A Glorious way to dispel darkness – and muggers.

The days are getting shorter again.

Do you sometimes feel unsafe at night, or have to go through dangerous areas in the dark?  Do you want something to help protect you, but don’t want to have to deal with pepper spray, mace, or a weapon?  Would you like more options if you are ever attacked?

There’s a simple tool that is not only good for all those things, but is just handy to have for other reasons.  Best of all, you can take them anywhere, even into banks and office buildings!

I’m talking about a tactical flashlight.

You’re walking to your car after a hard day at work.  Your eyes are a bit bleary, your back hurts, and all you can think about is your favorite Netflix show that’s waiting for you at home.

You hear a sound from between a couple of cars.  Someone is there!

The light in the parking lot is bad – maintenance still hasn’t gotten to it.  But you know you aren’t alone.

Is Brad, the creep who kept texting his undying love even after you told him “not jus tno, but hell no” and blocked him?  Or is it the robber you’ve heard about at break, the one who’s been trying to get into cars?  Or is it just a buddy, trying to freak you out?

You don’t know.

Something jumped out of the dark at you.  You turn, bring your hand up.  Your thumb flicks the button at the base of your tiny flashlight, its intense beam pierces the night…

…revealing a stranger’s face, who is now bringing his hands up to shield his eyes from the blinding light.  You hear the clank as something heavy, maybe a tire iron?  hits the ground.  Taking advantage of the sudden distraction, you run back to the building, to call the police or maybe that tough chick who’s always well armed.

Tactical flashlights come in small versions, pocket sized, often with specially reinforced bezels so you can use them to make strikes if the bright flash of light isn’t enough to help you escape.

Look for one with 400 lumens or better Mine has different settings so you don’t use up the battery very fast if you don’t need the ultra-bright setting.  I like it a lot, it’s made by Fenixfire.  I bought it on sale of course but have been very pleased.  It looks kind of cool and lightsaber-y.

Whatever your choice in flashlight brands, look for a flashlight that is either rechargeable or uses rechargable batteries.  Immediately reject anything that uses AA or AAA batteries.  It won’t be powerful enough.  The kind that these flashlights use can be expensive, better to be able to recharge them.

Look for a flashlight that has a button on the tail cap rather than on the side.  If you are going to use it as a striking tool, this will come in handy.  Also avoid glass lenses unless they are tempered.  Also, if you ant something small, do your internet searching with the keyword “EDC.”  EDC, or EveryDay Carry flashlights have to be tiny and robust.

Here is an article all about tactical flashlights.  The most important thing is to note that you need to be prepared to move quickly.  Even the brightest light won’t hinder an attacker for long, you need to get out of the situation or fight back as quickly as possible.  However, a small, powerful flashlight can get you out of more than one sticky situation without permanently harming anyone…

… and they can be great to find things in the dark, too.

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/glorious

Gazelles may fall but Grunts continue

There’s an old concept in the military.  It’s a concept often held to by strong men and women doing dangerous jobs, but it’s just as valuable for people who live gentler lives.  Artists both of brush and pen benefit when they live by this.

It’s the concept of “being a Grunt.”

A Grunt may fall many times but always gets up again.  A Grunt doesn’t let anyone stop them from eventually reaching their goal, even if they are slow to get there.  A Grunt isn’t the best in the world, not at first, but they continue until they are.  A Grunt handles failure and knows it’s not the end.

By contrast, Gazelles are naturally gifted.  They pick things up quickly and they seemingly sail by obstacles, leaping high over them.  They apparently don’t have a care in the world.  Then, something gets in their way.  But since they don’t understand what to do when they fail, they give up.  It’s over.  Meanwhile, the Grunt keeps slogging on, slowly and steadily approaching their goal.

I was a Gazelle.  I’m trying to learn to be a Grunt.

