Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This IS Who I Am, and This IS Okay

So at this point, I think we've all seen the "We're a Culture, Not a Costume" series of pictures, since they've been around since 2011. That's old news, but because it's Halloween the usual, tired, predictable onslaught of nagging lectures by mirthless harridans about what we aren't allowed to wear has raised its ugly head again.

Only this time, the harridans have managed to top themselves, because this year it has been screechily decreed that little white girls cannot dress as Moana, because that's culural appropriation, but neither can they dress as Elsa from Frozen, because that promotes "white beauty".

No, I'm not making that up, although I wish I were. I wonder if said screeching harridan happens to practice yoga, drinks tea or coffee, or enjoys Asian food? If so, someone really ought to tell her what a shitlady she is. But while that article was the impetus behind this post, it isn't why I'm writing. I just want to tell you one thing:
If you want to experiment with crossdressing this Halloween, go ahead. It is not offensive. 
No, really. I truly mean this. I'm transgender, so I am technically a crossdresser, which means I'm allowed to tell you that this is who I am, and that this is okay. Not only do I not think you're mocking women, crossdressers or transwomen, I think it's great that you'd do this! Hell, the first time I went out in public in women's clothing was on Halloween, and for "deniability" -- i.e. because I was afraid people would take it the wrong way -- I wore a full beard with my witch's costume and told people "The spell must have gone wrong."

Needless to say, that night went really well for me, and I received lots of lovely compliments on my costume (and my bravery), and it turned into an Oleg Volk photoshoot which ultimately led to me believing that I could indeed pass as female if I just put in the work -- a belief which has since been vindicated.

So if you think you might be transgender, or just have a crossdressing fetish, go ahead and crossdress for Halloween. It's the one time of the year where you can get away with it safely, so indulge. Find out if this is the life for you. If it's not, you can laugh it off by saying it was a silly Halloween thing that you got talked into/ you lost a bet/ you were drunk and thought it was a good idea at the time.

If you aren't transgender or have an urge to crossdress in public, and are just wearing a woman's costume for laughs, guess what? That's okay too. Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun or funny or silly, and a lot of people get a laugh out of seeing men in drag. So if you want to pour your macho bearded self into a sassy, sexy little outfit, more power to you and I can almost promise that at least one woman will sincerely compliment you on how you look. Maybe they'll say you have nice legs, or a cute ass (I'm not kidding here, women go crazy over men in kilts, and my kilt-wearing friends get these compliments all the damn time), or maybe they'll tell you that you make a really attractive woman.

That last one, by the way, is NOT the emasculating insult you might feel it to be; it's actually a very large, very honest compliment. Interpret it as "I know you're a dude and you STILL look pretty (and possibly even prettier than me)! That's amazing and kind of not fair."

I must confess, however, that I posses an ulterior motive for encouraging people to crossdress this Halloween, and it's this: The more people do it, the more it's normalized by society. It used to be scandalous for women to wear trousers, because those were men's clothes; now they do it all the time, and no one thinks twice about it. I think it's terribly unfair that women can dress like men and no one blinks an eye, but the moment a man puts on a skirt and heels he's mocked and his sexuality and gender are called into question.

It helps me in the same way that wearing a bindi helps Neetu Chandak. As she says in her "Cultural Appreciation, Not Appropriation" article:
Growing up in a small, predominantly white town where my culture was not well known, I encouraged others to wear Indian inspired accessories, including the bindi, and to try Indian food. It helped build awareness about my culture and created a sense of unity.

I’ve seen first-hand on my campus that many people who are actively against cultural appropriation are not of the cultures that they claim are being appropriated. In doing so, they advocate for restrictions on the behavior of people like me — who actively encourage others to be involved in my culture.

How ironic considering they claim to be promoting the rights of minorities and immigrants through this “crusade” while also domineering them and telling them what opinions they can and can’t have.
So go ahead, get your drag on. Have a good time, laugh, strike ridiculous poses while throwing the duckface for selfies. The only words of caution I give you are these: You might discover that you like how it feels, and want to do it again.

And if you do? Welcome to the community. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

State of the Erin Report

I had my second appointment with the plastic surgeon today. The diagnosis is mixed but overall positive. 

The Good News:
 All of the sutures have been removed, along with a really nasty-looking thing that was either a giant scab or a bit of dead scar tissue(or maybe some of each). I don't know if the removal of the sutures and stiff scar tissue really does make it easier to talk and open my mouth, or if it's just psychosomatic, but either way I'm taking the victory. I was actually able to eat a real sandwich for supper, and it was GLORIOUS. 

