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Saturday, June 30, 2018

New Operation Blazing Sword Tee

The Operation Blazing Sword Twitter account doesn't use the flaming sword and rainbow emblem. Instead, it uses this:
This is because we wanted something instantly distinctive in the short attention span world of Twitter where our other logo could be dismissed as belonging to some military organization. And that's a fair comparison, because our logo is in fact derived from a 1940s U.S Army patch.

I've been concentrating on using our main logo so much that I forgot we had a different one on Twitter. It wasn't until I sent out an email advertising our ONE AIM seminar in Orlando that I received a message that said
Hi Erin, I ordered a tee shirt with the sword logo but would really love to order swag with the "OpBlzSwrdTwitterLogo" on it.  Any chance my wish will come true?
Wish granted, friend! I didn't think anyone cared about that logo. But you do! And it costs me nothing to upload it to the OBS TeePublic Storefront, so now you can purchase tee shirts (and hoodies, and mugs, and stickers, and all sorts of other cool stuff) with this logo!


As some wag pointed out to me on Facebook,  "Your t-shirt is Neil Patrick Harris in reverse?"



Well... yeah. Guns: they're not just for straights anymore!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pellatarrum: My Humans Are (Kinda) Different

I actually didn't plan on doing this one. I know that I've owed you elves for years now, but this is actually an outgrowth of me thinking about elves.

It's interesting that throughout D&D and later Pathfinder, humanity is the only playable race that has children with other races. Sure, there are half-dragons, and the obligatory half-angels and half-devils, but there are no (for example) elf-dwarf hybrids. Why is that?

And that's how this post came about.


Why do half-elves exist?
In Pellatarrum, the reason humans can interbreed with so many races is because the dwarves built them to be highly adaptable. They were, after all, meant to be ambassadors to the elves, who are best described as "fey". Or, in other words, "Powerful, possessed of violent whimsy, and terrifyingly random." The ability to adapt to such an harsh environment was a deliberately engineered survival trait. This explains a lot about humans: why they live all over the place, why they easily form bonds with other races, and yes, why they can interbreed with non-humans.

Inter-fertility with elves is generally believed (though it's never been stated outright) to have been another design choice.  It's often said that the worst thing the dwarves ever did to the elves was to introduce them to humans. Prior to that, the elves didn't think anyone could ever be as beautiful as they were; all other races were hideous. But humans, by virtue of being both highly adaptable and made (somewhat) in the image of elves, were both similar enough to be beautiful and different enough to be exotic that many elves became distracted by them, if not enraptured with them.

How is this represented mechanically?
If you want to represent this, use the Heart of the Fey trait:
Heart of the Fey: You gain low-light vision, gain a +1 racial bonus on Reflex and Will saves, and treat Knowledge (nature) and Perception as class skills. This racial trait replaces skilled
However, not all Pellatarran humans still have this trait. Due to their adaptability, their children's traits can change according to their environment, and so any racial trait is available (and sometimes different traits express themselves through children of the same family).

What about half-orcs?
The existence of half-orcs and other human hybrids is generally explained as "Well, adaptability is broad like that. Not an intended consequence, mind you, but it's not a terrible thing for the peoples of the world to become more dwarven in nature."

Why aren't there any half-dwarves?
Again, design. While other elder races saw their creations as tools, cannon fodder, or slaves, the dwarves thought of them as members of their own clan, highly functional but tragically maimed by circumstance and purpose. Interbreeding with them would be too much like interbreeding with a beloved pet or working animal.

Why are humans infertile with gnomes? 
The general consensus is "thrice-damned random fey witchcraft interacting oddly with fine dwarven craftsmanship." This argument is somewhat bolstered by the odd manner in which gnome-halfling pairings resolve, where any children are always the same race as their same-gender parent.

What about humans and halflings?
This always results in more halflings, albeit larger than usual: 4 feet tall or more,  and weighing between 30 and 35 pounds. (For those keeping track of such things, this explains the "Tallfellow" branch of the halfling family tree.

Is there anything in D&D/Pathfinder that a human won't have sex with?
Honestly, probably not.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

I No Longer Fear the Walking Dead

I watched the mid-season finale of Fear the Walking Dead last night and it felt like a series finale. This is unusual because mid-season finales are typically cliffhangers, but there was a feeling of finality to season 4's episode 8, with all of the current plot threads having been resolved and no lingering questions remaining. And I'm happy with that. I have closure, which means it's a good time to stop watching.



No one lives happily ever after in the zombie apocalypse, and this season drove that home. It started with four members of the original surviving cast, and by episode 8 that number had been cut in half. I didn't want to see the remaining original character that I liked (Victor Strand) be killed or reduced to a shadow of his former greatness by meddling writers.

