal your computer's processing power.
  • When you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging. Miguel is here to talk about how to get your mind off your problems and find inner peace.
  • Those who want tighter controls on firearms ownership are always telling us that gun owners agree with them, so when Dave Workman and Alan Gottlieb wrote a widely-published article seeking that common ground, you’d expect that it would start an instant dialog with “Gun Safety Advocates.” Our special guest today is Dave Workman, here to tell us about the whole lot of nothing they heard from the the other side.
  • In Episode 171, Tiffany chatted with firearms trainer Aqil Qadir about using affinity groups to help connect separate firearms cultures. This week, she talks to Aqil about his law enforcement background and how we might begin to mend the frayed relationship between many black communities and police.
  • Not to be outdone by 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Erin tells us the story of the Nativity from a prepper point of view.
  • This week Weer’d takes on part two of the Jordan Klepper interview on Kickass Politics where he plugs his Comedy Central special “Jordan Klepper Solves Guns”.
  • And our Plug of the Week is the Survival Blanket 2.0.
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: 
The Prepper Nativity

Since Beth has entertained us with a Gunnie version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, I thought I would tell the story of the Nativity from a prepper perspective.

"In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, and everyone went to their place of birth to register."

So Joseph, who was not yet a prepper, packed up his belongings and placed his pregnant wife Mary upon their donkey, and traveled from his home in Nazareth in the province of Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It is unclear whether Mary was a native of Nazareth and registered there before traveling to Bethlehem with her husband, or if wives had to register with their husbands, but the fact remains that The Government required Joseph to register in person rather than by mail, because bureaucracy. And this was the first example of “Registration Leads to Confiscation”, as we shall later see.

We don’t know much about Joseph, but we know that he wasn’t very good at planning and was probably on estranged from his family, because in the time it took him to reach Bethlehem -- some sources say it would take 4 days, some 8, some 10, so let’s just assume the average and say it took them a week to get there -- not only were there no places for a man and his heavily pregnant wife to stay, but he also didn’t have any family whom he could ask for hospitality. Instead, he had to beg for shelter and was allowed to sleep in the stable of an inn only because the innkeeper took pity on his pregnant wife. From this we learn the dual values of “Bug out as soon as possible to avoid the rush” and “Cultivate a prepper tribe so that you will have a place to stay after you bug out.”

And lo, Joseph didst register, a process so boring that it’s not even mentioned in the scripture. I expect it was like the DMV, only without electricity.

And Mary did give birth to her son Jesus, the Immanuel, and God did blow their OPSEC by making a big presentation with choirs of angels singing to shepherds who then went into the town to look for a baby. And believe you me, a bunch of shepherds and their flocks milling about a stable in a crowded city is going to attract attention, and that’s even before the little drummer boy started making noise, pa-rum pa-pum-pum. Fortunately, nothing bad came of this, probably because, well, GOD, but it just goes to show that even a well-meaning relative can let slip the details of your bug-out location to strangers… but more on that, later.

And because Mary and Joseph were devout Jews, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him at the temple to be circumcised. As a point of interest, Bethlehem is only six miles from Jerusalem, so they probably used their Get Home Bags rather than their Bug Out Bags to make the trip. And then they returned to Bethlehem for reasons which are unclear, but probably involved more paperwork for registration because Joseph needed to add a dependent to his W-4.

And then the Magi, three wise men from the east, showed up at their home bearing gifts of money, aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, and a bitter medicinal resin used as an antiseptic and analgesic, which Joseph added to their Bug Out Bags. These funds and medicine were good to have, because when God blew Mary & Joseph’s OPSEC, the magi saw the star and followed it, passing through Jerusalem and telling everyone in King Herod’s court that they were going to see a newborn king who was going to overthrow Herod.

Like all governments, King Herod didn’t want to give up any power, so he declared that all boys under the age of two were to be killed. And lo, registration led to confiscation and destruction.

Fortunately for the holy family, God realized that He had blown their OPSEC and gave them a warning that their current Bug-Out Location wasn’t secure. By this point, Joseph has become a good prepper, because at the first sign of danger he assembled their Bug Out Bags, put Mary and Jesus on the donkey, and got the heck out of dodge.The gold and the incense (a luxury item) were likely used to buy supplies and facilitate passage to Egypt, and the myrrh was used in their medical kits when the became sick or sore.

