Trying to get a Service Animal

My daughter has been struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD issues for several years.  Recently, her caregiver has said that a service animal trained to alert to incipient anxiety attacks and distract would be helpful.  Not an “emotional support animal” but an actual certified service animal.

Unfortunately, properly trained service animals are expensive.  For uses like this, they have to be individually trained for the specific tasks required.  It’s not like you can go to the medical supply store and pick out one that fits.  The process is long and labor intensive.  First you need a dog that has been temperament tested to see that it’s a good candidate as a service animal.  It has to remain calm and focused despite the many distractions of life.  Then there’s the training.  The trainer has to work with it on a one on one basis for six months to a year.  That’s time and it costs money.  And insurance doesn’t cover it.

While I did some shopping around to find the best prices available for a dog and training that would suit my daughter’s needs–a breeder who treats providing puppies for service animals as a service and actually discounts them rather than charging a premium for temperament tested pups like most breeders, a trainer that likewise is treating it as a service with reduced prices compared to most others (but with good reviews).  Still, it looks like we’re about $8000 short.  Which means I need to raise the funds.

To that end I’ve started a campaign on GoFundMe.  I hate to have to do that, but when it comes to my daughter I cannot afford pride.  Whatever it takes.




My Daughter’s Ice Follies

Not really follies since she is so very much better than I am despite having been at it little longer than I have (just counting from when I re-started, not counting my youthful experience). She’s been taking the Learn to Play Hockey class while I’ve been taking the Learn to Skate classes.  The Hockey classes are after the Learn to Skate classes.  Here are some pictures from the last time.  A group of them were playing “Sharks and minnows”, a kind of tag game where a few in the center are “it” and try to catch the others as they skate across the rink.  Those caught join those who are “it” and they repeat until it’s time to reset with just one person “it”.

My daughter’s wearing the red helmet.

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And here are a couple of brief clips of her skating:

Culture War


A short one, today, but I think important.

Alexis deToqueville in “Democracy in America” makes a point that Americans, in particular the New Englanders of his day (writing in the 1830’s), descended from folk who were self-selected over more than two hundred years for self-government both small and local (the township being the central element of government), and to not being particularly responsive to far off kings.  Whether that represented people born with the proclivity toward independence or a convergence of cultures which became self-propagating is a bit of an open question but I suspect that it’s a bit of both.

Unfortunately, a lot of that self-selection has fallen by the wayside in the ensuing centuries.  And a lot of the cultural habits have been diluted–much by a deliberate effort to undermine them, an effort which gained considerable headway in the 20th century.   And much of that is the result of deliberate agitprop by the former Soviet Union.  McCarthy may have had poor target selection in who, specifically, was accused but America was rife with Soviet agents including in government and in the entertainment industries.

It is not my point here to justify McCarthy’s target selection, methods, and tactics in some attempt to rehabilitate his memory.  I, frankly, don’t know those issues well enough to competently discuss them, let alone justify one side or the other.  Yet one can consider McCarthy’s actions deplorable (or not) and still recognize that there was a concerted effort to undermine America, backed and supported by the Kremlin.  And that effort has long outlived even the Soviet Union itself.

That effort to undermine the American culture of liberty has been only partially successful–one of those “cultural habits” of Americans is a great deal of cussed stubbornness–but successful enough that I’m far less sanguine than some about the outcome of the “New American Revolution,” a “bombs and bullets” war, that some seem to want.  Part of the problem is that the sides are so very intermixed.  The picture with which I open this post shows states vs. states, much like the American Civil War although even here, the states on each side don’t form solid blocks.  They’re more mixed up than were the North and South in the Civil War.  But the true field is far more mixed than even the States.  The folk on one side of the Culture War may be more concentrated in some areas and the folk on the other side in different areas but they are nevertheless thoroughly intermixed even in the most concentrated zones.  Add in that we have multiple sides.  It’s not just “red/blue” or “Republican/Democrat” but a wide range of differing views on how “society” should be run.

