Sunday, December 12, 2010

Change of Attitude

The scenery isn't the only thing that has changed in the last couple of months. Home ownership, and the increased responsibility, time demands, and cost that go along with it, has predictably taken it's toll on my attitude.

  • I no longer get on the computer every night. A few days each week it doesn't even get powered on to check email. I'm finding it impossible to keep up with the latest nudist news and legal battles. Many of my RSS feeds have been slowly getting dumped off my reading list.
  • After being away from Mazo Beach all year by choice, I've lost a strong desire to return. We'll probably make a trip or two next summer, but not the number of trips we've done in the past. We also skipped the fall road cleanup and Halloween party due to some of the people involved.
  • After taking a step back and reevaluating things, an anonymous ranter was right. (I forget who it was ranting about this.) The small talk that social nudists do gets a little annoying after a while. This is one of the reasons I'm not looking forward to our next trip to the beach -- it's several repetitions of this: What are your names? I'm bad at remembering names... [They proceed to forget mine and remember hers.] Where are you from? How long of a drive is that? [Insert their long answer here, whether or not we ask.] What do you do job-wise? [Glaze over my impressive career and education, focus on her more standard career.] How often do you come here? [Insert more of their answers.] How did you two get to be nudists? Are you married? How did you two meet? [Proceed to some long stories end to end while we stay mostly quiet.] You should visit [their favorite place on the opposite side of the state.] See you next time! [Chances are never.]
  • I really hesitated to renew my TNS membership. I'd like to continue working with NAC and that requires a TNS membership. I haven't read the latest 1.5 issues of N. TNS members have been giving me hell all year. If only I could be a member of NAC/NEF and not TNS for a while.
  • I haven't participated in any of the NAC action alerts in the last 6 months. Although, I'd like to send a late letter to California.
  • Remember the library book? Since then, I've done about 90% of the work to oppose their rejection of the Nude Beaches book. That last 10% requires detailed direction from NAC, which I've requested several times prior to moving. It's been so long that the opposition may no longer have value. Is it time to give up on it?
  • Lack of time and motivation prevents me from implementing my "rapid response" idea that was presented at the Eastern Naturist Gathering in 2008. The idea was to cache short, well written, user generated responses to common misconceptions. That way, it's quick and easy for anyone to post a very good response to news reporters.
  • Lack of time and motivation prevents me from implementing my "land share" idea, which allows the sharing of private land for a variety of purposes. This is much broader than just allowing naturists to share land. (The closest thing I've found is sharing land only for gardens. There are lots of other reasons that could apply, so why limit to only one thing?) If someone else wants to make either of these ideas happen, let me know.
  • The WWNCW is basically dead. I'm considering letting the site expire, or at least switching to some other domain name to try another idea.
  • I've lacked a desire to create new friendships at social events. Despite that, I have very much enjoyed the current friendships and have an interest in re-sparking some older ones.
  • It'll take more to get us to a venue. Why spend money at a resort or campground when we have a hot tub (which will be set up eventually), a private backyard (which isn't completely private yet), and 10 acres of private hiking (where trails are still in progress), and a big house to enjoy. I'd be happy to spend the money here and work on those things.
  • It'll take more to get us to the public beach. We can tan in our backyard, and skinny dip in our hot tub or stream.
  • It'll take more for us to brave public lands, especially after we put Vernon County on edge by freehiking. With a good career and a squeaky clean criminal record, I'd prefer not to chance it. (But those trails are way better than mine!) If I announce a freehike here, I'd probably have an officer waiting for me at the destination. There's nothing illegal about it, especially with the methods we use, but I simply want to avoid the trouble for now.
  • It'll take more for us to travel. Driving several states away just to get naked, like we've done the last two years, may not happen in 2011. We can drive 2 hours to get naked at the beach or VVRC, or better yet, stay naked at home.
  • It should be obvious that my blog post frequency went way down in the last year. I still have a queue of posts to write, but just haven't had the time and haven't had the desire. I'm working on that right now.

I've watched as bloggers come and go. One of my favorite examples is "The Nude Life". It was a very active blog in the 2007/2008 timeframe. It had a lot of good content written by a well-networked couple in Texas. A good part of it was about their travels and parties. They took pride in bragging about the things they could do nude. Towards the end, they even operated a small forum on the site. It was on my list of favorite blogs. (See the archives here.)

Then, in July of 2008, they moved from Texas to Cyprus Cove Nudist Resort full-time as their retirement plan. They did three more posts about the experience, then dropped out of cyberspace at the end of September. Presumably, they had limited internet access and a lack of desire to maintain an online presence. I do not want to follow in their footsteps!

My move has had a similar feeling to it. Living in an urban house, or an apartment, forces naturists to seek out more public ways to participate. They are the beach-dwellers, the resort regulars, the public lands freehikers, the naked protesters, and the people pushing for society to be more tolerant of their chosen lifestyle. Living in a place that is clothing-optional inside and out, either full-time at a resort or in a reasonable sized private lot, seems to allow naturists to simply sit back, relax, and do nothing. This is what we all seek, and I believe it is self-destructive for naturism.

The goal for me is to not allow myself to go idle on the issues facing naturism. I need to keep up with the times, keep promoting naturism, keep helping naturist organizations, keep travelling, and keep blogging. It's a tough goal to work towards! If I get too far out-of-line, please give me a kick in the right direction. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Change of Scenery

The view from our old apartment, of an ugly city parking lot and neighbors through the trees.

Over the last two months, I've been extra busy! Not only am I doing 60+ hour weeks at work, but I also bought a house during all that. It's been a long search, but I think we finally found a place we'll enjoy long-term.

The view from our house, overlooking a quiet valley with no neighbors in sight.

It's been troublesome, but in our favor. (Patience is a virtue!) The listing had been around for about a year. We made an offer, but the owner decided to remove it from the market due to their daughter's health. During the two months it was off the market, they were nearly foreclosed on. They put it back on the market, we made an offer that same day that was less than the asking price, and they accepted pending bank approval. The bank approval took over two months! Then, the owners took almost an additional month to begin moving out.

Moving weekend was fun. We closed on the house on a Thursday. That morning we did a walk-through and found the owners and realtor were busily packing. We helped out until lunchtime, and the meeting for the closing. We helped more that evening. They had a large U-Haul, a large storage unit, a car, two trucks, and a trailer absolutely packed with stuff. The rest they left for us, mostly because they had no room for it. Friday and Saturday were spent cleaning, painting, and fixing. Sunday, we moved a bulk of the items. Our move out of the apartment wasn't rushed at all, which made for a not-so-stressful weekend.

Living room and propane 3-sided fireplace.

Luck was on my side. The price of the property was cheap compared to others, and the appraised value ended up being $40k higher than what I paid. Mortgage rates had been falling ever since I started looking at houses, and I've locked in at a very nice rate. Thanks to the previous owners, we have a lot of random stuff that homeowners need and usually acquire over several years. We made a deal, and got a cheap price on a very nice (very new) front-load washer and dryer. Thanks to my family's free time and desire to crawl Craigslist, we've found some great deals on the basics. We got a nice ZTR (50" cut) for only slightly more than a typical lawn mower. We got a practically new Cadillac-of-snowblowers (30") for the price of a regular new one. We got a huge couch (with coffee table, end table) and dining room table/set for probably a third of the actual value of the items. Thanks to some other family, we have a beautiful German schrank in the dining room and two similar German wardrobes in the bedroom. And if anyone prefers a German-style bed, we have one of those too in the guest bedroom. Lastly, thanks to Freecycle, we found a free 8 person (but only 300 gallon) hot tub which will be my winter project. The frame is in great shape, but is missing all pumps and electronics.

Dining room with the German schrank, before the housewarming party.

The house sits on over 10 acres, with 8 of those being wooded and mostly hillside. We're by the road, but it's a township road that gets almost no traffic. The nearest neighbors are almost a mile away down the road. We plan to privatize the back yard from road traffic with a shed, small fence, and lots of bushes. The house has a very open floor plan and is over 2800 sq. ft. It's a ranch with a finished walkout basement, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and 2 fireplaces where 1 is propane and 1 is wood (which is made to heat the whole house). Despite the size, the utility bills have been very low so far. We'll see what winter brings.

The area is beautiful, and the wildlife is plentiful. The first week, I rolled my naked butt out of bed and looked out the window to see this...

...and I've seen plenty more since then!

The last two months have been exciting. We're breaking in a wonderful 10-year-old home. Not only that, but it'll soon be a nude-friendly 10 acres that will be ideal for clothing-optional parties. Look for more posts in the future on the various projects I'll have going.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Car Show 2010

After a year break, we finally made it back to the car show. Things haven't changed! We arrived Saturday morning and set up in our favorite "overflow area". Already, the pool area was packed. Towels sprawled over every available chair and pool full of human soup. The weather was perfect. Cars were on display. The food tent smelled great. The DJ was spinning tunes. The car show was going strong!

