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4th-Mar-2014 08:01 pm - BURN
Okay, the mental dust has settled somewhat, and I'm going over and recapping my funsie-trip three weekends ago.  This is, for the most part, just highlights. Burns tend to blur in the brain both during, and after.

Did a whole bunch of planning, and worked on the art project I was bringing, several weekends before. Plan A was to rent a Uhaul trailer, snag it early Thursday morning, and then drop back by the house to snag the big stuff.  Looking at the weather forecast for Thursday (that's Feb 13), I cancelled the Uhaul rental on Tuesday afternoon.   Loaded the car (got up at 0600, took 2-1/2 hours to load) on Wednesday morning.  The art project was a bit on the top-heavy side, but I made it.  Did have to pull the firebowl off my roof for the garage -- it tried to take out a sprinkler.

Left work as usual, and at 1830 while on 66, the snow started. About 2 hours earlier than predicted, of course.  Dashed home, snagged  a couple of forgotten items, and hauled ass for Martinsburg.  Checked in at 2100, with a couple inches on the ground already. Slept in until 0730 or so, to have daylight for the trip. Good thing I'd brought the snow shovel and Squeeper -- had to shovel my way from the motel room door, to the car door.  Packed, loaded, and hit the road by about 0800.  The 4-wheel drive got a workout, just leaving the hotel -- about 12-14 inches' worth on the spots that were unplowed, plowed driveway had 6 or 8.

I did not do my usual backroad shortcut thing. 81 to Hagerstown to 70 to Breezewood, in theory. Except for the mile-long backup on 70 due to a semitrailer crash.  Hopped off on US40 to Hancock.  Didn't have any issues with Town Hill, got into Breezewood just fine.  Turnpike was iffy, so went on US30 to get to 99. Plus, I needed to shop for some last-minute stuffs. 99 to 332 to Phillipsburg to Brookville, and I don't think I ever got above 50. 3-1/2 hour trip took more like 7 hours.

Finally, got the big "Welcome Home!" at Gate. Lots of hugs, and scored my cool Frostburn Medic badge. Wandered up to the Barn and snagged a staff radio, announced my presence. Made it up the hill, to where 10-Pint Men were set.  Of course, afternoon was wearing on.  Our host, proprietor of Camp Kevin, had been plowing out roads all over the hill for camps.  He dug out a spot for my tent, and a place to unload the Temple kit, but by that time it was a bit late for a wall tent. I put up my pop-up survival tent, and set my lesser air mattress and sleeping bags inside.  Rather than bother with fancy stuff, I fired up the car, turned on the heat, and scarfed an emergency ration (aka nuke-a-lunch) from my survival supplies.

1900 or so, fed, and stocked with energy drinks and whatnot, trekked up the hill to spend the evening at Habitat for Insanity. You gotta love a place where the space heater is a work of art.  Two 55-gallon drums on their sides, one above the other. Lower drum is a wood stove, upper drum is a heat exchanger. WITH, mind you, auto-engine exhaust manifolds serving as air conduits.   My major activity for the evening was hanging out and schmoozing.   My cousin Bee and her boyfriend made it to camp about 2300, after a hairy trip from Baltimore.  They'd already been up earlier in the week, because he was the Effigy Builder.   Bunches of good music, as well.  I had to make sure the radio was on at midnight, because I had Sober Staff Duty from midnight to 6.

Coming out of Habitat, it was like daylight:  Huge full moon, clear sky full of stars, and the world covered in white and reflecting the moonlight. Wandered a bit, then headed down to camp, set the radio to the zzz frequency, and crashed.  Found out some things, though.  The Survival Pop-Up Pyramid lets in a LOT of snow. It's also a pain to get boots on inside.  My sleeping bags (fleece inside poncho liner inside mummy bag) worked, though. Air mattress let me down, but better than on cold ground. Up and out by 0830, and sat in the car thawing, munching E-rats, and taking notes.

For the tent, I began by setting the dog-screws that I use for stakes. Then, I strung the rope that went to the side-loop carabiners. Assembled the frame, sans legs.  A young lady whom I'd helped with her tent, came over and assisted me in unrolling mine over the frame. Legs up, rope hooked, and ready for Phase 2.  In the spirit of laziness, I figured I'd get the tent up, THEN use the snow shovel to level only those spots that needed it.  Laid out and staked the tarp floor, and moved in.  I got a two-burner tank-top heater last year. This year I brought a full tank, and a partial. I'd also spent $12 or so on a plastic D-battery fan from WalMart.  Best twelve bucks I'd spent in years. At full crank, with the fan on high, I got the tent up to 80 degrees. Useful later on in the weekend for taking a Playa bath when I was feeling grubby.

The Temple construction didn't quite match my original concept drawing. I was a bit off on the math for the number of boards needed. However, it did go up, and did work. Walls were about 6" low, but it worked. Only place that really needed a lot of help, was 4 people to put the roof on.  Had an odd board, which wound up becoming a door-lintel.

The theme, "Vale Lazaretta", was a goodbye and release-of-attachment to the car I'd wrecked in October.  I'd planned on a platform, with a model of the car.  Instead, I tagged the wall with "VALE" and a silhouette.  The "altar" was a tight-laid stack of firewood, with a red cloth over it. On that, I placed a couple of notebooks and a stack of Sharpies. My own piece, I said on page 1 of one of the books.

Didn't get further up-hill than the Temple until about 2000. Meanwhile, the neighbors had set up their camp, and my campmates arrived and set up.  The neighbors fired up generators, and we had Techno and Trance music for the duration.  I've slept through 8-inch howitzers firing over my head. Trance rock next door, meh. I put a trio of battery-operated glowies in the Temple, to attract nighttime attention. Except, of course, some conservation minded soul switched them off. Ah, well. They worked Saturday and Sunday nights.

My fellow Medic, RumRunner (who is in charge of first aid at Playa Del Fuego) arrived Friday. He'd brought his EZ-Up with woodstove for a warm fixed-point first-aid area. TomP, who'd done the logistics-and-planning side of Medical before the Burn, brought chili for the Medics' meet-and-greet on Saturday.

