joreth: (polyamory)
A few reminders:

1) Our wedding is public so if you can read this, you are invited (with only a few exceptions and they probably know who they are, mostly involving people I've had to block - if I've ever told you to fuck off, especially if I knew you in real life and I still told you to fuck off and then blocked you on all forms of contact, then you're probably not invited).

2) Plane tickets are going up, so make sure you make your travel arrangements soon for the wedding. San Jose (SJC) Mineta International Airport is the closest airport to the traditional ceremony and Seattle (SEA) International Airport is the closest airport to the handfasting ceremony.

Also remember that you need Northwest Recess event tickets to attend the handfasting ceremony.  

3) We have secured a block of rooms at an inexpensive (for Silicon Valley) hotel that is the closest hotel to the location for the traditional ceremony. This means that the rate is locked in and will not increase even as regular room rates increase. Any rooms not claimed under that room block 30 days before will be removed from the block and you will have to pay full price to get a room, assuming there are any left by then.

You don't have to stay here. We chose it for convenience and proximity to the wedding location and you can choose other accommodations if you prefer, but prices are going up. Silicon Valley in summertime is not a cheap place to visit, so make your reservations soon.

If you are getting a room there, please let us know so that we can adjust the number and types of rooms available. If you tried to reserve a room and the kind you wanted (2 double beds or 1 queen bed) was not available, let us know and we can add more of those rooms to the block.

4) We will be sending out formal invitations with instructions, maps, addresses, etc. in less than a month, so make sure you RSVP with your email address and mailing address before then to receive them, even if you aren't sure yet.

You can fill out the RSVP form, leave the specific events blank, and just add your addresses and comments for now if you want, and then come back and change your RSVP later.

All of this information and more, including relevant links, located here:  http://bit.ly/SquiggleWeddingCon 
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
And, if those two workshops weren't enough, in just 2 weeks from now I will be on a panel with Billy Holder and Tikva Wolf of Kimchi Cuddles and others to talk about poly in the media!
If you have any interest at all in polyamory in either news media or popular media & entertainment, you seriously don't want to miss this panel! Saturday afternoon at Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016, come out and see us!

PLUS!!! Sterling Bates will be back once again at APW to discuss how to use personality type systems to improve your relationship communication! This workshop fills up every time he gives it, and he also improves it every time as new research brings even more helpful ways of understanding ourselves and our partners and metamours. I've never missed one of his personality workshops and I learn something new every time.
He will be presenting FIRST THING on Saturday morning! Again, make sure you get your weekend or Saturday passes and check in EARLY so that you don't miss out!

Visit www.AtlantaPolyWeekend.com for the full schedule of all the awesome presentations and workshops next weekend!
joreth: (Super Tech)
Also in 2 weeks, I will be giving a presentation on how to give a presentation at Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016! Present Like A Boss - this class is for everyone - experienced presenters and never-before-presented newbies! I will teach the different kinds of presentation styles that you can choose from (there's no One Right Way!) and how to choose one, how to build confidence and professionalism, and even the most effective use of your PowerPoint slideshow! There will be a handout. You can use the tips and tricks of the absolute best public speakers to add professionalism and polish to any public speaking endeavor, from business team meetings to poly conferences to TED talks. You might not want to be Tony Robbins, but you can learn a few things from his success no matter what level of public speaking you do.

I will also be teaching little-known tricks that almost no one ever thinks about that will make your presentation look the most professional you can look. How? Because I work in the public speaking industry for a living - yes, it's an industry - and I know all the backstage secrets from how Steve Jobs got to be so awesome at what he does to PowerPoint expertise to the reasons that technology does the things that *it* does and how to exploit it to your advantage.

If you have never presented before, or are new to presenting, and are interested in joining the ranks of poly or alt-sex/relationship educators, this class will help you start right out with a polished stage presence to get your message across to your audience. If you are an experienced presenter, you *will* learn at least one thing about public speaking that you did not know before that can help you step up your own presentations.

Polyamory and other alt-sex / alt-relationship things are getting more and more attention, so we are needing more and more people in the communities to be able to explain and explore these ideas, both within the communities and without. Conferences are expanding and there are requests for a wider variety of topics to discuss and a wider range of speakers to represent the population. People outside the communities are learning about us and asking for more representatives to explain what we do. More and more of us are finding ourselves in positions of authority or educator on these subjects and we can benefit our communities better by giving more effective presentations, lectures, and workshops.

This workshop is on Saturday morning, so get your weekend or Saturday passes and check in early to make sure you don't miss it!
joreth: (Swing Dance)
In just 2 short weeks, Sterling and I will be bringing back our Lead & Follow Communication workshop to Atlanta Poly Weekend! It's the first workshop on the schedule, so you have to get there early!

In this workshop, we will teach you exercises to practice at home with your partners that will improve your ability to:

1) be aware of the physical and emotional space that you take up and how that affects those around you;
2) be conscious and considerate of your actions with your partner and how they affect people outside of the two of you;
3) how to better navigate metamour relations and juggling the emotional considerations of multiple partners while still allowing time to focus on one person at a time (i.e. it's not all everyone together all the time or compartmentalize everyone always);
4) how to get better attuned to recognizing nonverbal communication and expressions
5) how to get more comfortable asking for consent;
6) how to get more comfortable giving clear, verbal, affirmative consent;
7) how to become more comfortable giving clear, verbal rejection to your partner and to potential partners kindly;
8) how to hear a rejection and learn how to not take it personally or to accept it and move on more easily.

These are techniques learned over time in the dance community, but we will be teaching them to you without any dance experience required. In fact, we will not be teaching any dancing at all so you do not need to be good at dancing or even interested in dancing to attend! But we will be having fun with music and movement, so if dancing *is* your thing, whether experienced or not, you will have a good time! If you *are* an experienced partner dancer and are already familiar with leading & following, you may still enjoy learning how we put these skills together with relationship communication.

You do not need to come with a partner for this workshop. You can learn these skills on your own and apply them to your relationships later. You will also receive a handout to help you remember and practice the exercises at home so you can teach your partners on your own time.

I hope to see everyone there!
joreth: (Misty in Box)
This is a thing in my circles (or, it was in the circles I frequented with my abusive ex, so I'm trying to make it a thing in my current circles as well). I called it "being peopled out". Anyone can excuse themselves from a social interaction guilt-free by simply saying they were "peopled out" and either choose to leave entirely or just go somewhere nearby to be left alone for a while.

When I host social interactions at my home, the common areas are for socializing and the rest of the house is generally accepted to be off-limits as per normal party etiquette, but my bedroom (as I'm too poor to have all that many other rooms) was declared a Peopled Out Zone, where introverts can escape for a bit. If other introverts are already in there, it is known that this room is for introversion and there is no obligation to socialize with anyone there, since they're all there to recharge.  I don't think I've ever had more than one introvert at a time in my room, but another party I was at had 3 of us ignoring each other in the Introvert Room.  Cats can move about at will and are usually welcome to socialize, though.

When I have partners over, being "alone together" is a major part of them coming over. Either of us can announce a desire to be undisturbed or to get work done or whatever and the other will go about their own business for the duration. When my local partner comes over, he stays for a few days at a time and then goes home for a few days. That's too long at my house to constantly be "entertaining" him, which might otherwise be acceptable as a host for a guest of a couple of hours. He often asks for time to play on his phone and I often have shit I need to get done around the house that is just unrealistic to wait on for several days until he goes home again. He also spends about an hour or more at a time sitting alone on my porch vaping. I don't like vaping and, again, I have my own introvert needs or stuff to get done. We pop our heads into the other's space to share a thought now and then, but we essentially leave the other alone during that time.  Without that ability, I couldn't have him stay over for several days and I'd have to see him less often than I currently do, which might actually hamper the relationship.

This is also a dialect of the Quality Time Love Language. Some people call it Co-Gaming, where people share physical proximity to each other but don't interact much with each other (in the case of the term, because they're playing video games on their respective consoles). For some of us, this is an important part of bonding with others. It allows us to let down our guards, stop being "on stage" and stop playing "hostess" and "guest", and to just *be* in front of another person, doing something mundane or going about our daily lives.  For some people like me, that's an incredibly vulnerable time, and it's one pathway to intimacy because we have let someone see us without the social mask on.

Here's a good video clip from the TV show Sex And The City that covers introversion and "alone time".  It's currently under a copyright dispute so I can't embed it directly, you'll have to click the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FNBLi_6De0

I advocate for everyone to introduce being Peopled Out, or Introvert Time or whatever you want to call it to your social circles.  I think this benefits both introverts and extroverts.  If extroverts want to socialize more, they can get more introverts to come over and socialize if the environment is accommodating of introversion needs.  So, throw a party and say 6 introverts show up.  The odds that all 6 of them will get Peopled Out at exactly the same time for exactly the same duration are pretty slim, so between the other extroverts at the party and the introverts not currently Peopled Out, the extrovert host should have plenty to socialize with.  And, since the introverts know there is a Peopled Out room available, more introverts will be willing to show up, thereby increasing the number of people at the party in total, thereby increasing the number of people available for an extrovert to socialize with.  Or, for those who don't have a home large enough for a whole separate room, a Peopled Out Corner, perhaps next to the bookshelf, or a Time Out Bean Bag or something, where someone can go and no one will address them while they're in that spot.

And then there's the more private, non-party circumstances like in the comic.  If an introvert feels safe saying "Peopled Out, can't talk now, talk later?" because they know that the other person will understand, give them some space, and not take it as a personal rejection or freak out at the lack of reply, then the introvert will be more likely to actually respond with that explanation rather than either playing the avoidance game or overcommitting and then having a meltdown that the other person won't understand why the introvert is melting down over "nothing".

Sometimes, the other person (either introvert or extrovert) won't understand what the radio silence is all about and can fill in the silence with their own projections or suppositions.  This means that they'll try to contact the introvert, the introvert won't respond because they're Peopled Out, and the other person can freak out wondering why - was it something they did?  Does the introvert not love them anymore?  Did they get into a horrible accident?  WHERE ARE THEY?!

Introversion / extroversion language, and the language of various personality type systems like MBTI or Love Languages, help to establish that whatever is going on with the person in question is something internal to them and not a reflection on the other person.  This tends to make it easier to hear about someone's personal boundaries and limitations because it more clearly illustrates that it's not about us, it's about themselves.  But, in order for the person in question (the introvert, in this case) to explain what's happening, they have to feel *safe* explaining what's happening.  We can start by including things like Peopled Out Time as a given in our social circles and also giving them language to use to help explain their internal workings. And, like in the SATC video, sometimes just knowing that it's safe to ask for time alone can reduce the need for or duration of time alone, giving the other person the socializing that they wanted in the first place.

So my suggestion is to find a phrase that people in your social circle can understand to mean "I need some time with no interaction from you that is not a statement in any way on you as a person but on my own internal brain chemistry regarding how I process social interaction" and start using it to create Introvert Time or Peopled Out Spaces or Sensory Overload Chill Out Time for people who just need to be alone for a while.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)


https://secure.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=Joreth&tripid=777890

I've started a massive social project - Eating 'Round The World. I will attempt to find a restaurant of as many different nationalities as the greater Orlando area offers, and have at least one meal there with friends.

I think this is a great way (for those who have enough disposable income to try it) for friends, families, and social groups to organize regular outings with each other. It exposes us to new cultures (even just a little bit), breaks us out of our comfort zones, and gives us an excuse to actually leave our houses (for those of us introverts who need strong motivation to do so). I seem to find more people willing to make it to social meals than to any of the more active physical activities that I do, like dancing. I heartily recommend people find an organizing-type person in your social or family set and try this.

This makes a good plan for friends, families, social groups and organizations that offer socializing as part of the group, and date night suggestions.  If I was still running the local poly group, I'd add this to our social events (along with my poly movie nights, dancing nights, and pub nights).

I've also found that making the goals for an event to be "I want to try something new" and "I want to socialize with awesome people" rather than "I'm hungry and want something good to eat" makes me much more willing to be adventurous and try a restaurant that I've never eaten at before. I can always get a burger afterwards if I didn't find enough food that I liked to eat. If you are hesitant to try new foods, you may find this trick helpful.


I've created a template map / itinerary to help people get started, especially for people who don't know which countries to search for or what order to go in. You will need to create your own account at Traveller's Point if you'd like save a copy of this map and edit it to your local area. Or you can just look at the list and use it to create your own list in your preferred format.

Basically, you go down this list, do a Google search for a restaurant in your area from that country (the best search I've found is "authentic [country] restaurant [your or nearest large city name]"), and when you find one that you want to visit, you can add in the details of that restaurant into the Notes field and add a "date of arrival" for the date you plan to eat at that restaurant.  If you can't find a restaurant that represents a particular country, then you delete that "stop" from the trip's itinerary. *Most* of these countries will not have a restaurant representing them in your area, so don't feel too daunted by the size of the list. I added every nation in the world*, just to cover my bases, but I'll be lucky to find 25% of them with restaurants here in town. At the end, you'll have an interactive map that shows where your group has "been", along with details of the restaurant, pictures if you'd like to add them, etc.

In order to make organizing easier, I have also started a Facebook Group, where I can create Event pages with the restaurant details, get RSVPs, share photos from the meal, chat with others who are interested in going, etc. I recommend doing the same, or using an email list or a Yahoo! Group or whatever platform you prefer that allows you to create an interactive group format with event information.

Happy dining!



I did not include the US, as I am based there.  Followers from other countries, if you add in the US, know that the various regions have their own food specialties that you may want to identify - some broadly regional, some very specific.  Just off the top of my head, I'd recommend the following:

TexMex; Californian; Midwestern; Cajun; New England; Southern; African-Southern; New York-style pizza; Chicago-style pizza; Philly cheesesteaks, Coney Island Hot Dogs;

Any other regional US food styles?

joreth: (Purple Mobius)

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2015 is coming up soon! Make sure to get there early, because Sterling and I are giving our Breaking Up workshop first thing Friday afternoon and you don't want to miss it! We've added new content for how the metamours can handle a breakup. Last year, we received rave reviews, including the comment:

"If More Than Two is the General Theory of Don't Be A Dick, then your breakup workshop is the Special Theory of Don't Be A Dick!"

We give practical advice for how to handle a breakup with compassion and grace even in the face of an uncooperative ex, and how to deal with your partners' breakups as the metamour. Given how common breakups are, we believe that we need to shuck the notion that discussing breakups isn't "romantic", and instead, we need to develop relationship skills that will help us to handle the inevitable.

Our culture tells us that we should find our One True Love the first time we try dating and that the relationship will last until we both die. Statistics suggest that this is FAR from true. So, as a culture, we need to take the blinders off and put on the big boy pants and learn how to deal with a situation that we are almost guaranteed to go through at least once in our lives.

Come to our panel at 1 PM on Friday to learn how!

On Saturday at 5:30 pm, come and hear me talk about Polyamory & Skepticism - What's Love Got To Do With It? I'll be revising an updated version of my keynote speech on the intersection between ‪skepticism‬ and ‪polyamory‬, and why they are so important to go together.

And finally, a brand new, hands-on workshop (yes, you can just observe) just for APW 2015 - Using Lead & Follow Techniques To Improve Your Relationship Communication!

Right before the Masquerade, come hear Sterling and me show you how to apply the partner dance techniques of Lead & Follow to your romantic relationships to improve your relationship communication. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO DANCE! Seriously, you can totally have 2 left feet and still get some important tips for your relationship! We will not be teaching how to dance at this workshop.

Lead & Follow are dance terms for who gives the signals in a dance and who receives the signals in a dance. They are not dance steps and they are not specific to any style of dancing. You do not need a partner to participate in this workshop and you do not need any dance experience or even any interest in dancing. This is a communication workshop that applies certain skills from partner dancing to relationships.

We will tackle issues like consent, invitations, acceptance and rejections, non-verbal signals, trust, and more. This is a fun and interactive workshop that will take place conveniently right before the Mardi Gras party, the Drag Show, and the big Masquerade ball! We'll have a few exercises and play some fun music, plus a couple of dance demonstrations with some fun and sexy dances! We'll get you up and moving and ready to party the rest of Saturday night!

Everyone is welcome - extroverts, introverts, dancers, non-dancers, singles, couples, any relationship configuration and any relationship style, and even lurkers! If "interactive" isn't your thing, you can still come in and observe, take notes, and practice at home using our helpful handout. In fact, the tips we teach in this workshop are intended to be continuously practiced, so *everyone* can take what they learn here and bring it back home with them to keep improving their relationship communication!

You won't want to miss this!

If you can't attend Atlanta Poly Weekend, then share this post to spread the word to those who can!

joreth: (Swing Dance)
www.thedancesocks.com

So, a while back I was researching DIY dance shoe resoling and I came across a new product called The DanceSocks​. I'm often at parties where I'm dressed in sneakers and someone will ask me to show them a dance step, and I'll have to take off my shoes and dance in my socks or bare feet in order to do it. Which is kind of dangerous if I'm outdoors or if I'm showing a partner who has never danced before and might step on my toes! So I thought these looked interesting.

The basic premise is that the smooth floor sock is just a little tube of fabric that goes around the ball of your foot over whatever shoes you're wearing. The sock fabric is chosen to give you the right amount of "slip" for spins and slides while allowing the rest of your shoe to act as a stopper since the rubber isn't covered. They primarily advertise this for zumba, where you might need to stop suddenly and where you might prefer sneakers to dance shoes. It sounds pretty good for Lindy Hop & swing as well.

They also have a version for carpet, which is a sock that covers the entire shoe and is of a different fabric pattern designed for providing slip and spin on rough carpeting. I used to perform as a Bollywood dancer, and most of the time, our troupe was booked in hotel rooms or classrooms where there was no stage only carpeted floor, or where the stage itself was carpeted. Most of the time, we danced in bare feet because of the style of costuming, but carpet can really eat up even callused feet so we would often wear Hermes sandals with leather soles to dance on carpet. When I'm at a party in someone's house and the floor is carpeted and I'm asked to dance, I'll usually dance in socks instead of bare feet just to protect myself from blisters, but even in socks, dancing on carpet can hurt.