The Middling News: Right now things look good for function, but form is iffy. The area to the side of my lower lip is still swollen and is healing slower than expected. There's also a piece of scar tissue remaining that is so thick it's almost cartilaginous, which will need to be removed once the swelling subsides. There's also a tear right at the corner of my mouth, which essentially widens my mouth by approximately 1/3 inches. I'm not sure why this wasn't stitched up; if I had to guess, I'd say it was because my mouth was a swollen mess and the doctor couldn't see it or get to it. I had hoped this would heal with the rest of me, and I've been trying to speak out of the undamaged side of my mouth in order to encourage those parts to fuse back together, but the doctor said this might be my "new anatomy", which was kind of heartbreaking. I did however pester him until he admitted that if the lower lips needs more surgery, he can probably fix the mouth since he's basically in the neighborhood. 

The Unfortunate News:
 By the surgeon's estimation, it looks like it'll be at least two months before the swelling goes down enough to warrant seeing him again, and then we can see what kind of surgery I may need. I've been told, point blank, that there WILL be scarring; how bad it is, and therefore whether I'll need cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, is something we won't know until my face has fully healed. And then there's finding a place in his surgical schedule, recovering from that surgery, etc. 

All of this means it will literally be next year before I stop looking disgusting (no, this isn't a self-image thing; I literally have what looks like a large open sore the size of my thumbnail right on my face, and it's nasty) and then who knows how long it'll be until I can make public appearances as Erin Palette. I hope that I will have all this finished and look presentable by the time the NRA Annual Meeting comes around (May 4-6), but I'm not holding my breath. If I don't look presentable, I have two equally unpleasant choices to make: go there anonymously (i.e. in drab) and not make any professional connections for Operation Blazing Sword, or just not attend at all. 

I suppose I'm fortunate that I have no speaking engagements booked, because the only way I'd feel comfortable making an appearance would be if I wore some kind of gaiter over the lower half of my face. 


Sunday, October 29, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #167 - Dog Bites and Murder Insurance

Weer'd is still pulling Stunt Cohost duty (no word on what kind of dress he's wearing this week).

  • MURDER INSURANCE!!! That’s what some anti-gun people are calling paid self-defense plans. Our own Beth Alcazar, who works for a company which offers such plans, talks about her encounter with the media on this issue.
  • Police chase a teen driver after a drive-by shooting,and his mom hits every trope in the interview. Sean tells us more.
  • Barron, Miguel, and Tiffany are on assignment.
  • Erin is back... sort of. She's not up to hosting just yet, but she did record a lengthy segment about her incident and her recovery so far.
  • Michael Bloomberg is pushing hard against the SHARE act and Concealed Carry Reciprocity using “Celebrities” and virtually no production values! You know that Weer'd couldn't pass that up.
  • And out Plug of the Week is The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

My Little Pony the Movie: a Review

Executive Summary: Wait for it to come out on video.

Longer Review: This season's finale, the two part Shadow Play, was a much better story, despite being shorter and not having fancy CGI and famous voice actors. In fact, if MLPtM had spent less on aforementioned voice actors and CGI and spent more of that money on the story, it might have been better.

Bitchy Fan Review with Spoilers: The short version of the plot is that a traitor with undefined but potent powers comes to Equestria in order to subjugate it in return for promises made by the Big Bad. Said subjugation involves capturing all four Alicorn Princesses, draining them of their magic, and then using that magic to further empower the Big Bad. However, that plan is thwarted somewhat when Twilight Sparkle, with the help of her friends, escapes for a time. When all seems lost, however, the traitor realizes that the Big Bad never intended to live up to his promises, and so sides with the Mane Six in order to defeat him, after which the traitor is welcomed back into Equestrian society.

You know, I liked this story a lot better back when it was 2014's two-part season ender Twilight's Kingdom. 

Seriously. All that money, and they chose to spend it on giving the ponies sparkly irises and giving every damn thing a drop shadow rather than, oh I don't know, coming up with a new plot?

Plus, the songs just weren't that catchy, several allegedly smart characters made really dumb decisions (I call this "being given the idiot ball"), and several voice actors seemed to be in the film just to be there (Sia, I'm looking at you) instead of advancing the plot. Those who did advance the plot did so at the cost of making the Mane Six -- you know, the ponies who have saved the damn world multiple times -- look incompetent, and the less said about Capper the better.

Honestly, the ONLY good new character in this movie is Tempest Shadow, who actually managed to make a non-alicorn look powerful and menacing. Although while I'm on the subject, Equestria apparently needs a bunch of child psychologists, because unresolved childhood trauma seems to be the leading cause of unicorn villains in this universe.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Five Oh Three

No automatic alt text available.

Ding Dong the GAF is dead! 

Which old GAF? The NeoGAF!
Ding Dong the NeoGAF is dead!

