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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. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Only the Mildest of Hot Takes

I've started a new job recently, and between having to learn a bunch of new stuff and existing in hours that I previously never saw much of, my brain's a bit scattered. Too scattered to really dive in-depth on any one thing at the moment. So while I have a moment's pause, I'm going to fire off a few quick things in regards to things going on in the world today.

From the "You Really Asked For This" Department:
He's incredibly correct. I've been saying this for a long time. You really don't want to start pushing corporate censorship, de-platforming, and the like because inevitably it's going to be used against you or an ally of yours. Like poor Rose McGowan. There was, after all, recently a sentiment that Twitter wasn't doing enough to combat harassment. Guess they are now, huh?

From the "I Totally Didn't Write This Myself, We Just Have A Very, Very Smart Audience: Department:

In this, the age of games journalism being far, far too intelligent for the plebeians that read it, it's rare to see a comment that agrees so readily with the author of the piece, let alone gets called out as a good comment by that piece's author. Luke Plunkett totally didn't write that comment himself, guys. That's clearly a gamer, one of "the good ones" I guess. 

From the "Stay In Your Lane Or Pay The Price From Allies" Department:
Successful black woman in tech dares to utter the verboten suggestion that white men may, in fact, be diverse and is promptly dogpiled by the internet and forced to apologize for suggesting that diversity is more than melanin and genitals.

From the "I'd Like To Stop Talking About This, So Why Don't We Keep Talking About This" Department:
Anita Sarkeesian doesn't want to be remembered as the woman who survived Gamergate. I don't want to be remembered as the man who survived my ex-wife, so I don't talk about her anymore. Then again, if I got paid for speaking engagements about her, I might reconsider that stance.

From the "Why Do We Take Our Political Opinions From Hollywood?" Department:
Harvey freakin' Weinstein. Harvey freakin' Weinstein and the fact that two people have already apologized for making a joke at his expense, that Jimmy Kimmel all of a sudden "doesn't want to be American's moral compass" and would rather not discuss the issue, and the resonance cascade of Hollywood liberal elites getting outed as sexual scumbags in Weinstein's wake. And I thought the Joss Whedon incident was bad.

Content will return to it's former not-terrible status as soon as I've adjusted to this new work/life balance thing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

My Interview on New Shooter Canada Podcast

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

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

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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

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

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!

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

Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Escape Is My Armor

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dog Mauling Follow-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Looks Like I Jinxed It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Things Are Pretty Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

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

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

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript -
Surviving Crowd Crush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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