This “culture war”, a war of ideas and values fought for the American psyche, that we’re already involved in has been on a cultural plain and, I believe, that’s where it needs to be fought. Win the culture war–and, to be honest those of us on the side of liberty and limited government have barely begun to fight–and we don’t need a full-on bullets and bombs war.  This is not to say that there won’t be violence along the way–there’s already been some and I expect there to be more–but if we can avoid a full on insurrection, that would be good.

Fail to win the culture war and even if we win a bullets and bombs war, we lose.

Using Guns to Fight the Government…

…means you’ll be shooting police and soldiers.

Gary, Indiana mayor and Democrat Presidential candidate Pete Buttieg made this tweet:


From a certain point of view, it does.  And it also means shooting at politicians.  As such, the bar to be cleared before starting that party should be high indeed.  But, however, there’s also another point of view.  Consider.  When I enlisted in the Air Force, I swore an oath:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Officers, swear a similar but somewhat different oath:

I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the _____ (Military Branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.

Police officers likewise swear an oath.  They can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but a typical example is the one from Indiana, to wit:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will at all times protect life and property, abide by the policies and regulations established by Indiana University, the department, the laws and Constitution of the State of Indiana and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Note one thing that all of them, every single one of them, has in common?  They are swearing an oath to follow the Constitution of the United States.  Every one.

And if they are violating the Constitution, then they are oathbreakers–just about the worst “sin” in the tradition I follow.

They are also traitors, perhaps not in the Constitutional legal definition (although perhaps even arguably by that case if they are using violence and force to do so: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”)

If they are violating the Constitution, they are no longer, at a fundamental level, American soldiers or American police officers regardless of what their legal citizenship might be.  They are domestic enemies making war on the very essence of what America is.  This remains true even if we as a people have not risen up against that…yet.  For as Thomas Jefferson wrote, more than 240 years ago:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

To which he followed:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So, should unconstitutional usurpations of power continue, the human rights and freedoms of American citizens continue to be restricted, the Constitution continue to be ignored to the point that a significant number of Americans say “enough”, then those soldiers and police officers who enforce that tyranny will no longer be American, whatever uniforms they actually wear.

They will be enemies, and treated as such.

Fisking Another Anti-Gun Nut

So, Gabrielle Blair, going by the handle of “designmom” suggested life insurance as a better way to protect one’s family instead of having a gun and she went on from there.  Twitter link archived here (against possibility of deletion–what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet).


So, let’s look at this.  As usual, person being fisked is in Bold and my comments are in italics.

There are far better ways to protect your family than a gun. Get a life insurance policy.…

Well, that’s interesting Gabrielle.  Apparently you think that my daughter would prefer to have an insurance payout rather than her father in the event someone with violent intent breaks into our home (or elsewhere–which I’ll get to later).  Perhaps your child or children feel that way about you “designmom” but I’m quite certain my own daughter would rather have me than the couple of hundred large of an insurance payout. (Yes, I do have life insurance, in fact.  But having one does not preclude having the other.)

And that leaves aside the idea that a life insurance policy only “protects” my family from some of the financial challenges they would face in the event of my death.  There are other questions, like who takes care of my daughter in the event of my death–a question that looms large for a single father, let me tell you.  Will they take care of their properly?  Will they be equipped, mentally and emotionally, to deal with her particular challenges?  How much can I really trust them?  Far better, I think, for me to stay right here alive and thus able and willing to care for my daughter.  Perhaps you feel differently about your own children.  And if you do, well, perhaps the fact that you do makes you right to feel that way. (Yes, that’s kind of recursive.)

And then there’s the whole question of if someone takes me down, what prevents them from assaulting, raping, or killing my daughter?  That’s what “protect my family” means, not just provide them money to “replace” my loss, but actually shield them from someone who means them actual physical harm.

