joreth: (dance)
Y'know what? I complain a lot about the conservatism in my local dance scene.  I complain about not being able to develop strong connections to anyone because of their political values, their anti-science beliefs, and their religiosity.  But after reading some of the comments on the post that I made on my timeline and in a couple of groups, asking for inclusivity suggestions, I feel the need to express some gratitude towards my local dance communities.

In those dance circles that I frequent, we have the following values that I appreciate:

Yes, the dance scene is quite heavily gendered by default, but when people *do* take the non-conforming role, the community typically accepts it and often embraces it. Women and people presenting as women are more likely to take lead roles in the Ballroom and Latin scenes, while all genders can be seen switching roles in the Lindy Hop and Blues dance scenes.  The Lindy Hop scene also trends towards a younger and more liberal demographic.

I have not witnessed any ageism or fat-shaming.  This does not mean that it doesn't exist, but it does mean that it's not a common occurrence.  I would believe anyone who said they did experience either in my communities, but the people I talk to about it don't seem to have experienced it.  People of all shapes, sizes, and ages are welcomed at these dance events, get asked to dance often (regardless of gender), and are active participants in the communities.

In my local communities, dance is seen as a social activity and a "community", so the general cultural attitude is that we want everyone to dance and we want everyone to have a good time.  To that effect, experienced dancers of either role, and leads of all experience levels, feel that it is their happy duty to go around the room and invite anyone to dance that they see isn't dancing.

Ballroom dance events have a convention called a "mixer" especially for this.  Because of the gendering in the dance community and also the gender roles in the culture at large that discourages men from exploring or expressing an interest in learning how to dance (thanks toxic masculinity), dance events are usually 2/3 women and 1/3 men (-presenting people).

So ballroom dance events have at least 2 points in the event where a medley of the same tempo songs are played in a row, the follows (because follows are usually women, and the women outnumber the men) line up along one wall, and the less numerous leads line up across from them.  The first lead in line takes the first follow in line, dances her around the floor once and drops her off at the end of the line, and then moves up to take the next available follow for her turn around the floor.  This way, everyone gets to dance, if they want to.

This is also a good way to be introduced to other people in the complimentary role if you're new.  Now that they've had a chance to dance with you, they know who you are and what your skill level is (and vice versa), and that relieves some of the anxiety about asking someone to dance later.

The communities encourage more advanced dancers to see dancing with newbies as an opportunity, not a punishment or a chore.  We take delight in giving newbie dancers more chances to practice because that brings more *advanced* dancers into the fold later as they improve.  I'm *thrilled* to do the same 3 steps over and over again with a newbie if it means that they will develop more confidence and keep coming back.

My dance communities, because of that whole "community" and "social activity" thing, also see dating within the community as ... challenging.  Nobody thinks you should NOT date another dancer, of course.  But pretty much everyone looks on the dance events as meat-market-free-zones.  Dances are not the place to hit on people.  They are not the place to find partners.

They're like poly discussion meetings in that respect - when you spend enough time with someone at a social event, you might eventually develop a friendship out of that space, and that friendship may eventually lead to a romantic relationship.  But the event is for dancing, not hooking up, not flirting, not hitting on people, not propositioning people.  People frown on those who hit on other dancers in the scenes.

And because social dancing is a social activity, people also frown on excessive displays of jealousy in the scene.  Some people arrive as a couple and only dance with each other.  It's allowed, but it's kind of side-eyed.  Because of that above-mentioned cultural value of making sure everyone is having a good time (which means everyone is dancing as much as they want to), and because of the gendering of roles and the gender disparity, my dance communities see it as sort of rude to monopolize one person's time when you could be out there sharing your love of dance with everyone.

They don't go too far by insisting that people dance with anyone they don't want to, but having jealousy and not wanting your partner to dance with others is kind of a cultural no-no.  When someone in the dance scene gets a non-dancing partner, and the dancer starts to drop off the scene because their partner doesn't dance and they won't or can't dance without them, that couple is usually murmured about.  The dancers in my local community see it as healthy for couples to have separate interests, or, if they share the interests, to still be able to do the interest as an individual person, even with other people.

One of the things I liked about my local dance communities, is that when my FB status changed and people found out that I had gotten legally married, not a single person changed how they treated me.  Nobody asked me if my husband would "mind" if they asked me to dance, nobody changed their dance style to a more formal, stiff, polite, or distant style, nothing like that.  People asked where he was and if he danced, but nobody suddenly got cautious around me or treated me as if I was off-limits.

In my local dance scenes, people are also usually very good about rejections.   I can say "not right now" or "no thanks" and they just nod and move on.  I'm never afraid of a bad reaction because I've never been given one in my scenes.  Everyone sees it as a sign of immaturity and the men in particular are disapproving of people who can't handle rejection gracefully.  And the women talk to each other.

Women and/or follows are also encouraged to ask people to dance, so they don't have to simply sit around waiting and hoping for someone to ask them.  This is not one of my strengths.  I still prefer to be asked than to do the asking, but once I've developed a good dancing relationship with someone, I am more likely to ask them as often as they ask me.  There are no gendered rules about who asks whom, for as gendered as the rest of the social conventions are.

So my local dance communities are not perfect. There are still a lot of things that I'd like to see improve.  I'd like to see more gender-neutral language (switching back and forth between lead/follow and men/women is still too common), I'd like to see more POC (there are a few, but more Latinx and Asians than black people), I'd like to have more people who share my politics so that I could develop off-the-floor relationships with people, etc.

But not respecting consent, body-shaming, not accepting role-switching, and using the dance scene as a pickup spot are some of the more egregious violations in the dance world that my local dance communities do not support.  Not that these things never happen, but they are not supported by my communities. And I have to give them props for that.

For the record, when I teach my lead & follow communication workshop and when I give general dance lessons, I do my best to avoid or reduce all the other complaints as well.  So if you ever wanted to learn how to dance, find me at a conference somewhere (or bring me out to your local conferences or communities!) and I will be happy to give some instruction.  I don't even have to be at an event for the purpose of teaching dance - I'll teach dance anywhere, any time someone wants to learn.
joreth: (being wise)
#ProTip Make your desktop background the conference logo so if you need to dump out of your slideshow for any reason it looks like you did it on purpose.

(like you forgot what your last slide looked like and you hit the next button one too many times and you didn't "continuous loop until esc" so it knocked you out, or you realize you have the wrong thing loaded up and you have to quit the slideshow entirely to put the correct thing on the screen - both of which presenters did today)

In a professional show, there is a team of video engineers in the back who will switch between content sources and usually a logo. It looks very unprofessional, and very under-prepared, for your desktop with your kids or your dogs (or your wife in a bikini!) covered by a thousand folders to suddenly show up on the big screen.

Or to want to back out of Presentation Mode so that your audience sees the Edit Mode of PowerPoint on the screen, like when you want to show a video but you didn't embed it so you have to escape out of your slideshow, open up a video viewer, show the video, close the video viewer, and get back into your slide deck.

These are all unprofessional mistakes. Make your desktop the conference logo and when you plug your laptop into the projector, change your screen settings to "extended desktop". Now, the only thing that will show on the screen will be nothing but the logo background, and when you start your slideshow, it will automatically go into Presentation Mode on the extended screen so that nobody sees the Edit Mode while you start it up.

Then, escaping out of Presentation Mode or closing PowerPoint or accidentally clicking past the last slide will all default to the activity happening on your laptop and a blank background (of your logo) on the screen.

I have this and many more pro tips in my Present Like A Boss workshop.

#LiveSwitching #AlsoGoToRehearsal #OopsWhereAreMySlides?
joreth: (polyamory)
Here's why my Simple Steps workshop is so important (the workshop where I teach using lead and follow exercises to improve your relationship communication):

I went to an all-night dance event on a Friday - the day after I got fired from a gig over a medical condition. To say that I was having a bad week is an understatement. At that event, I had 2 friends there - one who dances and one who doesn't.

I met them both at roughly the same time. The dancer, I actually met a year or so ago, but only barely. He doesn't live in the US, he only visits here for a couple of months a year. So he came to a dance event once or twice last year, where I met him. I'm not sure I remembered his name until recently.

About 6 months ago, I started doing a weekly dance thing that I helped to organize with this dancer's father. Because it was his father's project, he attended the first couple of weeks even though that style of dance wasn't really his thing. Because it was a late-night sort of event, some of us night owls started staying afterwards to just chit chat. That's where I actually learned his name and set him apart from just "one of the dancers".

We didn't have any alone-time or any particularly intimate conversation, but we got to know each other well enough, and the others who stayed late to talk, that we have formed our own FB chat group to coordinate weekly get-togethers even though that weekly dance event is no longer.

At this same weekly dance event, I got to know one of the employees at the venue. Again, not very well, but we chatted a bit as I arrived and as I left every week, as did some of the other dancers. Then, when the dance event was canceled, we invited him to meet up with us after he got off work, since he really enjoyed seeing all of us dancers show up and now we weren't going to anymore. He and I have since had some *very* personal conversations and some intense alone-time, and we have gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, the day before this particular dance event is when I got fired from that gig. I realized 4 days later that I have officially slid back into my depression, complete with suicidal ideation. But on that Friday, I didn't realize I was heading towards depression, I just thought I was sad and upset over losing the gig, which is to be expected.

On Friday night (the next day), I went out dancing. The dancer friend was performing at the beginning of the event and I wanted to support him. That was enough motivation to push me through my growing depression and make myself leave the house. I fought my depression all night, and on at least 3 separate occasions, I nearly left to just go sit at home and cry. But I didn't. I pushed through and danced all night.

Dancing releases a lot of endorphins. It's a pretty strong mood elevator for me. But "mood" and "depression" are not the same thing, just ask Robin Williams. Once I started dancing, I got into a good mood. But the depression was still there, bubbling under the surface.

Here's my point...

My non-dancer friend remarked on how happy I looked. So I just smiled and mentioned the endorphins. Remember, I didn't recognize my depression yet, but I was a little surprised that the sadness wasn't showing through. I often post a "sneak peak" selfie of my outfits when I get dressed up and go out, and I think it's glaringly obvious in the picture I posted that night.

By the middle of the night after dancing for a few hours, I was feeling energetic and confident, and I was happy to see my friends. And this friend saw that.

But my dancer friend had one dance with me and knew something was wrong. And it was our best dance ever, yet he still knew.

He's a better dancer than I am, and I am new to this particular style of dance. So over the last few months, he's seen me go from unconfident, hesitant, and wooden, to relaxed and confident and trusting with him. So on Friday, we had our best dance ever. He was amazed and said we should have gotten it on video. And I mean it was a *good* dance - I looked like I had been taking lessons and practicing for months, when the reality is that I've never had a lesson in this particular style and I've really only danced it a couple handfuls of times in social settings.

But later, when we left the loud music and walked around outside in the quiet and the dark, the first thing he did was ask me what's wrong.

I was smiling, energetic, and *killing* it on the dance floor. But I was sliding into a depression. The friend who had some really intimate conversations with me couldn't see the depression. The dancer friend held me close for 3 minutes and, even though everything my body did was right, he still felt it.

This is why my workshop is important. With a dance partner, everything is out in the open, laid bare, raw, exposed, vulnerable. You can learn to read that, and honor that. Dance is one of the ways that can be learned.

And, of course, my workshop doesn't teach actual *dancing*, just the parts of dance that are relevant to that ability to communicate on such an intimate, intuitive level. No musicality or physical prowess or ability to memorize patterns necessary. Just pure, unfiltered flow of primal energy between two people.

He was able to read me that easily, in spite of not being a romantic partner and not knowing me very long or very well, because he is a Very Good Lead and I am a Very Good Follow. I can teach you the exercises that will guide you towards those leading and following skills.

But they take practice. He and I have been practicing, independently, for most of our adult lives. We did not need to practice with each other to learn how to read each other. We did, however, need to practice. A lot. For a long time.

My workshop will give you the tools to grow to this level of proficiency. But it's not a magic spell, where you whisper the incantation and move in the ritualistic movements one time and suddenly you're a good communicator. You have to practice the exercises that I will teach you after you leave my workshop.

And I promise, the amount of commitment you put into it will be proportional to the results you will get in the end.

Because he could read me with one 3-minute dance, through the endorphins brought on by physical activity, through my active processes to be pleasant and sociable and pretend like depression isn't a thing, through all the noise and distraction and other dancers, even through the sensuality and flirtatiousness of the dance and the barriers we all put up just for not knowing someone very well. 3 minutes of full body contact, and he knew.

You, too, can learn how to read the people you are close to. If you are driven enough to learn. And I can show you how.

Simple Steps For Better Relationship Communication with Joreth - available to come to your event! My next workshop will be at PolyDay North - SquiggleCon in Carlisle, England. Get your tickets now!
joreth: (Default)
I'm working on my memoir. I've always expected it to be published (like, on my blog or something) either post-mortem by a loved one, or at least near the end of my life. It always felt ... I dunno, presumptuous, to write a memoir while still young enough to have more stories to tell. I suppose if one had a particular segment of life that had an identifiable ending to it, that would make sense.

My memoir is basically a chapter-by-chapter review of my poly explorations, to see how I've grown and the mistakes I've made over time.  I'm also working on a book about breaking up. This is more of a how-to, self-help sort of break up manual. Although, to be honest, more than a little of the "do not do" stuff is shit that I've done (and the rest is shit that I've had done to me).

