Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fundraiser Recap

I tried out two fundraising ideas this year.

First was advertisements, which I detailed in this post.  In the first 3 months, it raised a whoppin' $3!  Then the AdSense team decided to shut off the ads in August (apparently) due to lack of original content.  After adding some more content in recent months, I tried to get ads turned back on.  They refused, so no more ads!

Second, as a winter project I built an arcade machine.  (I'll have another post on this later.)  Then, I took it to VVRC's annual Car Show for the extended weekend.  I found that many like to admire it, but few like to play it.  (I only asked for donations too -- some played but didn't donate.)  It raised $23.25.  I chipped in another $20 and sent a check to NAC.  Bob wrote a reply saying it was a clever idea and thanked me for the donation.

The arcade is mostly for personal use (in the rec. room), but I built it for fundraising.  At another fundraising event it raised about $125 over two weeks.  However, that money was for a non-naturist cause.

Coming Soon:

My "Future Resort" series is back!  After being "in progress" for more than 2 years, I present my bold new expectations for the future.  All 7 parts are scheduled through January.

I also plan to write more about non-nudist projects, like the arcade and some of the other things I've been working on.  Maybe I'll bring some non-nudists to the blog.

Hopefully everyone is having a Happy Holiday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Turn Up The Heat!

Within a few months after moving in to the house, I started on a quest for home efficiency.  There are a lot of gizmos available to audit the efficiency of your home.  Some companies and contractors specialize in that.  The home inspector said our windows and insulation are all fine -- it's only a 12 year old house -- so I knew the efficiency improvements would mostly come from behavioral changes.

Last winter, I plugged a $5 webcam into a computer.  I was quite excited about it, too.  You may be thinking -- so what?

The webcam is pointed at a couple LEDs near our furnace.  The computer runs a program to determine what LEDs are lit up every 10 seconds.  The LEDs are as follows:
  • Power -- ignored, but could be used to determine if there is a power outage since the computer is on battery backup.
  • Electric heat -- Used as primary (unless load balanced or gas fails), computer records this.  This runs on a cheaper electric rate, so it's cheaper than gas.
  • Gas heat -- Rarely used, but the computer records this too.
  • A/C -- ignored for now, don't use it much anyway since we're naturists.
  • Load Balancing in effect -- ignored, but could be used to detect if gas is failing.
The computer also records the outside temperature (from a weather station in town) and a few other metrics (like wind, sun intensity, rain).  All this data gets charted and reported daily, and I can process the raw metrics any way I want.  This includes giving me a daily cost in dollars.

This also lets me test a few common myths.

#1:  Setting your thermostat 1 degree colder can lower your heating bill by 1-2%.

One night last winter presented the perfect opportunity to test this.  From 11pm to 5am the wind was low, the sun wasn't out, we were sleeping, and the temperature steadily dropped from 32 degrees to -2 degrees.  The average furnace runtime steadily increased during this time as well.

In the end, I calculated that (for our house) there is a 2.36% increase in heating cost for every degree.  Note that since it's based on a degree delta from our thermostat setting to the outside temperature, a degree change outside is equivalent to a degree change inside.  Lastly, the resulting 2.36% makes sense.  We have a bigger-sized ridge-top country home, so I'd expect the percentage to be higher than a typical city home.

So when the bill normally reaches $300 mid-winter, and my partner wants it 10 degrees warmer so she can run around naked, I ask "Is the extra $80 that month worth it?"

#2: Turning down your thermostat during the day will save you money.

In my experience, this statement is true.  But I rarely do it because it isn't worth it.

During the day, the sun has a huge effect on your house.  Even when the sun isn't shining, there is still heat radiating in.  Your windows amplify this effect by acting like a greenhouse, despite most windows having a heat-repelling glaze to minimize summer cooling costs (I wish they didn't).  All-in-all, your furnace works way less during the daytime!  If the high temp outside is within 20 degrees of our thermostat temp, our furnace normally doesn't run while the sun is shining.

Changing the temperature has no effect.  The time the furnace is off while the house temp drops will be balanced out by the time it runs to bring the temp back up.  The savings you get is by reducing the delta.  (Inside temp minus the outside temp.)  Reducing the delta for 8 daytime hours will save money, but not much.  Literally pennies per week.  Buying a programmable thermostat to do this will never pay for itself.

On the flip side, employing the same tactic at night WILL save you more than chump change.  Your furnace works the hardest at night, when the temps are colder and there is no sunlight to help out.  Throw a few extra blankets on the bed and make a quick dash to clothing when you get up.

My ideal thermostat would keep the temp at 60 through the night, bump it up to 65 for the morning rush, let it sit at 60 all day, then crank it to 75 some evenings so we can run around naked (but only if it's a reasonable temperature outside -- we can stay clothed on the colder days).

#3: Open the curtains during the day to let heat in, and close them at night to keep it in.

I tried this and it didn't have any measurable effect.  Windows are fairly insulated, and once heat gets through them it will stay in.  (Unless you buy a shiny heat reflector to use as your curtains, like what is used for auto windshields.)  At night, the cool breeze goes right around or through the curtains.  (Unless you use blankets as curtains and tape them to the window frame.)