I know you truly believe that you’ll need to defend your family at gunpoint. You need to let that go. Statistically it’s just not going to happen. I know it’s boring, but if you want to protect your family, things like seatbelts, fire alarms, and life insurance are your best bet.

Embrace the power of “and”, Gabrielle.  Statistically, one in about two hundred people will be the victim of a violent crime in a year.  According to the Department of Justice There’s an 83% probability of being the victim of an attempted violent crime (Robbery, Murder, Rape, and Aggravated Assault for this purpose) at least once sometime after the age of 12.  In about half that number, the crimes will not just be attempted but completed.  And about a 52% chance (about 2/3 of those who were victimized at least once) of not just being a victim once, but multiple times.

Statistically, I am unlikely to live my life without someone trying to commit a violent crime against me.  And so, while I do wear seatbelts, I do have fire alarms, I do have life insurance, I do eat right and exercise regularly, I do take the medicines my doctor prescribes for me and follow other advice he gives (including vaccinations–do you vaccinate?), I also carry a gun.  Because today might be the day that my 83% comes up.

The same gun I can use to defend myself and my family at home is also (or is in any sane jurisdiction) available to defend myself when away from home–where a lot of those crimes leading to that 83% chance occur.  Probably won’t be today.  Probably won’t be tomorrow.  But pretty good chance it will be sometime.  And I don’t know when that sometime, where that somewhere, will be.  But since I have the gun it’s easy enough to have it with me whenever and wherever it’s legally allowed for me to have it.  Then I only have to worry about those places where it’s not legal to have it, places where people like you would have me left defenseless against folk with ill intent.

So embrace the power of “and” Gabrielle.

The reality is, you’re probably going to die of heart disease or diabetes, or just old age and natural causes. I know it’s not as cool-sounding as an armed-standoff, but it’s still true.

And, indeed, I’d like that to be the case.  I’d prefer to go through my life and never be touched by violent crime.  But…83%, Gabrielle.  Those aren’t “gun nut” statistics.  That’s the Department of Justice.  Those are numbers right out of the Federal Government.  And even if I were unarmed, I might survive the encounter with violent crime.  After all, most of those violent crimes are not murder.  But I’d really rather not put my trust in the criminals for the outcome, the decision as to whether I live or die, hmm?  Perhaps you’d rather trust to the criminals for your own safety.  If so, well, that’s your choice.  You do you.  Just don’t make that choice for me.

If the topic of protecting your family comes up, a gun extremist will immediately imagine an armed intruder who has come to murder. That’s not going to happen. It’s rare enough that it’s not something people need to worry about or make decisions based on.

Once again, the Department of Justice disagrees with you there, Gabrielle.  There are over a million home invasions–that’s an intruder breaking into a home while the residents are present.  That’s one for every 330 or so people.  The odds aren’t too bad in a given year but… simple statistics (I know math is hard for you, so you’ll just have to trust me on this–we covered this kind of thing the first week of Stat Mech back in college)–over a typical lifetime that comes to about a one in five chance of it happening to a given individual at least once.  Actually, it’s much higher than that because when I crunched the numbers I based on number of people–as though each individual lived in their own separate household.  But most people live in households with more than one person and the chances of it happening are per household, not per person.  I know this is complicated, Gabrielle, but do try to keep up.  I’ve given every benefit of the doubt, used a hard lower limit on the chances.  And it’s still a one in five chance sometime in one’s life.  Maybe not this year.  Maybe not next year.  But a pretty good chance (one in five–cannot repeat that enough) of sometime.

Maybe you’re willing to bet your family’s safety on a one in five chance.  I’m not.  And I don’t appreciate you making that decision for me.

If the topic of protecting your family comes up among people who actually interact and care for children each day, they think of things like using car seats, preventing hormones and dangerous chemicals in food, child-proofing the cleaning supplies, and schoolyard bullying.