Wake up, ye vidya-heads, mouse in hand and sets on heads!
Ding Dong the NeoGAF is dead! 

It's gone where dead servers go below, below, below, yo-ho! 

It may seem incredibly petty to boast and gloat over the downfall of a forum. That's probably because it is petty. Unbelievably petty. But that's okay, as I'm in an extremely petty mood.

When I was growing up, it seemed that the Religious Right were the ones that first attacked music, movies, video games, and role-playing games for being morally incorrect and then later having their representatives outed as being 'immoral.' Now it's all come full circle and the 'Religious Left', as you will, having attacked music, movies, video games, pinball, role-playing games, comic books, and whatever else it could target for being 'morally incorrect', has now had it's fall from grace.

Ally after ally are being outed as harassers, abusers, stalkers, pedophiles, and any other number of deviance. From Devin Faraci to Joss Whedon and more, one holier than thou Progressive Fundamentalist after another falls, with the latest being Tyler Malka, aka Evilore, founder of NeoGAF.

NeoGAF was the most progressive and 'inclusive' gaming forums on the internet, achieving that lofty status by banning anyone that disagreed with the lockstep agreement of the moderation team and launching harassment campaigns against anyone with a voice that dared disagree.

During the #MeToo campaign (which I could have contributed to, but decided against being attacked for speaking up because of my genitals and/or level of melanin), a filmmaker I won't name made a very, very bad allegation against Malka. GAF promptly went up in flames, with moderators quitting left and right and the forum eventually being shut down "for maintenance."

As I'm writing this, I've been notified that Tyler Malka has made a public statement. Interestingly, he flatly denies the allegations against him and declares his accuser 'not credible.' A far cry, if you ask me, from "listen and believe" and certainly not how others in the gaming journalism world have suggested one should approach such a situation.

Either way, I'm unreasonably giddy about this. Someone gets a weight off their chest, an asshole burns for it, and one of the internet's most (actually) toxic cesspools will never be the same. NeoGAF is morally, ethic'lly, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead.

Not only is it merely dead, it's really most sincerely dead.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Perfect Ammo for Han Solo Season

You folks remember that Hornady Z-Max ammo from five years ago, right? The stuff that was basically Critical Defense, but with a green tip instead of a red tip and zombie branding on the box, to cash in on the big zombie craze?


But there's an even bigger craze out there that's been sweeping the country for longer than zombies, and I think that Hornady needs to get on this right now to tap a hitherto-neglected market.

What's my big idea?  Pumpkin Spice Ammunition. No, wait, hear me out:
  1. Hornady makes pumpkin orange colored inserts for their ammunition and a seasonal "Pumpkin Spice Ammo" box. 
  2. Throw in a little cachet of actual pumpkin spice to make the ammo smell nice. 
  3. Sell this ammo to all the pumpkin spice-obsessed people. 
  4. PROFIT. 
Why is this not a thing already? Sell it right next to those North Face vests and you'll make a mint!


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Thoughts on Eating

Having been on a restricted diet of soft foods for two weeks due to my injury, I have realized a few things about food that otherwise might not have occurred to me:
  1. Texture affects taste. You won't notice it at first, but after about a week, foods with the same texture will start to taste alike. I don't know if it's psychological, or texture interacts with taste buds, or maybe my tongue is just lazy, but pureed food has all started to taste the same and shredded food has all started to taste the same. The thing is I know that ham salad tastes different from tuna salad, but at this point my mouth is going "Okay, another meat salad meal, yawn" and having everything taste the same.
  2. Chewing is more important than I thought. Related to the #1, I've come to the realization that the act of chewing increases the satisfaction level of food. Perhaps chewing releases more flavor, but I think it's more likely to be a deeply psychological or biochemical effect related to our predator heritage. Eating a thick, juicy steak just tastes fundamentally different from eating shredded steak, even if they're cooked in exactly the same manner.
  3. Appetite fatigue is real.  Come dinner time, I am almost desperately hungry but I have a hell of a time finding anything I want to eat, because nothing looks or sounds good,  because it all feels the same in my mouth. All I want is to take a big bite of something and chew, chew, chew, and I can't do that. 
Just do me this one favor, gang: When you eat your dinner tonight, or lunch tomorrow, take a moment to savor the texture of each bite and the simple joy of chewing. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hero Points (but not really)

I've been giving a lot of thought on how to address the tendency of Pathfinder players to have a 15-minute adventuring day. I fixed it somewhat with importing Arcane Recovery from 5th Edition D&D to Pathfinder as a feat, but that only affects wizards and leaves all the other classes out in the cold. (Admittedly, as wizards are basically glass cannons, especially at low levels, it could be argued that they needed special attention anyway.)