And thus, the holy family didst bug out to Egypt, outside of Herod’s jurisdiction, a distance of at least 40 miles to the border. And they stayed there until Herod died and it was safe to return. From this we learn the value of outliving our enemies and keeping track of foreign affairs.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Christmas Adam, Everyone!

Christmas Adam: December 23rd. Comes before Christmas Eve and is generally unsatisfying. 
Hey, don't blame me for this. Blame Tumblr. All I did was laugh.

Anyway, I think I'm going to get through this Christmas

This time of year is usually pretty rough for me, as my loyal readers know well. And  I'm not going to lie; this Christmas hasn't been easy by any means. I'm mostly physically healed from my injury (although I still have scarring and swelling and can't fully open my mouth on that side), but emotionally and psychologically I'm still struggling. I rarely leave the house, and part of that is due to just not wanting to deal with people -- as I've said, I like persons but I don't care for people in the collective, and it's too people-y out there -- and part of it is because I don't want to go out there looking maimed. I feel eyes on me and my injury all the time, and because I think it look gross I imagine lots of other people looking at and thinking it's gross too, and therefore thinking that I look gross.

But I think I'm going to get through this Christmas without having a stress attack or drinking too much, and some of that is due to having a sanctuary to which I can retreat. When I lost my regular podcast recording studio (the office at my church), I took some time to convert my bedroom into a work area with a desk for my computer, and that paid off after the injury because I was able to stay online while keeping to myself instead of being forced to use the family computer in the living room.

So yay, I'm surviving Christmas by being a hermit. It isn't a great strategy, I grant you that -- mainly because instead of addressing the reasons behind the holiday stress I'm just hiding from them -- but it's working and for right now, I'll take what I can get.

I'm not looking forward to attending Christmas Eve service, though, because according to mom everyone has been asking about me and I just know that at least one person is going to tell me that it's not that bad while staring at my injury instead of looking at me. I have some Dermablend but... hang on, there's another story I have to tell first.
(December 11)
Yesterday, I was sneaky.

I've been invited to a Christmas party next week, and two weeks from now is Christmas and my family will want me there.

So yesterday I went to the Ulta that opened near my house, wandered around for a bit looking lost, then I found a salesgirl and said "I was bitten on the face by a dog two months ago and I'm really self-conscious about the scars. I'm told there's a product called Dermablend that will help me cover it up. Can you help me?"

And so she took me to where the Dermablend was hiding (I honestly couldn't find it), found some creme in a shade she thought would suit me, handed me a makeup sponge and guided me to a mirror. To her credit, she nailed my skin color on the first try, and the scars were covered up because that's what Dermablend does.

So I bought it ($40 for a 1 ounce tube, JFC), went home, and promptly asked my mom "Hey, does my scar look any better to you?"

She said that it did, so I explained the whole thing about feeling self-conscious and hearing from my friends about Dermablend and now I can go to church without feeling like I have a neon sign saying "STARE HERE."

This is fantastic for a few reasons:
  1. It gets mom used to the idea of me wearing makeup. 
  2. I now have a familial-acceptable reason to start experimenting with appearance. 
  3. If I end up with makeup smudges on clothes or the bathroom cabinet, there's now a good explanation for it.
I wouldn't have chosen to be bitten, but I'm going to turn it to my advantage whenever possible.
So now I have a good reason for using concealer on my face, but it quite obviously does nothing for the swelling. This was such an issue for me that in the week before the Christmas Party I gave in and bought a veil, because apparently my mind thinks that's okay for people to be staring so long as they're staring at the piece of clothing that I chose to wear and not the injury I didn't choose to have happen.

Again, my brain is strange.

The problem with veils is that they are either flimsy things which hardly conceal anything, or are big bellydance type affairs with chains and coins and whatnot. I didn't want either of those, nor did I want to wear anything heavier like a balaclava. I just wanted a tasteful veil that actually concealed what it covered.

To my great surprise, I found one: a hand-tatted chain face veil, for sale on Etsy. 

This is not me. This is the artist modeling her creation. 

I love this veil because it breaks up the pattern of the face so that things like scars and swelling aren't visible, yet it's not so completely opaque that people can't see my mouth moving. Between it and the Dermablend I actually felt normal at the party, and I had a great time.

