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30 Jul 16:04

what do i have to say to a cop?

by samantha

Pro tips!!
Also, I did not know about these apps.
"If the police approach you and ask why you are filming, you can remain silent; that is your right. The ACLU has a great set of apps called Mobile Justice (there are different ones for different states so make sure you download the right one). If you record police encounters using that app, they are automatically uploaded to an ACLU server so that even if the police take your phone, the video is preserved."

the first time i ever got pulled over by a police officer there were drugs in my car. i was driving a shitty 1988 ford escort hatchback with a busted taillight south on green bay road in north evanston late on a weeknight, 19 years old and mostly ignorant to my rights as a united states citizen. the car was illegally registered and willfully uninsured and my driver's license was taped the fuck together and i'm not entirely sure how i charmed my way out of going to jail that evening. the prescription bottles and maybe some mushrooms were shoved in my backpack behind the passenger seat and i could feel them radiating incriminating heat up my back and neck as dude stood at my window asking if i knew that my taillight was out. thankfully he let me go with a warning because, and i'm not even fucking kidding, i worked in a bakery at the time and he recognized me from behind the counter.

when i watched the dash cam video of sandra bland's arrest the only thought bouncing around my head louder than the sound of my own heart breaking inside my chest was "what would i have done if that had been me?" would i have gotten out of the car? tried to make a phone call? put down my cheese sandwich!? (i don't smoke, and i'm incredibly realistic in my hypothetical situations.) it struck me how loudly and clearly she was narrating the cop's actions as they moved off camera. would i ever have thought to do that? it's terrifying to realize just how much i don't know about how i can/cannot protect myself against police. so i hollered at my lawyer kaitlin jackson and asked her to answer some basic questions to give all of us a better idea of how to best take care of ourselves when dealing with law enforcement. and i know i usually keep it light (albeit hate-filled) around here, but this shit has got me vexed. i mean, samuel dubose had his head blown off over a missing front tag? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS LIFE. so i need to chill on these jokes for a minute and use what i have to do what i can.

BIG GIANT FLASHING NEON-LIT DISCLAIMER: this is really an abridged cheat sheet for encounters with the police that has been painted with really broad strokes. reading this doesn't make you a legal expert; pleeeeeease use this information to protect your rights and NOT to argue with the cops about the law. because lawyering at the cops is never wise, and even if it were you'd need a lot more information than provided here to do that well. also keep in mind that laws vary from state to state, every situation is different, and this doesn't substitute for advice from your lawyer. last thing you want to do is be in court talking about "well sam said..." i mean, come on. i completed, like, three semesters of community college and still eat diet hot pockets as my real dinner sometimes. i love you, be safe.

do you have to let the police search you if they ask to?
legal answer Hard no. You NEVER have to give the police permission to search you, your car, or your house. They cannot arrest you because you didn’t give them permission to search. BUT there are times when they can search you without your permission. For example, if an officer has "reasonable suspicion" that you might be armed he can pat you down. You never have the right to refuse a pat down. Additionally, if an officer has probable cause to search you they can search without your permission. Or, if they have a warrant, they can search without your permission.

practical answer Most of the time you get to decide whether an officer can search you, but occasionally it isn’t your call. Luckily, you don’t need to be able to tell the difference in the moment. You only need to know two things: 1 ALWAYS respond to requests to search by saying “You do not have my consent to search.” As long as you do that, you’ve preserved your rights, and a judge will decide later if the search was legal. 2 NEVER physically interfere with a police officer who decides to search you.

one other note: People often consent to searches because they don’t think there is any contraband an officer could find. This bites a lot of people in the foot. There could be something in your car or house that someone else put there that you don’t know about. You also might have something that you don’t realize is illegal. For example, some states have rules about what types of pocket knives are legal and, if you unknowingly have the wrong kind in your toolbox, you could get a weapons charge. Or maybe you carry your spouse’s prescription medicine in your purse—that can easily turn into a controlled substances charge. The moral of the story is memorize the phrase “You do not have my consent to search” and then USE IT.