But Arcane Recovery and 5e's differentiation between the Short Rest and the Long Rest got me to thinking about how to implement that within Pathfinder. I liked the concept of using hit dice to top up spent hit points between combats, but how best to use that in my game which makes heavy use of Hero Lab to keep things running?

The answer is a Frankenstein-style mash-up between 5e's hit dice and Pathfinder's hero points.

TLDR version: they're gained like PF hero points, but they're spent and regained like 5e hit dice.

Hero Points in my Pathfinder RPG

Acquiring Hero Points
PCs have X Hero Points, where X = PC level. Every time a character levels up,  a new Hero Point is earned. The GM may also hand out non-persistent Hero Points as a reward for good problem-solving or role-playing (non-persistent means "Spend it once and it's gone forever"). 

Spending Hero Points
Players can spend one or more Hero Points at the end of a short rest. For each Hero Point spent in this way, they roll a die corresponding to their character's hit dice and add their character’s Constitution modifier to it. These are hit points that have been regained as a result of resting and tending to wounds. Players can roll as many times as you like until they're out of dice. 

Players can also spend a Hero Point to regain a single use of extraordinary or supernatural abilities, including but not limited to:
  • Bardic Performance
  • Channel Energy
  • Rage
  • Smite Evil
  • Lay On Hands
  • Raging Song
  • Grit
  • Panache
Note: I am uncertain about long-term effects of letting players use Hero Points to recover spells. If I do, this will be expensive, on the order of 1 Hero Point per spell times the spell level.

The main idea here is that the PCs spend hero points while taking a short rest in order to "catch their breath" and recover some combat efficiency, encouraging players to adventure a bit longer before resting.

If in doubt, charge them more to regain abilities. 

Recovering Hero Points
PCs regain spent Hero Points at the rate of one-half their level (minimum 1) only after a long rest.

Note that per the definition of a long rest, any strenuous activity before it's completed (like combat or running away), the 8-hour clock on the rest period "resets" and must begin again.

Additional note for clarification: I am NOT implementing the 5e "regain all lost hit points after a long rest" rule.

Ideally, this new system will encourage my players to press forward a bit more boldly rather than stopping to rest every time the wizard is out of spells or the cleric is out of heals. We shall see.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #166 - The Tiffany Challenge

Erin is at a plastic surgeon for suture removal, so Weer'd is once again our Stunt Erin. He may or may not be wearing a dress. (This is radio, use your imagination.)
  • Beth, Miguel, and Barron are still on assignment. 
  • A gas station shootout! Have the claims that concealed carry leads to blood in the streets finally been vindicated?... well, no. 
  • In the Main Topic, Tiffany talks about her experiences on the Resolutions Committee at GRPC. Will you take the Tiffany Challenge? 
  • Anti-gun billionaire and nasty little fascist Michael Bloomberg wants a Gun DNA Database, which means that his mouthpiece "The Trace" wants it as well. Weer'd explains how it's a waste of time and money.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

My Interview on Handgun World Podcast

While I was at GRPC I had the honor of being interviewed by Bob Mayne of Handgun World Podcast. I also acquired a groupie in the form of Ben Branam, who sat in on the interview because he wanted to hear what I was going to say.

Give it a listen; there's some new stuff in there, as well as a lovely story about how Ben sold a transgender lady her first firearm.

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Status So Far

I know that a lot of you are worried about me. Thank you for that, and I'm sorry that I haven't been posting more regularly. When I saw the doctor on Tuesday, he asked me if I was depressed, and I responded with a dour "Considering the family dog disfigured me, I'd say I'm entitled to some depression while I heal, thanks." He acknowledged that I had a point. 

Instead of trying to reconstruct what's happened on a day-to-day basis since the past update, I'll just hit the important bits:

The swelling continues to diminish. 
My upper lip is mostly back to normal, although I have some numbness there (perhaps due to scar tissue, perhaps due to nerve damage -- I don't know). My lower lip and right cheek are still a scabby mess, but I can actually brush (gently) my teeth on that side, which is a big improvement. 

I can eat non-mush foods now.
I wouldn't say that I've graduated to solids like a big girl, but I no longer have to eat minced foods like tuna salad and applesauce. So long as it'll fit inside my mouth and doesn't require a lot of chewing, I can eat it, so now I've moved up to shredded foods. 

As soon as I'm able, I am eating the biggest steak I can fit into my mouth.

I don't seem to have any muscle damage. 
This was imparted to me with a cheerful "Good news!" tone. While I don't disagree that it's good news, it's hard for me to be cheery when I have no idea how mangled my mouth will be when it heals. I am terribly worried that I will have a speech impediment or otherwise sound strange even after I have healed. 

