Cloak

One of my biggest set of regrets revolve around one woman named Heather Barry.  Heather was a sweet girl who suffered from a kind of PTSD from her first husband.  Having never experienced long-term psychological and physical abuse, most of her problems were completely foreign to me.  As a girlfriend, she was simply the best, She had a cute little apartment, made a lot of the fabric items herself, and she could even cook.

The things I couldn’t get over though, were not readily visible.  First was the aftershocks of the PTSD.  A notable one occurred as we were walking through the mall.  I turned to her and asked, “so, what do you want to do now?”  An innocent enough question. But it turned out to be one of the lines her ex would ask just before commencing a beating.  She screamed, and she ran to the nearest clothing store and hid inside a circular rack of overpriced, light jackets.

It was embarrassing to be detained by the mall cops until this could be cleared up. Which was a different kettle of fish.  The flashback trauma had to end, then she needed a second to re-establish where she was, then put together the last few minutes.

But this wasn’t the only moment like this.  And there were subtle problems that slid deeper and deeper into our relationship.  The mall scene was just one particularly visual (and auditory) expression of “I’m afraid you’re going to hurt me.”  But there were so many others.

I grew up with a midwest work ethic and a medieval gentleman’s code of conduct.  That is to say, I was told not to hit women…EVER.  It took a lot of personal re-wiring to sew certain exceptions into that code: combat, full contact martial arts practice, and a little hanky-spanky.  So the idea of hitting a woman outside of acceptable times, specifically a lady like Heather, and more importantly a woman I loved was utterly unthinkable.

Or so I thought.  But it was from Heather that I learned the pressure of expectation.  Because of the PTSD,  Heather fully expected me to hit her (through flashbacks and such) so often and so deeply in her soul, I started to realize that I was slowly becoming more and more…able… to strike her.  As this dawned on me I also realized that for no particular reason, a desire to do so was building in me.  Ultimately, I had to end things with her or I may have given in to these desires and become the ‘next man’ to beat her.

At least, this is what I was telling myself.

For my birthday (or xmas, or some other gift holiday), heather announced plans to make me a gentleman’s full cloak, reversible for desert or forest.  She had to announce it because the measurements for such a thing are pretty specific.  And she wanted me to help with the fabric selection.

It took her a long time to make the cloak.  Much longer than her normal skill would require.  She apologized for being too busy to finish it but it progressed slowly.  I was naturally eager to see the finished item, but reluctant to put any pressure on her to complete.

The end of the cloak making was during a rough patch in our relationship.  It was just dawning on me that I might be able to hit her and few people I had to talk about it were of any help.  Eventually, she confessed that she was a little afraid of finishing the cloak as she was afraid that would also mean the end of our relationship.

Ultimately, she was right.

Shamelessly, instead of seeking professional help with my issues, and trying to work things out with her, I let go of the relationship shortly after getting the cloak.  In retrospect, the anticipation of the gift was, in fact, keeping me around.  Over the years, I have painted this over with different platitudes: “I had to go before I hit her” was the first, “her fear was a self-fulfilling prophesy” was another.  My favorite through the years was always “I was young and stupid”, which I was.  But it was no excuse.

Long have I looked for Heather to apologize for being such a nit.  I fear I shall take the regret of losing her to the grave.

11 reasons why I breathe with Iso…

I’m a long term veteran fire breather.  And I teach people to breathe using Isopropyl alcohol.  Eventually, I move them up to other fuels, and typically this happens quite fast, but some breathers don’t understand the reasons for this.  Since there are many, I’ve elected to condense them here.

First and most important, Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) tastes like ass.  Ass on crank, Lysterine for Godzilla.  In short, It’s incredibly non-palatable.  It’s so offensive that if “breaks” most people.  They find themselves unable to drink fluids for some time and not while in “fire breathing mode” .  I find this to be most important, as it is far too common to decant large bottles of (clear water-looking) fuel into smaller water bottles for stage use.  I’ve seen all kinds of breathers drink, or nearly drink from one of these bottles thinking it was water.

Second, 70% isopropyl atomizes almost exactly like water.  It contains 30% water, it should.  For someone who has been practicing with water, This allows them to experience part of the fire breathing effect in stages without worrying about other things.  Oils don’t atomize like water.  They produce huge, hot flames, bright flashes, and immense danger when done right.  Best job on iso is a watermelon sized flame and a nice flash.  This steps up the experience in the same way the nicotine patch steps down.