do you have to answer questions from the police?
legal answer If you are on the street Generally no, but in some states you do have to give identifying information like your name and birth date if you are asked. Otherwise you do not have to answer questions—that includes questions about your citizenship status. If you are in a car You have to show your license, insurance and proof of registration. Otherwise, you do not have to answer questions. 

practical answer It is almost never in your best interest to answer questions without speaking to a lawyer first. It’s much easier to talk yourself into trouble than it is to talk yourself out of it (overconfidence is your worst enemy). Your two safest options are to 1 end the encounter, or if you can't do that, 2 get a lawyer. A good way to find out whether you can end the encounter is to calmly ask: Am I free to leave? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no, calmly tell the officer you don't want to speak to them without a lawyer. And then make good on your promise and don't speak.
two other notes
 1 It's rarely wise to run from the police. Even if you aren't doing anything illegal, running has the potential to escalate the situation. 2 If you are stopped in a car, keep your hands where the officer can see them for the same reason, to avoid escalation.

do you have to blow into a breathalyzer/do field sobriety tests?
legal answer No. BUT the police can use your refusal to blow into a breathalyzer and/or do field sobriety tests as evidence against you. In other words, if you are charged with driving under the influence, a prosecutor can argue to a jury that you refused because you knew you were intoxicated and would have failed. Additionally, in some states the DMV will automatically suspend your license for refusal to blow.

practical answer Does that mean you should always blow? No it doesn’t. It means you have a decision to make. If you haven’t been drinking it’s in your best interest to blow into the machine. But, if you think there is any chance you will fail the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests, it’s probably in your best interest to refuse. Here’s why: if you are likely to fail, the jig is up. You’ve been caught. At this point the best thing you can do is stop giving the police more evidence to use against you. Blowing in the machine and doing field sobriety tests that you are likely to fail can only make you look guiltier.

one note Most field sobriety tests are based on balance. If you have leg or knee issues, weight issues, are wearing high heels, are advanced in age or have any disability that causes you to struggle with balance, you may fail these regardless of whether you are sober or not. If any of those apply to you, make clear to the officer that you are refusing field sobriety tests because you struggle with balance, and then don’t do them.

are you allowed to record the police?
legal and practical answer Yes. If the police approach you and ask why you are filming, you can remain silent; that is your right. The ACLU has a great set of apps called Mobile Justice (there are different ones for different states so make sure you download the right one). If you record police encounters using that app, they are automatically uploaded to an ACLU server so that even if the police take your phone, the video is preserved.

what are your rights in an interrogation?
legal answer You do not have to answer questions during an interrogation. You have the right to an attorney, and the right to remain silent. If you are being interrogated, and tell the police “I want to remain silent and I want a lawyer,” they must stop questioning you.

practical answer Police are well trained in the art of getting incriminating statements. You are not trained in the art of resisting their tactics. Do not overestimate your ability to talk yourself out of a bad situation. I repeat: do not think you can talk yourself out of a bad situation. DO NOT assume you can’t talk yourself into trouble just because you’re innocent.

three notes 1 Police are allowed to lie to you. They can, and often do, tell people untrue things designed to get the person to make an incriminating statement. Don’t be tricked into responding. 2 People get convicted of crimes all the time based primarily or solely on their own statements. For real, for real. Don’t be that guy. 3 Just being quiet isn’t enough to invoke your right to remain silent. You need to say something along the lines of “I don’t want to talk to you” or “I want to remain silent.”

what's the deal with miranda rights anyway?
legal and practical answer Miranda is the warning you hear cops read on Law and Order when they arrest people. You have two Miranda rights 1 the right to remain silent and 2 the right to an attorney (whether or not you can afford one). When the police read those rights, most people waive them. Meaning they decide to go ahead and speak to the police without an attorney. Sometimes because they are confused, but more often because they are intimidated and think they have to talk to the police. But now that you have read this, you know better. Use your Miranda rights, and silent treatment the police (after giving identifying info) as hard as you’ve ever silent treatment-ed anyone.