Some of the stitches have come out.
The ones on the inside of my mouth are made of vicryl and are slowly dissolving. I'm trying not to pull them out, but my tongue keeps worrying at them. 

The ones on my upper lip were removed by the plastic surgeon's assistant yesterday, and I feel like I have greater range of motion and can talk more understandably. I don't know if this is true, coincidental with reduced swelling, or just psychosomatic, but regardless this is a big win for me. 

Other stitches have to wait until the 30th.
That's my next appointment with the plastic surgeon. Maybe then I can get an idea of what needs to be done next. 

I'm told that there WILL be scarring. 
Fucking YAY. I'm a transwoman who was never particularly pretty to begin with, and now I have scars on my cheeks and lips. I'm probably going to require some degree of cosmetic surgery, and hopefully I can afford that with the money you lovely folks have donated. 

I still have survivor's guilt.
Or whatever this is called. Every other time we've had to put down a dog, it was because they were sick or injured. I felt like it was the kindest thing to do,  because I was taking away their pain. But this dog was healthy, and easily had 2 more years left. Putting him down may have been the right thing to do, but it doesn't FEEL like it was right. 

I still wonder what I could have done differently. What subtle signs did I miss? What line did I cross. 

Maybe this is what it's like to be a parent whose child is convicted of a capital crime, where you love them and don't want them to go (heart) but still understand that it's just and responsible to remove them so that they don't hurt others (head). 

This sucks, and I hate it. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Only the Mildest of Hot Takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

My Interview on New Shooter Canada Podcast

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

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

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Escape Is My Armor

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dog Mauling Follow-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Looks Like I Jinxed It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Things Are Pretty Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

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

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

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript -
Surviving Crowd Crush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Catching an ST:D

I'm not letting that joke go. You can pry it from my cold, dead hands. 

Over the last week, I've watched 5 entire seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and just today I watched all three JJ Abrams movies. This helped me get a perspective on where Trek has been, and where it's going.

On the night of its release, I watched the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and and the third episode of The Orville. Suffice it to say, I had a much better time on one of those three episodes.

I feel that it's necessary, before I begin properly, to point out that there's a strawman argument going on right now amongst critics of critics of ST:D's marketing. The story goes that people are objecting to the diversity of ST:D's cast, and that it would be a real (irony here) shame if Trek were to have a cast that included a black woman, a Russian, a Japanese man, a Scotsman, and a half-human, or if it were to have a blind man and a formerly hostile alien race on the bridge. That's an excellent point, but it's countering an argument that no significant number of people actually have. No one is objecting to a diverse cast in Star Trek. Trek has always had a diverse cast, even when it wasn't 'safe' to do so. Rather, people are objecting to the show being marketed as "good because it's diverse" when Trek has always simply been diverse without having a brass band trumpeting it from the heavens of Hollywood's finest spin rags.

With that out of the way, what did I think?

I'm torn. Had you removed the Starfleet livery, called the "Klingons" something else, and just called it Discovery, I might have felt very differently. Much like The Orville, this could have worked as a tribute to Trek while making an entirely new IP. But being in Trek's playground, this just doesn't work, for a number of reasons.

While there may be inconsistencies between the Kelvin Timeline (of the Abrams movies) and vintage Trek's Prime Timelikne, there is a very good reason for that. The Narada Incident irreparably changed the timeline, with highly advanced and experimental technology being introduced in a very public and very messy way hundreds of years before it should have been developed. This accelerated both the technological level of advancement (which is why the Kelvin Enterprise is larger than Picard's Sovereign class Enterprise) and historical events (Kirk taking command, the Khan incident). However, Discovery takes place mere years after Star Trek: Enterprise -- long before the timeline was disrupted -- so there's no explanation for certain things that don't fit, including:
  • The robot (?) woman on the bridge of the Shenzhou when Lt. Commander Data was the first AI in Starfleet. 
  • The use of holographic communicators, when they were at an experimental phase in the later years of Deep Space 9
  • The design of Burnham's space suit being lighter and thinner than suits shown in series that take place over a hundred years later. 
  • The Klingons possessing a cloaking device when those were obtained from the Romulans during Kirk's service.
Another common complaint that I see is that Trek shouldn't focus on war and that Discovery is dropping us into a war in the first episode. I'd be a hypocrite myself if I said Trek shouldn't handle war, as DS9 is my favourite series, but it needs to be handled properly. DS9 spent years setting up the characters and the setting, letting us get to know the crew, before they raised the stakes and had us invested in their experiences. DS9, in short, earned their war.

