Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Topicless Topic

I think I've been lollie-doodled into complacency by the news.  Perhaps I am becoming numb to the dribble foaming from the anchors mouths.  A military general gets sacked for calling the white house a shack full of wimps and BP still can't figure out how to screw a cap on an oil leak.  Sure, I could rant on about these topics, but I have other silly stuff to do with my time, like write.

Yep, that's what I do, I make stuff up for a living.   In between family visits and mountain adventure vacations I've managed to cram in a bit of writing and have roughly completed another novel, or is it a novella?  Tonight I rewinded and added another chapter so the word count might have pushed the story over the edge into the novel category, but we'll see--I'm still toying with the length.

It's a dark, gritty noir full of lovable anti-heros.  Now if I want the ending to convey my prolific meaning I must go find my Sisters of Mercy CD.  Don't see the connection?  Then you clearly have not enjoyed the lyrical musings of this 90's underground band.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Men, What Are Your Shoes Telling Us?

Collectively, when asked what is the second thing you notice about a guy I typically shout, confidently, "SHOES!"  Admittedly, this is exactly where my eyes wander.  So men if you don't think we notice or that we don't extract some secret information from what is on your feet, you may want to think twice about the stink machines tossed in the bottom of your closet.

First, it has nothing to do with shoe size.  Rather, whether you agree or not, there seems to be a general consensus that style (most important), and secondary to cost, is telling us something vital about a man.  Women form immediate opinions and tend to draw psychological conclusions from foot apparel.  However, there is always an exception to any rule.  Lets say you have a nice pair of shoes.  If paired with the wrong attire or occasion, this too can be a deal breaker!

Why is this important?  Hey, I'm just trying to help all the confused guys out!  Seriously, while in a meditative state and staring out the car window on a road trip, I contemplated what could be utilized to provide details about a fictional character without simply 'spelling' it out in a typical, boring fashion.  What does a pair of steel-toed black boots communicate, or what might someone infer about a guy who wears puffy, white New Balances with a navy suit?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Say NO (you can't) to Commercial Whaling

In an altogether shocking move, President Obama's delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has decided to back a plan that would legalize commercial whaling — including in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary — for the first time since the international ban was passed over 20 years ago.

We only have until the start of the IWC meetings in a few weeks to convince the President that this plan is a horrible idea. Join me and tell Obama to keep his promise, save the whales.

Discovery Channel:  Whale Wars

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Psychosis of A Super Villain

An article in LiveScience has Star Wars enthusiasts asking if anything in the galaxy is sacred?  French psychiatrist Eric Bui analyzed the fictional character of Darth Vader and diagnosed the adversary known as the Dark Lord, with a borderline personality disorder.  This prompted others to ask, "Did the Joker suffer from multiple-personalities?  Was Freddie Kruger inflicted with intermittent explosive disorder?"  The answer is likely, "Yes."  

Does this mean researchers and perhaps myself should be examined for symptoms of a delusional disorder, meaning a condition where people confuse fiction with reality?  Not so fast!  In truth, psychosis or rather characteristics and symptoms of certain disorders are studied and utilized by many writers to create unstable characters.  

Why do this?  Well, for starters it aids in creating a relatable villain.  You may not encounter a Dark Lord in the real world, but perhaps you know or have known someone with similar attributes.  A disorder gives a glimmer of humanity and thus, provides a hint or opens the tiniest of cracks for sympathy.  This sympathy leads to the sappiest of all hopes, the miniscule ideal of reform, or in the world of fiction, a happy ending.  Shakespeare said stories end either in marriage or death, but what happens when you sprinkle in a pinch of psychosis?  A few more options become available: timed served with possible reformation of evil ways, or a prison break, revenge, and an ensuing crime spree.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Which Is Better? Stun Gun or Pepper Spray

Stun Gun
First and foremost, it's important not to confuse a stun gun with a taser, the weapons are quite different.  A taser shoots probes and can be used at a distance.  A stun gun is a small, handheld item that must make physical contact with the attacker in order to work.  The gun utilizes two small probes that, once in contact with an attacker's skin, releases a high voltage, low amperage charge.  This charge will temporarily disable an attacker for several minutes, allowing you to escape to safety.

PRO:  Stun guns do not rely on pain to stop the attacker, but instead simply stun the attacker, so that their voluntary muscle control ceases temporarily.   Stun guns are inexpensive and small.  They can be held in the palm of your hand.  The shock will not transmit to you if you are in contact with the attacker, so it is very difficult to accidentally use it on yourself during an attack.

Also, many have a fail safe wristband release.  So if your attacker yanks the device from your hand and the wristband is detached, the device goes dead.  It will no longer work and cannot be turned on you.  

CONS:  The biggest downside to a stun gun is that you must be close enough to your attacker to touch him.  This will mean, consequently, that he will be close enough to reach out and grab you as well.

Pepper Spray
The technical name for pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), and it delivers a burning sensation to the attacker when sprayed in the face.

PRO: Pepper spray is effective from 6-8 feet away, providing distance between victim and attacker.  Pepper spray is a non-lethal product that will render the attacker virtually harmless for anywhere from 20-30 minutes.  Pepper spray is available in many different sized containers, and small canisters can be attached to key rings.  Pepper spray is inexpensive and widely available.

CONS: Although most of us want distance between us and an attacker, this can create a problem when using pepper spray.  You must have a good aim, and a steady hand to hit the mark, which is the face.  If you miss, or hit any other body part, it is completely ineffective.  So aim is key to being successful and getting away safely.  Also, problems can arise when using pepper spray, especially when the wind direction does not cooperate.  If you are attacked outdoors on a windy day, the spray may blow back into your own face when you aim for your attacker.  Lastly, if your attacker sees the stream of spray coming, he may be able to easily avoid getting hit by it.  Pepper spray comes with a locking mechanism on the trigger to prevent accidental discharges; as a downside, this mechanism can sometimes be difficult to disengage.

My Personal Choice: 

Winner Stun Gun Winner
Although I do not want to come in contact with my attacker, I found that the stun gun's electrical, loud sizzling noise when engaged is a pretty big deterrent.  If you pull it out, show it and give it a warning zap, most attackers will think twice before approaching any further.  No one wants to get electrocuted.  I found it much more intimidating than a key chain can of pepper spray.  Also, if you tend to panic or overreact, which most of us will do if about to be attacked, keeping a steady hand and having a good aim might be challenging.  Most tend to completely miss an attackers face due to panic.  If an attacker heeds warning and decides to grab you, with a stun gun you can hit them anywhere and they will go down.  Pepper spray is only effective in the face and eyes.  

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