When a painting doesn’t turn out the way I wanted, I’m trying to learn to do another till I’ve achieved my goal.  When a story or article fails, I work on it till it’s good.  I’m learning that failure is not the end, it’s just a bump in the road, and the key is to continue.  To keep going.

In losing weight, in gaining health, in art, in writing, in singing, in sports, at work, and everywhere, we want to be the Gazelle… that’s natural, but we should want to be the tireless, indomitable, persistent Grunt.

The greatest artists in the world have been Grunts…

winstonchurchill124653.jpg

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/continue/

Your Car’s Survival Kit

You don’t need to spend a bundle on a survival kit just to feel more secure as you are out and about.  Sure, there are a lot of things that would be nice to have but if you buy them bundled usually you also pay a bundle.  Better to head off to your local discount store such as Dollar tree.  Many of these items can be found there.  A cheap backpack (hit the before school sales) makes a convenient way to transport them.  A good first aid kit is also well organized and easy to get to.

In all cases, tailor your kit to where you are.  If you live in a cold area, include warm blankets and a bag of kitty litter to give you traction on ice.  If in a warm place, pack extra water, disposable cold packs, and sunscreen.  If your car is old and needs repair, pack an extra quart of oil.  Everyone should have jumper cables, a spare tire, a jack, and a lug wrench.

 

First Aid Kit

Band Aids – just a few large ones.  You don’t need a million tiny ones.  They can be cut to fit with your

Scissors, Knife, Tweezers – make sure they’re sharp

Antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, change once a year

Gauze pads

Tape, both duct tape and first aid tape

Feminine pads (like Kotex) they make a great semi-sterile dressing

Gloves to protect yourself from blood borne illnesses should you help someone

Pain and fever relief – Aspirin or Ibuprofen, avoid acetaminophen because of liver damage.

Benadryl gelcaps – for allergic reaction.

 

Survival Kit

A good knife – needs a strong blade that can be sharpened.

Means of making fire – such as matches, lighter, flint and steel, or burning glass.

Compass – never breaks, rarely fails.

Flashlight – LED type is best.

Extra batteries – change them once a year.

Water – at least a quart.

Energy bars – high quality ones that will last.  Cheaper than camping food.

Multitool – not required but great to have.

 

Many other things can be added to a survival kit depending on where you are and what you need.  Mine has rain ponchos for monsoon season and two small umbrellas.  Mine also has mylar blankets – they are good for a sun shade as well as for warmth.  Important in the place where I live!  I also have some instant cold packs in case I have to deal with a case of heat exhaustion.  You might want an Epi-pen if you’re allergic to bees.

I hope this gives a good framework to start your own survival kit!  Remember, it’s better to have a bad survival kit than none at all, and you can always improve as you go along.

Keep calm, be prepared.

 

via Daily Prompt: Survive

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/survive/

Be remembered – Make your Mark

Life is interesting. We each only have one at a time, and yet we all know people who waste theirs waiting for it to begin.  I certainly have!

When I was growing up, the formula seemed pretty simple. You grow up, learn about life in school, along with things you need to know like math and writing and social studies and history and all that. You go to college because going to college means you get a degree, and nobody gets a good job without a degree. You might get married. You might have kids. You get a succession of better jobs until you are doing more of the things you want to, then finally you start doing what you were really meant to, and when you retire you can relax all day doing the things you always wanted to do but never had time for.

Not only is that model untrue for quite a few people these days, but it’s also a great waste of time! None of us know how long we’ll have. None of us know how successful we’ll be. Isn’t the main point of life making some kind of mark so we’ll be remembered?

Some people make their mark by having kids. Others do it by starting a charity. Others do it by defending their country. Others do it by having a business. Others do it by writing books, or making art, or writing wildly successful blogs. Others teach. Some people do a bit of all of these. Some do none of it but come up with some other interesting thing. Some wait, because life hasn’t really started.

Life started when we took our first breath.