So like Salem is fond of saying: "I may not be okay yet, but I can see okay from where I'm standing."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I just love Christmas.

Everyone's so cheery and bundled up against the cold weather, people seem so much more charitable towards each other, and families really come together.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

And you know what? I'm gonna keep it short this week, but I've got a special Christmas treat for all of my wonderful Christmas family of readers this week.



Bah Humbug and happy #Whamageddon, everyone.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New (Leaked) MLP Opening Sequence

This was leaked last week, but I only found out about it today. There are probably very mild spoilers here, but since this is the opening sequence all of these was going to be revealed early on anyway.

So let's watch and then obsessively deconstruct it!

The first 12 seconds tell us a LOT:
  1. There's a new building next to Twilight's Castle, and it looks kind of like a school.
  2. There are a lot of secondary characters getting screen time, like Maude and Vinyl Scratch and Ember and Thorax.
  3. Big Mac officially has a girlfriend now (I'm pretty sure that's Sugar Belle).
  4. There's a seapony frolicking in the moat, meaning that the events of the MLP Movie are not only canon but are being integrated into the show.
  5. Is that a Yak from Yakyakistan coming down the stairs?
[0:13]The big door with the "Twilight Seal" on it seems to confirm the idea that the new building is a school. Perhaps the Mane 6 are teachers there?

[0:16] Pinkie Pie is teaching a class -- Celestia help us -- and the students are VERY diverse as I count a hippogriff, griffon, pony, that yak again, a neu-changeling and what I think is a dragon. 

[0:18] Good to see that Rarity's business is continuing to do well. Hi, Sassy Saddles!

[0:19] Applejack is teaching students to applebuck? I see the griffon, hippogriff, yak and dragon again. 

[0:20] I see that Sweet Feather Sanctuary is doing well. I'm noticing a theme here: all of the girls have succeeded in life. 

[0:23] That looks very much like a class photo, with all the instructors in the front row, Twilight in the center, and Spike holding what looks like a coat of arms and which matches the design on the door. I'm almost positive that Twilight has opened some kind of "Friendship Academy" and the other Mane 6 are going to be teachers there at least part time. 

[0:26] It's about damn time that Luna got a throne of her own!

I confess that I am both intrigued and worried by the "exchange students". Intrigued because it gives the Friendship Academy depth and a "Xavier's School Meets Hogwarts" vibe; worried because the obvious differences between ponies and yaks, dragons, changelings and hippogriffs/seaponies likely means there's going to be a lot of episode time devoted to that... and that's bad only because it feels like our girls are being moved to the back seat while the next generation takes over the show. 

I am cautiously optimistic. There have been times that the show has done things which worried me (Twilight becoming a princess in season 3, the addition of Starlight Glimmer as a regular cast member) but so far the writers haven't screwed up and ruined the show so they get the benefit of the doubt. This season looks awesome; I'm going to have faith that it will in fact be awesome. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Day I Knew Things Were Going to Suck For a Long Time

(continued from The Night My Face Was Ruined)

I've been dragging my feet on this last part, and I'm not sure why. Clearly there's something which happened that I don't want to think about, but I'm not sure what that could be; all of the painful memories have already been discussed.

I don't know. The brain is weird. Anyway, here is the conclusion to my three part tale.

I've often said that hospital emergency rooms are where time goes to die, and I mean that. There is something oppressively eternal about those windowless rooms and sterile halls and flourescent lights, the kind of eternity where it feels like you've been there for hours instead of minutes. It's a pretty good vision of purgatory, especially if you're in pain or scared, because without windows to look out or televisions to look at to judge the passing of time (and there's usually crappy cell reception, too) there is a profound feeling of isolation and being left to one's fate.

This is essentially how I felt for the three hours it took for the ambulance to arrive and take me up to Jacksonville. About the best thing I can say about it is that the Ativan really took the edge off my impatience as well as my worry; I was essentially just "in the moment" for those three hours with my brain idling. Which, to be honest, is much better than it could have been, because me being worried and impatient and bored for three hours is not a pleasant thing.

