“Bouncing Off the Walls”
(April-June, 2003)

Welcome to my WebLog.  These are the entries for April, 2003.

Note that the parent site for this WebLog is designed for “mature audiences.”  So if you can’t handle kinky sexuality and adult language, or if you are a current or prospective employer, don’t go poking around.  You might want to leave right now, in fact.


2:03 pm / Sunday, June 22, 2003

On Our Best Behavior

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I attended International Mr. Leather in Chicago.  For those who have never attended, think of it as the “Miss America” of leather contests, plus a huge leather trade show, plus the world’s largest leather bar.  Thousands of leathermen (and hundreds of leatherwomen) from all over the world descend on Chicago for this long weekend of leather pride and debauchery.

In my opinion, this is the leather community’s opportunity to strut and show our best side to the rest of the world.  It’s a chance to wear our finest leathers (rubber, uniforms, etc.), network with like-minded men and women from all over, and prove ourselves to be the community we call ourselves.  Unfortunately, every community has some bad eggs.  Some leatherfolk take an event like IML as a chance to act out, to freak the mundanes, and to push the fact that we really aren’t any better than anyone else.

Most prominent is simply the fact that the host hotel completely fills with people in for this weekend event.  (If there is anyone else staying there, the hotel is foolish, as neither the leather folk nor the other guests really want to be around the others that weekend.)  Because we occupy the entire hotel, giving them 100% occupancy and spending a lot of money on the overpriced beer they sell at the special bar they set up for the weekend (and frequenting the hotel restaurants, and so forth), some of the attendees take advantage of the situation.  They are demanding of the hotel staff, they intentionally leave their rooms messier than usual (and think what state leathermen can leave their sheets and towels and such in), and they are just generally rude.

This year, dining at a steakhouse at the hotel, I observed the patrons of the restaurant: about 80% IML attendees, but also a fair number of outsiders.  This is a classic interface, not just between us and the staff but between us and the general public.  “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is there for a purpose, both for health code reasons and for simple decorum.  And yet, probably 10% of the leather diners were wearing just a vest or harness.  The most egregious I noted was Mr. Las Vegas Leather: dinner at IML is not a sash event.

I truly wish that the manager on duty at the restaurant had refused to seat each and every one of these men who were dressed inappropriately.  It would have served them right and might have served as a wake-up call to all of us.  We are still guests at the hotel and other businesses, gentlemen, and these are people who deserve appropriate dignity and respect.  If we push the envelope too far, we will be told to not return, no matter how much fucking money we bring in.

(Of course, these concerns aren’t just about the leather community.  Written in late July, they apply just as well to behaviors at Pride parades and celebrations across the country.  There is a line between celebrating that which makes us special and behaving inappropriately, and really, it’s a fairly thick line, easy to see.  Use some restraint.  I’ve got some nice leather ones you can borrow.)

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

Saturday, June 21, 2003
Edited Saturday, August 29, 2003
Edited Sunday, September 14, 2003
Remixed into Weblog at 11:09 am / Wednesday, July 7, 2004

What Were They Thinking?: When “Clean” Isn’t Enough

Click here for the previous entry.

Toilet Seat Wrapper Bag for Bathroom Glass

The first of these is a toilet seat wrapper from a Howard Johnson’s in San Francisco.  (We usually think of these as saying “Sanitized for Your Protection” instead).   The second was a bag wrapped around a bathroom glass at the Dufferin Hotel in Vancouver, BC.

In both cases, why “sparkling” clean?  Without that word, do they think I would doubt that these things were really most sincerely clean?

Click here for the next entry.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

Saturday, June 21, 2003
Remixed into Weblog at 11:06 am / Wednesday, July 7, 2004

What Were They Thinking?: I’m Feeling Safer Already

Click here for the previous entry.

Bar Napkin

I picked this up at the Chicago Eagle, I think.  Or it might have been a bar in Seattle, since I saw them here, too.

Sidestepping the idea of a bank providing bar napkins — which is actually kind of cool, having some business other than cigarettes and alcohol trying to reach bar patrons — what were they thinking?

“Place your credit or check card here.  That’s what it’s like to be protected with Total Security Protection.”  Putting my credit card on a bar napkin is the equivalent of Bank of America’s protection plan?  Should I just walk away and leave it there, too?  Will I feel even more protected then?

Remind me not to trust my savings account to B of A.  They might put it in a drawing of a safe.

Click here for the next entry.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

Saturday, June 21, 2003
Remixed into Weblog at 11:04 am / Wednesday, July 7, 2004

What Were They Thinking?: Am I Blue?