Recently, I wrote about having to block an ex over something that, by itself wasn't really a big deal, but was symptomatic of a larger picture of abuse, and then I ended up telling the whole tale of our breakup where he physically tried to restrain me from leaving.

As I get more informed about what abuse is and isn't, I look back over my history and I've come to recognize that more and more of my past relationships were abusive and I just never recognized it because, to me, that's just how relationships go, according to my expectations from my culture and the sheer commonality of the behaviour I've experienced.

Like, early on in my relationship with Franklin, we discussed something that I call Octopus-Hands - how I've been on dates, and just hanging out with "friends", who have suddenly tried to touch my breasts, and when I knocked their hands away, they grabbed for my crotch, and when I tried to block there, they used their other hand to go for the breast again...

Franklin was appalled. He couldn't even fathom that this would happen at all, let alone be common. When he expressed surprise, I responded with surprise at his surprise, telling him that this is just what it's like being a woman who dates men. Like, it surprised *me* that someone was surprised that it happens. I think it was my first sign that my experiences weren't "normal" - or rather, they were "normal" in the sense that they were common, but they're not "normal" in the sense that they're acceptable or universal.

I talk about my abusive ex, who didn't abuse me because I didn't "take" it but did abuse someone else, and I talk about my abusive ex-fiance who *did* sexually assault me and gaslight me on the regular. But I never considered that other ex, who tried to prevent me from leaving, and who did the whole pussy-grabbing-while-asleep-after-I-said-no-sex-tonight thing to be "abusive" until I wrote out the story recently.

The growing realization of just how many of my past experiences were actually, unambiguously abusive combined with my writing of a book on how to break up, and the periodic drive to get back to my memoir all combined at once yesterday to forge an idea that popped into my brain.

What if, after my how-to breakup book is published, I rewrite and release a serial publication of some sort detailing every breakup I've ever had (that I can remember)? Maybe I can crowdfund it, and each breakup will get its own release, perhaps on my blog, perhaps as an e-booklet or something? Might this be something people would be interested in?

If not, I'll end up publishing my original story anyway, probably as the original blog series, but later in life as planned. I was just struck by the confluence of subjects and events and wondered if I could connect all these things together.
joreth: (polyamory)
Not too long ago, Professor Sex contacted me and asked if I had some extra energy reserves to address a question she had. She asked, if I was on a poly/CNM social networking site (not a dating site but there are no moderators/rules about dating etc.) and I see the following post: "Hey folks, we are a secured married couple in seek of a third to complete our triad. Any women in our state?" --- if I were to assume that they were well meaning and just needed to be educated, how would I reply to that?

So I wrote out a long response. And a whole ton of it got used in an article addressing Unicorn Hunters! I think it's a great article (not just because it uses so much of my own material) and I'm so pleased to have something like this I can bookmark and link to in all the forums whenever this subject comes up. I like it because the tone is so much nicer than I usually end up being because I'm out of patience, and yet it doesn't mince any words or pussyfoot around the subject, or even make allowances. That's a really hard line to toe.

I even got to throw some love out to my dear metamour, Maxine, when the link to her blog post about poly unicorn math was included. Remember, I have now added tags for all my blog articles on Unicorn Hunting, Hierarchy, Couple Privilege, Triads, and Solo Poly, which are all related to the subject of this article. Most of the posts under those tags are decidedly not so polite in tone.  But if you're looking for more of my opinions on the subject, they can be found here.

I was also asked a second question, which may or may not find its way into another article someday.

In your opinion, is there an ethical way to "unicorn hunt"?

No. The term was specifically coined to describe an unethical practice. By definition, it is unethical. The words themselves mean "mythological, non-human creature" and "predatory". It is a label for behaviour that is dehumanizing, objectifying, and predatory. I write more about how and why it's unethical on my blog.

There is, however, an ethical way to form a triad that happens to have two bisexual women and one straight man - and that's by simply being one of those people and managing to run into the other two people and having the relationship form naturally out of the compatibility between those people. Don't try for one. Be open about who you are and what you have to offer a relationship, and be open to meeting all kinds of people and considering all kinds of relationships. An FMF triad may form out of the people you meet that way, and if it happens organically, without any prescripting of roles or having anybody in the relationship tell another person in the relationship what they can and can't do with their own bodies, minds, or emotions, then it might be an ethical FMF triad.

Don't try to find people for the spaces in your life, find spaces for the people in your life.
joreth: (polyamory)

#ThingsIWantToToon: I want to show a picture of people riding an escalator with signs or markers or levels that are labeled with common Important Relationship Markers (like "first date", "first kiss", "meeting the parents", "PIV sex", "marriage", "baby", "first mortgage", etc.)

The people all look remarkably similar, bland, and like they're trudging through the process unwillingly or neutrally. Maybe one or two of them look happy and excited to be there.

In the next panel, or maybe down on the ground floor, there is a buffet set up with several different food tables scattered around in a non-linear fashion with all the same labels on the dishes, and maybe a few not listed on the escalator. People are wandering around, not in line, browsing, excitedly helping themselves to this or that, walking away with heaping plates or sparse plates, all generally looking happy to be there and full of color and "energy". Maybe a few people standing around the edges with empty plates looking nervous.

And at least one person in both groups is looking longingly at the other group.

joreth: (polyamory)

Commitments Parchment

* I am committed to discussing harm reduction plans and contingency plans for when bad things happen, because I understand that we can’t always prevent them from happening.

One style of relationships, not just in poly but in all romantic relationships, involves legislating away bad things. Fear of losing a relationship that is important is a completely natural and reasonable fear to have. It's what we do about that fear that makes the difference. For some people, the way they deal with that fear is to make rules saying that things that could lead to losing a relationship simply won't happen. I've seen lots of poly relationships with rules that say "you cannot get anyone pregnant but your wife" or "I promise not to get pregnant by anyone other than my husband." As if we can stop that from happening in relationships that include PIV sex. Oh, sure, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of that happening, absolutely. But condoms break, vasectomies fail, and sometimes someone forgets to take a pill.

A more successful strategy than trying to rule away something like that is to take all reasonable precautions (with "reasonable" being defined by everyone involved, not just the "primary couple") and to also discuss contingency plans and harm reduction. A more successful strategy is to realize that sometimes shit just happens and sometimes Game Changers come along and change the game. Therefore, we can't afford to pretend like we have control over our future. We have some, but not ultimate control. We need to accept that the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. If we go into our relationships with that as our premise, we are better equipped to deal with change when it happens. When it happens. Change is often unexpected, and we can't expect the unexpected, pretty much by definition. But we can expect that the unexpected will probably happen at some point even if we can't predict what form it will take.

So rather than freaking out about it, or feeling betrayed even though change was inevitable, I can accept that change was bound to come along and fuck things up sooner or later and just plan to change the plans. This is how my J-ness (INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs scale) handles P people - how a schedule-oriented person can deal with spontaneous people. I put on my schedule that this is Anything Can Happen Time. Now it's on the schedule, it's part of the plan.

I am committing myself to attempting to address contingency plans beforehand for those scenarios we can think up (like an accidental pregnancy) and immediately afterwards both for those scenarios we couldn't think up until they happened as well as those scenarios we did think up but now someone wants to change the predetermined plan, because Game Changers happen. This is especially important no matter which direction the change comes from. I might want something different than I did at the beginning of a relationship, or my partner might want something different. Either way, I need to be willing to consider alternate options. I want to be more committed to considering alternatives and backup plans than I am to any given plan, so that I can weather change with more grace and dignity than I have in the past.

(Read the full list of commitments at
joreth: (polyamory)
Every year, Atlanta Poly Weekend ( holds a charity auction where items are auctioned off and all the proceeds to go a local Atlanta-based charity called Lost-n-Found Youth ( for homeless LGBTQ youth. I didn't really have the time this year to build new presentations, so instead of being a speaker (although I will be available to discuss any of my past presentations and I will have materials and handouts from old presentations), I decided to make something for the auction.

This year, I am donating a one-of-a-kind chain mail necklace and earring set, hand-crafted by me. Made of black and white-silver chain mail in a Byzantine rope pattern with "floating bead" diamond design, it features real Swarovski crystals in the shapes of hearts and bicone beads, using my own infinity-heart design of a floating infinity in front of a solid crystal heart.

I make and sell the Byzantine Floating Bead necklace and earring sets but this particular color pattern and pendant set does not exist in any of my commercial offers and it will not. I also do not offer the infinity-heart pendants in any color on any of my products for sale - I save this particular pendant design for my own personal jewelry and even I don't have it in this color pattern.

I designed it to be as color-neutral as possible so that it would match any outfit. If I were to sell this set in my jewelry store, it would retail for $50 because of the handmade work and the unique pendant design. I hope I can bring a good price to the auction to help our local charity.

So please start saving up now for June! Remember, 100% of the proceeds goes to the Lost-N-Found Youth charity in Atlanta, GA through the Atlanta Poly Weekend 2017 conference, hosted by the Relationship Equality Foundation.

If you would like to commission me to make some chain mail or wire elf ear jewelry, my Etsy shop is

Full Floating Bead Byzantine necklace and earring set in a clear plastic case with white foam insert for storage and travel. Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.

Closeup of the floating bead and infinity-heart design of the necklace and earrings.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.

Closeup of the floating bead connection used to join the 3 Floating Bead Byzantine diamonds.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.

Closeup of the Floating Bead Byzantine diamond and infinity heart pendant.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.

The Floating Bead Byzantine necklace with infinity-heart pendant around the "neck" of a dressmaker's dummy.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.

Artistic shot of the Floating Bead Byzantine necklace and earring with infinity-heart pendants.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.
joreth: (polyamory)

Just a tiny bit late, but this month's episode is out! One of these days, I will plan my episodes to have better timing with milestones. This movie is perhaps not the movie I would have wanted to mark my 2-year episode. But here is Episode 24 none-the-less!

Content Note: This review contains the sardonic use of ableist language & possibly sex-negative sex worker language intending to mock the sorts of writers who use "crazy" as a scapegoat and their poor depiction of mental illness as well as their obviously one-dimensional and low opinion of sex work.

I am using the language to describe what the *writers* of these sorts of behaviours think and by using these words, I am intending to show my disapproval and contempt for this viewpoint in my tone. I apologize if my intention does not come across or if readers are unable to read or listen because of the language.

joreth: (Default)
I've been on LiveJournal since May, 2006. It's amusing - my first post says "don't expect too much, I don't have time to keep this updated." Since then, I've gotten ... prolific. But recently LiveJournal moved its servers to Russia (having been bought by a Russian company quite a long time ago). Now, it's subject to Russian laws.

Specifically, it has 1 provision that affects me and 1 provision that could potentially affect me: according to Russian law, any blog or community read by more than 3,000 readers is considered a 'publication' and is subject to State controls on publications, including the provision that the blogger or moderator is legally liable under Russian law for any content posted by any user; and blogs are prohibited from "perform[ing] any other actions contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation."

I don't think that I have more than 3,000 readers, so I don't think I'm considered a "publication" by their standards, although I might someday have that many readers, or maybe I do and I'm just not aware of it.  I don't think of myself as being that big of a name. But Russia does have some laws regarding content. The Russian "gay propaganda law" forbids discussion of "sexual deviancy," which includes LGBTQ issues and "propaganda of non-traditional relationships" is forbidden by this law.

Now, I don't think I'm in any real legal danger here. I seriously doubt I'm going to be arrested or sent off to Russia to stand trial or anything. But my LiveJournal blog could just up and disappear someday.  And, frankly, that's been a possibility for a while, although not for reasons of archaic and barbaric "sexual deviancy" laws.

I've been wanting to move away from LJ for some time now, mainly because people keep telling me that it's an outdated platform. Which I think is a shame, because it does everything I ever wanted in a blog. It keeps a running log of my posts, it archives them, it allows comments and gives me control over comments, it gives me design control, it's free, it doesn't take up the limited server space that I pay for on my website, and it also gives me a convenient way to follow the blogs of other people. It's basically Facebook before there was Facebook with more personalization.

But every time I looked into moving my journal over to another platform, I came across technical problems. Until recently, there was no good way to copy everything from LJ (posts, comments, design style, user icons, permissions, etc.) and set it back up on another platform. There were some clunky ways to do it, but I always seemed to hit a wall - this exporter stopped at X number of posts, that exporter didn't get comments, this other platform refused to accept my LJ password even though it's supposed to transfer from one to the other ... stuff like that.

I was able to find an archival service that could back up my posts on my own hard drive, but I had other problems getting that archive to upload somewhere else. And there were a couple of other options that were just above my technical expertise, so when looking at the long set of instructions, my eyes bugged out and I just gave up.

But with this new Russian law thing, I was motivated to look once again and this service was recommended to me. Dreamwidth offered a built-in exporter/importer that grabs all the content I wanted it to grab and actually worked, unlike some other platforms that just kept telling me that my username or password to LJ was incorrect when it wasn't. It's a free service, and it appears to have a similar "friends list" sort of reader for other Dreamwidth users. Not that I really have time to keep up with a blog reader in addition to my FB and Twitter streams (which most people use to link to their blog posts anyway). But still, I like the option.  Which means that if you have a Dreamwidth account, hit me up with it and I can follow you back.