If you often have the curtains closed, and the sunlight hits them, it may be worth having two sets.  Have a light color for the summer, and a dark color during the winter.

Another great option that others have tested is the use of bubble wrap.  It's easy and cheap to put in, pays for itself within half of a heating season, lets light in, and also obscures the view.  Perfect for naturists!

#4: Turning up the thermostat more will make it warm up faster.  (Especially on a cold winter day.)

For most furnaces, they are either on or off.  When they are on, they warm up the house at the same rate no matter what the thermostat is set to.  I've witnessed this first-hand.  I can measure it if someone really wants me to.

I say "most furnaces" because I know of one exception.  My parents have a geothermal system which has a "low" setting for warming up the house a degree or two, and a "high" setting when the thermostat is further off.

Lastly, cranking up the thermostat on the coldest winter days is the quickest way to raise your bill.  But if you insist on doing this, there better be a party involved.  Bodies are wonderful heaters.  Having a mid-winter nudist party might be cheaper than you think -- as long as you have plenty of warm guests.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse

It's been a few years since we've attended the Friends of Mazo Beach / Badger Naturist Halloween Party.  (This year nicknamed the Zombie Apocalypse.)  We had forgotten how much fun it is.

Being used to the VVRC Mid-Winter Party, the differences become more apparent.  The age is a bit younger here, with a few kids and more people our age.  We see a different set of faces here that represent Mazo beach and TNS.  The facilities include a steam room, sauna, arcade, and large conference room with a kitchen.  The pool is perfectly warm.  The hot tub is perfectly hot.  The hotel itself isn't bigger, but it's better.  Same with the party as a whole.

Percilla and I spent much of Friday helping decorate and paper up the windows.  Then we hit the hot tub, pool, and sauna a few times.  Saturday, she had to go to class, so I spent much of the day bouncing between the hot tub, pool, and sauna.  So much so that I had to visit the laptop and look up the hazards of too much hot tub use.  Luckily, I'm not on medication, not pregnant, and not concerned about sperm count.  As a fellow hot tub owner, I can say from experience that theirs is properly maintained and the chemicals balanced, so no concerns there either.  Back in I go!

Saturday night was fantastic.  Dinner offered an array of great food that fit the Halloween theme.  It was the best pot-luck meal I've ever seen.  In addition, a live guitarist offered acoustic background music during the meal.  (A DJ played background music in the pool area too all evening.)

After dinner, the spooks crawled out of the woodwork.  This year was the most costumes I've seen.  Many couples had their own themes: Cowboy and Indian, Devils, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, the Bobbitt's, and many more.  Several of the costumes were quite elaborate.  All-in-all, a majority won prizes after 13 categories were defined.

This trip was a basically a last-minute decision, where we didn't have time to come up with a clever costume.  Our plan was to "sit this one out".  But, as fate would have it, another couple brought along a few "minimalist" costumes and talked us into trying one.  They dressed as smartphones, with post-its representing apps.  We dressed as candy dots, with those round colored stickers that are usually used in garage sales.  It was fun.

Saturday and Sunday mornings offered a variety of breakfast items, both what the hotel usually offers (bagels, cereal, etc.) and freshly cooked items from the kitchen (french toast, various things with eggs, waffles, and donuts).  There was no shortage of things to eat all weekend.

After yet another dip in the hot tub, we helped with taking down decorations and general cleanup.  Another successful Halloween party comes to a close, and we're looking forward to next year!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Summer of VVRC

Since we've only gone to VVRC this summer, I figured I'd summarize the trips in a single post.

In May, we spent a weekend sharing the family suite with Alice and Bob.  (Having the room makes the trips a lot easier!)  A fun evening of Karaoke and a fantastic themed supper were provided by VVRC.

July 4th weekend, Alice and Bob brought a friend.  Temps were well into the 90's which is a bit hot even for a naturist.  The pool was popular.  We had another fantastic themed supper from VVRC.

Early August, we made a diplomatic day-trip.  After the board meeting, they called another quick meeting to hear me out.  I pitched the idea of a fundraiser (separate post on that later), and pitched the idea of writing an article for N magazine.  They loved both ideas.

A week later was Car Show weekend, which happened to land on an unseasonably cool weekend (so numbers were down a bit).  It was fun as always!  I sported a "Press" hat and made it known that there was a N article in the works.  I definitely spent more time and effort on this article that any of my previous ones.  It's an article I'm quite proud of.  Hopefully the editors at TNS were kind.

Labor Day weekend, as I found out, has the second-best event of the summer -- the Nude Olympics.  Saturday was a Caribbean Carnival with a big parade, themed supper, and an entertaining steel drum player.  Sunday was the Olympics.  It was the largest group of active naked people I've ever seen.  My team won Silver metals.  Going for gold next year!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Skinny-Dipping Country

A List of Country Music Songs which Portray Innocent Nudity

Everyone who despises country music seems to think it's full of sad songs about dogs, wives, old trucks, and drinking.  Sure, that's often the case, but there's more to it.