I know this is a shock to you, Gabrielle, but we do all that. (I suspect, however, as someone who actually has more than a rudimentary knowledge of science, that I disagree with you on the issue of hormones and dangerous chemicals in food–what actually constitutes “dangerous.”  And thanks to this I now suspect the answer to my question above about if you vaccinate is in the negative.)  And we also take steps about that one in five chance that sometime, someone with ill intent will break into our home while we’re here.

Hundreds and hundreds of you have explained to me that a life insurance policy won’t protect against an armed intruder. I never said it would. The thing you don’t understand: There isn’t going to be an armed intruder. That’s just your paranoia.…

One million times a year it does happen.  You may be willing to write those people off.  I am not.

NPR is not gifted with particular insight into criminology and justice statistics.  I’ll go with the Department of Justice on this, thank you very much.  Repeating your claim over and over again doesn’t make it so, Gabrielle.

A gun in the home is FAR more likely to kill or maim a household member than it is to protect them. Enjoy your daydreams about armed stand-offs. But that’s all they are. Daydreams.

This is, put simply, a lie.  It was a lie when Kellerman “reported” it (i.e. made it up) in his debunked “study.” It’s a lie today.  There are over one hundred million gun owners in the US, Gabrielle.  That’s households, not individuals.  Even the lowest of lowball estimates of uses of guns in self defense puts them at over 100,000 (National Crime Victimization Survey–extremely lowball because it only counts crime victims.  Things which were stopped before the person became a victim and that were not reported to police were systematically excluded by the very nature of the “study”.  Serious studies report numbers in the half million to three million range.) That’s five times as many as all the murders in the US in a year.  Five.  Times.  The “gun in the home is more likely…” is simply nonsense from beginning to end.  It’s a lie.  I’ll credit you with just being stupid and naively repeating a lie told to you by others, but the claim is a lie.

Update: A shocking number of you are CONVINCED that armed intruders will enter your home at 2 AM. And specially at 2 AM. Is there like an NRA ad about a 2 AM break in? Some meme I missed? Don’t answer. I don’t actually want to know.

It’s called a scenario.  People take a general concept and describe it as though it were an actual event, including details to flesh it out and help others envision the idea more clearly.  2 AM, the “wee hours of the morning” is when most people are deep asleep, when they are at their most vulnerable.  Like when Hillary made her campaign ad about the “2 AM call.”  Same concept.

When you do “design” do you never use concrete examples to use to illustrate some concept you are wanting to include in a design to help others understand and maybe go “I like it.  Let’s do that”?

Muting this thread now.

“And when away his regiment ran, his place was at the for-o
that celebrated, cultivated, underrated nobleman, the Duke of Plaza Toro.”

Where to start?

The question was asked elsewhere where to start with my stories.  The person tried Oruk Means Hard Work but couldn’t get into it.  Fair enough.  If we all liked the same things, think of what a tremendous natto shortage there would be.  So, here’a a brief precis of what I have out to help people decide where to start.

High Fantasy, you might like The Hordes of Chanakra (novel) or the shorter piece set in the same world (a couple of years after The Hordes of Chanakra) “The Kinmar”, or Treva’s Children which covers what happened to one of the minor characters in The Hordes of Chanakra near the end of that novel.

$2.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Unlimited, $14.99 in Paperback

$0.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Ulimited

Always $0.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

SF: Most of my FutureTech series. Shorts like EMT or Rainy Days and Moon Days, novel like Survival Test.

$2.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read on Kindle Unlimited, $9.99 in Paperback

Always $0.99 in Kindle Store, free to read in Kindle Unlimited

$0.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Store

If you like MilSF, there’s Shiva’s Whisper (also part of the FutureTech Industries series, although there’s no direct connection in that book…but planned to be in future books). It ties into the earlier “Live to Tell” (which also does not make explicit the connection within the book).