Back to Habitat, till about 0100. Conversation, schmoozing, pizza, bit of ice cream. A guy was doing interesting things with beer floats. I had a float-hold-the-beer-I'm-on-duty-please, aka ice cream by itself. I also got introduced to spiced mangos -- bite sized bits with, I think, Garam Masala.   Swung by Bat Country's new bar, for the one brief bit that I hung out there.  The new bar is more modest in size, but is slot-and-groove construction so it breaks down flat. It's slightly curved, so that when emptied of booze and turned onto its front, it becomes a 4-person see-saw. With a long enough, and flexible enough, propane hose, you can leave the flames turned on and have a FLAMING seesaw.

Our camp eats really well. Norwegian Peasant Stew, meat pies, pizza, breakfast was French toast with bananas foster topping.  Also, medieval Spanish beef.   There was so much food out, that the Brunswick Stew I'd brought didn't get touched.   I donated it to Man Camp on Sunday night, because they were feeding people.

Saturday, the Artillery Mocha coffee bar got lots of play. Hot, caffeinated (or not), people stopped in.  Had one guy come in for a cup of tea. While talking, he asked if I'd ever smoked a certain drug, and I said no. I asked about the effects (he'd done a LOT of it), and he said it was indescribable in words. He then unlimbered his guitar, and played me a piece he'd written to describe it.  Even to my non-drugged brain, the music did convey the feelings he was trying to describe. One of those odd moments that can only happen at a Burn.

I didn't realize that the Miss Frostburn Pageant where I'd been a judge, in 2011, was the first such pageant. Cool stuff. The judges' panel this year was mostly the three previous winners, plus a couple of staff types.  Highlights included a friend who does aerial silk work, doing a trapeze act; a howlingly funny guy competing as Miss Sparkle Pony; and the eventual winner, with a great musical number. I could have lived without the male stripper.

We kept the home fires burning well around camp -- our camp always gets LOTS of wood. We're also good at lighting it. Every year, I save up all the wax from our house candles.  Right before Frostburn, I comine the wax in a double boiler, with those wood shavings they use for litter in rodent cages. Scoop into paper bags, and you get small bricks of accelerant that my campmates call Nuclear Fire Starters.   The constant fire and lots of wood purchase also meant lots of hot dogs, Smores, and things like dutch-oven pizza.  I didn't get any takers for Medieval dancing this year -- maybe next. Had the boombox, had the tunes, it was there if folks had wanted to. The keg of cider was, however, popular with the drinkers.

I didn't realize it was Bee's boyfriend who had conceived and built the Effigy, until I went to help him prime it up with some accelerants.  This year's piece, which he titled the Frostburn Totem, did look like an abstract totem pole. With its agglomeration of rope, burlap, cable spools looking like barrels, and spars, I thought that it was also evocative of the 2013 Burning Man theme, Cargo Cult.  Even more cool, he had guys with a genny / laptop / projector, putting animated totem-pole faces on it, up till the fire conclave.  I took perimeter guard, since that's what I do. Really easy when you've got a big circular plow-zone:  "Hi, come on over, the safe area is this side of the plow drift."  Even cooler, he spun fire in the Conclave, then used his torches to light the Effigy.

Hung out in Habitat for the most part, rest of the evening.  The V-Spot was chilly, Bike Camp was occupied, and the Sweat Lodge would have swallowed me up if I'd gone in. Wound up finishing my gear-up in Man Camp, then off to bed.

0530 Sunday morning, was presented with a test.  CONDITION:  space heater out, tank empty, bladder full. Task: Change tanks and relight burner. Task: Pee  Standard:  Change tank, relight burner, before pissing myself.  Standard:  Jump out back of tent, make yellow snow, get back in front of burner before freezing dick off.  Evaluation:  Tank change and re-light accomplished in <1 minute.  Arrived back in front of burner, after pee mission, with all appendages unfrozen. Grade: Pass.

My radio finally died, so I went to the Barn, to get a fresh one.  Got some pics of Kevin's ZombieTrac -- a Geo Tracker with the wheels replaced by treads.  I also got to play a bit of Riskee Ball with the setup that Totenkitten had put by the barn.   A lot of Ten Pint Men packed out on Sunday, leaving me with one campmate who's Frostburn staff.  Our campmate J left his wooden noggin again. Hopefully this year we'll get it back to him before the last day of Pennsic.

Sunday evening: I was going to close the Temple 3 hours before ignition, to prep for the Burn.  Rather, I broadcast a last call at 1600, then actually started burn prep at 1800.  Three fire lays equidistant around the hexagonal structure.  A nuclear starter at the bottom, then scrap from the temple board cutouts, marinated all day in tiki-torch oil. Finally, a partial bottle of tiki oil mixed with a quart of white gas, and split into the three accelerant containers for inclusion in the three fire lays.  On the fire lay that had been the altar, I placed the notebooks, and envelopes of feelings given to me by some friends.  At 1900, I lit the flares for the Burn.

Back up to Habitat, the highlight of which was singing karaoke in the V-Spot.  I did shots of water rather than Kamikazes, but then I didn't need to do any recreational substances in order to sing some Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin (Paranoid and Black Dog, respectively).

Monday, packing out. Combine ADD with things like defrosting a frozen stew pot, helping others to pack, checking for MOOP, and so foth, and I was one of the last ones out (like, 1700).  I, however, unlike many others, drove out without needing a tow. I also had to deal with a pile  of ice in my driver's seat. I thought, "WTF? I did NOT leave a door or window open in the car last night."  Then, I saw the Monster drink can lying on its side. Pointing at the driver's door. With its top blown off by the freezing beverage.  In all, four cans were sacrificed to the Fire Gods and turned to aluminum oxide.

Gas-and-bladder stop in Brookville, with dinner being a Sheetz sub.  Rolled down 36 to 119 to Greensburg where I'd reserved a motel room. Sleep deprivation kicked in, so I chugged a Monster and a couple of 5-Hour shots on the way.  Checked into the motel, and crashed hard.  Monday morning, up, out, and scrub a last parting shot of Wintry  Mix from the car before heading home.

