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.