Being a bit of a "hillbilly" myself, I often listen to country music.  I like it.  Pop music is full of sex, rap is full of gangs, and older music is too full of love songs.  Country music is often full of clever storytelling.

Part of that storytelling is of naturist interest.  It's common knowledge that many of our grandparents used to skinny-dip at their local swimming hole and thought nothing of innocent nudity.  (It was more common in rural areas.)  Country singers, even now, still sing about memories of skinny-dipping and a healthy attitude towards innocent nudity.

The List:

Craig Morgan - Almost Home.
"Drip dryin' in the summer breeze, After jumpin' into Calico creek" - Actually a memory from an older man in the song.  It doesn't say he skinny-dipped, but it's a reasonable assumption since drip-drying in clothing is nearly impossible.

Steve Holy - Brand New Girlfriend
"flew out to LA for the weekend, spent the whole day, lyin' on the beach, wearin' nothin' but a smile" - He's likely talking about San Onofre Beach which has been under fire in recent years.  If you're a fan of Steve Holy and think he should be able to do as his song says, donate to NAC.

John Michael Montgomery - Country Thang
"We like moonlight sippin', late skinny-dippin'." - This song is a big list of what it means to be Country, which skinny-dipping is a part.

Halfway to Hazard - Country 'Til The Day We Die
"When it gets hotter, We naked in the water" - Again stating that skinny-dipping is part of being Country.

Blue Country - Nothin' But Cowboy Boots
"Nothin' but cowboy boots, sets your spirit free. That wild wild western birthday suit, is the remedy for modesty" - The song is all about the joy of nudity.

Brook Benton / Joe South / Bobby Bare / ? - Dont It Make You Want To Go Home
"There's a six-lane highway down by the creek, Where I went skinny-dippin' as a child" - Many parents now would freak out if their children went skinny-dipping in a creek.

Dolly Parton - Sugar Hill
"Down in the mill pond swimmin' naked ... We were just kids explorin' nature" - Childhood memories of skinny-dipping, and still finding it appealing.

Ken Mellons - Don't Make My Have To Come In There
"When I was a boy about ten years old, I went swimmin' in the fishin' hole, Floatin' around in my birthday suit" - Another childhood skinny-dipping memory.

Bobby Bare - They Covered Up the Old Swimming Hole
"But it never can compare with the food for the soul, You could get for a dip in the old swimmin' hole. ... And I'm wishing these days I could strip to my soul, And go for a dip in the old swimmin' hole" - Society squeezing out yet another skinny-dipping area.

Billy Ray Cyrus - I Want My Mullet Back
"I 'member packin' that ol' fishin' pole, Skinny-dippin' at a swimmin' hole" - Per the song, he misses his mullet more than the skinny-dipping.

The McClymonts - Kick It Up
"And if you jump out in the water, You got to be naked as a breeze" - A female band who is encouraging skinny-dipping.

Whitney Duncan - Skinny Dippin'
"I never felt more alive" - Another female artist with a whole song about a skinny-dip.

Edens Edge - Skinny Dippin'
"There's no iced tea, no AC, I guess we'll just have to cool off naturally" - Yet another female with a cute skinny-dipping song.

Williams Riley - Country Livin'
"When we get hot we just go skinny dippin'. That's what our women love about country livin'." - The men agree that everyone loves a skinny-dip.

Craig Morgan - Nothin' Goin' Wrong Around Here
"Luther wackin' off weeds in his underwear. They go moon skinny-dippin this time of year. There's always somethin' goin' on, But there ain't nothin' goin' wrong around here" - Obviously no problem with skinny-dipping.  The song continues by bragging about the low crime rate: "Only time Sheriff Lester breaks his handcuffs out, Is when his wife's been drinkin' and they're back at the house."

Blake Shelton - Who Are You When I'm Not Looking
"When you undress, do you leave a path? Then sink to your nose in a bubble bath?" - There's nothing wrong with going about the house naked.

The Roys - Beautiful (no lyrics online, just a video)
"She fussing 'cause she can't find nothing to wear, when to me she looks real good standing there." - Another reference to simple nudity in the house.

Trent Willmon - So Am I
"We love the life we're livin'; It feels so good skinny-dippin'. Skinny-dippin' an' long legs kickin', In the Mississippi mud line." - This scenario is a fairly big part of the song.  It starts with a hot night when they're fishing, and clearly a skinny-dip is a much better idea!

Dixie Highway Band - I Call It Love
"I remember skinny dipping in Lawson's Pond, And your daddy caught us in each others' arms ...
He took you with him along with my clothes, And I walked naked all the way home" - Isn't this what all couples go through when they're in love?

Blake Shelton - Cotton Pickin' Time
"As I passed Old Johnson’s Mill, I saw Becky Morgan, skinny dippin’ nude. ... Then she gave me a come here smile ... I fell down tryin’ to kick off my jeans." - There's no apprehension when a chance to skinny-dip arises.

