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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."

Thursday
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. 

Friday
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.

The Fine Print


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