All in all, a great Burn.

[DW Original]
SCA friends will know of what I speak, others, ping me if you want an explanation:

To:  Board of Directors, SCA, Inc
cc: Various lists

Re:  Proposal to De-Warrant the Chirurgeonate

My Lords and Ladies of the Board of Directors, Greetings!

Those of you who know me personally, can attest to your colleagues that I can be a nasty, cynical, and jaded curmudgeon.  Thus, it will probably come as no surprise that I harbor a sneaking suspicion, that we are being presented with a fait accompli, rather than a request for input.

That said,  I would point out that the Chirurgeonate does not provide, nor has it in the past, "medical services by licensed practitioners".  The Chirurgeonate is a first-aid organization. The upper end of our standard of care is bounded by "Does not require a license to do".  I suspect that the SCA's counsel and insurers may be confused as to the actual scope-of-practice involved.

Nota Bene:  I am not a lawyer, ergo the following may very well be talking through my hat.  I invite correction if I'm wrong.

My major concern with this action is that it will effectively gut the protections we enjoy under the Volunteer Protection Act, in that we would no longer be "officially", for whatever values of "official" one chooses, volunteering for the organization. Good Samaritan Acts apply, primarily, to emergencies. Band-Aids and ankle wraps might not be covered.

Should my cynical suspicions prove correct, I would ask one thing: During the dismantling process, I beg of you to release the heraldry of the Chirurgeonate, to whit the goutte-and-fleam, for use by an unofficial Chirurgeons' Guild.

Yours in Service,

Lord Erich Von Kleinfeld, MC,
(For the moment) Deputy Kingdom Chirurgeon, Atlantia

[DW Original]
11th-Aug-2013 12:54 pm - Pennsic / Big Dub, Redux
Back to a semblance of normalcy, in the Den of Iniquity. The check from Pennsic Exchequer for the black powder run has been deposited, and cleared. My car is back to its normal configuration. Laundry done, tents dried on Monday and gone to the locker, poles / roof bag / other gear, already went after first unload. So, interesting bits from Pennsic:

Once again, I was Land Agent this year. Got to Zero Night, 2200. Tent up, 2215. Trolled in, 2245. Got my golf cart sticker and checked in to Chi Point by 2300. T'was interesting walkding around, and hanging out, and conversing, easing my way back into Pennsic mode. Was NOT, however, majorly amused by the ETOH-fueled domestic dispute (fortunately non-physical) 50 feet from my tent at 0500. Also, it rained. My pop-up pyramid tent is not waterproof.

Land Grab and Setup went smoothly, for certain values of "smoothly". No microbursts, and no tumble-weeding EZ-Ups, for instance, are a plus. I couldn't figure out why I was being bombarded with Hitchhiker jokes, until I paused, looked at Mt Eislinn, mentally translated the Roman XLII, and then groaned mightily. Scored the Beast-n-Boar mug while getting breakfast, prior to Land Grab.

My tent went up well with the new steel frame, but the adjustable pipe brackets kept adjusting themselves flatward, despite my efforts at tightening them. I have plans for that. I discovered a couple of days in, that I was once again camping on top of the Chocolate Pudding Water Feature, aka the spot that wells up and turns to quickmud during the War. This time, however, I did NOT have a dome with a flaky nylon floor. Uber-heavy tarp to the rescue. Next year, possibly some boards and wedges to level up my cot are in order. The Barony switched to Culligan tanks this year. 45 people x 2 weeks =3 tanks, and super-easy to use. Adios, Filter Cow!

Got set up, did a tour of Watch on Saturday night. Helped get some stuff up on Sunday, and did my first shift at Chi Point. Rolled out Monday morning. Now, usually, I get home, and call / email the powdermonger with the order for the cannons. This time, on impulse, I called him from I-79, between 422 and Cranberry. Good thing. He was closed Tuesday. In fact, he was closing up at 1300 THAT DAY, to go on vacation. We will not discuss my driving speeds between Cranberry, PA and Gainesboro, VA. I lost about 15 minutes in a plaza east of Pittsburgh, cursing at the most dysfunctional ATM on the Turnpike. I did, however, get my cash, and sped on. If you need powder, Back Creek Gunshop is the place to go. Jackie Venskosky, the proprietor, had my 20 pounds of assorted powder waiting, and sold it to me, NINE MINUTES before going on vacation.

I need to seriously work on my packing-and-loading speeds. This topic will recur. Of course, it does NOT help to finish a book during the pack-up process, even if it's by mzmadmike. I didn't get out of the house until about 1600 Tuesday, and got back to Pennsic late. During the drive down, I contemplated fixes for the overly-adjustable tent brackets. I thought of hitting up Home Depot for shackles, bolts, and turnbuckles, and bringing a drill. Then, I thought of the fun-n-games of taking down a tent, already full of furniture. Then, it occurred to me that I could simply bring the two seven-foot upright poles, from my wooden pole set. Push them into place, ball-bungy them to the brackets so they wouldn't slip, and Bam! Good to go for the War. I'm reminded of the millions spent by the US to develop zero-gravity pens for space, and the Russian decision to use pencils.

Wednesday, most of my time was spent on camp guard -- that is to say, vegging in camp. I did check out Kafe Merhaba, the successor entity to Your Inner Vagabond. Some of the die-hard YIV fans may have been upset at the change, to one degree or another. I found the place fantastic.

On my way back to camp from a 1600-2000 Chirurgeon shift, I stopped at Lochmere to say hi. Found myself in the midst of their Baronial Birthday party. Got munchies, got some unleaded Badger Brew, and found myself in the most ultimately-epic game of Cards Against Humanity that I'd ever experienced. We went completely through the white deck. I wasn't even in the top three contenders, but did manage to score some delightfully hideous tricks.

