Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mom Update: Not good news

Well, this isn't good news:  Mom is staying another night in the hospital because she is having trouble swallowing.  They think it's because she's over-medicated -- mom has always had low tolerance for narcotics -- so they're going to change the drug regimen and see if that makes a difference. Because they can't release her until she can swallow on her own.

This actually worries me.

Palette's Product Reviews: the Sub-2000 extended cocking handle by Twisted Industries, Inc.

Some of you no doubt recall that when I first got the Kel-Tec Sub-2000, I immediately took a dislike to the cocking handle due to its small size and awkward construction:

The second problem I have with this weapon is the manner in which it is cocked. The bolt assembly lives in the buffer tube to the rear of the action, so cocking it requires me to curl my index finger around the operating handle which protrudes underneath and pull it to the rear. As you may imagine, this requires a fair amount of force (akin to releasing the safety on a Mosin-Nagant) and all of it is concentrated on the crook of my finger. This is not only unpleasant, it's poor ergonomics, and something my mother (who has arthritis) would have trouble with.

I plan to coat this in black plasti-dip to give it a more uniform appearance. 

Fortunately, the fix for this is simple. I took the head from an old Mini Maglite and used epoxy putty to pack the cavity. This simple modification allows me to wrap three fingers and a thumb around it, giving me much greater leverage. While I had no problems with this extension when shooting, it is entirely possible that men with large hands might find it striking them on the back of their wrists. I don't think this is likely, as you hold the S2k like a rifle (forearm held at an angle) rather than like a pistol (forearm straight back from the pistol grip), but be aware of this possibility and test it before you permanently modify your S2k!
Each square is 1 inch.
Some of you may be wondering why I don't talk about my fix more, or why it doesn't show up in pictures. The sad, embarrassing truth of the matter is that my fix... well... broke. Catastrophically so. Apparently I packed too much epoxy putty into the bulb, which made the end significantly heavier than the material's tolerances. After several magazines' worth of moving back and forth, my kitbashed handle broke at its weakest point, which (as you can see in figure 1, above) is a cut in the handle's shaft where the recoil spring holds it in place via tension.  That part bent under pressure, fractured, and then fell off -- fortunately, while I was cleaning the gun. It could have been tragic if it had failed while I was operating the firearm. 

The take-home lesson here is, "If you attempt engineering without an engineering degree, be prepared to suffer the consequences."

But I maintain that my principle was sound, dammit, and it appears that someone agrees with me. Harry Perrette over at Twisted Industries -- the guys who make .22 LR conversions for Kel-Tec pistols, and who hosted the "Execute a Zombie" party I attended with Oleg -- makes an extended cocking handle for the Sub-2000, and because Harry is someone who actually worked at Kel-Tec, he knows how to make it right.

Left:  Stock cocking handle from Kel-Tec.
Right: Extended cocking handle from Twisted Industries, Inc.

The first time I saw this product, it was on Harry's S2K which was sitting on the "table of guns" I mentioned in this post, and the moment I saw it I knew I had to have it. It took all of my patience and social grace not to demand that Harry take it off his gun and give it to me immediately. Instead, I settled for badgering him constantly until he gave in and made me one.

Let me first say that I haven't shot with this yet, and given the increasing price of ammunition, it might be a while. That said, I don't expect there to be any issue, since as I said earlier, it was designed by one of the original Sub-2000 machinists.

I'm not a machinist, but the diameters look and feel identical.

That said, I love everything about this handle. By making it long enough for two fingers to grasp instead of just one, TI has made cocking the S2K a pleasure. I'm able to exert more force with less effort and less strain on my hand and finger. Even my mother, who has arthritis, had an easier time with this new handle.* Plus, it won't break like my homemade fix did.

It's brilliant, it's comfortable, it's everything I ever wanted in a cocking handle. Every Sub-2000 owner should have one.

How much will it cost you?  I'm sorry to say that I don't know. When I emailed Harry asking him about it, he said that he was ready to start production on it but was unsure of the price. (I recommended a price point of about $20 because people would snap it up at that price, but I don't know if that would cover their expenses or not. I can't see it costing more than $50 at the most.)

If you want one of these handles -- and believe me, if you own a Sub-2000, you want one -- then I suggest you contact Twisted Image and ask them to make one for you.

UPDATE 3/01/13: I am pleased to announce that the Extended Cocking Handle for the Sub-2000 is now available for sale by Twisted Industries. They are calling it the Double Finger Operating Handle and are selling it for $44.99. Trust me, it's worth it.

UPDATE 11/08/2013: I just noticed that the operating handle has been reduced to $24.99. This is a much better price, and if you own a Subbie you now have no reason NOT to get this. The upgrade in comfort is easily worth 25 bucks. Get it -- you won't be sorry.

UPDATE 9/22/2014:  Twisted Industries has changed its web address and updated their Sub-2000 Operating Handle designs to be stronger. They cost between $24.99 for the graphite black version and $29.99 for a stainless steel version.

Phone: (321) 631-6133 

* Which isn't to say that she finds it easy, mind you. But the added width means that she's able to grasp the handle like a knife and, resting the stock against her knee, is able to use her entire arm and shoulder to work the bolt. This extra inch of length imparts extreme mechanical advantage. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Today is the day mom has surgery to address her spinal stenosis by having a disk replaced in the C7-T1 region of her neck. I'll be updating throughout the day with, erm, updates.

  • 9:00 am: Left the house in good spirits, being driving by my father. The "in good spirits" is important because her surgery is scheduled for 4pm and she wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything since midnight. The nurses are going to have their work cut out for them...
  • 10:45 am:  Got a call from my father indicating they safely arrived in Orlando. Dad likes being early, almost pathologically so. Mom didn't have to be at the hospital until 12 noon.  Now it's "hurry up and wait."  I already feel sorry for everyone working there. 
  • 3:30 pm:  The doctor begins surgery.  
  • 5:30 pm:  Mom is out of surgery and in the recovery room.  While the operation was originally planned in the C5-T1 region, the surgeon said that T1 did not need any work. This is great news, because less surgery means a shorter convalescence and a faster recovery time. 

Big thanks to everyone who sent prayers and well-wishes!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Manidono, Petty God of Half-Assed Effort

Over two years ago, I submitted this to Jamie Maliszewski for inclusion in Petty Gods. Since then, the project has been tabled indefinitely, his website Grognardia hasn't been updated for over a month, and he hasn't replied to any of my emails.

From this, I conclude that the project is vaporware, and if I want my submission to see the light of day I'll have to print it here.  I figure that two years after the fact, with the editor AWOL, the rights have reverted back to me (even though I never signed them over -- or signed anything for that matter).