so i know i am supposed to be "cooperative" with police, but what does that really mean?
It’s always best not to escalate a situation. Be calm, polite and respectful. Don’t threaten or yell at police. However, being cooperative does not mean answering officer’s questions (other than requests for identifying info) or allowing them to search you. Remember that you are on different teams. If you’ve ever played sports you know that being a cooperative player doesn’t mean scoring goals against yourself for the other team. Often people imagine they are helping themselves by being cooperative, when in truth they are just assisting an officer who is building a case against them. This is true even if you are innocent. Don’t risk it. Saying “You can’t search me,” “I don’t want to talk to you,” and “I want a lawyer” are the best things you can do for yourself. Once a lawyer gets on the scene they can help you figure out the next best move.

note Don’t be tricked by statements like “if you answer a few questions or just let me look in your trunk I’ll let you go…” See above: officers do not have to tell you the truth.

keep your heads up, champions. be cool out there.
03 Aug 11:45

BDSM in mainstream media: Why I taught my kids about safe words

by Marnie Goldenberg

NSFW relevant

'Safe Word Warning', hand-painted pallet sign, from Etsy seller HotShotPalletworks
'Safe Word Warning', hand-painted pallet sign, from Etsy seller HotShotPalletworks

Kinky sex has made its way into mainstream culture in places other than poorly-written-erotica-gone-NYT-bestsellers-list. Music videos like Rihanna’s S&M, Christina Aguilera’s Not Myself Tonight, for instance. Our kids are seeing it, hearing it, and some of them are even reading it.

My kids are young, so Rihanna videos and E. L. James’ fiction are not yet on their agenda. But there will come a time when talking to my munchkins about bondage and domination becomes relevant. I anticipate that the majority of learning on the topic will not be from me; they’ll likely see videos and ads or hear things from peers that could use some context. I prefer to be the person who provides that context with overarching messages about consent, trust, and communication.

Those values are not confined to safe and enjoyable kink. When those values are front and centre in a number of contexts and conversations with our kids, we help them see the breadth of their application — the primary importance of these values in positive and healthy human relationships. That, I think, will make that kink conversation a lot easier.

As an example, I had a conversation with my kids about safe words a couple years ago.

Safe words are used in the BDSM community to ensure that, during a sexual scene, people involved can communicate their interest to stop the scene or slow it down. Words like "ow" or "stop" don't usually work as safe words because they may not always be meant to end the sexual activity; in fact, those words may be sought out during a sexual encounter. Now, I’m not going to spend time on the ins and outs of safe and consensual kinky sex, except to say that the cornerstones are, you guessed it, communication and trust. So safe words are vitally important.

No, I didn’t talk to my kids about kinky sex — that will come sometime in the future. See, my kids love and enjoy each other and wrestle and horseplay a lot. While overwhelmingly it’s a mutually-enjoyed activity, not infrequently it ends with one injured or aggrieved party. If either of them hear the safe word while wrestling, the wrestling stops, and a check-in happens. It often gets forgotten or the tears or wails come before someone utters "origami" (the current safe word).

Last week in the car, a vigorous round of rough housing (yes, while strapped down by seat belts and in booster seats) ended because the safe word was spoken. My older son then said it was an inappropriate use of the safe word because his brother wasn’t hurt. We talked about setting rules for when the word is to be used. I made recommendations, they made the decisions, and I reinforced the need to always respect its use. No crying wolf now.

We also talked about what ought to happen after the safe word is used, which is to find out what went down. It shouldn’t just end the activity but rather make way for a straight up conversation to find out why the activity needed to be stopped and whether there were any misunderstood needs or perspectives.