Friday was my day for the Medieval Firearms Safety and Handling class. Had an outstanding time -- 15 or so students, and we burned a LOT of powder. I also wound up luring a few of my students into the Gunners' Guild meeting, on Saturday.  Saturday was also the one chance I got, to throw on the Marshall's tabard and inspect armor / weapons for a while.  I caught Master Michael Graham's Barber-Surgeon class, after the Guild meeting. Sat in the back,  I did, and asked evil questions. By the way, I had a perfectly valid excuse reason to miss Opening Ceremonies: 1600-2000 shift as Crew Chief, again, at Chirurgeon's Point.

Sunday, shot our first battles of the War. Heavy went smoothly. Rapier needs to find a replacement for their one guy who knew how to communicate with the guns. This also began the training of new crew -- Always ready to grow the Guild.

This year, I made it to Mardi Gras. I was trying to find merchants to score some beads. Hadn't made it to a party shop, to re-stock. I'd used up the online order I'd gotten a few years ago, last year. I shouldn't have worried. The Gate Keepers at TimberWolfe and FlederMaus were all in need of entertainment. Between Ball of Kerrimuir and Good Ship Venus, I was well-supplied for the evening.

Back in June, at Wickerman, I started learning the rudiments of spotting / safety watching fire-spinners. At Mardi Gras, there were several fire performers. I found myself watching more intently, and thinking about what they were doing. I was also watching from the viewpoint of a potential extinguisher, rather than simply as a spectator. This is, to some extent, similar to the way that being a Marshall changes one's perception of, and interest in, fighting. Of course, the topless lady fire-spinners may have also had something to do with my enhanced attention.

Tuesday was all guns, all the time. Some of us were on the hill for nine hours. I had a couple of crew on morning, and then another crewman in the afternoon. I recall thinking that they really should've put time on the guns in, toward the Volunteer War Point. As it turned out, they did. Most man-hours per area went to the Heralds, of course because they're 24/7. Number two? The GUNS. With nine pieces on the hill, and all hands on deck, the Guild put in 200+ man-hours on Tuesday.

I didn't actually get a Mystic Mail account until Wednesday, and got the minimum time for the good rate. Figured I'd catch up on webcomics, etcetera, when I got back to the World, or at least to Sunday's motel. I did use Mystic Mail to print out the Big Dub ticket on my flashdrive, though.  Did my shopping during the day -- bling for A., and some more goodies from mzmadmike. Scored a neat set of early-period surgical tools, and got a good deal on them. Missed Ansteorra Chili Night for the first time in years, due to Baronial Court and Baronial BBQ Night. Worth it.

Next year, no classes on Thursday or Friday. I missed being on the guns, and it screwed with my pack-out schedule. One bit of unhappiness was self-inflicted. You know that dream you get sometimes of being in college, and being late to class? It's worse if (a) you're the teacher, and (b) it's not a dream. At 0920, I looked at the clock. Thought to myself, "Good, I have a nice, leisurely half-hour to... NO I DON'T. Class was 0900-1100, NOT 1000-1100. I rushed down, set up, and did some mountebankery for a bit. Had about 6-8 people wander in, and did an abbreviated class. That afternoon, had a good turnout for the lecture-discussion version of Evolution of Firearms 1320-1600.  Following was a Mentor's meeting, out of which I ducked early so as to drop the guns in camp.  Then, Chi Point for my last shift.  Went up to Parking, then snagged Munchkin, tools, and powder can from Rod. Made a last visit to the Penn Market for a last hit of CooperCrack V2.x(tm) and a new lantern.

I really did want to boogie out of Pennsic as quickly as possible on Friday. Got up at 0630, started packing, all that good stuff.  I need to sit down, and time out, every bit of packing, etcetera, to find out where I'm losing so much damn time.  Even discounting the locker run, I should have gotten out before 1600.  Got to Four Quarters at 2000 or so, and checked in.  Turned out the Members' area was already full of Ravers, but I got lucky. A fellow member said that the other tent on her platform was open, and the friend who owned it had made it available for homeless 4QF members if needed.  I gratefully accepted, and spent the weekend camped right behind the Coffee Dragon.   BTW, if you want a shower at a big outside event, 2200 is the time to do it.

Sitting in the Coffee Dragon, got to talking with the guy behind the counter, about my age. Mentioned I was just come from Pennsic. Turns out, he's a Laurel from Aethelmearc.  I outed myself by SCA name, and he said, "OMG! You're HIM!".  He said he'd heard of both my fame and my infamy.  Not sure how much of each he'd heard, but he didn't flee the Coffee Dragon in terror.

Unlike a Burn, there was vending at Big Dub. I was still pretty self-sufficient, as I still had Pennsic supplies to nom on.  On Friday, I'd grilled up my remaining meat supply and then chilled it on the remaining ice in my cooler.  That last block, and a bag from the Dragon, kept my cooked stuff cold until I ate it. I did get a burger late at night, in the Starving Artist Cafe.  Of course, lots of coffee was consumed at the Dragon, as well.  Walking around with backpack during the day, my Pennsic habit of loading a Ziploc with a Gunner's lunch carried on.

I'm unlikely to ever become a Dubstep fan.  However, I don't have a problem with it as background noise for whatever other interesting stuff is going on.  4Quarters has an ingenious system for regulating sound volume.  The sound camps in acoustically sensitive areas have their 4QF-supplied power routed through a locked box, connected to a DB meter. The DB Meter, or Darwin Box, is fastened to a tree where it can "hear" the tuns.  Stuff gets too loud, the Darwin box warns. Stays too loud, and it chops power. Bwahahahaha!

I did run into some Burners at the event, particularly among Rangers / Staff / Security.  There's definite differences between Burners and Ravers. This was like being at a Burn, with a majority of attendees being Sparkle Ponies.   I was interested to note something about my home burn, Frostburn.  When I mentioned to other Burners that that was my virgin, and "home" Burn, I frequently got remarks about how hardcore FB is. Thinking of it a different way, some of the stupider behaviors I observed last weekend would have had one result at Frostburn: Those who did them would become MOOP. That is, we'd have had to shovel up their frozen corpses on Monday morning.  Of course, at Wickerman, I was wandering around thinking "Wow! I'm at a Burn, and the environment is not actively trying to kill me!".

