Leather, Leather Everywhere

Well… Not at the moment, anyways!

But, yeah. I have leather on the brain currently despite being a week out from IFC (the furry convention I sit on the Board of Directors for currently) and two weeks out from school starting. Thanks to my friend Riley, I have the thought of leather suspenders on the brain. I also want to do more leatherwork for my personal fighter kit. Love the red accents I currently have going.

Anyways, the point of the post is that, in theory, I’m ready to kick off things. Sort of. I’ve decided to forego Kickstarter and just run things through here. Expect to see a page up soon for leatherwork. For right now, the financial aspect of things will be run through this site, but the showcase aspect will be run through Flying Tiger Designs since it’s more the portfolio.

New Ventures?

So, something that has recently been brought up to me again (and that I’d been contemplating for the past few years) is getting off my duff and investing in leatherworking tools. I’m slowly acquiring my own gear to complete (mostly) personal projects, but I also realize that I could do things like making accessories for SCA/Ren Faire events, making harnesses for fashion and practical use, and making collars and leashes for pets.

The thing is, for me to be able to do any of this, I need money for tools and supplies… And it’s kinda tempting to form a Kickstarter to pick up the things I need to form my basic workshop. Thankfully, I have access to a family-owned leather supply store (Yay, I Sachs and Sons!), so my options for leather supplies are more than just Tandy. Speaking of Tandy, I also have access to not one, but TWO stores within a couple hours’ drive of my living space, so I can certainly pick up things when I need to.

The idea is that, in my spare time aside from work and homework (I’m still in school), I’m trying to raise a bit of extra cash to: a) pay off old debts, b) pay down current bills, c) create a savings account, and d) just become a bit more financially solvent. Also, I like working with my hands, so it keeps me happy when I can’t do much outside during the winter.

On Same-Sex Marriage and the Constitution

I rarely get involved in politics; it’s a nasty business that turns even the most mild-mannered individual into a ranting lunatic at best. However, this time, I’m okay beating the hornet’s nest with my very big stick.

When Justice Roberts penned the majority opinion for the recent landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, he stated that

The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come
not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.
 
The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the
equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles. Rights
implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet in some instances each may be instructive
as to the meaning and reach of the other. In any particular case one Clause may be thought to capture the essence of the right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,
even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right. See
M. L. B. , 519 U. S., at 120–121;id. , at 128–129 (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment);
Bearden v.Georgia, 461 U. S. 660, 665 (1983). This interrelation of the two principles furthers our understanding of what freedom is and must become.

Now, I’m just beginning my career in criminal justice and Constitutional studies, and I do understand that there are nuances to our laws because of case-law examples that have been provided through the ages, but the literal text of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment states that

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Source: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html)

As so many more eloquent writers and speakers than myself have highlighted, civil marriage, which is what has ultimately been contested, is a civil privilege granted by the United States government.

You know what that means? For all of those who serve their local governments as Clerks of the Roster or other equivalent positions, the moment that you swore an Oath of Office to accept your government position, you gave up your right to your religious liberties on the job. Your job, as an agent of the United States government, is to uphold the laws and policies from the top down. Which includes the issuing of civil marriage licenses to those parties who request them.  At your job, as a representative of the State, you uphold the United States Constitution’s directives, whether they come directly from the text or from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which serves as the de facto authority on Constitutional Law.

To that note, it is NOT an infringement on your religious liberties to do your job and issue a marriage certificate to a couple, be they same or opposite sex. It IS, however, a dereliction of duty if you fail to do so because you claim that your “religious beliefs tell you not to”.

What this ultimately boils down to is that your religious beliefs should not infringe upon your ability to complete a civil process. You do not get to “morally argue” a couple’s civil marriage; if you want to do that, quit your job as a government employee and join the clergy. I am not here to argue whether or not your religious beliefs are valid or not; I will always err on the side of Justice and Equality, however, as they are two of the core tenets that our country was founded on. . . And that does include your right to express your religious beliefs — Outside of a civil service/government position and in your home and community.

Candied Bacon

DSC_0227

My SCA sword brothers, House Clovenshield, love bacon… And when celebrating one of your sword brothers’ 4 years of cancer remission, why not go all out? So, I made them candied bacon.

Makes 4 lbs. of Candied Bacon. The ingredients can be quartered if you’re only making 1 lb… But why would you?

Ingredients

2 C. Light Brown Sugar

4 Tsp. Garlic Powder

4 Tsp. Smoked Paprika

4 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

2 Tsp. Black Pepper

4 lb. Thick Cut Bacon (I used bacon that was applewood smoked)

Utensils

1 Spoon

1 Large Bowl (or reclosable bag)

4 cookie Sheets

Parchment Paper

Cooling Rack

Sharp Knife

Cutting Board

 

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.

3. Open bacon packages and cut in half.

4. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Lay bacon in cookie sheets from edge to edge, making sure the pieces touch.

