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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gotham Rain: Chapter 3

Interlude - 

The Titan formula is metabolizing in the Joker's bloodstream, and he's back down to his normal lithe figure. The medical teams called in by the GCPD have been stabilizing him, but haven't bothered to give him anything for the pain caused by the stress of his body gaining and losing significant mass in such a short period of time. Batman has left the island after picking up an emergency call about Two-Face robbing a bank, leaving Commissioner Gordon in charge of the clean-up. Joker is strapped to a stretcher, with a portable monitor reading his vitals. He's twitching every now and then and making strangled groaning sounds, and his eyes are darting about the place. 

- End Interlude
     Harley Quinn is stronger than she looks, and Poison Ivy is heavier than she looks. That being said, it's taken Harley almost an hour to haul Ivy out of Arkham's penitentiary building. Picking her way the rubble on her own would have been easy given her acrobatic skill, but with Ivy barely conscious at best it's slow going. Ivy has been unresponsive for the last 20 minutes, and Harley has struggled to climb over the wreckage with her in a fireman's carry.

     "Jeez, Pammy, you'd think someone that's half plant would be a little lighter. Lay off the tree trunk why don'tcha?" Harley muttered to herself as she cleared the last of the rubble and entered the main lobby. She poked her head around the corner, spotting two police officers near the exit. She gently set Ivy down against the wall and considered her options. Better play this one quiet, she thought, after all, it's not just my butt on the line here. 

     Harley spotted a chunk of plaster that had fallen from the wall, and scooped it up. She edged her way to the very corner of the hallway, eyeballing the cops. Winding up, she flung the plaster over their heads in an arc that landed it noisily in the opposite hallway. The two GCPD officers jumped and drew their weapons, nervously peering into the darkness of the hallway. One of them started to move towards it, and Harley slipped out of the shadows. She measured up the one still standing closest the exit before moving in and catching him in a sleeper hold with her hand over his mouth. "Shhhh," she whispered, lowering him to the ground as her sharp forearm cut off the blood to his brain. She couldn't help but emit a little giggle as he went slack in her arms.

     "You say something, Pete?" the other officer asked, afraid to take his eyes off the hallway, his imagination racing at what manner of lunatic might come barreling out of it at him. He never saw Harley taking the gun from the fallen officer. She crept up behind him and pistol whipped him hard, dropping him to his knees, before hitting him again and again. When he stopped moving, she took his gun as well, slipping them into the belt in the nurse's costume she'd appropriated for Joker. Leaving the officers, she returned to Ivy, who was just opening her eyes again.

     "Harley? Where are we?" Ivy rasped. Harley didn't answer, grabbing Ivy by the shoulders and slipping under one. They staggered through the lobby and out the front door of the penitentiary. The Arkham penitentiary is close to the docks, on the Southwest side of the island, where the docks are located. Harley took a hard right once through the main doors and headed for the stairs that led down to the docks when something caught her eye.

     She nearly dropped Ivy as she ran to the railings and clutched them desperately. "No... Mister J..." she whispered as she saw him strapped to the gurney and being loaded onto a GCPD boat. The last GCPD boat. Harley hadn't been there when Joker had pumped himself full of the mutated venom that Bane had used, so she didn't see the monstrous form that he'd faced Batman with and still lost. All she saw was a husk of the man that she loved, strapped down in restraints and being loaded onto a boat with medical personnel and equipment. "What'd Batsy do to you, puddin?" she whispered, as she sank down next to Ivy.

     Ivy turned her head with some effort and spoke lucidly for the first time since rescuing Harley. "Harley, we've got to go. This island isn't safe, and there's nothing here for us now," she said, looking at Harley intently.

     Harley answered back, "There's no boats. There's no... no point. They've got him."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One Aim: Safety For Everyone!

Operation Blazing Sword, in cooperation with the Central Florida Chapter of the Pink Pistols, is pleased to announce a FREE community seminar called "One Aim: Safety For Everyone!"

The seminar will begin with First Responders explaining what skills and training they can offer the community, such as First Aid and CPR classes, that will be helpful in any emergency situation. Keynote speakers Mr. Rommel Scalf and Mr. Steve Burnette will then give a 90 minute presentation titled “Active Shooter Survival Techniques”.

The seminar will be held on Saturday, June 17th, at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, FL and begins at 1 pm.

We expect seats to fill up rapidly, so email and make your reservation today!