In accordance with this, and the fact that my mom has surgery tomorrow and the rest of the week is going to be half-assed at best, I present you with our mascot and sponsor:
Mr. Maliszewski,

I know that you said you preferred a serious tone for Petty Gods, but I figure that every monster book needs at least one loser monster. Manidono, the Petty God of slackers, half-assed effort, and loose change, is this book's Flumph.
Art by Barking Alien, who missed the memo on half-assery.

Name: Manidono
Symbol: An unmade bed
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral*

Created by the halfhearted, momentary worship of people who desperately desire (if only for only a few moments) that their current problem goes away, Manidono is the petty god of slackers, half-assed effort, and loose change. He has no organized priesthood, no formal temples, and no official holy days, because those things would take dedication, foresight, and effort, all of which are anathema to Manidono. He is called upon only in moments of duress (and at no other time) by people too lazy to do any real work and who expect a quick and effortless miracle.

If Manidono can be bothered to answer the prayer of a supplicant (25% chance), it usually manifests in the form of a handful of pocket change: 3d6 copper and 1d6-3 silver pieces. However, if the supplicant is truly lucky (rolling a 100 on percentile dice) then Manidono's curiosity has been aroused and he will bless his follower according to the Reaction Table below.

Instructions for using Manidono's reaction table: Grab the closest die or dice at hand and roll. Just because the table has 100 entries doesn't mean you should roll percentile dice; sometimes Manidono just doesn't care enough to roll more than a 6-sider, you know? Just chill, dude.


Dude. That's a major bummer. Manidono is bummed on your behalf. Everyone must succeed at a morale check or do nothing except sit around and be bummed out for 1d6 rounds.
Wait, what? Everyone in the vicinity loses a round as they figure out what just happened.
Here, have 1 hit point. It tastes like nachos.
So, like, stuff? A random piece of equipment worth no more than 50gp appears in your possession.
Aw, man, that sucks. Take a do-over and roll again.
That thing you don't like? Stop doing it. Restart the round from the beginning.
The spirit of half-assed effort fills the area. Everyone takes a -2 penalty to all rolls.
OK, like, everyone needs to just chill. Combat ends and everyone is returned to maximum hit points. Diplomacy is possible but everyone has the munchies.
Manidono has nothing better to do and appears next to his supplicant to "hang out for a bit." See below.
Manidono delivers you from your current dilemma by inviting you to hang out on his couch for a while. You disappear from wherever you are, reappearing 1d10 turns later. All of your wounds are healed but you have aged 2d10 years.

Adventurers who end up summoning Manidono must now deal with the presence of a slovenly, bored godling who shuffles along behind them. He does not help the party in any way ("I'm just here to hang out, dude, I'm not on the clock") but still consumes party resources such as food, water, bed space, etc. He will try to cooperate with the party's actions such as being stealthy or trying to appear inconspicuous, but will do so in such a half-assed manner that it might as well be failure.

Manidono never attacks, as that would be too much work. If attacked, he half-assedly defends himself (mostly by holding up his arm and saying "Ow! Quit it, dude!") and forces another roll on the reaction table. If the party persists in combat, Manidono disappears in a huff after taking more than half his hit points in damage, and forever after they will carry the Curse of Manidono – which will be really awesomely painful when he gets around to making it.

Hurleylost.PNGManidono always appears as a large, unkempt man with stringy hair, stained clothes, and a strange odor about him. Imagine Hurley (from LOST) as a Greek God -- possibly Dionysus' slacker cousin -- and you've got the right idea.

Old-School Stats for those who are into that kind of thing

Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 9
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 21 (7)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: F7
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: V
XP: One. Seriously, you guys just whacked a stoner and you want a reward?

The original sketch I sent to Adam. Behold Manidono in his half-assed glory.

* Chaotic in the sense of entropic. It's a very lazy form of chaos.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Princess Celestia: Tool of Fate, Xanatos Gambiteer, or Gambling Addict?

OK, so I didn't get to the play-by-play of the MLP episode yet but I think you bronies are gonna love this. It's the result of some mad thinking between hardcore fans and I think it offers some very juicy ideas and ties a lot of concepts together.

It took place as an IM discussion so that's how I'll post it.

Him: O_o why are there tracks to a place that doesn't exist?
me: Huh?

Him: The train to the arctic north. Canada doesn't even have trains that go that far north. And we love trains!

me: Perhaps Celestia foresaw such an eventuality?

Him: Probably, she's pretty amazingly powerful and stuff.

me: And yet she needs 6 young ponies to solve crises?   I know, I know: she's grooming them to be her successors.

Him: I have no idea if that's what's going on there. She's setting Twi up for something, but part of me wants to believe that simple succession is too obvious.

(A pause in conversation occurs while I read something he emailed titled "A Mostly Accurate Summary of the History of Equestria" where he references Celestia and Luna finding the Elements of Harmony.)

me: Hm, that's something I'd not thought of. I had always assumed that Celestia had CRAFTED the Elements of Harmony. But wouldn't it be a kick if they existed before her?

Him: She actually said that she and Luna found them before facing down Discord.

me: Huh, I missed that. Which is interesting, because the EoH are, presently, optimized for 6. So either there are 4 alicorn princesses who are missing,
the EoH are some degree of sentient and can re-configure themselves.

Him: Given that both Luna and Celestia are a thousand years old and don't look a day over 30, I'm pretty sure that they're probably kind of special.

me: No doubt, but I recall Twi asking why Cel and Luna couldn't defeat Discord again, like the last time, and Cel said something to the effect of "The Elements are keyed to you now." As in "They picked you"

Him: I would think of it as Celestia and Luna both having the Use Magic Item ability that 3e rogues had which let them emulate the appropriate factors to activate the elements, and because they're like level 40 bad-asses they can do it to 3 or even all 6 elements at once.

me: But that again begs the question, why have the Mane 6 fight Discord?

Him: Once the true vessels of Harmony were revealed, the EoH went from "Eh, you'll do" to "NO ONE BUT THE CHOSEN ONES"

me: So you're positing a divine destiny sort of thing.

Him: I actually honestly think that Celestia is surprised at the power of the Elements even though she used them before.

me: So the 6 aren't just exemplars, but avatars?

Him: I've always had that position. I kind of think the harnesses and crown are just foci anyway, and the real element is the ponies themselves. Kind of like the Dragon Scroll in Kung-fu Panda... the secret ingredient is that they're awesome.

me: Assuming this is true -- and I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you -- this means that all of Twi's existence has basically been a Xanatos Gambit by Celestia, because what are the odds that 5 of the 6 Avatars of Harmony are living in Ponyville?  Ergo, Celestia must have one hell of an intelligence network**, manipulating things such that all the avatars are in one handy place for her Chosen One.

Him: I say fate.

me: If you say fate, then Celestia is either incompetent or a gambler of such a level that she needs counseling. "Yes, all the prophecies indicate that my evil and immensely-powerful sister is going to escape and imprison me. I shall do fuck-all about it, except to send my student to Podunk Town in the hopes she figures out what to do in time." Sorry dude, I just don't buy that.