Then there's the things that are just inconsistent in and of themselves. For example, the Klingons:

  • Their language seems to have changed fundamentally. Despite there already being an entire existing language for the Klingons, they're speaking something that doesn't sound at all like the Klingon language, with such a stilted cadence to their speech that it makes them difficult to listen to.
  • Visually, they've changed again. They don't look anything like the Prime timeline (which the show claims to be part of) or the Kelvin timeline Klingons (which expanded the bone ridges across the head, but retained the iconic visuals). They look like they're wearing misshapen cockroaches on their heads. 
  • The Captain and First Officer speaking loudly to each other about not violating General Order One (aka the Prime Directive - do not interfere in the natural development of a pre-warp species) while in the hatchery of a pre-warp species on their way to interfere with the natural development of that species? 
  • And how is a mind meld from years ago allowing a Vulcan to communicate telepathically across light-years?

There were a few things I liked, although most of them were undercut by the end of the second episode. I adored Captain Philippa Georgiou and the Shenzhou. The ship was quite well-designed, and Michelle Yeoh's performance was top-notch. She had the perfect blend of mature serenity and well-earned smugness, with a French name and a decidedly not-French origin that reminded me quite a bit of Captain Picard. Had the show followed her, I felt she could have become a fine proto-Picard figure, and seeing her use a phase rifle as a tool early in the episode, even if it was in violation of the Prime Directive, was pleasing as well. I was also fond of Doug Jones's alien Lt. Saru, the highly intelligent and highly bent on self-preservation attitude providing a smile.

The show is inconsistent with its pre-release messaging as well, considering that the Klingons were billed as a very clear analogue for Trump voters and the emphasis on diversity. The main character, Burnham - a black woman with a male first name raised by Vulcans - gets chewed out by a white male Admiral for judging by race, by which she responds to 'not confuse race with culture' - something that critics of Islam frequently have to say to progressive accusations of Islamophobia. In short, ST:D is so woke it comes back out the other side, as the episode climax is brown-skinned religious zealots destroying a ship called Europa headed by a white man by driving a vehicle into it. In trying to build the perfect analogue of Trump voters, it crashed headlong into every ugly stereotype of people from the Middle East.

The most frustrating part, though, is I have no idea if these criticisms will stand. Burnham -- whom I dislike as she's written basically like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory -- is seemingly the only returning cast member come episode 3, when she joins the crew of an entirely new ship with a new captain. The show might take a completely new direction, or it may hang on tightly to all of the complaints I have with it.

It's almost a shame I won't know, as I have no intentions of paying CBS $7 a month to watch one show that I don't know if I'll be invested in and still have to watch commercials on CBS All Access, and I can't help but feel that's not a coincidence. Internally, ST:D will be judged by how many account sign-ups it garners for CBS, but that's not data we'll ever see. Instead, we'll see that The Orville, which airs on the same night that ST:D premiered, got significantly higher ratings. And maybe that was the plan all along.

I'm going back to re-watching DS9. I still have a season and a half to get through before I start a new job.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why You Should Attend GRPC

I have had the pleasure to attend two Gun Rights Policy Conferences and four NRA Annual Meetings, and while they are two very different creatures, if you're a firearms enthusiast you should attend both.

The NRAAM is 25% NRA policy meeting, 25% guest speakers giving lectures, and 50% massive convention floor which you wander while looking at all the guns, gun accessories, gun-related stuff and gun-adjacent merchandise (like knives, camping gear, etc). There's a lot of neat stuff to gawk at and/or purchase, but it's also crowded as unholy hell and the prices for food and drink are convention-level ridiculous. The NRAAM is basically "bread and circuses" for gunnies: mainly spectacle and consumerism (not that there's anything wrong with that).

GRPC, on the other hand, is far more substance over style. There's only one thing going on during the day -- the presentations by guest speakers -- and there isn't much fanfare, just a lot of information being thrown at you. But what's neat about is that you get to see a lot of luminaries in the gun rights world, and if you're lucky you can catch them during a break, or at the mixers on Friday and Saturday night, and actually talk to them. Do you want your picture taken with Dr. John Lott? You can probably get one!

Plus, if you attend, you'll get to see me give a presentation. I've been informally asked to speak at next year's GRPC in Chicago, given the strength of my presentation this year.

(I come in at the 4:15 mark)

A transcript of my speech:
Hello! My name is Erin Palette, and I am a performance tranny.

Now whenever I say that, there are usually three reactions: shocked silence; laughter; and people asking “What’s your gear ratio?” And the answer is a four-eleven final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

For people who don’t know what I just said, it means that I’m built for drag racing.

Folks, it’s okay to laugh. If I didn’t want you laugh at what I said, I wouldn’t be saying it. I feel comfortable and safe here, and I want you to feel comfortable and safe with me as well.
So as a transgender lesbian,I am frequently asked, “Erin, what do I say to someone who is flamingly gay, or is transgender, or is so androgynous I don’t know what sex they are?” and my answer is always “Hi! Want to learn how to shoot?”