6. Liberally sprinkle approx. half of the dry rub on bacon. Rub into meat once applied.

7. Place bacon into oven for 15 minutes.

8. After 15 minutes has passed, remove bacon from oven and turn over.

9. Liberally sprinkle the other half of the dry rub on the bacon.

10. Cook bacon in the oven for another 15-18 minutes.

11. Line cooling racks with parchment paper.

12. Remove cooked bacon from cookie sheets and place on lined cooling racks.

13. Allow bacon to cool.

14. Enjoy (preferably with a cold beverage of your choosing)!

 

Happy New Year, folks! Well, those of you in the Western world, anyways!

As we start 2015 off, my goal is to make my little corner of the web a bit more active. Recipes, posts, project documentation. You name it, I’m probably going to be doing it. While I’ve had this domain for a while, it’s never really had any direction.  My online portfolio does, of course, but not my personal website, and I want to change that.

That said, the site will likely see some changes over the next few months as my interests and focus shifts towards the SCA and the development of a local group at College of DuPage.

Perhaps I’ll also get off my butt and finally post more information on my primary personas, Samii Tiger and Samson Muskovich, as well!

Small Business Saturday

While I’m getting ready for MFF next week, I don’t have a lot of extra cash on hand, but I want to support my friends who own independent businesses today and also remind folks that both Britt (my fiancee) and I also run our own independent businesses.

AnubianHost: http://www.anubianhost.com/

Ayden Lane Photography: https://www.facebook.com/aydenlaynephotography

Beauty by Brittany: https://www.facebook.com/beautbybritt

Blake Illustrate: http://blakeillustrate.tumblr.com/

ByCats4Cats: http://www.bycats4cats.com/

Delilah’s Earth Crafts: https://www.facebook.com/DelilahsEarthCrafts

Draconas Creations: https://www.facebook.com/DraconasCreations

Felix Needleworthy Fine Renaissance Costuming: http://needleworthy.com/

Flying Tiger Designs: http://portfolio.samiitiger.com

Ink’s Mistress Tattoo and Piercing: https://www.facebook.com/InksMistress

Kangaroo Reef Mascots: https://www.facebook.com/Kangarooreefmascots

MoiraCoon’s Shinies: https://www.facebook.com/MoiracoonsShinies

Pendragon Chainmail: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PendragonChainmail

Reindog Creations: http://sugarbuzzstudios.tumblr.com/

Skullgarden ~ Art of A. L. Swartz: http://www.skullgarden.net/

Tag-End Emporium: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TagEndEmporium

Terraflora Designs: https://www.facebook.com/terraflora.designs

 

TDoR

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and it puts me in a rather somber mood.

Today, more than most days, I am focused inward and I scrutinize my experiences. It’s dangerous living as an open and proud transgender individual. It’s just as dangerous being a person of color, especially if you identify as male. I’m lucky, I guess. I’ve only lost my job and been denied a job. I’ve not been assaulted or had someone try to kill me because of my gender expression or the color of my skin. I get to pick up the pieces, scattered as they may be, and try again. Others are not as lucky.

In any case, here’s the text of a post I made on Facebook:

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

I implore you, my friends, remember those who have passed on, not just from violent acts committed against them by other people, but from violent acts committed against themselves.

Transgender lives are lost not just from violence, but also from suicide. In the struggle to become more authentic to ourselves, we all face our inner demons that tell us that “we’ll never ‘pass’ for what we see inside” or that “we’re not good enough for love”. Many of us win that war over many battles; others do not.

This is why I fight on. Why I continue to lend my voice, my identity, and my history as a speaker. I may not be as well-known as Ryan Sallans or Buck Angel, but my story and my voice are just as important as theirs.

Tiger’s Chana Masala

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic
2 Medium Sweet Onions (I used Vidalias), Chopped Finely
2 28oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
24 oz. Canned Garbanzo Beans (Fresh can be used, too, but boil to soften before adding!)
1 Tbsp. Coriander Powder
3 Tbsp. Garam Masala
16 oz. Water
1/2 c. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Instructions:
1. Prepare chickpeas according to their packaging (If using canned, skip this step.)
2. In a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once it has gotten hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook them until soft/slightly brown from frying.
3. Once the onion and garlic are where you need them to be, add the garam masala and coriander powder. Stir them together and form them into a paste-like consistency.
4. In a separate pot (I suggest using a dutch oven or slow cooker), add the crushed tomatoes and garbanzo beans, stirring them over medium heat.
5. Once the tomato and garbanzo bean mixture is heated thoroughly, add the onion-garlic-spice mixture and stir to incorporate.
6. Add the sugar and water, and stir to combine.
7. Turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let cook. Stir occasionally. This can be left on for as little as an hour up to four hours. I suggest letting it cook for the entire four hours to let the flavors meld better.

Serve with naan or any other “classic” chili toppings. When I made this last, I used mashed potatoes, cheese, and sour cream!

Happy eats!