So I chilled for three hours, and eventually the EMTs came to get me. I said goodbye to mom, they loaded me up into the 'bolance, and away we went... doing the speed limit. I remember being distinctly miffed that they weren't using the lights and siren, because Daytona to Jax is a long-ass drive that can take up to two hours depending on traffic and which side of J'ville your destination is. I thought, "Don't these guys want to get this done so they can get back to doing more important things, like saving lives or going off-shift?"

I may have asked for more Ativan, I'm not certain. I remember being bored enough for it to register that I was bored, and uncomfortable enough to feel uncomfortable, but not enough of either for me to really want to do anything about it. I may have dozed off at this point, because I was lying down and it was past my bedtime, and the motions of a moving vehicle tend to put me to sleep anyway, but if I slept I didn't dream and I didn't sleep for long because I was awake and aware when we pulled up to the hospital and I was wheeled into the ER.

I recall being disappointed that they wanted me to butt-scootch over to the ER bed rather than doing the thing I see on TV where the staff lifts the patient over, but maybe that's because I wasn't on a backboard. One thing they did do, though, was to cut my t-shirt off me. I was quite upset at this, because 1) I hadn't gotten any blood on it, 2) it was a damn comfortable shirt, and 3) I didn't see the need for it. I still had the EKG leads on from when I arrived at the first ER, and I figured they would cover everything except my face with a sterile sheet, so I couldn't understand why they did that. In fact, they had me take off my pants as well, so I figure "it's just policy" is probably the answer.

I didn't put up too much of a fight because I decided they wouldn't allow me to keep it on and I didn't want to go to the trouble of trying to get it over my head while holding my lips in place.

Then the plastic surgeon came to take a look at the damage and expressed a sentiment that can best be described as "Yes, this is adequate for disturbing my rest, but is not a challenge. I shall vanquish this easily." Then he pulled out his smart phone and asked if he could take a picture. I said, "Only if I get a copy" and gave him my email address. He took the picture but I still haven't gotten a copy of it. Jerk.

Then the nurse came in to prep me for surgery, and confirmed that I wasn't being wheeled up to an OR but would instead be treated there in the ER under local anesthesia. (So again, I felt like they cut my shirt off for nothing. I would have understood if they needed to put me under.) She asked me if I thought I would need anything, like more dilaudid, for the procedure. I explained that I didn't like how the dilaudid made me feel and that I was pretty good other than hurting in the places that were going to get localed, so as long as I could lie back and have something over my eyes I would probably be okay. Although could I get more ativan just to make sure I didn't get all antsy during the procedure?

I realize I sound like I'm suddenly an ativan addict but I promise, once I left the hospital I never had any cravings. I just really really liked having a chill pill that calmed me down and made me less impatient and squirmy.

The actual procedure is fuzzy, because I got the ativan IV and I put a towel over my eyes (because those surgical lights were fucking bright and right in my face) and so time just sort of... passed... in a twilight of not really sleep but not really awake either. I felt each injection of local anasthetic (and they really hurt, too -- the needles felt like they were barbed and the juice burned as it went in) and I was aware of each puncture of the suture needle, but it didn't really hurt -- or maybe it hurt but I didn't care? -- and it wasn't quite a dissociative "I am not in my body as this happens" state but I wasn't fully present for it, either.

It just kinda happened, and when it was done, it was hours later. Like at least two, maybe even three, even though it felt like 45 minutes and I'd barely moved. Then the surgeon took an "after" picture to go with his "before" one. I asked him how many stitches it was, and he said "Oh, somewhere between 50 and 60. I tend to lose count after a dozen or so."

Then he said that "The surgery went well. Your skin came together in a good approximation", and I started to freak out because I wanted something more than "approximately".  He explained it, but I'm going to quote my friend Wendi Bragg who has some experience with Doctor Speak:
We are used to thinking of "an approximation" as "close enough" or "something that resembles" or even "something half ass that's the best we can do".

Whereas the surgical definition of approximation is "bringing tissue edges into desired apposition for suturing." So approximation may be poor, adequate, or good.