Click here for the previous entry.

Holly Sugar

Picked this up at a Starbucks at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

While I understand that blue is the color of the millennium, there’s nothing wrong with green, especially when your name and logo scream for it.

Click here for the next entry.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

12:43 pm / Friday, June 20, 2003
Edited at 5:11 pm / Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Dreaming of Who

I only rarely remember my dreams, and even then it’s usually just a single snapshot.  Of the dreams I do remember, a few have involved celebrities:

  • Most recently (June 15, 2003), I dreamt that country music singer Terri Clark had died and her sister came by carrying a huge banner, asking people to be in a tribute show.
  • Sometime around 1993 (maybe), I dreamt I was taking a tour of San Francisco, and we were underneath the Bay Bridge.  Our tour guide was Connie Chung.
  • A couple years before that, I dreamt I was in a snow drift on a ski slope at Tahoe, strangling Annette Funicello.  (The memory snapshot I have of this dream is similar to Kirk strangling the shape-changing salt monster on Star Trek.)

As you can imagine, I try not to analyze these dreams too much.

[Weblog title reference: This came from the Sandman comic collections, especially“A Game of You.”]

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

Monday, June 9, 2003
Remixed into Weblog at 11:03 am / Wednesday, July 7, 2004

What Were They Thinking?: Playing Hard to Get

Click here for the previous entry.

On the way to work today, a van for the Executive Extended Stay hotel passed by me, undoubtedly shuttling someone to a nearby site or attraction (per their website).

Plastered on both the side and the back of their van was the hotel logo and phone number:
(206)   23-9300.

I guess the sticker for the number peeled off (in both places?).  So fix it.  Or don’t you want executives to extend their stays?

Click here for the next entry.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

11:03 am / Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Edited 2:54 pm / Saturday, May 31, 2003

Disease of the Month Club

Now that AIDS is out of the way (cough, cough, hey buddy, wanna buy a bridge?), it’s time to select the big important disease of the next 15 years, the one to get all the research bucks and to get conservatives all up in arms about the attention being paid to it and the groups it affects most.  So which one will it be…

  • Ebola?  Coming from deepest, darkest Africa, with unknown origins and even unclear methods of transmission, Ebola has all the makings of a panic inducer.  On the other hand, it is largely confined to the Third World at this point.  Can it really be a worry if it isn’t affecting middle class white males in the United States?
  • West Nile Virus?  Malaria redux, and you can get it just by being outside when mosquitoes are out.  Doubly scary because it affect crows, too.  And horses.  And llamas.  And crocodiles.  And…
  • SARS?  The double whammy of having a four-letter acronym (which might change once we learn more, of course; AIDS was originally GRID) and coming out of China, giving an easily identifiable group of people to point at and run from.  May also have jumped the species barrier, akin to some theories on the origin of AIDS.
  • Something else?  It’s seems like a new deadly disease has shown up every couple years for the past decade, so there may be more on the way, things to topple even these three as King of the Hill.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

1:30 pm / Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Dinner, Anyone?

Courtesy of the March 2003 issue of National Geographic is today’s fun word:


A fork used by cannibals in Fiji to feed people who were considered too holy to touch food.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

1:31 pm / Sunday, May 11, 2003

Caller ID

Sometimes Caller ID gives the wrong information, by accident.

Saturday night, I got a call from “Emerald Hospita” (Caller ID only gives 15 characters).  My mind filled in the missing letter, so when I answered the phone, my heart rate was already up, and when my boyfriend’s voice was on the other end, it jumped another notch.

“Are you all right?” I said, scared.  “Why are at the hospital?”

“I’m at work.”  My boyfriend works for a hotel chain, the local branch of which is operated under the name “Emerald Hospitality.”  Whew!

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

8:40 pm / Thursday, May 8, 2003

Look Both Ways

A few years ago, I saw an e-mail list which included this: “You know you like in Seattle if… you stand on a deserted street corner in the rain waiting for the light to change.”  (To which I added: “And it’s 2:00 in the morning.”)  Of course, probably the biggest part of this is that jaywalking in Seattle actually can get you a ticket!  Still, Seattle has a reputation for polite and patient pedestrians.

But it also has incredibly stupid ones.

Twice in the past week, someone has been crossing the street in front of my car – mid-block, not at a crosswalk, so much for waiting for the light to change – and they look to see that I’m coming, then walk out into the street.  Which itself is fine, since I’ve not been right on them, ready to hit them the second they step out.  But as they walk across my lane, with my car barrelling toward them at 30 miles an hour (or more, undoubtedly a couple miles over the speed limit, like everyone else), they are looking away from me.  While it’s good to check where the cars are in the next lane over, I personally would want to see if the car I’m already in front of is, say, being driven by a homicidal maniac who sees me as a target and is bearing down on me even faster.  You know, paying attention to the more immediate threat.