For my kids, and everyone, the value is all about developing communication skills. Whether during a physical romp of sex with a partner or a bout of wrestling with a sibling, communication is key. And that is not part of the message that Rihanna is communicating when she sings “Now the pain is my pleasure. Cause nothing could measure. Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me.”

Recent Comments

  • Victoria: Yay teaching consent to children! I love the proactive approach you've taken with your children, and I especially love how … [Link]
  • Jennifer: I'm an actor specializing in stage combat, and safe words are useful for us as well-- we set them for … [Link]
  • Monk-Monk: I love this, and totally am going to start using it. Thanks for the suggestions! [Link]
  • Beth W: Great idea! ANYTHING that supports analyzing what you are and aren't ok with, communicating that effectively, and respecting other people's … [Link]
  • Melissa: This is a great idea. When I was little, my dad taught my sister and I to use a safe … [Link]

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23 Jul 16:00

Skill Builder: Getting Started with Google SketchUp for Woodworkers and Makers


On my to-learn list!

created at: 07/23/2015

SketchUp is free, robust, and really helps to bring your projects to life. I stumbled through the basics for way too long, so here are a few steps to get you modeling… Continue reading on

25 Jul 14:04

July Art Roundup: Intergalactic Travel Posters, Wicked Elsa, Tiki Baymax, & More!

by Jen

UGGGHHHH LOve all the geeky art! Must start collecting prints...

Time for my monthly roundup of great geek art!

Joseph Bayer of SpiderStopShop has a great "Splatter Grunge" style:

 These look best in big sizes, so lucky for us his 12X18 prints are all just $15!

My favs are Elsa and Vader:

Now I want to see these two framed up side-by-side somewhere. :D
 Go see the rest at Bayer's online shop!

An adorable Little Mermaid set by Josie of RoosterPop:

The 5X7 prints are $7 each in her online shop, where there's lots more to choose from!

I'm digging Crabby Squid's super bright "Tiki-style:"

These are all just $10 each in his Etsy shop.

Spotted these sweet intergalactic travel posters at a tiny local con a few months back:

All of the Science Hype poster are about $17 each, or you can get a better deal if you buy a set:

You can also buy them on Etsy, if you'd rather.

Want more? Their sister company, Lynx Art Collection, also has some sweet poster sets:

Your choice of sizes, with 11X17s starting at $17 each

I adore Piper Thibodeau's daily sketches on Twitter, and I am crushed - CRUSHED - that she doesn't sell prints. I mean, LOOK AT THIS: 

She turned Kuzco into an Alpaca! SO CUTE.

And look at these Ninja Turtles:

D'awww. little Mikey on his back!

See more of Piper's work (there are hundreds!) on Twitter and/or DeviantArt. And while you're at it, beg her to open an online store for me, k?

Sabrina Miramon (aka Sab M.) is another artist with a beautiful digital style:

 Sab has that Batgirl plus a few more lovelies in her online store. (You can also follow her on Facebook to see more.)

I saw these next two prints in person at a con, and the colors are phenomenal - really leapt off the table at me:

 "My Little Kaiju" by Jeff Schutte

Prints start at $15 in Jeff's RedBubble shop, where he also has this cool fantasy airship:

Jeff only has a handful of prints for sale, but you can see more of his work on his Facebook page.

It's impossible to pick just a few favorites from Ann Marcelino; they're all SO GOOD.

 Labyrinth, 10X5 print, $15
(The little blue worm is on Sarah's head! Hee!)

 Mulan, 10X7 print, $15

 Baby Link & Zelda, 10X7 print, $15

See what I mean? So much goodness!

And as a huge Wicked fan, I'm delighted by Ann's Frozen/Wicked mashups:

"Witch Sisters," 10X7 print, $15

Head over to Marcelino's Society6 store for more, or see it all in her DeviantArt gallery. (And you can also follow her on Facebook.)