What he was telling you was that he was able to put everything back where it was supposed to be, without getting "creative". And that's an excellent situation to be in.
So apparently, " a good approximation" meant I AM FUCKING AWESOME from this surgeon. And that's a good thing, because I understand that mouth injuries are really, really difficult to repair because not only do they have the eating and stretching thing going on, but the inside and outside of the mouth heal at different rates and if things aren't done properly there can be puckering and wrinkles along the scar line. This is why I didn't just get a plastic surgeon, I got an OMS (Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon) and these guys are rock stars, because in order to become an OMS you're looking at about 15 years of school:
  • 4 years pre-med
  • 4 years dental school
  • 4 to 6 years of surgical residency
I don't even want to think about how big his student loans are.

Then he hit me with a doozy. I don't recall his exact words, but they went something like "While the surgery went well and I have every confidence in my abilities, the damage was extensive and there's a small chance that the skin could be too traumatized to survive. So keep an eye on it in case it changes color, starts to smell funny, or oozes anything other than blood."

Because what I really needed to hear after a traumatic evening and a long surgery was that there was a chance it could all be for nothing and I could get gangrene of the face.

Yay. Believe you me, that worry kept me up at night, especially when it began to scab over.

After that was done, the nurse came to see again. She had me fill out the admission paperwork and gave me some disposable scrubs to wear home. I asked for some breakfast because it was now 6 am and I was starving. Then I asked to use the bathroom because I really needed to pee (and to be honest, I wanted to see my face).

I discovered a few things in those few minutes:
  1. It was really hard to talk. Why, you'd almost think someone had sewn my mouth shut. 
  2. In addition to being a bloody, stitched-up mess, I was swollen damn near  everywhere on my mouth as well as my right cheek. I looked like a monkey who had gone a few rounds with a professional boxer. 
  3. If your lips are swollen and your mouth is stitched tight, it is really difficult to open your mouth wide enough to get food in. Even though I had been given scrambled eggs, I ended up essentially shoving them between my lips with my fingers. I ended up wearing a lot of that food, as it smeared over my lips and fell onto my chest. 
It was a very effective "This is what your life is going to be for the indefinite future, so you'd better buckle up, buttercup" moment. 

After that, I dozed for a bit until a family friend drove my mom up to Jax to get me. The nurse handed me a washcloth on the way out -- a thin white one, and definitely NOT as good as the plus red one the other ER threw out -- because my sutures were oozing blood and it was running down my neck. There's something irritating about walking out of an ER while still bleeding, but I was ready to go home and go to sleep, because I'd been up for 24 hours.

They put me on a BUNCH of antibiotics (two different pills plus twice-daily doses of triple antibiotic ointment, and whatever injections they gave me in the various ERs). They also gave me a prescription painkiller which I never took, because after the surgery it didn't hurt that much and I could control it with Tylenol or Advil.

You know the rest of the story via blog posts and Facebook updates. The skin never became necrotic, the stitches came out 2 weeks later (a huge relief), and things slowly got better. I'm told I'm healing well, and will see the local plastic surgeon some time in January, because the swelling is still going down and he won't see me again until it's gone. I'm still worried about some nerve damage because of loss of sensation on parts of my face, but that just might be because they're swollen. I'm back to about 99% full function -- the only thing I can't easily do is open my mouth really wide, like at the dentist's office, and the surgeon told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to do that until he said I could.

That's about everything I can think of. If you have questions, ask. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #174 - What Caliber for Taylor Swift's Husband?

'Cause baby, now we've got bad blood
You know it used to be mad love
So take a look what you've done
’Cause baby, now we've got bad blood, hey!
 -- Taylor Swift, "Bad Blood"
  • Beth and her husband are getting ready to shoot a 3-gun "buddy match". What is it? What kind of gear do you need? How do you practice for it? Listen and find out!
  • Where do they find each other? It sounds like a random shooting, but the records make it sound like more is going on. Sean takes a look.
  • Barron runs the websites for several pro-gun blogs, including the website for this podcast. He recently dealt with a bizarre issue where the websites were basically spamming people. He walks us through the thought processes necessary to effectively troubleshoot what turned out to be a rather complex problem.
  • Miguel is on assignment.
  • In this week's Main Topic, Sean and Erin analyze the CNN article "How an 'ugly,' unwanted weapon became the most popular rifle in America".
  • Tiffany is on assignment.
  • Holidays are naturally the most wonderful time of the year... except when they aren't. Erin has some practical tips on how to manage holiday stress and depression.
  • Jordan Klepper, former Daily Show member and current host of “The Resistance” on Comedy Central made a special titled “Jordan Klepper Solves Guns” and it’s filled with anti-gun nuttery. Weer’d is here to set him straight.
  • And our Plug of the Week is the NeuYear Monday First Large Wall Calendar.
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: 
Dealing with Holiday Stress and Depression
Hey there, preppers. It’s widely believed that suicide is more common around the holidays, but that’s a myth; the peak is actually during  late spring and early summer. However, regardless of the myth I’ve been having a rough time lately, and so probably some of you have as well. This week I’m going to give you some tips for avoiding or dealing with holiday stress and depression. 