So, I decided to test these Dance Socks out. At $10 a pair, why not? I got both the carpet and the smooth floor versions (the smooth floor version comes in a 2-pack for $10, as I pleasantly discovered). I gave one of the smooth floor pairs to one of my partners who is learning how to dance and happened to be at an event with me on the day mine arrived, and we tried dancing in the garage at an Easter party. They actually allowed him to lindy hop in hiking boots!

Then I went to a friend's house where I was teaching him and his fiance to rumba for their wedding. We had been doing the lessons on their living room rug, but they had new leather-soled shoes for the wedding so they were able to do it. I kept showing up in sandals or sneakers because, well, I wasn't doing all the dancing, I was only demonstrating the steps, so I could cheat. But, I figured, I have these new carpet socks so why not? I put them on over my sneakers, and it happened to be on a day when the bride was too sick to dance, so I gave the lesson to the groom while she watched from the couch. Which meant that I had to *actually* dance.

Let me tell you, I was dubious about these carpet socks. I've spent a LOT of time dancing on carpet in different kinds of shoes, bare feet, dance paws, socks, etc. Other than leather-soled shoes, I've never been happy with anything on carpet. I even went out and had a pair of dance shoes re-soled in leather (over the suede) just so I would have at least one pair of shoes I could dance on carpet on!

But these Dance Socks did the job. I was quite surprised at how slippy they were, without being dangerous. They maybe weren't *quite* as slippy as a brand new leather sole that hasn't been roughed up yet, but they were definitely slippy enough to do point turns in!

So far I love these socks as a backup. I'm planning on keeping these in my car (if I had a purse, I'd keep them there) so that when I'm out "in the wild", if dancing opportunities just happen to come up spontaneously, then no matter what I'm wearing, I'll have the proper shoes without having to actually carry around a pair of dance shoes with me everywhere! Because, really, who does that? And who then wants to go out to their car, come back in, change their shoes, all because your date's favorite song came on at the jukebox and they want to dance right now? With these Dance Socks, I just have to pull them out of a purse or pocket, slip them over whatever I'm wearing, and hit the impromptu dance floor!

So, since I've actually tried them out, I'm recommending them to anyone who might find a use for having a pair of "dance shoes" with them no matter where they are but who doesn't want to actually carry dance shoes with them everywhere they go. They're small, washable, fold-able, and incredibly convenient, not to mention affordable!  Go get yours today!  Seriously.
joreth: (Misty in Box)
This was created as a Facebook event worldwide by the rather well-known Lee Harrington (look them up).  Since not everyone has FB, I'm sharing it here.  I wanted to make sure all the details came through even for people who couldn't visit the event page, which of course meant that it's too long for Twitter, so I'm making a public blog post so that I can tweet *that* and anyone can see it (hopefully).

I HATE April Fool's Day.  Our culture has begun to reward and celebrate the sorts of pranks that punish belief and gullibility.  Now, as a skeptic, I would ordinarily say that's a good thing.  But we aren't just teaching people to be more skeptical, we're teaching people to be more cynical because we're presenting these false stories by TRUSTWORTHY SOURCES and then humiliating people when they have the gall to believe a person (or a business) who has previously earned their trust.  April Fool's Day isn't about teaching people to investigate or question, it's about setting someone up with a totally believable story or prank as presented by someone they have reason to believe, and then publicly displaying their belief in the most humiliating way possible.  April Fool's Day has become:
"Ha ha, I'm a good friend that you have every reason to believe, and I'm telling you a totally reasonably believable story, BUT IT'S FALSE and you believed it, you fool!  You're such an idiot for believing me, even though I deliberately set you up to believe me!"
And that's the nice version.  Other popular forms of pranks involve other sorts of humiliation that don't require belief but often require destruction of property or poking at people's vulnerable spots (like fake pregnancy announcements on social media when there are women who can't have children but who desperately want them, for instance, or fake-coming out as gay when real people face discrimination, ostracization, violence, homelessness, and even death).  So I am really opposed to April Fool's Day as a national holiday.  But THIS is a holiday that I can get behind:
In our culture, April Fools Day has become a day of pranks and emotional confusion, deceit cast in the guise of playfulness.

Let us make a new holiday to counter the experience, one week later...

April 8th
Honesty and Vulnerability Day!

Turn to a friend and share how you adore them. Tell the world about a joy of yours, or a tender shadow that has been weighing you down. As you do so, let them know that you are being vulnerable and honest, and ask that they receive your gift of honesty and vulnerability from a place of love as well. This is not just an online event, this is a push to make the world at large a better place for us all.

Day of Honesty and Vulnerability is a chance for us to build strength and connection in our world rather than perpetuate pain and confusion. Let us build a better world for us to all live in, one day at a time.

#HonestAndVulnerable
#HAVDay
#HonestyAndVulnerabilityDay
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
A few years ago, I was op-ing some meeting rooms and the speaker wanted walk-in music, but it wasn't anticipated in the work order. So I pulled out my iPod and he picked out some songs and was thrilled that I could save him in this way.

So I built a "walk-in playlist". I'm a huge fan of building playlists. I have about a dozen or more that I use regularly. I have a Fucking Playlist, several playlists for different dance classes, a Happy Playlist, a Sleep Playlist, a Poly Party Playlist, and more. I can literally give a spontaneous dance lesson anywhere that we can hear the music on my iPod speakers because I carry it with me everywhere and many of my playlists are on it. My most commonly accessed playlist is my Work Playlist, which is similar to what most people might build for a workout playlist - all songs within a certain BPM range intended to keep my mood and energy up, to walk fast to (for pushing cases), etc. My playlist differs from most people's playlists, though, in that is has a ton of genres, they just have to be of the right beat.

So I took my Work Playlist, removed all the songs with cussing, all the pro-atheist songs, and most of the country except for a handful of really popular country songs (this guy was a rock fan but for some reason he really loved Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy and played it probably 5 or 6 times throughout the day).

Recently, I was a graphics op for a luncheon where the client was so stingy with the cash that we didn't have any headset communication between the backstage techs and the Front of House techs, no video engineers, etc. They also didn't arrange for walk-in music, and as people were filing into the room, the client finally noticed how quiet and awkward it is to not have walk-in music. So, she started to freak out, so I offered up my old walk-in playlist. We already had the audio set for my graphics machines, so we didn't need to communicate with the FOH audio guys, I could just plug in and we'd have music

She had to call her boss to make sure it was OK, and he wanted to know what was on it. So I said "mostly classic rock and '80s music", because there was a panicked-rushed feel to this whole thing and that's all I could think of what was on it being put on the spot like that, and he OK'd the playlist. But the first 4 songs that came up were swing dance songs - a mix of rockabilly, actual '50s Rock N Roll, and Big Band Swing. Which was fine, but the point is that I realized how eclectic my mix really was, and that might not be to everyone's taste.

So I'm building more playlists! I now have a walk-in playlist with just rock music from the '50s through the '80s; a pop playlist with pop music from the 2000s only; a retro/vintage playlist with music from the '20s through the '40s, Sinatra-style jazz, and modern music that has the same feel; and I'm about to build a Glurge playlist. "Glurge" is a term I first heard on Snopes, which says "think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in". Basically, it's those sickeningly sweet inspirational messages that have no real substance or, on the far end of the spectrum, actually have a much darker meaning than the uplifting message they supposedly support but you can't really tell because of the generic inspirational tone.

This playlist is going to be filled with all the really fucking annoying vaguely rah-rah music that every damn convention plays - like Happy by Pharrel or Roar & Firework by Katy Perry or I've Got A Feeling by Black Eyed Peas. If playlists could make me money, I figure I'd be rich in no time for this playlist alone.

But the playlist that's making me happy at the moment is my retro/vintage playlist. It's filled with Cab Calloway and Postmodern Jukebox and Ella Fitzgerald. I'm delighted thinking that, maybe someday, perhaps in a couple of years, someone is going to desperately need walk-in music and I'll be all "I can save you! What kind of music do you want?" And they'll be all "I don't know, what do you have?" And I can say "I have these playlists" and I'll list them, and someone will say "you have old ragtime?! That's awesome! Play some of that!" And I'll hook up my iPod and we'll be rocking out backstage to Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis Jr. and a Miley Cypres song that sounds like it's being played in a slat-wood saloon with an upright piano and a guy in a red and white striped shirt with red garters on his biceps and people walking into the room will be all "WTF is this?" at first, but they'll find their feet tapping along while they sit and wait for the show to start because it's hard not to get into ivory-tickling and a wailing horn and a smooth-as-honey voice pouring out the speakers, into the ears, and down the back of the throat.

I may have a slightly unhealthy obsession with playlists.

‪#‎Audiophile‬
joreth: (Swing Dance)
While at the Suits, Star Wars, & Sinatra dance at DragonCon this weekend, I had the opportunity to teach a couple of guys how to dance. The event featured music from the '30s ragtime to big band of the '40s to Sinatra style jazz, which made it excellent for swing dancing. It also made it excellent for cha cha and foxtrot, but nobody there knew those dances.

But because it was Star Wars and suits, it also brought in a large number of non-dancers who were just attracted to the theme. While standing on the sidelines, trying to identify who were swing dance leads so that I could possibly ask them to dance later, I overheard a girl talking to two guys. She knew how to dance, but was mainly from the local lindy hop scene which may or may not have any formal training (sometimes people just learn from the community, which is totally a fine way to pick up social dancing), and knowing how to dance is not the same thing as knowing how to teach. I'm actually a better teacher than a dancer, personally.

Anyway, she knew how to dance and seemed to be trying to pick up the two guys (who seemed to be trying to pick her up) so she was trying to encourage them to dance. They pulled all the usual objections: "I have white boy syndrome", "I have two left feet", "I tried to learn and couldn't pick it up immediately so I gave up", etc.

So she was trying, and one of the two guys seemed to actually be trying to get into it. I moved closer and closer, as I usually do when I see a dance lesson happening, and eventually got close enough to make a comment. The other guy heard me, and he responded, to which I responded, and so on until I eventually got to admit that I teach beginning swing. So he got the attention of the others and introduced me as a teacher. The girl looked over at me gratefully and asked for help to teach.

So I moved over to the guy who was making an effort to learn and I taught him a few things. In a social setting, where the music is loud, ongoing, and ever-changing, it's a very different environment than a dance class. You can't teach the same things in the same order. You have to be able to give just a couple of pointers that the student can then use immediately to have a good time. If the student is spending his whole time trying to remember memorized steps, he won't be having a good time.

So I start out with 2 goals that I think are the bare minimum for enjoying dancing - rhythm and communication.

Step one: learn the basic rhythm, the pattern of steps, where to put your feet. Unless you're planning to perform or compete, if all you want to do is go to a silly little dance at a sci-fi con and impress someone who knows less about dancing than you do, the only thing you need to know about steps is the basic rhythm. No matter what happens, keep your feet moving in the same rhythm and you'll look amazing. If you lose it, pause for a moment and then start over.

Step two: learn the proper points of contact and what signals communicate what moves. As a lead, if you can communicate to your partner what you want them to do, then you can make up shit all night long and look amazing. If it seems like fun, you can take a class later and learn actual proper steps with names and everything. But if all you want to do is go to a silly little dance at a sci-fi con and impress someone who knows less about dancing than you do, all you need to know is how move your arms and where to place your hands so that the follow naturally responds to your signals even if the follow knows nothing about dancing.

That's it. That's all you need to know to go out and have a good time. After I got done with the one guy (in the span of less than one song), I looked over and saw the girl trying to teach the more reticent guy. So I brought my partner back over to the girl (proper dance etiquette - always return your partner to where you found them), and she asked if I'd like to swap and take a turn at teaching the other guy.

We swapped partners and the two of them went off to dance. The more reticent guy told me that he had White Boy Syndrome (to which I automatically responded that many of the top swing dancers in the world are white) and that he tried to learn how to dance once and was unable to. So I launched into the two-step spiel again. He did have a more difficult time with rhythm. He seems to be one of those people who just can't hear the beat, so I broke it down mathematically for him instead. He almost immediately picked it up that way.

Once he got the hang of the rhythm, I showed him how to communicate and I reiterated that he needn't get hung up on memorizing steps - if he just keeps doing the basic step and moves his arms so that the girl can dance around him, he'll be fine. It was fantastic to see the lightbulb go off behind his eyes. He lit up, thanked me, and said that he learned more about dancing in those couple of minutes than in his entire life up until that point.

I returned him to the girl again, and they all tried to apply what they had learned. Since I saw them together for quite a while, they seemed to be happy with the results. I wandered off to do my own thing.

I love teaching people how to dance. Some people avoid dancing because they think they'll never look like the pros. Of course they won't. Just like any other sport, pro dancers are a very small minority of the very top of the heap. Don't go into dancing thinking you're going to be good at it. Go into dancing thinking that you might develop a new way to enjoy music and social interactions. All you need to learn is a couple of things. If the dancing bug bites you, then you can take that and improve on it with classes and practicing, but that's not necessary. My goal in teaching is to help people have a good time. That's it.

Oh, and possibly to have a good time without injuring anyone else in the process - people who don't know how to dance flinging each other around trying to emulate people who know how to dance is a dangerous thing. It takes control and finesse to do those flashy moves. Learn the basics first. Please.

Here's a video of DragonCon that captured a one-second clip of me dancing at this event.  It's about a minute in and it's literally only a second long, but it did get me in mid-twirl and shows part of my USO costume.  I'd love to embed it, but the site doesn't offer an embed code that LJ recognizes, so you'll have to click on the link.  I've cued it up to just before my dance bit.



joreth: (Super Tech)
When I was still in film school, I started up a little film company with a couple of my school buddies (that went nowhere). The guy in the producer's role used to say "as long as you live through it and it makes a good story, it's worth doing." If you've ever seen Wag The Dog, Dustin Hoffman's role as producer is totally my old producer.

I grew up having the curiosity and courage beat out of me. Literally. I was picked on and bullied and had the shit kicked out of me for most of puberty. Every idea I had, my parents were right there to explain to me why it couldn't work, why I shouldn't go out on a limb, why I should play it safe. I didn't learn until well into my 30s that my mother actually thinks I have a beautiful singing voice, that she likes my dancing, and that she thought I was a very graceful swimmer (I was a competitive swimmer for a while). I faced discouragement from many angles.

But not all angles. I had teachers who encouraged me. The meaning of the word "encourage" is "to inspire courage". I had quite a few teachers who told me that I could do anything, be anything. I was encouraged to write. I was encouraged to act and sing and dance. I was encouraged to be good at math and science. I was encouraged to be athletic. I was encouraged to drop everything and go into the entertainment field as a technician, which is what I did.

I've always walked this strange line between timidity and bravery. On the one hand, I was terrified to sing in public and I did not express myself enough to convince my parents to get me singing lessons. On the other hand, I went out and taught myself how to read sheet music and to play piano when I was 8 years old, and then in high school, I went by myself to join a church that my family was not a member of just so that I could sing in their choir. I'm full of contradictions.

I am a brave and courageous soul trapped in a timid and fearful body. But by the time I met my producer, my body was having trouble containing my soul. "Did you live? Did it make a good story? Then it was worth it."

I've lived through being stalked and chased up a water tower by a mountain lion in the middle of the night, where I stayed until sunrise when we could verify that the lion really was gone. It makes a great story. Without consulting anyone, I bought an ancient school bus, converted it to a motorhome, and set off 3,000 miles across the country with no job, no house, and only one friend waiting for me on the other end. It makes a great story.

Every time I get my heart broken, my inclination is to pull back, pull inside, go back where it's safe. But then I remember that I won't 't have any more great stories. I live for the great stories, the grand adventures. I haven't had very many lately. I have some good stories - I have far too many interests not to be interesting and not to have some stories to tell. But my life is my ultimate Great Story, my Grandest Adventure. I'm not done yet. So when I start to freeze up, to fear the uncertainty, to grasp for the comfortable, I try to remind myself - if you live through it and it makes a good story, it's worth doing. Get out there and make a story worth telling; have a grand adventure. You're not done telling your story yet.
joreth: (::headdesk::)

For future reference: if I ask you to drop a subject or to stop talking to me for a period, and I warn you that continuing to press the issue will result in me blocking you, it is not a "threat" that you should feel afraid about; I am giving you necessary information to make informed decisions about your future interactions with me.  I hold no illusions that anyone is "afraid" of no longer having contact with me or that it's even something worth fearing.  Frankly, if someone is afraid of that, then I worry about their emotional stability.  Nor is it because you have a difference of opinion. I am quite good friends with a lot of people who have radically different opinions to me, some positions to which I am actively opposed and even work against. The reason why they remain friends is because we both respect each others' right to hold those positions and not argue about them for the sake of peaceful interactions.  I am opposed to the ideas themselves, not the people, and we can coexist, not just peacefully, but even amicably and as friends as long as a basic level of respect for each others' humanity is in place (if their opinion itself is a disrespect of others' humanity, well, that's a whole other can of worms).

No, when I tell you that I do not wish to discuss a topic anymore, it is not because of your opinion. It's because of your personality. It's because I find your approach to be disrespectful and I am attempting to keep the peace by just agreeing to disagree, at least for now.

If I warn you that I will block you, it is not because I can't handle differing opinions or that I live in an echo chamber. In fact, accusations of such are worth blocking for on that statement alone. It is because you are violating my boundaries in my request for peaceful disagreement and the only way I have to enforce my boundaries is to block you entirely because continued pressing of the issue is direct evidence that YOU DO NOT RESPECT BOUNDARIES and are therefore untrustworthy to be around.

I am posting this because I cannot message you after I have already blocked you to explain why you have just been blocked. So if you get blocked by me, this is why. It's not me, it's definitely you. It's not your opinion, it's you.

You are being blocked because you are untrustworthy, not because you hold a different opinion and certainly not because I can't "handle" that opinion, and not because I have to have to have the last word. In fact, there's a good chance that you already had the last word, since I will often not even bother to refute people I'm about to block, I just say "drop the subject or you will be blocked".  You are not being censored (although I appreciate that you think I am a powerful enough person that I have the force of the government behind me, I simply do not have the ability to censor you). You are not more rational than I. You are not more level-headed than I. You are not more open-minded than I. You are entitled, rude, belligerent, pushy, manipulative, and a conversational terrorist*. None of that is more "rational" or "open-minded".