Apparently we are now at the time of year in Florida when we have thunderstorms every afternoon.

This is relevant because due to my allergies I have constant sinus congestion, which means that every time the atmospheric pressure changes (such as, y'know, when a storm front moves in or out) the pressure inside my skull tries to equalize but can't, which results in painful headaches.

This ought to offer an explanation for my lack of posting over the last few days. Also, ow.

I'm going to try to write some catch-up posts while I'm feeling well enough to think. The first one is a pretty big Operation Blazing Sword announcement that deserves its own entry.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #144 - The Gross

"A dozen, a gross, and a score,
Plus three times the square root of four,
Divided by seven,
Plus five times eleven,
Is nine squared and not a bit more."

-- Leigh Mercer, wordplay master and recreational mathematician (1948)
  • Do you get Holster Funk? Beth tells you how to avoid it while carrying in the hot, humid South.
  • Sell stolen guns and hold people at gunpoint? Momma might have something to say about that. Who got shot? Sean takes a closer look.
  • Barron is on assignment this week.
  • They say “Choose your friends well, for your enemies will choose you.” Miguel shines a bright light on those who have chosen us, and what he sees will shock you.
  • In the Main Topic we welcome Special Guest Gail Pepin of the Massad Ayoob Group and the Pro Arms Podcast.
  • How do you answer when people ask you "Just how many guns do you really need?" Two-Gun Tiffany gives us her answer.
  • After last week's fungal infection segment, Erin follows up with some creams and ointments that every prepper should have.
  • A State legislator opens a stand to sell lemonade, cookies... and an AK-47, because he objects to citizens selling their property without government permission. Weer'd points and laughs.
  • And our plug of the week is for Carolina Ceramic Coatings.
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:

Useful Creams and Ointments
Last week’s segment about athlete’s foot was unexpectedly popular! I received many replies about it, specifically in terms of home remedies. More than one listener reported that urinating on their feet in the shower cured their athlete’s foot. Other popular suggestions were soaking the feet in vinegar, or a 50/50 solution of tea tree oil and water, or my personal favorite because it didn’t require expensive components, "one tablespoon bleach to a half gallon of warm water for 15 minutes. Then rubbing the feet with olive oil after drying." I’m going to have to try that last one.

Also, I want to give a shout-out to listener Steven Bonaparte, who asked me if I meant Gold Bond medicated body powder, or if there was a special non-medicated version I was talking about. The answer of course is “I screwed up; I meant medicated. There is however an extra-strength version if you want that -- although not in handy travel size -- but there is no non-medicated version. Sorry! I derped!”

So on to today’s topic. I’ve already talked about how necessary it is to have body powder and antifungal cream in a bug out or get home bag, but there are other creams and ointments and deserve a place in your kit. Since we’re already talking about itchy feet, the logical place to begin is with an anti-itch cream. I like Cortisone-10 Maximum Strength, because it tames the itch of my athlete’s foot when the antifungal isn’t enough, but any 1% hydrocortisone cream will do. You can find it in any supermarket or drug store for around $5.

Itching isn’t the only kind of pain out there, and you really don’t want wounds to get infected in an emergency, so you’ll also want a combination pain relief and antibiotic ointment. I really like Neosporin with pain relief, which you can get for around $7 at any supermarket, but the words you’re looking for are “triple antibiotic” and “pain relief.” I know from personal experience that this works on things like rashes and sun burns.

But what if you have pain in the mouth? Not to worry, any 20% Benzocaine oral pain reliever will work. Not only will it soothe cold sores and fever blisters, but it will also help if you have a pain in your tooth and you can’t make it to the dentist immediately. A half ounce tube costs around $6, and you can get it from any supermarket. Sensing a pattern here?

Speaking of cold sores - soothing the pain is great, but when you get an outbreak, those little bastards will just NOT go away. I’ve found that the best way to get rid of them is to use Herpecin L, which not only removes the discomfort but also speeds the healing. It also serves as 30 SPF sunblock. A tube costs around $4 and you can get it in the medicine aisle.

All right, you’re all set for skin pain, but what about deep muscle and joint pain? Get your cheap jokes ready because I’m about to recommend BEN GAY. Yes, it’s stinky, and yes, it has a silly name, but when you’ve got an ache deep inside you, nothing hits the spot like Ultra Strength Ben Gay and the pleasant burn that hurts so good. There are probably other good pain relievers out there, but I just like saying BEN GAY. A 4-ounce tube costs $6 and, again, can be found at the supermarket.