So, for now, Dreamwidth is my new blog home and you can find it at I have it set up to cross-post to LJ, which is also set up to automatically tweet links to new entries. If I can figure out a way to cross-post directly from here to Twitter, I will do that instead of tweeting my LJ.  But comments are turned off on LiveJournal so if you want to comment, you'll have to come to the Dreamwidth site, which uses OpenID so that even people without a Dreamwidth account can still participate (a plus over LJ). If you choose to link to one of my blog posts, please use the Dreamwidth URL from now on. I *think* I have it set to include the Dreamwidth link on the LJ cross-post, but if not, I will.  I still have to go through all my 1,300+ posts and manually update links to LJ posts so that they now go to my DW posts, so that's a long-term project still in the works.

Also, Dreamwidth is still, as of this posting, importing all the comments from my past posts. Their servers have been working overtime lately with the mass exodus from LJ and things are taking longer than normal. As it was, I had to wait in the queue for about 40 hours before the blog posts imported.

As always, my website is and links to my blog and my most commonly used social media can be found there. I have accounts on most social media but I only use Facebook, Twitter, and my blog regularly. But if you want to find me somewhere, search for Joreth, Joreth Innkeeper, or some variation on The InnBetween.
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
If people ever wanted to support me but didn't want to buy a gift or send money and didn't know what else to do, consider buying something from one of my stores for yourself or someone else.

Lots of us don't have much money to be donating or to give a meaningful amount to people we aren't financially entangled with. Or maybe we're not that close to someone and afraid it might be weird to send them cash or gifts. But some of the people we might want to help may be struggling to support themselves with products or services that they provide. If you are going to be spending money on yourself or a loved one anyway, consider looking through the stores that belong to people on your friends lists to see if any of those stores offer the sorts of items you were already thinking of purchasing.

Artists and content creators often live off commission or units sold, so your holiday shopping could not only provide some support to an online friend, but could possibly even contribute to a holiday bonus on top of whatever they make normally from the sale of that item or service.

My stores include:

Poly Tees -
Atheist Tees -
Backstage Tee Shirts -

And my entire department at my retail store is up for a cash bonus based on sales for this month. It doesn't matter which employee makes the sale, the whole frame department is credited and the whole frame team gets the bonus. So if you ever wanted custom framing done and have the money for such a high-priced service, now (along with the steep holiday sales) is the time to get them done.

If you live locally to me and want to support my department, but you don't know where I work, PM me. I try to keep my online persona disconnected from my retail place of employment, to avoid any conflicts with the rules regarding social media, so I'd rather not post my store publicly.

Another option is to use someone's Amazon Affiliates link when you buy stuff on Amazon. Some people are Amazon Affiliates, which means that they get a commission when people purchase things through Amazon using special URLs. These people usually have links directly to their products or other people's products on their websites or blogs and those links include the special Amazon Affiliates codes already embedded in the URL for you. There is no additional cost or effort from you. They get a commission from something you were going to purchase anyway and the process is invisible to the buyer. So if you see someone sharing an Amazon link from their website or blog, consider clicking through instead of going to Amazon directly and searching for the items.

And one final option for helping others is a new feature offered by Amazon called Amazon Smile, which donates money to the charity of your choice when you purchase something on Amazon. Their website has more information about how this service works.
"Thanks for sharing your post on how to support you, but is there anything those of us on a tight budget can do that doesn't involve money?"
Why yes, thank you for asking! If you know content creators that you would like to support but can't afford to spend money even to buy things for yourself where a cut would go to the creator, a very important way to support them is to periodically share their content (in the manner in which they approve - don't go sharing artwork without permission or a watermark, for instance, that's a copyright violation).  You can like their Facebook pages, but liking the page once only helps minimally. What's really helpful is to regularly like and share the posts that they make and engage on their pages.

FB's algorithms eventually stop showing page content in your feed if you "like" something once and then never interact again. So you have to keep going back and doing things with their pages. This will continue to show content in your feed, which you can then pass on to people who read *your* feed, thereby showing this creative content to other people who might be able to spend money to support your content creator friend.

You can also support them on other social media platforms, whether they have an account there or not, by sharing their website directly on your social media platform of choice. Again, this brings their wares to the attention of people who *could* possibly afford to buy them, even if you can't or aren't interested in them.

And here's another thing that you can do that is *really* helpful to certain people - leave reviews for their podcasts or any store that offers reviews as a feature.

Podcasting, for the most part, is a net loss in terms of time and financial commitment. Most of us do it as a labor of love. But podcasting costs money. If we're very, very lucky, we'll get donations or we'll get big enough to have sponsors and make enough from the sponsorships that will at least cover our hosting and equipment expenses. You can help support your podcasting friends or idols by listening to their podcasts, donating to their podcasts, posting positive reviews of their podcast on iTunes and Stitcher (or wherever it's available), and sharing their podcast for others to hear.

So, Facebook pages that I operate that bring me money that you can support by sharing and interacting with are listed above. Pages that do not bring me money directly but that make people aware of me who might eventually find their way towards one of my money-making ventures and that are also labors of love that would just feel nice to be supported:

Miss Poly Manners -
Poly-ish Movie Reviews -

And the podcast that I would love to see some reviews on iTunes to increase my rankings in the iTunes search engines so that more people will find it is Poly-ish Movie Reviews - (with a link for posting a review on the contact page and at the end of every Show Notes).

So, if you're in the giving mood but not for financial contributions, make a post asking your friends to tell you about their creative endeavors so that you can share those endeavors to a wider audience, or, if you already know about them, you can just go ahead and share these endeavors unprompted.
joreth: (Super Tech)
I did a thing!

Some of the videos I have directed are now up online!  One of my favorites is this intermission music performance by Shelley Segal:

This is kind of a big deal to me, but the explanation for why is kinda long so I will explain why its kind of a big deal next.  If you just want to see some of my work as a Technical Director / Camera Switcher, visit and check out the sessions from 2014-2016.  I can't remember for sure which videos are the ones I directed in 2014 and 2015 because the producer was letting everyone try their hand at it so we could provide relief for each other and when I wasn't switching, I was running camera, but I did the majority of them.   I know for sure that I did the Meyers-Briggs panel in 2014.  For 2016, I directed all of them except LeighAnn Lord's comedy show "Unsupervised" and "More About The Skeptics Guide to the Universe", so if you want to see examples of some of my work, there it is.

I used to work for a TV studio in California, but when I moved to Florida, I couldn't find any work in broadcast.  So I went back to my roots and worked for live events.  The companies that I could find work for were mostly labor companies who didn't offer any high level technical positions.  By the time I worked my way up in the ranks to finally catch the attention of some production companies who *do* have operator positions, I had been away from the switcher for so long that I no longer felt comfortable selling myself as a "TD" or "Camera Switcher".  Plus, since I worked in a studio, and it as so long ago, I didn't know the specific brands or models of equipment that was being used in live events (even though they all do the same job, they just have their own way of doing it).

But, since DragonCon started out as a volunteer position, no one really cared if I screwed up, so the guy who owned and donated all the equipment for the show sat me down in his chair and asked me to show him what I could do.  So I did.  And he has insisted that I return every year since.

The entire crew is volunteer and, other than myself and the owner of the equipment, no one has any actual pro A/V experience (although one of our camera operators is at least a professional photographer) and no one is really obligated to be there so we don't always have a full crew to run all the equipment.  Therefore, we try to make things as simple as possible, which includes arranging things so that we can get away with no camera operators at all if we have to.  In fact, one person can run the lights, video switching, graphics, lower thirds, and audio if absolutely necessary, but probably not very well unless it's only one or two speakers and nothing goes wrong.  I usually leave the lights (on and off - one look) and leave the audio to others and I switch between 4 cameras and the presenter's slideshow, operate the lower thirds, speaker timer, record decks, and the remote control Q&A audience microphone all myself.

So that is my situation when I get behind the console.

This year, we had a special treat that brought me back to my broadcast roots.  My first actual paid gig was to run a handheld camera for a live band that we had in the studio.  I have been in love with that position ever since.  This year at DC, A musician was asked to perform in the intermissions between sessions, so I got to dust off my rusty old music video skills and try switching for a live musical performance!

The catch with this is that, because it was in the break between sessions, I had no, repeat that *no* camera operators at all.

Our setup is one stationary camera set to a whole stage wide shot from behind me at Front Of House, 2 cameras on tripods at approximately 45 degree angles to the stage, and one remote contol camera mounted to the ground-supported truss structure on the stage.  The RC camera is supposed to be aimed at the Question & Answer microphone out in the audience, so we can record the audience members asking the various presenters questions.  But, since I was responsible for operating the RC camera as well as switching, I started playing around with it and discovered that its range allowed me to spin around and capture some interesting angles on the stage as well.

When I found out that the musician would be playing, I hopped down from behind my console, ran to each of the two cameras to pre-set them in what I hoped would be decent shots to capture whatever action the musicians did on stage (no rehearsal, mind you), ran back to my console, spun the RC camera around, and started switching between the three (the wide shot camera didn't have a good shot because of where the musicans chose to play on the stage so I just never used it for the musical interludes).

So, that's why there aren't all that many different shots - I didn't have any camera operators to move the cameras and the RC camera had a limited range of motion from its stationary position attached to the truss.  But it did have about 3 or so decent shots from that position, and I used its auto-focus deliberately to get the sort of soft focus pulls that I might have done by hand when I run a hand-held camera on stage.

Given my limitations with lack of crew and camera movement, and my lack of practice switching (seeing as how this is the only show every year that gives me the chance), I'm quite pleased with how the musical interludes turned out.  Check them out, and remember that the Skeptrack website will continue to add more videos as the producer finishes editing them.

BTW, if you need some A/V gear or engineering done in Atlanta, I highly recommend contacting Abrupt Media.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

* I am committed to be as clear about my expectations as possible, both with myself and with my partners.

This is another really old commitment and should be as clear as the intention of the commitment itself. I am a direct communicator and it is my opinion that direct communication is the best form of communication between people in romantic relationships. [ profile] tacit says that we can't reasonably expect to get what we want if we don't ask for it. People suck at telepathy, no matter what those wooager "psychics" say. We just can't do it. I cannot expect my partners to read my mind. However, as established [in previously posted commtments] and elsewhere, I believe that my partners are with me because they love and cherish me, and I believe that part of love includes wanting to meet each other's reasonable expectations whenever possible. But if my partners are not aware of my expectations, then they can't hope to meet them even if they intend to meet them.

Dr. Gary Chapman, of the Love Languages books, says that it's important to tell our partners how best to love us. We need roadmaps and instructions on how to best love each other. That's what my entire Me Manual tag is for - an instruction manual for how best to love and understand me. But even telling my partners about my expectations won't work if I'm not clear about my expectations to myself. Clear communication starts with clear thoughts. In order to clearly communicate my expectations, I need to know what my expectations even are. I am committed to practicing introspection so that I can understand myself and my expectations, so that I can further communicate those expectations to my partners so that those expectations get met whenever possible.

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 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: (Silent Bob Headbang)
I'm getting closer to perfecting my pudding-frosting recipe. I'm not a big fan of buttercream icing. It's OK, and I'll eat it, but I usually have to scrape most of it off and have just a touch of frosting on top for flavor because it's just *too* sweet and *too* overwhelming to taste anything else. So I've been mucking around with whipped cream-based frostings, pudding-based frostings, marshmallow-based frostings, whatever I could find that wasn't some variation of powdered sugar. To me, the powdered sugar frostings are best on sugar cookies, but even if fluffy and frothy, it's just too sweet for cupcakes and cakes.

The difficulty with the other frosting bases is in texture. While many of the other frostings taste great, they don't quite have that fluffy, spreadable texture that makes buttercream such a good frosting. It needs to be somewhere between Cool Whip and peanut butter. Puddings tend to be too ... puddingy. Not quite thick enough to form a nice, fluffy layer. It doesn't dribble down, but you can't build it up like a stiff buttercream either. The marshmallows tend to be hard to spread because of how sticky they are. The whipped creams are almost *too* fluffy, and not quite thick or substantial enough to carry enough of the flavor.

This time I tried one package of vanilla pudding, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (instead of the usual milk), 1/4 cup of Baily's Irish Cream, and a carton of whipped cream.  Delicious! It's still just a touch too light, but the substitution of the heavy cream for the milk and the significant decrease in the amount of liquid both gave the pudding more weight and spreadability. Prior to adding the whipped cream, it was very similar to peanut butter, but I thought that was too dense for spreading on delicately soft cupcakes. The whipped cream lightened it up considerably and still allowed it to be thick and hold its shape.  And it turned out to be even better after the cupcakes had sat in the fridge for a couple of days (leftover cupcakes).  That frosting became almost the consistency of canned frosting.

The basic ratio that I'm going for is this - pudding calls for 2 cups of milk, so I take half that for milk or cream and make up the other half with whipped cream, even though 1 carton of whipped cream is more than 1 cup because the whipped cream is less dense than the liquid milk.  How much of the flavoring that I'm going to add depends on the strength of it.  A flavor oil only needs a few drops so the milk / cream amount doesn't need to be adjusted.  But something like alcohol is more diluted - less flavor per liquid volume and the alcohol is *really* liquidy.  So sometimes I might reduce the milk / cream by about a quarter cup or more and replace it with the the same amount of alcohol or other flavoring like juice.

I'll try experimenting with different flavors of pudding and different flavor oils to see if that helps make it taste more substantial.
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: (Super Tech)
#‎ProPresenterTip‬: Create a user profile on your computer that is just for conferences. Personalize the desktop to a professional-looking theme or with elements relevant to the event. Remove all unnecessary programs, especially background programs. Disable auto-connect stuff to the internet. Create a folder on your desktop with your presentations and any files that are embedded in the presentation. Disable your screen saver and your power saver functions.