If they want to pretend that I’m the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal – that if they can’t see me, then I can’t see them, and thus they can’t be hit by the Ravenous Bugblatter Beastmobile – then I wish they would at least be properly froopy and put towels over their heads.  It would make clean-up after the get hit that much easier.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

8:28 pm / Thursday, May 8, 2003
Edited 12:15 pm / Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Targeted Advertising

You’ve probably heard about “targeted advertising,” where advertising pertinent to the person viewing it is inserted into a magazine or a television show.  You can see it quite obviously when an ad for a local business airs on a nationally syndicated television show.  You can also see regional newspapers which will have a section aimed at a specific county.  They could even use their databases to say “In this zip code, the average income is this high, so put in ads for that luxury car, but in the next zip code, incomes are lower, so include ads for an economy car.”  Or for an extreme, they could (in theory) include ads targeted for the specific profile of each subscriber to a magazine.

Today, while driving to work, I had a bit of targeted advertising shock.  While listening to the local NPR station, there was an ad (oops, a “sponsorship message”) for Wallingford Center, a small shopping complex in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.  I was stopped at a red light at the moment, and looked over to the left… and there was Wallingford Center.

Spooky feeling.


In January, 2004, I had a repeat of this, with a Taco Bell commercial coming on while I was sitting at a light in Rainier Valley, right next to a Taco Bell.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

10:24 am / Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Mutant Trivial Pursuit

No, this has nothing to do with X2: X-Men United.

Back in my college days (1984-1990, including grad school), Trivial Pursuit was in high flower.  The original Genus Edition had been out for a while and we were just starting to see all the various sub-editions (Silver Screen, etc.), plus all the card sets put out by other companies which could be used with the game (I remember a religious one, and I know there were others).

My college crew had been playing Trivial Pursuit for a few years, and by then, most of us had gone through the entire original card set: mostly legally, although some people had just sat down to read every question/answer pair in the set.  So the game itself was getting a little boring.  Until we came up with our own spin on the game: Mutant Trivial Pursuit!

Here are the rules:

  1. Everyone takes a stack of cards (50 or 100, maybe; it doesn’t really matter).
  2. Choose one person to be the first reader.
  3. The reader chooses a question from his or her top card and reads it aloud.
  4. Everyone else chooses the “best” (funniest, usually) answer from their top card.
  5. The reader chooses the “winner” from the answers provided, and that person becomes the next reader.

A guideline for choosing what question to use:

  • Avoid questions whose correct answer is a number; many cards will have no adequate answer.

Some guidelines for choosing what answer to use:

  • A truly correct answer (it happens) always wins.
  • Answers involving dead presidents or sex are good choices.
  • Answers which are numbers don’t usually work.

Some of our best mutant question/answer pairs:

  • What do you throw into a boxing ring to stop the fight?
    John F. Kennedy.  (Guaranteed to work, no?)
  • What is receding from the Earth at a foot per year?
    A brassiere.
  • What is the symbol for the zodiac sign Gemini?
    Testicles.  (Twins, eh?)

(You can also reverse the game, of course, and read an answer, with the other players offering the best question.  That’s Mutant Jeopardy!, though.)

Note that there is no score kept and no overall winner (although you certainly could score based on how many rounds each person won).  The point is to have an hour or so of offbeat hilarity.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

10:14 am / Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Long Dry Spell

Whoof.  It’s been a month since I added anything to this log.  Mostly, that’s because I’ve been busy: a trip to Kansas City, tax time, some deadlines at work, and a new boyfriend.  Time to get some more content in here.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

5:11 pm / Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Conflicted about the Conflict: Reporters

Click here for part 8.

I’m torn as to whether “embedded journalists” are a good thing.

On the one hand, with today’s technology, we are getting a never-before-available view of the war.  (One radio reporter I heard spoke of seeing a report on NBC about an artillery strike being requested on a particular position, then flipped to CNN and saw a reporter with an artillery unit talking about a large strike that had just been launched, and then flipped back to NBC where the first reporter was able to talk about the strike as it hit.)  Not that I’m worried that we are only seeing the small pictured, fractured through lots of sets of eyes, mind you; the big picture is present as well.  We are also getting a greater feel for the individuals involved in the war.  And while embedding puts the journalists much closer to the action, the government thus also knows where they are so as to not worry as much about them.