Sooo, I was able to hook up with Papa Shok, head Ranger, and arrange a shift. I took 2000-0400, Sat night / Sun morning.  Most of it was uneventful. Then, around 0300, the sleep deprivation kicked in.  Was going to hand in the radio and crash an hour early, when I got a call requesting Ranger presence at one of the stages.  At this event, there were about 3-4 freakouts / bad trips / whatever.  I wound up helping to sit on one, 0300-0430.  While there, I made a note to bring LOTS of gloves next time, as none of us wanted skin contact with this sweaty boy. I also noted to myself that I deeply appreciate the Frostburn policy of Rangers / Medics / Staff being in default headspace while on-duty.

At the beginning of my shift, I digressed a bit to pull some perimeter security on the fireworks display.  Got a little bit of video, shot behind my back as I was facing away from the trailer. Really cool stuff, though, especially when you're close enough to feel the heat and concussion.

Crashed a few hours, then was on from 1000-1500 for Exodus briefings:  "Hi, did you have a good time? Is your stuff ready to load into the car? Good. Make yourself as small as possible on the side of the road, don't block traffic. Need a trashbag? Here. Dumpsters are the big blue ones on the way out. Go well, be safe, come back."

Repeat, for cars coming in to get stuff, for five hours. Doing a bit of service to the Land, feels good.

Thoughts for the future:

I REALLY need to work on streamlining my pack-out process.
Not teaching any classes on Thursday or Friday of War Week next year.
Get the Mystic Mail account earlier in the War.
Save the authenti-spiffies and heavy weaponry on Royal Guard duty, for when the Royals are actually in camp that shift.
If Big Dub is the final weekend of Pennsic next year, will go.

I've got some super-heavy, uber-sticky gasket material for those damn tent brackets.

[DW Original]
Schlock Overkill
My sig line is based on Howard Tayler's Schlock Mercenary comic.  Over on the Schlock Facebook page (, Howard's having a contest.  Post a blurb for your favorite story arc in the Schlockverse, and enter for a chance to win a book. Herewith, my entry:

Schlocktoberfest 2004
Over at Schlock Mercenary (, Howard Tayler often switches to a darker storyline in October.  Good guys get killed, and deeper subjects are dealt with.  Of course, this is military Sci-Fi, so people DO get killed.  My favorite story arc from the Schlock Archives is Schlocktoberfest 2004, at It's part two of the print book, Resident Mad Scientist.

While Tagon's Toughs are taking a vacation, Tagon, Schlock, and Elf find themselves on a secret mission.  People get killed, disabled, and blown up.  Takes some major plot-fixes and deus-ex-machinas (and NOT just Petey) to eventually get things set straight.  What particularly got my attention in this story, though, was the tribute paid to an icon of MilSF, and to the author.  Anyone who cut his MilSF teeth on David Drake's work, needs to read this.
9th-May-2013 10:41 pm - Sports fanboy
BotN, Team USA
This is one of the few times of the year that I turn into a sports fan.  Today was the first of three days, of Battle of the Nations.  I am, of course, rooting for Team USA. The nucleus of the team last year was a bunch of old SCA Dukes.  Since then, the team has grown. I knew a couple of people on last year's team. I've got several friends on this year's team. Since my tax refund arrived in time to help, I pitched in on one friend's fund-raiser.

[DW Original]
1st-May-2013 07:55 am - Tradition
VARF06 First of May (NSFW)
12th-Jan-2013 10:43 pm - A rant on "Assault Weapons".
Something occurred to me -- there's a point that I haven't made in a long time, on this whole gun-ban debate. I keep forgetting to bring it up, because it's buried in my list of reasons to oppose bans. It's like a fish, remembering to argue that water is wet.

Here it is: The entire "assault weapon" issue is a SCAM.  That's right. it's a con job, perpetrated by people who wanted to get traction for banning something, anything, back in the late 1980s and early 90s. 

A strong accusation, you say? Can't be true, you say? Let's look at some history.  After Ronald Reagan and Jim Brady were shot, the Bradys hooked up with what was then Handgun Control, Inc.  They figured that they could ride the wave of emotion over the Reagan and Brady shootings, to ban handguns. The effort fizzled. We note, here, that in the 1930s when the National Firearms Act was being written, early versions wanted to make all handguns into NFA items. That got shot down, RIGHT quick.  Same thing, in the late 80s / early 90s: there was widespread opposition to banning handguns.

So, we get to around 1988 or '89, and the ban-them-all crowd is feeling frustrated. Then, Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center comes up with an idea. Make up a scary new propaganda term, "assault weapon". It doesn't actually have to MEAN anything (and didn't, before it became a legal term-of-art as defined in the 1994-2004 ban). Use the new propaganda phrase, to push for the idea of banning something, ANYthing, just to get something banned.

A quick side note (you may skip if you've heard this): But wait, you say. Isn't an "assault weapon" the same as an assault rifle? No. No, it's not. "Assault RIFLE" is a military and technical term. It means, specifically, a rifle that is a compromise between a submachinegun and a battle rifle.  It is light-weight, magazine-fed, select-fire (means it will go semi / one shot per trigger pull, or full-auto / machinegun), and fires an intermediate-power cartridge. That last part is because battle rifles in .30-06, .308 Winchester, 7.62x54 Russian, or 8mm Mauser are downright painful to fire in full auto. A 7.62x39 (AK and SKS round) is about as powerful as Grandpa's old .30-30 Winchester cartridge. The 5.56x45mm cartridge fired by the M16, is a .223 Winchester, aka a .22 on steroids. So, an assault rifle is a real thing, with a specific set of characteristics, INCLUDING being a machinegun.  "Assault weapons", not so much. Back to the discussion.