This way, when you hook up your laptop to a projector, you won't show any embarrassing or unprofessional desktop images, warning pop-ups, email notifications, etc. or have your screen go dark if you leave it sitting too long (and especially showing your login screen on a big screen for the whole room to see), and you won't have to search for your relevant files. This also reduces the memory requirements on your laptop so that it runs more smoothly.

The only thing you should have enabled in your presenter profile is your slideshow software and possibly the appropriate media player (but seriously, embed that shit instead of popping out to an external media player, and keep those files in the same folder as your slideshow). If you're doing something technical that uses the internet in your presentation, then you can have a browser enabled too, but otherwise, your presenter profile doesn't need internet access, email access, facebook access, virus protection & operating system update notices, power-saving mode, or password-protect. Strip it down to the absolute bare minimum.

Oh, and if you *are* using the internet in your presentation, double-check and get in writing before you even leave for the event that your room will have internet access in it, or make sure you have a damn good hotspot to use. And then test that shit the moment you arrive, not as you're running into your room 6 minutes late.

And if you can get artwork from the event itself to make into a desktop wallpaper, that makes those moments when your desktop *does* get broadcast on the big screen look less accidental and more professional. And for Loki's sake, leave off all those hundreds of shortcut icons! You don't need them here!

When you need to use your computer as normal, you can just log onto your regular user profile and have all your stuff back. But when it's hooked up to a projector, we don't need to see your wife's picture behind the field of shortcut icons or that your McAfee is out of date or that your brother-in-law just sent you a funny email forward.

AND BACK UP YOUR SHIT. Put all your presentations (and the embedded files) on a thumb drive as a backup. If, for any reason, your computer doesn't want to play nice with the A/V equipment, or you spill your vodka on it at the bar the night before and fry the circuits, or you forget your power cable and it runs out of battery, you might be able to find another laptop to use if you have your presentations available on a flash drive of some sort.

Create a PowerPoint Slideshow version of your presentation (as opposed to a full PowerPoint Presentation), whether you have Windows or you use Keynote. This embeds all your media better than the standard .pps file, and not everyone has a Mac that can run Keynote - you're much more likely to find a Windows machine and a PowerPoint Slideshow is self-contained so it can usually play even on Windows machines without PP installed (but you can't edit it).

Hook up your laptop to the projector in the room you'll be presenting in during a meal break or at the end of the day BEFORE your presentation, to make sure that everything works and everything talks to each other. As a professional PowerPoint operator*, the single biggest problem with slideshows is not testing beforehand. Almost everything can be fixed if you test it out ahead of time. But 3 minutes before your room is supposed to go is too late to troubleshoot bad cables or weird laptop settings. If it doesn't work at that time, then you're doing your presentation without your slideshow.

For even more tips on how to present, visit

*For those who don't know, I am actually a professional PowerPoint Operator.  Yes, they have those, and yes, they pay me very good money to fix all the presenter fuckups.  I get called in only for the very big shows, we're talking like Microsoft big - the kinds of shows where presenters are not some no-name monotone guy standing behind a podium in a dinky meeting room; the kinds of shows where the presenters are professional and have teleprompters and a team of 11-20 video professionals behind the scenes making everything look good.

Here's a secret about those shows - the presenter doesn't drive their own slideshows.  They're holding a clicker, but the clicker just flashes a big green arrow at someone like me backstage and *I'm* the one who drives the deck.  And I'm usually back there with 3 or more computers working in a team with professionally produced video and audio on seperate machines.  I sit through hours of tech rehearsals going back and forth through the slideshows to make sure that every slide works as intended and that every cue is hit when it's supposed to be hit, and when it doesn't work, I'm there for hours after the presenter has gone to the bar to schmooze, working on their slideshow to get it to work.  If you're reading my blog for advice, then you're probably not speaking at a show big enough to afford someone like me.  So take tips from a professional in the business and make your presentations look like you're speaking at a show big enough to afford me.
joreth: (Swing Dance)

I've been asked a lot recently about my dancing, so I thought I'd make a public post.  I get told that I'm a good dancer and people want to know how long I've been dancing and where I take lessons, so here's the story:

I've been dancing for 18 years, and yet I'm only considered a "beginning-intermediate" dancer.  See, I've only had 2 lessons and I only know a handful of steps and no "styling". When I was about 20, I took a class in college called "social dancing" - a 3-hour evening class once a week (I think it was 3 hours with a break, but it was a long time ago, so I'm not sure ... coulda been 2 hours).  The class introduced us to a new dance every week - we reviewed what we learned the previous week at the beginning of the time slot, then learned a new style (about 3 or 4 steps) for the rest of the time.  For each step that we learned, we practiced it a couple of times with a partner, and then we switched partners to try it again, and we did this multiple times throughout the class.

In this way, I learned, not only 8 or so different dances, but more importantly, I learned lead & follow techniques.  It's the lead & follow techniques that make it look like I know what I'm doing. Leading & following is all about communication.  The real trick to social dancing (as opposed to, say, competition or performance dancing), is A) keep your feet moving to the rhythm no matter what; and B) communication.  That's it.  This means that I can get out on a dance floor and, no matter what my dance partner throws at me, I keep my feet moving (and quickly go back to the correct rhythm if I happen to lose it) & I "listen" to what he's telling me to do through his body signals while I "tell" him through my own signals where I am and how I'm doing.

Then, about 2 or 3 years later, I changed schools and discovered that my new school also had a social dance class.  So I took that class, and I took a dedicated swing dance class, and a dedicated salsa class - all of which met 3 times per week for an hour each.  I ended up dropping the salsa class because dancing for 3 hours a day was too much, so I didn't really learn much salsa.  The social dance class covered more or less the same steps I had already learned in the class at the prior school.  The swing dance class covered more steps than I had previously learned when the social class taught swing, naturally, but it was still "beginner" level.

So, how did I get so "good" when I've only had two lessons?  I dance.  Really, that's it.  When I took the dedicated East Coast Swing class, my teacher convinced me to compete as a beginner, so in addition to dancing 3 times a week, I also had rehearsals for my competition every day.  I danced *every day* for half a semester. I also go to social dance events as often as I can.  It's nerve-wracking to attend a ballroom dance as a beginner - you don't know the steps, you don't know the people, you don't know the etiquette.  Plus, I'm an introvert, which means I have difficulty in social settings because they tire me out.  On top of that, I used to be painfully shy.  I still can't ask anyone to dance unless they're already a good friend of mine.  So, it's hard.  But I did it anyway.

Most of what I know, I learned at social ballroom dances.  I just kept going.  As I danced with more people, I got better at learning dance communication.  As I danced with more people, I learned more steps because new partners know steps that I don't, and vice versa, so we can teach each other out on the floor.  As I danced with more people and watched more dancers, I learned certain stylistic movements that seemed popular or flashy or neat and I tried to adopt them, eventually creating my own style.

Many social dances offer a free group lesson at the beginning of the event.  They will teach the same 3 or 4 beginning steps in a particular dance style appropriate for that event (so, a dedicated swing event will teach a swing dance, a social ballroom event will teach one of any number of dances that you can expect to be doing at that event like waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, or even swing).  Even though it's the same handful of steps that I learned 18 years ago in my first class, I attend as many of those pre-event group classes as I can.  I consider them "refresher" lessons.

And as a more seasoned dancer, I find myself "teaching" my newbie partners when they have difficulty getting the step.  The instructors are usually trying to teach 20 people at the same time, so there isn't a lot of time for personalized instruction.  I can explain something specific to my partner based on what he is doing or not doing, and I find that "teaching" in this way also helps me be a better dancer myself.  If the class is teaching something really basic or something that I'm already really familiar with, I'll switch sides and learn it as a lead (traditionally the guy's role) instead of as a follow.  Again, this helps me to be a better dancer and it also helps me to teach those same steps to my partners later.

There are things called "stylings", which are certain movements that make a dance look really sharp; really professional.  If you watch competition or performance dancers, or even just really good social dancers, you'll see things like the women raise their free hand in the air, or run their hands through their hair, or the men will break from the rhythm and kick or freeze and strike a pose.  I know nothing of these, and that's what keeps me from advancing past beginning-intermediate.  Most social dance classes - the kind I took that just try to introduce beginner dancers to a variety of dances in a short span of time - don't teach stylings because they have to focus on just getting the steps right.  They might occasionally throw in a styling here or there, but mostly we're just trying not to step on our partner's feet.  I'm hoping to take a styling class soon, it's just difficult with a freelancer's schedule because I can't dedicate the same day every week without potentially losing work.

So, if you've ever wanted to learn how to dance but felt intimidated, or you've seen my dance videos and were impressed but thought you couldn't do it or thought it would take too many years, hopefully I've inspired in you the possibility.  People are impressed with my dancing and it sounds impressive to hear that I've been dancing for 18 years, but I'm only a beginning-intermediate dancer who has only had 2 lessons, which means that anyone can learn to dance at least to my own level with a little dedication.  I attend the same beginning group classes over and over again, I dance socially as often as possible with as many different partners as possible, and I try to explain to anyone else interested in learning.  Repetition, practice, and exposure - and you too can dance well enough to impress your friends and family and have a good time doing it!

So inquire at your local colleges and community colleges to see if they offer dance as a P.E. class, do a google search for "social dance" in your area, check at your community halls like city parks and recreation departments or neighborhood community centers or even local churches, and just drop in at a dance studio if you happen to see one as you drive by it to ask if they offer lessons or know where you can take lessons.  It really doesn't take very long to learn how to dance socially, and to do it well enough to impress other folks.
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.

joreth: (Super Tech)

“Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.”

I followed my passion and I'm glad I did.  I went into it with open eyes, knowing that I will probably be poor for the rest of my life, knowing that I'm very good at what I do, but not one of those rare superstars who amazes the world.

The difference is that I didn't *just* follow my passion.  I have a lot of passions.  I tried my hand at many of them until I found one that paid me something.  And when that job doesn't pay enough, I try other things.  I find either job types or individual companies to work for that offer me an outlet for my passions in some way.  A person who is passionate about creativity doesn't *have* to be a world famous painter.  There are lots of ways to bring creativity and art to your job, if that's what you want.  And there are lots of ways to experience your passions in your non-work hours, like I do with my dancing and my costuming.

The research on happiness and success in the workplace all shows that people who single-mindedly pursue only their passions are not the happiest or most successful people in the world.  The ones who feel the most satisfaction are the ones who found a way to be passionate or proud of the work that they do.  For some people, it's taking pride in doing an "honest day's work".  For some people it's working for a company whose vision they can take pride in and contributing to something greater than themselves.  For some people it's finding ways to apply their passions in unique or unconventional ways in their more conventional jobs.  For some people it's building a sense of security in a stable job with regular paychecks and health benefits that allows them their evenings free to pursue other endeavors.

I've always said that we spend too many of our waking hours at our jobs to work in jobs that we hate.  We should do whatever we can to spend our time doing something that we love, or at least can take pride in.  But I also agree with Mike Rowe here, that this something doesn't have to be your farfetched fantasy.  We may live in a country where "anyone can become President", but that doesn't mean that *anyone* can become President.  I will never be President of the US, even if I gave up everything to pursue that dream starting today.  I will never be an astronaut.  I will never be a world champion dancer.

But I wanted to work with my hands.  I wanted to work with technology.  I wanted the opportunity to be creative and artistic.  I wanted to work producing entertainment for other people, to help create environments and events where people could enjoy themselves.  And that's what I do.  That sort of job can be found in a wide range of places.  I did follow my passion, but with a practical, realistic sense of self and I bring my passion with me into whatever type of job I end up in.

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: (Nude Drawing)
Lately on Facebook and Twitter and G+, I've been supporting the opening of a new store called Revelations in Fit. Although there are similar local stores in select large cities, the concept for this store is still a revolutionary idea - that women are a lot of different sizes and shapes, that American bras are terribly designed for that variety and American sizing and fitting systems are completely wrong, and that every woman deserves a bra that fits. This new store came about from the author of the blog Adventures in Bra Fitting, who saw this problem and tried to help by sharing with women the correct way to fit a bra. As a professional costumer and corsetier and a full-figured woman with a small frame, she is more than qualified to help.

Poorly fitting bras cause a lot of problems. They contribute to back pain, bad posture, fatigue, poorly fitting clothing, and low self-esteem when women don't like how they look in the mirror. It is very disheartening to not have well-fitting clothing. Yes, I realize this is a first-world problem, and even a class problem in first worlds, but it's still a problem. They may also be associated with other health concerns (although the idea that underwire causes breast cancer is a complete myth, so just drop that one right there).

tl:dr I finally found bras that fit and I solved the problem of having only ugly white or beige bras. I share some advice on getting pretty bras that, if you're like me, may never have occurred to you to try before. The MUCH longer story and a picture of my efforts are behind the cut. Also included behind the cut is a lot of personal information about my physiology. )
joreth: (being wise)

I'm working on a collaborative project with my ex-sweetie involving breaking up. Tell me your breakup stories and preferences? Good breakups, bad breakups, and why were they good or bad? Did you do the breaking up or did they? How often do you do the breaking up vs. get broken up with? What do you wish you had done differently? What do you wish your ex had done differently? How was overlapping social circles handled?