On the other hand, while embedding puts the journalists much closer to the action, the government thus also knows where they are, which potentially gives a greater level of control over whom has access to what information.  Embedding may also introduce a bias: by increasing the human factor, putting the journalists through the same training and billeting them right alongside the soldiers may taint what those reporters comment on.  Knowing that they have to face these soldiers at mess and in the tents, the journalists will be unlikely to comment negatively on the units they are with, and may be less likely to comment negatively about anything related to the military.

A related concern is the connection made to those journalists themselves.  Michael Kelly was the first embedded journalist killed during the conflict.  For a day, his name and picture were everywhere (and then the ever-bored media moved on).  But there had been a couple other, non-embedded and non-American journalists killed in the conflict before him.  That was mentioned a couple times, but who they were and where they were from?  Who cares, it seems.  And how about the journalists killed in the attack on the Palestine Hotel?  It turns out that they were from the Ukraine and Spain, but damned if you could find that out from the (radio) news broadcasts.  They weren’t American and they certainly weren’t embedded, so they are hardly worth a passing mention.

Click here for part 10.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Remixed into Weblog at 10:54 am / Wednesday, July 7, 2004

What Were They Thinking?: Don’t Know ’Nough About Biology

Click here for the previous entry.

Cranberry Tree Restaurant

The Cranberry Tree Restaurant sits just off Interstate 5 in Mt. Vernon, Washington, an hour or so north of Seattle.  Tree?  Don’t cranberries grow on small bushes or vines in some sort of a bog?  Not to mention the huge size of those berries!

The cranberry plant that we usually think of in terms of fruit juice and the like is vaccinium oxycoccus (and related species).  But there is also a cranberry tree, viburnum opulus, from the Honeysuckle family.  Generally found in the Pacific Northwest, it is a large shrub or small tree which produces red, single-seed berries (and hence the name, obviously); the berries were used as a food source by the Shuswap tribe of eastern British Columbia (among others).

So the berry size may be an exaggeration, but sometimes it turns out that what they were thinking is right!

Click here for the next entry.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

11:14 pm / Monday, April 7, 2003

Resigned to My Fate

A word that has come up in my life far too many times in the past year is “resign”.

(No, not in the context of President Bush.  Sorry to get your hopes up.)

Rather, it has shown up with organizations I am involved in, being used by members of those groups – often by officers of those groups.  Sometimes that has been to slam the door behind them as they storm away, pissed off over some misunderstanding that they didn’t try to resolve in any other way.  Other times, it has been to force a personal agenda: “If things don’t happen the way I want them to, I’ll resign.”

Regardless of how offended the person is, or whether the agenda involves a deeply held moral conviction or is merely some petty spat, resignation is a pretty serious deal.  It is an extreme action, what should be a final one.  Or it should be, in my view.  I fear that our society’s focus on extremes have blunted the effect and thus the value of the action; what was once unpalatable becomes routine.

Using resignation as anything but a last-resort action, something done only when all other possible avenues have been tried (and failed to produce the desired results) is a brutal thing.  Bandying it around lightly, using it as a a first line of action, is reckless and even childish.  Having an officer of an organization use it as a threat to get an agenda enacted is particularly bad, in my opinion, certainly not the action of a responsible community leader.

I’ve come awfully close to responding “Then go ahead and resign.  If you can’t find any other option – if you won’t even try – then we’re probably better off without you.”  I haven’t said anything like that yet, since I would undoubtedly lose a friend by doing so, but I’ve come damn close.  I may not hold back the next time.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

3:10 pm / Monday, April 7, 2003

Ethan Green Has My Number

Ethan Green panel

“The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green”
by Eric Orner


Ikea lamp

In my Bedroom

Oh, the shame!

(The table my lamp is on is also from Ikea!)

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

11:24 am / Friday, April 4, 2003
Edited at 5:11 pm / Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Edited at 11:20 am / Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Dead Hard Drives Aren’t Much Fun

I have a portable hard drive (VST, 20 GB, FireWire/USB) which I use daily to bring files back and forth between home and work.  E-mail archives, installers for new versions of software, 100 MB sets of files being used for web pages, non-MP3 song files at 20 MB each, and so on.  (Most important is that my personal e-mail folders live on this disk while at work, accessed via alias links; I copy them to the system at home.)

On Wednesday, the drive went down.  Disappeared from the desktop.  I not only couldn’t access much of my e-mail, all my filters used those links to deal with incoming messages, so they were popping up error alerts.  The disk also wouldn’t come up on another system.  I got it up briefly later that day, but then it went down again.