1. Keep your expectations balanced. Or, as I like to put it when I’m feeling cynical, “Embrace the suck.”  Acknowledge that you won't get everything that you want, that things will go wrong, and that sometimes you won't feel like singing Christmas carols. Try to internalize the belief that  everything doesn't need to be perfect, so don't worry about things that are out of your control.

2. Don't try to do too much. Fatigue, over scheduling, and taking on too many tasks can make you miserable. Women especially think they have to do everything this time of year. Instead, ask for help from your family delegate as much as possible; it can be fun making Christmas preparations a family event. Learn to say “no” if you need to; by choosing to do less,  you will have more energy to enjoy the most important part of the season - friends and family.

3. Stay warm. Research has shown that warmth improves mood. If you’re sad or lonely, treat yourself to a warm bath or cup of hot cocoa, or snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a pet or loved one. 

4. Be aware of Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder. Many people suffer depression due to a lack of sunlight because of shorter days and bad weather. Using a full spectrum lamp for twenty minutes a day can lessen this type of depression. There’s a link to one that I recommend in the show notes. 

5. Understand that it's appropriate to mourn if you're separated from or have lost loved ones. If you can't be with those you love, make plans to celebrate again when you can all be together. Spend time alone to reflect and grieve, if necessary, because keeping feelings inside can lead to depression, stress, or poor health. So allow yourself to feel, but don’t isolate yourself; get out of the house and find some way to join in the festivities or otherwise do something nice for yourself, like having a quiet dinner at a favorite restaurant. 

6. Watch your diet and remember to exercise. It's normal to eat more during the holidays, but be aware of how certain foods affect your mood. Refined carobohydrates like sugar, or refined starches like white bread and crackers, can cause your energy levels, and therefore your mood, to rollercoaster up and down. Instead, eat more protein which slows the absorption of carbohydrates in your blood and increase the release of dopamine, and take a walk before or after -- or both! -- a big holiday meal.

7. Don’t play the shame game. Embarrassment about finances can lead to taking on more debt than you can afford. Instead of struggling to buy a gift, let your loved ones know how much you care and would like to, but can’t afford it. One thing I have done is told them that since I can’t get them anything, they aren’t obligated to get me anything either. It works about as well as you’d expect, but it makes me feel better because I know they chose to get me a gift anyway. 

8. Practice forgiveness, understanding, and avoidance. If some of your relatives always upset you, they are unlikely to change, so don’t set yourself up for frustration by trying and failing. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

And if you can’t accept them for who they are, don’t let them push your buttons. You can accomplish that by not giving them the chance; get out of the house to get away and adjust your attitude. Go for a walk or drive and admire the decorations, or go see a movie. I know for a fact most movie theaters are open on Christmas Day. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The "Santa Paws Tree"

Those of you who listen to GunBlog VarietyCast Radio know that our pets get their own Christmas tree, dubbed the "Santa Paws" tree by my mom. Just in case you thought I was perhaps exaggerating about such a thing, I present to you photographic evidence of its existence.

The tree itself.

Tree skirt with paw-print motif. 
Mom made this herself. 

One of the light-up ornaments, with wolves on top. 
Wolves are very close to being dogs, you see. 

Another style of wolf ornament. 

It's worth noting that this tree went up and was decorated a full week before the tree for the humans went up. The reason is more logistical than sentimental: It's smaller, pre-lit, and has a fixed number of ornaments on it, which means it goes up faster and easier. It's sort of an "instant Christmas spirit" as opposed to the people tree, which requires work to assemble and a metric assload of ornaments.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

No Set Expectations

Strap in, kiddos, this one's gonna get heavy.