Every day is a chance to live our dream, make our mark, follow our purpose. The key is making small steps. One day, I realized I was writing a bit every day and could put that effort into a book. I wrote a novel and published it several months later. I learned a lot about writing and publishing. The point isn’t that I wrote a novel, the point is that I did it in bits, by consistent effort. I”d thought previously “someday I’ll be a writer.” Since someday never came, I decided to become one.

We don’t have to wait till we “have it all together” to make our mark.

Since I have no idea how long I’ll live, and neither does anyone else, doesn’t it make sense to start shaping our lives how we want them? There’s always some small thing to do, even if we don’t have time, even if we don’t have money. Mindset is the truest key – if you are determined, you will make opportunities for yourself. Focus will allow you to see the little places where you can make your life a bit more like your ideal image of your life.

In the mean time, I’ll keep working on my blog. If I can touch even one or two people, inspire someone, help someone, or make someone think, then I’ll have made a mark.

Wondering where “Gray” features in this?  Well, in writing about this subject, I thought also of another poem all about making one’s mark – this snippet of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses:

Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

 

via Daily Prompt: Gray

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/gray/

Measuring the wisdom in the Holmes stories

I’m nearly done reading the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I tried reading them when I was a kid, and couldn’t really get into them. Now I find them fascinating, engaging, and most importantly, educational! I’m not claiming the main characters are paragons of virtue, no one would, however they have much to offer.  Here are some of the things I’ve found in these classic tales.

How best to rest
When they are tired from their adventures, or tired from being bored, Watson and Holmes rarely sit idle. They rest by doing other things. Even when taking long walks, they usually have some other objective. For instance, in one story they go off to a little cottage by the seashore. Though they are there for a rest, they spend their days studying ruins left by the Neolithic Celts and researching their linguistic roots. They are both certainly active and thinking, but they are not doing the things they did in the city. At the beginning of Doyle’s tales, Holmes said that idleness tires him more than activity.

Study the world around you
Over and over, both Holmes and Watson are portrayed as being interested in a variety of subjects. Holmes, for example, has a great interest in classical music, in archaeology, in art, in various subjects of science, handwriting analysis, chemistry, and many other things. Neither Holmes nor Watson waste an opportunity to observe and learn, although there are some things that Holmes admits he doesn’t need to know. Holmes is famous for deducing facts from careful observation, a feat that is only possible with knowledge about many varying subjects.

When you are stuck on a problem, put it aside for a while
When he’s having trouble solving a case, Holmes is frequently seen distracting himself. Though Watson has difficulty with this, Holmes is famous for setting his troubles aside and throwing himself deeply into some recreation such as music or his latest manuscript.

Don’t give up
Holmes often stays with a case, even when circumstances might indicate otherwise. He usually knows when there’s something to be found. Though he might stop and think for a time, or try different things, he doesn’t give up. He keeps questioning, gathering information, and research both likely and unlikely possibilities till he solves the mystery. This tenacity is something to be admired and emulated.

Do your job for passion rather than for fame
Though this sometimes frustrates Watson, Holmes usually solves his cases for the pure satisfaction of doing so. He enjoys the mental puzzle, the chase itself is the reward. When he’s on a really difficult case, he’s always full of energy. That’s true for anyone who has a true vocation, be it a hobby or a job. If you find that work you are most suited to, you will see similar effects.

Be patient
Holmes and Watson are both very patient, though Watson is less so. So long as he knows he’s “on the scent,” Holmes is endlessly patient – he is prepared to wait all night in a dark room, or creep around in the bushes in search of clues. Once, he even went without food and drink for three days so he could catch a criminal. Sure, it’s a fictional account, but it’s a great demonstration of what patience truly means.

Focus on facts rather than feelings
In the Holmes stories, facts are king. Even when others claim that a particular mystery is supernatural in origin, and everyone believes it, Holmes exhausts all mundane options first. It’s not that he says supernatural things are possible, but he makes sure there aren’t any more mundane possibilities. He doesn’t assume anything, and doesn’t let emotion or belief suffice when logic will serve better.