Blake Shelton - Green
"And when the summer time hits, we skinny dip in the stream. I was green before green was a thing" - A song about environmentalism (being "green") which puts a skinny-dipping reference in the chorus.

Justin Moore - Redneck Side
"Went to meet her family ... Yea we were really havin fun, Til they caught me in the pool at 2am, Wearin nothin but a farmers tan" - That about sums up modern skinny-dipping -- frowned upon by the masses, but a whole lot of fun for those who partake.

Blake Shelton - Playboys Of The Southwestern World
"Aw but my favorite memory of school that fall, Was the night John Roy came runnin down in the hall, Wearin nothing but cowboy boots and a big som-brero" - Do country people just randomly run around naked?  It sure seems that way.

Terry Allen / David Byrne - Buck Naked
"They’re all naked in the land where I come from" - The song is actually a religious song, stating that everyone is naked in the eyes of the Lord.  But he asks "Well, how does it feel; Does anybody know?" Yeah, I think naturists are well aware of the feeling of being naked.

Travis Tritt - Wanna Feel Too Much
"I wanna run naked in the rain; feel it soak my skin." - He describes this like it's a good feeling.  Any naturists who have been in the rain know it's quite cold and unpleasant!

Tracy Byrd - You Feel Good
"I like sleeping in the nude, When It's hot and the moon is full" - Isn't it always a full-moon when you sleep nude?

If you know of other songs, please add them in the comments.

Of course if you're not into country, you can instead rock out to Screeching Weasel - I Wanna Be Naked.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

House Project: Privacy

We knew that we would like a private backyard before even looking at houses.  When we put in the offer on the house, we know a private backyard would be a lot of work.  The property is in the shape of a triangle, with an elevated road running along the hypotenuse.  The entire back yard is visible around both sides of the house.

Our initial idea was a regular privacy fence.  We found a good deal on panels that would make the fence 8 feet high, and constructed a small section to test them out.  The test was successful, but I couldn't get over the feeling of how tacky a big fence would be.

We decided that plants would be better.  After a lot of research, our best bet was to try some (40) of these:

They were all planted more than a year ago.  Here's what we got so far:

It doesn't quite match the ad, but this is Wisconsin after all.  Plants don't thrive in Wisconsin -- they survive.  And these have a long way to go before they block the view from the road (which is on the horizon in the picture).

Blocking the view from the other direction was much quicker.  It was a bit expensive, but after planting, it fully grew within a couple of months!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Burning Man Statistics

After 3 years and 54,711 pictures, my preliminary research regarding nudity at the Burning Man festival is complete.  The background, method, metrics, conclusions, and future work are detailed below.


See the wiki page for Burning Man to learn about the festival itself.  This festival is of interest because it has several unique qualities:
  • It's a secluded city of around 50,000 regular people that lasts for 1 week.
  • The event is heavily photographed from all angles.
  • The event is clothing optional, and is in a climate which encourages clothing-optional use.
Also of interest is my post from when I started on this project.


To collect a large sample of photos, I used a script.  I ran the script from the start of the festival until the end of November.  The script would check the Flickr RSS feeds for specific tags (listed in my first post but changing the year).  The script would poll the RSS feeds at a minimum of 30 second intervals, and a maximum of 15 minute intervals, depending on how many pictures were collected in the previous iteration.  Any new pictures it found were downloaded.  The script timing did change between 2009 and 2010, but shouldn't have an impact.

One limitation that Flickr has is a maximum of 20 items in the RSS feed.  If someone uploads 30 photos all at once, the script would miss 10 of them.  (The same is true for 100 people uploading photos, the most recent 20 are reported.)  This works to my advantage because it ends up creating a random sample of the overall pool of photos.

After the pictures are downloaded, they are all evaluated for instances of nudity.  The number of people partaking in the nudity were tallied.  The categories that were chosen are listed below along with their general legality:
  • Male Nudity - Illegal in most areas.  Includes anything which shows the genitals (painted, shirt-cocking, etc.) 
  • Nude Women - Illegal in most areas.  Involves nudity of breasts and genitals and may include bodypaints.  (This includes 1 instance in 2009 where the genitals were exposed but not the breasts.)
  • Top-Free (no cover) - Illegal in most states (but not all).  Bare-breasted females.
  • Top-Free (paint) - Laws are mixed.  Females with painted breasts.
  • Top-Free (see-through) - Legally usually same as bare breasts.  Females wearing items over the breasts which still show the breasts.
  • Pasties - Generally considered legal but not always.  Females wearing items which stick on, or are glued on, with the intent of covering the nipple and areola.
I should note that it isn't an easy task to classify pictures.  Some are grainy or low quality, some strongly imply nudity but don't actually show it, and some are difficult to classify accurately.  I did the best that I could.  If any researcher wants to double-check my statistics, I still have the original pictures from each year.

Secondly, I excluded pictures which would unfairly skew the metrics, like those taken during the Critical Tits bike ride.  If counting nudists in a city, one would not want to include the World Naked Bike Ride participants as many don't normally go naked.  Only a couple pictures ended up being excluded.