It's interesting the way that FtWD differs from its parent series, The Walking Dead.  The biggest difference, of course, is that FtWD is completely its own creature and can follow its own course instead of having to follow in the footsteps of the comics, but there were others. For me, the most important difference is how the characters died: in TWD there was a pattern of "You know a major character will die soon because you're starting to hate them" -- or at least, this was true back when it was written well and they didn't kill popular characters just for shock value (Tyreese, Abraham, Glenn) -- but in FtWD the pattern was "Kill off a character as soon as they become too competent/acclimated to the world" (Travis, Ofelia, Nick, Madison).

The deaths of Nick and Madison really bothered me. I was frankly shocked that Nick was killed because I considered him uniquely qualified to survive the zombie apocalypse. I even called him "the cockroach" because I felt that he and roaches could survive anything.

Madison's death bothered me for a different reason: they'd been leading up to it all season, and instead of having a dramatic action sequence for the last quarter of the episode, they instead took an artistic path and focused almost entirely on her face and body. It was interesting, to be sure, but it wasn't very satisfying.

The show has introduced more characters, of course. I don't care about most of them, and I actively despise both Charlie and LauraNaomiJune. About the only new character I like is John Dorie, and he's such a nice guy that I know he's going to die horribly, probably at the hands of one of the women.

No, I don't care about Morgan, the TWD crossover character. I find him simultaneously preachy and hypocritical ("All life is precious"... until he loses his temper, that is). I do, however, find it indicative of the current state of TWD's morality that the one person with an ethical code chose to leave rather than stick around. But that's what happens when the writers murder the show's conscience for sake of drama.

Speaking of TWD, I stopped watching it last year because it was an abusive relationship. No, really; the writers manipulated me and fucked with me. First they left me hanging for seven months, wondering who Negan would kill; then they shocked us all with "The person everyone thought was going to die survived... haha, faked you out, we killed him too!" About half of the season was useless padding (who can forget the thrilling Sasha and Rosita Go For a Walk?) and the other half was the characters figuratively eating shit, never giving them a victory and forcing them to be humiliated to survive. Finally, at the big season ender -- after half a season of "We're going to war!" -- not a single villain of importance dies. Not the big bad, not even one of his lieutenants. Nope, even then, the audience was denied emotional satisfaction.

So I stopped watching, and I'm glad I did. From what I hear of this past season, I made the right choice. They killed off Carl, and the actor who plays Rick is going to leave at the end of next season. I don't know what that means for the fate of the show, since the writers have said that Rick is the hero of the story. Maybe they'll make Daryl and Michonne the heroes. I don't know, and I no longer care. The writers made it plain they didn't respect me, that they enjoyed manipulating me, and would continue to jerk me around. Once I realized that, I was free of them.

I left The Walking Dead with anger that turned to contempt. With Fear the Walking Dead, I have an entirely different feeling: satisfaction. The story has reached a natural end and I don't need to see more. I'm fine.

I have closure.

Monday, June 25, 2018

ACP Episode 012: Savagely Mistaken


In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer'd reveal a Patreon Loyalty Bonus on the C-5 9mm AR lower give-away.
  • Erin plugs the ONE AIM community Seminar in Maitland, Florida.
  • Our main topic is the armed citizen stopping a carjacker at the Walmart in Tumwater, Washington.
  • Weer'd Fisks Part 2 of an anti-gun rant by Dan Savage of The Savage Lovecast.
  • Egghead tells us about VHF and UHF  ham radio, and what you need to get started transmitting.
  • David gives us an overview of the convoluted and infuriating web of gun laws in the the State of New York.
  • and Steve gives us a gear list for aspiring private investigators.

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic:
Weer'd Audio Fisk:
General Purpose Egghead:

Basic
Deluxe

Friday, June 22, 2018

How to Donate to Operation Blazing Sword



I have lost track of how many times someone has said "I want to donate to you, but I don't know how" or "You sell t-shirts? I had no idea!" To that end I have created a note on the OBS Facebook page, aptly titled How You Can Support Us, which details all the ways that you help us achieve our mission of teaching gun safety and operation to those who want to learn but aren't comfortable seeking conventional training.

The fact of the matter is that Operation Blazing Sword needs money to continue. We don't have a rich New York billionaire backing us, nor do we receiving funding from firearm manufacturers or the NRA. We get by with donations from people like you.

If every one of our 1,500+ volunteers across the USA donated $10 -- roughly the cost of a movie ticket -- then we would have FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Can you imagine what we could do with that kind of money?