Be kind to your friends
Even though Holmes is famous for his dispassionate demeanor, he is still polite, courtly towards women, and good to his friends. He doesn’t let his unemotionalism make him bitter or overly cold.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Measure

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/measure/

Avoiding Controversy: Advice for Transsexuals

I was at a public event recently and saw several transgendered people. I shouldn’t have been able to spot them so easily but they made it really obvious. It made me think. Two in particular made very little effort to pass as female. They drew attention to themselves, stuck out like sore thumbs and sadly, looked like drag queens rather than women.

A transwoman is a real woman – according to her brain structure, that is. She’s trying to make her body and public image match how she feels inside. At least, she should be.

Too many transwomen seem to think they need to make a spectacle of themselves. Apparently certain individuals feel a need to be “loud and proud” about their transition. They often make little to no effort to truly pass as female.

They speak with loud, deep voices, they stand facing the toilet in the bathroom, they wear eye catching, loud clothing. They wear high heels even when six feet tall. They use vibrant, often badly applied makeup. Sometimes, some transwomen will think they can still wear jeans and traditionally masculine clothes. They try to wear a dress while they are sporting five o’clock shadow and no make up. All these things catch the eye and make their status obvious, when a little effort would avoid these problems.

Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences to their actions. Transwomen who don’t try to pass aren’t just making decisions for themselves, they are affecting many other people too. To put it bluntly, irresponsible transfolk draw negative attention to the community, and may even cause people to be beaten or murdered.

Consider the following scenario: There are several people who were born male but are making their best effort to fully become women. They work hard to pass as women. They moderate their voices, they dress in a feminine way, they act in feminine ways. They simply want to live their lives quietly, as women, and give no one any trouble. They don’t call attention to themselves, spending their time working, playing, and being normal people.

Picture now, in this scenario, what might happen if a masculine looking person who is six feet tall with a deep voice walks into a room with them. This person is wearing high heels, bright makeup, a badly stuffed bra, and is looking like a drag queen. She’ll probably freak out those who are intolerant, hateful, or fearful. She might even incite violence. At the least, she’ll inspire plenty of nasty comments. She’ll also draw attention to any person around her who is also sexually ambiguous.

Hypervigilance toward gender differences can lead to tragedy. It causes masculine looking women to be beaten and thrown out of bathrooms, as you can see if you’ve followed the news. A very poorly passing trans woman sensitizes bigoted individuals, pushes the issue into everyone’s faces, and frightens the intolerant into even more hypervigilance.

A transwoman who is busy “following her own bliss” and doesn’t take care with her appearance or actions not only puts others in danger, gives the entire community a bad name. They make people think all trans folk are drag queens, clowns, or circus side show acts. It’s very hard for someone such as myself to say “trans folk just want to live normal, civilized lives and blend in with society,” when there are so many six foot tall, inconsiderate, poorly passing “women” who think that it’s all a lark and figuratively jump up and down shouting “look at me! I’m trans! I’m trans!”

For women who truly are trying to transition, it isn’t a game for them, nor is it a joke. It’s a deadly serious choice between a painful, difficult, expensive process and inevitable suicide. Transwomen who make it all the way through gender transition have gone through more struggle and heartache than almost anyone else in the world. It takes tremendous courage and determination to be successful. The public perception of transition as a simple surgery is woefully inaccurate, in actuality it takes at least a year, including intensive counseling and hormone treatments.

If you’re trans, I cheer for you. If you support trans folk, I’m with you all the way. That’s why I wrote this article. I care about the trans community and I want everyone to be whole and free to achieve their own goals. We will never be free of hateful people, they’re everywhere, so why not do what we can to help each other and help ourselves at the same time?

Helpful tips:

For any transfolk who want to pass more successfully, I’d like to offer the following advice. I got it from friends of mine who are successful transwomen.