Our originl plan was to travel to VVRC after work on Friday, but that ended up being far too late. A storm was on the way, and it's a good thing we missed it Friday night. Campers reported having a "lake-side property this morning!" Some even had a private island. It was gone by mid-morning.

We started the day out by saying "hi" to the usual group in the tenting area. They really like us, and they've been with us to most of the big events that VVRC provides since we first went there. They're fun to talk to for a while. But, we don't want to spend the entire weekend with them. There's an age gap, and we tend to sit around quietly while they chat.

Another expected couple were the ones that previously threatened us. We avoided them for the most part, but the guy did exchange a "hi" with us as we passed by. We'll probably be seeing them a lot at future events, so we may as well get used to it.

An unexpected couple called out Percilla's name. (It's funny how they can never remember mine...) It was NC and his wife. (NC is an abbreviated nickname.) NC was the person who talked my ear off at the bowling event we attended on the opposite side of the state. This time around, he tried to do the same. He encouraged Percilla and I to join a few groups on a social networking website. I at least added him as a friend and joined his main group.

That evening, we had a delicious chicken dinner! The cost for the usual car show dinner is fairly expensive, but you get what you pay for. A freshly grilled boneless chicken breast or a pork chop, baked potato, whole green beans and other vegetables, a fully loaded salad, American-sized buns, and cake for desert. Being starving tenters, we ate as much as we possibly could and enjoyed every bite.

Breakfast on Sunday was the same, except it was free. The main course was doughnuts, but cereal, yogurt, juice, and other items were available. It's a great way to start the day, and we were lucky to show up only 30 minutes before they closed it down.

Lunch was also a last minute deal. Percilla had lunch at the food tent after a massage. I found her there as she was finishing up. By the time I put in my order, the food tent was handing out scraps. My brat bun was one of those leftover American-sized dinner rolls. My brat, as it turned out, was short enough to fit in the dinner roll. It worked nicely and was a good enough meal for me.

During this meal, we talked to a retired female who is a full-time naturist with her husband. When they retired, they sold their house and most possessions and bought a very nice American-sized RV. They have a P.O. box in North Dakota (and are technically residents), live at a resort in Texas during the winter, and live at VVRC during the summer. Percilla and I can easily see ourselves doing the same thing when we retire.

For the annual parade, Percilla sat on the back of a nice car as usual. She rode with the same driver as before, despite my recommendation that she could probably ride in ANY car that she chooses. Who would turn down a cute young naked rider like her? It's her only chance to ride in fancy cars that I could never afford.

I didn't like the way they did the parade this year. Normally, they do a big loop around the RV grounds. This time, it was more like a corral. The cars formed an oval stretching from where the DJ is to the gravel road nearest to the camping area. The cars were all almost bumper to bumper driving the small oval. I enjoyed admiring the beauty of the cars as proud owners drove them around, but also felt sorry for them since they were moving like caged animals.

After the parade, things really cleared out. We were faced with a problem that had been quietly nagging us the whole time: boredom. Three years ago, the group of regulars were new and we spent most of our time with them. Two years ago, we convinced some nearby friends to attend and we spent time with them. We also had the motorcycle in the show. This year, we didn't have anyone or any involvement. Quite frankly, it got boring.

We were on the edge of bringing a friend with. She's a single mom our age. Her son was elsewhere for the weekend and she had no other commitments. She doesn't mind seeing nudity. She was faced with a boring weekend by herself. Despite being the perfect weekend to hang out with us, she is too stuck in the "nobody wants to see this" attitude. She also thinks it'll be too awkward seeing friends naked. Percilla and I have both done our best to correct the misconceptions. We just need to break the ice somehow. If she would've gone with, we all would've had a blast!

But, as it turns out, Percilla and I both had a "what do we do now?" type of look. Most of the usual group were gone, along with NC and others that we would normally talk to. The only remaining group our age seemed to want to keep to themselves. We didn't want to strike up any new friendships. (Neither of us currently have time to strike up friendships, or reignite old ones. Our social lives are on hold this year.) Despite being paid up until after dark, we left by mid-afternoon. It allowed us a nice meal at the Curve and time to unpack once we returned home.

The event itself is great! VVRC does a really good job with all of the food and entertainment, same as every year. But therein lies a problem -- we had the feeling that we've seen it all before, and some of the excitement was lost. New friends would keep things fresh, but it just couldn't happen this year. We'll have to try again next year!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quick Jaunt to Cedar Trails

A trip to Ohio has been on my agenda all summer, but every single weekend that we both had available was already filled. We proposed several dates, and all fell through. Lucky for us, some of the other plans fell through at the last possible minute on the first Friday of August. We both managed to take off work Monday for driving back -- we were set for a trip! Assuming everything goes right, that is.

Friday, after a full day of work (6:45pm), I scurried around collecting everything we might need for the trip and called up Chet and Lydia once I was on the road. I had no time to fire up the computer and plan the route, post my intentions on Twitter, or contact others to meet up with in Ohio. I had no time to double-check that I packed everything we needed. The plan was to pick up Percilla at 8pm and drive her clunker (which is better than my clunker) all night across several states to meet up with people we've never met before. What could possibly go wrong?

After being awake all night, I was lucky. I've pulled plenty of all-nighter's before. Sometimes I drag through the second day. Sometimes I feel sick. This time, as with only a few others, I actually felt awake the second day. I didn't even feel tired through the night until the sun was rising. After the sun was up more, I felt awake again. It's strange how that works.

We almost-blindly followed the GPS's recommendation for the fastest route, which resulted in a path that I would never want to drive in the daytime. Straight through Chicago, take a normally busy exit, follow a straight road with tons of stoplights through most of Indiana, then take alleys and county roads through small towns and rural areas until somehow ending up on the interstate we need.

We made it to mid-Ohio by 6:30am, jumped in Chet's car, and rode to Cedar Trails in southern Ohio. A stop had to be made at a small town store for some sandals and other forgotten supplies. We went from interstate, to nice roads, to skinny roads, to a really skinny gravel road. Cedar Trails is really tucked away. I like that.

The weather was perfect, but Cedar Trails still had a minimal crowd of around 25 when we arrived. Although crowds of naked people can be fun, having 60 acres to explore and most facilities nearly to yourself is an enjoyable experience as well. The exception to this was Saturday afternoon and evening, when the crowds doubled for the dart tournament and pool party. There was a good mix of people too, including 4 other couples our age and some teenagers who were having a blast in and around the pool area.

After arriving, the tent provided less entertainment than Chet was anticipating. Percilla and I work like a machine to get the tent raised, the air mattress full, the bed made, and everything moved into the tent. Perhaps the most entertainment he had was watching me pound in the tent stakes with my boot. Little did he know, I've done that ever since we've had a tent and it has always worked great -- so much so that I don't even bother packing a mallet. He at least helped in tying the side flaps down (something I never do), and in lending us a much better air mattress, pump, and lantern. We only spent nights in the tent. During the daytime, we all went to their air conditioned camper.

Saturday and Sunday had nearly the same routine. Breakfast, laze by the pool, lunch, some physical activity, supper, and an evening round of pool at the club or relaxing among tiki torches at the pool party. The food, generously provided by Chet and Lydia, was excellent! (It was better than what we normally eat.) Lazing around by the pool wasn't my favorite activity, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Percilla and I hid our pale Wisconsin skin under a large beach umbrella and some SPF 85. Lydia relaxed in the lounge chair under the sun, and Chet was blissfully gathering rays by floating in the pool. They're both well on their way to a chocolate bar tan. We at least got a little color during our stay, and it wasn't red.

The afternoons consisted of taking the paddle boat out for a spin around the lake, playing darts, playing bocce ball, playing pool, trying to get wifi from the camper, and hiking the trails. The paddle boat was fun, but the lake was a bit small for it and we were warned that it might bottom out in places. (The lake will have water added soon.) The bocce and horseshoe pits are excellent, with all needed items available. The pool table has everything too and is in great condition. We didn't try the badminton or volleyball, but I'm confident they're in similar shape.

The couple miles of trails were especially enjoyable for me. It's not often that I get to freehike with others and not have to worry about prudish textilers. The trails were well maintained, but that may change now that the person who created them has left. They were all nicely mowed during our visit. Trees were marked with orange tape, and fallen tree branches were placed on the sides to help identify the trail. At the top, there's a lovely prairie with wild flowers, horses (sometimes), and a lookout across a meteor crater.

It was apparent that I was at home on the trails. I could glide through them all with little effort. To be fair, everyone could keep up with a good pace, but I was the least tired and could've gone multiple times in a row. I was also the one spotting the wildlife, with one exception being a spider on a web that Lydia nearly ran into. When the four of us were hiking on Sunday, I was calling things out. "Look -- there's a tree frog!" "Look -- there's a baby snake! Don't step on it!" Saturday, when Chet and I first went on the trails, I spotted the only wildlife. "Look -- there's a skunk only 15 feet away with it's tail in the air!"