Him: I'm not sure that Celestia even knows what the ultimate purpose of the Elements really is. It's possible they exist for one specific task that will be the end of them.

Him: Well, it needs work. And actually, that four lost alicorn princesses thing kind of makes me think that the four lights that entered the moon in Mare in the Moon might have more significance.

me: ..... ooh. There's definitely plot potential there. If you'll pardon the pun.

Him:  Why would Celestia and Luna never mention these other Alicorns? Are they possibly Alicorn princes instead? Why would they wait 1000 years if they always intended to free Nightmare Moon? If they didn't intend to free her, what changed their minds?

me: Damn, I like the way your mind works.  Actually, let's go 3 princes and another princess, so there are an even number. Well, odd number really. But a MATCHING number.

Him: I like that. I have this sinister plot in my head but every way I try to work it, there's no reason to suppress the knowledge of other Alicorns that doesn't also throw Nightmare Moon under the bus - except Celestia's regret.

me: Make them like the Ringwraiths? Corrupted by Nightmare Moon's power, they became... VAMPONIES! Dun dun dunnnnnn!

Him:  Essentially the other alicorns betray Celestia (who is an utter paragon of Harmony) and try to throw her for a loop by corrupting Luna, clearly not expecting that Celestia would place the good of Equestria before the good of her sister, but if they're, essentially, the previous bearers of the Elements, how does Celestia use the Elements against Nightmare Moon? With all five of the bearers turned against her, how could she activate the magic?

me: I dunno, but here's a thought: What if Sombra was an alicorn? We don't see much of his body. His wings might be hidden under armor or robes or whatever.

Him I was just thinking that!

me: *brohoof*

Him: *brohoof*

me:Which... oh shit. OK, hang on... Cadence is an alicorn, whose cutie mark is a crystal heart, and now she lives in the Crystal Empire. Clearly, Cadence is Sombra's heir! IT ALL MAKES SENSE!

Him: My brain has exploded


Him: Okay, so I was just thinking, isn't Chrysalis also an Alicorn of a sort?

me: Yes, of a sort. Which reminds of something I saw on My Little Brony. Let me dig it up... Aha!

Him: Oh my! Wait, wait... did Chrysalis maybe get a hold of Sombra and that's why his heart was black? Because she ate all his love?

me: Possibly! Or maybe Sombra used the love poison on her and it turned her evil.

Him: I'm... not quite getting the logic jump in this picture... or was Sombra trying to make Equestria unappetizing so Chrysalis would go somewhere else? And actually, if that's the case then those two things aren't incompatable either. Though he had no love, he still had a duty.

me: AHA!

Him: +1,000,000 internets


Him:  "The book states that a long time ago, an Earth prince had given an Alicorn princess the drink intending for it to make her fall in love with him. However, they were so lost in each other's eyes, they were unable to perform their duties, and their kingdom fell into ruin." Sombra is not an earth pony... unless that horn of his is something going horribly wrong.

 me: OK. So someone else corrputed Chrysalis. Fair enough. And she tried to seduce Sombra, so he turned all dark. It still works, it's just less romantically tragic.

Him:  There must be fallen kingdoms all over Equestria by now O_O

me:  It fits the genre.

Him: I think that both Chrysalis and Sombra will make a return. Oh... maybe that's why Celestia wanted to reform Discord? So that there would be some extra muscle for when they eventually did return!

me: Makes sense!

Him:  I'd really like to see Discord in the background of a few episodes, maybe with other ponies, so that we know he's making friends.

me: Okay. WOW. Good work.

Him: Wait, there's the Alicorn amulet. Where did that come from?

me: Good question.

Him: It honestly seems kind of evil

me:  There were theories it was Sombra's, and there's the chance his horn flew away in the explosion.

Him: His horn totally flew away. I remember thinking "That horn kind of didn't even seem to be damaged apart from the fact that it was no longer attached to a unicorn." Which... if the alicorn amulet works on anypony and not just unicorns, your tragic romance is back on.

me: And that reinforces my "Sombra is an alicorn" hypothesis.

Him: I had like, seven tabs of MLP episodes open for reference material earlier.  Just going to check on that horn thing.

(Time passes)

me: Talking to a brony on Facebook, and he made an interesting point: "The crystal empire city is a six-pointed star, and it acts as a magic circle that amplifies emotional energy and projects it over Equestria." To which I said, "Oooh! Civic-scale occultism!" *
me: He also said "This also is reflected in Twilight's cutie mark, a six-pointed star. It's like their version of a pentacle."

Him: I had an idea like that, the Crystal Empire was one of probably five or six locations all over Equestria of special magical significance. Probably six places, one per element, although if the Crystal Empire is specific to Love then the other locations are either also powered by love or other aspects of friendship not covered by the Elements.

me:  *ahem*  "LOVING kindness, it's an easy feat"

Him:  Yes, Sombra's horn is specifcally shown as being intact.  Hahaha XD Unless there are two stained glass windows of the Mane 6 defeating Nightmare Moon, they replaced the window of the element bearers with a window of Spike delivering the crystal heart.

me: hmmm

Him:  Waaaaait a second. What was the book that Luna summoned? I didn't see that last time. Tt had stars on it.

me: We don't know yet. But yes, very mysterious. With lots of meaningful looks between the sisters regarding it.

Him: It's probably something to do with what Luna and Cel were talking about before Twi showed up.

me: Yes.  And also why Cel was giving Twi more duties, and room to fail.

Him:  It's a book containing prophecies set down by Starswirl the Bearded... 

me: Could be!

Him: Starswirl is referenced in four episodes off the top of my head. Maybe it's only three. Luna Eclipsed, Hearth's warming eve, and It's About Time.

me: Still, it seems plausible.

* This would further explain why Celestia didn't want the Crystal Empire to fall; it was a matter of national security to Equestria.  And having the Captain of the Royal Guard marry the heir to the Crystal Empire is not only a smart political move, but also provides Celestia with constant intelligence about a potentially magical WMD.**

** From that same Facebook conversation I was having:

Other Him: So Princess Celestia is also that magnificent bastard Xanatos as well as being Sol Invictus?

me: That's my contention. Also, she has an incredible spy network, because: We have seen Pegasi Royal Guards, and we have seen Unicorn Royal Guards, but have we seen Earth Pony Royal Guards? (Okay, probably, but work with me here.)

Other Him: Yes, an army of spies. Just nomal looking folk. That's what the patrician of Ankh Morpok does, in Discworld. Just hires schmucks and gathers intel, then has professional spies sift through it. Also this is sorta supported in the show, what with Pinkie using stealth a lot. PINKIE SPY

me: "The name's Pie. Pinkie Pie."