You may have heard me mention that I'm back in the world again. It's not by choice; every day for the past few months, I have gotten up at a much earlier time than I'm comfortable with and driven to a place that is not my home and performed for several hours before walking out the door, starting up the engine, and feeling my facial muscles go slack as I put distance between that place and myself, all the artifice of the day draining away.

There's this kid there, maybe 20 or so. Some small-ish percentage Hispanic, enough that you'd have to squint to see it, much like my native blood. Today, he asked me what my goals were. I looked at him funny for a moment, then he clarified by asking what path I wanted to take at this new job. I gave a small laugh, and said for a moment I thought he meant in life, and had wondered if he'd missed the grey on my face. 

Life, I have found, is about having your expectations stripped from you, if you are not fortunate enough to belong to a class that has the resources to buy the fulfillment of those expectations.

  • I lost the expectation being able-bodied when I was in a magnificently acrobatic car accident at 17 which gave me a concussion, injured my back, and destroyed my right ankle. 
  • I lost the expectation of a formal education when a sleep disorder robbed me of the ability to wake up early in the morning and be cognizant before noon or so.
  • I lost the expectation a family when my ex-wife turned abusive and threatened, subtly, to use the child I raised as a weapon against me. 
  • I lost the expectation of good health when, slowly, my digestive system began to tolerate fewer and fewer foods, to the point where I now sometimes eat something knowing I'll hate myself later just because I'm sick of bland breads and light meats. 
  • I lost the expectation of comfort when the nerves in my spine began to compress due to the accident, causing pain anywhere from my thighs to my arms to my chest.
I may sound like a complete miseryguts right now, but I have a consolation. Several years ago, I began to say that I may not be okay, but I can see okay from where I'm standing. I think I'm only now starting to be okay with that.

I promise I'll be a bit more light-hearted next week. Maybe Erin will have caught up with The Orville and I can do a mid-season check-in on it. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mom Means Well, But...

I had a bad day yesterday. I shall spare you the details; suffice it to say that it involved traffic and the Post Office and ended with me loathing humanity as a whole. It took me most of the evening, and several glasses of rum, to descalate from "I wish they were all dead" to "I suppose they can be allowed to live if they promise not to bother me ever again."

I had high hopes for today. However, the world managed to quite expertly dash them via the unexpected vector of My Mother.

Here are things you should know about my mother:
  • She is a mammal. 
  • She is easily frustrated. 
  • When in the grip of high emotion, she either yells, cries, or both. 
  • She doesn't understand how computers work, to the extent that I've stopped telling her how to attach a picture to an email* and I just stop whatever I'm doing and do it for her. 
Today, mom asked me to take her to Walgreens because they're running a special on photographs (75 for $10) and she wanted pictures that had been taken with the digital camera turned into hardcopy. I think it's a bit strange, because the last time I've ever seen her looking at a photo album was literally last century, but mom gets what mom wants because Happy Mom, Happy Home. She wants hardcopies? OK, let's get hardcopies. 

I figured I would have to put the pictures on the hard drive for her, because she's had trouble with that before, but she surprised me by saying that she'd picked out what she wanted and had put them on the drive. 
  • "The pictures you want are on the drive?" Yes. 
  • "ONLY the pictures you want?" Yes. 
  • "There's nothing else on there?" No. 
Well, color me shocked. I realize that sounds horribly dismissive of me, but again I point out that I'm the person called to attach a picture on the desktop to an email composed in Gmail. I was actually quite pleased that she'd done this on her own. The only thing I needed to do was come along and do whatever needed to be done to turn pictures on a thumb drive into photographs.

So we went, and either the Walgreens media computer has an interface that isn't as clear as it should be, or I'm getting old and newfangled technology is starting to confuse and frustrate me. But annoying as that was, it wasn't what ruined the day for me.

There was also the fact that mom told me she wanted two sets of prints -- one for me, one for her -- and therefore she'd duplicated every single picture on the thumb drive.  And then didn't understand when I told her that was unnecessary, that she could have just picked out the pictures and printed them twice. Nor did she understand that printing the entire thumb drive once was enough pictures for both of us, for reasons I cannot understand and which caused me to raise my voice (see below). But no, what ruined my day for me was that the photos she wanted me to look at, scroll through and select (why I couldn't have done this at home is beyond my comprehension) were pictures of the dog that attacked me and nearly bit my lip off.