I can. And that's why I'm asking you to please donate to Operation Blazing Sword.

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US
  • SHOP VIA OUR AMAZON LINK: We are a registered charity with Amazon Smile. It costs you absolutely nothing to use our link, and we receive a percentage of your purchases as a donation. Here’s the full URL if you want to copy and paste it into a bookmark: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/81-4230880
  • SELL FOR CHARITY ON eBAY: If you’re a seller on eBay, you can help raise money by selecting a percentage of your proceeds to go to us. Here is our eBay For Charity page
  • SUPPORT US ON HUMBLE BUNDLE: If you buy from Humble Bundle, please select us as the charity you support. Here’s a link to a great cybersecurity deal!
  • BUY OUR MERCHANDISE: We have an online store where you can buy Operation Blazing Sword branded t-shirts, stickers, mugs, and more!
  • DONATE ONLINE: We are a PayPal confirmed charity. Donate online here.
  • MAIL A CHECK: Make it out to Operation Blazing Sword and mail it to 800 Belle Terre Parkway Suite 200-302, Palm Coast, FL 32164.
  • EMPLOYER DONATION MATCHING: Many employers will match their employees’ charitable donations via paycheck deductions. Operation Blazing Sword is registered with both Benevity and GuideStar. If your company uses a different organization to distribute charitable giving, let us know and we will register with them!
  • TEACH SOMEONE HOW TO SHOOT: We are a 501c3 tax-deductible charity (our EIN is 81-4230880) and any expenses you incur (range fees, equipment rental, cost of ammunition, etc) teaching someone who has contacted you through our organization are considered a donation. Per Treas Reg 1.170A-13(f): 
    • Generally, if a donor makes multiple contributions during the year, each of which is less than $250, no substantiation form is necessary. Nevertheless, the donor must observe the minimum recordkeeping requirements, such as retaining canceled checks or simple contributions. 
    • Donors who incur out-of-pocket expenses of $250 or more when rendering services to a charitable organization and intend to deduct these expenses must also obtain written acknowledgement from the organization. The acknowledgment for expenses incurred need only describe the services provided by the donor and the value of good services provided in return (or a statement that none were provided); it need not include the date of the services. 
    • To obtain written acknowledgement from us, scan or photograph your receipts and email them to erin@blazingsword.org.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My Appearance on the Out of Order podcast

I was a guest on James Kaleda's Out of Order podcast yesterday. In addition to talking about Operation Blazing Sword, coming out of the gun closet, and the genie bottle that is state's rights, I was also asked some questions I've never been asked before, like "How can straight people encourage queer people to shoot?" and "What books do you recommend?"

I like it when people ask me new questions, because it feels like I've told the origin of OBS so many times that it's become boring.

Have a listen!

Monday, June 18, 2018

ACP Episode 011: Feel the Love


In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer'd talk about our friends on Patreon and how much we love them, and the giveaway we're holding for a C-5 9mm AR lower from New Frontier Armory.
  • Our main topic is the revelation that Florida may -- or may not -- have been conducting background checks on their Concealed Weapons Permit applicants.
  • The Egghead tells us all about the benefits of a Ham Radio license and how to get one.
  • Savage1R detours from cryptocurrency to talk about his new AR-15 project, the DB5000.
  • Weer'd fisks part 1 of an anti-gun rant by sex advice podcaster Dan Savage (no relation).
  • David talks about butting heads with very anti-gun people in New York from High School through last year.
  • and Steve talks about some hazards on the job of being a PI, and how things can go from calm to crazy really fast.

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic:
  • Thundershirt for dogs
  • Rock Rose flower essence
  • Stripped C-5 Lower
  • Florida Report on NICS Incident
  • Florida NICS Background Checks Reports. Some stuff is not making sense  
  • Tampa Bay Times & Fake News: Background Check were performed after all
Savage Segment:
Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

I Have Begun Writing Fiction Again

It's been years since I had both the urge to write fiction and an idea for a story, but I currently have both so I've started again.

It's a short story about a young woman named Bronislava Artemievna Vinogradova and her heirloom Mosin-Nagant named Grandmother Rifle.

It's basically a love letter to the M91/30 set in an urban fantasy setting.

If you're a Patron of mine, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

If you aren't a Patron.. why aren't you?  Go here and sign up today!

Image found on Pinterest. I don't know who originally made it or where it's from. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Pulse: Two Years Later

Words of hope and unity from my friend Courtney Ballard. He's been an immense help to me since the very first moments of Operation Blazing Sword. Not only was he one of the first people to volunteer, he also set up our Facebook page when I was overwhelmed with everything else.