By the time I feel the need to resort to blocking you, I couldn't give a fuck about whatever opinion you think is so important that I'm blocking you over it. By that point, your opinion is the least objectionable part about you. By that point, I am more concerned with your total lack of empathy and your willingness to trod all over another person's request for space. If you can't even give that space on a stupid social media site, I have to wonder if I'm even safe being around you in person, or will I need one of the weapons that I carry on me at all times**?

And the internet is the ONLY place that I have the power to remove people like you from my presence. Every where else in the world, I am forced to coexist with people I am not safe around. Every where else in the world, I am smaller and less capable than those I am not safe around. But here, on the internet, I can force YOU to give me the space I need to feel safe.

So that is what I'm doing when I block you. I give fuck-all about your stupid opinion on whatever stupid subject that started this whole thing. I care that you have no consideration for the people around you. And THAT is why I will block you.



*Even for me that title is a little too hyperbolic, but that's what it's called and I didn't make up the term so that's the word we're stuck with.

**I have had to pull my knife on 3 occasions, only two of which were strangers but all 3 were people who did not back off when I repeatedly and clearly stated my desire for space.

joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
How does an anti-thest, anti-traditionalism, anti-consumerist, anti-obligated-gift-giving atheist celebrate the winter holiday season?

I celebrate Newtonmas which, for convenience's sake, looks exactly like Christmas celebration complete with wishing people happy holidays, giving gifts without obligation, wearing red and green, and singing songs specific to the season, decorating with pine trees, tinsel, little colored lights, fuzzy red and white peaked caps, and eating ALL THE THINGS but especially the things with cinnamon, apples, chocolate, and lots of sugar (sometimes all in the same dish, but not necessarily).

The only difference is that, in my mind, the birthday I'm celebrating belongs to a different historical figure - one that I know for a fact existed - Isaac Newton.  And I'm not so much celebrating his birthday specifically as I am celebrating what his birthday respresents, namely science.  All the gifts, all the food, all the time spent with family, all these things are reminders to me of how much science has improved our collective lives.

I live in a time and place where even those of us below the poverty line have such wealth and abundance compared to our past generations, that I can afford to bitch about consumerism on a laptop using high speed internet access in a house with central air conditioning.  I live in a time and place where visiting loved ones 3,000 miles or more away is an actual *possibility* (even if an unrealized one at any given year).

I celebrate on an arbitrary day that happens to numerically match up with the day a historical figure was born (if you do some more arbitrary numerical fudging) because that figure is one of many who represent all that has made my life possible.  I choose that particular arbitrary day because everyone else collectively chose that same arbitrary day for pretty much the same reasons but with a different central character, so it becomes convenient to take advantage of the national acquiescence to allow us all to celebrate.  In other words, no one puts up a fuss if I take time off or spend the day celebrating or wear clashing colors or weird accessories because they're all doing the same thing and it would be strange if I did otherwise.

I won't take offense if people do not wish me Happy Newtonmas instead of Merry Christmas, although I do appreciate the "Happy Holidays!" effort made by those to acknowledge that there are other holidays being celebrated during this season by trying to include their holiday of choice even if one doesn't know what that holiday might be.  But if anyone was curious what a person with different values might do during this time when it seems as though one set of values is being pushed onto an entire planet regardless of personal holiday preference, well, this is what one person with different holiday beliefs does.

There is no war on Christmas.  There is only a desire to experience our own holidays in our own way.  This is how I experience mine.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
For the last several years, I've maintained a Group Me for conventions.  This is a web-based service that allows you to enter your phone number, join a particular Group Me (or be added by the moderator), and then send a regular SMS text message to the Group Me phone number that will then be relayed to everyone else in the group.  They have the option to do the same.  This has come in handy for sending a single message out to everyone to say "I'm going to eat at the hotel restaurant, anyone else free and want to share a meal?" and "Party tonight is in room 465!" and "Sorry, have to cancel the party - roommate is sick.  Please don't show up tonight!"  I send one message to one phone number and reach everyone who needs that information.  Everyone else can send a message or reply to mine and everyone else gets to see it too.

Some people have suggested that Facebook or Twitter is the same thing, or good enough, for this purpose.  But I don't agree.  For one thing, it requires that everyone whom you wish to speak to has a FB or Twitter account.  Second, it requires that you be friends with those people.  Third, it requires that you have the ability to access FB or Twitter whenever you want to send that message.   For some people, this is all true.

But not for me. And here's why... )

Group Me allows you to join yourself or have the moderator add you to the group.  No one else will see your phone number unless they already have your phone number in their phone's address book, so it protects your privacy.  It allows you to choose your display name so you can use the name that people can use to find you online or not, as you prefer.  It removes me as the central organizing point and gives everyone else on the list some degree of control or participation.  It works for all phones that have SMS capabilities (and if my ancient clam-shell dumb phone can do it, then every cell phone can do it).  It does not cost anything except whatever your current text messaging plan is.  If you have limited text messages, you can turn it on and off, and you can also check messages at the website with a computer or other device with internet access.

If you have no internet access and no or limited texting capabilities, then it's true, this service will not work for you.  But I'm also at a loss as to how to include you on con' plan coordination at all in this case if I can't text or send you internet messages.  So, sorry.

Here are specifics on how to join & use the GroupMe... )
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)










I saw this billboard on I-4 about a week or so ago and knew I had to go.  Not many people know of my love for ice cream.  It's more than a love, really.  I won't go so far as to call it an obsession, because I don't actually eat it all that often.  But the word "love", with it's usual dilutions when associated with non-human things, is not strong enough to cover my feelings for ice cream.

You see, in addition to it being probably my favorite dessert in all of existence, it also has very strong associations with my dad.  That was a *thing* we did.  As a "daddy's girl", my dad was the feature in my childhood memories.  We hunted together, he practiced soccer with me when I made the soccer team, we fished, we watched football, he taught me poker, and, later, as I got older, we watched what became my all-time favorite sitcoms and action movies together after dinner.  And most of those memories had ice cream associated with them.  Every hunting and fishing trip required a stop for a milkshake, and every night, in front of the TV, we'd have a bowl of ice cream together - vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, stirred until all one, consistent, creamy-brown color.  My mom *hated* it.  The sound of the spoons scraping the bowls during the TV shows drove her nuts.  But that was our thing.  To this day, when I want emotional comfort, I eat vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup, all stirred together in one big creamy mess.

So there was no way I was going to miss the First Annual Florida Ice Cream Festival.

I want to start out by saying that I loved the food I got and I definitely plan to attend next year.  But I have some criticisms, and the nature of this event may not be to everyone's liking.  Just remember, throughout the critique, I liked it.

The Good

  • The event had free parking right on site and was only $3 to get in.  By the time I had arrived, they even stopped charging the entrance fee, so win!

  • The food was amazing!  At least, the ones I had were amazing.  The prices were "reasonable", and by "reasonable", I mean that they were comparable with any specialty ice cream shop.  So I'm sure you can find cheaper ice cream, even really good cheaper ice cream, at the grocery store.  But if you go to Baskin Robbins, you'll probably pay the exact same price for a cup of ice cream as the Baskin Robbins booth right there at the festival.

  • The music was entertaining.  If you're a music snob, or you like only niche or certain sub-culture music, then you probably won't like it.  It was family-friendly, non-offensive, and designed to keep up people's moods.  I like music like that.  I heard Beach Boys, The Electric Slide, and something from some current pop artist, maybe Tao Cruiz.

  • I saw an Indian ice cream booth there! I didn't get any, but I was very pleased to see such an exotic booth.  The only flavor I even recognized was mango, and if I had had enough money when I discovered it, I would have tried some.

  • They had some activities besides just buying ice cream - mostly kids stuff.  I saw a bounce house, pony rides, a rock climbing wall, and even a teeny-tiny mini golf course.

The Not So Good
This was the first time this event has been put on.  As with all big events like this, it takes some time to work out the bugs.  There will be logistical issues and things that didn't get planned for, and these sorts of things will get better over time.  At least, if they don't get better over time, the event won't continue to be held year after year.  So most of my criticisms are the kinds of things that I expect to be better next year.

  • They really did not expect the crowds they got and were not prepared.  I arrived a little before 3 PM (open until 7 PM) and booths were already sold out, which is why they stopped charging admission.

  • There were no lines drawn or flagged on the grass parking lot, so the lines of parking were crooked and slanted, and they actually ended up with huge amounts of wasted parking space because it wasn't quite enough room to add another lane but definitely too wide for just a normal driveway.

  • Lines were long and unwieldy. The layout of the festival did not account for the long lines, so passerby traffic had to cut through the lines, and the lines stretched and curved and leaned into other booths - both next to and across the road.  The booths themselves were not staffed to handle such a customer load, so the lines were also slow-moving.

  • As usual for festival grounds, there wasn't a whole lot of shade.  That's less of a problem if you're moving around and can get to the giant "Chill Pill" tent with all the tables, but because of the line problem, we were just standing still in the sun for unreasonably long amounts of time.  I know there's not much they can do about that, since festival grounds, by nature, need to be wide open spaces.  But maybe putting up a whole bunch of tents right over the road, kind of spaced along the road?  Then, as we're walking down the road browsing the booths, we can pass under spots of shade, and people standing in lines that span across the road can maybe be standing under those tents?

  • They needed more variety of non-dessert food.  There was 1 burger stand, 1 Italian sausage stand, 1 hot wings stand, and 1 stand with fries that sold out right around the time I got there.  There needed to be some non-dessert options that weren't $6+.  The fries were a good start, but, as I said, they sold out early.  A corn on the cob stand might have been a good option.  A falafel food truck or a burrito truck or hot dogs or something.  Anything that could have served some kind of side dish for approximately the same price range as the ice cream and even a single option that a vegetarian could have would have been nice (although they did have non-dairy & vegan ice cream - naturally it was already sold out by the time I got there).  I know it was an ice cream festival, but people will be more willing to stay longer, and more willing to buy more sweets, if there are actual meal options that are affordable and options to cut the sweet so that we don't go into a sugar coma.

  • The drink booth was also not prepared for the size of the crowd.  They needed more coolers, more helpers, and more drink options.  There was Gatorade, water, Pepsi, and Diet Pepsi.  That's it.  Canned tea for those who need something with flavor but not more sweet, and Sprite for the non-caffeine drinkers who might want a soda instead of Gatorade or water would have been really appreciated.

  • Everything was standard specialty ice cream shop sized. I'd rather see the festival organized more like Epcot's Food & Wine festival, where everything is more like taste-sized, so that we can go from booth to booth, sampling a wider variety of foods.  $1 shot glasses of ice cream would be way better than $3 cups of ice cream.  Also, it might not sell out as fast.

  • All food was purchased with Moo-lah, fake money that you pre-purchased and then exchanged for the food.  I ended up with a Moo-lah dollar that I couldn't spend, because there wasn't anything there for a dollar (well, maybe some of the activities were, I don't know because I didn't even look at the bouncey house or the pony rides or the mini golf course).

Next year, I would recommend, first, arriving early, then only buying your entrance ticket, then walking the entire grounds to decide what you want, and THEN buying your Moo-lah so that you only purchase the fake dollars that you plan to spend.  It didn't occur to me to do that until I was already inside & had purchased my fake money, although I knew they sold the fake money inside.  As I saw "sold out" signs going up all over the place and lines so long and curvy that I couldn't find the ends, I decided to just jump in the first line that had something I wanted, and each line as I came to it, rather than planning out my spending.  I was afraid I would decide on something back in the beginning and it would be sold out before I circled back after looking at everything.

Even better, if you go with someone(s), plan what you want to buy, then split up - one (or more) of you stands in line for food while one runs to a Moo-lah booth to buy fake money.  Then the person with the money can deliver it by the time the person in the food line gets to the front.  If you can go with several, have one money runner and everyone else wait in different food lines to get everyone's food in each booth. Then meet up at the picnic tables.

Although I liked the flavors of ice cream I got, and although there was a nice variety of brands present, I would have liked to have seen A) more exotic flavors and B) a plain vanilla/plain chocolate option.

I know, that sounds like I'm asking a lot.  What I'm suggesting, though, is that this is a festival celebrating ice cream, and all the vendors are local vendors with shops or food trucks here town.  We can go to these shops any time we want to.  So I think it would benefit them to showcase some of their more unusual, exotic, or specialty flavors as a hook to catch the attention of the thousands of attendees who might be considering the competing shop right next door.  But, at the same time, *someone* has to have the old classics for those who attended for exactly that reason.  What I'm saying is that I saw the same handful of flavors over and over again - cotton candy, birthday cake, strawberry, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies N cream, etc.

Don't get me wrong, there were some unique flavors.  I had an excellent banana pudding frozen custard that I just adored!  And there probably was more variety that I missed because of all the booths that had sold out before I got there.  But I didn't get any fruit-based, non-cream desserts like a strawberry popsicle, and the Shamrock Explosion that I was originally in line for sold out 3 people ahead of me, leaving the entire line with only the banana pudding and the coconut custard options.  I think this was clearly an underestimation problem that is to be expected with a first-year event.  It's very difficult to estimate what will sell and what won't.  It's why I use a third-party one-off printer instead of printing my shirts in bulk and handling the sales myself.  I've seen too many merchants end up with too many left-over t-shirts and other shirts sell out immediately, all because predicting what will sell is hardly an exact science.

So, it was hot, it was crowded, the lines were long, the food sold out early, and there wasn't enough of the food I wanted.  I still want to go back next year.  I think pretty much everything I had a problem with is something to be expected for a first-time event, so I hold out hope that every single one of them will improve next year.  If outdoor festivals aren't your thing, then you'll probably want to skip this unless your love of ice cream is stronger than your dislike of outdoor festivals.  But if you love ice cream, this was a pretty good event.  it was relatively inexpensive and I got exposed to a ton of ice cream brands that I didn't even know were local shops.  It was a nice day out, if too hot while standing in line in the sun without a hat, sunglasses, or sunscreen on and a poor decision to wear full jeans & a t-shirt with sleeves but that was my mistake, and I liked the music.  Really, it's not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and I expect it to be better next year.

But now I need to go eat something with protein & complex starch, to cut all that sugar.  Wish I had some salad-fixings in the house - add a little egg & a roll & it would fix the whole thing!

joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Atlanta Poly Weekend is coming up in just a couple of weeks and I'm REALLY excited about it this year! This is APW's third year and, if the trend continues, it should be even better than last year, which was better than the first year.

For APW's first year, I gave several presentations, including why poly people should cooperate with the media and how to get into it, and a panel discussion on the intersection between polyamory and skepticism with Kelley Clark. I also debuted my Miss Poly Manners costume for the first time and held a live Miss Poly Manners Q&A.

Last year I was invited back as one of APW's keynote speakers, where I featured a talk on the intersection between poly and skepticism, and also debuted my own interpretation of the Five Love Languages for polyamorous relationships. I reprised my role as Miss Poly Manners (with an improved Victorian gown) and stretched my range of etiquette lessons to include convention etiquette, not poly-specific etiquette.

This year, Miss Poly Manners comes back once again to kick off the convention with some Con Etiquette, and to participate in APW's newest fun track! The folks in Atlanta had so much great content this year that they had to open up a fourth track of programming, not including the kids-specific track! In addition to three panels simultaneously all weekend long, covering such topics as communication tools, creating intimacy, poly case law, the results of a 15-year long study on kids of poly families, kissing classes, dealing with stress, jealousy, STIs, and special poly celebrity panels, APW will also feature a fun and games track.

Just as polyamory is not ALL about the sex, conventions are not all about the serious lectures. To lighten the mood and have some fun, this year's APW will feature some of our favorite campy game shows with a special poly twist. There will be events like Poly Family Feud and APW's Got Talent and Poly-eopardy and ... Miss Poly Manners will be the center square on our own live version of Polywood Squares! You won't want to miss it!

The highlight of every weekend is the evening entertainment and this year will have another dance with DJ Cat Ninetails. Right before the dance, by special request, I will be teaching dance lessons with Sterling! According to the expressed interests of everyone who says they want to learn how to dance but never get around to taking lessons, we've chosen a dance that will look flashy enough to show off, but can be danced to almost any popular music you might hear at a nightclub, a wedding, an office party, a convention, a party, or almost anywhere out in public. You will learn a handful of steps that can have you dancing that night, with plenty of room for growth to continue learning how to dance on your own, plus a list of resources for practice videos online and where to shop for dance shoes and clothes.

I'll be on the poly & skepticism panel again with Kelley Clark & Shaun Philly, and Sterling will be giving his ever-popular workshop on using personality types to improve poly relationships & communication. His workshop fills up to capacity every time he gives it and everyone who takes it wants to attend it again. And, as a special double-feature, I'll be giving my Five Love Languages workshop again!

For those who aren't aware, The Five Love Languages is a self-help theory developed by Dr. Gary Chapman. The basic premise is that everyone expresses their feelings of love and wants to have love expressed to them in certain ways. Those ways can be grouped into what he calls "languages", because they are ways that we all communicate our feelings of love. But the problem is that we don't express or feel loved in the same ways as everyone else. So we can love another person, and do things that we think expresses our love for them, but that person may not hear that they are loved because they speak a different love language than we do.

When people have partners who do not express love in the way they most feel loved, i.e. in their own love language, then it doesn't matter how much the other person loves them, they won't feel loved. And when people don't feel loved, they end up with what Dr. Chapman says is an empty love tank. When people's love tank is empty, they can act out in hurtful, damaging, even unpredictable ways. We have to learn how to communicate our love for each other in ways that the other person most needs to hear, because this acting out is all about how one feels regardless of how the other one thinks he or she is behaving.

Think about a child who is neglected by their parents. You will often see so-called "troubled kids" that have absent or neglectful parental figures. The movie, The Breakfast Club, is pretty much the quintessential story of kids with empty love tanks and the kinds of trouble they get into when they are crying out for love and attention. Adults aren't any different, although they may act out in different ways. Then again, sometimes they don't. People under stress and feeling neglected, unloved, and alone, often do all kinds of strange things in a reaction to that stress, and they often lack the vocabulary to express what it is they're lacking or how to give it to them. And, sometimes, their vocabulary is just fine, but the person listening doesn't have the vocabulary to understand. Or worse, when both are lacking the words to explain and the definitions to understand.