The drive is 2.5 years old (I got it for work with my previous job and kept it as part of the “severance package,” where I got to keep all the hardware I was using; anyone need a B&W SoftBook Reader or a Rocket eBook or two?), and gets heavy transport use – plug/unplug, toss it in the bag to go to work and bag, jostle it around a bit.  I had similar problems with it about a year ago, where it would come up and go down intermittently.  Tech support at VST was of no help.  So I resigned myself to the idea that it was time to replace it.  I looked around on the web on Thursday, called a local Mac store, found that prices have come down quite a bit in the last couple years (so I could get four times the space for 2/3 the price), and resigned myself to spending $200 or so on a new drive today.

Tonight, I’m heading up to Vancouver for Rubbout 12, and I decided to take my iPod with me.  As usual, it has sat for a couple weeks or more, so it needed a new charge.  I plugged it in to the computer with the cable from the hard drive… and it said “OK to Disconnect” without the device having appeared on the desktop.  Huh?  Unplug, replug, same result.  Light bulb flickers on.  (It’s one of those cheaper-to-use fluorescent ones; they take a few seconds.)  Cable from the iPod happens to be sitting on the desk from the last time I charged it at work.  Plug in the hard drive using this other FireWire cable (which I’ve hardly used in the 16 months I’ve had the iPod).  Boom, there’s the hard drive, right up on the desktop like it should be.

Now I just have to spend 20 minutes or so copying e-mail archives and restoring filters and alias links which I deleted in order to avoid error alerts.  But at least I’m back in business, as it were.

Lesson for the day: before you freak out about dead hardware, check the cables.  They’re a lot cheaper to replace.

Update / added on July 7, 2004:

The iPod’s FireWire cable gave out a couple months ago, so I’ve moved to a different solution.  Since it’s likely that the regular bending and unbending of the cable is the cause of the connection problems, I now have a short (3 foot) FireWire cable for both the home and work systems, so I end up plugging/unplugging the drive only, leaving the cable alone.

I continue to have problems with the drive, though.  Of the two FireWire ports on it, only one of them works.  And sometimes it doesn’t operate properly, forcing me to unplug and replug (usually after blowing any imagined dust out of the cable and post).  Even more curiously, the drive will only work on my home system if I turn it upside down!  Right side up and it won’t spin up and register on the system.  Bizarre.

I’m going to have to find an alternate solution sometime soon.  I’ve thought about going to a pluggable USB drive, but right now my attachments folder on the drive contains 600 MB (and just the e-mail folder has 62 MB), way too large to be suitable for a 128 MB drive.  I’ll probably just get myself a new FireWire drive, probably something with 80 GB for half of what I paid for this one.

Of course, that was nearly four years ago.  I’ve gotten good mileage out of it, to be sure.

[Weblog title reference: From the song “Dead Puppies Aren’t Much Fun,” sung by Iain MacKintosh.]

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

10:36 pm / Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Edited at 3:20 pm / Monday, April 7, 2003

Conflicted about the Conflict: Protests II

Click here for part 7.

Two more observations about the opposition to the anti-war protests…

  • A recurring comment from the conservative side of things is “If you don’t like the decisions made by your elected representatives, then vote them out of office.”  Stepping gingerly over the mushy cow patty of the last presidential election (since I’ve already addressed it), we should be sure to include the unspoken part of that retort: “Which won’t be for another two years.”  The idea that those who are opposed to the war (or indeed to any policies of the current administration) should have no mechanism for expressing their displeasure other than electioneering is offensive.

    Nearly as offensive, some conservative talk jocks have been using the “vote them out next time” idea in combination with low voter turnouts at the mid-term election to insinuate that the protestors didn’t (bother to) vote in the elections which put Bush and the Republican-controlled congress in power, and thus that their complaints are invalid, en masse.  Alas, there is a grain of truth to that, since it is largely the younger crowd doing (and able to do, for various reasons) the protests, and that age group typically does have lower voter turnout levels.  Of course, large numbers of the protestors did vote, but it doesn’t behoove the talk jocks to recognize that.
  • Another comment I’ve encountered a couple times is one paraphrased as “The protestors should think long and hard about just who their protest helps.”  When I heard this on the radio, the speaker almost immediately back-pedaled away from the idea that the protestors should not (be allowed to) protest, but think about implications of that comment, about the chain of thought the person is trying to lead us down:

    Anti-war protests hurt American soldier morale….which lessen the effectiveness of our troops….which gives aid and comfort to the enemy….which means that anti-war protests are treason.

    Despite today’s date, this is no April Fool.  Treason is exactly the conclusion which such a comment is intended to imply.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me


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