Here are the raw metrics:

Year 2009 2010 2011
Sample 21142 15342 18327
Attendance 43435 51454 53963
Nude Men NA 73 59
Nude Women 35 13 14
Top-free (no cover) 120 97 134
Top-free (paint) 43 7 23
Top-free (see-through) 27 20 25
Pasties 41 32 56

Although the raw metrics don't paint an accurate trend.  The sample sizes are different, and need to be scaled to be equal.  The 2010 and 2011 metrics are scaled to match the 2009.  Below is the adjusted table with a couple additional metrics.

Year 2009 2010 2011
Nude Men NA 100.6 68.06
Nude Women 35 17.91 16.15
Top-free (no cover) 120 133.67 154.58
Top-free (paint) 43 9.65 26.53
Top-free (see-through) 27 27.56 28.84
Pasties 41 44.1 64.6

Sum Top-Free 190 170.88 209.95
Sum Top-Free (incl. Pasties) 231 214.98 274.56

Other factors to consider are:

Burning Man attendees often say there is a lot of nudity.  Based on the nudity appearing in pictures vs. the population, I'm seeing about 0.6% participate.  Informal counts (in 1999) put the number closer to 5%.  Nudists that I talked to at Sunsport also guesstimated the number around 5%, with no apparent change in the nudity rate over the last 10 years.

There is a big limitation with the metrics: I don't have the total number of people who appear in the pictures.  Thus, I cannot find an accurate percentage of attendees who are nude or top-free.  My 0.6% number above assumes everyone appeared in a picture, which is a big and likely untrue assumption.

Additionally, I don't know the duration that people are nude or top-free.  They could take off their clothes just for the picture, or they could go all week that way.

In order for an instance of nudity to be counted in this research, it has to undergo a series of events:
  • There must be a nude or top-free person at the event.
  • There must be a photographer nearby.  (In some places, photographers aren't allowed or are strongly discouraged, like Critical Tits, the Human Carcass Wash, and any sexual-themed areas.)
  • The photographer must take a picture.  Either by accident (where nudity is in the background) or with some sort of consent (if the main subject).  Sometimes photographers will take a picture even if there isn't consent, but it doesn't seem to happen frequently.
  • The photographer must share the picture on Flickr.  This means they are OK with showing others nude on a public website, possibly against their consent.  It also means the photographer is willing to share their pictures freely and have a Flickr account.


There seems to be a general downward trend for photographers capturing and sharing nudity.  In 2009, I flagged almost 600 pictures that had nudity.  In 2011, I flagged almost 350.  I'm not sure why this is, since I didn't track this metric very close.  It could have an impact on the conclusions below.  However, since the metrics count people instead of pictures, the picture count shouldn't matter.

Full-exposure is on a steady decline.  Both men and women are less willing to be fully naked in public.  It's possible that photographers are choosing not to capture/share it, but the remaining conclusions seem to prove otherwise.

Regular top-freedom is on a steady rise.  Women are increasingly willing to take their shirts off and go bare-chested, like a vast majority of men at the festival.

Pasties have grown in popularity.  Many may be part of a costume, but others seem to only be there to de-nudify.

Body painting seems to be less popular.  See-through clothing has remained very steady.

Top-freedom in general rose from 2009 to 2011.  (It wasn't a steady increase though, so it may fluctuate each year.)

It seems like conflicting information that top-freedom is rising, but full nudity is falling.  I believe that this indicates a sort of polarization. Top-equality, as an equal rights issue, is gaining support and gaining momentum.  Exposure of the genitals, on the other hand, seems to be more taboo in our current sexualized culture.

The increase in the use of pasties at Burning Man supports this argument.  The easiest way for women to remain covered is to wear a bikini top or similar clothing.  The majority do.  Some choose to show more skin, but add painful-to-remove pasties to remain "covered".  Pasties became popular in the 1920's simply to avoid breaking the law, and are still used today for that purpose.  There is no good reason to wear pasties at Burning Man since there is no law regarding nudity.  Many want to be topless while still being "covered", and resort to an extreme measure to make it happen.

If you have any conclusions from the data posted or other feedback, you're welcome to post a comment.

Future Work:

There hasn't been much academic interest in the "clothing optional city" of Burning Man.  Personally, I believe that Burning Man is a gauge for our culture's participation and acceptance of nudity.  I just wish I had better methods of measuring it.  Perhaps other researchers can attend the event, poll a random sample of participants, or collect more reliable data.

If there are any regular attendees who read this blog, I have an easy request.  Each year, set up a video camera on a busy street during a busy day and let it record for a straight couple of hours.  This way, a researcher can tally the total number of people that go by, along with their state of dress.  This would give a much more accurate statistic than I can generate based on pictures.  Plus, a rough baseline was already set for this in 1999.

Please let me know if you're a researcher who is doing related work.  I'm very interested in the results.