When Vice President Biden said, in the primary debates in '08, that he'd written the original "assault weapon" ban, he was in fact correct. But wait, you say. Didn't Dianne Feinstein write the ban?  She wrote the one that PASSED in 1994. Biden's original one basically got laughed out of congress.  Something to do, maybe, with the wording that banned anything with a bayonet lug.  The way Biden (or the clueless dolts on his staff) worded his ban, it would have applied to MUSKETS. Since I was a Civil War target shooter in those years, I got very familiar with that bit of flummery.

So, what's an "assault weapon"? Isn't that a technical term? Nope. It's a Humpty Dumpty phrase. Remember Alice in Wonderland?

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

"Assault Weapon", then, means whatever the politician using it wants it to mean. Likewise, journalists.  People around me get extremely tired of my ranting at the radio, when some journalist says, "The shooter used an assault rifle..." and I yell "No, he didn't!  It was a semi-auto!". Generally, it means "Scary black rifle that looks military, but is mechanically indistinguishable from that wood-stocked hunting rifle."

But what do you mean, by "scam"? Isn't that a strong phrase? I mean that every single rationale for distinguishing an "assault weapon" from a "sporting rifle" is total and utter bullshit.  Take pistol grips, for example. The Brady bunch will tell you that "A pistol grip [...] facilitates spray-fire from the hip without losing control. A pistol grip also facilitates one-handed shooting." That quote was  copied-and-pasted directly from the Brady website.  It is absolute, total, and utter bullshit. A pistol grip makes it HARDER to shoot from the hip, and if you "spray fire from the hip", you'll waste ammo anyway.  Here's the proof, they really do say that:

Now, as to it being a deliberate con job, let's ask the guy who invented the phrase, Josh Sugarmann:  "Assault weapons [...] are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons -- anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun -- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons." if you want to read the whole thing. Bring a barf bag. The [...] snip was some side comments that Sugarmann threw in.

Basically, there are two major groups of people who support banning "assault weapons".  Group one is people like Sarah Brady, Dianne Feinstein, Josh Sugarmann, and their ilk. These people HAVE to know what's actually going on. Either that, or they're incompetent to write legislation.

Group two is mostly people who don't actually know enough about guns to see through the BS, but are either scared of guns, or riding a wave of emotion, and have been hoodwinked into supporting bans by the scammers.  People like Carolyn "Shoulder thing that goes up" McCarthy, and most of the Misguided Mommie March, and smaller gun-control orgs, are generally in this category. 

There are a few other sub-groups. Some are even gun owners. For example, there is a sub-species of gun owner out there, frequently called a "Fudd". That's as in Elmer Fudd. A Fudd will preface his remarks with "I'm a gun owner / hunter / sportsman, BUT..."  followed with "Nobody needs an assault weapon for [x-purpose]." The Fudd is a particularly blind sort -- he is willing to throw folks who own black rifles under the bus, as long as he can keep his walnut-stocked Bambi-zapper.

I suspect that this may open some eyes, and will probably piss quite a few people off.  To those who get pissed, I have a challenge. I have several guns that are, and several that aren't, "assault weapons" under the '94-04 definition. Meet me at the range. I'll provide guns, ammo, and instruction. When we're done, you tell me if you think you've been scammed by the banners.

[DW Original]
25th-Dec-2012 08:52 am - Thought of the day

"A Song to Mithras"


Rudyard Kipling

MITHRAS, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall!
' Rome is above the Nations, but Thou art over all!'
Now as the names are answered, and the guards are marched away,
Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!

Mithras, God of the Noontide, the heather swims in the heat,
Our helmets scorch our foreheads ; our sandals burn our feet.
Now in the ungirt hour; now ere we blink and drowse,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows !

Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main,
Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again !
Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn!

Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies,
Look on Thy children in darkness. Oh take our sacrifice !
Many roads Thou hast fashioned: all of them lead to the Light,
Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!
[DW Original]
7th-Dec-2012 05:25 am - Been a while...
Let's see... Good time at Pennsic.  A mostly 17th-Century fall -- Jamestown, Henricus, Saint Mary's.  Lots of range time -- the NoVA PinkPistols chapter is heating up.  Also, went up to Four Quarters Farm for Schützenfest in October. Work is, for the most part, mellowing out now that the election's over. This weekend, however, is  our department's turn in the barrel. We get to activate around 300 new VOIP phones, and remove the old PBX ones.  Off-time (a lot of our leave is use-or-lose) will be taken up in large part with getting gear ready for Frostburn. There will also be shooting.
Today is an auspicious day on my annual calendar. Thirty-two years ago, about this time of day, SGT 3fgburner, US Army, got up, and went on-post at Fort Sill for the last time. A few hours later, MR. 3fgburner, civilian, hauled ass off-post to change into civvies. I hung around Oklahoma long enough to ship my stuff home, and make one last SCA event in Ansteorra. By August 1st, I was back in Virginia. A year and a week or two later, I made my first Pennsic.

Fast-forward to now -- I've been neglecting Das Blog for the last 7 months, and should get back into it. Not to mention, this lets me procrastinate just a teensy bit more, before spending the weekend in Pre-Pennsic Prep Panic(tm). To that end, I shall get back into bloggage by simply aggregating my thoughts during the day.

First up: the Colorado theater shooting. Consider my usual blather about gun-free zones, self-defense rights, and so forth to have been said. Now, on to the substance:

I generally suck at emotional-platitude gushing over people I don't know. On the other hand, my google fu is strong. A search for "colorado shooting victims donate", and a little digging to get past the **GAG** Huffington Post link, got me to The second link, Network for Good, takes Paypal and credit cards (with an option to add the service fee so it isn't taken out on the other end). I suck worse at snail-mailing checks, than I do at emotional platitudes.

Next: I've seen a lot of links on FacePlant, to Eagle Scouts sending their medals and patches back to BSA National over their discriminatory policies. I never made it to Eagle. Made Life Scout overseas, then came back Stateside. Making a long story short, I switched to Explorers. Poking around today, I discovered an interesting link.  I had never heard of the Baden-Powell Service Association before.   Looks to me like an interesting bunch. Methinks that rather than try to find my old Life badge and mail it back, I'll fire up the plastic on payday. Then, I'll send the BSA National HQ a copy of my BPSA registration [eeeee-ville grin].