It really is that simple! Just be friendly and make a sincere offer to teach them. This is the clearest and easiest way to grow support within the LGBTQ community for gun rights, because people who go shooting realize how fun and empowering that can be. People who have fun shooting become gun owners, and gun owners become gun voters. And if you can convert someone who was anti-gun into someone who is pro-gun, that’s a double victory, because not only do we gain a pro-gun vote but we also deny an anti-gun vote to our opposition. That’s why gun owners should make an effort to reach out to queer individuals and offer to teach them to shoot.

If you’re worried about your offer being rejected, let me reassure you: the queer community is incredibly aware of its vulnerability. The Pulse Massacre was our 9/11 moment; we realized that we were hated not as individuals, but as a demographic, and that the police won’t necessarily arrive in time, or act properly when they do arrive.

How much danger are we in? LGBTQ individuals are a tiny fraction of Americans - only 3.4% of the population - but we are disproportionately affected by crime, with 1 in every 4 of us victims of hate-based violence within our lifetime. So there are very good reasons why a queer person would want to learn how to operate a firearm.

And even if you are rejected, the fact that you cared enough to offer goes a long way towards healing the manufactured divide which splits our country. Because, despite what the media tells us, queer people do NOT hate straight people, and the success of Operation Blazing Sword is a testament to the fact that straight people do not hate queer people.

For those who haven’t heard of Operation Blazing Sword, we are a grassroots organization dedicated to pairing gun-curious -- I love that word -- gun-curious queer people with gun owners for basic firearm safety instruction. This is more important than you might think, because due to the aforementioned manufactured divide, the average queer person doesn’t feel comfortable going to a gun store or a shooting range for instruction because they’ve been told for decades that gun owners hate them.

So we pair these gun-curious folks with volunteer teachers who will teach them the basics of firearm safety, operation and ownership for no cost and without judgement for a student’s color, gender, sexual orientation, biology, or manner of dress.

And what I love about Blazing Sword is that the education goes both ways: not only are the LGBTQ students learning about firearms, but the teachers are learning about what it’s like to be queer in America. As an example, in the early days of Blazing Sword someone told me “You know. I’m happy to help train people, but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with being named as a gun owner on an internet map.” And my reply was, “Oh, so you’re afraid of the repercussions of coming out because people might treat you differently?” It was delightful to track the dawning of enlightenment as he realized the similarity between being a gun owner and being gay in terms of public acceptance.

But I acknowledge that it can be intimidating to talk to us, because you can get in trouble for using the wrong pronouns and the acronym keeps changing. The last I checked, the current preferred nomenclature is LGBTTQQIAAP, which if you ask me sounds like something a cheerleader would chant.

Ell GEE! Bee Tee Tee! Cue Cue Eye! Ayy Ayy Pee! Goooooooo GAY!

So what I’m going to do is make your lives easier by giving you a quick lesson on how to talk to people with non-mainstream genders or sexuality.

First, you don’t have to learn how to pronounce LGBTQ. Just say “queer”. It encompasses all of us and it’s a sight easier to say than a mouthful of consonants. It’s okay, I give you permission to say queer. Just remember to use it as an adjective, not a noun. For example, “Nicki is a queer person” is good. “Nicki is a queer” is bad. It’s a fine point, I know, but think of it as our version of “clip vs. magazine”. Correct terminology matters!

Second, if you aren’t sure how to refer to someone, just ask them “What are your pronouns?” That’s an inoffensive way to discover how to refer to them. If in doubt, go with “them” and “they”. I understand that using a plural term to describe an individual is sloppy -- it makes my grammarian soul shudder -- but it’s SO much better than guessing and getting it wrong, or worse, calling that person “it”. Just… don’t do that.

Third: You know how when someone says “I’m a gun owner, BUT” you immediately tune out everything they say after that? So for the same reason, I beg you, DO NOT say “I disagree with your lifestyle, but …” because whatever you say after that will not be heard. Now to be clear, it’s okay to disagree with anyone’s lifestyle; it’s just counterproductive to bring this us, especially in an initial conversation. Consider this our version of the “9mm vs. 45” argument.

Ultimately, what you need to realize is that the gun community and the queer community have more in common than either realize:

  • Both groups believe in rights. The right to love whoever we want, and the right to defend our lives effectively, are both natural rights. We may disagree on which rights are more important, and disagree on how best to implement these rights and their concomitant responsibilities, but we ultimately agree that rights are paramount.
  • Both groups believe that life is precious and worth protecting. Ultimately, we both want to prevent the murder of innocent people, and that is inherently noble.
  • And both groups believe that silence equals death. If we are silent, if we cannot be heard, then we might as well not exist in the mind of the public, and that is how we become marginalized and stepped upon.