Thank you, Courtney!


Monday, June 11, 2018

ACP Episode 010: Promotion & Proliferation


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer'd discuss getting the word out:
    • ... about the podcast.  We'd like to have our listeners sharing ACP with others so that more people can enjoy the show.
    • ... about Operation Blazing Sword, available swag, and the upcoming active shooter event. (Erin please flesh out the details of the event a little better for me)
    • ... about your local Second Amendment groups who do the lion's share of work for improving our rights. Join your local group, and get others to join as well!
  • One of our new contributors, Egghead, gives a primer on amateur (ham) radio.
  • Weer'd fisks a video of Robert Reich laughably called "5 Points to Counter the NRA"
  • David, our other new contributor, talks about being pro-gun in a massively anti-gun state in "Gun Lovers and Other Strangers".
  • and Steve talks about crime and gun laws in the city of Detroit, and then about volunteering for Rick Ector's group Legally Armed In Detroit where he helped instruct 700 women on the safe operation of pistols. 

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic:
Weer'd Audio Fisk:
Tales From the Trunk:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

ONE AIM Community Seminar

Operation Blazing Sword is proud to present our first Community Safety Seminar!

ONE AIM is a 90-minute presentation on active shooter survival techniques, presented by experts in this field, including Orlando first responders. The discussion will include considerations as a legally armed civilian caught up in the midst of an active shooter situation.


Admission is FREE, but seating is limited and attendees must RSVP via this link: http://mindgame-productions.com/event/one-aim-seminar/

Special thanks to Brownells, Inc. for sponsoring this event!

ONE AIM Community Safety Seminar
Saturday, July 14, 2018
1 pm – 3 pm
Roth Family Jewish Community Center
851 N. Maitland Avenue
Maitland, FL 32751


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Well-Meaning Diminishment

Pardon me, I need to get something off my chest. I apologize if I come across as scolding, but this is something which has been bothering me for months:
I know that people mean well when they look at my face and tell me that it's not a big deal, that it's only a little scar. I know that they are trying to tell me "It's hardly noticeable, don't freak out about it."
But what I hear is "You're really overreacting about this. Stop being such a damn baby. It's only a little scar."
And that drives me absofuckinglutely bugnuts because it diminishes what I went through, because while everyone else sees a scar that is healing nicely, what I see is a reminder that I was betrayed and assaulted by a pet that I loved and I thought I could trust, and that assault disfigured me. And I have to look at it EVERY. GODDAMN. DAY.

Imagine the worst thing that's happened to you. Now imagine being reminded of it every time you look in the mirror. Now, imagine someone telling you that your daily reminder of your worst moment is just a little thing, it's nothing to worry about, hardly noticeable. How would that make you feel?

Even though I know they mean well, it makes me feel like they are diminishing what I went through. "Oh, it's just a little mauling. You'll be fine."

So please, I beg you: please don't tell me my scar is so little, so minor, so hardly noticeable. Instead, please say something like "It's healing nicely." Which is true, because it is and I am. 

Nice and slow. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

ACP Episode 009: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt


In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weer'd discuss FOSTA-SESTA and the implications it has for free speech on the internet, the safety of people in real life, and why it's relevant to the Second Amendment.
  • Savage discusses Initial Coin Offerings and the laws and pitfalls associated with them.
  • Connie talks about Memorial Day in Washington DC and answers some political questions that Erin and Weer'd asked.
  • Weer'd Gives us part two of his fisk of the Brady Campaign's "Gun Violence 101" video.
  • and Steve gives us his reflections on how Hollywood portrays private investigators and why they're wrong. 

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes:

Saturday, June 2, 2018

An Exegesis of "Tourniquet"

Evanescence's Tourniquet is a crucifixional experience in musical form.

By this I mean "When Jesus Christ was dying on the cross, He was in agony, was probably regretting all of His choices, and called out to God asking why He had been forsaken, and this song captures all of that emotional intensity in an incredibly personal way."

[Intro]
The song starts with roughly 20 seconds of instrumental music that sounds like a wind through a foggy forest, and then suddenly there is a blast of guitar and percussion. I cannot help but feel this represents someone whose mind is drifting off, and then is suddenly, shockingly awake. Given what is said in the first verse, it's a pretty good musical metaphor for blood loss followed by panicked wakefulness.

[Verse 1]
I tried to kill the pain
But only brought more
(So much more)
I lay dying
And I'm pouring crimson regret and betrayal
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

This paints an incredibly evocative picture of a woman who has committed suicide by slashing her wrists and, as she lies dying, has a change of heart. She now wants to live, but is too weak to take action to save herself. Her only option is to pray to God and ask to be saved.