Other Him:  It would explain her employment at Sugar Cube Corner, despite her never really doing any work.

If you're running a pony campaign and all these ideas do not set your mind to drooling with the possibilities, there is something wrong with you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pony Delay

Due to circumstances beyond my control my computer being a stroppy little shit who refused to cooperate until I opened its case, messed with its innards, and added a second drive to act as a dedicated pagefile, today's promised report on "MLP episode as playthrough of Unknown Ponies" is shelved  stabled until later tonight or tomorrow.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to execute an old hard drive in front of my computer in the hopes that it gets the message.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unknown Ponies: Using the Friendship Track

The Friendship Track has long been a point of confusion among Unknown Ponies players. I'm not sure why, but it seems like players either do not understand how the track should work, or feel they must go out of their way to interact with NPCs to grind for Friendship Points. I've long sought to explain how the system worked, but have had limited success.

However, that all changed last week. 

Saturday's episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, "Keep Calm and Flutter On,"  featured the return of fan favorite Discord and the attempt by Fluttershy to rehabilitate him.  At the end (Spoiler Alert!),  Fluttershy gets him to reconsider his ways by... well, let's just roll the clip: 

When I saw this, my jaw hit the floor because throughout the episode Fluttershy -- to use Unknown Ponies terminology -- had been building up Friendship Points through her interaction with Discord. At the climax of the show, she then royally bitchslapped him by spending ALL OF THEM (possibly with a Magic point to amplify success).

Here's a breakdown of how I would have handled it using UP:FIA rules:
  • Generosity point for allowing Discord to stay at her house; Kindness point for making an effort to make him feel welcome. 
  • Kindness point awarded when Discord breaks her lamp and she says nothing.
  • Loyalty point (trust) awarded when Fluttershy leaves Discord alone in her house. 
  • another Generosity point awarded when she allows Discord to keep rotating the house because "it makes him feel comfortable."  
  • When Discord says "You're too kind, Fluttershy" one of the PCs pipes up and says "That's another Kindness point, right?" The Ponymaster, trapped by her own words, says yes. 
  • Fluttershy decides to hold a dinner party for her friends. This might require spending three Generosity points to ensure Discord's cooperation -- but then, it might not, if Discord saw the party as an opportunity for more mischief. Either way, it's a win for Fluttershy's player: she either keeps the points, or has definite proof that spending the points are influencing Discord's behavior. 
  • Kindness point awarded for Fluttershy saying that "I can't remember my house ever being this lively before you came along" to Discord. 
  • The rest of the dinner party is a bit of a wash, because any Loyalty points earned from interaction with Discord would be lost through failing to object to the mistreatment of the other ponies.
  • Honesty point awarded when Fluttershy promises never to use her Element of Harmony against Discord. She gets two more when Spike tries to get her to use it and she says "I made a promise and I intend to keep it."
  • Cue Discord gloating about how Fluttershy's friendship make her incapable of acting against him, and he is free forever.  The PCs now know this is the critical moment. Fluttershy says "NOT your friend!" and walks off; Discord taunts her about "You think I'll change things back? Because if I don't, I'll lose the one friend I ever had?"
  • The PC says "Yep!" and spends all her points. This episode alone, Fluttershy's player has earned 4 Kindness, 3 Honesty, two Generosity and one Loyalty -- not counting however many more the character might have had stored. 
  • The other PCs, whose characters are watching from the bank, are also free to spend THEIR  Friendship points as well in order to help Fluttershy, because they are A) present, B) affected by this too, and C) friends with Fluttershy. 
  • Epic smackdown commences.

"Well played, Fluttershy. Well played."

So after watching and coming to this realization, I knew that what I needed to do was analyze a show in the full context of Unknown Ponies. So tomorrow, what I will do is give a play-by-play of the Season 3 episode "One Bad Apple,"  because it is both a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode (and therefore precisely the kind of adventure that UPFIA is trying to emulate) and because it is the first CMC episode to show actual skill improvement.

Stay tuned, fellow Bronies! Same pony time, same pony channel!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WNW: Let's Go and Meet the Bronies

If you have ever wondered why I like ponies, you should watch this video.

If you are uncertain why this generation of ponies is better than all the others, you should watch this video.

If you're already a fan of the show, then you should WATCH THE DANG VIDEO!

And yes, that is indeed
John "Q" de Lancie doing the singing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tactical Housecleaning

I spent most of last Saturday in a miserable state, because for most of the day I was sneezing and dripping and blowing my nose and generally in allergy hell. This is a common enough state for me that I frequently have chapping on my nose from all the blowing and wiping.

What was uncommon was that the moment I left the computer area, I started to get better, and my symptoms worsened when I returned. Ipso facto, there was something in the area around the computer which was aggravating my allergies.After a few frustrating hours of looking around and not finding anything, I finally thought to look up. Lo and behold, there was a grayish substance caked around the outside of the air vent and scattered on the ceiling. For lack of what this substance is, I shall revert to the Yiddish and call it schmutz.

(Digression:  I adore Yiddish. I don't specifically speak it, but my father is an Austrian Jew who emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1930s, so there's a fair amount of it in our daily household vocabulary. What I adore so much about it is the fact that, even if one doesn't speak it, one has a pretty good chance of figuring out what it means just through context and tone. I mean, "schmutz" just sounds dirty icky filthy, and it's close enough to "smut" that the latter is probably derived from the former, and so it makes me visualize something which is so disgustingly filthy that it's offensive and obscene. Also, Yiddish has those hard consonants which are so satisfying to pronounce.)

Obviously I needed to remove this schmutz from the vent, but I didn't want to breathe it. The obvious answer would be for me to get some kind of dust mask. At this point, a sensible person would have gotten one of those dust masks with N95 Filters, but I am not a sensible person. Instead, I thought "Ooh! A chance for me to use my shemagh!"

I must confess that I have not always been a fan of the shemagh. I was initially resistant to owning one because to my mind, they look too much like those red and white turbans the PLO was always using in the 1970s and 80s. The more involved I got in prepping, however, the more testimonials I found from soldiers and marines in the 'stan about how useful and awesome they were, and that no kit was complete without one.

So I bought mine from a company with a Jewish name (Rothco) and called it a win. God bless America, where capitalism fully supports irony.