We stopped dead in our tracks. There was absolutely no scent, so it didn't feel too threatened yet. It was also facing us, which is a good side to be on. We slowly crept down the trail to get by it and it also made a slow retreat into a trench. Whew! We didn't even want to consider the consequences if we would've been sprayed. Chet and I would've been confined to the tent and shower stalls, and everyone would be avoiding us. The car ride home would've been unpleasant too. We might've even used up all the water getting that scent off.

Water is an issue at Cedar Trails. Due to some obscure regulations, water needs to be trucked in from the city for public use. The owner does this himself -- a few times each day he'll take a truck with a big tank in the bed to the city, fill it up, and unload it into large tanks around the resort. I'm unsure if the water can be considered drinkable, but none of us chance it. The locals know about the water situation and really try to minimize their use of it. Day-trippers might not know. My suggestion is that a sign should be posted informing everyone that water gets trucked in and to ask that they minimize use of it. I took navy showers while I was there.

The bathhouse at Cedar Trails is absolutely brilliant for the purpose it serves. It's the best designed bathhouse I've ever seen. The picture on the website shows the front. It has an entry door on each side, with large custom windows to let light in. The inside has two open showers between the doors which allow easy access between sides if the showers aren't in use. There is no male/female designation. There is no ceiling, just the roof, so the window light goes everywhere. There is a private toilet stall on each side, along with a regular sink, mirror, shelf for putting things on, and a large sink for washing dishes or clothes. The lights by the sink and mirror are on a 15 minute timer. Additionally, you'll notice on the picture that there is something between the doors. This is a whole-building 75 minute timer, which controls power to the lights, hot water heater, small heater (when needed), small air conditioner (when needed), and ceiling fans. Lastly, cleaning supplies are readily available with a sign saying "Please clean up after yourself. You're mother doesn't live here." Based on how clean it was, I'd have to say that people adhere to this guideline.

Another wonderful idea they tried was a Snorkel hot tub. (Snorkel is famous for having a wood-fired aluminum stove that sits right in the water.) The first problem they had was keeping the temperature comfortable, which they eventually mastered. The second problem couldn't be fixed. As people get in and out of the tub, the water level would constantly get low. Low water is a problem for the Snorkel stoves because if there is not enough water around them, they can overheat and melt. Their conclusion is that the Snorkels are great for home use, but not as a resort centerpiece. I plan to buy one for our personal off-grid hot tub.

Cedar Trails has a certain kind of charm that is rare to find. The couple that purchased and developed the land have put their hearts and souls into creating a high quality nudist retreat. As far as I can tell, they've succeeded. Percilla and I had a great time, with great company, and are looking forward to a return visit in the future. Maybe next time I can plan things a little better!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stories from VVRC (Part 2)

This story is from a new guest blogger. See part 1 for details.


Greetings! Call me "Bob" (of "Alice and Bob" fame, the ballroom dancing couple mentioned a few times in this blog). The Academic Naturist asked me if I would like to contribute anything as a guest blogger, so I thought I would relate an experience from last summer at VVRC, and the ruminations resulting therein.

Alice and I are not members of VVRC but we visit every chance we get during the warmer months. Valley View was our first nudist experience, and it was the people we met there, more than anything else, that made it a pleasant, easy going experience for us. We have been to several other places since then (Sunny Haven in IN, Cypress Cove in FL, Turtle Lake in MI, etc.) but for coziness, relaxation and economy of travel time, we always keep coming back to Valley View... and primarily because of the people there.

And speaking of people, I want to relate a story involving a small child I'll call "Donna" ("Carol" is already taken by a friend of ours - see A.N.'s entry regarding last February’s winter party). Donna is about six years old and typically plays with any other children who happen to be around. When she's void of playmates her own age, she'll hang out with Alice, whom Donna thinks is "really really cool." Donna's mother sometimes worries Alice feels put-upon, but my wife is a trooper and Donna is not terribly high-maintenance.

On with the tale: last summer, when Donna was five, Alice and I stuck around for the monthly "Munchie Mixer," a production at the clubhouse put on by the VVRC members wherein they feed the guests in an effort to get to know them better. Alice and I really enjoy these because it gives us an opportunity to meet any new visitors we may have missed during the day with our typically busy schedule of reading by the pool, tanning by the pool, swimming in the pool, chatting with friends by the pool... you get the idea.

This time in particular we had pizza at the Mixer. Alice got our plates, found seats to settle into next to some newbies, and to no one's surprise Donna appeared with her plate stacked high with slices and announced: "Hi, Alice! I’m gonna sit by YOU!"

So we ate and conversed and little Donna occasionally offered up observations involving the pool, Barbies, and some of the VVRC members' pets that are nice to play with. After a while, I felt the call of nature and excused myself to head off to the men's room.

Sidebar, now, as I explain something about the layout of VVRC. The acreage is primarily populated by campers, some permanent, the majority summer-only. There is a small but respectable camping area on the property, over by the clubhouse, which is at the opposite end of the land from the entrance, where the office is located. While the clubhouse has refrigerators, stoves and running water, it does not have restrooms. For that sort of facility one has a choice of

A) The pool house
B) The showers - located more or less in the center of the property
C) The outhouses located right outside the clubhouse

Being a civilized and relatively normal socialized North American male of the 21st century, I decided on option "B" when I left the clubhouse to tend to my needs; it was closer than the pool house and had the much preferred feature of soap and running water for afterwards.

So I started on my way down the gravel path to the showers when I suddenly heard a familiar little voice cry out: "Hey! Hey! Bob!"

I turned around and saw little Donna, a smear of pizza sauce on her little face, running towards me with some urgency.

"What’s up?" I asked.

"You know, you can go there." She declared, pointing to the outhouses.

"Yes, but I would much rather go there," I replied, pointing to the showers and wondering if I would have to explain the importance of personal hygiene, especially when about to handle food.

From our vantage point, Donna could only see the entrance to the men’s room.

"But that one's for guys. Anyone can use those!" She retorted, pointing again to the outhouses with a little more emphasis.

"And that's okay, Donna, because I am a guy."

She looked at me blankly, for a moment, and then lowered her gaze and stared at me for a second.

"Yeah! You are!" she said, looking me in the face, again. "Okay! Bye!"

And she turned around and went back into the clubhouse to hang with the wife.

I continued on my way and for the briefest moment I was a little disturbed to have been scoped by a five year old... and then realized her attitude was the same as a kid picking up a hamster to see if its a boy or a girl: she was just checking to verify my statement.

The implications are rather interesting. Donna has been involved in nudism all her life. She is fully aware of the physical differences between men and women. So much so she does not really think about gender differences when communicating with people. It seems to me that without cultural gender markers (of which clothing, in American society, is a major set), to a growing nudist child primary and secondary sexual characteristics are about as common and mundane as fingers, noses, and eyebrows. To them, it's all just "people parts" and don't matter unless they are taught they should... such as which restroom one should use.

And in a time and place where we as a nation are, at least nominally, striving for gender equality, doesn’t it seem nudism is the best thing possible to teach our children so they can respect themselves and others?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stories from VVRC (Part 1)

A quick story from me, and a quick story from a new guest blogger in part 2.

We spent 4th of July weekend at VVRC and had a great time, as usual. We met up with Alice and Bob again and had perfect weather this time around. (Last time, it was opening weekend and very cold.)

A few days prior to our trip, I had a frightening message come in from Bob: "Are you the Academic Naturist?" My first thought, as usual, is "what did I write and will he be angry about it?" Most people, when they stumble upon my blog, always seem to find something that I've done wrong and get upset about it. I was afraid that I had lost some good friends, again.

To my surprise, Bob thought it was neat (and sufficiently anonymous). He also admitted to being a writer. Hmmm... I have an idea forming.

Quite frankly, I've been too busy. The project at my day job has kept me working anywhere from 50 hours to 75 hours per week over the last six months, with a deadline that resembles a carrot on a stick that I can never quite catch. Spare time is at a premium, and my priorities often leave blogging in the dust. With that in mind, I asked Bob to write up a story and he eagerly accepted.

The intent was that he'd write the story of our visit. But, the story of our visit brings forth some very touchy subjects that he didn't dare write about. I don't blame him a bit. Instead, he wrote a story from the past with a unique observation and conclusion that easily fits into my "academic" category. His story is part 2, posted tomorrow. I hope he sends more my way, whenever inspiration hits.

Back to those touchy subjects... I've been very indecisive about telling that story, too. However, I'm one of the few naturist bloggers who take pride in keeping a journal of my naturist adventures on a public blog. The journal would have a large hole in it if I didn't write this story, so here it goes!