Many times, one person in a relationship will insist that they are doing everything possible to show how much they love their partner, and their partner complains that they still aren't getting what they need, still feel hurt, and still act out. If you've ever tried every way you can think of to show someone that you love them and they still accuse you of not loving them anymore, this is probably what happened - your partner had a different love language and the two of you were talking past each other, not realizing that you were actually speaking different languages. Learning to speak the other person's love language will often take care of many other problems in the relationship, sometimes things you didn't even know were related.

The Five Love Languages is one tool, among many, to give people a set of vocabularly to help explain how they need to feel loved and what they're doing when they are expressing their love. I've taken out the religious justifications and the monogamous intentions and the heteronormative assumptions and adapted the theory to apply to all genders and all relationships. You'll find out what your primary love language is and how to identify your partners' love languages, and concrete suggestions for expressing love in different languages. You'll also get a handout with summaries of each of the different languages & suggestions to take home for future reference.

So I'm really excited to get to do this workshop again, and to dance, and to see all of my old friends from previous years and to meet new friends this year. I'm terrible about out-of-context meetings, so if you see me there, please tell me how we know each other (if you follow me on a particular social networking site, if we've met before somewhere else, etc.) so I can connect the different contexts. Hope to see you there!
joreth: (dance)

Hey guys, we're putting on a show just for our friends!  If you saw us perform at the 2011 Holiday Party, this will be a bigger show with more numbers!  If you missed us at the Holiday Party, this is your chance to see us!

This performance will take place at the Ventura Country Club ballroom.  This means that RSVPs are *required* because we have to put your name on a list so that the gate guards will let you in.  But it's free!

Please RSVP at the official event page: http://bollywoodangels.eventbrite.com/
joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly. So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class. If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice. If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home. In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance. Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm. So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.

joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly. So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class. If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice. If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home. In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance. Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm. So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.


joreth: (dance)
One of the drawbacks to taking dance lessons is that if you don't practice what you learned, you can forget pretty quickly.  So I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of dance instructors teaching the steps we learned in class.  If you took the class, you can use these videos to practice.  If you didn't take the class, you can use these videos to learn the same steps that we learned in class and then you'll be caught up with everyone else.

At the bottom is a playlist of music to dance to at home.  In fact, even if you're not dancing, just play the music and move around your house, maybe while doing chores or standing in front of the stove or something, stepping to the beat of the song in the rhythm of the dance.  Remember, you can practically make stuff up as you go, as long as you keep your feet moving in the proper rhythm.  So drill this beat into your heads & listen to the music so that when you're out in public, when a song comes on that has a good dance beat, you'll be able to recognize it and do the proper dance to it.


Video instructions & links below the cut )
joreth: (being wise)
OK convention-goers, geeks, costumers, kinksters, etc. If you could make up rules for other people at a convention or a conference to follow, what would they be? Mandatory showers for gamers? No touching the hot chicks in skimpy costumes without permission? No stopping for pictures in the middle of walkways? No hogging the Q&A mic at the end of a panel?  No hitting on the feminists who just spent all day lecturing about not wanting to be hit on?

Tell me, what do you wish other people would know about polite behaviour at conventions?  If you are new to conventions, what kinds of things do you wish people would tell you so that you know how to behave?

Also, convention workers (tech, volunteers, security, hotel staff, etc.) what do YOU wish con-goers would know or do at a convention or conference?
joreth: (boxed in)

I've heard from a few people, none of them connected, but all of them in the very recent past, who have noticed some politicking in their social groups. Since this subject has come up coincidentally clustered, I thought the topic should be re-addressed. So I would like to write a letter on behalf of them to anyone with a social group to pay attention to this situation. Many of these people do not feel that they can bring it up because they want to avoid a confrontation or adding more drama, but it is something that hurts people. I will be writing this in first person, as I often do to make it more personal, so that people will hopefully take a look at their own actions to see if they might be guilty, even accidentally, of this or if they might be misperceived as having been in this position.


Dear Friend,

I assume we are still friends, anyway. You still seem to greet me warmly when we meet at social gatherings, and we still seem to have personal exchanges between us with no indication that there is anything amiss. But I've been hearing things lately that kind of upset me. I've been hearing about parties and events happening that I was not invited to.

Now, I don't want to make anyone feel bad or pressured to invite me to things that they don't want me at. But I'm just a little bit confused because you don't seem to not-want me around, at least not to my face. If there is a problem, I hope you would come to me to discuss it so that we can work it out. If it's something that you feel that we cannot overcome, then I hope you will take this opportunity to let me know that there are just some limitations or boundaries to our friendship and that's just how it is. I won't promise that I won't be hurt, but I do promise to accept your answer as an honest expression of your feelings and to try not to make it any more difficult for you to be honest than it already is to tell someone something unpleasant or difficult.

The reason I bring this up is because I noticed something else besides just not being invited to things. I get that I won't be invited to everything that every one of my friends hosts, just like I can't invite all of my friends to my every gatherings. Maybe I'm seeing things that aren't there, but I noticed that this lack of invitations started around the time I broke up with my partner. And I noticed that my former partner is still getting invitations.

I hope that this is just coincidence and that I am being paranoid and silly. I hope that this is an extension of my own insecurities and that you can set me straight. I hope that none of my friends are the types of people who would give up spending time with someone they like just because someone else no longer likes them. I hope that none of my friends would be willing to continue inviting the person who cannot maintain social cohesion while they stop inviting the person who is willing and interested in fostering pleasant, civil, friendly relationships with all involved. If I have done anything to make you think that I might cause any amount of awkwardness or strife at your parties over my former partner, please let me know so that I can correct either your misassumption or my behaviour.

I genuinely wish to remain on friendly terms with everyone involved and I feel hurt when I think that my friends may be willing to strain our relationship without even giving an explanation for it. I also genuinely wish to be disabused of this notion if it is false because I do not like assuming negative intent of my friends.

Thank you for taking the time to hear me out. I hope that we can move forward from here.




Many communities (especially the poly community) are too small to allow former relationship partners to start influencing who our friends should be. We should discourage those we care about from being unable to move past breakups and refusing to coexist with former partners in our social circle by not taking sides in relationship strife that we were not a part of, and by refusing to abandon our friendships and acquaintanceships so that our other friends won't have to deal with the discomfort of facing their former partners socially.

In other words, we shouldn't reward bad behaviour and punish good behaviour. If you know of individuals who have recently broken up a romantic relationship, and you were ever on friendly terms with both/all members of the relationship and no one has done anything related to the breakup that is so heinous that you are willing to stop being friends with that person, please consider having a general policy to always invite everyone who ever normally gets invitations and let those in the former-relationship decide whether they can handle being in the same room with their ex or not.

If one of the people in the former relationship is unable to maintain civility at social functions or to remove themselves when they know that they can't, or makes others uncomfortable with their own discomfort about being around their ex, I would like to suggest that, if anyone should stop getting invited to social functions, it be that person, not the other, even if "that person" is the one you are closer friends with. At the very least, that person should be given a talking-to about their party-fouls.

I would also like to suggest that, if this is happening, that we all bring it to the attention of those involved. Much like the Disappearing Act in my earlier breakup post, the passive-aggressive fade-from-friendship act when a friend starts taking sides in a breakup can be just as emotionally hurtful to the friend being left behind. It can also reinforce the behavior of someone who tries to edge out former partners from social circles after a breakup, sometimes unknowingly when they don't realize that they are doing anything wrong, but that those around them are made uncomfortable because the friend in question can't be polite, leaves the room, gives the silent treatment, makes jokes at the other person's expense, or generally creates a tense atmosphere that we can all feel.

I remember once being new to a social group and befriending two people who were in a relationship.  Then the relationship ended, and as my friendship with them was new, I was not privy to the details of their breakup, only that they did break up.  Well, I spent time with one half of the couple one day in a social event.  A few days later, I was at another social event where that half of the couple was not present, but the other half was.  In the course of conversation, something was mentioned that reminded me of something that happened the other day with the first half of the couple.  So I related the story, as it seemed appropriate.  As soon as I said that person's name, the entire room fell silent, everyone started making shifty-eyes at the other half of the former couple, and the tension got so thick that I literally started to feel as though it was more effort to breathe.  There was an awkward pause when I finished, that dragged out until someone came up with something to say that was completely off the topic entirely.  Former relationship partners should NOT make their friends feel this way or put them in this situation, and those who do should not be rewarded by continuing to be invited to events & having the other party not be invited and therefore losing out on valuable social relationships.

Take a look around your social circle. If you notice that people who recently broke up are rarely at the same social functions as each other in spite of having all the same friends, if these are your social functions, you might want to take a closer look at how and why this happens, but if these are other people's social functions, you might want to mention the trend to the hosts who seem to be doing this that it might be causing some hurt feelings, whether accidentally or intentionally. Especially in the poly community, but for any close-knit social community, we really need to learn to be mature about our breakups and set the goal for ourselves to move, to the very, very least, in the direction of polite civility with our exes and not putting our mutual friends in the decidedly uncomfortable position of being in the middle of a tug-o-war.

joreth: (dance)
So, those who are part of the [livejournal.com profile] orlandopoly group have been hearing me talk about various dance events for a while now, as I've been trying to drum up interest in dancing among the group. Two dance events have really stuck out as being fantastic venues for non-ballrooom dancers, beginners, and experienced dancers alike. I want to write down a review of these venues so that everyone can hear what they're like before they go, and I can just reference this post when people ask me or when I mention that I'm going dancing again.


The first is the Atlantic Dance Hall. This used to be a swing dance club on Disney property, all decked out like a well-to-do jazz club from the art deco era. For some strange reason, Disney shut down the swing dance club about a year before Dancing With The Stars (an ABC production, which is owned by Disney) started. Personally, I think that was poor timing and even poorer marketing.

But then it re-opened as a music video nightclub. That's right, they don't just play music, they project the videos for the music they play on the wall above the dance floor. It's a pretty wide variety of music and they take requests. They tend to default to the latest pop music videos, but whenever I ask for '80s music, they play a bunch, from across several genres. I got such classics as "Baby Got Back" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and even "Don't Stop Believing".

What makes this such a great club to go to as a group is that it is open during the week as well as weekends, and it is totally dead during the week. Yes, this is a good thing. As I told someone recently, Atlantic Dance Hall is not the place to meet people, it's the place to bring people.

Imagine having an entire dance club reserved just for you and your friends, with a bar and a VJ that takes requests! That's what ADH is like. And, since we have the floor mostly to ourselves, it also means that I can give a few dance lessons, for anyone who asks. The last time I went, I was able to teach someone hustle, cha cha, rhumba, and we also got to do a little swing dancing. Something that non-ballroom dancers don't seem to know (or remember) is that you don't need sleepy old classical music to do partner dancing. Just knowing a few steps each of swing, cha cha, rhumba, and hustle can have you partner dancing all night long in a regular nightclub with regular music.

So if you're in the Orlando area, I highly recommend checking out the Atlantic Dance Hall. Parking is free, there is no cover charge, there is a bar, and there is usually no one else there. The most full I have ever seen the place on the weeknights that I go, there were maybe 12 people there besides me, and they didn't show up until well into the night.



The other place is the Sunday Afternoon Tea Dance. A local ballroom dance instructor has started hosting these dance parties, mostly for his students, but the dances are open to the public. He hosts several Black And White balls throughout the year, a Masquerade, something he calls a "Hole In The Wall Ball" with a variety of themes (I think the last one was, like, luau or Hawaiian shirt day or beach day or something, I dunno, I didn't make it there), and, the most recent addition, the Tea Dance.

This is not his creation - there are other tea dances around and have been for I don't know how long. For all I know, this could be a tradition going back a hundred years or something. But his is the one I've been to. And I loved it! There are tables set up around the dance floor and they serve tea in vintage china and offer scones and cucumber sandwiches and other finger foods, and everyone comes dressed up for tea in light, spring-like "tea" outfits. Then everyone dances on the dance floor to a really interesting mix of music.

As usual for a ballroom dance club, the women far outnumber the men, and the average age is much older than me. But this is how I like it, actually. There's something about a ballroom setting with older gentlemen that seems to put everyone on their best behaviour. The men are "gentlemen" without being chauvanistic. Everyone is very polite and friendly, but there is no pressure to "hookup" like at regular nightclubs. People are there to dance, not hit on the ladies.

So, because there are more women than men, I can sit down and enjoy my tea and scones because there aren't enough men to keep me dancing every song. The men are encouraged to dance as much as possible, and the host reminds the men regularly to mingle and find new partners to make sure that drinking tea isn't the only thing we get stuck doing. But if any lady wants to sit for a bit, she can politely refuse a request to dance and the gentleman just moves on to the next lady. The women are also encouraged to ask the men to dance, but I found that I danced as often as I wanted to without needing to ask anyone.

In addition to dancing to a variety of styles, he also plays mixers, which is where the women get in a line along the edge of the dance floor, and the men line up next to them. The men grab a partner from the front of the women's line, dance her around the floor, and when he reaches the back of the line, he drops her off and goes to pick up the next woman at the front of the line. This is an excellent way to make sure everyone who wants to dance gets to when there is a gender imbalance (and traditional gender roles).

There were several dance instructors there, as well as beginning dancers, of both men and women. Everyone was really friendly. The host's wife greeted me as I walked in and even remembered me from the one and only time I had been there before, several months ago. She invited me to join her at her table and introduced me to the other ladies sitting there, and everyone asked how I was and if I came dancing often and what kind of dances I knew.

The music was really an ecclectic mix. He had some classic big band stuff for fox trotting and waltz and some of the latin dances, but he also had modern popular music. Even better, though, he also had covers of popular music that were re-done to dance beats that the original songs were never intended to do. For instance, he had a cover of a song from Phantom of the Opera that was a techno remix that we could hustle to. He also had a Madonna megamix cover done in a sultry jazzy-blues style that was either a rhumba or foxtrot (I can't remember, but it was the perfect tempo). We even did a waltz to the theme song from Pirates of the Carribbean! Since many of the dancers there are students, he also calls out which dance style goes with which song, so you don't have to guess if you're not sure.

If you like ballroom dancing, this was a great venue. If you like interesting music, this was a great event. If you are new to dancing, this was a great place to learn or work on dance steps in a low-pressure, friendly environment. If you are an experienced dancer, this was a very low-key, relaxing sort of dance that just felt comfortable and light. If you like tea and watching dancing or listening to interesting music, this was an fun opportunity to do something really unique. Parking is free and the cover charge is $12 for unlimited tea and scones.



For some examples of the huge range of music styles that can be partner-danced to, here are my partner-dance playlists again:

Cha Cha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLVzw9wVd9o&list=PL0D5FE90B2FD29929&feature=plpp_play_all



Foxtrot
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99803-NFuFw&list=PL24897C498024A0A4&feature=plpp_play_all



Hustle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5MflfnGGUQ&list=PLB9E8F60E49152BFB&feature=plpp_play_all



Salsa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqIIW7nxBgc&list=PL1A669B1189086444&feature=plpp_play_all



Swing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZYOJQ79DOw&list=PLB2FF1261CBC9C404&feature=plpp_play_all



Tango
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4_H65XoykY&list=PL45AADEEB03484E6B&feature=plpp_play_all



Waltz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bZyvbUsfpw&list=PL4ABB725CEEB3EA4D&feature=plpp_play_all


joreth: (Purple Mobius)
It has come up a handful of times recently about how to go about starting a local poly group, or what to do now that you have one, or how to stimulate a flagging community, and other similar situations. I thought it was past time to put together a publicly accessible commentary on the answer to those questions.

First of all, if you are a community leader, or want to become one, get in touch with the Polyamory Leadership Network (http://www.polyamoryleadershipnetwork.org/. As a community leader veteran, I can tell you that, in spite of your belief that nothing will get done without you to personally get it done, community leaders really can't do it all alone. Connect with other organizers and share ideas, and rants, and get support from those who know what you're going through.

Second, get some sort of feel for your community. Every community is different. Pepper Mint (aka [livejournal.com profile] inki) talks about his San Francisco area community being incredibly large and diverse, including a large contingent of "been there, done that" experienced polys who have no interest in the usual supply of newbie instructionals and workshops, and who were not being reached out to. So Pepper's community looks very different from my own local community here in Florida, where two of the biggest cities are really more like small towns with delusions of grandeur. Another organizer I met from Las Vegas says that nothing happened in that town (community-organizing-wise) that didn't happen on Meetup.com. Again, that's very different from my community. Oh, we have Meetup.com, but only a handful of people and/or groups seem to use it because it is not a free service. We get far more mileage out of Facebook and Fetlife around here. So get to know what your community wants and is like.

As for specific activities, depending on what your community is interested in, here are some of the events that I have seen be most successful in different locations:

  • Discussion Meetings: You have to decide what kind of discussion meetings, because there are all sorts. Your community may even be large enough to host a variety of meetings. Will your meetings be 18+ or all ages? Will they be round table discussions or more workshop/lecture/guest-speaker focused? Will they be specifically themed, such as "The Poly Parenting Group" and discuss a more narrow range of topics, or will your group be more generic? Will the meetings have a specific format to them?

    For instance, when I started the OrlandoPoly group, it was open to all poly discussion and people interested in talking about polyamory. This means that poly-curious, poly-friendly, and friends or family of poly members can all attend. Consequently, we often talk about newbie poly issues more often than experienced poly issues, but the topic is chosen by those who attend the meeting in question. So if we have a meeting with a bunch of experienced polys who want to talk about Poly 201 or 311 issues, we can do that. We start off by going around the circle and introducing ourselves, and returning members usually say something about what they've been up to since the last meeting. Then we discuss the topic, suggested by the attendees. Afterwards, we move to a nearby restaurant and just socialize.

    Other groups, like Poly Tampa combine their discussion meeting with their restaurant socialization by holding their meetings at a restaurant (at the time of this post, it is in a private room at TGIFridays). Still other groups prefer to have guest speakers and workshops, rather than discussion meetings, or to have the topic decided ahead of time. People more familiar with the kink community might refer to a meeting like this as a "munch", which is typically a non-sexual, non-kinky meet-and-greet of other kinksters, usually at a restaurant or other public location. Substitute "polys" for "kinksters" and it's more or less the same thing.