$2.99 on Kindle, $15.99 in Trade Paperback.  As always free to read on Kindle Unlimited

$0.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Unlimited

If you like your MilSF with a dose of giant monsters and Lovecraftian horror, there’s Big Blue. My daughter once said, when I was picking her up from daycare some years back, “someone should write Godzilla vs. Cthulhu” (How she knew about Cthulhu I do not know). The result was this book.

$2.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Store, $19.99 in Paperback

Alchemy of Shadows and The Unmasking are both urban/contemporary fantasy novels. The Unmasking is really dark in places. I don’t consider it quite horror because it lacks the nihilism in most of what I’ve seen of horror, but the monsters are nasty.

Paperback: $10.99
Kindle: $2.99
Kindle ebook free with purchase of paperback from Amazon

2.99 on Kindle.  $19.99 on paperback. As always, free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

The Thunderer is a collection of three shorts: one contemporary fantasy, one a retelling of myth, and one actually science fiction. Connecting theme is that all involve the Norse god Thor (or at least what someone thinks is Thor).

$0.99 in Kindle Store. Free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

The short, Lurker in the Water is horror, the only actual horror I’ve ever written.

$0.99 on Kindle or Free to read on Kindle Unlimited

The Chooser is my most recent release. It’s more or less contemporary fantasy in that it takes place in the present day although most of the action occurs in Valhalla (with brief side trips to Helheim).

$0.99 on Kindle, Always free on Kindle Unlimited

If one just wants a good sampling of my work, then I’d recommend Roaming the Universes.  It collects most of my short fiction published as of its compilation.  It’s the best value in terms of the stories you get for the price.

$2.99 on Kindle, $19.99 in paperback. As always, free to read in Kindle Unlimited

Everything of my own that I’ve released is available free to read on Kindle Unlimited so if you have that, you can try them without needing to spend any money beyond the KU subscription itself. And no need to feel guilty about shorting me in doing so either. I get paid for pages read by KU. So, feel free to indulge. I can’t say that for the anthologies I’m in–I have no control over distribution on that.

I’ve also got a sequel to Oruk Means Hard Work nearing release. Although a sequel my beta readers say that it does stand alone well.

Mailbox Woes

Mailbox picture purely illustrative and not directly related to the story.


When I pulled out yesterday morning for the first of the day’s errands I saw that our roadside mailbox was gone. Well, the post, about 3′ of it, was still there but the crossbeam and box were g. o. n. e. Was there day before yesterday when I went to check mail on returning home from work in the evening.

Well, later in the day I went shopping for a replacement. Figured to get one of those plastic ones that just fit over a post embedded in the ground (since I happened to have one in place). Local big box hardware store didn’t have one. Walmart next to it didn’t carry mailboxes. I check Walmarts web site and, oh, they had them down at a place not too far from where I live. Just to make sure, I put in an order with “pick up in the store” as the delivery method. I figured I’d just be able to go over that night or the next day and…”we estimate your order will be ready Tuesday, November 26th.”

Double sigh.

I tried to cancel the order (thinking I’ll just go in person and try my luck). No confirmation of the cancellation and I didn’t want to buy two (checked the card provider online and, yep, the card had been billed so I’d paid for the ordered mailbox). So now I have to wait until either the one I’ve ordered is ready for pickup or until I get a confirmation that the order has been cancelled and the money refunded.

On the plus side, such as it is, I found the old mailbox itself on my porch later that evening. At least the person who broke it (or perhaps some kindly passerby later) put it up there out of the way for all the good that did.

This was annoying.

For comparison, there was a time when I knocked over somebody’s mailbox. (Then wife and daughter had just left on an extended overseas trip so I was more than a little stressed. I never handled separation well until…well, that’s a story for another time and probably not for a public forum.) I went and talked to the owner (who was home), I was heading out for a trip and couldn’t fully make it right at the time but MadMike and I propped the post and box up on a temporary basis so the person could still get mail and when we returned from the trip I bought a new post and we installed it in place of the one I’d broken by backing into it with my Explorer.