I realize that I’ve dumped a lot of information on you. There’s SO much more to talk about, and I’m certain that you have questions. So I want to let you know that I am VERY approachable: if you have questions, just come and talk to me. Don’t worry about offending me! So long as you have a sincere desire to know, I will be happy to turn your curious discomfort into a teachable moment. Ben Branam can testify to that.

Again, my name is Erin Palette, my organization is Operation Blazing Sword, and you can find out more about us on Facebook and on our website, BlazingSword.org.

Thank you.
Because we finished early (we had a 30 minute block and only used 15), we simultaneously made our hosts very happy for getting back on schedule and caused them to scramble because the next panel wasn't yet ready. So the moderator had us do an impromptu Q&A session while the next speakers got into position.

(As an aside, I love my "WTF I dunno LOL" expression.)

I hope to see you in Chicago for GRPC 2018!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #163 - Magic Carpet Ride

On a cloud of sound we drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
  • What happens when more than 350 gun-toting ladies get together? Beth travels to Utah to attend a conference by The Well-Armed Woman to find out! 
  • Man Shot By Police After Holding Pregnant Woman Hostage. Sean and Erin love a happy ending. 
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon. 
  • Miguel is NOT on assignment this week! He wants everyone to know that he’s “playing Mad Scientist with things nature never intended to be played with.”[Evil Laugh] 
  • We look deeper in the SHARE Act for our Main Topic. 
  • Tiffany is on assignment and will return soon. 
  • Florida is hot. And not "Swedish Bikini Team" hot; it's "Dropped into pan of boiling water inside an oven" hot. So how do you keep cool when the power is out and the AC is off? Erin has some tips. 
  • Weer'd finishes his Audio Fisk sendoff of former Brady Campaign president, Dan Gross. 
  • And our Plug of the Week is for Magic Carpet Cruise Control, AKA Toyota Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. 
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.

Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript -

Beating the Heat 
Without Power
As you know, most of Florida was without power for up to a week after Irma. While it does indeed suck to be away from the internet and entertainment, the biggest complaint I’ve seen has been from people who lost their air conditioning.

And this makes sense: Florida is a hot, humid place, and it suuuuuucks to be without AC. As Miguel said some weeks ago, during most of the year we Floridians essentially live in bubbles of air conditioning. But sometimes the power goes out and we’re forced to find unplugged ways to cool off. Here are some tips and tricks that ought to help.

Use water to cool off. If you have water pressure, then cool showers will rinse off the sticky sweat and lower your skin temperature. Wet hair is also the gift that keeps giving, because the longer it stays damp, the longer your head feels.

You can also sleep under a damp sheet. Don’t go overboard with this; just get a spare cotton sheet and run it under the faucet, then wring it out and spread it over you before you sleep. If you end up feeling too cold, or don’t like the feeling of wet cotton on top of you, put a towel between you and the sheet.

If you live in a multi-story building, sleep as close to the ground as possible. This is because hot air rises but cool air sinks. Now’s a great time to break out those air mattresses!

Speaking of sleeping, nap during the hottest parts of the day. If you’re hot you won’t feel like doing anything, and sleep is an excellent way to escape discomfort, so endure the afternoon heat by sleeping through it. The siesta, or post-lunch nap, is popular in Spain and Latin America for this very reason.

If you’re having difficulty sleeping during the day because of the amount of light in your room, invest in some blackout curtains for the house. These are great for a variety of reasons: not only do they block the light so you can sleep, they also prevent the house from warming up through the windows. What’s more, if you have a generator in your house and you don’t want the neighborhood to know that you have power, these curtains prevent light from leaking out at night.

I have found that I can endure higher temperatures and humidity if I can just get some air blowing on my face. Portable fans and a supply of batteries will go a long way towards personal comfort. Turn one on when you feel hot and carry it with you when you change rooms, because you don’t need to cool off the whole room, just a few feet around you. I recommend the O2COOL 5-inch portable fan - it requires two D cell batteries and only costs five dollars with free shipping on Amazon.

Finally, don’t forget about your pets. Cats and dogs get hot, too! My mother bought a pair of pressure-activated cooling gel pads for our dogs, and let me tell you, they work really well. I know this because one of our dogs refused to lie on her cooling pad -- I don’t know WHY, she’s just silly -- and so mom put that pad on her own bed and slept on it, which made her life more comfortable. When I came back home, mom gave that cooling pad to me, because I’m always hot in this house, and it’s on the back of my chair in the living room. Mm-mm, comfy!

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