  • Poly Movie Night: You can play movies with polyamorous content.  I used to host a Poly Movie Night for OrlandoPoly where I would show these movies at a private clubhouse in the gated community of one of our members, and we all gather around the projector screen and watch a movie, eating popcorn, snuggling with our loved ones on blankets and pillows. We allow some time for the group to discuss the movie afterwards, and then we move to Denny's nearby, since it's open 24 hours. An exhaustive list of poly movies can be found at www.theinnbetween.net/polymovies.html and many of those movies can be rented from Netflix or purchased through Amazon. Just rent one of the movies, show it at the movie night, then return it. If you live outside the US or otherwise are unable to obtain these movies through Netflix or Amazon or another movie rental house or retailer, let me know and we can discuss ways for building a poly movie library to use for your groups.

  • Polys At The Pitcher Show: This is a non-poly-specific social event. Our local indie theater, The Enzian, offers free movies outside on the lawn every Wednesday night (weather permitting). When a member of our group sees a movie that's showing that they want to attend, it gets posted to the group & added to the group calendar. Then we all arrive en masse to take up giant sections of lawn and watch classic movies and cult favorites, like Weird Science or Die Hard or Stand By Me.

    Check your local theaters to see if they offer any free or low-cost movie events and invite your poly group out. If you can make it a regular event, like the same day of the week or month, that seems to work out better for organizing and being dependable, but moving the day around gives everyone a chance to attend no matter what their personal schedules are. The Enzian calls their Wednesday night movies "The Pitcher Show" because they also have an outdoor bar & they're trying to sell us beer, which is where we get the name for our event. I like illiteration, so it works. You can call your event whatever you want, but Polys At The Picture Show is a cute, non-specific title that gets the point across, I think.  I'd love to see this catch on in poly events around the world!

  • Polys In The Pub: This is an event I stole, er, borrowed from the skeptic community. We get together at a restaurant location that also has a full bar. It is open to members of all ages, but the focus of the event is drinking and socializing. Just like Polys At The Pitcher Show, it is not a poly-themed event, but it is an opportunity to socialize publicly with others who understand our relationship structures. There is no cost to attend, but generally some kind of food or drink purchase is expected.

    You can make your event 21+ if you want, because of the drinking. Maybe your community wants more grown-up activities, so hold this event in a bar. But if your community wants more kid-friendly activities, there are plenty of restaurants with bars and actual pubs that can make this event deserving of its name. Some of the skeptic communities actually hold their guest speakers & lectures at their Skeptics In The Pub events, so you can make this a more formal meeting if you want, or you can make it an informal social event to just get together, eat, drink, and talk with other polys. When I hosted Polys In The Pub for OrlandoPoly, it was on the 2nd Monday of every month at the same location. Your community may prefer a predictable schedule, or it may prefer to roam around town, sampling the various pubs, bars, and restaurants and trying out different nights, like we did in order to choose our now-regular location.

    I was once part of a motorcycle group that had a coffee-shop-crawl, where we met at a different coffee shop every week, had a drink, rode our bikes to another coffee shop somewhere interesting, had another drink, and usually rode to at least a third coffee shop before the night was over.  Since we were bikers, kind of the point was to ride around, and a poly group probably won't want to do that, but checking out a different location every week or month might be something that appeals to your community.

  • Dance Nights: I'm big on ballroom dancing, so that was the general theme of the dance events in Orlando when I was hosting. I scoured the internet and grilled dance instructors to find out where the open-to-the-public ballroom and swing dance events were being held, and when my schedule permits, I would post a notice to the OrlandoPoly group that I was going dancing and invite others to join me. Sometimes I would go to regular clubs, but I have a tendency to prefer smoke-free and light-alcohol environments, and since Florida is not smoke-free in bars and nightclubs, that limits me to ballroom dancing and Disney nightclubs. Every once in a while I will go line dancing or to a goth club too, and just brave the smoke and the obnoxious men.

    We do not have a big enough interest in dancing of any kind to host the kinds of events that Pepper has been hosting. He was interviewed recently, for a podcast, where he talked about taking over or renting out entire nightclubs for the poly community for their Love Triangle dance club. I would love it if our community was that big! If your community is large, or maybe your community is particularly into music or has members who are audiophiles and can mix a good DJ set, you might want to look into working out a deal with some local nightclubs about using their facilities on their off-nights and go cut a rug with other polys.

  • Fetish Events: Some poly communities have a very strong overlap with their kink communities. Here in Orlando, we have a dungeon called The Woodshed, owned and operated by a former member of the poly community, and, as such, has a very "poly" feel to it. Many dungeons I have attended in the past felt a lot like swinger clubs, which is fine if you're interested in swinging. But The Woodshed feels like family and I'm more interested in family than recreational sex. The owner greets his patrons with a hug and a smile, the cashier desk is staffed by people who know your name, and the DMs are always ready to give demos or point you towards the local expert for whatever questions you may have. The Woodshed also hosts a variety of workshops and group meetings, including many cross-over topics. A couple of years ago, I was on a panel at the Woodshed, talking about poly and kink, and OrlandoPoly used to get a lot of its new members from people that the owner points in our direction.

    If your community has an overlap with the kink community, you may want to look into your local dungeons and other fetish events and coordinate things. You can have joint panels and workshops, like we did with the poly & kink panel, or you can just invite members of your community to come to a non-poly-specific event that is being hosted by the kink community. For instance, last year The Woodshed held a workshop on the book The Five Love Languages to discuss communication techniques. One of our poly members heard about it and invited the OP group. I'm pretty sure about half of the audience were members from OP and heard about the event through that one member's invitation. All of this could also apply for swinger events if your local community has more ties to the swinger community.

  • Poly Speed Dating: This is another specialty of Pepper's. He worked out some kind of computer algorithm to turn the regular monogamous, heterosexual speed dating fad into one that accommodates different sexual orientations and poly relationships. I'm told it's quite popular and it's a regular event. The San Francisco area had an abundance of experienced polys who now just wanted to know how to meet people, since there were pockets of polys who weren't attending any meetings. So Pepper set up his poly nightclub and poly speed dating to help get polys to meet each other. If this sounds like something your community might be interested in, I recommend visiting the Poly Speed Dating website for assistance in setting one up.

  • Holiday Events: Holidays are a great way to bring the community together, especially if you can do so in a non-denominational sort of way. OP meetings were the first Sunday of every month, and that tends to conflict or come too close to a lot of holidays, which are often the beginning or the end of the month. For the US Independence Day (July 4th), we decided not to hold our usual discussion meeting, but to hold a family-friendly BBQ at a local park instead. This was such a popular event, that it became an annual tradition. I located a city park that had a playground, a dog park, shaded picnic benches, and BBQ pits, and that did not require a monetary rental of said facilities. Then I showed up as soon as the park opened and camped out on our preferred benches, with a radio and box fan (the mini-pavillion I horded had an electrical outlet!). It was a pot luck, so we had plenty of food, a poly music playlist, someone brought a guitar, and everyone had a good time.

    For the US Thanksgiving one year, since our meeting fell very shortly afterwards, we held a potluck at our meeting, instead of having a formal discussion. This year, on the meeting immediately following New Year's Eve, we invited everyone to bring all their leftover holiday food and we held another potluck of sorts. For the meeting immediately following Halloween, we had a candy swap & invited the attendees to bring all their leftover candy to share, swap, and get rid of.  While scouting restaurants to have our Polys In The Pub night, we discovered a really interesting location that we wanted to do something with. So this year I and another member are hosting a non-denominational Winter Holiday Party at this restaurant. It isn't any particular style of food - it has dishes from all over the world, and it has seating that can accommodate really large groups. Plus, it has a stage and audio equipment that we can use for no charge, so we are putting on a dance performance for our party (and any other restaurant patrons that happen to be there).

    Parties that are potluck or that don't require a cover charge are great for communities that are struggling with the economy or who have perhaps exhausted their budgets on their own personal holiday celebrations. No single individual has to bear the full brunt of the cost of the party, and people can contribute only as much as they are able. At a restaurant, people can choose to only order a drink or water or dessert and just be there to socialize.

  • Game Night: If you have a home that accommodates parties or groups, or you know of a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop that has a "game center" or a back room or a corner where a group can get together and play board games, this is a great event to host! Some bars have Bingo or trivia nights, where you can actually win prizes from the establishment. Bring your own Bingo set and use poly terminology when calling out the squares! B7 - Bisexual 7! N32 - NRE 32! O46 - One Penis Policy 46!

  • Family-Friendly Nude Beach: PolyWinnipeg has hosted a few outings to the family-friendly nude beach that was very informal. Like our dance events, they just posted the date, time, and location that the hosts would be there & let people show up (which I'm told, several did). Like the Fetish or the Swinger events, crossing over with the nudist community (if there's a connection between them and your local poly community) to organize or coordinate social events is another good idea.

  • Cuddle Parties™ or Snuggle Parties: Cuddle Parties are a trademarked event that you can have come to your area to host or you can learn to be an official Cuddle Party facilitator yourself. Basically, it's an event where people come together to experience non-sexual touching, to meet new people, to practice asking for what you want, and to practice saying "no" to what you don't want. Again, know your local community. These events are very popular in some locations, and less popular in others.

  • Winery Trips: As a non-alcohol-drinker, I don't have much to say about this type of event, except that groups in areas with wineries seem to really enjoy it. There is a social club in Tampa that visits a winery regularly, and the Baltimore Poly group hosts regular trips to their local wineries. For the Baltimore group, the hosts get some kind of wine-club package that they use to get groups in with them. Apparently it's free for anyone who is part of their group because of the wine-club that they belong to. They hit 2-3 wineries, go to dinner somewhere nice, then go back to the hosts' house for hot-tubbing.

  • Poly Potlucks: This is sometimes what people do for their monthly discussion meeting, where the attendees of the discussion meeting are asked to bring a dish with them and a potluck dinner happens at the same time (or in the break, or just after) the discussion meeting. Other groups have potluck dinners with no formal meeting - just food and socializing. These usually happen in someone's house, and, depending on the group, it could be the same person's house every month or it could rotate and people could take turns hosting. When OP was trying to start up, none of our community members were able or willing to host large groups in their home, so we had to turn to a public venue. This means that we are one of the few poly communities in the US that doesn't host Poly Potlucks at all, but it is quite a popular event in general.

  • [Food item] and Porn: [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx used to host Brownies and Porn and the Baltimore group hosts Porn and Popcorn nights. This is pretty much what it sounds like - people gather together, usually at someone's house, to watch porn and eat food. I am under the understanding that it is only watching, and it is not a sex or masturbation party. The last porn party I went to, it was more like a riftrax events (think Mystery Science Theater 3000, with the audience throwing snarky responses to the TV in response to what is happening on screen). These can be a lot of fun, especially if there is a theme to the event, like '70s porn, or classic silent porn from the turn of the last century, or the Pirate porn movie (or its sequel), or musical porn! Like most of the events here, this is also not poly specific, but there are actually a handful of poly-ish pornos out there, like the first couple of Emmanuelle movies (softcore), that mix in with the sex the idea of freedom and independence and individuality and lack of jealousy.

  • Poly Pool: If one of your community members has a pool table in their house, or you know of a local pool hall, you can organize a regular event for playing pool or billiards.  I used to have a group of friends back home that met almost nightly at a local pool hall, and everyone just sat around playing pool, drinking beer, and hanging out.  Sometimes pool halls are found in conjunction with other types of establishments, like bars or bowling alleys, which leads me to the next suggestion...

  • Poly Bowling: A couple of years ago, I put my business card in a fishbowl somewhere and won a free "company" bowling party.  Being a freelancer, I don't have a company, so I invited the OP group.  We were a big enough group to take up two lanes, using up the total number of bowlers per lane, plus a handful of people who didn't come to bowl but wanted to watch and hang out.  None of us were particularly good bowlers, but it was fun anyway.  Your community may enjoy some of these more "traditional Americana" type events. [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx recently had an episode of Poly Weekly where she talked about lawn-mowing, football-watching polys and how not all polys are SCAdians or con' geeks.  So if your community likes some good ol' "regular" types of events, playing pool and bowling as a group are good suggestions.

  • Poly Roller Skating: Another event that I've found to be surprisingly popular is roller skating.  Many roller rinks, faced with competition from more exciting venues like laser tag and arcades, and a waning interest in roller skates, often offer themed nights and discount nights where your poly community can enjoy some music and exercise that doesn't feel like exercise at a good price.  The roller rink closest to my house has something like $3 Wednesdays, where admission is only a few dollars if you bring your own skates, and skate rentals are also discounted those nights.  This is a great low-cost option where people can enjoy a fun activity with their poly community for a fairly low price or they can occupy the tables that are usually provided at these rinks, listen to music, watch the skaters, and socialize with others who are not skating or taking a break.

  • Pool Parties:  During the summer, if any of your community members has a pool, they can host a pool party.  If no one has a pool (or no one wants to host a party), many large towns have community pools, such as the YMCA.  I grew up in a neighborhood with a community pool that we paid for membership with our HOA dues.  We could host parties there or bring in guests (if I recall correctly, it was $2 per guest).  We had a competition-size pool, a kiddie pool, a diving pool, a basketball court, a volleyball court, and BBQ pits, as well as plenty of lawn and benches, both shaded and not.  I find that pool parties are very popular among polys, but especially if the party has either a hot tub, or is on private property (or both).

  • Miscellaneous: Pretty much any activity that you can think to do with friends or on a date is also available for your poly community to do as a group.  Rather than list a separate bullet point for every specific activity that I can think of, I'm just going to list them here, because most of them are self-explanatory - you invite your community to do this thing, and people show up, and you either do it as a one-off or you schedule it as a regularly occurring event: rock climbing, theme parks, trampoline gyms, laser tag, paintball, basketball games, poker nights, hiking, picnics, travelling carnivals, costume and/or themed parties, Superbowl parties, Monday Night Football, a trip to the theatre / opera / ballet / concert / performance, Sunday Afternoon Tea, going to the beach, Snowball War (followed by hot chocolate by the fireplace), ice skating, roller blading in the park, taking the pets to the dog park, baby play dates, Food Truck Bazaars (remember food trucks?  Apparently the new thing is for a whole bunch of them to gather together in one location and have sort of like a mobile food court / tailgate party combo), a jogging group, sewing circles or arts & crafts get-togethers, book club meetings (poly or not), trips to the aquarium or museum or other science or educational venues.  Basically, any type of activity that several people in your community might have an interest in can be turned into a poly event just by inviting other polys to it.  You can even make your own support groups like a weight-loss club or a work-out club to help motivate each other to counteract all those extra calories from all the poly potlucks!

  • Drum Circles: Polyamory and the various pagan groups often overlap quite a bit, so your community might be interested in hosting social drum circles, where someone builds a big bonfire and everyone sits around it playing on lap drums or other instruments, dancing, poi or fire-spinning, and generally cavorting and frolicking. Not being very much into the whole spirituality aspect of drum circles, every time I attended one, I was in the group on one side of the bonfire making S'mores and dodging dancers.  Make sure you have someone well versed in fire safety at these events! Some areas have beaches or campsites that are very favorable to these sorts of events, and others might require hosting in someone's backyard.  This could be a regular event (like every full moon), or only for special pagan or naturalist celebrations like Summer Solstice.

  • Poly Prom: Apparently, some communities host an actual, honest-to-goodness, formal "prom", like in a hotel ballroom with catering and music and everything!  I know that the Gay & Lesbian Prom is A Thing in many cities, so that's my reference point at the moment for what these look like.  I'd love to create one in Florida.  One organizer told me they are planning theirs in early May, so near enough to prom season to have all the dresses & stuff being sold and rented, but not actually during prom season, so as to not conflict with everyone else trying to have a prom (or the poly folk's own kids' proms).  They plan to have a cash bar, since it's 18+, which I think is a good idea too.

    If you have any experience with organizing big events that require renting ballroom space, catering, and, especially, how to pay for it all, let me know!

  • Poly Pride: Another popular event is for the poly community to rally together and join the Gay Pride festivities. Several groups have marched or had floats in their local Pride Parades. Others (like OP did for a couple of years) have had informational booths set up around the parade route or where vendors have their tents and hawk their wares. This does double duty of bringing a community together based on shared pride in who they are and also gives your community the opportunity to grow by introducing yourselves to new people - people who might otherwise not have heard of you.

    Some cities have even created their own Poly Pride, completely separate from the LGBT events.  If your community is not large enough, or organized enough, to host your own festival of pride, you can, as a community, celebrate Poly Pride in spirit with other large cities, such as finding out the date of a Poly Pride near you (we use New York's Pride day), and having a party or a meeting, encouraging your members to change their profile picture on their social networking sites to a poly symbol, or tint it purple or something, wearing a particular color shirt that day or wearing a poly shirt, and generally being public about their support of polyamory (where appropriate) in solidarity.

So, that's all I have for now. Hopefully this helps people in generating ideas for your own local communities. If you host poly events in your community, let me know what you do and how it works out. I left out the major events like conferences, because that takes a whole other set of planning and organizing skills to pull off, and there are other people who have experience in doing those things who can explain and guide people better than I can.

Eventually, I'm planning to turn this into a "How To Organize Poly Events" page on my website. This list was primarily built from discussion on the PLN email list, so if you do host poly events and aren't a part of the PLN, I suggest checking them out!

I should add, however, that sometimes it takes a while to get attendance up for social events.  If you are starting a new group, or you are trying to stimulate activity in an old, quiet group, you may find yourself sitting alone at restaurants or going to nightclubs by yourself for a while.  That's OK, that's all part of community organizing.  Not every event is an instant hit, and even organizing veterans plan a bomb once in a while.  Just keep posting the events and keep showing up.

I should also add that the most active and successful communities are the ones that have a variety of events, to appeal to a variety of people.  It doesn't seem to be enough to just have discussion meetings, or just have a monthly potluck.  What keeps the poly communities cohesive and thriving seems to be having a discussion meeting for those who want one, and BBQs for those who prefer to socialize, and parties and dances and game nights, all spread around the month to give people the opportunity to attend *something* no matter what their personal schedules are.