We met a couple who shared a cabin with Alice and Bob. We didn't recognize them, but they recognized us and didn't say anything that night. (Don't you hate when that happens!) Leaving many details aside, they broke the resort rules by getting frisky in the shared cabin fully knowing that they were not alone and not hidden from view. It's not as bad as you may be thinking, but bad enough to reasonably warrant a complaint. They had a strict talking-to from the resort staff. (Thank you VVRC staff -- keep up the good work of cracking down on people like this!) However, they were not kicked out. The female left for work, and the male awkwardly remained in the cabin.

The male told Bob all about knowing us. Bob relayed this information to me. The female works near Percilla, and the male works near me. We didn't care, but apparently this frightened both of them.

The male approached Percilla and I while we were sitting on the steps in the pool. I knew it was the start of a delightful conversation when he started with: "I've always believed that the best defense is a strong offense." I knew the outcome of this conversation, and I knew it wouldn't be pretty for him. He continued by telling us that he has a very high-ranking position, that nobody knows they are naturists due to their bosses/coworkers being extremely against that sort of thing, that the female knows everyone Percilla works with, that he knows everyone I work with, and that he'd like to keep the naturism thing a secret. I promised that I wouldn't tell anybody, simply because I'm a nice guy and respect his wishes. He was being as polite as possible while obviously threatening me.

He then asked, far too late in the conversation, if we've told anyone that we're naturists. Percilla spoke up and said "everyone -- friends, family, coworkers, even my boss who knows I'm here today." He responded in udder disbelief, "Really!!!?" I chimed in with a similar line. At that moment, he knew he had absolutely nothing on us. Indeed, the best defense is a strong offense. He'd s--t a brick if he knew I was a blogger and was telling the story to a global audience.

Later on, he approached Percilla when she was alone and asked for our contact information. She only pointed him in my direction. A while later, with PDA in hand, he sat next to me and asked for our contact info and he'd give us his. I simply said, "We'll see you here." He froze for a moment, said "OK -- fair enough", and left.

There's a great lesson in this story, and it's about information management. If he had never said that he knew us, we would've never known. Instead, he told me enough about himself (while making threats) that I could hop online and find his full name, address, phone number, workplace, position, and just about anything else that is public information. What does he have on us? Our first names and where we work -- pulling more information would be difficult, but not impossible. Our workplaces don't publish a directory publicly.

There's also something to be said about respect for "closet naturists". Most naturists will not repeat names or talk about others while in the textile public. Even if we knew our neighbors or coworkers were naturists, we wouldn't repeat it to others unless we knew it was OK. It's a sort of naturist ethical guideline. If someone is worried about it, a confirmation of respecting privacy is all that is needed -- not idle threats.

Despite that one couple, we still had a great time at VVRC! Great weather, great company, and an entertaining campground. We'll be back soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

What's In a Name?

In textile areas, people identify each-other with names. In naturist areas, people also identify each-other with names. But, for a variety of reasons, naturists don't want their names in front of a textiled crowd. Names can be used to link people to their work, hobbies, or interests. Some of those may conflict with naturism.

One of the biggest challenges I've faced while blogging is the use of names. Some naturists have their full names (and sometimes pictures too) on all kinds of naturist websites. A search engine query makes it readily apparent that they are naturists and proud of it. Others only go by first names, which therefore obfuscates search results. Some may use fake names, and still others choose to never use a name at all. With all that said -- what name can I use if I'm writing about them?

I've tried all sorts of things. I started with generic phrases such as "my girlfriend", "nice couple", "ballroom couple", and "slightly-crazy 40 y/o motorcycler". I've heard complaints about NOT using names, as-if I don't really know the person. I've also heard complaints about continuing to use the phrase "my girlfriend" because people think it's somehow derogatory. Sorry, but she doesn't want to use her real first name on this blog. Her newly chosen name is Percilla.

When I started writing the Mazo Manor series, I opted to copy the Meerkat Manor TV show by giving people nicknames that somehow matched a unique trait. In all honesty, this worked great! Maybe even too great! I found it easier to remember the nicknames than the actual names. Which, of course, presents a problem when you want to call out their name at the beach. Also, I heard complaints about some of the names. They were never meant to be derogatory but some figured out a way to become offended.

More recently, I've been using "standard names" on a temporary per-post basis. Alice, Bob, Carol, Dave, Eve, and so on are commonly used in research papers instead of "Person A", "Person B" and so on down the alphabet. This worked fine for a few academic-style posts, but it recently broke when I tried to apply it to real people. The couple we met who were first named Alice and Bob became good friends, and the names have therefore become permanent.

So what should I do in the future?

The standard at most venues is to go first-name-only. The problem with first names is that other naturists know them, and therefore I shouldn't use real first names if I want to keep people as anonymous as possible.

Even if I switch up the names by assigning random ones, there may be some sort of false identity that arises. I describe a person with the name Alice, and it sounds like an Alice that you may know. That could end up bad.

People don't like real names, generic phrases, or nicknames. Standard names won't last long. I'm running out of options here...

Should I switch to assigning unique numbers, like the government? Hello, 123-456! Should I develop a cryptographic hash? Here's my friend, A4B3C2D1. Other blogs chop down names to only the first letter, so Alice would be called "A". I don't like any of these options either.

So what is your preference? I'm accepting any and all suggestions!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Do you Freehike?

The Vernon County Broadcaster wants to know!

See their homepage and vote.

Also feel free to post a comment on the story. (That requires registration though.)

I'm still trying to wrap my head around why they threaten police involvement for something they say is legal. Also, why they threaten disorderly conduct for confrontation that we clearly intend to avoid. This whole episode is surreal.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Local News

I don't normally report on the news, but there are two stories from Saturday worth noting:

Naked cyclists protest oil, promote positive body images.
The World Naked Bike Ride came to Madison, Wisconsin after several false starts in previous years. Although the police report that things went smoothly (in the included video), 10 citations were issued for "disorderly conduct" due to complaints. There were 107 total riders -- which is impressive! The ride ended with everyone properly covered up. There are a few pictures and videos out there (including an interesting first-hand account and watching riders pass by). I hadn't realized that Nicholas, whom I've met twice before at events, was an organizer for the event. The first-hand account from the link above describes the "leader got taken away". I can only assume that he was one of the people who were cited. I wish them the best of luck in avoiding a conviction, and I hope they're at it again next year!

I didn't go for two simple reasons: No bikes, and putting in a 74 hour work-week. I wish I could've been there and I wish I could've reported a first-hand account of the event.

In the buff, in the bluffs: Vernon County hikers getting back to nature.
(La Crosse Tribune reprint, originally from the Vernon County Broadcaster.)
I certainly didn't intend on that publicity, especially on the top of the website and with my luck probably on the front page of the paper too. They never contacted me as part of the article, and I wish they had. At the moment, I'm not really sure what to think of it. I'm happy that they didn't write the article in a condemning way. It has a very neutral sound to it. I like that they wrote about our efforts to minimize a confrontation through the use of signs and a way of contact. But, they seem to threaten a "disorderly conduct" citation. I can't see how that charge would stick though since we're making every effort to NOT be disorderly. People have the choice to avoid what they may consider disorderly and still be able to use the park.

Several of the 12 comments on the Tribune article seem supporting. Others, as expected, just seem confused. I'm inclined to add a comment myself.

The only problem with the article is that it raises awareness. Some people might think "Cool! How can I participate?" Others, who typically have much louder voices, will say "There's no law against it? Let's make one!" I will need to start watching the Vernon County politics much closer.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May Fools

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers -- not May fools! I was over it. I didn't want to talk about it. But TNS wants to talk about it, so lets talk about it! In N 29.4, there is a writeup titled "April Fools joke gone wrong." They really shouldn't have written it. Readers of this blog know who they're talking about in the article. Now, since it's in the spotlight, I feel obligated to straighten a few things out.

I openly admit that it was a bad decision on my part with how I wrote the original post and associated fake story. I should've been more clear, limited myself to a single day, and wrote things less convincingly with fake names. Or, I shouldn't have written anything at all. I've already stated that I will never again do an April Fools joke. I didn't get it right last year either, and one of the local people involved this year should've remembered that. I learned my lesson by the second week in April. What TNS has done since then has surpassed my single bad decision with several of their own. I foolishly put out the bait an hour before April 1st, and they bit hard and foolishly ran too far with it.

First of all, I was confused about who wrote the N writeup. Tracy lives in Massachusetts, and therefore had nothing to do with the whole ordeal. How she got assigned to write the story, I have no idea. All I know is that she, or any other TNS person, never contacted me as part of her reporting. I'm also not clear about what the writeup intends to achieve. Everyone already knows that stuff on the internet can't be trusted. Especially so on April Fools. It's written like they are trying to help their credibility, at least for the last two paragraphs. The rest seems to damage it and take NAC down in the process.