Shemaghs are very good at filtering things out, and so I had no further issues with breathing as I climbed up on a stepladder and terminated the vent schmutz with extreme prejudice. However, there are a few things you need to know about shemaghs:

  • There's a trick to tying them. Actually, there are several different techniques, and I recommend you try them all to find the one which works for you, and then practice it because if you need to tie one in a hurry you're liable to make a mess of things. 
  • My preferred method is to take the left side and draw it under my chin, and then take the right side and bring that across my nose and mouth, and tie the two tails off  near the back of my head, like so:

  • If you wear glasses, a shemagh is a great way to fog them up. I've found that the fogging is mitigated somewhat by breathing through my mouth rather than my nose. 
  • If you plan on wearing it outside, I recommend putting on a ballcap first. Not only will the brim of the cap keep the sun out of your eyes more efficiently than the shemagh ever will, but the cap also helps provide a frame for the shemagh when you're wrapping it around your face. This is more helpful then you'd think, as shemaghs seem to like giving you tunnel vision. A cap brim keeps your field of view clear.
  • Research your colors before you get one.  Red, red and white, or black and white shemaghs are typically associated with a country or political movement, so don't be a dumb westerner and wear a thing without realizing you're making a political statement. Olive drab, foliage green and coyote tan are all good choices. Yellow is probably okay, but if you're in an area with a gang presence, blue (the color of the Crips) is probably not a good choice, as is the aforementioned red (the Bloods), and solid black probably absorbs too much heat to be of use.
Now you, too, can clean your house like a tactical operator! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Need This

TargetBroney left this in the comments of my previous post:

I want this stock. No, correction: I need this stock. I need it to a degree you cannot possibly fathom. I haven't felt this way since I was a child looking through a brand-new toy catalog at Christmastime.

If anyone from Archangel reads this blog:  Send me one of these stocks for T&E and I will be your best friend for the rest of my life.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in my bunk.

Hangin' with Oleg: the dramatic conclusion!

Let's see, where was I?  It feels like it's been forever since I last talked about this.

Aha! Yes! It was Sunday, and Oleg and I were meeting another friend & business associate of his: Harry Perrette, from Twisted Industries Inc.  TI is actually two businesses in one -- Twisted Industries is a machine shop that does specialty work, while right next door is Twisted Industries East Coast Customs, which does... some kind of car thing, I'm not exactly sure. Painting and body work, I would guess.

Anyway, we were there to look at a .22 caliber conversion kit that Harry had made for the Kel-Tec PF9. (This kit will be the subject of a funny story later in the post.)  While Oleg photographed the kit and magazines, I chatted with Harry while eating some donuts he had brought for breakfast.  I am a cheap date -- bring me sugary food and I'll be your friend.

After that, we piled in our separate vehicles and convoyed to Harry's house out in the country. How far out in the country, you ask?  Well, the road in front of his house was unpaved, and we were going to shoot guns in his backyard.

It turns out that Harry's birthday had been on Halloween, and his wife had bought him a bleeding zombie target. However, it had been late to arrive, but that was fortunate for us because that meant we (Harry's friends, Oleg, and myself) were able to have a good old zombie firing line!

When we arrived, there was already a table laden with guns of different models and calibers, like a ballistic Thanksgiving was being celebrated -- which, in a way, it was. I unpacked all the guns I had brought (Mosin-Nagant, .22 rifle, Mossberg 500, and Kel-Tec Sub-2000) and added them to the growing cornucopia. This was the moment when, upon seeing my sporterized Mosin, Oleg made his now-famous comment that "The sleep of reason produces monsters."

Then he photographed the heck out of it, which I took as a compliment.

 What was neat about this particular gathering is that most of the folks there were either current or former Kel-Tec employees. This meant I got to play with a lot of cool things, including the KSG and the SU-16A. And, of course, the PF9 with .22 conversion, which means that it's time for that story I promised earlier.
Things I can't believe I said in front of real people, #256:
While we were at the staging area, Harry handed me a PF9 in .22 and said "Hey, check this out." I accept said gun and ask -- in front of GOD AND EVERYONE -- "Can I fire this? Or did you just want me to finger-fuck it?"


For those who don't speak gunnie, what I meant was, "Did you want me just to admire the feel and operation of the gun as I racked the slide and dry-fired it?" You can see why I went the pithier route.

I swear, you can't take me anywhere, because I SAY SHIT LIKE THIS. It took me hours to realize "Hey, Erin, you might not ought to have said that..."  Fortunately, the boys knew what I meant and did not seem fazed by it in the least, but wow did I feel like a crass dope afterwards.

But first, we needed to let the birthday boy shoot his zombie target, so we all lined up like a firing squad and allowed him first crack at it using his own Kel-Tec RFB. I believe Harry painted his rifle himself.

He shot a few rounds, and then said "What are y'all waiting for?" and then we all joined in.

I'll say this about that zombie target: she was tough. We shot her with .308, .22, 5.56, 12 gauge, 7.62... towards the end she was looking quite gruesome, and most of her boobs had been shot away by gunfire, leaving just the bleeding paintballs behind like some kind of demented silicone enhancement. We had been shooting for a few hours when a couple deputies showed up unexpectedly.

It was a weird moment for me. There were easily a half-dozen of us, all armed, shooting a bleeding zombie target, when I heard voices behind me and saw the police walking up. I swear, my first reaction was "Oh shit, I do not have time to go to jail right now," despite the fact that I knew what we were doing was legal (we were on private property, outside of city limits, and shooting out into a marsh).
I shouldn't have worried; they were calm and polite and just doing their due diligence. They said "Some folks on a nearby trail heard some gunshots, we just wanted to check to see if everything is okay." They didn't have a problem with us shooting, although if we had been unsafe that might have been different.

In true gunnie fashion, we invited them to shoot with us. They said "Nope, we have to account for our ammo." We said "Don't worry, we have PLENTY!"  They laughed -- I like to think they were sorely tempted -- but politely declined and went on their way.

Some quick thoughts on the fun things I got to shoot:
  • The SU-16 has far more recoil than I am used to from a .223/5.56. Not sure if it was because this was an early model, or if the cartridge was chambered hot, or something else. While I liked the fact that the barrel shroud can turn into a bipod, the plastic felt thin. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against polymer guns -- I own both a Glock and a Kel-Tec Sub-2000 in polymer -- but both of mine have enough thickness that they feel sturdy. This one felt, for lack of a better word, flimsy.  I would very much like to test a later SU model, perhaps a CA, so I can compare and contrast the two.
  • On the other hand, I adored everything about the KSG. It looks and feels like something from Aliens and its bullpup design means it fits my short arms easily.  I also won the covetous compliment from Oleg of  "Being the first person to properly transition from tube #1 to #2 without fumbling or jamming."  This surprised me because it felt 100% natural to my body. My God, I want this gun SO MUCH. 
  • The PF9 in .22 is a very fun, very accurate pistol, and I put several magazines worth of rimfire into the zombie target. Due to the size of the gun recoil was snappy, such that I don't know if I could manage it at 9mm.

After that, it was time for the Tannerite, which we put in the zombie's chest between the oozing, bleeding fake boobs. Once again,  we let Harry have the honors:

 It was a glorious zombie execution, made more so by the fact that the remnants of hair and hat that were left handing in the trees looked like strips of flesh.