Advertising:

First, your group needs a website of some sort, even if it's just a free Google site.  You need a place to post all the relevant information, and something that offers an online calendar is an incredibly important benefit.  I can't recommend strongly enough the need for a website that is not your Yahoo! or Fetlife group page or Facebook page.  If you want anyone to find your group, you will have much better luck with having a public signpost that does not require anyone to have a membership to a specific social networking site. Google offers free website hosting and tons of templates that don't require any web coding experience. And the benefit to a Google site is that it integrates seamlessly with Google Calendars, so you can post all your events right on your site. Set up a group gmail account, calendar, and website all on Google (or any other service you prefer, but if you don't have a preferred service or don't know anything about websites, use Google) to start out.

Next, join every social networking site you can.  You may want to create a profile just for your group, so that notices come from the group and not an individual person (especially if you also use that networking site as yourself) and so that others can assist or take over the job of hosting if you ever want to step down.  I also very strongly recommend creating a group profile for your advertising purposes and not using your own personal profile for these sorts of things.  If you team up with others to organize your group, then everyone can have the login information for the group profile, and that way all announcements concerning your group can come from the same account, instead of confusing people with several personal accounts.  It also makes it really easy to tell when you are posting in your official capacity as group moderator and when you are posting as yourself.

Join Fetlife, Facebook, G+, Twitter, LiveJournal, Meetup, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, whatever, and post notices to all the relevant groups there (preferably under your new group profile).  There are a dozen LJ poly groups you can post to, and even more Yahoo! Groups and Facebook groups.  Remember to read every group's posting rules, though, to make sure you aren't violating any spamming rules.  Post about your events and keep posting.  Find those cross-over groups I mentioned above and ask to cross-post in their groups.  Make up business cards with your local poly group's information on them and hand them out any time the subject comes up in person.  In fact, you can just download and print the Poly Reference Cards (it's 2-sided), which have a blank line on the back to add your group's URL to the list of important poly URLs, and just hand that out.  Ask the local LGBT center if you can leave flyers.  Some poly groups even put ads in Craigslist in the relationship sections. OP used to have ads in our free LGBT publications and independent news rags, like Orlando Weekly.  You have to advertise and you have to be patient.

As a reminder, there are two really good resources for where to find local poly groups.  There is Poly Groups (www.polygroups.com), a database of sorts where you can input your own group or search for groups.  And there is also Poly Events All Over (https://sites.google.com/site/polyeventsallover/), a website that collects events calendars from poly groups that post their calendars online.  For large events like conferences, there's Alan's List of Poly Events (http://polyevents.blogspot.com​/) - all of which I posted previously in my LJ entry on Poly Collection Sites (http://joreth.livejournal.com/248377.html)
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
I need help! I'm going to a party whose theme is Literary Legends. The invite explicitly includes books, comics, and websites. I have 2 days to put together a costume and I don't know what to wear! The best thing for me is to make something out of what I already own, since I'm waiting on paychecks and I don't have time to construct something from scratch. Here's what I have:


  • a chinese dress,
  • a non-specifically persian-esque dress,
  • a long silver dress,
  • a black lace (see-through) short dress,
  • a sparkly red swing dress,
  • a sparkly red & black latin style dress,
  • a sparkly purple '70s neo-roman dress,
  • business-pinstripe skirt,
  • business-grey pleated skirt,
  • a Korean kimono/robe,
  • a magician-esque green leotard & black tux jacket,
  • my Laurie Jupiter,
  • my poodle skirt,
  • my None (it's a pun - a nun costume with a scarlet A instead of a cross rosary, and The God Delusion instead of a bible, created based on the "none" category of religious affiliation in demographic questionnaires),
  • a waitress/nurse dress,
  • a labcoat,
  • my toga

Any of that remind you of anything in books, comics, or webpages? Laurie Jupiter is the only thing that is directly related to something in writing, but it's not the graphic novel version, & I wore it last year. Any suggestions?

ROAD TRIP!

Oct. 11th, 2011 11:35 pm
joreth: (Super Tech)

One more and then I'm done posting for the night - promise!  And not just because tonight is technically going to end in half an hour.

I love road trips.  I love just taking off and driving.  I've done the plan-the-route-to-the-minute and the just-drive-and-see-what-happens and I love them both.  I haven't had a good road trip since I moved to Florida 11 years ago and I think it's way past time that I had one.

The problem is that I'm the only one I know with enough free time to do what I really want to do (not that I have the money for it - having free time sort of correlates with not having any money).  Now that I'm a Grown Up (TM), all my friends are also Grown Ups, which means they have jobs and families and obligations, and planning a long road trip like I want means they'd have to sacrifice something else - many of whom are not willing or able to do that.

So that means I will have to plan a road trip on my own.  I can do that, and I'll enjoy it, but it's not my preference.  I'd much rather share the trip with others.  But I just had another idea.  What if I plan my road trip and then invite people to fly out to various points along the way and share only a portion of the trip with me, and then fly home from another point a few days later?

The route I was thinking of is a giant, 5,000 mile half-circle around the US.  I've traveled across the country via two different southern routes, but I have seen almost nothing of the North US.  Ideally, I'd like to plan it for the summer of 2013, which should give me time to save up for it if I really do make the plans.  I'd like to drive north out of Florida, along the East Coast, hit Manhattan, visit [livejournal.com profile] datan0de's hometown in upper NY, go through Chicago, see the Badlands, maybe stop by Seattle (that one is debatable), visit [livejournal.com profile] tacit in Portland, spend some time at my parents' condo in Tahoe, visit [livejournal.com profile] corpsefairy & her crowd in Oakland, visit my hometown of San Jose, and then fly home.

Google Maps says the entire trip would take almost 4 days if I drove nonstop.  If I average it out to 8 hours of driving per day, it'll take 11 days.  Add one full day for each destination and it becomes 20 days.  So, leaving time for sight-seeing, I'm going to overestimate and say this will be a three-week trip, minimum, possibly even a month long.  Or, maybe I'll plan two road trips, and break off the entire West Coast leg into it's own trip at another time.

So I'm just throwing this out there for now, give people something to think about.  If you're one of my RL friends and think flying out to join me for a leg or two of this journey sounds like fun, start budgeting now.  If you happen to live in or near one of my destinations and want to meet me, keep this idea on the backburner and when/if I actually start planning for this, send me an invitation when I post about it.


Proposed Road Trip:

East/North Road Trip:

West Coast Road Trip:


joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
 So, it's the holidays, and being a member of several minority groups, everyone wants to know how I handle the traditional holiday season as a non-traditional person.  I was interviewed for a UK magazine about how polys spend the holidays, because apparently the idea that we spend them pretty much the same way monogamous people do is an unusual concept.  I'm also reading The Atheist's Guide To Christmas, a book I have been curious about for some time.  I know it's difficult to imagine, but atheists, and polys, are actually made up of more than one person, and sometimes we actually have different thoughts, ideas, wants, likes, and dislikes!  Shocking, but true.  So that means that there isn't a single way to exist during the holiday season, for either polys or atheists.  But with everyone reminding me that I'm "different", it got me to thinking ... how does a skeptical polyamorous atheist deal with a holiday that is more or less seen as a religious family holiday?  Apparently, people want to know.

I can only answer for myself.  Everyone else will have a different story, just like every monogamist and every religious person will have a different story.  Because, and here's another shock, they're not all the same person either!

How do Polys spend the Holidays? )

Shouldn't I be out in the trenches, fighting the War On Christmas? )

So, Happy Holidays everyone, whichever holiday you celebrate!  And if you refuse to accept my wishes for a good holiday because I didn't specify *your* holiday, then you don't deserve my wishes for a good holiday anyway.
joreth: (::headdesk::)
Oh for fuck's sake, now AMC is swearing that they are not going to show that PSA, that whoever is saying they are is lying. Fuck this. I will wait until Black Friday, when the PSA is supposed to air, then find out exactly which theaters have actually played that damn PSA, and boycott THEM ... or just avoid the movie theaters entirely until this whole mess is over. Not like I go to the movies much anymore anyway. I still sent off my angry letters, including to the ad distributor company, so that everyone will be flooded (hopefully) with warnings about the inadvisability of playing such a dangerous and fraudulent "PSA".

The whole story, including links
joreth: (personal)
On Thursday, [livejournal.com profile] datan0de , [livejournal.com profile] femetal , and I drove from Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale to sleep in town before arising at the gods-be-damned unholy hour of 4:00 AM to board the cruise ship/ferry to the island of the Grand Bahamas. Our hotel was walking distance from the port, as our very friendly night-desk clerk explained to us while he pointed out the view of the largest cruise ship in existence, which will make Port Everglades its home port. The Allure Of The Seas is 4 football fields long, has a tree-lined park & 3D movie theatre, and is nearly 50% bigger than the next-largest cruise ship.  Unfortunately, this would not be our cruise ship.  [livejournal.com profile] datan0de and I wandered over as close as we could to get a peek, and maybe take some photos. They came out like crap, but it was fun anyway. We wandered into an empty lot that bordered the chain link & barbed wire fence that surrounds the port, and played on the bobcats a bit before heading back to the hotel.

By the way, I highly recommend staying the night in town before taking a cruise, and the night after you get back, before heading back home or wherever you're going afterwards. It really lets up the pressure of arriving so early, particularly since you're already traveling to make it to the port town, or of leaving so late. If you happen to sail out of Ft. Lauderdale, I recommend America's Best Inn. The rooms are standard motel rooms - nothing great but nothing bad - but the service is excellent. The desk clerk when I called to make the reservations was very friendly, the night clerk when we checked in was great, and they offer everyone a complimentary beverage upon check-in. None of us wanted the alcohol, but they had soda available. Plus, they had a happy hour for the guests earlier that evening, with wine and other drinks (for which we arrived too late). They offer a standard continental breakfast in the morning, early enough for us to make it to the ship, and parking is free for the nights you stay there, and only $5 a night while you're on the cruise, compared to the $15 a night the port parking garage charged us.

We woke up the next morning and boarded the Discovery Sun - the only "ferry" ship left that takes passengers from Ft. Lauderdale to the Grand Bahamas Island in a single day (and returns that evening for day-trippers), ever since the "Cat" closed, which, apparently, only took about 2.5 hours. The trip on the Discovery Sun is about 4 or 5 hours long, and features all the usual amenities of cruise travel, including a buffet meal, entertainment, and free booze, minus a stateroom. Since we're not sleeping on the ship, there's no need to pay for a room, although you can upgrade to one if you want. We chose to rent a locker instead, for our 1-apiece carry-on backpacks.

We got to the island, went through a swift and mostly painless Customs line, boarded a taxi, and headed out for the hotel. It was the same hotel I stayed in the last time, which is more of a condo than a hotel, since they run a timeshare operation out of it. It comes complete with living room, dining room, full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and balcony with a view of the canals. It's really an incredibly lovely room. We checked in, unpacked, ate dinner at the Friday Night All You Can Eat Italian special meal served there at the hotel, and went to bed relatively early (for us).

     


  
The next day, I had to get up to attend a timeshare lecture as part of the contract for getting such a low rate on the rooms ($198 for all 3 of us for 3 nights instead of $219 per night for their off-season price). I showed up, irritated the sales girl for my insistence on wearing sunglasses while sitting on a Bahamas balcony overlooking the very sparkly pool at 9 in the freakin' morning, had eggs and grits on their tab, and then proceeded to get into an argument that got me thrown out.

Here's the thing ... you're not allowed to attend more than one of these sales lectures within 2 years. OK, no problem, I attended one in Tampa back in Spring or Summer of 2008. That's how I went on the first Bahamas trip. As payment for attending that lecture, I was given a *free* trip to the bahamas. I went in January, 2009. I was supposed to attend another lecture once I got there, but all the tours we booked while still on the ship started at the same time as those lectures did. So I never attended any lectures while on the island in January. I lost my $10 deposit that I was required to put down for the sales presentation (as incentive to get us to show up), but that was worth the price to avoid the stupid lecture. Because we missed the lecture that first morning, the sales people called us later that day, and early the next morning, and later *that* day, and we finally just unplugged the phone and avoided the front lobby. So I never went on a stupid sales presentation in January.

But this time, I went. It had been more than 2 years, after all, since the one in Tampa. So I showed up, but I must have been really frustrating for the sales girl, since I gave her no opening for how to sell me on a timeshare. What good are vacation packages to people who get to travel all over the world for work with all expenses paid and a per diem? OK, I don't, but technically, my work *does* do that, just not for me. What good is a vacation package when you ask someone what they like to do to get away from work, and the reply is "since my work is all travel and people, getting away from work means getting away from travel and people. I just like to sit at home and read when I'm off work."?

Finally, the girl said she was at a loss and went to get her manager. She came back and said "Joreth, why did you lie to me?" "Excuse me?" I asked. "You lied to me." "No I didn't!" I said. "You said you didn't attend a sales presentation within 2 years," she said. "I haven't," I said. "Well, I put your name in the computer and it says you did in January," she accused. "Well I didn't. I was here in January, I told you that, but I never attended any presentation," I said. "Well the computer says you did," she said. We went 'round like this for a few times, each of us getting angrier, before she finally told me she wanted me to come and look at the computer.

So I stood up, fully intending to leave right then and there, and said "I don't care what your computer says, I didn't attend any presentations in January and I'm not going to stand here and be accused of being a liar!" As I started to stomp towards the door, she said, over her shoulder to me "well you know the way out, you can leave!"

Fortunately, I had already gotten my $10 deposit, plus a free breakfast. But it put me in a pissy mood for the rest of the day.

I got back to the room, and [livejournal.com profile] datan0de and [livejournal.com profile] femetal were awake (barely), so we got ready for our day. We took the shuttle to Port Lucaya, that island's bustling metropolis, er, I mean, tourist village. We wandered around the stalls of "local" (made in Texas and China) knick-knacks and doo-dads for souveniers, and had lunch at the After Deck.

Let me tell you about the After Deck Bar & Grill. We stopped there for lunch, as it was the first restaurant we found that had something everyone could eat. I don't mind casual attitudes in service personnel, but really, the Bahamas takes it too far. Eventually someone noticed us waiting to be seated and waved vaguely around and said "take a seat anywhere". So we did. Eventually, someone came to take our order. And eventually, our food was brought out.

I asked for the kid's hamburger, not because I wanted the cheaper price (it was only $1 or $2 cheaper than the adult cheeseburger), but because it was the only regular hamburger on the menu. I was prepared for the server to say they couldn't sell it to me because I wasn't a kid, and had my speech "fine, then I'll take the super cheeseburger, with no cheese, no lettuce, no tomato, and no sauce, just the burger and the bun" all ready to go. But she looked at me and said "you're not a kid". I said "no, I'm not", starting to look forward to my prepared speech. [livejournal.com profile] datan0de said "no, but she's tiny like a kid". She frowned at me and then said "OK, I'll do it for you" and went on with the order-taking.

The food wasn't bad. It wasn't anything to write an LJ post about either, but I didn't hate it. I had a burger, and it was ... a burger. After all our glasses had been empty for some time, eventually a server asked us how we were, so we asked for refills.

"We don't usually give refills, but I guess I can this time", she said, sounding like it was a huge imposition (even though she charged for the refills). Not realizing that the islands didn't adhere to the free-refill custom of the States, this was an annoying revelation, and we discussed buying some of the powdered drink mix in the hotel convenient store to bring with us to restaurants to avoid the $2 per glass of soda with every meal.

Eventually, as our plates sat mostly empty and gathering flies, we gave up waiting for our server, and [livejournal.com profile] datan0de flagged down a busboy and handed him 3 $20 bills and a $1 bill. Then we waited for the change. And waited ... and waited.

Finally, [livejournal.com profile] datan0de flagged down yet another person to find out where the change had gone. Our server came back to pointedly frown at us and announce that she had only been given exactly $51, the exact amount of the bill (for lunch for 3 people). We argued back that we didn't, and she argued more that we did. She left, then came back for another round of arguing. She left and came back a third time and handed [livejournal.com profile] datan0de a $10 bill, but continued to yell after us that we only paid $51. We stomped out of there distinctly unhappy, which is not the mindset 2 strongly anti-social introverts should be in when about to engage in shopping.

And the shopping! The Bahamian culture is very odd. It's simultaneously more friendly and less friendly than anywhere I've been in the States. Everyone is an extrovert, everyone wants to strike up a conversation with you, but it takes nothing to turn the conversation hostile. We'd walk past the door to a shop, and the shop owner would be sitting outside and yell at us "C'mon in! It doesn't cost to look!" or "Don't you want a t-shirt to take back with you?" or "What pretty hair! Don't you want it braided?" Any attempt to politely indicate non-interest is immediately attacked: "What's the matter with that shirt? Don't you like it?" No lady, it's your attitude and high-pressure sales I don't like. Penalty: I'm taking my business elsewhere even if I *did* like your damned t-shirt! At least no one tried to touch me.

Most of the shops lost our business that day because of their pressure. The shops were really just stalls, about as big as a flea market stall here in the US, only you walk inside to see stuff hanging from the walls, instead of walking around the outside to look at tables like in a flea market. We'd walk about halfway in, have the proprietor follow us in, crowding us and preventing our escape, and keeping up a steady stream of "Whatcha interested in now? How about a nice t-shirt? Those shot glasses are on sale, 2 for $5 or 1 for $3! What size are ya lookin' for? How about some pretty jewelry for the pretty lady?" Most of the time, we either looked in only and kept walking because of the chatter, or we'd get halfway in only to turn around and leave immediately when we said we were just looking and the sales person wouldn't back off. [livejournal.com profile] femetal even bought something from a particular shop just to reward the lady for not being pushy.  I discovered the benefit to "splitting up".  Anytime someone started pestering us, they'd ask "whatcha lookin' for?" and we could say "her!" and rush over to whichever of us wasn't nearby.  This came in handy on more than one occasion.

We finished our shopping in record time and walked around the marina for a while before deciding to have dinner in town rather than head back to the hotel.
 