Bob has been the only mature, logical person that was directly involved. With everything he said, he was clear and to the point without being condemning. He was willing to look past my single bad decision and focus on the future. Live, learn. With this attitude, NAC is most certainly in good hands! Others can learn a lot from him. Although Bob supposedly "confirmed" the fake story, in talking with me he made it clear that he was very skeptical in calling it plausible. How Tracy put that as "confirmed" in the N article, I have no idea. It makes NAC look bad when really they aren't.

Everyone else has been acting like children so far. Anyone who saw the comments on the Sunday-after post can attest to that -- it's like TNS sent an office-wide memo to attack. If they wanted to rip me a new one, they should've done it privately via phone or email like mature adults. I'd accept it and we'd both move on. Attacking anyone, ever, in a public space is really bad for a public image -- and TNS should've been thankful that I deleted it all instead of leaving it in the public light. I understand that they were upset, and I let them vent about it without responding. It's time to move on, right? Apparently not.

Most adults who fall for a prank, or do something stupid, usually just laugh it off and never talk about it again. They're embarrassed about it. They might remain mad for a while -- but does that really accomplish anything? More to the point, they choose to not talk about it. They don't go around telling new friends "hey, here's a story of how I stupidly fell for a prank." What would their friends think? They might laugh at the story initially, but then slowly back away and look for better friends.

AANR, who has triple the membership, had to know about the fake story also. They did the right thing by presumably flagging it as a hoax, not saying a word about it, and letting it drop off the radar. TNS, on the other hand, has now stood up and told the whole world that they were fooled by a simple joke for a dreadfully long time. What will readers think of this?

The article makes it sound like TNS got a lot of calls, and that a lot of people were spreading the news. It is unlikely for this to be the case. I had no calls from anybody (per the caller ID), no emails, no comments on the post, nothing in usenet, nothing in the nudist social networks I participate in, nothing in the forums I participate in, no mentions on other blogs, no links to the blog post or fake news article (found by google), and searching for "Prairie du Chien nude beach" had no new results. I genuinely thought that nobody had given it a second thought, until Bob called late Sunday to tell me otherwise. Per my site statistics, there were 96 hits from around the world on the fake news story link that month. I'm fairly certain that a majority of those were from everyone involved at TNS during the investigation, several were bots, several were after the story was removed, and several were probably me. All-in-all, it's unlikely that very many people in the Midwest even saw it or knew about it. Well, until now.

I knew the location would be a crappy location for a beach. The water level was too high at that point in time for there to even be a beach. I expect they found a tiny patch of grass that dumped straight into the water. I also checked the weather prior to the post, and knew that Thursday April 1st was the only day warm enough to be naked. (Friday and the weekend ended up around 60 and was rainy.) I played up going on the 1st by saying I was headed that way and that the area skinny-dippers were planning to have a party. (TNS apparently doesn't know of any Prairie-area skinny-dippers, otherwise they should've called them.) Nobody in their right mind would go on a rainy and cold day, and by the end of the weekend I'd have the post flagged as an April Fools joke. (I was out of town that weekend.) Even in the unlikely event that someone made the mad dash to the beach on April 1st, common sense would prevail in that the location sucks and there are absolutely no signs or naked people around. And, most importantly, the fact that it was April 1st should've been a red flag. Tracy's worst-case scenario was extremely unlikely despite how she made it sound.

I still can't believe that anyone fell for it enough to make the trip. I really can't. (Other commenters on the Sunday-after post said they identified it as fake within about "15 minutes".) Nicky admitted that she couldn't find the news story on the Courier Press website. Well, duh! It's an extremely simple site with all the news for that day in a block. The "slight variation" of the URL was "" vs. "". It's not that slight, and there were a lot of changes in the look of the website between my stripped-down copy from mid-March and the real site on April 1st. If the story was real, it would've been on the main page with the other stories for that day, and people would be making a big deal about it.

Even if the webpage design and URL were overlooked, there were other indications that it can't be real. In the research Tracy lists, with TNS and NAC crawling the web, they should've found holes in the story itself:
  • Nude beaches just don't appear like that. Ever. Key West businesses overwhelmingly support a nude beach, but the council has been dragging their feet for over a year now. There has been a ton of publicity around it. Do you really think one could just pop up with very little publicity and no outcry? I even mention the Key West beach in the story as a sort of reminder. In the history of the US, there has been only one city which has legally declared a nude beach. The chances of it happening are very slim.
  • How many political officials do you know who are openly nudist? The chances that the mayor and a council member both go to Mazo Beach and are willing to talk openly about it is extremely rare. Even more rare is that they manage to convince an entire city to go along with the idea, especially since nobody liked one of them.
  • The 9-3 vote for the beach can't be correct. Practically all of the council members are members of churches, schools, police/fire departments, organizations, and have respectable families. There is no way that 9 council members would vote in support of a nude beach and only 3 would be opposed.
  • Nobody in the story opposed the beach. In a fair and balanced story, reporters always seek a comment from someone who is against it. Typically this is very easy to get.
  • There was nothing about the children. Wasn't anyone worried about the children?
  • The time between the vote and having the signs in place was very tight. Putting in the order, processing the order, delivering the order, and getting crews to erect the signs within a maximum of 7 business days seems a bit unrealistic.
  • The long-term resident quoted in the story doesn't exist. If they were a long-term resident, there would be search results about something they've done or whitepage listings.
  • The fake story talked about the "buckskinners" at Rendezvous, and that a nude beach isn't much beyond that. (Ignore the fact that there has been less and less skin over the years at Rendezvous, and no pictures or comments exist online about how much flesh is shown.) It's like saying that going from a swimsuit to fully nude isn't a big step. Naturists agree, but the rest of society most certainly doesn't.
  • Prairie du Chien doesn't even have a designated public textile beach. How could naturists, a vast minority, get a beach of their own?

Fool me once... OK, so they made the trip to the beach and noticed a complete lack of signs, beach, and naked people. Why did the investigation continue? OK, so the police knew nothing of it. If anyone knew the latest news, it would be them! Did they really need to call Pintz at that point? Did they really need to spend time writing comments on my blog? Did they really need to spend time writing an article? The only person whose "valuable time" was wasted, instead of being used to "further the cause of naturism and its positive effects", was Bob. I'm sure Bob would've been researching and working on naturist projects at that time. TNS and the NAC area rep involved, on the other hand, I doubt would've been hard at work promoting naturism on that cold Easter weekend. Once they suspected the story as a fake (like when it wasn't on the news site), they should've stopped all activity since anything more would be a waste. Or, they should've called my girlfriend or I for a final confirmation that it was a hoax. (They have the number -- home phone is with our membership and cell phone was printed in N 28.4) Instead, they kept going and going. The amount of time "wasted" is mostly their own fault.

Like anything, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This year: In Spain, naked spectators watched a golf tournament per the Huffington Post. The Border Mail in Australia reported on a new nude beach. MIT reported (with video) on a naked physics lecture series with the next one being at 12am April 1st. The Times in London reported on a clothing-optional borough. The Improv Everywhere group even convinced the New York Times that over a thousand people had gone completely bottomless on NY subways and that nobody complained. TNS didn't report on any of these, and they are all much larger media sources.

The fact that TNS and NAC spent so much time trying to prove that a new beach was plausible, and ignoring the obvious signs that it wasn't, is a now-public disgrace thanks entirely to TNS. TNS seems hell-bent in teaching me a lesson with all of this, but it's really them who need the lesson this time around. Tracy's advice is that "common sense and a mature responsibility should indeed be part of the equation to prevent possible unintended consequences." Common sense would've flagged the article as a fake. Mature responsibility wasn't exercised when they attacked me through blog comments, and when they decided to broadcast the event to the world. TNS's recent publication will fuel unintended consequences against them. Readers will question the efficiency and reliability of TNS operations. AANR will point and laugh, and maybe even publish it. This blog post is another unintended consequence -- and will be the only one from me. I'm done talking about it. I'm tired of it. Hopefully everyone else will get over it and move on too. I learned my lesson a month ago -- will TNS learn theirs?

On the bright side, I volunteered to help investigate future April 1st time-frame news stories and claims. It's clear that they need help in that department.

Side-note 1: If the city is working hard to increase tourism, maybe creating a nude beach would be a good idea. It'll cause a lot of publicity, and because of Mazo they know a lot of people would go to it. (This is all assuming they can find a place to make a beach.) The main reason why my fake story was so convincing is because it really is a good idea for any city to consider.

Side-note 2: The entire island is reservable. You know, just in case a "Midwest Naturist Gathering" were to happen. Make sure to bring up tourism dollars and the hundreds that would probably go!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quiet Trip to VVRC

After more than a month of hard work and busy weekends, we needed a break. My girlfriend planned a trip. A small trip. But it was the closest thing to a vacation that we could get. (Remember that I canceled our vacation to Florida due to work, and with the impending oil the Florida coast may never be the same.) We invited Alice and Bob (standard names, but same as from the last party) to join us at a weekend VVRC trip. They readily accepted.

