Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Little Dream Analysis

Most of the time I don't remember my dreams, but when I do they're usually remarkable; for them to be ordinary is in fact quire extraordinary.

Last night my brain gave me a neat name for a character. There was no context to it whatsoever, just the name "Titch Gamalol" which was then modified to a more ethnic "Tich Gamaliel". I know that Gamaliel is a Hebrew name and I was hoping that Tich (which in my head was pronounced with a long E sound and the ch of chutzpah) was a name or nickname in Hebrew or Yiddish or German, but so far my research hasn't turned up anything. I hope it does, because I'm always delighted when my brain absorbs something subliminally and then releases the info to me late at night in a dream. That's how I learned that the word for cowboy protective leg gear is called "chaps". No lie.

However, I promised you dream analysis and there's nothing to analyze in a name like that. Instead, let me tell you about a dream I had last week and the analysis thereof.

In my dream I was a competitive ice skater. I don't know if I was at the Olympic or another event, but I knew it some kind of contest or championship. Everyone knew I was transgender but they didn't seem to care that I was in the women's division. Security was on high alert because there was some alleged threat about Russians -- the dream never said, but in context it was clear they meant spies or saboteurs or some other kind of bad actor, not just "people from Russia" -- and it was believed they had infiltrated the event to disrupt it in some way. I learned this from a lesbian political analyst who is my RL friend and might (or might not) have been my lover in this dream.

I know that I went onto the ice to do my routine, bu I don't remember what it was. All I can tell you is that I was wearing something cute with a fluttery skirt and it was sparkly -- I can't even tell you what color it was -- and that at some point during my routine I twisted my ankle badly. Maybe I fell and knocked myself out, because the next thing I remember is waking up in a synagogue(!) full of old Jewish people, who gently fussed over me and my injury.

Then they told me it was time to leave. I tried to go out the front door, but that was a door to a mall (and indoor mall, not a strip mall) and there were people out there and an old lady told me that we needed to go out the back door like the employees and service personnel. I was still having trouble walking, so she gave her cane to help me, and her cane was made of bones suspended in clear Lucite.

As we got ready to leave, all the men went out first. Then I was told to go next, then the women went out. I don't remember what happened after walking through the door.

So, let's analyze this.

Me being an ice skater is very unusual, as I don't know much about the sport at all. My mother LOVES it, though, and it's on a lot during the winter months so I'll see bits and pieces as I walk through the living room. I'll occasionally stop to admire a pretty girl or a cute outfit, but that's about it.

I'm pretty sure this represents my hopes and dreams -- I'm pretty, wearing a pretty outfit, considered a woman despite being trans, performing in a heavily gendered sport which my mother enjoys -- all of this is about being accepted as a "legitimate" female by society in general and hopefully by my mother in particular.

Given that I never saw any Russian agents in my dream, I think my subconscious took a leaf from the recent impeachment hearings and used them to represent a vague boogeyman who might not even exist. Given the nonstop media coverage of COVID-19 and my own conflict over what the media tells me vs. what I'm seeing in real life, I think this was my brain trying to reconcile my own pragmatic rationalism with ambient beer flu hysteria.

Speaking of pragmatic rationalism, that was personified by the conservative political analyst as she's the one who told me about the agents. I think the fact that I didn't know if she was my lover or not is important; I'm trying to be rational in these times of panic, but like the "maybe she is, maybe she isn't" love interest I often doubt yourself. So this whole thing is about whether or not I trust myself to make the right decision when confronted with rationality vs. hysteria.

The fact that I don't remember doing an ice routine just reinforces the notion that the dream wasn't about ice skating at all.

The synagogue full of old people like has to do with the fact that my dad's side of the family are old Jews who either fled the Nazis or died at their hands. The mall represents society as a whole, and the service entrances are routes of escape that aren't noticed (or known) by most people. The cane of bones makes this blatant symbolism for "Lean on who we are, and what lessons you learned from us, to get you through this". That I was allowed to go after the men, but before the women, is another "Hey, you're transgender, this is important for the dream" nod because I occupied that in-between position.

So why is the second half of my dream telling me to flee, like the Jews fled the Nazis, when the first half is about me trying to overcome fear with rationality? That's likely because the recurring theme of the whole dream is self-doubt: I want her to love me, but does she? I want to be accepted, but why do I still feel separate? How can I flee if I have a hurt ankle?