I don't need to hear any details of the relationship or why the breakups happened or even who was involved other than what the connection between the players was, but the breakup actions and what followed the breakup are relevant. It doesn't even have to be limited to romantic breakups.

No names at all will be used without permission in my project and even most anecdotes will be lumped together to illustrate types and trends rather than specific examples.

Responses can be posted here, privately messaged to me, or even told to me in person if we know each other IRL.

joreth: (BDSM)
Some time ago, I had the occasion to connect with Michael Chapman, filmmaker and creator of the movie The Ledge.  Because of that connection, he started following me on Facebook and has seen me rant about the 50 Shades of Grey pieces of shit er, I mean novels.  Now, it turns out that the actor who played the lead in his movie, The Ledge (alongside Liv Tyler), has been positioned to play the lead character in 50 Shades, Christian Grey, in the upcoming movie version of the book.  So Chapman has even more of an interest in the new movie.  And he asked me my opinion on whether or not the new movie has any hope of being good.

Flattered that an actual filmmaker would seek me out for my opinion on the subject and kind of shocked that he was even aware I had one, I thought about it, and wrote him a long response, trying to summarize my feelings for this book and its sequels into a single email.  It's a lengthy response, but I still think I only barely scratched the surface of what I was trying to convey.

Nevertheless, he liked my response so much that he asked if he could publish it on The Ledge's Facebook page.  Naturally, I said, of course!  I hadn't written it with a public post in mind, so it's clearly an email response to a question, but he was welcome to post it if he wanted.  So, he did, and it has now been read by over 6,000 people all around the world (The Ledge apparently has quite the international following, considering it's a movie with an atheist protagonist and a Christian is the bad guy, and theism vs. atheism is a big part of the conflict).  This is the largest platform I've ever had for one of my opinions.  So I'm pretty stoked!  If you're on Facebook, you can see the post and like it and offer your own perspective:  If you're not on Facebook, here's what I wrote:

I think the only way a good movie can come out of that book is if it keeps just the title in common and basically becomes a whole other movie, without the author's "creative" input. There are no redeeming features of that book.

Now, whether it will make *money* or win the cast and crew some acclaim is a different story. But the very premise of the story is that it romanticizes abusive relationships and reinforces the "if you love him he will change" trope, all with very boring, unkinky sex and a lot of really bad writing. It's Twilight fan-fiction for fuck's sake.

It's very premise is flawed, and if the story foundation is bad, there's nothing you can do to dress it up and make it better. Keeping the title and changing everything else about it is common in Hollywood, but it might piss off the book fans. The best thing that anyone in the kink community can say about that book is "at least it got mainstream people talking about BDSM, and maybe, because of their interest, they'll research the healthy ways to do kink." I think my favorite criticism I've heard so far was "It angered both the librarian and the pervert in me", but I don't know who said that.

I think anyone involved in filmmaking as an artform would do well to pay attention to the BDSM community's view on the book. If they are part of a film for the art of it, then 50 Shades is not a good choice. But anyone wishing to earn a little notoriety and be shocking would probably get something worthwhile out of being affiliated with the movie, because it will get attention.

The "big strong domly man trains a submissive woman who just doesn't know she's submissive yet" storyline is one of the most common kink storylines ever. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of books with that same plot. Any of them is going to be better written than 50 Shades, and at least some of them are going to be written by people who actually have some experience in the kink community, unlike the author, James.

In fact, I'll recommend one right now. It's called The Training of Eileen and it's available on Amazon - Elicitation is the first book in the series. It's the same plot - rich guy finds innocent young wife and trains her to be his sex slave. But the difference is that he wasn't abused and raped as a child and who now takes out his sociopathic rage towards women on his partners. This main character is caring and loving - he does what he does because *the submissive likes it*.

It uses the "she just doesn't know it yet" trope, but in this case, it's not a rapey excuse, it's that he paid attention to her early on and detected submissive tendencies in what she revealed about herself. In this story, it's all about giving the submissive what she wants and giving her permission to want it. In 50 Shades, it's all about what the dom wants (to beat women) and the power struggle between him and his girl who wants to "fix" his broken kinky ways.

So, my opinion is that there is no salvation for this movie. It cannot, by virtue of its source, ever become a good movie without doing the Hollywood bait-and-switch - capitalizing on the name but completely rewriting it from the ground up. But it *can* become a money-maker and it *can* catapult the cast and crewmembers into some measure of fame by association. The question is, is that the kind of association one wants to be known for? The kink community does not support the book, except to for those who welcome *any* conversation-starter, even bad ones. Since I have enough trouble getting trapped by men (as I am a single heterosexual female) who think that "coercion" is merely another word for foreplay, to say that I am not one of those who even welcomes it as a conversation starter is an understatement.

I'll leave you with some chapter-by-chapter reviews of the book, if you're interested to hear exactly what is so wrong with it and why:
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to correct people on the "protect the existing relationship" that once you introduce someone(s) new, there is no longer any "existing" relationship - it's a whole new thing that has a whole new dynamic with (perhaps only slightly, perhaps massively) different needs and priorities.

New partners are not patches to be slapped onto an old pair of jeans - intended to add onto and improve, but not otherwise significantly change the original garment. They are a completely unique element unto themselves that changes the entire ensemble - sometimes in complimentary ways, sometimes in unflattering ways, sometimes merely altering the tone but sometimes changing the whole look and feel of the outfit.

Like my black slashed t-shirt that I made for a 7 Deadly Sins party one year, where I dressed as Wrath. With the leather pants and chain mail skirt and creepy fire eye contacts, I looked like Wrath. But paired with a black fedora and short flirty skirt and hi-top Converse, the black slashed t-shirt looked totally '80s hip hop dancer. Vastly different outfits because I swapped out other elements.

Then, for my Victorian ballgown, that's clearly a historical looking outfit. But I can take off the outer blouse and skirt, and just wear the corset and underskirt, and I get a Victorian-themed ballroom dancing outfit or add a mask and I got a kink-appropriate Masquerade outfit. Leave the whole thing put together and add some jewelry made of gears and I get a Steampunk Victorian outfit. Leave the fantail down and I get an extravagant gown that needs an assistant to move around or pin the fantail up and I get a much more practical gown that I can walk around in. Same outfit, different tones and feelings with different elements.


So stop trying to "protect the existing relationship" and start asking "exactly what kind of team is this anyway, and what will it be with me as part of it?"
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
So there's a guy who pissed me off recently and I want to delve into it to process the incident. As ya'll know, I do a form of ballroom dancing that's called "social dancing". It's basically people who have learned at least a little bit of formal ballroom, Latin, and/or swing dancing who then go out either to public venues or to ballroom dance studios and other dance spaces and just do what they do. Sometimes we learn something new, but mostly it's about having a good time and practicing or expressing whatever amount we *have* learned. Social dancing tends to focus on being good leaders and followers - on good communication - rather than perfect form or memorizing a lot of patterns (specific dance steps within a dance style). Many people only know a handful of patterns for each dance style that they've learned. It's about communication and connection and physical activity more than excelling at a physical art or sport. Perhaps not coincidentally, that also sounds like romantic relationships - being about communication and connection and physical activity.

Some background on the kind of dancing that's related to the incident. )

So back to the incident... )

Now I have some things to say about that... )

Video of the dance )
joreth: (Super Tech)
Someone told me recently that I seem really happy and wanted to know what my secret was.  How do I work in the stressful environment I work in, how do I deal with the people I deal with, how do I live in the world we live in, and still be happy?  I have 2 "secrets" to being happy.  They may or may not work for anyone else, but this is what I do:

1) I follow my passions.  I am dirt fucking poor.  I live below the poverty line and require government assistance on a quasi-regular basis.  I'm one month away from total disaster at all times.  I've been stuck here in this state when I really would rather live elsewhere for a decade past the point I had originally planned to leave because I can't afford to move.  Why?  I have skills in several job categories and could make a decent living.  I used to do a job that paid me $25K a year entry salary, with health benefits, 15 years ago and could be quite comfortable if I had stayed there with various promotions and raises over the years.  I could move up in my current job into management or equipment/personnel coordination, with either a salaried position or lots and lots of hours at a good hourly rate.  I'm poor because I love my job.  It's my passion.  I don't work in the other industries because I'm not passionate about them.  I don't move up into management in my current job because I like, as I usually put it, playing with my toys and getting dirty.  I'm merely a technician.

Don't get me wrong, even my lowly technician gig pays me very very well, per hour or day and plenty of people make good livings doing what I do.  But I also don't work as often as I should.  Sometimes it's because I take time off for my other passions, like relationships or hobbies or vacations.  Sometimes it's because I suck at the work-politics game and I don't know how to schmooze the right people to move up the corporate ladder.  Sometimes it's because my job is more about who you know than what you know.  And sometimes it's because I failed to keep up with changing technology and have trouble finding mentors to bring me up to speed so I can't always compete in the job market.

But the point is that I love my job so much, I'm willing to live in below-poverty conditions to keep doing it.  I do what I have to in order to survive, including taking other kinds of work.  But it doesn't make me happy.  When I'm gigging, I'm happy.  When I'm costuming, I'm happy.  When I'm dancing, I'm happy.  When I'm photographing, I'm happy.  When I'm creating, I'm happy, and that's what all my passions have in common - creating something. When I take the time to indulge in my passions, no, to pursue my passions with a ferocious intensity, I am generally happy with life itself.

2) I find outlets for those things that make me unhappy.  Like ranting on the internet.  Most people who know me primarily online think I must be profoundly unhappy because all they see are my angry posts.  But I make those posts in order to get the thoughts out of my head, where, if I didn't get them out, they'd just run around in circles all day, every day.  They're like music earworms, sorta.  Some people have to listen to that very song in order to get it unstuck from their heads.  I have to rant about whatever is pissing me off in order to let it go and get on with my day getting back to the business of being happy.

People who know me in real life first, who then find my online profiles, feel a little jarred at the difference.  I don't seem like "me" to them.  But if you were to ask most of my coworkers who have either not seen my online profiles or who don't read much of Facebook or Twitter or LJ even if they have a profile there, if you were to ask them to describe me, "happy" is a common descriptor.  A boss once quipped something to the effect of not recognizing me without my smile, or if I'd lost my smile, something must seriously be wrong.  I don't remember the exact line, but the occasion stuck out in my memory because I had just lost my place to live because I was "always angry" online, even though I'd never had a harsh word IRL with that person and, in fact, had been told when we first met that he had a crush on me because he so loved how often I laughed around him.  So when that boss remarked on how being unsmiling was a rare event, it struck a chord with me.

I have periods of depression.  I get overwhelmed by stuff and I start to withdraw into myself.  I stop reaching out to my friends and loved ones, I stop going out, I start to cry more easily, and I can start to say and do things that, to someone who doesn't know what's going on, may seem out of character because I stop being able to express myself clearly.  Being a generally happy person doesn't mean never feeling any other negative emotion.

But, in general, I think I'm happy.  I love life and I think it's worth living.  I feel that death is the enemy and I can't even comprehend the idea that there might come a day when I'll be tired of life and voluntarily want to end it, even when I think of living for hundreds or thousands of years.  I joke easily and I laugh often.  Even when I'm in the depths of a depressive episode or feeling particularly down, I know, with every fiber of my being, that it'll pass and I'll be happy again.  Sometimes I even willingly indulge in periods of sadness, knowing that it's just part of the range of human emotion and expressing it can be part of getting through it.  I never need to be told after a breakup, for instance, that things will get better and I'll find someone new.  I know that, and I don't stay sad for very long.  I pretty quickly bounce back to being happy.  Even when Misty, my cat, died, I was able to be at work the next day, laughing and joking as usual with my coworkers.  I'm very much still in mourning for my cat, and I still cry at the drop of a hat when I think of her.  But the joking around at work the day after her death was not a mask I had to wear in order to get through my day.  I was genuinely happy to be working and to be with my coworkers.  And I'm creating a memorial for her, which goes along with my first point about creating making me happy.  Sadness doesn't overwhelm me and life goes on, dragging me along with it.

And I think that's essentially why I'm generally happy.  I follow my passions and I allow myself to express the negative emotions so that I can get through them and get on with the business of being happy.  I remember trying to suppress my negative emotions for a while.  I had a very troubled adolescence and, for a time, the only thing I wanted was to stop hurting.  But, even in that first depressive episode, suicide or self-harm was never a serious consideration (although I did consider them).  I shut off the negative emotions so that I wouldn't hurt.  But then, one day, I realized that I wasn't feeling any of the positive emotions either.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I still felt all my emotions, but they were all very, very muted.  I didn't feel strongly about anything.  I spent many years trying to turn back on the positive emotions without turning on the negative ones, and I failed every time.

Eventually I embraced the idea of feeling because I wanted to feel happy again.  Feeling sad on occasion was just part of the price to pay in order to feel happy.  I don't like the idea of an emotional roller coaster.  I know some people that swing from extreme to extreme, and I've heard of those who are basically emotion junkies.  And I'm not talking about any of that.  I just feel happy in a general sort of way, with moments of elation and joy, and, fortunately rare, moments of sadness.  Every couple of years I go through a depressive stage, but then I pull back out of it again.  To me, depression is not a "normal" state to be in.  Like my moments of sadness, it's something I have to occasionally go through, but those moments are like islands dotting a mostly placid but occasionally excitingly active, sea of happiness.  I'm not sure I could answer definitively about whether the chicken or the egg came first here, but I believe following my passions and allowing myself the opportunity to express and feel my sadness or anger in a controlled manner, are what cause me to be happy in life.  It could be that I have a "happy nature" and that's what gives me passions in the first place, or makes me seek out these outlets for my anger or sadness to expunge them.  But when I'm feeling down, if I can somehow find the motivation to get out and dance, or take my camera somewhere new, or get inspired by a new costume design, then my depression or anger or sadness usually lifts.  So I *think* the causal relationship goes the other way and it's that my happiness is caused by the things I do.