As the day approached, we were all second-guessing ourselves. The high on Saturday was to be 70, and somewhat cloudy. It wasn't the ideal weekend for going naked, but at least it wasn't supposed to rain. We all went anyway.

We were newbies. First-timers, apparently. We weren't in their computer system at all. Long-time readers know this isn't the case. We first checked out the 2007 car show, went back for 2008 and won 1st place in the motorcycle category, tried the mid-winter party in early 2009, and went to it again in early 2010. We weren't in their computer system because they don't log all the guests at those specific events.

The grounds have changed since our last visit in 2008. They did some major work to the pool, added a sound system around the pool area, added WiFi, re-did the showers, were working on the mens bathroom that weekend, and acquired a frisbee-golf hole that hadn't been permanently mounted yet.

It was cold that Saturday morning. Somehow, people still crawl out of their RVs naked and remain that way. They were a minority though. I started out with a longsleeve and no pants. My girlfriend started out in jeans and no shirt. After a walk around the property, I decided to give cool-weather naturism a try again by getting naked and staying that way as long as I could.

Alice and Bob had a small scare when they didn't see any tents in the tenting area. They expected us to stay Friday night, but we decided at the last cold minute to arrive in the morning instead. Other than them, and the regulars in the RVs, the place was very quiet. The pool was always open. The chairs were available. It was most certainly NOT the car show -- and we loved it anyway!

We made our own entertainment with Alice and Bob. We played card games and bocce. We lounged by the pool to stay just warm enough to be naked. We talked endlessly, and snacked endlessly. We watched the three birds nests in the poolside pavilion, all active with baby birds. (The owl they tied up there is doing a great job!) Bob also asked my opinion of places in his book. I mistakenly thought it was the old TNS Nude Beaches and Resorts book, and recommended that he get the newer version. He said it was the newest version! I looked again, and it was the AANR Guide to Nude Recreation. The covers are far too similar... Suspiciously similar... Does the AANR book even list a public swimming hole with a waterfall?

A quick side-note: I noticed that the book had no frontal shots of breasts or genitals, and had less pictures on average than the TNS book. I can only assume that AANR was trying to make it easier to add the book to libraries and bookstores, and other places that may be skeptical of displaying nudity. It doesn't really show what to expect at the places they list, though.

Towards the evening, we built a bonfire in the camping area. There was a mountain of branches on the fire pit that we half-cleared for safety. (We didn't want to start the nearby tree on fire!) We tried to light it, and tried to light it some more. The wood was very wet and was refusing to take off from burning leaves and small sticks. One of the members, who apparently felt sorry for us by that point since it had been at least a half-hour, brought us exactly what we needed -- old AANR Bulletins! Sure, we'll burn those! My girlfriend and I were almost tripping over ourselves in anticipation.

Sure enough, the enormous amounts of hot air pouring from the Bulletins was enough to catch the wet wood on fire. There was a constant hiss, and we could see boiling sap at the ends of the logs. The fact that we could even get it started surprised all of us. We had S'mores and heat -- it was a good evening.

The scheduled entertainment for the weekend was karaoke. Alice, Bob, and my girlfriend all sang songs. Bob's was by far the most memorable -- apparently someone signed him up to perform "I'm Too Sexy", which he did very well. Everyone was laughing at his performance, in a good way.

My girlfriend doesn't normally like karaoke, but she noticed that being among naturists is different. Everyone was very cheery and supportive, no matter how bad the song. People danced to slow songs (and a few faster ones), and some even jumped in and helped out the singers. She said it was the best karaoke event that she had ever been to.

I retired a bit early from the entertainment. It was cold out, but I was still naked when I crawled into the tent. However, I gave in and finally got dressed because I wasn't warming up between the air mattress and sleeping bag. After karaoke was finished, plus an hour, it was dead quiet. It stayed that way until the birds started chirping in the morning.

In the morning, it was a quick goodbye to Bob. Alice had a bit too much to drink, and it was Bob's mission to get things situated and get her home. Finally -- some friends that have some embarrassing mishaps like we do! We're looking forward to many more weekend trips to VVRC with them! We had fun, and I think they had fun too.

On the way out of town, we tried a new place to eat. Chris' Curve Cafe is an excellent place for breakfast! I had a meaty omelet that was too big for me to finish, and my girlfriend had a perfect steak and eggs, all for a great price. Stopping there is our new tradition.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Naked Girls, Reading?

What's the most boring thing that you could watch someone do? Read. (Or play a videogame, which could be a close second.)

What's the most boring thing they could read to you? Song lyrics and autobiographies, perhaps. Or childrens books.

What makes the above successful? Cute naked girls. (Any reference to nudity in the title makes it an instant hit!)

At the start of this month, the Naked Girls Reading group had a huge show in Chicago where they read stuff about rock musicians and played guitar hero with a few of the audience members. They are planning a similar show in Madison later this month. I'm not going.

Let's be honest... Naturists would find this event to be one of the most boring things we could possibly sit through. It would be more entertaining watching a mix of naturists play volleyball, tennis, frisbee, bocce, or swim around the pool. I could even join them. It would be more fulfilling to get to know them personally. The only problem with this scenario is that everyone is naked, and society doesn't want to see that, do they? A recent poll points out that "a lot of people were more reluctant to see other people in the nude than go au naturel themselves." Strange... Tell that to the naked girls.

Michelle L'Amour, a Chicago based burlesque star, originally started the event as a joke. "Nobody is going to be interested in people sitting around reading," a friend recalled. To everyone's surprise, it was an instant success. Michelle bought a website for the group, keeps touring, and keeps changing it up as she goes. Check out their press coverage so far.

I fully expect this concept to spread with plenty of copycats. Any group of cute girls could book a venue, advertise, and find the same success. Just like the naked calendars, there will be lots of spin-offs. Naked Girls Painting? Naked Girls Videogaming? Naked Girls Knitting? Naked Girls Playing Chess? Naked Girls Doing Yoga? Naked Girls Doing Taxes And Other Complex Paperwork? Naked Girls Being Naked? (That last one would prove popular, since it references nudity twice!)

With all that aside, does this help naturism? Some may argue that exposure to naked bodies helps to overcome the shock of nudity, and therefore nudity will become more acceptable as people get used to it. With all the naked calendars that exist, all the burlesque shows, all the artwork, all the nearly naked advertisements, all the pornography, all the consumers of such things, and the fact that everyone has one, how does the naked body still shock?

Society has erected a wall. A huge wall. A wall so big that some mistake it for the end of the universe. On one side is a happy healthy nudist campground, full of realistic bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. On the other side is a society that is deathly afraid of seeing over the wall. Even knowing what's on the other side irritates them. They believe that the only naked person should be an attractive person who gets paid. Being exposed to real bodies should be a crime of the highest magnitude.

So how do we push down this wall? We read! Why can't naturists jump on the bandwagon? I believe that groups of naturists should start up a show, and read naturist propaganda and other stuff that may be of interest. (Academic papers on Vitamin D deficiency may want to be skipped.) Since cute naked girls are like cracks in the big wall, advertising should include a cute naked girl to get people hooked, but the show should add a fair mix of readers. Not only can the naturist groups convince the masses that body freedom is good, but it also allows the masses to meet real naturists.

Get to it, grassroots naturists! Start "Naked Nudists Reading Nudist Propaganda". I know it would be the new rage because it references nudity THREE times, and would include at least one cute naked girl!

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Showers...

April was a bad month, and I'm glad it's over.

It started with a joke. And just like last year, I wrote it too convincingly and people took it very seriously. This time around it had larger repercussions, so I'm throwing in the towel. No more April Fool's jokes from this blogger. Ever.

The only benefit is that by poking and prodding, it's easy to find out who my true friends/co-bloggers/work-partners/comrades are. Those who forgive the quickest are usually the best partners and the ones who I can trust and depend on. (I'll spare the game theory details of why that is!) I am quickly forgiving also. It's better that way.

The first day of the month happened to be a warm sunny day, so my girlfriend and I went for a freehike. We made it most of the way down the trail when there was a suspicious beep from the 2-way radio. Playing it safe, we dressed and hiked back to find that nobody had touched the sign or radio. It was a good hike anyway, but a bummer that we hiked in textiles for half of it.

Early in the month, my job started encouraging 60 hour work-weeks to finish up a project. That'll last until at least the end of this month. After that, I got the bad news (in April) that I'll be on the project that involves traveling to Michigan almost all the time. My summer doesn't look too good at the moment.

During the middle of the month, we almost got hit by a meteor. This was VERY close to where we live. I could drive for 10 minutes and look for fragments. (I didn't though, see paragraph above.) A friend of mine actually saw it. We all heard the sonic boom, which sounded like very close lightning (sort-of) and rumbled for literally over a minute. Scary stuff, but very cool at the same time. Check the news story link above for the video. A police car happened to be pointing in the right direction at that time.