I really feel that the underlying issue which my brain is trying to process is "In the face of a global pandemic which may change your life forever, how do I survive and still remain a woman?" Because if I need to evacuate for whatever reason, I will likely need to leave behind not just my feminine clothes and makeup and jewelry, but also my identity as a woman because I'm not yet at the stage where I can pass for female without all that stuff. So maybe my brain was trying to figure out a way where I could be femme without baggage; or maybe it was trying to come to terms with what I might have to leave behind as a way to get over the shock now instead of later.

My point is this: there's a lot of scary imagery being tossed about. It's natural to feel doubts. It's natural to be worried, to feel overwhelmed. It's natural to wonder about what kind of world we're going to be entering -- I couldn't even conceive of it in my dream -- and what we'll leave behind.

We can't all be strong all the time. If you feel yourself weakening, that's okay. Take a rest in a synagogue, let some kindly old Jews fuss over you, and follow their lead -- or, put another way, rest where you feel it's safe, surround yourself with love and self-care, and listen to the advice of people you trust.

We can get through this.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 094: Sure Would Be Nice To Have A Gun Now, Wouldn't It?

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the ammo and gun shortage in reaction to COVID-19, as well as an innovative strategy for keeping people working and happy;
  • David tells us how to swage your own bullets;
  • Weer'd fisks a propaganda film for a March for Our Lives protest you probably never even heard about;
  • and Oddball gives another use for a Raspberry Pi Micro Computer: a Virtual Private Network and a network-wide ad blocker.

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Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Weer'd Audio Fisk:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

My Guns.Com Interview about Blue Collar Prepping

Lat week I was contacted by Jacki Billings, an editor at Guns.Com, who said that they were doing a series on prepping and wanted to know if I was open to an interview. I was of course delighted to talk to a new (and given current circumstances, much larger than usual) audience about the joys and comforts of emergency preparedness.

That interview was published today, and I think I did quite well. I especially like that I was asked questions such as "What advice would you give to new preppers?" Usually I am asked things like "Aren't you paranoid?" or "How much money have you sunk into this?" and it was a genuine pleasure to be able to help people get started.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday Night Wackiness: Speaking of Les Stroud...

... he is doing a Survivorman web series on COVID-19. It's basically Les satirizing himself.

I found it funny. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

State of the Erin Report

Hi everyone! It's been a long time since I wrote a post just talking about how I'm doing. A lot of that is due to how freaking busy I've been working on Pink Pistols and Operation Blazing Sword business, and some of that is due to a generalized funk regarding creativity that I'm only now starting to come out of. Sorry about that, my brain chemistry is odd.

So how is everyone doing with the quarantine and all? As I wrote in my article for Blue Collar Prepping last week,
I'm actually doing quite well. I'm an introvert and rarely leave the house more than once a week (I have a designated "chore day" where I put on pants and brace myself to deal with people), so this is barely affecting me. When I did go outside this week, I found myself enjoying the lack of congestion. I know this can't last forever and that businesses can't prosper if everyone stays away, but at this moment I find myself really enjoying all the extra space and wishing that social distancing were something we could adopt year-round.
I've also been spending a lot of time tending to my preps, which I'm sure will come as no surprise to you. I always do a seasonal check-up every time change, and the fact that this year's Spring Forward coincided with the CV-19 outbreak here has given me reason to put a little more care into my preps. For example, I just recently upgraded my Get Home Bag and am in the process of tweaking to be exactly as I want it. I'm also taking a lot of my secondary preps and putting them into a Bug Out Bag for my mother, so that only only will she have something in case we need to evacuate but also I'll benefit from having the secondary gear nearby to supplement mine. I'm also taking all the leftover preps that are too good to throw away but not good enough for my family to use and putting them into a gym bag, so that if there's someone I know who needs supplies I can give it to them. That way they have something they can use but I'm not taking supplies away from us.

My family and I are healthy and showing no signs of the COVID, although that's not terribly surprising since we aren't very social people. I'm not terribly worried about getting sick due to my under-50 age and general good health, but both my parents are over 80. Mom is otherwise in good health, but dad has so many other pre-existing conditions that if he catches it then he's going to end up hospitalized and/or dead, which is why I'm not making a Bug Out Bag for him. If for some reason he's still healthy and we need to evacuate for whatever reason, he can use my Get Home Bag.

But in general, I'm not worried about this and I'm slightly unsettled by how much I'm not worried by this. I have good preps in place and so far I haven't detected any holes in them. I have flans for if the stores close and if we lose water and power. Right now, though, this is the cushiest disaster ever. We still have air conditioning and Netflix! I've been more inconvenienced while out camping.