At any rate, I've found it to be a self-perpetuating cycle.  The more I dance, the happier I get.  The happier I am, the more I want to dance.  Same with work, same with costuming, same with photography, same with picking up some new skill or hobby even if that particular one turns out to be a phase that I drop later and never get back to.  Work is where I feel most like "me", where the most number of facets of my personality get to shine at once.  Dancing and my other hobbies are opportunities to focus on a single facet at a time; to really give each facet some undivided attention and undiluted expression.  Sometimes, that hobby is pure emotional expression, like dancing.  I was told not too long ago that he was sorry for staring, but even though he was surrounded by dancers, many in much less clothing than I, he couldn't help watching me dance.  I hadn't ever been told that before.  I've been told that people enjoy dancing with me, or they are impressed when I do a structured dance that they don't know, like swing or Bollywood, but not that my dancing was so sexy and beautiful that he couldn't help but stare.  And he wasn't hitting on me.  When he mistook my enthusiasm for dancing with him as a more personal interest, he was quick to back up and tell me that he was in a monogamous relationship.  He just genuinely felt drawn to me when I danced and was willing to tell me.  I know I'm only a mediocre or intermediate dancer, and that's OK.  I dance for myself, for the sheer joy of feeling my body move.  I dance as though my body was an instrument to join in the song.

And I think that's what people see when they say they like to watch me dance, because my technical skills are, well, they're above average but not particularly exceptional.  Because that's what I see when I feel compelled to watch someone do what they love.  I once watched an artist while he sketched me.  There was something in his expression, something I can't define, that changed everything about him.  When he concentrated on turning the visual signals he received from looking at a subject to a physical representation on paper, he was pursuing his passion.  And it showed on his face, and it made him compelling.  I think I almost fell in love just a little with him right there because of that expression.

My high school sweetheart is a performer.  He is never better than when he is performing.  He is always amazing.  His passion for his art is one of the reasons I fell in love with him in high school and one of the reasons I continue to love him to this day, even though we are no longer romantic and not even the slightest bit romantically compatible.  Back before I realized my stalker was, in fact, a stalker with Nice Guy Syndrome, back when he was just my best friend, I would sit at his feet or hours and watch him play music.  His preferred instrument at that time was guitar, but he could play anything except piano (for some reason, he couldn't put the two hands of a song together on a piano).  He put his soul into his music.  I loved another guitarist too.  He was blind, and he interpreted the world primarily through touch and sound.  Which meant that his playing was exceptional because it was the very essence of how he experienced life.  Not coincidentally, I met him at the same time that I met my high school sweetheart.  In fact, my first introduction to them was the guitarist playing accompaniment to the performer singing.  Two such passionate boys expressing themselves through their passion - it's no wonder I could never really choose between them, and it was only circumstance that kept my relationships with them separated by a decade. [ profile] tacit is passionate about life itself, and consequently is one of the 3 or 4 happiest people I have ever known.  My Darling Boy also has many passions and is one of those people whose very presence in a room make it seem brighter, as though the sun through the window just came out from behind a cloud at the moment he walked in.  He's passionate about flying (he's a chopper pilot) and rigging and music and, like [ profile] tacit, about life itself.

I surround myself with passionate men - men who are intensely, maybe in some cases obsessively, interested in something that makes them happy to experience.  I find this trait to be more compelling in a person than any other trait.  It might not be sufficient, on its own, to sustain a meaningful relationship with that person, but being passionate about something is a necessary element to being able to love them, for me.  That's the best thing that anyone can do to attract a romantic partner, or even friends, y'know - be passionate about something.  People who do interesting things are interesting people, and others are attracted to interesting people.  It doesn't work if you just try to do something with the goal of attracting a mate.  You have to actually feel passionate about that thing, and your passion will make you attractive - far more attractive than any nice clothing or nice car or slick pick-up line will make you, and it'll last longer than a superficial sheen's attractiveness too.

So, if you're still searching for the meaning of life and how to be happy or make your life look the way you want it to look when it doesn't, that's what I suggest you try.  It may not work for you.  Unlike those self-help books like "7 Tips Of Successful People" or whatever that try to boil life down into a series of steps guaranteed to make you rich, good looking, and happy, I'm not saying that my method will work for everyone.  But if you don't know where to even start looking, I think these two things are good to try.  Find something to feel passionate about and pursue it, and find an outlet and allow yourself to express the negative emotions every so often.  I'm not saying to revel in sadness or self-pity or anger.  I'm saying that repression of negative emotion may result in a difficulty or inability to also experience those strong positive emotions that are necessary for passion and happiness.

You may need to learn how to feel sadness or fear or anger, and consequently how to manage and get through it, before you can feel passionate about something else.  A lot of people try to manage their bad feelings by orchestrating their lives largely to avoid feeling bad feelings.  Then, when something inevitable comes along to make them feel bad, they lack the familiarity to recognize the early warning signs and the tools to manage it productively.  This can spiral, I think, into a never-ending cycle of always feeling bad and not knowing how to feel happy anymore.

[ profile] tacit says that life rewards the path of greater courage.  I think that's essentially what I'm trying to do with my two happiness tips.  I'm certainly not claiming to never fail or fall off the path.  But I think it takes courage to feel bad and to get my hands right up in those bad feelings like mixing bread dough and really examine those feelings and deal with them.  And I think it takes courage to leap head-first into an endeavor, which is what I feel that "passion" is - feeling so strongly about something that I just leap into it, giving myself over to the creative process and rolling around in the joy of creating.  Passion, even though it's a positive emotion, can be scary.  It can put us in a place of vulnerability.  It can leave us open to criticism, condemnation, mocking, and separation.  You have to really put yourself into whatever you're passionate about, and a negative reaction about what you're doing can feel like the most intimate, fatal, of attacks.  But being passionate about something, at least for me, means that I can't help but to leap into it.

So I think my reward for pursuing my passions and for exploring and expressing the negative emotions is that I feel that I am generally happy with life.  I am rarely without romantic or sexual partners, except by choice, I often have a handful of people I can count on to be there for me when I need someone, and I enjoy life even when others might look at my situation and think it looks hard or uncomfortable.  My life, overall - the big picture - looks mostly like it does because of deliberate choices I made to make it look this way.  I'm not "lucky" to have multiple partners, or to have any specific partner.  I have these relationships because I arranged my life in such a way as to make these relationships possible.  I'm not "lucky" to be working my dream job.  I made choices that allowed me to pursue my dream job, and those choices have had some consequences and drawbacks that are part of it.  You can zoom in on any part of my life or history and find low spots or difficult spots or places where I didn't make the best choice in hindsight.  But when I pull back and look at my life as a whole, I'm generally happy with it, and the places on the timeline where I'm the most happiest are the places where I expressed my two tips the best.  I don't think that's a coincidence.
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:
joreth: (dance)
September is, apparently, "Step-tember" at the Enzian Theater (a local independent movie theater), with a whole month of dance movies & events. So I want to make September an annual celebration of dance appreciation!

I have 4 distinct inspirations from my childhood for getting into dance:

1) Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo - my very first dance movie and I actually learned to breakdance (poorly) because of it.

2) Footloose - which taught me that dancing wasn't just fun, it was inherently a celebration of life, in all its forms. Dance expressed joy, anger, sadness, love, passion, every emotion, and was a necessary form of expression for me.

3) Janet Jackson - one of the first female dance choreographers I had ever been exposed to, thanks to a summer day-camp in elementary school that offered a jazz class where we performed to one of her songs. I learned that there was a place in the dance world for women, not just as a pair of pretty legs, but as the creative directors and leaders in the industry.

4) Dirty Dancing - introduced me to partner dancing as something more than just "that stuff old people did at weddings" and to the concepts of courage, honor, and being yourself, no matter the cost.

Dance, for me, has always been more than just exercise or another chance to embarrass myself in front of my peers. Dance has always been about empowerment, about expression, and a metaphor for life itself. Even when I'm sore or injured, or having trouble getting a step right and looking stupid, I am rarely ever more alive than when I am dancing.

Happy Step-tember everyone! Go out and dance!
joreth: (anger)
So there's this dickhead who saw a graphic I made to sell on one of my t-shirt sites online and thought "hey, that's a pretty cool graphic, I bet I can sell stuff with it online too!"  He took the graphic, then did stuff like "splining" and spent a whole ton of hours on it to end up with a graphic that looks EXACTLY LIKE MINE.  Then he did more stuff and spent more hours on it to end up with a second graphic that looks EXACTLY LIKE MINE but rainbow colored.  Then he slapped it on a bunch of items from Zazzle and started trying to sell it.

According to the storefront, this is what he does: "This store represents the wild creations which flew by and I happened to reach out and catch a bit of. Hopefully I will be able to catch more as time goes by."

The tricky part is that the image is made of elements that you can't copyright.  For example, I can't copyright the teardrop shape.  But I can copyright or trademark a specific teardrop that is stylistically unique and recognizable.  Then, if you open a store and want to sell something with a teardrop on it, you can make your own teardrop that looks different from mine but still looks like a teardrop and you're not in violation of copyright.

But this guy's version doesn't look any different from mine, except it's a different color.  It is obviously, clearly, and recognizably my graphic.  For the original image that is the same color, he didn't even bother to remove that grey-ish background that's actually a black t-shirt material from my own store's thumbnail before putting it on a couple dozen items like keychains and greeting cards and aprons.  Seriously, if you look at his keychain, it's a round keychain with a grey-black square and my graphic in the middle, just like the close-up image of my t-shirts.

So, I sent a cease & desist letter.  He responded, defending his right to use my graphics because of how much he "changed" in the picture.  I reported the violation to the Zazzle complaint department, and he removed a few of the products, but not all of them, still insisting that making it rainbow colored is enough of a change to justify using my graphic.

So now I need a lawyer.  I have all the correspondence, plus the original Photoshop elements of the graphic under contention, and I need to know what to do from here.  Any recommendations for lawyers, or any lawyers out there willing to give legal advice?
joreth: (polyamory)
I reviewed a couple of movies that fell into a grey area, in terms of my guidelines for poly movies, and the most recent one was really tough to decide. So I felt that I ought to clearly list my guidelines, both for my own use when I find a grey-area movie, and for others who might be wondering why some movies make the list when others don't.

Here are the guidelines for what makes it to the Poly-ish Movie List and what doesn't:

  Movies That Do Go On The List  Movies That Do Not Go On The List
  • If the movie has a functional, happy relationship that includes more than two people, even if they are not main characters, it goes on the list.
    • If the relationship is 3 or more people (i.e. Whatever Works), it's poly
    • If the relationship is a core dyad that is "open" to the members having additional sexual or romantic partners (i.e. Belle Epoque), it's poly-ish
  • If the movie has a relationship that includes more than two people, and may not appear to be "happy" or "functional" because of viewer's subjective definitions of "happy" and "functional" but still gives the characters a "happy" ending / implies that they are happy with their choices and is clearly a multi-partner family group (i.e. Cafe Au Lait & Rita, Sue & Bob Too), it will probably go on the list.
  • If the movie is a documentary or TV interview showing real people in consensual, honest, loving multi-partner relationships, even if the relationship ends poorly, it goes on the list (Three of HeartsCat Dancers).
  • If the movie has a poly or poly-ish relationship that ends due to outside pressure or personality conflicts, but seems to be an otherwise functional and happy relationship and it was not the polyamory that caused the breakup (i.e. Paint Your Wagons), it goes on the list.
  • If the movie shows positive and/or realistic scenarios of poly issues & situations, such as coming-out conversations, dealing with discrimination (i.e. Esmeralda Comes By Night), overcoming jealousy, reaching out to metamours, etc., it goes on the list.
  • If a movie ends on an ambiguous note that can be interpreted by the viewer as leading to a happy poly family (i.e. Kiss Me Again & Micki & Maude), it will probably go on the list.
  • If the movie shows a clear and unambiguous multi-adult intentional family, regardless of who is having sex with whom (The Wedding Banquet), it will probably go on the list.
  • If the movie has a dyad that tries a threesome, and it goes horribly wrong because someone is psychotic (i.e. Trois), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie has a relationship with two or more people who cannot communicate, who are jealous, or who otherwise demonstrate or imply that open relationships are impossible and doomed to fail (i.e. Sleep With Me & Portrait of an Open Marriage), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie makes any character choose one partner over another, and especially if it implies that choosing one makes the protagonist happy in spite of the jilted lover being a decent partner (i.e. Sweet Home Alabama), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie shows one character in love with 2 or more others, and the only possible resolution is to kill one off to justify loving more than one (i.e. Pearl Harbor - it's OK for widows to love current & former partner) or make one totally unsuitable and therefore an obvious Bad Choice (i.e. Carolina & pretty much every romantic comedy), it does NOT go on the list
  • If the movie is a clear example of why we have the phrase Relationship Broken, Add More People, and why that is a sarcastic and derogatory phrase implying a recipe for disaster (i.e. Sex And Breakfast), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie is all about having lots of sex with lots of partners, and there is no love among the partners (i.e. Y Tu Mama TambienThe Story of O, & Farinelli), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie seems to be written with a tone that implies that open relationships cannot work, it does NOT go on the list.
    • i.e. the monogamous characters are the sympathetic protagonists / poly characters are the "bad guys" / antagonists
    • i.e. the poly characters' decisions only make sense in the context of a writer who doesn't understand polyamory

Cheating -  movies about cheaters and cheating do not go on the list, but there are some circumstances that may exempt a cheating movie.
  • If the cheater(s) comes clean & they attempt to switch to an open and honest relationship (i.e. Summer Lovers), it might go on the list.
  • If the cheating involves more than sex and/or loving feelings for both the spouse & secret OSO, and there is some kind of social constriction, such as a historical era or a conservative culture, that prevents the characters from being honest and having a happy ending while still being realistic, the movie might go on the list if the tone is compassionate and sympathetic and not condemning (i.e. Same Time Next Year).
  • If the cheating includes justifications, selfishness, lack of empathy or concern, and those things last for the duration of the movie with no change in position or a refusal to acknowledge the hurt being caused, the movie does NOT go on the list
  • If the cheating includes a psychopath, like the cautionary threesome tales, the movie does NOT go on the list.
Open Relationship vs. Polyamory - movies that are all about lots of sex partners don't go on the list, but if a movie is particularly ambiguous or ambivalent about the presence of love among the partners such that it rides that fuzzy line between polyamory and other types of consensual non-monogamy, it might go on the list.  If the lessons and morals of the story are particularly true or important for poly relationships, that might tip the scales in favor of the list, such as a movie about swingers that emphasizes honesty, communication, and compassion and/or that develops loving friendships between the extramarital partners (i.e. Swingtown).