After that, there was some general hanging out/ BSing/ picture taking, and then we left. Oleg bought me lunch, and then he went to the airport and I drove home.

And that's the story of how I met Oleg Volk.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Revenge is a dish best served pastel

There is a family -- mother, father, son & daughter) that comes visit us every Saturday because we adopted their dog when they moved into no-pets-allowed housing. For several months they have been teasing me about my love for My Little Pony. It's mostly been the mother (41) giving me grief, but to a lesser extent her son (12) and daughter (9) as well.

I've mostly shrugged and laughed it off, because screw them, ponies are awesome.

Last week, however, I asked the little girl if she'd like to borrow my DVD of The Friendship Express just so she could "give it a try and see why I like it." She reluctantly said yes, more to humor me than out of any real desire to see it.

A few days later I got a call from her mother saying that the girl loved the DVD and would not stop watching it. It was playing in the car even as she spoke.

Success! I told this to my mother, who laughed and said "You've converted another one."

Yesterday, as it turned out, was the daughter's birthday. When my mom went shopping last week, she picked up some pony dolls for her. When we met today, we presented her with Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Lyra (because those are what the store had).

The little girl shrieked with delight at her presents and became  a blur of motion, alternately playing with the toys and telling her mother about this pony or that pony. Her mother was clearly exasperated and at her wits' end and sick of being subjected to so much pony.

Naturally, I encouraged this and chimed in with my own pony thoughts and observations, quoted lines back at her, sang along, etc. Even the little boy admitted that some of the jokes were funny, and outed himself as knowing who the characters were by naming Pinkie Pie, Applejack, etc.

The best part is, never even intended for this to be payback. But oh, how I did laugh when it turned out that way!

Mine is an evil yet adorable laugh.

Revenge is a dish best served pastel, motherbuckers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Night Titter: Court Reporting, Irish Style

Yes, I'm half-assing today due to allergies making my life hell.  Just watch this video and be amused.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My thought for the day

No Wednesday Night Wackiness tonight, because I just can't compete with the joke that is our media and government (but I repeat myself).


"Any person that unequivocally requires me to be a potential victim, because of his personal phobias and prejudices, has lost all credibility to be any part of a serious discussion on resolving a problem."

I don't know who said that, but when I do, I'm buying that person the drink of his/her choice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Palette's Product Reviews: PMC 9mm JHP

Early last December, sent me the following email:
Good morning Erin,

Anthony from over at here writing to see if you'd be interested in reviewing some ammo.

My initial reaction to this was, Yay! I have hit the big time! Someone sought me out for a review, rather than the other way 'round!

Actually, I take that back. My first reaction was Someone wants to give me ammunition? ZOMG YES. Then, and only then, did I squee.

But I digress. Continuing:
We keep hearing our customers love product reviews and feel more confident if they can read about another shooter’s experience with a product before they buy it.

We’re currently seeing a lot of growth in demand for PMC products. That said, since they’re not the one of the “big three” American companies, some customers still wonder about the quality and reliability. I expect your readers and viewers would be interested to learn how the product performs.

If you have any interest in doing a review please shoot me a message back and let me know what caliber would be best. To be clear, we don’t manufacture these products, so we don’t have a dog in the fight – we aren’t asking you to sugar-coat the review – we just want a fair shake and to help consumers get a third-party assessment of how this growing brand performs.

Well, of course I said yes to this kind and generous donation to my ammo fund. I was rather disappointed to discover that PMC does not manufacture any bullets in 7.62x54R, but they do make 9mm. Since I own both a pistol and a carbine in that caliber, I was thrilled to find that LuckyGunner had overnighted me 100 rounds of 9x19 PMC Bronze 115gr JHP.

(For the non-gunnies: JHP is Jacketed Hollow Point. FMJ is Full Metal Jacket. This will become relevant shortly.)

The Review
Good news! The bullets went bang. The end.

... you probably want more than that, don't you? Okay. Hmm. The problem here, see, is that until today I've never shot hollowpoints before, on account of being both poor and stingy. Thus I am at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of comparing different types of JHP.

So here's what I did:  Since the PMC Bronze was 115gr, I took an equal number of 115gr FMJ to shoot as a control group. I also took along some Magtech Guardian Gold 115gr +P just so I could have some comparison between two kinds of JHP, and see if +P produced greater felt recoil.

I had three magazines with me, so I loaded up each with a different kind. I shot the FMJ  (from Freedom Arms, natch) just to get a baseline. Then I shot the PMC, and frankly the only difference was that the PMC was just slightly louder. Any difference in recoil was not noticeable by me.  Shooting the Magtech +P was similar; slightly louder, but again no perceived difference, even with the increased powder charge.

After that, I got a bit funny. I loaded up more magazines of FMJ and PMC, shuffled them, and put them into my pistol without seeing what they were, just to test if I could tell the difference.

Result? I could, kind of, but that's because I was looking for differences. If you handed me a loaded gun with one of these cartridges I likely couldn't have told you which was which. I proved this pretty substantially by loading another magazine stagger-style, alternating between the two. The only difference was a slightly louder bang for the PMC.

So what's the upshot to all of this?  It's hard for me to gauge performance because, lacking ballistic gel, I can't tell you how deeply the rounds penetrated or to what extent they mushroomed. Without a stabilized firing rig I couldn't tell you if their bullets were any more or less accurate than the practice ammo, or the Magtech JHPs.

Here's what I can tell you:

  • The bullets loaded, chambered, shot, and ejected flawlessly. 

Yeah. Exciting, eh? This is scientific rigor at its finest. 

Again, I can't quite recommend these for every-day carry, simply because I don't know how well they would perform, but neither am I not recommending them.  What I can do is say that since their recoil is practically indistinguishable from practice ammo, if a shooter wanted 9mm self-defense rounds but for whatever reason felt that she could not take the recoil of a higher-grain cartridge, I would recommend these in an instant. 

They go bang when you tell them, and if you can shoot practice ammo, you can shoot these. 

Would I buy these for myself? No. Would I buy these for my mother if she shot 9mm? Yes.

Full Disclosure: I was already favorably disposed towards PMC as their .22 Sidewinders are one of only two types of bullets that my finicky bolt-action will reliably chamber. They're slightly more expensive than the el cheapo Federal stuff -- the last time I bought a brick, I think it was closer to $30 than $25 -- but they work and shoot well.

Obligatory FCC Disclaimer:  Go read the letter again.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Gunday: Bug your Congresscritter in one easy motion

Want to write to your legislators in D.C. but don't know what to say, or how to send it to all of them?  Ruger has made it very easy for you. Just go here, fill out your contact information, and in one swell foop Ruger will automagically send a letter (not sure if it's electronic, physical, or both) to "the President, Vice-President, your Senators, Representative, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State-Level Elected Officials and State Attorney General."   Political activism has never been more convenient!