As a last resort, if nothing better comes along, I may repeat this experiment in a couple of years to see if the trends are still holding true.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Still Freehiking

I'm not sure if the Vernon County Broadcaster is still reading this blog. (Remember, they wrote an article about what we do. The only web copy currently is on the La Crosse Tribune site. The "reports" they mention are here.)

I just wanted to let them know that we are STILL freehiking on public lands. With the awesome weather we've been having this year, there have been plenty of opportunities to hit the trails before turkey hunting season (April 11th). We've gone to the Kickapoo River Wildlife Area - Wauzeka Unit a few times.

The first trip, there were several trees over the trail. There were no other footprints in the muddy areas. (Lots of animal tracks though!) No bugs, no ticks. It looked like we were the first people on the trail since deer hunting season last fall. As usual, we met nobody on the trail. Closer to turkey season, a few of the trees were moved. The bugs were still low, but the ticks were in full force. I honestly don't know how the hunters can stand it -- it would be impossible to spot ticks on camouflage, and they could easily sneak up inside pant legs and bite in places they don't belong! On bare skin they are easy to spot, easy to feel, and easy to remove. They don't get very far.

From the article: "There is no county ordinance specifically against free hiking, but those who cause a disturbance could be cited for disorderly conduct." There were no citations issued this season, even though we DID disturb several flocks of ducks, many other birds, some squirrels, butterflies, and a pair of playful otters. (Animals are all very skittish in this area -- normally they only see people with weapons. I'd be skittish too!)

Naturism is more that just nudity -- we have full respect for nature and intend to keep it beautiful. On the last hike, we picked up trash along the trail, including about 25 shotgun shells, a handful of cigarette butts, and a few beer cans. We brought the trash bag home for disposal after taking the following picture...

For more information on freehiking, I suggest an article by Mark Storey originally published in N 15.4 (and available online here). In it is one of my favorite quotes on the subject. He challenges people to "hike clothed out to the middle of nowhere. When you get there leave all your clothes in a secluded spot and bravely walk naked 100 yards in any direction. By the time you return you will have had an epiphany that will change your life." I think he's right. But if anyone puts his hypothesis to the test, please add a comment to let me know how it goes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


After years of Blogger tempting me with the "Monetize" option, and years of swearing that I would never put Ads on the blog for profit, I found a happy medium.

I'm holding true to my word that I am NOT looking to profit from this blog. There are others that need all the money they can get. They are the ones who will get the cash.

At the end of each year, I'll cash out the earnings and send a check to NAC. (This assumes there is enough to cash out, $100 or more.) I'll pay the tax on the income. If the taxes become too much (which is unlikely), I'll instead donate the money to NEF and claim the tax deduction. I'll put up a post each year with the summary and proof of the donation.

Not only is this bringing outside money into a critical part of naturism, it also encourages me to blog more and generate more buzz to increase page views.

If the Ads become too annoying and have too little payout, I can always shut them off. What's your vote -- am I doing the right thing?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunsport Gardens

After trying a trip to Florida twice (2010 and 2011), we finally made it this year! We attended the annual Mid-Winter Festival at Sunsport Gardens Family Naturist Resort.

We decided to drive down in a rental and tent camp for the festival. On the way down, we stayed at a wonderful little Bed & Breakfast called Clearview Horse Farm. When the weather is good, guests can take the houses out on the trail. For us, however, it was cool and drizzle. But it was better than the snow we battled while leaving Wisconsin.

The weather was perfect during our entire stay in Florida. This allowed us to be nude for the entire festival. Even at night, keeping covered with a sarong was enough to stay warm. Per comments made during the festival, this year had unusually great weather.

When we first checked in, we were warmly welcomed by a young gal. She never said anything discouraging. Since we wanted to do some sightseeing in the Everglades, we asked for her recommendations. "You're in it" was the first answer, but then she recommended a place that wasn't too far away. We explored and saw a wild gater and other wildlife. After that, we were done being tourists and settled in at our campsite.