        

So we chose another restaurant called Zorbas, which featured Greek food, and for which we had a coupon. This was a nice, air conditioned building with good food, but again with the slow service. I knew as soon as we decided to eat in town that we would not make the last shuttle back to the hotel (which was scheduled to leave in a little less than an hour from our decision to eat there). So when we finished eating with about 10 minutes to spare, I was shocked. Then we waited 15 minutes for our check. Then we waited another several minutes for the reciept to sign. Naturally, we missed the shuttle and had to pay for a cab. Since I had assumed we would before dinner, it wasn't that big of a deal, but the frustrating part was that we *could* have made the shuttle, if it weren't for the damned slow service.

On the way back to our room, we were besieged by 4 pitiful cats, who turned their Kryptonite-like powers on me, and I was helpless to escape.  [livejournal.com profile] datan0de had to impliment an extraction-and-rescue operation (#DamnParasite), which was eventually successful, although one persistant kitty actually followed us up the 3 flights of stairs and sat at our door. We discovered this when [livejournal.com profile] femetal left the room to hit the wi-fi hotspot at the outdoor bar, only to have to defend the opening from invasion before making her escape. Fortunately, the invader followed her back down the steps, and she lost him as she crossed the parking lot towards the bar.

Finally, we made it back to the hotel, where I sat around watching TV and working on the day's pictures, and [livejournal.com profile] femetal and [livejournal.com profile] datan0de went into the outdoor bar to get online, since that was the only place on the grounds that the wi-fi reached. [livejournal.com profile] datan0de and I tried out the hotel hot tub, and chatted about our time on the island so far. We decided that part of our general annoyance with the vacation was that we weren't really *doing* anything vacation-ey. I mean, we went shopping, but we were there in the Bahamas and we hadn't done anything that couldn't have been done at home, and for cheaper. [livejournal.com profile] femetal's only goal was to get lots of sleep and not use an alarm, so that kind of eliminated several of the touristy activities already, since most of them started early in the morning and the town rolled up its sidewalks around 9 or 10 at night.

We decided to check out what the snorkel/jet ski/parasailing/car/scooter/boat rental place next door had going for it, and if they had anything at all that didn't leave at 9 AM. We thought that maybe if we just did *something*, we'd have a better time. Turns out, that was a great idea!



The next day was supposed to be a hang-around-the-beach-and-pool day, but since I wanted to do something, I set my alarm and got up around 10 to check out the options next door. It turned out that they had a snorkel/glass bottom boat option that would work perfectly for us! For $40 a person, we could take a glass bottom boat out into the sea, and when we got out far enough, we could go snorkeling off the boat. Anyone who wanted to go on the boat but not snorkel could pay $30 for the glass-bottom boat tour by itself. Since [livejournal.com profile] femetal didn't want to go in the water but also didn't want to be left out, this was a great option for us. Plus, it didn't leave until 2 PM, so no waking early for everyone else.

I woke up [livejournal.com profile] datan0de , told him about the tour, and we decided to go ahead and make the reservation. Then, when [livejournal.com profile] femetal woke up, we'd tell her about it, and she could decide to join us or not. Fortunately, she did. So at 1:45, Paradise Watersports called us to say they did indeed have enough people to give the glass-bottom boat/snorkeling tour and they'd be leaving in 15 minutes. So we hurriedly dressed and arrived only 5 minutes late, filled out the paperwork, paid, and boarded the boat.

Our boat captain, Captian Kirk (yes, really), was friendly, amusing, and knowledgeable. We left the canals, drifted over 2 shipwrecks - 1 accident and 1 on purpose to provide an "artificial environment" for the sealife - and then he handed out the snorkeling equipment for those of us doing so. There were only 3 of us: me, [livejournal.com profile] datan0de , and another shipmate, and I was the first one in the water. Told there was a barracuda in the water who had never attacked a person and preferred to snack on the multitudes of fish that were attracted to the bread thrown over the boat sides, the three of us tracked down the 'cuda and followed him a while to get pictures. We swam and took pictures and swam and took more pictures.  I even got a couple of underwater videos!  Finally, we were told we had to get back on board and head to shore. It was a great time, and we emerged in a much better mood than the day before.

    

We finished with our tour in enough time to run back to the room, grab some essentials, and head for the beach. Our hotel was actually right on the beach, so we just walked out onto the sand and went swimming. When it got cold and the sun started to drop, we got out and went walking along the beach at sunset, until we found the same bar I had found last time: Bikini Bottom - with the swing seats at the bar. Since it was Sunday, it was closed, but we got to sit and swing for a bit before heading back.

      

We walked back to our hotel in the dark, followed by a trio of playful dogs who disagreed with us on the matter of whether or not they were "ours", rinsed off, and headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner. The service was the same slow service as every other place, but it was at least friendly, and our food was both good and large. I brought half of mine back to the hotel.

I spent the evening working on more pictures, and we turned in relatively early so we could wake up to check out.



Checking out was fairly uneventful, and we stowed our luggage with the porter, and camped out in the hotel outdoor bar to commandeer the only power outlet within reach of guests. First, though, we managed to snap a couple of pictures of us in front of the picturesque pool with waterfall, and on the beach itself. There, we wiled away the time until we had to leave for the port.

We collected our luggage, the porter hailed a cab, and we drove off. When we arrived, the cabbie informed us that the $5 per person that we had been charged all weekend, was only if there were 6 people in the cab (which was not what the cabbie told us the night we took the taxi from Port Lucaya back to the hotel after missing the last shuttle after dinner). Rather than argue, we paid the extra fee, went back through the lax customs office, and boarded the ship. The breeze was much softer this time than on Friday, and the temperature was much warmer. We wandered the ship until sunset, and then watched the sun set into the watery horizon before heading to dinner, where we attacked the buffet line again. Then we split up - I went into the Game Room to snag a power outlet and work on more pictures, [livejournal.com profile] femetal went to "her spot" on the fore deck, and [livejournal.com profile] datan0de went back to the complimentary bar.
    

Several hours later, we gathered again at the foredeck to take pictures of coming into port, then piled into the Starlight Lounge, where all passengers are herded until our color-coded ticket is called to debark, then ushered into the US customs line, which was much longer and much slower. They had only 1 officer to check all US residents and 1 officer to check non-residents, as opposed to the Bahamas customs, which had several people and several lines to hurry things along. [livejournal.com profile] datan0de was told that he wasn't allowed to use his cell phone, on which he was playing video games to pass the time.

Finally, it was my turn. The officer asked me questions about my trip without seeming too interested in the answers, stamped my paperwork, and motioned me aside. I scooted over and waited for my companions, but was quickly approached by a frowning uniformed officer who told me I could not stand there and wait for my party. So I went outside where she insisted I had to wait, only to be yelled at by the officer guarding the door that I couldn't block it. So I moved my bags over the foot required to not block the 9-foot sliding door, when the officer said "no, you have to wait over there", pointing towards the other side of the door where all the other passengers were currently waiting for shuttles, cabs, or their rides. [livejournal.com profile] datan0de and [livejournal.com profile] femetal were about 10 yards behind the officer, and I had had enough by then, so I stood there and argued with him about how the people I was waiting for were "right there" and getting closer (since, y'know, they were *also* leaving the customs area). I figured I could argue with him long enough to let the others catch up, and it would take so little time that we'd be done arguing before the cop got tired enough to do something about me. I was right.

So we found the car in the parking garage and started the long drive back to Central Florida, since [livejournal.com profile] datan0de had to work the next morning. By this time, it was around 11 PM. I nodded off in the car, like I tend to do, but we arrived back at my place around 2-ish. [livejournal.com profile] femetal made great time! I got my stuff unloaded and into the house without incident, kissed [livejournal.com profile] datan0de goodbye, and was just about to flop into bed without unpacking, when my cat chose that moment to most clearly explain how she felt about my vacation ... by pissing on my memory-foam pillow.

So I had to throw her out of the room, strip the bed (since it dripped onto the sheets when I threw the pillow off), and do some laundry before the stain and smell set. Cleaning pillows that can't be put in the washing machine SUCKS, and takes a day or two to dry.  I got one of my guest pillows out, drenched my good pillow in urine-removing (supposedly) spray, and collapsed on the bare mattress.



All in all, I'd say I had a good vacation, other than the slow service. I had a good *enough* time that I'd be willing to go back again, but next time I think I'd rather try Nassau. Maybe, in the capital city, the people there will be more accustomed to Americans, and our hurry-hurry-rush-rush attitude and penchent for nightlife that just gets started around 10 PM instead of closing down at 10 PM. Since I overheard one of the locals telling another local how she had just gotten back from Nassau, and it was a "crazy town, it's the Wild Wild West over t'ere!", I have hopes for a better experience of the culture while still getting to enjoy the sun, sand, and water that the Caribbean is known for.

More pictures at http://www.theinnbetween.net/bahamas2010.html
joreth: (polyamory)
Copied from [livejournal.com profile] orlandopoly:



Personality Types and Relationships: This presentation will cover how understanding the different personality types can dramatically improve relationships of all kinds. Using the framework of MBTI, the most heavily researched personality typing system in the world, the session will help each person discover their type. We will explore how personality similarities and differences affect relationships and then learn practical steps you can take immediately to improve your relationships.

When: Sunday, August 1, 2010 @ 2 PM
Where: The Center, 946 Mills Ave., Orlando
Cost: $2 per person, charged by the building
Who: Anyone who wants to learn more about communication and relationship-building techniques.

Sterling Bates has been working with psychological personality typing both personally and professionally for close to ten years. He has done Organizational Development work with top corporations, independent relationship counseling and actively does research to further the study of psychological type. He is an active member of the poly community and has been quoted in several polyamory related articles.



Please feel free to copy and paste the above into any blog, forum, or email list that you think will appreciate it! We apologize for repeats that our cross-posting might result in.
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
I have trouble remembering things, and I especially have trouble remembering things in temporal order, so it helps me to do a year in review every year. And since my extended family likes it when I send them a holiday letter telling them about my life in exotic Florida, it's convenient to write one in time for Christmas. I try to keep it to a single printed page, since my mother not-so-subtly hinted that she thinks it's inconsiderate to burden people with multiple pages of information about my life that people might not care about (and people online wonder why I don't give a lot of personal anecdotes in the forums!) in spite of the fact that all my relatives tell me they enjoy my letter. Mom thinks they're just being polite - I'd like to think people just wouldn't say anything at all about the letter if they're too "polite" to tell me they don't like it, rather than lie about it. Anyway, now I'm starting to rant. Here's this year's letter:

This year was quite a busy year for me! Last year I sat in on a timeshare lecture because they promised us free stuff. What I didn’t expect was for that free stuff to be a free trip to the Bahamas. So, for my birthday this year in January, I cashed in my trip and set sail for the islands. I had a great time, and the hotel and the island were just beautiful. I am planning to go back again next year. All the pictures and the story of my trip can be found on my website at http://www.theinnbetween.net/bahamas.html

Work is slow, but I am still working, so things could be a lot worse on that front. My biggest client of this year has already confirmed me for next year, and I hear that the industry expects to improve after the New Year, so things aren’t too bad there.

Last December, [livejournal.com profile] zen_shooter and I broke up only days before Christmas, and after I sent out last year’s letter. But [livejournal.com profile] tacit and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary this October, and this summer saw the beginning of a new relationship with a very good friend of mine, whom I have known for as long as I’ve known [livejournal.com profile] tacit. [livejournal.com profile] datan0de and I met at the same poly meeting where I met [livejournal.com profile] tacit, and is actually very good friends with him. So we’ve had some time to build up a solid friendship, and so far things are going wonderfully. In September, many in the network went to our annual sci-fi convention, Dragoncon, and I got to spend some quality time with [livejournal.com profile] datan0de, [livejournal.com profile] tacit, & many of the metamours.

I also have a new costume for Dragoncon! Meet Laurie Jupiter aka Silk Spectre II from the movie Watchmen. Once again, I decided to work with liquid latex, and this was my most ambitious project so far, having 4 separate layers & being true to the movie. I also completed the chain mail skirt for my Fire Elf costume, making that one now complete. I have several more costumes in the pipeline for next year.

The cats are doing well, & Onyx finally has her cone off. She’s still scratching herself, but the worst of it is under control. Misty is still just Misty, a big ball of grey fluff who is inquiring at this moment why I am sitting here playing with the big clacky thing & not paying attention to her.

This year I got a holiday treat - my parents and nephew came for Thanksgiving! We had quite the full week, visiting Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Disney’s Hollywood Studios & Epcot, and Kennedy Space Center. We took lots of great pictures and had a wonderful time. It was nice being able to show my family where I live. I will have all the pictures up on my website when the data from the hard drive that crashed while my family was in town gets recovered.

This year I will be spending the holidays with [livejournal.com profile] datan0de and his wife [livejournal.com profile] femetal and making my usual Skype video chat calls to everyone who is too far to visit.

As usual, I have more pictures up at http://www.theinnbetween.net

Happy Holidays everyone!
joreth: (polyamory)
It's official now. Poly Weekly is beginning a new format. Some of the episodes will be co-hosted, and I have been asked to be one of the co-hosts!

There will be a mix of people; some of us will not be there every week, some of us will be there more often than others, but we hope to get a good dialog of poly issues on the episodes where we co-host.

I've co-hosted my first episode, along with [Bad username or unknown identity: inki,] which is episode #219. This is very exciting, and I hope everyone tunes in! Hopefully, as we get more used to being on a podcast as co-hosts, and not interviewees, we'll get better and learn a rhythm to produce some really excellent shows for you!
joreth: (dance)
It was great to see everyone at the OrlandoPoly meeting today! I thought we had a pretty good discussion about families & holidays. At dinner afterwards, some of us were talking about some upcoming events, and I thought I ought to remind everyone about some of the stuff going on. It's a pretty busy week!

On Monday, Leu Gardens in Orlando offers free admission for the first Monday of every month, so I'll be bringing my camera and checking out the foliage tomorrow. I expect to be there about 11 AM.
http://www.leugardens.org/locate.html

There's also a West Coast Swing dance lesson on Monday night that I was thinking about trying to make. It's from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM and it's the West Coast Basics (I don't know WCS at all) and the cost is $10.
http://www.danceorlandoclub.com/index_files/Page459.htm

On Wednesday, the Jessie Black Saloon in Orlando offers Line Dance lessons at 7 PM. Cover charge is $5 for the lesson and stay all night for the open dance floor, or arrive after 10 PM and get in for free (no lesson though)! I've taken a class with this particular instructor before, and she's really good. She adapts to the learning speed of the students pretty well. This is also a great opportunity for people who don't like crowded dance clubs since this club is almost empty on Wednesday nights (especially after 10) and the small group of people who show up have the whole floor to themselves. Also, since the crowds are thin, so is the cigarette smoke :-D
www.jessieblacksaloon.com

And on either Tuesday or Thursday, I thought I'd finally get around to seeing Zombieland. It's playing at the new theatre in downtown Orlando, the Plaza Cinema which, I have to say, is a fantastic theatre. They validate parking, and the seats are these great, comfy leather seats. $4.75 for Students and $9.50 for General Admission. I thought either the 7 PM or 9 PM showing on either day. Any preferences?
http://www.plazacinemacafe.com/

This weekend, I'll be in Tampa, so here are a couple of Tampa activities:

On Friday is Ballroom lesson and dancing at the Rhapsody Ballroom. I'm actually not positive I'll make this event, since it starts at 8 PM and Eric might not make it out of work in time. There is also a little confusion about the cost, but it's not much either way. The website says that Friday nights offer a group class for $5 per person per hour, beginning at 8 PM, but then it also says it offers a lesson and open dance floor at 8 PM for $6 for the lesson only or $10 for the lesson and stay to dance afterwards.
http://rhapsodyballroom.com/

And on Sunday is West Coast Swing at Tampa's Biggest Swing Dance, beginning at 6 PM for $7. There is an hour of Lindy Styling Techniques, then an hour of Jitterbug, and then 4 hours of open dancing.
http://www.swingang.com/

Now this one isn't for this week, but it's coming up so put it on your calendars ... The Enzian will be hosting another free Popcorn Flicks In The Park on Friday, December 4th, featuring The Grinch Who Stole Christmas AND White Christmas, starting at 7 PM.
http://www.enzian.org/film/white_christmas/

For all the dancing events, it is not necessary to come with a dance partner, especially if you're male. These kinds of dance clubs tend to teach "social dancing", which is learning how to dance no matter who your partner is, and will usually just put the guys on one side, the girls on the other, teach the steps, then pair us up with whomever is across from us. Then rotate partners. So don't worry if you don't have someone to dance with. I almost never do when I go.

Also, no special clothing is required, just wear something comfortable. I prefer skirts and tank tops because I get overheated. If you do not have "dance shoes", then wear any shoes that do not have rubber soles and are securely fastened to your feet (no flip-flops or sandals or high-heel sandals). Standard dress shoes for men and dress shoes with ankle straps for women usually have an adequate sole. Regular dress pumps for women do too, but make sure they're snug enough that they won't easily fly off your feet. Men often bring a change of shirts if they tend to sweat a lot. But you do not need to dress up or wear "vintage" clothing or anything in particular, just be comfortable.

So, who's with me?
joreth: (polyamory)
http://community.livejournal.com/orlandopoly/3617.html

Over at the OrlandoPoly LJ community, there's a new posting suggesting a holiday theme to the upcoming meeting - candy swap and poly holidays!
joreth: (social events)
Anyone interested?

Click Show Times to Purchase Tickets
Tuesday, 10-27


Cult Classics

The Exorcist

The Exorcist’s Movie Poster

Arguably the scariest motion picture ever made, William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST was unleashed on an unsuspecting American public in 1973. The film quickly became a nationwide sensation, leading to religious boycotts, fainting, and a huge box office return. Oscar nominee Linda Blair beat out hundreds of other child actors to land the role of Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old who is possessed by the devil. After exhausting all other practical options, Regan’s mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), acknowledges the supernatural nature of her daughter’s condition and recruits Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to stage an exorcism. Aided by the mysterious Jesuit exorcist Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), Father Damien must confront not only the supernatural phenomena in front of him, but also his own inadequate faith and displaced guilt over his mother’s recent death. Friedkin brings William Peter Blatty’s Oscar-winning script to shocking life by establishing a realistic, everyday tone before allowing the terror to creep in. The performances of Burstyn and Miller further help to ground the supernatural events. Like THE GODFATHER before it and JAWS shortly after, the breakout success of THE EXORCIST helped to transform Hollywood into the blockbuster behemoth of American culture.


joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
Dragon*Con 2009 was the best con ever! I can't state that emphatically enough to encompass just how awesome it was. It started with the drive up to Atlanta, which involved 3 group public make-out sessions along the way and just got better from there.