Now, I want to phrase this next part very carefully:
  • I believe PTSD exists. 
  • I believe it is not a sign of weakness to have PTSD. 
  • I'm not certain that I have PTSD (having not been diagnosed with it), so I do not feel qualified to claim to have it.
That said... looking at pictures of a dog who attacked me, and whose death I still feel guilty for, really fucked me the fuck up. I really, REALLY wanted to be anywhere else but there. I doubly didn't want to be there with mom hovering over my shoulder, asking me questions that try my patience. I triply didn't want to be there while trying to figure out how to get the goddamned discount when there's no obvious way to enter it and feeling stupid for it the entire time. So I'm basically grinding my back teeth and trying to regulate like I'm in Iron Man 3, when I see a clerk walking by. I shout "Hey, I need some help with this thing" and he guides me through it. I pick 'print every goddamn thing on the drive now so I can get this over with', he shows me how to apply the discount, and we leave.

As we're walking to the car, mom worries about how she isn't sure if we're going to get enough copies for both of us, and I just lose it. I don't want to explain that I just saw two goddamn copies of every goddamn picture on that goddamn drive and so of fucking COURSE she's going to get enough. My brain decides "Fuck it, we'll do it live" and I shout/scream/yell  I DON'T WANT PICTURES OF THE DOG THAT BIT MY FACE OFF!!

I probably even stomped my feet for emphasis, because that's mature.

This promptly hurts mom's feelings, not just because I just yelled at her, but because she thought she was doing a nice thing for my. "I thought you'd want a reminder of your dog!" she cried. Yes, literally crying, because I wasn't feeling shitty enough today.

My reply of "He stopped being my dog when he attacked me, mom, and I'm going to have a reminder of his handiwork on my face for the rest of my life." probably didn't help much. And then we sat in awkward silence in the car as both of us cried, because she's hurt and I'm stressed.

The diarrhea icing on this shit cake was the fact that I couldn't just go home. No, I had to drive into town (15 minutes), get a bottle of prescription toothpaste from my dentist while dropping off a Hanukkah card (X minutes, see below), drive back from town (15 minutes), buy the pictures (variable) and then drive home... all while neither of us are talking to each other and mom is doing that noisy "I've just been crying" breathing.

At the dentist, I talked to the gregarious receptionist who is one of those sweet women who is genuinely happy to see you and wants to chat, and who told me that I "didn't look so bad."

Now I'm not sure if I can speak for other people, so I'm not going to tell you that you should never say this to someone who's suffered an injury like this. What I will tell you is that you should instead say something like "It's healing really well. I'll bet no one will be able to tell what happened once it's all better."

I say this because while I'm sure the sweet lady meant "It's healing well," what it actually sounded like was "Wow, from the way your parents were going on I expected it was SO much worse! This is practically nothing in comparison."  This makes me feel like they're saying I'm some kind of hysterical drama queen who is overreacting over a minor injury.

All of this, mind you, while they're gawking at the wreckage of my face. I literally do not know which is worse, the dismissal of it all or being looked at like I'm a sideshow freak. You'd think the two would be mutually exclusive, but apparently they aren't.

This sort of thing just really pushes my buttons, because my reaction to this kind of statement has been to silently open my phone, scroll through the photos, and show them the one from the day I came home. The shudders and looks of horror and disgust are wickedly soothing. I'm actually at the point where I want the pictures the plastic surgeon took before he began suturing, just so I can show people the torn, dangling flesh and say "TELL ME IT DOESN'T LOOK THAT BAD. I FUCKING DARE YOU."

These kinds of reactions are why I don't want to show my face for the next few months... and yet, I have to get through Christmas. I've already been invited to a party (I don't know if I'm going or not, because the person for whom I'm a plus one won't answer me) and then there's the church service on the 24th. The entire congregation has been asking about me, and I just know they're going to be gawking and telling me it doesn't look bad.

Fuck me running. 

* Because she will take laborious notes, ask questions like "Now when you say 'click and hold', do you mean right click or left click?", and it will take 10 goddamn minutes to explain a 30 second process. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Go Guarded": I Cannot Even

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #173 - Too Many Acronyms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hoist By Their Own Petard

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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