Non-Sexual Intentional Families - it is usually assumed that "romantic" relationships have some element of sexuality in them to make them "different" from platonic friendships.  There are some movies that may be exempted from that assumption.  In the case where there are clearly more than 2 adults who are in a family that, for all intents and purposes, looks like a "romantic" family, even if some members are not having sex with each other, it might go on the list.  If there are, for example, 3 people who choose to raise children together and live together, even if 1 member is not sexual with the other 2, as in The Wedding Banquet, if the "family" is emphasized strongly enough, it might make the list.  Films from other eras or cultures that have a stronger taboo against non-marital sex may include a multi-adult family without sex and yet still have the tone and feel of a "romantic" family, such as Design For Living.

Breakups & Death - movies that have the relationship end with a breakup or death do not generally go on the list, but there are some circumstances that may exempt a movie with a sad or tragic ending.
  • If the breakup has nothing to do with the polyamory, but has to do with outside influences, such as the country going to war & separating people, or the pressure to conform to social standards is too great (usually due to the era), the movie might go on the list (i.e. Head In The Clouds & Paint Your Wagon).
  • If the movie has other valuable elements in it, such as examples of common and important conversations (coming out, discrimination, overcoming jealousy, etc.), or is a true story of an actual poly family, such as a documentary (i.e. Three of Hearts), then even a relationship that ends poorly may be added to the list.
  • Movies where characters die are not automatically excluded from the list - it depends on what role that death plays in the story. If the death is just a part of life in the story, and not the sole justification for someone loving more than one (i.e. Carrington), it might go on the list.  But if one character is torn between two others, and the only way the character can justify loving them both is to kill one of them off (i.e. Pearl Harbor), it does NOT go on the list.
I think I covered everything.  If someone has a question about why a particular movie did or did not make the list, or someone knows of a movie plot that is questionable and doesn't see a guideline for it here, let me know and I'll attempt to refine the guidelines.
joreth: (Swing Dance)
I have a performance coming up in which I will be giving a short description on the story behind some of the songs we'll be performing.  I tend to remember things better when I've written them down, so I'm writing them here.  This may be of no interest to many of you, but it may be of some interest to some of you, so rather than writing up a Word document in private, I'm posting it here instead.

Some background on Bollywood )

Maahi Ve )

Desi Girl )

Bumbro )

Taal se Taal )

Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai )

We have two "party songs" from movies I haven't watched yet also.  These are popular songs that we don't have any choreographed routine for, but we go out and improvise in the audience to get the audience up and dancing with us.  This is particularly popular at weddings to signify the end of our performance and the beginning of the reception where everyone gets drunk and dances.  Since I haven't seen the movies, I'm not sure where the songs fit into the story.

joreth: (polyamory)
Just had a conversation with another polyactivist, Emanix, and out of that conversation came a few new terms:

KISS: Colloquial; A group of polyamorists, i.e. gaggle of geese, flock of birds, kiss of polyamorists. Example: "I was out at the pub with my kiss this evening." or "I went to a party with a kiss of polyamorists last weekend." May not necessarily imply that all members are romantically related to each other, only that everyone in the group be polyamorous. See related: intentional family, intentional community, french kiss, polyfamily, tribe.

FRENCH-KISS: Colloquial; A group of polyamorists, specifically a group who are all romantically connected to each other, i.e. gaggle of geese, flock of birds, kiss of polyamorists. Example: "I was out at the pub with my kiss this evening." or "I went to a party with a kiss of polyamorists last weekend. See related t intentional family, intentional community, kiss, polyfamily, tribe.

PDP (acronym): Colloquial; Public Displays of Polyamory. Commentary: there is a lot of discussion within the poly community about how much PDA, or Public Displays of Affection, is appropriate, and all the issues surrounding being publicly affectionate - either being affectionate in public in general, or being affectionate with one partner in front of another partner. PDP came about to describe displays of affection that are explicitly polyamorous, such as holding hands with two partners at the same time while in public, or kissing multiple partners goodbye at the airport, etc.

These have all been added to the Poly Terms page at
joreth: (personal)
On Thursday, [ profile] datan0de , [ 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.  [ 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 [ profile] datan0de and [ 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. [ 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 [ 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, [ 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 [ 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. [ 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.  [ 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 [ 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 [ profile] femetal and [ profile] datan0de went into the outdoor bar to get online, since that was the only place on the grounds that the wi-fi reached. [ 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. [ 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 [ 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 [ profile] datan0de , told him about the tour, and we decided to go ahead and make the reservation. Then, when [ 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, [ 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, [ profile] femetal went to "her spot" on the fore deck, and [ 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. [ 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. [ profile] datan0de and [ 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 [ 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. [ profile] femetal made great time! I got my stuff unloaded and into the house without incident, kissed [ 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
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
Many times I've been asked for a list of URLs about polyamory or the various issues surrounding skepticism, only to suddenly draw a blank on all my favorite websites.  I'll be talking with someone, introducing them to a brand new concept, and they'll ask me where they can learn more about it, and I won't be able to remember.  I've written about this most recently in the post about making Skepticism CDs to hand out for this purpose.

I've also been asked, on more than one occasion, what other people who find themselves in this situation should do when *they* are asked for more resources.  My solution to the poly issue has been to add a handful of URLs to the back of my Poly Tees business cards, but this isn't necessarily a good solution for other people who are in this situation.

So, I have created Reference Cards - one set for polyamory and one set for skepticism.  These PDF files can be printed onto standard white business card paper that you can buy at Walmart, Kinkos/FedEx, and any office supply store.  They are double-sided, with a definition of the term on the front and a list of URLs on the back.  Feel free to download them, print them, and hand them out to whomever you want, or use them as a template for creating your own.  I am now keeping a couple of each in my wallet, and bringing a bunch to poly meetings for the newbies.

The Polyamory Reference Cards:*

The Skeptical Reference Cards:

*The Poly Reference Card image has the old, incorrect Purple Mobius, but the file itself has the correct Mobius.  I was just too lazy to take a new screencap.
joreth: (Default)
 It's time for me to order new checks (yes, I still have one more bill that will only allow me to pay with check, not online, not credit card) and since I need to change my address on them anyway, I decided to get some "designer" checks.

In my search, I found a place that lets the user upload his own pictures for his checks!  There is no limit to the number of photos (other than the total number of checks) that they will rotate through the checkbook, but only the first image is included in the price.

So, I considered uploading some of my photography, because photo checks are pretty common, but then realized I'd have to choose among them to a limited number if I didn't want to pay more for the checks than I'd ever pay USING the checks.  Then I thought about the PolyDragon, but immediately felt the Scarlet A was left out, and quickly added more and more images to the list of "symbols" that represent "me" or make a statement about who I am and what I believe in.  Pretty soon, that list became almost as daunting (and expensive) as the photography list.

I thought "if only I had a single image that covered all of the symbols that represent me, that way I could avoid the extra image charges & still not have to choose between them."  Oh, wait, if I had a personal crest, I could!

Years ago, I toyed with the idea of a personal "crest".  I had once dated someone whose family retained ties to their original Scottish bloodline and had their family crest on several keepsakes.  And at the time I was thinking of a crest, I had just built my first, real, poly family.  In that fuzzy space between NRE and the idea that *this* family might be long-term, people often start thinking up family names or household names or other identifying features that announces to others that "we are a tribe".  Throw all that in together with the fact that one of the people in the family was a graphic artist, and I am constantly trying to come up with ideas to summarize or symbolize who I am, and I was ripe for the idea of a personal crest.

What really put the idea into the "I should do this!" category was my then-partner (the graphic designer) decided to come up with the PolyDragon.  He started looking at dragon art for ideas, and he came across a tribal dragon tattoo where the dragon's wings came together and formed the same basic shape as a shield.  I thought that would be a perfect foundation for a crest.  

Unfortunately, we broke up before I got more than halfway through my design, and then my harddrive crashed and I lost the files, and his computer got stolen in a break-in of our house.  I had always intended to get back to that, but never got around to it.  One of the things I was stuck on was that I either had too many or too few symbols to fill the traditional 4 quadrants of a British Isles shield-based crest, depending upon which symbols I wouldn't compromise on and which symbols actually fit me at the time I was considering them.

So, fast forward to this check  purchase dilemma, and that prompted me to sit down and open up Photoshop.  Here's what I came up with:

The heart/infinity pretty obviously symbolizes polyamory, and the A is the Scarlet A for Atheism symbol from Richard Dawkins, both of which are integral parts of my self-identity.  The upper right quadrant is the type of camera used in television and live events, so I have my job, which is also my passion in life.  In the lower left quadrant is a pair of dance shoes & music notes - both dancing and music are also great passions in my life.  My job, dancing, and music are the non-living elements of my life that make life worth living, to me.

Rather than using the checkerboard pattern so common in separating shields into their quadrants, I went with two more symbols in a cross in the middle.  The c-wrench ("Crescent" is a brand name, like Kleenex vs. tissue, so we call them c-wrenches, not crescents) is the main tool of an electrician or lighting technician in the entertainment industry.  If camera work is my primary job function or skill, lighting is my secondary.  I got started in the industry by doing lighting, it's what sparked my passion for it in the first place, and the thing I've been doing the longest.  

The knife is another mandatory tool for an entertainment technician, but the knife also symbolizes strength, freedom, independence, and protection to me.  With my knives, I even the playing field.  My smaller size and lesser strength is not a significant factor with the proper tool and a sharp knife.  I can do my job as well as any of the larger, stronger guys, I can defend myself when necessary, and simply displaying my tools and weapons make me a less worthy target.  My knives win me a degree of freedom in a world where the pride of size and strength would otherwise imprison me.

I liked using a dragon's wings as a shield simply to be unique, not because I feel any particular affiliation for dragons, and my journey deeper into skeptical activism tends to make me shy away from imagery traditionally associated with those things I now wish to distance myself from, even though I still enjoy a good fantasy-based novel or movie.  If I were to choose an animal symbol for any reason, it would be a female lion, not a dragon, but the dragon wings just look really cool as a shield.

However, when I first uploaded my shield and got the check proof back, it didn't have the background flames (but did have the flames coming out of its mouth), and the check looked very plain with a white background and the shield right in the middle.  So I looked for some kind of textured background to put behind the shield that would be interesting but not be so busy or dark that you can't see the writing on the check.  As I searched, it eventually occurred to me that flames would probably do the job.

So I added the flames, and after they get washed out by the printer, they do fulfill my requirement of a breakup texture for the background without compromising the visibility of the necessary check elements (the check graphic actually has more flames extending out on the sides, to accommodate the check ratio).

I was pleased with the final product, but continued to look at it.  At first, I figured I'd start using the crest as an online user icon, but with a transparent background.  But the more I looked at the flames version, the more I liked it.  So I cropped it square to better fit icon dimensions and uploaded it as my icon on Twitter.

The more I looked at it, the more appropriate I thought a Flaming Dragon Shield was for my user icon.  I may not have a strong connection to dragons, but how could I resist the symbology of a flaming anything to represent me online?  A fire-breathing dragon wielding a knife and armor - it's hard to get any more representative of my online persona than that!

So I'm very pleased with my new personal crest.  As soon as I can choose which of my LJ icons to remove, I plan to use this here on LJ too.  Unfortunately, I have a free account, which limits the number of icons I can use, and I currently use all of them, so deciding among them will be a chore.
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

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, [ profile] zen_shooter and I broke up only days before Christmas, and after I sent out last year’s letter. But [ 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 [ profile] tacit. [ profile] datan0de and I met at the same poly meeting where I met [ 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 [ profile] datan0de, [ 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 [ profile] datan0de and his wife [ 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

Happy Holidays everyone!
joreth: (polyamory)
Here is what the PolyDragon Towels will look like:

Ordering information found here:
joreth: (polyamory)
(This and all the background information also located at the original post at & if this order form doesn't work, that one should.)