On to SCA stuff: Zero Night is in six days. I'm actually working that day, so will miss the party most likely (I'll either motel-crash on the way, or get there after the party). I have a major and a minor sewing project to do, gear to inventory and pack, stuff to swap in and out of the locker, and cartridges to roll for my gun class.  I should have started last weekend. D'oh.  Still, what gets done will be done, what doesn't isn't essential.
DW Source
1st-May-2012 09:08 am - Can't miss this one.

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18th-Jan-2012 08:44 am(no subject)

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8th-Jan-2012 10:42 pm - First Week Back, survival thereof
Got in to work on time, jumped into my tasks, and promptly got swamped. All the crap that's been hanging fire since late December has come home to roost.  On top of which, when I'm training new users, or on an hour-plus tech call, and they keep assigning me stuff, the backlog piles up.   Speaking of which -- Ma'am, if we're going to be doing a remote hookup to our network, PLEASE get on a machine that isn't older than your students are.


By now, the buzz has gone out that Atlantia and Aethelmearc will be allying against the East and Middle, this Pennsic.  Should be interesting, particularly if all the other kingdoms hook up with the E-M side.  I'm looking forward to this. One of my goals for 2012 is to get back into fighting trim, such as it is.

Also climbing back on the diet wagon -- we'll see how that goes.   Oddly enough, I plan to start eating MORE at breakfast, and let's see what that does to the daytime snacking.   Contribution to  the freezer this weekend was several dinners' worth of the <a href="">chicken curry</a> that we had last night for dinner.

Today was the January PinkShoot. Since nobody else made it, I finally got in some decent trigger time. 225 rounds, from .22 to .45ACP. I am SERIOUSLY out of practice. Been so busy showing others how, I've neglected my own shooting. This will change.

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2nd-Jan-2012 09:36 am - Endings, and Beginnings
Sitting here, noshing breakfast. Forget Wheaties, Mincemeat pie is the way to go. Got maybe 10% of what I'd planned to do this break, accomplished. On the other hand, I did get rested up, and upgraded my computer's OS, twice -- once from 8.x to 11.x, and then from 11.x to 10.x. Home Depot today, to get some lumber for the Canvas Front Porch in prep for Frostburn.

We had a bit of drama, New Year's Eve. Our usual dinner is Beef Fondue.  I had the sirloin cut up, sauces made, and peanut oil in the fondue pot. I plopped it on the burner, with candy / deep fry thermometer to monitor.  Problem was, there was a delay...  Wound up smoking the house, scorching A's fondue pot, and blowing up the thermometer.  This led to me going to two Asian markets in quest of peanut oil (actually found it in the Gaijin section of the second store) at 2000 on New Year's Eve.  Took the big wok and the propane burner out in the back yard, and cooked all the beef at once. Then, brought it back up in a stainless bowl and put in the toaster oven to keep warm until damage control was complete and we could eat. Let's hear it, for Plan B.

Yesterday, got a bit more done.  Made chili, again using the wok in the back yard to brown the meat.  Went shopping for cooking thermometers. Bed, Bath, & Beyond  had a fancy one that looks like it belongs in a lab.  On the off chance that A wouldn't like that one, I also picked up an old-school one, across the street at Giant.  She wanted that one, so the lab thermometer is mine.

I did spend some time last evening, looking around for downloadable MP3s of medieval and Ren dance tunes.  I'm thinking dance practice, somewhere, this spring.

I've  got a coworker who's been wanting to go shooting for ages.  Her New Year's Eve sucked worse than mine (at least my drama was self-inflicted), and Blue Ridge Arsenal was open 1100-1900.  The result was a somewhat happier coworker, after the Zen of shooting worked its magic.  Warmed up on the Mark II, then shot a bit with both revolvers. Then, on to Makarov, CZ82, and Walther. We finished up with the 1911. She REALLY likes the 1911.  Of course, living in Maryland, she has to deal with their gun-suckage if she wants to buy one. At least she's a half-mile east of the DC line...   Anyway,  I generally don't get a first-timer who wants to go through 8 mags of .45ACP on the initial outing. I do believe I've got a convert to the Gospel of John (Moses Browning).

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29th-Dec-2011 10:13 pm - Tasks completed
Ran errands with wife, picked up some prescriptions, etcetera. Good dinner out -- Beijing Gourmet's Pork with Fresh Peppers, aka Shredded Pork with Shredded Jalapenos, is going a long way toward hammering this budding case of sniffles.

Meanwhile, I am now a happy geek with my computer. I have successfully upgraded from Ubuntu 11.x to Ubuntu 10.x. And yes, I do mean upgraded from later to earlier.

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28th-Dec-2011 10:13 pm - Quiet day
Computer and document tweaking, further exploring the abomination Ubuntu 11 interface, tried frankenputing a Gnome shell with mixed results.

Grocery shopped this PM, plus got mincemeat ingredients. Dinner's done, and this season's batch of mincemeat is cooling.

DW Source
27th-Dec-2011 10:54 am - Annual Checkup
I'm fat. BP ok, cholesterol up. In surprisingly good shape otherwise, for my age and fatness.

PSA blood test: $100
Home Hemoccult test: $11
Telling the doc that he is NOT going to give me The Finger: Priceless.

DW Post
26th-Dec-2011 01:47 pm - "Up"graded to Ubuntu 11
Trying to figure out why it's not working right, then I figured out why it's behaving the way it does. Those swine-fornicating, misbegotten offspring of diseased camels have changed the look and feel to that of a goat-sodomizing MACINTOSH. In other words, if something's not on the gods-bedamned "dock" menu, you can't FIND it.

Shrink, I wanna kill. I wanna see blood, and gore, and guts, and veins in my teeth, eat dead, burnt, bodies... I wanna KILL, KILL, KILL!

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25th-Dec-2011 09:57 am - Ave, Sol Invictus!
Title: A Song To Mithras
Author: Rudyard Kipling
(Hymn of the 30th Legion: _circa_ A.D. 350.)