For the successful transsexual, the goal is to blend in to society.
The more gender cues you can display, the better. This is true no matter what direction you are going in, whether male to female or vice versa. Sometimes someone might spot you for one thing, such as a deep voice, but still decide you are bio female for other reasons – presence of breasts, wearing a skirt or dress, well applied makeup, etc.

Stay neat and clean. Bathe, groom yourself in a way that is appropriate.

Choose good role models. If you’re a man, don’t try to look and act like a low class thug, if you’re a women, don’t try to act like a cheap hooker. Transmen: Don’t be Al Bundy. Transwomen: Don’t be Peg Bundy. Instead, why not emulate people with real style and class?

Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that are classically masculine if you are a transman, or classically feminine if you are a transwoman. Don’t bother with loud designs or ambiguous clothing. No skinny jeans or stretch pants for a transman, no blue jeans or sloppy sweat shirts for a transwoman. The idea is to give people a good impression, with clear indications of what gender you are. Avoid loud, clashing fabrics or extreme styles. Go for a sylish but somewhat conservative look. Avoid extremes. Strive to be a lady or a gentleman.

Speaking of style and class, try always to be courteous and respectful to others. Not only will you be treated better, but even if you are spotted as trans, you will be a good ambassador for the rest of your community. Also, being polite doesn’t mean being a pushover. It means being assertive without being aggressive, and respectful of others.

Learn the skills appropriate for your gender, even if it’s a bit stereotypical. People sometimes rely on stereotypes to guide them though ambiguity. While a transwoman can retain any skill she had before transition, she should at least know how to talk about subjects regarding cooking and homemaking for example. A transman would do well to understand something about fixing things, building things, how a car works, and enough about sports so as not to appear a fool. In either case, research the things that everyone in your gender seems to know, and know them too. Besides, it can be a great deal of fun!

Do things the way others do, especially in the bathroom. If you’re a transman, don’t leave tampons around. If you still need them, be discreet. If you’re a transwoman, don’t face the toilet, but sit down to pee. If you have a hard time doing that, spend some quality time at home with a case of beer or other diuretic beverage and train yourself.

Never be a caricature. Stay balanced. When possible, take your cues from bio men and women, not other trans folk.

Alter your voice to match your gender, but don’t go overboard. Transmen, just deepen your voice a bit and use masculine word choices. Transwomen, don’t go falsetto. Instead, soften your voice, raise the pitch a bit, not the volume, and strive for smoothness. Always pay attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it. It does get easier with practice.

To all transwomen: I can’t emphasize this enough. You aren’t transitioning to become a transwoman or a drag queen – you’re transitioning to become a woman, in body as well as mind. Since you have the chance to remake yourself, why not be a lady, not a diva?

via Daily Prompt: Controversy

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/controversy/

 

To her last breath, she limits and binds

My grandmother is nearly 95.  She is getting more and more confused with her letters, which is to be expected.  Yet, the parts of her letters which are not confused indicate all that she has left in her mind – and that is fear and limitation.

I try to let her know what’s going on in my life.  My novels, my art, my quest for a fitter body.  She’s proud of me, and yet every time she says that she also suggests i do less.  I say I take a walk every day.  She says maybe I should make it shorter.  I say I’m doing art every day for Inktober.  She says maybe I should do some art and leave it for the rest day if I can’t finish.

It’s maddening!  This poor woman has spent her whole life lying to herself, praying for forgiveness, pinning her hopes on things she can’t control, giving up her  self control and her power, all while trying to control others with passive aggressiveness.

I don’t want to be told to do less, to pace myself, that it’s okay if I don’t finish today.  That’s what held me down and that’s what I’m setting myself free of.  I don’t want to be held down anymore.  I want to fly.

If by some miracle, despite all lack of medical care, I were to reach the ripe old age of 95 – and I were also to have a younger woman I called granddaughter – I would want to tell her “you go!  Do your best!  I’m proud of you!  Fly high!”