Almost the last week of the month, we had to cancel some long-standing plans due to my work. My girlfriend has never been very far south, and has always wanted to go. We had a 10-day Florida vacation planned. We'd jump into the first Tallahassee Naturally Full Moon Skinny Dip of the season, read a lot at the ANRL at Cyprus Cove, chat with Morley at Sunsport, ask Key West why they don't have a nude beach yet, and poke at a few alligators while camping in Flamingo. But those plans are on hold until at least next winter. Maybe by then Key West will actually have their beach. It's amazing how long it takes and how much publicity surrounds the simple act of declaring a nude beach. They don't just happen overnight.... (How long has Key West been talking about it now?)

The bright side of calling off the vacation was that I could attend the Badger Naturist Road Cleanup. It didn't deserve a special post this time around. It was almost rainy, not many attended, and it seemed very mechanical this time. The usual people showed up, picked up trash, then went to Culvers. The only thing new was a snappy attitude towards me, and it was apparent even before I had anything in my trash bag. I don't care though -- I'll continue to attend the cleanups simply because it's the right thing to do.

Looking to the future, our summer will be hectic but we'll make the most of it anyway. Our preference this year is to spend some weekends camping at VVRC (now with free WiFi!) and the Homestead Nych. Mazo Beach is always good for a day-trip, but our freehikes and our naked geocaching are a bit more challenging and fun. By the end of summer, we may even have our own private acres to enjoy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nude Bowlin'!

Thanks to an invite from Northern Exposure Naturists (NEN), and the fact that my girlfriend's birthday was a few days ago, I decided to surprise her with a bowling trip so she could celebrate in her birthday suit! Besides, we've never tried any naked bowlin' yet. It sounds like fun!

We had a dreadfully long and rainy 3.5 hour trip to a tiny bowling alley in a tiny town outside of greater Milwaukee area. After ignoring the "Sorry We're Closed" sign and getting through the papered-over door, we found ourselves in a bar full (20 or so) of naked people. Nobody was bowling, and the event was supposed to start an hour ago. Instead, they were drinking and a few were smoking. Not quite the evening I had in mind.

Thanks to our pseudo-celebrity status, we were instantly recognized by those who read N magazine. We're now called "the geocachers" instead of "the freehikers" from the article last year. Besides that, simply being young and new to the place brought forth attention from everyone.

Some of the regulars decided to start up a game and invited us to join them. Of course we agreed. Seconds later, the one in charge was giving us a small tour. Here's the bar, there's a small locker room that nobody uses, shoes are behind that counter, there's the couple who own the place, have a good time! We peeled away our clothes and we were getting ready to join the group. While we were apart and I was still busy getting ready, the one in charge returned to my girlfriend and asked more questions. She signaled me over to help answer. Within a few minutes he was talking our ears off with stories. The group was waving us over throughout the stories, and we eventually managed to break away.

This sort of thing happens a lot, and it does get on my nerves after a while. People approach my girlfriend to start up a conversation (or vice-versa), she waves me over to help answer something, I start talking to the person, she excuses herself, and the process repeats. I'm always getting pulled around. She's the social butterfly who meets everyone (and who everyone wants to meet), and I'm the encyclopedia who can hold a good informative conversation.

During our three games of bowling with the group, and a few games with others (which I was too busy in discussion to actually bowl), I realized a few things: First is that my girlfriend bowls way better without clothing. Second, despite being better, the four men bowled much better games than the three women. Third, the women made up for it by being cute and entertaining. Lastly, I don't bowl as good when one of the women keeps saying I have a cute butt.

Surprisingly, an hour after we were there someone younger than us showed up! (She was one of the women who later bowled with us, when I was too busy.) Other than us three, the rest of the crowd had to be at least a decade older. This fact had one of the guys worried, and he just had to talk to us...

After trying communication with the social butterfly, he was forwarded to me. His concern was that the crowd was aging too much, and that there should be a lot of interest in naturist activities from people in Milwaukee. But, as he stated, there are no known naturist organizations in Milwaukee and therefore no communication medium to bring in new people to the bowling events. We talked shop for quite a while, and he told stories for quite a while. I didn't mind talking shop, but the endless stories were killing my fun.

In retrospect, I should've asked more questions to this guy and to the one in charge. It was my understanding that NEN had set up this bowling event in the Fall and this was the third one of the season. But, it seems I was wrong. The one in charge wasn't related to NEN, and the other guy said it was a monthly event over the winter and that he's been attending for 14 years. They're not associated with any organizations. Many of the regulars visit Dragonfly Beach, Sun Ray Hills, VVRC, and sometimes Mazo Beach.

To add to my confusion, there's no entry fee. Shoe rental is free. And, we don't pay for any games that we play. I don't know for sure, but I highly doubt that the bowling group pays a lump sum for renting the place. I guess the money is made in selling food and drinks. We asked what we need to pay for, and the one in charge said to tip generously. A cheapskate could easily attend and bowl naked without paying a cent.

We were no cheapskates. My girlfriend put some money in the jukebox and I generously tipped when I ordered my highly recommended bacon cheeseburger. Best bacon cheeseburger I've had! I had to hurry up to eat it though, as time flew and we needed to get dressed and get home. How could 5 hours go so fast? Oh right...the conversations!

I wanted to bowl at least one more game, and wanted to take some pictures of us bowling. (I at least got one good picture taken of both of us before the lanes filled up.) I also wanted to play pool. But, I never got a chance.

We both enjoyed the event. We'd probably enjoy it more next time, since our presence would be less of a novelty. They're a great group, but like most nudists they just love to socialize. Maybe even a little too much.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Wild VVRC Mid-Winter Party

I'm sick. (Great way to start a post!) It doesn't happen often, but by chance my body decided to be sick this week with some sort of chest cold. If we didn't already agree to share a room with some friends, we probably would've skipped it. I can't talk well, have a scratchy sensitive throat, and would much prefer to stay at home. But I'm a man of my word and have a pesky girlfriend who wanted a mini-vacation, so here we go!

On the drive to VVRC's Mid-Winter Party, my girlfriend informed me of something I didn't know: Apparently there was an issue between one of the members of Friends of Mazo Beach and one of the members of VVRC, and the result was a ban on Friends of Mazo Beach people from attending their events. (Shhh! We're members! But I can't see how they would deny us since we have a lot of VVRC friends and are peaceful in general.) Over the years, I have noticed a lack of Friends of Mazo Beach people at the VVRC events. It's starting to make sense, but I think the whole ban thing is silly. VVRC is still affiliated with TNS, and I wore my TNS shirt!

[UPDATE: Had a comment to correct this hear-say: "Being a member of VVRC and a past board member, I can assure you that not all FOMB are banned from VVRC or it's events. I do know the incident and it was a specific 4 people that have been banned from VVRC and it's events. It was not personal, but unacceptable behavior on the grounds of vvrc that caused the situation."]

Looking at my list from last year and comparing it to this year:
  • The pool was warmer initially, but the heater must've quit at some point.
  • The hot-tub was cooler, so it was often full.
  • They served the same great meal, and there were plenty of munchies too.
  • No DJ this time -- instead, a guitar player who managed to play non-stop for over 3 hours.
  • There was no YMCA.
  • There were no edible gel wielding swinger gals.
  • The ballroom-style dancers were back, and this time they brought a friend. Using standard names, they can be Alice and Bob, with Carol being the friend.
  • The arcade has been removed, and there is a dedicated "smoking room" which is the boiler room for the building. The building is all non-smoking otherwise.
  • Dave and Eve (more standard names), the ones who invited us to share a room, respectively declined to honor the above policy. I say "respectively declined" because they limited themselves and kept things ventilated. The rooms must've been smoking rooms previously, based on their omnipresent smell. Either way, I'm sure the hotel isn't happy about it. They're great people to hang out with, and I can't hold it against them. I wouldn't want to stand in a crummy boiler room to smoke either.
  • The turnout for the event was around 160, and it's been growing every year. I told them that they might need a bigger venue next year, which they shot down with budgeting reasons. There was no room for a dance floor, and they were out of seating space. It was getting cramped.

After making our way through the check-in process, my girlfriend had to make a run to the car for that one item we always seem to forget. In the couple of minutes she was gone, I witnessed a couple walk in and greet a guy they apparently haven't seen in a while. Then, the wife and guy kissed...on the lips. The only thought in my mind was: "Why am I here again?!"

In all fairness to them, it seems that only adults attend this party each year. (The listing never says it's an adult party though.) The entire evening did remain a "nudist" setting, but it was apparent that a majority of the people were something beyond nudist... This is why I like the Badger Naturist parties better -- more regular nudists.

We made our way to the room, dropped our backpack, dropped our clothes, and dropped ourselves back into the pool room. I spent a lot of time sitting by Dave and Eve (and friends) pretending that I wasn't sick and was having a good time, despite talking as little as possible. My girlfriend made her rounds to greet friends, check out the pool, and have a quick dip in the hot-tub.