Now it's time for a Quick Sweet Story:

A couple of years ago I was hanging out with a fan named Rachel, who showed me some or her teenage daughter's artwork. I was impressed, and said she should try selling some online or at cons.

Cut to last month, when I received an incredibly sweet letter from Rachel's daughter, Brianna "Bri Pi" Crozier. She said I'd helped give her that final push of encouragement, and in the past year or so she's sold at 8 different conventions! And she's only 17.

Bri also included some art as a thank you, including a few prints for the give-away board.
She didn't mention it in her note, but after a quick search I found she *does* sell online: here's the link to her store. (All prints start at $15)

I figured you guys would like her princess series best, but I'm also really digging this one titled, "Curiouser and Curiouser"

And she's 17. My gosh. Talk about making my heart happy.

And finally, my favorite entry from Sketch Dailies' recent topic, "Imaginary Friends":
Hobbes has his own little Calvin doll!  
The feelz.

That's by Claire Gary, creator of that realistic Winnie-the-Pooh and friends so many of you loved last year.

As luck would have it, Claire JUST opened an Etsy shop. It's still a little sparse on prints, but maybe she'll add this one if we ask sweetly? Or even if not, there's other greatness there, like this:

"Cheshire Cat," 11X17 print $15.76
"Meoad." Ha!

And my favorite:
"Charmeleon," 8.5X11 print, $7.88


K, give-away time! As always, comment below for a chance to win your choice of art from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board. Internationals welcome.

And for this month's BONUS art prize, I have 2 print sets by Mervyn McKoy:

Each print is approximately 4X5 inches, and they're all signed. Be sure to let me know in your comment which set(s) you like, and I'll enter you in the extra drawing for those, too.

I'll announce my 3 randomly selected winners in a few days. Happy commenting!

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended!

The winner of the Batman & Batgirl set is Chiana   
The winner of Link & Wonder Woman set is Erin Schleif
And my wild-card winner, who gets to choose from anything off the Give-Away Board, is Raum

Congrats, winners, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

P.S. Kaitlyn Nielson, Blogger kept eating my reply to your comment - though I tried many times! - so please e-mail me your choice from the board, too, k? Or message me on Twitter or FB, since your first one didn't go through. 
23 Jul 11:45

3 good relationship habits we carried over from wedding planning to married life

by Faeriereader

Love these ideas! Simple and fun

North Bowl Northern Liberties Engagement
Photo by Mike Allebach

We got married because we made a good team. We are good at doing things together; in fact, we enjoy doing things together! Then the wedding planning came along and suddenly “things together” often evolved into "wedding things together."

Now that the wedding is over, I am no longer constantly thinking, worrying, stressing, planning, organizing, and doing wedding things. It left a noticeable vacuum in my life. And while it's okay to still think about the wedding, feel about the wedding, and even obsess about the wedding, I feel like I'm ready to move on now.

But some of the things my partner and I learned and implemented while planning the wedding are going to carry over into married life.

Here are three good habits my husband and I have carried over from wedding planning to married life:

  • Stir Fridays
  • Tasting Tuesdays
  • Wedding-Free Wednesdays

Stir Fridays:

One of the things we enjoy doing together is cooking. So on Friday, we make stir fry together. It's an easy meal to make that has a big payoff!

We shop for ingredients together, choosing whatever sounds good this week. Then we chop vegetables together. Then one of us cooks while the other gets the dishes ready. It's an excuse to hang out together, to remind yourself and your partner why you make a good team.

Bonus: Stir Friday can help you practice working as a team if sometimes you struggle with that!

Tasting Tuesday:

We wanted to try out different rehearsal dinner restaurants, so we made (and keep) a running list of restaurants to try.

We tried going on weekends, but the places were always packed and sometimes the prices were a bit higher. We decided that there was nothing stopping us from going out earlier in the week, so Tasting Tuesdays began! We pick a new restaurant every week and go out for dinner on Tuesday. If we tried a restaurant but were not quite sure if we liked it or not, we add that restaurant back to the list for later. If we find a restaurant we really like, we add that one back to the list too. If the restaurant doesn’t make it back on the list… at least we had an adventure together trying something new!