If anything, it's the news and anticipation that's getting to me. I keep hearing about how awful this virus is and how we need to take more and more drastic steps, yet nothing is changing and nothing appears to need changing, although that last part is probably helped by living in a rural part of my state. The dichotomy between the news and what I observe is really troubling, like having a hurricane stalled off the coast in that I can deal with awful because I have plans for awful times, but the waiting for that shoe to drop is eating my patience and sense of calm and I have to choose between being calm and uninformed or informed and (needlessly?) worried.

Finally, here's a video from Les "Survivorman" Stroud about what you can and can't do in a lockdown. Hopefully you find it useful, or at least reassuring.

Anyway, that's me and mine. How are the rest of you holding up?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 093: We're Sick of the Beer Flu

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk (briefly!) about the COVID-19 cancellations, but more extensively about Florida Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and his, shall we say, interesting night in a South Beach Hotel;
  • the Other Staffers are dealing with an increased workload due to shutdowns and panic buying, so Weer'd brings us a lengthy audio fisk of Joe Biden's confrontation with a Detroit UAW worker.

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

Show Notes

Main Topic:
Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Monday, March 16, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 092: Nothing But Smooth Transitions

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the amazing Operation Blazing Sword and Pink Pistols Raffle, as well as the aftermath of a defensive shooting in Greensboro, NC;
  • David talks about cartridge conversion and wildcatting;
  • Panya tells us about the best use for Raspberry Pis: Retro Gaming;
  • and Weer'd brings us an audio fisk of Michael Bloomberg and a warning that just because he's no longer running for President, it doesn't mean he is no longer a threat!

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

Show Notes

Main Topic:
Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:
Story Time with Panya:
Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Monday, March 9, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 091: Primer on Bartending

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the NRA Annual Meeting and COVID-19, then discuss a defensive gun use and a Bloomberg campaign event;
  • David talks about ammunition primers;
  • and Weer'd Interviews Ian McCollum from Forgotten Weapons and InRange TV about his time as a bartender.

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

Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Ian McCollum:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Unknown Armies-style Stress Gauges for Vampire 5e

As you probably know, I'm a big fan of Unknown Armies. Even though the setting isn't for most gamers, there's just something about the core mechanics of the game which I find satisfying in its utility and adaptable to different genres (for example, were I run a game set in the Firefly 'verse, I would use UA).

I think the most evocative part of UA are the Stress Gauges, which were called Madness Meters in previous editions. They're like the Sanity system of the Call of Cthulhu RPG, only better, because not only are the sources of stress/madness broken down into categories like Violence, Helplessness, and so on, they also give you the choice of being unable to cope with the stresses (and therefore going insane) or become hardened to them (and risk becoming an emotionless sociopath).

In fact, I like it so much that I converted it to use with Vampire: the Masquerade, another of my favorite system. It was a fair amount of work, but I thought it was a great idea and so did my GM, so I did it.

That said, here's a Google Doc for Stress Gauges in V5. Not only did I re-calibrate some of the benchmarks because I didn't agree with them, I also added a sixth gauge called Addiction. Not only is this great for games without supernatural components (like the aforementioned UA Firefly game), but it's also a natural fit for Vampire where hunger for blood, itself an addiction, rules the player characters.

If you like V:tM and you like granular measurements of insanity and sociopathy, I think you'll like this adaptation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Raffle to Benefit Operation Blazing Sword

Hello everyone! Are you ready for some MARCH MADNESS??

By which I mean not the sportsball event, but rather a truly amazing raffle of awesome goodies of interest to gun owners which will directly benefit Operation Blazing Sword and Pink Pistols!

This amazing raffle starts RIGHT NOW and runs through April 3rd, with the winners being announced April 5th. Here's what we have:

$2 Tickets: Shooter's Grab Bag
A single $2 ticket gets you one entry into the "Shooter's Grab Bag". While that sounds miscellaneous, I promise you that it's filled with goodies that you'll want, such as:

Nine PMAG 21 GL9 Magazines 
(one magazine per winning ticket)

The PMAG 21 GL9 is a 21-round Glock 9mm handgun magazine featuring a proprietary all-polymer construction for flawless reliability and durability over thousands of rounds. Meeting the overall length requirements for a 140MM competition magazine, the PMAG 21 GL9 offers additional capacity without the need for expensive extensions.

The PMAG 21 GL9 is compatible with all full-size, compact, and sub-compact double-stack Glock 9mm variants with some protrusion below the grip. Made in the USA.

Three Daka Pouches 
(one pouch per winning ticket)

The Magpul DAKA Pouch was designed to bring organization to the dusty, dirty, and muddy world we work and play in.