Alice and Bob were at the next table, and I noticed that they were chatting a lot with a cute new friend (Carol). When my girlfriend returned, I asked her if Alice and Bob brought a friend this year. "Yep, and Alice says I have to chat with her later tonight. She's a dominatrix!"

After that bombshell, we grabbed an open side of the hot-tub and privately discussed how the evening was progressing and how interesting it may get later on. Soon after, she went to nap for an hour (she worked the night before and didn't get enough sleep). I resumed my position at Dave and Eve's table, pretending I wasn't sick and was having a good time.

As dinner was starting, Dave made a trip to the room. My girlfriend followed him back down, and seemed well rested at the moment. She returned to find an extra couple wedged on to the end of the table, who had been there for a couple of minutes. (Did I mention it got cramped?) She broke the ice with them and started chatting away. I didn't want to, because talking hurt my throat even more. A simple "hi" always leads into an hour or so of conversation. Maybe I was a bit rude, in retrospect.

Dinner was great, as always. The pasta was throat-friendly, but the breadsticks not so much. Other harder snacks like RR1 popcorn (our contribution), puppy chow, crackers, veggies, chips, and most everything else was off limits for me too. Bummer! After dinner was a raffle drawing, and most people at our table won prizes. We won a fancy insulated water bottle. Other prizes included shot glasses, scratch-off lottery tickets (no winners), and a jar of candy.

After most people were finished eating, the hotel clerk on duty was taking care of garbage. She's around our age, and wasn't sure if she wanted to work a nudist party because she didn't know what to expect. The nudists, as usual, were holding doors for her and giving her friendly greetings. My girlfriend talked to her a bit, and she said: "I'm glad I worked this party because everyone is so nice and kind and sweet." I think it's great that she had this opinion! Maybe she'll join in next time?

The clothed guitarist starting strumming mostly country tunes. One cute swinger gal danced on the tiny dance floor for several songs to the enjoyment of a lot of guys. Eventually, the guitarist played a slow song, and many crammed in for a slow dance and an occasional butt grab on their partners. I was too busy to watch much of the dancing.

My girlfriend started up a small game at the table. Dave and Eve played, with Alice joining in after a while. The game was similar to the game we played last year with Alice and Bob. It's simple and entertaining, but easier to play without a loud guitarist. We eventually moved to the food area, which wasn't being used much after the dinner items were all cleaned up. It was quiet. Dave and Eve didn't join us, but we managed to recruit in a total of eight players. With two cute girls in front of me (Alice and Carol), a cute girl next to me, and an entertainingly drunk Bob at the end of the table, I suddenly felt a little better and really was having a good time! I won the first game, and Carol tied me in the second game. Wait...maybe I shouldn't phrase it like that...

Some left, including Alice and Bob, but we were still a chatty bunch. A few minutes later, Bob came back and whispered in my ear: "Carol really wants to talk shop, and isn't really fond of the guys hanging around her." (Being an attractive single girl, she was a magnet for guys.) I conveyed this to my girlfriend, and we three managed to remove ourselves from the conversation. Soon enough, we were in Carol's room listening to the interesting documentary of her life and having a chat.

She had a strict upbringing that she wanted to break away from, and finally did after college. (She's quite smart, a little philosophical but down-to-earth, and is great at telling a story. I think she should write a book!) She found a place where she was able to work as a professional dominatrix, and did so for several years, but decided to give it up a few years ago. She noted that this is not prostitution -- intercourse wasn't expected and didn't happen. Apparently there is a surprising number of people who have a foot fetish, and it's like a day at the spa for her. Her summary of the psychological aspects of the whole scene was very interesting to me at least. I may have a separate post, with a new naturist-related hypothesis, stemming from that in the future...

My girlfriend asked a few questions, but none were nearly as important as mine: "How the heck did you end up here?" The common perception is that a lot of people gravitate towards sex clubs because they offer more "freedom" than nudist clubs. With that in mind, how is it that someone who worked in a domain beyond sex clubs ended up at a plain ol' nudist hotel party? And was she even enjoying the evening or bored out of her mind? The answer was simple -- it all depends on what you're looking for. She wanted to hang out with her friends, and her friends were here. She was enjoying the evening.

My girlfriend and I went back down to the food area. The place was clearing out since it was close to midnight. My girlfriend visited the bathroom while I found some throat-friendly snacks. Eating grapes and watching the latest news on the TV, a couple entered the room and started making out right behind me. Resisting the strong urge to bounce a few grapes (or other foods) off their heads, I chose to avoid a confrontation and simply walked out of the room.

Together again, we noticed that an overly friendly group had taken over the hot-tub. They were doing nothing overt or lewd, but we knew better than to even attempt to fill the few empty spots. It would've been awkward. The longer we waited for them to clear out, the fuller it got with similar people, so we eventually gave up and went to bed. What happened in the hot-tub as the night went on is anybody's guess.

The next morning wasn't too exciting, but there's a strange behavior that I always notice. The night before, everyone is fully naked with exception to a few things the women may wear. In the mornings at every party I've been to, people seem to acquire a random state of dress. Some are fully clothed, some are wearing just pants or just tops, and some are wearing nothing at all. Why is that?

Anyway, we said our goodbyes to all of our friends. We got invites to Blue Lake Resort, a place I'd love to check out sometime. Alice and Bob invited us to camp a weekend or two with them at VVRC, which is another thing I'd love to do this summer. Lastly, Alice and Bob suggested that we all share a room next year. Rooming with people who are much closer to our age would be a welcome change!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Psychology and the Shock of Nudity

"What do you say to a naked lady?" It's an entertaining old video, but it's also a very good question for naturists to analyze. More specifically, how the answers are different between naturists and textiles. The first step to effectively educating textiles about naturism is to understand how they think about it.

With that in mind, a unique chain of events unfolded a few weeks ago.
  • My girlfriend came home in the morning and went to bed (naked).
  • Very rarely does it happen that she forgets to lock the door.
  • The weather turned bad during the day.
  • Carol (not her real name - I'm using standard names again), who is a typical sweet motherly type in her 40's, left work and decided to stay at our place to avoid the slippery drive to her rural home and back the next morning.
  • My girlfriend rolls out of bed and visits the restroom.
  • Carol does a quick knock at the door and then walks in.
  • My girlfriend says "hi honey!" thinking it's me, opens the door to walk out, and gives Carol a full frontal. She then says "oh hi!" and smiles on her way to the bedroom to put some clothes on.

The part that confuses me is that Carol felt really bad for catching my girlfriend in the nude. My girlfriend repeatedly said she didn't care at all about it, and we told Carol that we're naturists anyway so it's no big deal to us.

Carol is completely fine with us being naturists and all, and asked a whole bunch of questions about naturism. We told stories, and she thought it was neat and was happy for us but would never consider it herself. (The usual story...) Despite all this, she still felt extremely bad about catching my girlfriend naked! She kept saying she was sorry about it, even when she left the next morning.

This is how I believe the chain goes, when a textile (Alice) catches another textile (Bob) in the nude:
  • Alice sees a naked body, and is a bit surprised but realizes that naked bodies do exist and are generally harmless.
  • Bob is completely embarrassed: Body shame, bad luck of being naked at that moment, feeling vulnerable, whatever. Bob's life is changed forever, or so it seems.
  • Alice feels guilty for embarrassing Bob, conveys that she's very sorry. Both pretend that it never happened, and both feel bad about it in separate ways.

Naturists have a different attitude in the second step: You've seen me naked? Good! That means I don't have to get dressed next time you come over...if that's OK?

Since the middle step is different, the final step should never happen. Why should Alice feel bad about seeing Bob naked, if Bob didn't care at all about it? Alice is not guilty of embarrassing Bob.

Next time Carol is over (assuming we get bad weather again), I'd like to investigate this further. Why, to this day, does she still feel bad about it? What other forces are at work? Does she feel bad simply because she's supposed to based on other experiences with textiles? I thought I addressed that in our evening of chatting, but apparently not.

A similar thing can be said about meeting a hunter while freehiking, and the GoTopless protest. The hunter avoided looking in our direction and seemed shy, as-if our nudity is some sort of blinding light. Carol did too after the initial sight. A majority of people at Chicago avoided looking at us as well, but we weren't naked and most probably ignore all protest groups. (Others, in all fairness, seemed to think this was the only time in their lives that they would see a breast and cherished it for all it was worth.)

Getting textiles to not feel guilty about seeing nudity would be a good step for general acceptance. If we can better understand the problem, or what leads up to the problem, then we have a better chance of correcting it early.

Maybe we're wrong about how we notify others? The signs at Haulover warn "ATTENTION - BEYOND THIS POINT YOU MAY ENCOUNTER NUDE BATHERS" Perhaps the right approach is something like "There's friendly naked people beyond this sign, and we won't mind if you stop over and chat with us!"