Finally, keep an eye on your medications, especially if you keep them in the car where it’s hot. When they reach their expiration date, don’t throw them away; just cycle them out of your bug out or get home bag and put them in the medicine cabinet where they will be used soon. Medicines within a year or two of their expiration date aren’t bad; they’re just less effective. So keep the effective stuff in your kit for an emergency!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Doctor Who: Down The Rabbit Hole

There is seriously no way I can discuss this episode without going into spoiler territory. This is the only warning you get. Anything past here and you risk spoilers. If you want the non-spoiler version, here it is: This episode is good. Very good. And you should go watch it, right now.

Elon Musk has posited before that there's a very good chance that we're all living in a highly sophisticated simulation during a talk. I've included an embedded link to a relevant video below, as the themes of this episode tie very closely into that theory. The misdirection and slight visual cues this episode uses to link that theory and give us clues begin with the opening title and continue at strategic points throughout the episode, until the moment where (with some great deal of satisfaction on my part) Narwhal is literally removed from existence. I suppose you could say that this is the first episode in which he doesn't appear at all, technically speaking. Which also explains why he was so much less annoying than usual.

Also, a tip of the hat to Stephen Moffat, who has finally justified the Sonic Sunglasses in my mind. In the Doctor's current blind state, the sunglasses provide him some form of mobility and sense, not quite on par with, say, Daredevil, but definitely in the same vein, as well as the perfect Chekhov's gun in the form of an electronic recording to send to himself. Well, his real self. Which we see happen in the beginning, but the interruption of the title sequence acts as a misdirection to pull our attention away from the giant EXTREMIS display.

Being a gamer myself, I was fascinated by this episode, and the usage of Grand Theft Auto and Super Mario Bros as analogy to explain to Bill what's going on was quite apt. Subroutines advanced enough to realize that they are in fact subroutines and not flesh and blood rebel against the simulation and "glitch." Having played quite a few games in my lifetime, I've seen a number of instances where an artificial intelligence for an non-player character will act in a manner seemingly outside of its programming. One can't help but wonder if it's some crude version of this happening. As for the Veritas itself, can this be the explanation of game-breaking bugs? An NPC realizing during the coding process that it's not real and sabotaging the code to the point that the game cannot be completed?

Harry Potter is blasphemy. Twelve said so.
This episode was very clever. It's full of little callbacks, references, visual cues, red herrings, and other such things that are meant to lead you to the conclusion while at the same time leading you away from it. It was the first time this year I wasn't just watching and was actively trying to figure out what was going on. There's occasionally digital artifacting that happens after the Doctor activates the Extremis file. The Pope traveling in person, which the Doctor remarks upon. Bill's outfit, as seen above, actually being modern and tasteful. Someone in the wardrobe department really hates her, as she's back in an ugly sweater by the end of the episode. The "portals" which are not unlike the windows Madame Kovarian uses to spy on Amy's flesh avatar. CERN somehow having a stockpile of Looney Toons dynamite on hand. The resolution also was quite satisfying, as even a copy of the Doctor ends up being clever enough to overcome his programming and sabotage the simulation enough to send a warning to his real-world counterpart, even if it's more evidence of how stultifyingly arrogant and confident in himself that he is.

Additionally, the monsters revealed in this episode may be alien, but they look like proper zombies, which is refreshing after the disappointment of the zombies in space of last week's episode, and they're promising as a series arc villain. Anyone else noticing that Bill is making quite the habit of dying, though? She's going to give Rory a run for his money if she keeps this up.

The vault's secret has been revealed. Missy, under guard for one thousand years, as per the Doctor's oath to the executioners, as shown in the flashbacks. How long has he been guarding it? That's what we're unsure of at this point. We know who is in the vault, and why she's there. What we don't know is how much longer she'll be there, and what will happen when she's out. The appearance of John Simm's Master will surely tie into that.

We all have that one friend we can't help but forgive. 
This one is a definite must-watch. The first definite must-watch of the season. I am outright impressed, and I urge you to watch this episode, and if you already have, watch it again with a more critical eye and foreknowledge. You'll see the clues that are leading you both on and off the path and just how well-crafted this one was.