The Medium Magpul DAKA Pouch is made from polymer-infused textiles that include welded seams and genuine YKK® water resistant zippers. Our construction methods and the materials we use mean these pouches are at home in hard-use applications like tool organization and bulk storage of reloaded ammunition, or lighter duties such as organizing your personal electronic accessories. Although they're not meant to be submerged, these water-resistant pouches will keep your items dry in most wet environments, making them a great choice for most outdoor adventures.

One PHLster $50 Gift Code
From the company that brought you the Flatpack TQ Carrier and the Pocket Emergency Wallet (both of which are part of my Every Day Carry), you get $50 to spend however you wish.

One Voucher for a Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker or Orion Holster
We don't know what kind of gun you want to holster, so you can pick one that fits your gun in one of two models, the clip-on Hitchhiker or the belt-looped Orion.

$3 Tickets: Shooter's Selection
Just like a Grab Bag, a single ticket at this level gets you a chance to win any of these select beauties that are sure to make you swoon:

Morgan Atwood Envoy Knife
Something discreet, for when you can’t have something not. The Envoy is a sleek double edged design, optimized for reverse edge use and conventional applications. Approx 6 1/4″ overall, with a 3 1/4″ blade. Hand ground from .250 G10, with hand carved Moon Crater texture, and sheathed in kydex saddle-stitched with 200lb Technora thread for a fully non-metallic package.

Victory Aegis Belt by Mean Gene Leather
The MGL “Victory Aegis” Belt utilizes the Ares Gear LLC. Aegis Buckle.  These belts are constructed with a dual layer of top grain leather. Giving a desirably stable belt to support holsters-either OWB or IWB- yet comfortable to the feel. Its combination of the two layers of 7/8oz and 8/9oz leather delivers just over a 1/4” thickness. The Victory Aegis belt is reinforced between the two layers to add strength and reduce the amount of stretching as time passes. Each layer is laminated together with industrial strength adhesives, as well as sewn together with #277 bonded threads. Chicago screws to secure the Aegis buckle. The MGL Victory Aegis belt is handmade using US leather. The outer layer is dyed while the inner layer has a clear finish. Finally, the edges are burnished, edge dyed and the belt is then rubbed down by hand with Ray Holes Saddle Butter. Available only in 1.5″ widths.

The victory Aegis belt will be made to order according to the winner's size and color preference.

Sentinel Concepts Revelation II Backpack
This backpack is designed to conceal a S.B.R. with Law Tactical Folder,  up to 10.5" barrel  up to 22.5"  with a 30Rd Magazine. From the OUTSIDE this is a basic backpack. It has a standard back pack appearance, NO MOLLE or Patch areas or Tactical appearance at all allowing you to blend into daily environments.

$150 Gift Code from Big Tex Outdoors
Big Tex Outdoors was started in 2014 to fill a gap that we believe existed in the firearms industry. Our focus is to provide the greatest selection of top-shelf gear at fair prices with the absolute best customer service in the business.

Magpul Bipod for M-LOK
The Magpul Bipod for M-LOK offers serious strength and versatility at a price that provides unmatched value. Our lightweight Mil-Spec hard anodized 6061 T-6 aluminum and injection-molded polymer bipod brings innovation in ergonomics, functionality, strength and value together. Its low-profile design conceals its internal mechanisms and hardware, smoothly brushing off snags and bumps. Optimized for rapid one-handed adjustments, the bipod quickly and quietly transitions between user configurations.

In the shooting position, it is easily loaded with stabilizing forward tension without fear of failure or warping. Its aluminum and stainless steel components, along with its injection-molded reinforced polymer, ensure years of dependable performance and reliability, all while shaving weight. It's extremely light weight, at just over 11 oz.

Magpul Hunter X-22 Stock

The Magpul Hunter X-22 chassis is an ergonomic, full-featured stock for the ubiquitous Ruger® 10/22® rifle. Made from high quality reinforced polymer, the Hunter X-22 features an ergonomic grip, adjustable length of pull and comb height to fit a wide variety of shooters, multiple sling mounting options, a non-slip rubber butt-pad, and M-LOK® slots for accessory attachment.

The Hunter X-22 fits standard Ruger® 10/22® .22 LR pattern rifles with no gunsmithing, and a reversible barrel tray ensures proper fit with factory pencil profile as well as heavy bull barrels. The Hunter X-22 is also compatible with the Thompson Center T/CR22.

Made in the USA.