Speaking of convenience, if you're tired of having to explain what an automatic weapon is, or debate how a new AWB is a total waste of time, The Truth About Assault Weapons is your new best friend. Using simple language and color pictures, it explains the difference between "assault weapon" and "assault rifle". Even if it doesn't convince your opponent, you've at least saved yourself some time and effort.

Oh, and as a question for my fellow gunnies out there:  Just now, on Facebook, I was in a debate about guns and the usual "only military and police should have them" codswallop was being brought out, when I discovered the speaker was a German citizen living in Bulgaria  (and who, incidentally, identifies himself as a monarchist of all things).  My response was "I see no point in debating the policy of my nation's gun laws with a non-citizen. Good day."

My question is, was I right in not trying to convince someone who won't have an effect on our laws anyway? Or should I have engaged him anyway?  I can see the point being made that You aren't trying to convince him, you're trying to convince the onlookers but I saw no real gain to be made by debating someone who believes in a ruling class and that the serfs should be disarmed.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pony Saturday

Some pony music videos (PMVs) because why not?

Oppa Derpy Style (feat. DJ Pon-3)

Something just for Weer'd Bear: Derpstep!

And finally, Alicornication -- a parody of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song that actually manages to make more sense than the original:

Brief thoughts after seeing The Hobbit

I wouldn't have thought that Ian Holm looked like Martin Freeman, but it works.

Thorin looks totally like a Klingon, minus the forehead ridge.

In general, I like the diversity of the dwarves. Some are Scottish and some are Irish and some are German and at least one (Dwalin) looks like a berserker from Warhammer FRPG.

Is it just me, or does Kili look a LOT like Merry when he smiles?  I know one is Aidan Turner and the other is Dominic Monaghan, but they both have that impish devil-may-care grin thing going.

Also, the Great Goblin really REALLY looked like Tim Mitchell in the face. I was surprised to discover it wasn't him doing the voice.

I like how the movie took most of the songs and made them less goofy. Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold  is positively haunting now. I dig the all-male sound -- it sounds like monks chanting, only much cooler.

Anyone else think the Troll scene was overwrought and lasted far too long? Also, the stone giant scene was completely unnecessary.

I like the inclusion of Azog the Defiler. I imagine he's going to show up again leading the Orc army at the end of the last movie (whoops, spoilers for a 60 year-old book!). I approve of the way Jackson and del Toro are making an effort to lay the groundwork for Lord of the Rings and make this an actual prequel and not just "this story came first, because Bilbo and Gollum and magic ring."

I understand that Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the voice of Smaug in the next movie. Fans of BBC's Sherlock will understand just how special this will make the Bilbo-Smaug interaction.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Tale of Two E-Readers: Kindle Fire vs. Nook Color

Two years ago, I spent some hard-earned Census money and bought myself a Nook Color, mostly because I wanted a quick and handy way to check my email and do other online stuff without hauling a laptop with me or having to leave the comfort of my bed. 

In 2010, the Nook Color cost $250. I was, overall, disappointed with my Nook. That is mainly my fault because I wanted it to be what it wasn't, which was a tablet. 

It is a fine e-reader:  it holds lots and lots of books (music too), and I really like that it has a slot where you can insert an SD card for even more storage, but its processing speed for loading webpages is somewhere between "Oh, come ON!" and "Jesus Christ, it shouldn't take you that long to load Gmail". It also has a barely-adequate battery:  make the screen too bright (necessary in sunny or brightly-lit areas) and you've just halved your battery life. Worse still is when you turn on the wireless antenna -- you can almost watch the battery indicator tick down on a minute-by-minute basis. 

Also, its onscreen keyboard is Teh Suxx0r (its buttons are too small and they frequently don't register that I pressed them, or assume I pressed another button next to it -- yes, even using a stylus) and it won't, to the best of my knowledge, charge while plugged into a PC. 

Oh, and its ability to read PDFs is... well, let's just say "in name only" and leave it at that.

Last December, mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Other than the Season One DVD of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I had no idea what I wanted. I would have settled for an Amazon gift card but mom is a big believer in tangible gifts for Christmas, so I just shrugged and said "I dunno."

A couple weeks later, the Kindle Fire went on sale: formerly $160, it was now $130. Mom showed the Amazon page to me, and after reading how it was optimized for web surfing and watching YouTube videos, I said "Sure, why not."

I love my Kindle Fire. It's slightly smaller and lighter than my Nook, so I can use the same sleeve for carrying it around. It is all-around faster:  faster interface, faster download speed, faster processing, faster playback. 

(Insert obligatory pun about the Fire being "blazing fast" here.)

The Kindle Fire is everything I wanted from my Nook Color:  The battery charges while hooked to a computer, charges faster and lasts longer; the onscreen keyboard is larger and more responsive; it has native support for PDFs; I can check my email, do Facebook, watch YouTube and surf the web like a boss.  It can use most Android apps, and whatever I purchase on the Amazon store is almost instantly delivered to my Fire. 

It does everything I wanted an iPad for, at one-fifth the price. However... it's not a great e-reader. 

For one thing, I cannot get my PC (which runs Windows XP) to acknowledge that the Kindle is a storage device. It wants a driver which did not come with the Fire and I cannot seem to find online. This means that, despite having a huge library of free e-books in both .epub and .mobi, I cannot transfer them to my Kindle Fire; I have to go through the store for every single one of them.  I have checked both Amazon and The Googles for a driver, and so far I haven't had any luck in that regard. 

Also, storage is an issue. My Nook has 5 gigs onboard storage, and the ability to hold an SD card of whatever volume I buy (I currently have an 8 gig card, but I know that there are 12 gig cards available, and probably larger ones too). I could, if I wanted, fill up card after card with ebooks and mp3s and other things. 

My Kindle Fire has 5.5 gigs onboard storage, and no way to improve that. Sure, I have access to the Amazon Cloud, but that's only if I have a wifi connection - it hardly counts if I need it on an airplane or in a cellular dead zone. And like I said earlier, I can't put my public domain e-books onto it without going through the store. Ugh. 

So despite there being two years of technological improvements between them, the Kindle Fire is unfortunately not superior in every way. Instead of an upgrade, it is (for me at least) a parallel development:  the Kindle Fire is my tablet for surfing the web, and my Nook Color is my dedicated e-reader. 

I know the whole prepper philosophy is "Two is one, and one is none" but extending it to e-readers is just a little silly, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WNW: Cutie Mark Fail

Cutie Mark Fail is a cute and funny Tumblr (like Twitter, only with pictures) written and drawn by friends of the blog Prentice Osborne and Joie Brown.

Go check it out. 