Also, for the record, Penny is most certainly *not* out of Bill's league. If anything, it's the other way around.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gotham Rain: Chapter 2

     Harley Quinn sits alone in a cell in the Extreme Incarceration wing of Arkham Asylum, sobbing quietly to herself, as she has for the past several hours.

Yep, that's me. You're probably wondering how I got here. Well, there's a good story behind it. I had the perfect plan: Draw the Bat into the nuttiest part of the nut hatch and wear him down with the adorably violent uncontrollable psychopaths before treating him to a nice dose of the electric floor. Quite rudely, he managed to make it through all the thugs I had with me without so much of a singe on his bat-patootie. Banged my head against a railing while he was at it, and tricked me into telling him where Mister J was, too. And... and, uh. Mister J... well, he wasn't too happy I let him down. I'm off the guest list. It's okay, though. I know he still cares. 

*record scratch* *freeze frame*
     There's a bruise on Harley's head and her wrist is strained from when Batman captured her and stuck her in the cell, but she's otherwise in one piece. With the Asylum under Joker's control, no one's been in Extreme Incarceration since the Bat left her in the cell. No one awake, at any point. She's pretty sure at least one of those guys that got stuck on the electric floor when she turned off the safeties is dead. She's not sure whether she's more upset that one of her mooks hasn't woken up or at how the Bat was so dismissive of her.

     Contrary to appearance, Harley is a very smart woman, smart enough to have earned a doctorate and an internship at Arkham Asylum. It's where she met him, where she found the new direction of her life, and what she thinks is true love. And it infuriates her to no end that even despite having met him then, lab coat and glasses and all, the Bat still underestimates her. Here, though, Harley sees no way out. Extreme Incarceration is where they put people they really don't want getting out.

     There have been noises since she was locked up. A few pretty significant explosions, and she's heard something rumbling in the walls. Something's going on outside, and she can only hope that means Joker's taken out the Bat. This is different, though; Harley's head perks up as she hears a door hiss open and a wet thump as something hits the floor. She presses her face to the bars of the cell and catches a glimpse of red and green near the doors.

    "Ivy? Ivy, is that you? Wow, babe, you don't look so good," Harley calls out, straining between the bars to get a better look.

     Ivy's voice is weak, raspy, the sound you make when you rub two dry pieces of wood together when she responds, "Quinn. Hold still. We have to get out of here. Batman's taken down the Joker and the police are swarming the island." She strains visibly, making it to her knees. She grasps one of the bars of the cell, and vines protrude from her arm, wrapping around the gap where the bars meet. Tiny strands of plant material force their way into the gap, and the bars slowly open, the hydraulics whining against the strain. Harley slips through the tiny gap Ivy created, and Ivy collapses in exhaustion.

Returning the favour
     "Pammy, baby, what'd he do to you? That awful Bat. He banged me up pretty bad, too," Harley says, as she catches Ivy before she hits the floor. She slips under one of Ivy's arms and lifts her, and the two begin to stagger towards the exit.

     "Not... not Batman. Joker... Joker pumped me full of that Titan trash. I don't feel so good, Harl..." Ivy manages before passing out. Harley clutches the vines on her arms and lifts her over her shoulder, feeling a swell of conflict passing through her. Mister J wouldn't hurt Ivy, she thinks to herself. Ivy's been one of the only people that's been nice to her, nicer even than... her mind won't let her finish that thought. He wouldn't hurt Ivy, and he only hurt me because I let him down. I didn't finish off the Bat, so I had it coming.

     She'll make it right, though. She has to. She'll make it right and he'll take her back and everything will be fine. She's just gotta get out of the Asylum first and back to the City.

     Then back to Mister J, so I can make this right. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Update on the Onstotts

Sabra has written about her experience here.

Big thanks to everyone who has donated to their fundraiser!

Here's an updated needs list:
  • curtains
  • flatware
  • pots & pans (pref. stainless steel, but they aren't going to be picky)
  • school supplies (not much, but Sabra does homeschool Marie year-round pretty much)
  • books; a fire hose went in through the window where the book case was, and there was heavy smoke damage there as well (Sabra & the kids read mostly sci-fi/fantasy; anything used is great -- adult level or stuff along the lines of Dork Diaries for Esther and super simple beginner books for Marie)
  • stuffed puppies, kitties, and bunnies (just a few)
  • yarn 
  • cloth diapers (probably definitely a need at this point)

They've had several offers of clothes and they think everyone but Lewis and maybe Erik are taken care of.

The Fine Print

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

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