Wedding-Free Wednesdays:

We both needed a break from the wedding planning. It was nice to have a no-pressure day, where we had permission to focus on other parts of our lives, where we gave ourselves a break from the stress and worry of our To Do Lists. It was nice to be able to forgive each other, even if the wedding leaked into the day, which it often did.

Wedding-Free Wednesday is a free day to just be together and not talk about the most stressful part of your life. While we no longer have to limit wedding talk, we take turns deciding what topic our Wednesdays will be free of each week. Sometimes it's family, sometimes it's friends, sometimes it's work. Work is a bit tough, because we still have to go to work, but at least we don’t have to rehash the problems of the day when we get home.

When your relationship is overshadowed by stress, it can be a pretty miserable experience. When you have islands of time where the stress is brushed aside, overlooked, and perhaps even forgotten while you focus on each other and your relationship without all the guilt or pressure, your relationship in general becomes a lot more fun!

Inspired by wedding planning, work, or whatever: What are some stress-fighting relationship habits you've adopted?

Recent Comments

  • Jennifer: I read the title of wedding-free Wednesday, and thought maybe it would be a day for you and your husband … [Link]
  • Erin: In general, we've found that scheduling things works wonders. We're not married yet (September is fast approaching though), and … [Link]
  • KathyRo: What great ideas! [Link]
  • KendraD: Our big enlightenment moment came when my husband had to do the Myers-Briggs assessment during his MBA course. In addition … [Link]

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22 Jul 17:49

10 Games To Keep Your Mind Sharp During The Dog Days Of Summer


Good to know!

There’s nothing like a little vacation to make your mind feel as if it’s fizzling out and sloooooooowing down. Over the last couple of days I’ve been getting a little R&R. While my trip has done its job to help relieve the stress of daily life, I sort of feel like my brain is softening like a stick of […] Read more...
20 Jul 15:00

To Watch On Netflix: An Honest Liar

by Jen

To watch!

The next time you have 2 hours to kill, do yourself a favor and go watch the documentary An Honest Liar:

It's the story of The Amazing Randi - a world famous magician - who has spent almost his entire professional life debunking frauds and con men, from so-called psychics to faith-healers.

Today Randi is the world's most adorable real-live wizard - or so I choose to believe :D - and he won my heart within the first 5 minutes, when he jokingly bowed down to a display case full of cakes in a local diner. 

The film follows his career and debunking triumphs, with plenty of clips from shows like Johnny Carson and Happy Days, and surprise celebrity appearances from everyone from a very young Leonard Nimoy to current-day Adam Savage and Penn & Teller.

There are also plenty of interviews with Randi himself, who remains whip-smart, funny, and incredibly well-spoken today.

Most of Randi's successes were before my time, so it was fascinating to learn about the hoaxes he orchestrated on the scientific community - always to prove how easily they were being fooled by less honest liars, if you will.

I didn't know anything about the film before John and I found it on Netflix, so I just now watched the official trailer. I think it almost gives away too much, so I'm glad I got to be surprised by it all, but if you're not convinced it's worth a watch yet, then check this out:

One final observation: Despite the fact that Randi proved a popular faith healer was a fraud, there is a surprising lack of religion-bashing in the film. I don't know (or care) where you guys stand on the topic, but just thought I'd mention it, since I found it rather gentlemanly of Randi.

An Honest Liar is on Netflix Streaming, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and plenty of other places - just give it a google. 
14 Jul 11:45

Stop cheating your electric: How to safely replace a 2-prong outlet

by kellbot

So so timely!!!