OK, final price quote is $22 for a black towel with either a purple Polydragon or a white Polydragon (embroidered), centered on the edge so it can be displayed while folded on a shelf or hanging on a rack. Payments can be made via PayPal. Please send $25 instead of $22 to cover the cost of tax and shipping (which will not be quoted to me until I make the order, & I have to pay up front for the order). If the cost of tax & shipping per person is less than $3 per person, I will send the difference back. All the towels will be shipped to me, and you can get your towel by either picking it up, meeting me somewhere, or having me mail it to you (or another address). Shipping it to you may result in more shipping charges. I will make the order as soon as I have 6 or more of either color ordered. If you "buy now" after an order has been made, your order will held until I have another 6 orders total.

Purple Poly Dragon Towel

White PolyDragon Towel

I cannot accept credit card orders through PayPal

Date: 12/1/09
Product Names: Port Authority Beach Towel (PT42) v Customer Supplied
- Material: 100% cotton terry velour
- Method of Imprint: Embroidery
- Locations: 1 location of your choice
- # of Colors: Purple and White
- Stitch Count: 18,000 stitches
Product Size: One size
Color Availability: Black
- Packaging: n/a
- Artwork Programs Accepted: vector
Quantity for Price: 12
On the towel mentioned above - $22.00 each
Design set up is $10 per 1,000 stitches
- Production Time: 10-13 business days after proof approval
- Pricing Valid for: 30 days from above Date
- Final cost of delivered items may vary by 0% over or under ordered cost
- For individual bagging, a $0.25 charge per garment will be added
- All change orders will result in a 20% re-stocking fee before shipping & tax;
Change orders include changes in style, color, size or quantity - Above prices do not include Design, Tax or Royalties
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

Lots O Pics and a long description of my weekend at con )
And all of that combined to create the Best Con Evar!
joreth: (Super Tech)
I'm posting this mostly as a way to archive this. Someone just sent me a link to an article about the Slave Leia costume, and I was mentioned in the article!

They didn't actually talk to me or approach me or ask my permission or anything, but I am mentioned by name and paraphrased in 2 places. Well, they mentioned my name in one place and they took a comment I made in an essay I wrote at the end.

Yay! *bounce* I'm overall happy with the mention I was given, and I was the *only* fan-in-costume that was mentioned by name at all who wasn't already a celebrity. It would have been nice to have a link back to my website, but they did link to the Leia's Metal Bikini site, which has my profile and a link to my website in the fans-in-costume section.

Also, on the subject of being "famous", I just received a request from the Kinsey Institute to add my Poly Through History page of my website to their Polyamory section. Yay!
joreth: (polyamory)
OK, so there seems to be some interest in a PolyDragon Beach Towel - sparked by a comment on Twitter. Since Twitter is too limited for all the relevant information, I'll post about it here.

I've looked up several venues for getting PolyDragon beach towels. The Poly Tees printer does not offer them at this time, but there are several other screenprinters and embroiderers who do provide custom beach towels.

The problem with screen printers and embroiderers is that there is always a minimum order and all the items ordered have to be the same product and color.

The smallest minimum order that I could find was 6, for approximately $20 each. A company called Signify offers the following:

Port & Company® - Beach Towel. PT42

Item Description
A necessity for water recreation, our beach towel dries you off in a big way. Highly absorbent and hemmed for extra durability. * 100% cotton terry velour * Dimensions: 35"w x 62"l; 14 lbs/doz

Available Sizes
One Size

Available Colors



That price quote is from their generic price quote form, so I do not know what size the graphic would be or where on the towel it would go, but it would be silkscreened, not embroidered. If there is enough interest, I will send in the artwork and get a specific price quote. As I said, all 6 towels would have to be the same color, so I'll order them in whatever colors get the most votes, but if I could order just one for myself, I'd prefer a black towel with a purple PolyDragon.

Other places offer other options, such as bigger towel size, graphics that take up the whole towel, woven images instead of printed or embroidered, but not only does the price go up significantly (cheapest ones were $35), but the minimum order goes up as well. However, if enough people want these options to make the minimum order and the price is acceptable, I'm happy to provide whatever people want!

This same company offers the same price for 6 towels with embroidery as the price for silkscreened printing.

Also, this company does custom photo-printed towels, just for reference: $45 no minimum order

Just got word back on the price quote and details for embroidery with Signifiy.  She says "We usually decorate one of the corners of a towel with a max design size of 6". We can decorate any part of it though so that's up to you."  They quote:

Product Names: Port Authority Beach Towel (PT42)
- Material: 100% cotton terry velour
- Method of Imprint: Embroidery
- Locations: 1 location of your choice
- # of Colors: Purple
- Stitch Count: see below
Product Size: One size
Color Availability: Black
- Packaging: n/a
- Artwork Programs Accepted: vector

Quantity for Price: 6
8 to 9 thousand stitches = $21.24 each
10 thousand stitches = $22.19 each
14 thousand stitches = $26.00 each
18 thousand stitches = $30.00 each

** our designer estimated this to be a 18,000 stitch count design if decorated at a
size of 5" wide.

Screen print option [1 color, 1 location] = $18.95 each with a max size print of 13”
and no design fees with provided eps file.

Design set up is $10 per 1,000 stitches
- Production Time: 6-7 business days after proof approval
- Pricing Valid for: 30 days from above Date
- Final cost of delivered items may vary by 0% over or under ordered cost
- For individual bagging, a $0.25 charge per garment will be added
- All change orders will result in a 20% re-stocking fee before shipping & tax;
Change orders include changes in style, color, size or quantity
- Above prices do not include Design, Tax or Royalties

So, there it is, $30 for embroidery with a 5" design anywhere on the towel (default is the corner) or $18.95 for a screen printed image up to 13" anywhere on the towel, plus S&H, minimum order of 6 towels.

I recommend the following layouts:
~Embroidered PolyDragon centered on the edge of the towel so it can be displayed while folded on shelf or hanging on a rack
~Printed PolyDragon in the exact center of the towel so it can be displayed while in use.  Option to have the design vertical so displayed while laying flat or horizontal so it is upright when wearing the towel.

But, as usual, I'll make the order however those paying for it like it best :-)


OK, final price quote is $22 for a black towel with either a purple Polydragon or a white Polydragon (embroidered), centered on the edge so it can be displayed while folded on a shelf or hanging on a rack. Payments can be made via PayPal. Please send $25 instead of $22 to cover the cost of tax and shipping (which will not be quoted to me until I make the order, & I have to pay up front for the order). If the cost of tax & shipping per person is less than $3 per person, I will send the difference back. All the towels will be shipped to me, and you can get your towel by either picking it up, meeting me somewhere, or having me mail it to you (or another address). Shipping it to you may result in more shipping charges. I will make the order as soon as I have 6 or more of either color ordered. If you "buy now" after an order has been made, your order will held until I have another 6 orders total.

Purple Poly Dragon Towel

White PolyDragon Towel
Date: 12/1/09
Product Names: Port Authority Beach Towel (PT42) v Customer Supplied
- Material: 100% cotton terry velour
- Method of Imprint: Embroidery
- Locations: 1 location of your choice
- # of Colors: Purple and White
- Stitch Count: 18,000 stitches
Product Size: One size
Color Availability: Black
- Packaging: n/a
- Artwork Programs Accepted: vector
Quantity for Price: 12
On the towel mentioned above - $22.00 each
Design set up is $10 per 1,000 stitches
- Production Time: 10-13 business days after proof approval
- Pricing Valid for: 30 days from above Date
- Final cost of delivered items may vary by 0% over or under ordered cost
- For individual bagging, a $0.25 charge per garment will be added
- All change orders will result in a 20% re-stocking fee before shipping & tax;
Change orders include changes in style, color, size or quantity - Above prices do not include Design, Tax or Royalties
joreth: (Super Tech)
Apparently I forgot to mention this at the time, but I finished my chain mail skirt for my Fire Elf. The final costume will be displayed at Dragon*con this year. This is the last update I have planned for the costume, so unless something really really cool occurs to me, I'm pretty much finished.

Now to get dress dummies made of [ profile] corpsefairy and [profile] may_dryad for the Evil Ice Elf and Evil Earth Elf respectively.

I have also begun the latexing for Laurie Jupiter, which will also hopefully be ready by Dragon*con.

So far I have my Fire Elf, Laurie Jupiter, and Sarah Connor.  I don't think I'm going to bring Baroness this year.  I finally got a hold of some old comics, and I realized just how much work I have to do on her, so, since I have 3 new ones this year (one I didn't mention) plus Sarah Connor, I think that's all I'll need.
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!


Mar. 31st, 2009 11:53 pm
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
I wrote in to Richard Dawkins' website for his Out Campaign to let them know that I came up with a couple of t-shirts using his Scarlet A design, and they added a link to my website on their Promos page and even listed me on their Blogroll page!

If ya'll recall, I had a couple of different variations, some on Poly Tees and some on Stagehand Tees, none of which could be found if you just went to either website.  I didn't want to make them publicly available on either site because both t-shirt sites are for a very niche target audience and I didn't want to mix my atheism activism in with either niche - since one has nothing to do with the other.  But I didn't like not having a way for people to easily find the shirts if they wanted to either. 

So I collected all the variations I have so far into just one of the stores (Poly Tees) and I've built a page specifically for them.  I'll also be changing the Atheist link in my sidebar so that no one has to go hunting for an old journal entry if they want information about the Atheist t-shirts (although I *do* have a tag for all my atheist-related postings).

So, for future reference, any atheist-themed apparel and products I come up with can be found at
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
I noticed something interesting today.

So, as many of you might know by now, I am showing one of my photographs at Nude Nite, an annual art show that celebrates the human nude. 

But, what seems to escape many people, is that I am showing a picture I took as a photographer, not a photo *of* me nude.

Is it just me?  When one of my friends says their art will be displayed somewhere, I automatically assume they mean that they are the artist, not the subject, especially if they have a history of creating art in the first place.  But, most of my friends are men.

So, I emailed and texted everyone I could think of who might be interested to let everyone know about the showing this weekend.  I said "one of my photos will be shown at Nude Nite" followed by time/location details.  I work as a camera operator for a living.  I used to work as a portrait photographer for a living.  I currently sell stock photography and I am almost never without my camera on my hip.  I also carry samples of my work with me on my iPod and I have shown this particular photo before to most of my coworkers and friends, as well as several other nudes I've taken in the past, and non-nude photos too.  You'd think this would make people assume that I'm the photographer, not the subject. 

Now, it's true that I'm very open and explicit about my sex life, and I'm very honest about posing for [ profile] tacit's symtoys site.  So that *could* be causing some of the confusion.  But when I show pictures of parties to my co-workers, I'm never in them because I'm always the one taking them.  On the rare occasion that I am in the pic, I'm never nude.  I make this very clear when my coworkers/friends teasingly ask me to skip ahead in the party pics to the ones of me naked.

If [ profile] bonedaddybruce  or [ profile] james_the_evil1  told me that one of their photos was being shown somewhere, I'd assume they were the photographers, even though I actually *have* some photos of one of them nude from a party (and no, I won't share, I was asked not to).  I believe that anyone else I know who heard from them that "one of my photos is being shown" would also make the same assumption.  So, is it because they're male and I'm female?  All 3 of us make money from our photography in some way (or try to) and all 3 of us are known amongst our friends for always having a camera with us.  And all 3 of us have shown up in party pics in various states of disrobement and/or sexual content, and all 3 of us have been known to participate in openly explicit sexual conversations (among other things).  Now, perhaps the two of them do not discuss their sexuality with their coworkers like I do, but many of my coworkers are also friends and my employers are not prohibitive with regards to personal lives and discussion content.

So I'm finding myself peeved at all the responses coming in that assume that I am the model in the nude photo.  I'm annoyed because, although it can sometimes be flattering to hear that someone desires me, I really prefer to be admired for my accomplishments, and photography is one of the skills that I work at and I'm rather proud of.  I want to be known for my camera skills.  I may not be great, but I am good (and I'm better at video and film camera skills).  So it irritates me that, when I mention "one of my photos", the first thing people think of is a naked picture of me, not a photo I took as a photographer.  I make the assumption that it's because I'm a girl, and the very "common" minded guys I work with think that only women pose nude and men take the pictures.  That is my bias showing through, but I can't help wondering if my bias is really that far from reality?

Why would everyone assume that a professional camera operator and hobby photographer who happens to be a decent-looking female is the subject of a Nude Nite submission and not the artist?  Is it really just because I'm a girl?  Or does my open sexuality and sex-positive attitude really completely overshadow my job skills even to my coworkers who work with me and see me running a camera on a daily basis?
joreth: (Default)
It's taken me nearly two weeks to finally edit my pictures and build the webpage, but I finally did and now, here are some pictures from the trip I took to the Bahamas for my birthday!  The whole story and many, many, many more pictures are at and even more pictures in the Photography section (spread out in among several categories).  How I ended up being able to afford a trip to the Bahamas is actually pretty interesting, so I recommend reading all about it.

Our hotel was right on the beach.  We stayed there 4 days and 3 nights.  Here's a sunset picture from the beach that our hotel was on:

(I have added an amusing story to the end, because I forgot about it when I first posted, so if you've already read this, you might want to go back and read it again)

Check out these pictures I took on the Island! )

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