[Chorus]
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

The phrase "My God, my tourniquet" is what convinces me that this is not a song about someone who has died but rather a song about someone who is dying and now desperately wants to live. "God, please staunch my bleeding" is how I read it. "God, please be my tourniquet. God, please save my life. I'm sorry I tried to kill myself. I no longer want to die. I want to live!"


[Verse 2]
Do you remember me?
Lost for so long
Will you be on the other side
Or will you forget me?
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

I too have struggled with feelings of divine rejection and a desire for death, and so this verse hits very close to home for me. "God, I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms lately. I don't know if I rejected you first or not, but I haven't felt your love in a very long time. Do you even care if I die? If I do, will you damn me to hell for suicide? Or will you know that I've been in a lot of pain and in a very dark place for such a long time, and that this seemed like the only way out for me?"

The phrase "Am I too lost to be saved?" is a plaintive cry for both physical and spiritual salvation.


[Chorus]
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

{Screams: I WANT TO DIE!!!}

What's odd is that every time I listen to this song, I hear "DON'T WANT TO DIE!" instead, and it's gut-wrenchingly heartfelt. But even if you take it at face value it still doesn't damage my interpretation of the song, because there is always that self-destructive voice at the back of our heads who always wants to ruin things, who wonders what it would be like to destroy something irreplaceable or damage a friendship irrevocably.

Or maybe that's just my head? I sure hope not.


[Chorus]
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

[Verse 3]
My wounds cry for the grave
My soul cries for deliverance
Will I be denied?
Christ
Tourniquet
My suicide

"I know I'm dying, lord. My body is done for. But I'm still hurting inside. I was taught that you're a God of love. Please love me despite all this. I just want to be loved!"

And there is SO much meaning packed into the last four lines of the verse.
Meaning 1: "Will I be denied salvation? I'm dying, Jesus! Save me please!"
Meaning 2: "Will my pain be ignored once again? Or will Christ finally show me the love I crave by being the tourniquet that halts my suicide?"
Meaning 3: "Will I be denied Christ? Will I be denied a tourniquet? Will I be denied suicide? What will happen to me? I'm scared!"
The fact that it can mean all of these things at once and not distort the message of the song is very powerful to me.


[Outro]
The last minute of the song is a different instrumental piece, this time strings playing a somber passage that reminds me of a funeral mass. Obviously the singer has died.. but what of her soul? The music is not particularly bright nor dark, and so we must draw our own conclusions.

I favor the interpretation that, whatever your feelings are about suicide being a mortal sin, the fact that the singer displayed genuine remorse and repentance is sufficient to earn her forgiveness, salvation, and the peace and love she has been craving.


In short: the entire piece is a powerful musical rendition of "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani", made all the more gun-wrenching because I've been where the singer is and I can identify with her pain and loss and need.

Friday, June 1, 2018

It has been a hell of a week, hasn't it?

Hi, folks.

When Erin wrote last week about how rough she'd been feeling lately, it really resonated with me. I hadn't realized it at the time, but writing has become a bit of a chore for me  as well.

I began working outside of my home late last year, which I hadn't done for nearly a decade prior. While I was working at home, when an idea came to me I could stop what I was doing and bang something out, or at least take down some notes, because the computer was right there in front of me and I was good enough at my job that I could take 20 minutes to write something without missing a beat in my day job. Now I've got to get up earlier, drive across town, be stuck somewhere for 9 hours, then drive back across town and wind down from work, and by that point it's difficult to get the old fingers moving.

Not only that, but working from home took its toll on me in other ways. My immune system is pretty worthless considering that I wasn't around sick people for so long, so I've had two or three sinus infections and a few upset stomachs from things going around. Like now. I have both, and I'm still working.

The job is good, though. I'm treated well, paid well, and have a level of work satisfaction I wasn't previously aware of, so there's that. But my personal time has become more valuable to me because there's now less of it, and being that I'm forced to be "on" for a full third of the day, pretending like socializing is easy and fun and not just something I'm good at but hate to do, that takes a toll as well.

I was feeling this before I started A Still Point In Time, which I openly admit is a silly bit of fan-fiction, but I've only got one chapter left, and I completely intend on turning it in soon. Expect a special guest star or two, as well as a relevant twist ending (a post-credits sequence if you will, given the subject matter). But I do feel like I owe Erin, and all of you, an apology for missing schedule here and there.

Also, she did say I'm not allowed to write anything else until Still Point is done, so I'll preemptively rap my knuckles with a ruler, if I can find one.


The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License


Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.