Third, If you have any fuel burning on your body, 70% is exactly the stuff you want.  It’s very unlikely, but it is possible that you could catch you shirt on fire and try to blow out the flame with fuel in your mouth.  Most petrol fuels will do horrible things if this were to happen, but someone using iso might barely feel it.  Similarly, Iso can be extinguished with water, making it just another step safer.

Fourth, despite being a class I fuel, I have found, subjectively, that the use of iso will often ease the minds of fire marshals.  Your experience may vary, but I’ve been allowed to breathe in national monuments, protected building, historical landmarks, etc.  all because I was willing to switch to iso.

Fifth, of the types of readily available alcohols, only iso will not get you drunk.  Methanol and ethanol can both be absorbed through the skin in the mouth, both can get you drunk, both can impair judgement.  Iso can make you queezy, and repeated exposure can desiccate (dry out) the skin.  So, it’s use should be limited to no more than 5-6 pops.

Sixth, consistency of product.  Breathers that use kero, zippo, charcoal fluid, or even basic oils can attest that product variation is the bane of most breathers.  That’s why many people have joined me on the UPLO wagon.  But along the same lines, I can get Rite Aid 70% rubbing alcohol and get EXACTLY the same product over and over again.  Two ingredients, same proportions.  WAY easier to get than other fuels, particularly in a pinch.

Back to the beginning, Iso often comes in hands-free dispenser containers that feel NOTHING like a water bottle.  If you’re scrounging around in the dark, in a cluttered fuel station, you’re unlikely to mistake iso for water.  Also, many come with squirt caps that can be opened and closed with the mouth, making them just a little safer than some open bottle.

Clean up with iso is easy, just let it evaporate, takes 20 minutes on cold cement.  Also, wipe downs on face and clothing are notoriously difficult to do well with oils, but not so with iso.  Any rag or napkin can completely remove residue from the chin.

Iso is the active ingredient in most mouthwashes, so it’s use is generally good oral hygiene.

Iso is also the active ingredient of most facial cleansers.  So if it gets on your face, it’ll do more help than harm.

Iso does not clean nor does is stain fabrics.  It acts almost exactly like water on most fabrics.

There’s more, but that should be enough.

All that said, I’m still a big fan of UPLO for my primary breathing tricks,  But it’s nice to have a second weapon around….

Clocks

Somehow, I thought driving a truck would be more free.  Specifically, I wouldn’t have to punch a clock.  But it turns out truck drivers have a bunch of clocks, all based on different federal rules.

 

11 hour – The first clock is a pretty sensible one, you cannot drive more than 11 hours in a shift.  I guess this was to combat the use of methamphedamines in the industry.  Thing is, What’s a shift? Well….

 

14 hour- The 14 hour clock states that you cannot drive more than 14 hours in one continuous period without a 10 hour break.  Okay, that’s not the wording, but the idea is that if I drive to a shipper, and they make me sit around for 6 hours waiting to load up my truck, I can only drive

14hours – (6 hours wait + initial driving + post driving) for a combined 8 hours.  Now, I said it’s not worded that way.  It’s that you cannot WORK more than 14 hours and continue to drive.  So, if I have a second job, that counts against that 14 hour clock, including the 10 hour rest time.

 

8 hour clock – the newest clock says that I must take a ½ hr break somewhere in the middle of my shift,  The real wording includes a 3 hour period at the start and end of the shift where this isn’t valid, but the computer will let you, only you don‘t get your full time. *sigh*  And yes, unpaid.

 

70 hour – Here’s the fun one, … you cannot work more than 70 hours in an 8 day period.  This includes other jobs and on-duty/non-driving stuff.  So, each night at midnight, the hours you worked 8 days ago get added back to your available total.  So, yes, must keep track of 8 days at least.  The only way to reset this is:

 

34 hour reset – that’s one day and a 10 hour reset and all your clocks reset to full.  Can’t do anything for money during this time, and sometimes, you live in a parking lot because of it, But it means you can work as hard as you want for a week.  That’ll get you accross the country.

 

Makes me kinda wish for a good ole 9-5.