Mithras, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall!
'Rome is above the Nations, but Thou art over all!'
Now as the names are answered and the guards are marched away,
Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!

Mithras, God of the Noontide, the heather swims in the heat.
Our helmets scorch our foreheads, our sandals burn our feet.
Now in the ungirt hour--now ere we blink and drowse,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows!

Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main--
Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again!
Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn!

Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies,
Look on thy children in darkness. Oh take our sacrifice!
Many roads thou hast fashioned--all of them lead to the Light:
Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!

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11th-Sep-2011 07:36 am - Writer's Block: 9/11
Onion 9/11/01

Where were you?

View 3194 Answers

First heard the news of the North Tower hit in traffic, on the way in to the office, 5 blocks north of the Capitol. Didn't see the Pentagon hit when it happened, but suddenly there was a huge fire burning across the river.

We got the order to evacuate around 1030.  Took us (myself and 3 stranded folk) 3 hours to reach the Beltway.
12th-Aug-2011 02:04 pm - Pennsic Redux, Liam Style
I'll just go with bullet points, in semi-chronological order.
  • First trip up: Got car loaded, rolled out on schedule. 6 hours flat to Troll, the usual.  Zero Night amusing, albeit a bit tame. Some interesting times, triggered by an email on the block agents' list at 2030 to the effect that the block geometry was wrong on the map.  0800, met at the Bath-House, and re-surveyed the block.
  • Saturday and Sunday, setup.  At one  point, I was running on a bottle of water into which I'd dumped an MRE ice-tea packet, and a 5-hour energy shot.  Baron suggested I go get dinner.  Ground too hard for our post-hole digger. Barony now owns 2 portable holes for 4x4s. Heater set up.
  • M-T, town run back home. Captayne-Generall of Artillery asked me to pick up the powder.  I-68, US219 to Somerset, and tunnel avoidance FTW.  Wednesday, back to Pennsic by 1300. Unloaded, set up furniture, and pulled 2000-2300 Watch shift.
  • Thursday, hung out at Chi Point and did the shooting version of my gun class.
  • Friday, Chirurgeon and party.  Re-upped my ASHI CPR via challenge.
  • Sat-Sun -- Shifts, errands, Taught Armor Extraction class in there somewhere, since Od (the developer of the course) wasn't handy. Baked mince tarts for the Baronial Social to come on Monday evening.
  • Monday, fought in the Valley Battle.  I need a new chin strap.  The high-tech pinch-buckle one doesn't work unless it's choking-tight while being fastened. Caught an Atlantian-grade face thrust. People told me I was bleeding down my face. Found out you can gross out the enemy by licking blood from mustache and glaring.  It stopped bleeding a couple resurrections later.
  • Monday afternoon, was NOT going to wear Ren-spiff to shoot with the musketeers for the Rapier battle. T-Tunic and handgonne, FTW.
  • Made Mardi Gras at Fledermaus.
  • Tuesday, shot for woods battle, then commanded muskets for rapier. This time, used musket for the shot.
  • Wednesday, 8 hours at Chi Point.  Didn't go partying.  Did have my new experience for this Pennsic: Had Master Michael Graham, Barber-Surgeon, shave me in the marketplace across from the barn. Ansteorra's chili was excellent.
  • Yesterday -- Medical class 0900-1100, Evolution of Firearms 1700-1900. Gun muster at 1930 for night fire. Shot at 2100, then down the hill to Chirurgeons Party. Culminated with bog crawl to Lost Boys, with some fellow Atlantian Chirurgeons.
  • This morning:  Field battle started ON TIME, no kidding, did. Fired Munchkin for the last 3 times this year.  Now, get caught up online, some tidying and packing in camp, and crew chief shift 1600-2000. May take a late Watch shift as well.
Summary:  A good War, I've had better, I've had LOTS worse.  Didn't make some things I'd planned, did some unexpected. I'll be back.
29th-Jul-2011 12:24 pm - Getting back on the Blog-Horse
With a quickie:

Rolling out for Pennsic, in about 5. 30 years ago, I arrived at dawn on Friday of War Weekend. Three mostly-incredibly-soggy days later, I was a Pennsic veteran, war-virgin no more. I've gone from beer-swilling stick jock, to someone who has to carry a Day-Timer to War, for all the stuff I'm involved in. It's been a vanishingly rare War that I didn't learn or experience something new.

Wonder what's in store, these next two weeks?

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This is worth passing on, though:

I've been following this over on Ohioans for Concealed Carry. The main post now is at as is an embed of the video.

Original discussion is at

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Real-life kitty is sick.

UPDATE: He crossed the Bridge today.

I'll pass word to Hawkeye, to welcome him.

Lady Bast, take Raistlin up in Your arms
Restore him to youth and health
Give him yummies to eat, and things to chase
Help him to wait in patience by the Bridge
Until the time comes to be reunited with his people,
In joy everlasting.

So mote it be.

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17th-Jun-2011 10:11 am - I HATE Court
Car Trouble
Now, mind, my last several trips to the courthouse have been: Gun permit application + 3 renewals; 2 rounds of jury duty, and yesterday, as plaintiff in 3fgburner & GEICO vs BadDrivingWench. My major objection is that you have to get naked to go through near-TSA levels of Security Theater. That's not counting the whole no-electronics thing, which means isolation and boredom.

Between getting there, parking, divesting myself of EDC, and having to go BACK to the car because they wouldn't let me check my OC canister, it took longer to get into the bloody courtroom than it did to get a summary judgement for GEICO, against BDW. This, mind, is for around $10K in damages plus goodies for lawyers. Which goes to GEICO, not me -- they totalled the car, and back-charged me $1900 junkyard value when I elected to keep and fix it. I'm not seeing any more $$ from them. Meanwhile, good luck collecting from her. Her life last fall was in a sufficient state of flakiness that the phrase, "blood from a turnip" comes to mind.

Meanwhile, packing the car, doing last minute prep, and off to the woods for a weekend.

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