Four PMAG D-60 AR/M4 Drums (one drum per winning ticket)

The PMAG D-60 is a durable, lightweight, highly reliable 60-round 5.56x45 NATO/.223 Remington* polymer drum magazine for AR15/M4 compatible weapons. With a larger capacity than previous PMAGs, the PMAG D-60 gives the shooter 60 rounds of ammunition, effectively allowing the same round count as two standard capacity 30-round magazines without requiring a critical reload.

The unique drum configuration keeps the height of the magazine manageable and allows for prone firing and easier storage. Features an easy-to-use loading lever, paint pen dot matrix for easy marking, and a rear window for instant capacity indication. 

Made in the USA. 

And now for the really good stuff:
All of these are separate ticket items, so if you want a chance to win all three you will need to spend a minimum of $25.

$5 Ticket: One-Day Tatiana Whitlock Class
The winner of this item will receive a voucher good for one day of training by Tatiana Whitlock. It is up to the winner to make arrangements to attend the class.

Tatiana Whitlock is a firearms instructor, hunter, and outdoors enthusiast residing in the majestic state of Maine. Tatiana works with men, women & youth to establish a real-world foundation of firearm skills, safety, and situational awareness. The training that she offers brings participants mindset out of the square range and into the context of daily life. Tatiana is an NRA BPI, RSO and Refuse to Be a Victim instructor.

$10 Ticket: Two-Day Sentinel Concepts Class
The winner of this item will receive a voucher good for two days of training by Steve "Yeti" Fisher. It is up to the winner to make arrangements to attend the class.

Sentinel Concepts is committed to bringing our students the most current and relevant firearms training based on their personal needs.

No two classes will have the same curriculum, as each class will be based on the students and their training goals in each class.  

Individual students’ goals, abilities, and skills will be the basis for each class’ instruction.  Each drill and exercise will build a solid surface for each student to develop a plan for their personal practice sessions and will enable them to diagnose their own mistakes, craft more efficient shooters, and effective weapon manipulator after the class and for years to come, by using proven and current techniques.

$10 Ticket: Dark Angel Medical DART Class and Trauma Kit
The winner of this item will receive a voucher good for a two-day Direct Action Response Training class and a Civilian-Standard level DARK trauma kit which will be given to them at the class. It is up to the winner to make arrangements to attend.

The time to learn to use your personal trauma kit is not when you or someone else is bleeding out!!! When life expectancy is measured in seconds and help is minutes away, will you know what to do? In our uncertain lives, that is a question that we all need to be able to answer a resounding, “Yes!” to. Dark Angel Medical, LLC, is proud to offer training and instruction in the use of the D.A.R.K. The Direct Action Response Training fills a niche between military self-aid/buddy care training and civilian EMS training and is geared towards those with little to no medical training or background. It provides the student with critical, need-to-know information, which can be utilized in a myriad of situations and stresses the ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ principle as well as our own principle of “Simplicity Under Stress”. The course is 2 days in length with a total of 16 hours of classroom work to include slide presentations, videos, question and answer sessions and hands-on practical skills application. A manual and all training aids will be provided. 

***There are no prerequisites for this class***

D.A.R.K., Complete Kit--- comes complete with pouch which has shear retention straps on either side of the pouch and a 1" PVC Medic patch, color matched trauma shears, Gen 7 CAT and Vacuum-sealed components to include:

1 pair Nitrile gloves, size L,
1 pair HALO Seals,
1x Nasal Airway,
1x 4'' Israeli Bandage,
1x QuikCLot Combat Gauze LE or ChitoGauze XR Pro(MIL-SPEC Kits contain QuikClot Combat Gauze MIL)
1x Compressed Gauze
1x Mylar Blanket
Polycarbonate Eyeshield (current USMC issue eye shield and is recommended by the Committee on Tactical Casualty Combat Care)

Total Value of Prizes: Over $3,000!
To enter the raffle, make a donation to Operation Blazing Sword via PayPal. Our address is donations@blazingsword.org. Be sure to specify how many tickets you want and in which category (Shooter's Grab Bag, Shooter's Select, Tatiana Whitlock, Sentinel Concepts, Dark Angel Medical). 

Winners will be notified by email and announced on social media on Sunday, April 5th. 

Members of the Operation Blazing Sword Board of Directors are ineligible to participate in the raffle (which is a damn shame, because I really wanted one of those D-60 drums).

Now, let's get ready to rafffffllllleeee!!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 090: The Long Week Roundtable

In This Episode:
Erin and Weer'd spent most of the past 10 days traveling, so they decided to host another Round Table with Oddball and David to discuss their travels, some gunnie minutia, and of course a few current events!

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

Show Notes

The Fine Print

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

Creative Commons License

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