Another Mom Update

Mom saw the neurologist on Monday. Her surgery is scheduled for the end of the month. He says we shouldn't be worried about occasional numbness in the arms, as it is NOT an indication of progressive permanent damage, but rather just a side effect of the condition that will disappear after the surgery.

Mom and I were both hoping that she'd have the the surgery sooner rather than later. Right now, it feels like the proverbial sword over our heads -- we just have to wait it out and hope there isn't an accident that makes her condition worse. Or permanent.

I am struggling with my usual bouts of self-doubt and depression, made worse by the fact that this is the beginning of a new year (with little accomplished last year) and that in a few months I turn a milestone age with a four in it.

Also, the weather lately has been dark and gloomy, which contrary to my goth tendencies does not hearten me. Rather, it gives me headaches and makes it difficult to get out of bed.

Things which I still need to write, listed here to provide accountability for my sorry ass:

  • Timney Trigger product review
  • Kel-Tec 420 lumen flashlight review
  • PNC Hollow Point ammo review
  • Hangin' with Oleg
  • more Unknown Ponies
  • more Pellatarrum
  • Some other stuff I can't recall at the moment
I think maybe it's time for me to start looking for a co-writer. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

A quick thought from your local gunbrony

My name is Erin Palette. I am a brony, and I legally carry a concealed firearm. I do not see a contradiction between these two things. 

I like My Little Pony because it is fun, and wholesome, and promotes good values. I find the brony mantra of "Love and Tolerance" to be perfectly congruent with my Christian faith. 

I like guns because shooting paper targets at the range is fun. I carry a gun not because I want to kill, but because I do not wish to be killed by others. I will not harm anyone who does not act to harm me. 

I am okay with you not being comfortable with guns. I am not trying to shove one into your hand. I just ask that you show me the same consideration and not try to take the best means of self-defense out of mine.

But you know what? Even if you do feel that way, I will still defend you if you attacked, because that's how people -- humans and ponies alike -- are supposed to treat each other. 

THAT is love and tolerance. 

Context, for those who are confused:

There is a person out there on Twitter who calls herself a brony -- and, in fact, even has Rainbow Dash's cutie mark as her Twitter avatar -- but who has the habit of labelling law-abiding folks with whom she disagrees as "terrorists."

Now, lest you be confused as to whom is calling that girl a terrorist, let me show you the original:

So yeah, when someone who is a brony, and therefore supposedly follows the creed of "Love & Tolerance" labels a girl acting in lawful self-defense a terrorist... yeah, that's not loving and tolerant, that's reactionary and hate-filled.

When I said as much over on Linoge's blog, this was posted:

So just to be 100% clear: I am perfectly fine with Lou having opinions and not being a doormat. My problem is with Lou calling everyone with whom she disagrees a terrorist, and trying to take away that girl's right to self-defense because she doesn't like guns.

I'm really curious about how she feels about police. After all, they carry guns (which are only good for murder) and that makes them terrorists. So that must mean she will never ever call the police, right? I don't ever want to see this woman hurt, but by this logic if she's ever threatened or assaulted or worse, she can't call 911 because that's taking aid and comfort from a terrorist.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that just because someone marches under the flag of something, it doesn't mean they actually believe it. This makes me sad, but I will do my best to love them anyway.

Your obedient subject, 
Powder Flash

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Yes, I'm still here. Just dealing with the expected stress and anxiety that comes with mom's impending surgery, as well as the usual post-holiday blahs. So, some stuffs:

Mom is doing all right-ish. She's stubborn and pushes herself too hard, and that results in her body saying "Hey, you really should take it easy" and acting up.  As a result, she experiences frequent numbness and tingling in both arms and parts of her face. We are extremely concerned by this, but so far all instances of it have gone away after resting. She has an appointment with the neurosurgeon on Monday, and I hope she gets this surgery scheduled soon because I worry that one day she will do too much and the numbness won't go away.

On a related note, my dear friend Brigid has a big brother who is also in the hospital:
He had an"episode" while driving. Seizure or just passing out, I'm not yet sure, but his girlfriend got them stopped and got him to the ER. He's lost a bunch of weight this last year, said he just had no appetite. He's always been a tall hefty guy, and he'd needed to lose about 70 pounds but he attributed the loss of appetite to a change to some type II diabetes meds. He looked great with the weight loss and had no other complaints that we knew of. Apparently there were other symptoms, ones he didn't pass on, not wanting anyone to worry.
It appears to be Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The biopsy of the mass in his throat will confirm it, but they're already planning on chemo and radiation. A very heavy smoker since his teens, we know how that stacks the odds against him, not to mention the many months this has likely gone undetected. He's only 55.

Similarly, my other dear friend Jean (y'all helped raise money for her a few years ago to bury her mother-in-law, that Jean) has an uncle who had a heart attack shortly before New Year's Eve. So far, 2013 is not off to a great start health-wise.

As for me, the other reason I've fallen silent is because I am dealing with some blog-related existential angst.*  As you are aware, I am both an enthusiastic gun owner/sport shooter, and yet I try on the whole to avoid discussing politics. However, ever since the atrocity at Sandy Hook, I and millions of other law-abiding gun-owners have been depicted as:
  • murderers just waiting to happen;
  • complicit in the deaths of children;
  • contributing to the culture of violence;
  • and atavistic throwbacks in desperate need of re-education, if not outright elimination.
I'm just so tired of being branded a sociopath by a culture that rushes to judgement. In the 1980s, I was a satanist because I played Dungeons & Dragons. In the 90s I was suicidal, and then homicidal, because I was a goth. I don't recall being singled out in the mid-2000s, because I think at that point the scapegoat du jour were muslims, but now that we've killed bin Laden and "won" the Global War on Terror, the U.S. needs something else to blame, and in the wake of Aurora and Newtown, the national bugbear is the lawful gun-owner.

I don't want to turn this into a political blog. There are bunches of gunbloggers who do a far better job of it than I ever could; I just want to be a geek and write about cool shooty stuff. But I feel that if I stay silent, I become complicit in whatever happens to my rights.

What I really want to do is become more creative. I need to focus more on both Pellatarrum and Unknown Ponies, and I have been extremely lax in that regard. Part of that is due to the fact that I gravitate to the subjects which receive the most attention, and it seems like more of my readers have been interested in Monday Gundays and Palette's Product Reviews than they have with my RPG interests.

I am NOT saying it's your fault I haven't been writing these things. The fault is 100% mine. What I am trying to say is that, if you want to see more of a certain thing, expressing an interest in it is a great way to encourage me to write more.

* In hindsight, I really should have named this blog "Existential Ankh". Nothing quite like thinking of a great name six years after the fact, now is there?

Speaking of ponies, this latest episode is just more proof for my assertion that Applejack is indeed a Ranger with the favored enemy of "Plants":

I wonder if I should go back to having theme weeks.  Your thoughts on this?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Fine Print

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