Plus, I debuted a new costume, once again made from liquid latex.

I attended almost every panel I had scheduled for myself. The Skeptics and Science Tracks just get better every year!

Plus, we even managed to squeeze in several instances of group sex without sacrificing panel time or costuming time!

Here's my latest costume - Laurie Jupiter, aka Silk Spectre II from Watchmen:
 

(visit my website for all my pics of D*C http://www.theinnbetween.net/dragoncon2009.html)

Lots O Pics and a long description of my weekend at con )
And all of that combined to create the Best Con Evar!
 
joreth: (polyamory)

In honor of Poly Pride Weekend:

We Are Polyamorous!

Host:
Type:
Network:
Global
Start Time:
Friday, October 9, 2009 at 12:00am
End Time:
Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 11:55pm
Location:
EVERYWHERE

Description

It's time to come out as polyamorous and show people what polyamory is really about!

Beginning on October 9th, declare yourself as poly:
* Set your Facebook (and IM) status to a pro-poly declaration such as, "I Am Polyamorous"
* Set your Facebook image to something related, perhaps a picture of you holding a sign with the same message.
* Take this to other websites (twitter, blogs, etc) and even into the real world!

WHY? Polyamory is unknown to most people, and misunderstood by many who know about it. All poly people have faced polyphobia. When polyamory is accepted, it's almost always hush-hush and/or on the grounds of don't ask, don't tell. Polyamory needs awareness and acceptance, so let's gain some visibility and talk to people who ask us about it! (Serial) monogamy is something that's pretty much just accepted everywhere and remains mostly unchallenged, so let's openly challenge it =]

Join The Group!
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2372502430

POST MORE IDEAS TO THE WALL!

Local Events:
* Poly Pride Weekend NYC
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=60604503740

joreth: (social events)
So last night I went line dancing in Orlando at a club called the Jesse Black Saloon. I Twittered about it and sent out text messages, but due to the late notice and the fact that none of my friends like country music, I could only get one person to show up and he doesn't dance or like country.

But the club was fantastic! Wednesday nights are a tough night to find things to do. Nothing is open. But this club offers line dance lessons at 7 PM (apparently intermediate lessons are first, and beginner lessons are later?), $5 cover charge, and no cover charge after 10 PM on Wednesdays!

They played music that a fan of country would consider "good" for clubbing, and the place was empty. It's a fairly large club, for a country bar, and has a decent sized dance floor. But there were only about 10 or so people there! There was enough space for 2 different line dances to happen concurrently, plus a couple who two-stepped around the outside.  The instructor from the earlier lesson was there, plus at least one other woman who appeared to also be an instructor, so I had a chance to try out a bunch of dances I didn't know.  

And, there were no drunk rednecks hitting on me! (Not that this happens very often anyway).  One older guy came up to tell me that they had lessons earlier in the evening, since he saw me trying to learn some of them, and he was very friendly and genial, and everyone on the dance floor was considerate.  But with so few people there in general, anyone who would have come with me could have just enjoyed the dancing without any worry of being molested or accosted or even talked to if one didn't want to interact with others.

I think I'd like to go on Wednesdays more often.

Tonight, though, Jesse Black Saloon is closed, but it's Ladies Night at Cowboys.  I hear that's a bit more raucous, but maybe there will be enough people there that I'll get asked to dance?
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
If you don't listen to Poly Weekly yet, you should. Adam And Eve online adult store was a sponsor for Poly Weekly for a while, and [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx was reviewing some of their products. She was sent a Clone-A-Willy kit, which is a mold-making kit that allows one to make an exact vibrating replica of one's own penis. At the time, [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx was not interested in the product (and I forget the reason why), but during a conversation with her over dinner one night, the subject was brought up and I mentioned how I have always wanted to try it.

In fact, I always wanted to have a Clone-A-Willy party, where I could purchase the mold-making materials in bulk and pass along the savings to my friends. A private room could be made available for those who wish to make the mold without an audience, but at the end, everyone could leave with copies of the penii they so desired.

But party aside, I have always had a fascination with life-like replicas, particularly of people I know personally. So when I mentioned how much I always wanted to try the kit, [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx said she'd send the kit to me so I could review it for her.

Now, I didn't really expect it to happen - after all, there are so many more important things than for [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx to remember to send me the kit. But one day, I got home to find a package waiting for me. And, lo and behold, it was the Clone-A-Willy kit from [livejournal.com profile] cunningminx!

Read all about my Human Cloning Experiment )

Hopefully next up ... Clone-A-Pussy for a copy of myself, clones of my other sweeites, and a Clone-A-Willy party for my friends! They also sell a glow-in-the-dark kit, a Lover's Kit (both Willy & Pussy kits at a discount), and a Chocolate Clone-A-Willy kit. The girl's mold claims to be reusable and safe to use as a Jello Mold!
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
The Tentative Schedules for the Space Track, Science Track and Skeptics Track are finally up, so I finally got to work on my own schedule! The Costuming Track is not yet available that I could find, but there are only a couple of panels that I ever want to attend, since most of what they cover is costuming for beginners.

But anyway, for those who are interested in what I'm interested in, or in what costume I'm wearing which days, here is my schedule )
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
Here's an article about Google Health and privacy. And to be honest, I don't understand what the concern is about here. In this article, they talk about 2 issues. The first is how "creepy" it is that Google Health has a section where you can put your Last Wishes, so your doctor and family are absolutely clear on what they should and shouldn't do when you die. Why is this creepy? We write Last Will And Testaments, don't we? Why shouldn't we want to make sure that as many people as relevantly possible know our last wishes so that no one can take over and trump what we requested?

That's actually a concern of mine. I'm afraid my parents will take over and do something religious or stupid regarding my remains (or worse yet, my not-quite-remains) because I'm not married and I don't have a will. But even if I were married, my parents could still cause trouble if they wanted to (I don't really think they would go against a legal document, but it has been known to happen to other people). Look at poor Maria Schiavo. She and her husband discussed, at length, her last wishes, yet her parents managed to tie her body up for years in legal and political battles, prolonging her and her husband's pain, drawing out the process. Because of her, there is suddenly an intense interest in this country for Living Wills.

But then the article goes on to say that "some people will find this [feature] sinister" and immediately follows it up with the fear that Google will tailor its advertising to you.

Huh?

First of all, Google *does* have to make money somehow. If we're not paying them for all their wonderful services, they have to get funding from somewhere to provide all those wonderful free services. I don't see that as inherenly a bad thing. But good regulation to keep it under control is in order too.  The concern here is that "the customer is always right", which, in this case, makes the Customer the Advertiser, not the end-user.  And that's a very valid concern, but that's where regulation of policy comes in, where Google's policy does explicitly state that they won't use the data in the Health section to determine medical advertisers when you're trying to search for medical information.

Second, I'm supposed to be upset that Google wants to know what kind of advertising I would want and don't want? I would be THRILLED to have my time no longer wasted for ads for penile enhancements or children's college investments. PLEASE tailor your ads to me and stop wasting my time!  And to do it on a personalized basis, not on a demographic bases would be fantastic!  That way they won't withold their ads for power tools just because I'm a girl.

No one seemed to have any problems when regular network television offered their programming "for free" because it was paid for by advertisers.  Well, OK, some people do have a problem with that, which is why there's Public Access, but PBS is constantly struggling to find funding and remain on the air because too many people feel entitled to free programming and are not willing to pay PBS.  And no one has any problems that the advertisers do demographic surveys to make sure that their ads for Sexy Singles are not played during Spongebob, and Super Duper Playdoh isn't advertized during the football game, and feminine hygene products are not advertized during The Man Show.  In fact, every time the advertisers guess wrong, even "wrong" by a minority viewpoint, it makes headlines with a lengthy legal battle started by people who wish to be protected from seeing or experiencing anything they don't like or agree with.

But media and entertainment that I don't have to pay for, in exchange for limited advertising and having the advertising content match the content of the media, I think these are Good Things.

I *do* think we ought to be vigilant about making sure that when Google says they will not sell ad space during a medical information search, that's exactly what happens. I think there are reasonable and necessary regulations that ought to be in place. I'm not in favor of a Free Market when it comes to the medical field, for a number of reasons that [livejournal.com profile] aclaro defends much more adequately than I do, so I do not want my medical information to come only from the highest bidder. I am NOT advocating a regulation-free service.

But I AM advocating a switch from a mindset that says we must guard our information so intently that, when it's necessary for someone else to have the information, they can't access it. Unmarried, civil-unioninzed, or only-legally-married-in-some-other-place people face all kinds of difficulties in emergency situations with getting the proper information to those who need to know. A work-around is assigning someone as a Medical Power of Attorney, but you still have to *prove* that, and that could take time that you don't have. And if a parent or biological relative disagrees, they can stop you even if you have total legal rights, or at least they can gum up the works for so long that they might as well have stopped you.

And a doctor who doesn't know something specific about you because your records are being held hostage by another doctor, or your Medical Power of Attorney hasn't arrived yet, can do just as much damage. How many times could death or illness have been prevented if the doctor had a program that kept track of all your medications and warned him when he prescribed something that conflicted with something that person was already taking? How many times could that have been prevented if the pharmacy double checked the patient history for the same reason?  My aunt died because, when she fell ill, a doctor prescribed an MRI for her and refused to listen to her half-coherent mumblings that she had some condition that made it inadvisable to have an MRI.  Her family didn't know about it and she wasn't coherent enough to make any sense and this was an emergency doctor, not the physician who was responsible for whatever it is she had that conflicted with the MRI.  So she had an MRI and she died 24 hours later.  That wouldn't have happened if the doctor had a handheld device that had her complete medical records, that when he put in his recommendation for an MRI, the device beeped at him and said "this conflicts with a previous treatment", which is exactly what Google Health does.

And how many people could have avoided being infected with an STD if our society did not discourage the open discussion of sexual history and test results? If we didn't persist in the illusion that it's not "romantic" to discuss these things, or that it takes the "spontaneity" out of the sex (which is a whole other issue that sex is dirty and bad and only justifiable if you're so overwhelmed with passion that you cannot make logical, rational decisions that say you *intend* to have sex and to do it safely), or that learning about your partner's history makes you feel icky because you have "specialness" issues wrapped up in your ranking as sex partner?

These are much bigger problems than whether or not Google will try to show me ads in a sidebar, and are easily solved with more accessible and easily shared data. The policy of denying healthcare to people with pre-existing conditions is a real problem, and that goes along with the issues of Free Market and privitized healthcare that I alluded to earlier and I won't get into now. And that should be addressed, but Google Health and other information databases are not the point at which we should be addressing them. Those problems are much deeper in the system and should be attacked at the source.

Security should always be a concern, but what are you trading for your illusion of security?


Star Party

Jun. 29th, 2009 02:49 pm
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
http://www.atlantaskeptics.com/2009-star-party-a-full-moon-for-cancer/

The Atlanta Skeptics are proud to present “A Full Moon for Cancer” - a Star Party in memory of Jeff Medkeff. The event will be hosted by renowned astronomers Phil Plait and Pamela Gay.

 

When: Thursday, September 3, 2009, 7 p.m.

Where: The Bradley Observatory at Agnes Scott College

Proceeds to go to the American Cancer Society

Please join the Atlanta Skeptics on Thursday, September 3, 2009 for stargazing, dinner, drinks and conversations with astronomers. As part of the International Year of Astronomy, we’re hosting a star party to celebrate the beauty of the universe around us while raising money for a great cause.

Astronomers Phil Plait and Pamela Gay will be hosting the event, leading guests in exploration of the skies, and discussing what we see.
This event is in honor of Jeff Medkeff, the Blue Collar Scientist, astronomer, skeptic and friend to many of us. Jeff succumbed to liver cancer in 2008. All proceeds will go toward the American Cancer Society in Jeff’s name.

Ticket Prices:
$65 - Includes stargazing, lecture, dinner and 4 drink tickets (beer or wine)
$50 - Includes stargazing, lecture, dinner and soft drinks

Dressy/Cocktail attire is suggested.

We will also be sending a video feed of Pamela and Phil’s lecture into the planetarium. You may purchase tickets for the lecture only for $10.
Please note, there is a $2.00 shipping charge for online or mail-in payments. If you can to pay in person by check or another method, please contactatlantaskeptics@gmail.com to avoid this charge.
joreth: (polyamory)
[livejournal.com profile] tacit just posted about this iPhone app on Twitter, and I think it's great, so I'm going to mention it here.

It's called the Amazing Girlfriend Manager, and here is the description:

With this application you can improve your relationships by applying concepts of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) on your girlfriends. Think about your girlfriend as a client! What information and tools you need to improve your relationship? This application is the answer.

Features of this application:
- Allows you to manage multiple girlfriends at the same time (not recommended for moral reasons)
- You can assign a rating for each girl
- Stores personal information, preferences, sizes of clothing, notes and other data for each girl

For each girl you can register:
- Gifts given and received, cost and rating
- Dates, location, cost and rating
- Special dates (first date, first kiss, first trip together, bla bla bla…)

Benefits that this application can bring to you:
- Don’t make mistakes. Check the measurements of the girl before you buy a new pair of shoes or clothing
- Be creative. Do not repeat gifts
- Be more creative. Avoid always going to the same places with the same girl
- Be attentive. Do not forget your special dates
- Be healthy. Do not mix information from two girls
- Be the master. Show to your friends your long list of girls
- Be selective. Through the analysis of ratings and cost of dates and gifts, you can keep only the girls with the best cost-benefit

Now, aside from the irritating "not recommended for moral reasons", "be the master" bit, and a line at the end of the description that advises never letting your girlfriend see this app, I agree with [livejournal.com profile] tacit in that I think this would make an excellent resource for poly people ... particularly those Ps among you who can't keep shit straight!

As ya'll should know by now, and as many of you probably also do, I maintain an online wishlist that my sweeties (and anyone else, like my parents) can go to when they want to buy me something, to make sure they buy me something I actually want.  I also maintain an online calendar, and now that I've switched to Google, I'd like to share my calendars with my sweeties, but one I don't think even knows what a calendar is and the other has privacy paranoia issues.  So, somewhat ironically, I'm sharing calendars with a few friends with whom I almost never plan joint activities yet have no clue about my sweeties' daily plans.

But the point is that I already use digital efficiency devices to keep track of things like anniversaries and birthdays and dates.  I can remember things I write down pretty well, but I can't seem to remember which day it *is*, so even though I know my mother's birthday is May 8th, I might not remember that *today* is May 8th (for example), so I forget things like anniversaries all the time.  And ever since I graduated junior high, my relationships no longer start with "will you be my girlfriend?" and instead just sort of evolve over time into relationships, with graduated levels of intimacy.  We talk about them all the time, but there's rarely a specific date I can point to and say "that's the day we got together".  Of course, then we would have to define "together", which is a whole other topic.

So what I'm trying to say is that I would LOVE an app that conveniently gathers data like all my sweeties' birthdays and anniversaries, and what they like, and their clothing sizes and what I've purchased for them before, etc. into one, portable location.  It would be nice to list some of my metamours on there too. I did email them to ask when they're coming out with an Amazing Boyfriend Manager, or perhaps a gender-neutral term like Social Network Manager or something, so I'm holding off on buying it until I hear something back.  But it's only a dollar, so if there is no Boyfriend app, I might get it anyway.

But clearly, the poly/geek community is the perfect target demographic for this app.

**UPDATE**
I just got an email back from the creator who says he has been thinking of doing a gender-neutral version and he really likes the idea of including the metamours that I suggested (that word was not used specifically, but I did ask to be able to list "the girlfriends of my boyfriends" and he thought is sounded "really nice")!
joreth: (strong)

Brandi Chastain and Julio Iglesias Jr. compete in The Superstars.ABC/Adam Larkey - Thursday, June, 11, 2009, 12:11 AM
Brandi Chastain and Julio Iglesis Jr.
Loosely based on the ABC classic ``Wide World of Sports,'' this show pairs eight celebrities with professional athletes from a variety of different sports for sporting events and challenges, including swimming, biking, running, kayaking and more. The teams are tested on speed, stamina, strength and strategy as well. Each week one team of athletes is eliminated a winning pair is left. The show is shot on location in the Bahamas.

For the record, Brandi is my cousin, not Julio Iglesis.  She's best known as that soccer player who took her shirt off at the end of the game (while wearing a sports bra), and completely forgotten as the soccer player who scored the winning goal in the world championship game against a goalie who blocked her goal in the same event the previous year, causing her team to lose by one point that year.  She's also a 2x gold medalist in soccer and a staunch proponent of strong women.  She posed nude for Nike as part of her personal campaign to show that strength in women is beautiful and strength can also be "feminine".  Needless to say, I respect and admire her immensely.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
 I have 3 extra tickets to participate in a survey whose findings will directly influence what you see on TV in the future.  I have been selected to evaluate not-yet released TV material that is being considered for nationwide broadcast.  

We will get a chance to express our opinions about what we see in a way that will actually be listened to by people involved with television.  We will be providing direct feedback to producers, directors, sponsors and other people behind TV who in turn will be better able to understand and respond to our viewing preferences.  

The TV Preview is for Saturday, June 20th at 7:30 PM in Orlando.  The first 3 people who contact me get the extra tix.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
Here's some of what ya'll missed at the Trampoline / Belly Dance event last week:








joreth: (Rock Climbing)
A couple of weekends ago, I asked my friends to assist me in making a full-sized custom dress dummy, from neck to ankles. The pictures and instructions are now up! http://www.theinnbetween.net/dressdummy.html

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

 

I'm quitting PolyCentral. Read the rant if you really care. )


However, since I have already arranged for the meeting space and I already have the key to the building, I'm thinking of starting up OrlandoPoly and running it on the first Sunday of every month.  What do you local people think about that?

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