What did we do at Sunsport? He's the list of the daytime workshops we attended, with a comment or two. More info on each workshop can be found in the festival schedule.
  • Sexting, a Naturist Issue? - Discussion where I think we concluded it is, sort-of.
  • Valentine's Day Superstitions - A fun interactive workshop led by an energetic gal.
  • Networking for a C.O. Beach in Delray - Met Dave who has been working hard to make this a reality.
  • Speed Friending - Interesting way to meet people where each gets to talk for 3 minutes. Many found it difficult to talk about themselves for 3 minutes straight.
  • NAC Current Issues - Informative as always. Learned the difference between the yearly Gatherings and Festivals. Gathering = TNS organized event. Festival = Organized by someone else and is a NAC fundraiser.
  • Changes in Naturism Past & Future - Discussion, which was a bit boring. Decided to avoid similar workshops from same host.
  • Intro to Naturism and This Festival - Good overview of TNS, Sunsport, and how the festival is organized.
  • Henna and Body Tattoos - Possibly a new hobby for Percilla.
  • The Greying of Naturism - Hosted by the person I was avoiding. Percilla went and observed that there were a lot of grey people.
  • Privatizing a Backyard - Made us wish that our plants grew as fast as Florida's.
  • Drumming for Novices - Percilla went, apparently the host was a novice as well. Ran out of drums so they brought out pots and pans.
  • Involving Young Adults & Families in Naturism - Morley discussing why Sunsport is so successful for attracting younger people.
  • Naturist Photography 2011 - Presentation by one of the photographers with stories.
  • 2 Burning Man discussions - The most experienced person (10 trips) didn't lead either of them.
  • Haulover Beach Ambassadors - Insightful discussion about how it works and how successful it's been. Finally got to meet local celebrity Richard Mason.
  • History of Florida Naturism - Mostly about Lake Como, Cypress Cove, and a few others.
  • Learn to Juggle, "success guaranteed" - Percilla went and proved otherwise.
  • Why Are You a Nudist - Discussion. One middle-aged attendee grew up in a nudist resort and was the only one in his circle of friends to stick with it, so it was an interesting perspective.
  • NAC/NEF Donor Reception - I gave them a good donation, and it wasn't as busy as I was hoping.
  • Nude Art, Naturism, and Nazis - Interesting slideshow (with real slides!) of paintings and drawings with stories.
  • Professors & Researchers SIG - Added myself to the group. See their website here.
  • Where to go for Nude Rec. in Florida - Interesting review of coastal beaches. (Didn't get to lakes.) Two beaches were highly recommended and hard to get to, so I'd love to check them out in a future trip.
  • Florida Naturist Groups - Big meeting of most groups to share info and strategies.
  • Beach Groups - More info sharing between beach-related "Friends Of" groups.
  • Informing Politicians of Naturist Family Values - Paul presented his amazingly concise, research-backed, informative book Naturists: Upholders of Strong Family Values. Listed here.
  • Sunsport Gardens: The Vision - More from Morley on why Sunsport is such an amazing resort.
  • Bipolar Bares - Percilla attended and said this was a wonderful support group and was very informational. (Some in her family have this disorder.)
  • Science, Engineering, Technology and Human Concern: Mankind is Advancing Beyond Old Ideologies - I like edgy presentations, but I had to bite my tongue a lot. More about this later.
  • Off the Grid: A Decentralized Approach to Mankind's Energy Needs - Same presenter as above, same effect.
  • Wear Clothes: Destroy the Planet, Get Sick Quicker, Die Sooner - Discussed chemicals in clothes and how they get absorbed by the skin and likely cause harm. Also covered how destructive the manufacturing is.
  • Women & Body Acceptance in Naturism - Percilla went and said they need more groups like that. It was a great support group. Nicky told a story about a woman who was screened for breast cancer and 47 lumps were found. Nicky persuaded her to not wear a bra for a month until her next checkup. At that time, she only had 3 lumps.
  • Sunsport Memoirs: A Pictorial History - One of the photographers spent a year scanning pictures from a big box maintained in the office. Showed the history and told stories.
  • Naturist Action Committee Area Representative Program - Great meeting to discuss what we're doing and how else we can help.
  • Politics of Children in Naturism - More wise words from Morley.
  • Writing for N Magazine - Learned that N is seeking more young writers.
  • No Sex Please, We're Naturists - An insider review of Caliente Tampa's newer sexy advertising. Mostly a discussion on if sex hurts the nudist industry, inconclusive.
  • Closing Friendship Circle - Everyone says a few words. Ideas and suggestions are recorded by Morley and discussed by the board for future improvements.

After-hours or special events:
  • Campfire and Drum Circle - The most professional bonfire setup I've ever seen, and later at night it became fairly active. The weekly ones the rest of the year may be more fun.
  • DJ Dance - A computer in the pavilion is used as a jukebox. Songs played one-by-one by request mostly. Not many people attended but it was still fun.
  • Karaoke - Fun and well-run, much more popular than the dances.
  • Bingo - Not part of the festival itself, but we played anyway the night before the festival. They have a good setup for it and they keep it fun.
  • An Evening of Peace, Love, and Joy - Music by Faerie Elane. We thought it was slow and weird, so didn't stay long. Not sure about others.
  • Armand & Angelina - We're still confused at how they developed a cult following in the naturist world. Everyone loves them.
  • Clothing Optional Fashion Show - Showing off mostly jewelry and other hand-made items from the vendors.
  • Variety Show - Entertaining show with a host who was full of good jokes.
  • Haulover Trip - Amazing place to visit, especially when we tag along with an awesome beach ambassador in a 2012 Camero.

Outside of the workshops, we enjoyed most of Sunsport's facilities. The sauna was nice, the pool is big and warm, and the hot tub is perfect. (Heat for the water is mostly solar.) We watched the turtles and frogs in the ponds. The tennis courts, bocce ball courts, and volleyball courts were all professional quality. The food was wonderful. (And more healthful than what the restaurant normally serves outside of the festival.) Showers and bathrooms were comfortable. The playground was big and well-positioned, which is good for the many children around and the many parents that like to check in. Everything was well-designed and maintained. It seems that if they do something, they do it right.

I discovered a unique combination of outdoor facilities at Sunsport that provides the perfect recipe for a chilly evening. No other resort we've been to has this. First, I'd take a shower as required before entering the pool. Then, it's a short hop into the hot tub. Cycle between the hot tub and the pool as desired. Last, go into the sauna just long enough to dry off. You'll end up warm and dry before going to bed. At other resorts, there is usually no sauna. We need to make a special trip to trade sarongs (our usual) with towels, and we usually end up cold by the time we dry off and get into bed.

Sunsport drew a healthy demographic to the festival where all age groups were well represented. There was a healthy balance of gender. The general population seemed thinner than usual too. I've long been convinced that Sunsport is doing something right, and finally got to see it with my own eyes.

Not everyone is convinced, however. I was pulled aside by a permanent resident who wasn't fond of the noisy drum circles, thought the place was full of weirdos (partly due to a lot of holistic workshops happening nearby), and thought the festival was a rip-off for the attendees. I suspect this same person was the one who recently caused friction between Sunsport and the Florida Young Naturists. With beer in hand that morning, obviously not his first, he hinted at moving to a different state. Morley immediately came to mind. When talking about his ban on smoking, he said "Yeah we lost a few members, but we gained a lot more!" Sunsport may lose this member.

At Haulover, I got to meet the founders of the Florida Young Naturists. I also got to listen in on a lively discussion on what happened at one of the recent events, why they're avoiding Sunsport for a bit, and how they are working to resolve the issue. I hope that FYN will be back at Sunsport soon. I would love to attend one of their events.

Sunsport is on only 40 acres, but a many of these acres are undeveloped and contain a network of trails. The trails aren't as professional as those at Cedar Trails, but they are still quite enjoyable. I believe they keep the trails a bit wild (skinny dirt paths) on purpose. Unique plants have little signs by them all around the resort including the trails. I wasn't aware that wild coffee grew in Florida, but we found some. The biggest surprise was that, in the middle of nowhere, there was a big long grassy patch. If you want some privacy for a discussion, or a meeting place for women new to naturism, that would make a great spot.

Saturday night, I was pulled in to a game of pool with a group of guys. We all were decent players and the games were all pretty close. It was all laid back and fun. Then, a person not much older than me joined in. I'll call him Mark. (Short for "Marksman" since he does have a military history.) Him and I played, and I quickly gathered that he was far more serious about winning then anyone else. I was on the edge of saying "I quit because you're taking this way too seriously." He won against me (and I was happy to leave), but lost the next round (and he also left). Little did I know, he would go on to host the two most favored workshops and be the most talked about person at the closing circle (even though he wasn't there.)

Mark and I generally share a similar background. The only big difference is that he opted for military work while I opted for a Masters degree. I was the only person at the 2009 gathering using PowerPoint and lecturing. He was the only person at this gathering doing the same. He talked about technology and how it should be put to full use to change the world. I was the only person who cringed and sunk into my chair.

Mark's presentations, which he also presents everywhere via tours, are meant to get people excited about technology. He's certainly excited about technology -- so much so that he wants to rip out everything old and replace it with something new. (He's never heard of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" apparently.) He proposes putting small wind turbines on light poles, painting cars with photovoltaic paints, replacing sidewalks with piezoelectric generators, and all sorts of other technologies which produce a small amount of electricity in small quantities. Adding it all up, he believes there will be no longer be an energy crisis.

Morley asked for his recommendation on what to do at Sunsport. Mark suggested a small-scale wind turbine. I later emailed Morley citing this study and concluding that he would lose money by buying one. The best performing small-scale wind turbine in 2009 cost about $14,460 and generated 2,109 kWh in a year. Compared with buying that much from the power company at 10 cents per kWh, it would take 69 years to break even. The turbine will not last that long. So not only will you lose money, but the damage to the environment for manufacturing these things does far more harm than good. Most (or maybe even all) of Mark's suggested technologies are like this -- environmentally damaging and not cost effective. (But I should note that large-scale turbines and solar installations do end up cost-effective and help the environment.)

After he solves the energy crisis, he believes that the world socioeconomic structure will shift. Since technology can provide plenty of food, energy, and other resources, money will disappear and everyone will share by nature. He talked about numerous studies which concluded that people are naturally willing to share fairly. If one person gets a sandwich, and another gets nothing, the person with the sandwich will split it down the middle and share. I agree that people are generous when in front of researchers, but John List and other researchers, in the last decade, have proven that people aren't so generous in the real world.

I wish Mark luck with his new company, which aims to create an open-source off-grid factory to rapidly grow and harvest crops autonomously. He plans to deploy these to freely feed the hungry in poverty-stricken areas.

If there's one thing that rekindles my energy for naturism, it's a festival or gathering. I meet a lot of cool people -- "celebrities of naturism". I learn about new opportunities, get motivated to donate to NAC and help out as much as I can, and get motivated to work on my own projects that benefit naturism. I want to go back next year and host a whole bunch of workshops. I'm hooked.