"Another common problem in older houses is when someone "helpfully" installs a three-prong outlet but doesn't bother grounding it. This is much worse than using a cheater plug because those who use it will be unaware that the circuit isn't grounded. You can test for this using an inexpensive circuit tester available from any home improvement store. "

Today we're going to talk about power outlets, grounding, and how you can safely plug things into an old 2-prong outlet by replacing it with a GFCI or "ground fault circuit interrupter" receptacle.

If you live in an older North American home (specifically one built before the mid-1970s) you have probably known the frustration of having a 3-prong plug and only 2-prong outlets. As such, you are probably familiar with this dude:

Cheater plug

Commonly called a "cheater plug," these little adapters allow you to plug your laptop or PC into the million-year-old electrical wiring in your home. In theory, the little tab at the bottom screws onto the faceplate to ground the outlet. In practice, almost no one actually screws the thing in place (naughty!). Even if they do, in many homes that isn't enough to provide a connection to ground. If something causes a short the electricity will use YOU for grounding. In other words: ZAP.

Another common problem in older houses is when someone "helpfully" installs a three-prong outlet but doesn't bother grounding it. This is much worse than using a cheater plug because those who use it will be unaware that the circuit isn't grounded. You can test for this using an inexpensive circuit tester available from any home improvement store.

If you want to do things right, you can hire an electrician to rewire and ground all your circuits. In my area, the quote for this was $300 per outlet — way out of budget for me, given that the entire second floor of our home was ungrounded.

If you're feeling handy, you can replace a 2 prong outlet with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) receptacles. These work by immediately cutting the power if they detect a sudden change in current flow (perhaps caused by your body suddenly having electricity flow through it). It's not a perfect solution — it won't keep a power surge from frying your electronics — but it adds a layer of safety and convenience.

You probably have these in your bathroom / kitchen. Or at least I hope you do!

Doing electrical work can be intimidating, but if you follow the directions and use common sense, this one is actually pretty easy. As always with home improvement, stop and call a professional if there is something you don't understand or if at any point you don't feel confident proceeding. If you take off your outlet cover and think "wow, this looks nothing like the instructions say it will," stop and call a professional.

Old houses often have really questionable wiring. If anything is nonstandard, it's important to have an electrician look over the whole system.

Stuff you'll need:

Step 1: Turn off power to the old receptacle

First cut the power to the receptacle. Do this at your breaker box and put a piece of tape over it while you're working so no one turns it back on. Verify the power is off, preferably with a non-contact voltage tester. Always check to make sure the receptacle is off as electrical boxes are often mislabeled.

If you're not sure which breaker goes to the outlet in question, you can stick your voltage tester in the outlet and start throwing switches until the beeping stops. Warn your housemates before you do this and label the breaker when you find it.

Step 2: Disconnect ONE outlet

Usually the outlets in a room are all on the same circuit. When you have two outlets in one receptacle (like most do) you need to figure out which comes first in the circuit. This is referred to as "line" for the incoming connection and "load" for the outgoing connection.

While the order doesn't matter for normal outlets, it's important when you're installing a GFCI. If the GFCI is installed backwards, it won't protect you (and as a safety feature, modern GFCIs won't work at all).

In order to figure out which is which, we'll disconnect one of the old outlets. Leave the other one connected. Use the wire nuts to cap off the disconnected wires and carefully push everything back into place.

There are a few different styles of outlet, but most of them have a tiny slot you shove a screwdriver in to release each wire. If your outlet is particularly old it can take some fiddling to get the wire out.

Step 3: Test remaining outlet

Replace the outlet and cover and turn the power back on. Test the outlet that's still connected. If there's power to it, this means it is line. If it's dead, it's load. Cut the power again and open the receptacle back up.

Step 4: Connect the new GFCI outlet

Following the instructions that came with your outlet, connect the line and load wires to the appropriate spots on the outlet. Carefully place everything back in the wall and replace the faceplate.

Step 5: Test the new GFCI outlet

Turn the power back on and test the outlet. First press the reset button. There should be power flowing to the outlet. Then press the test button. The outlet should go dead. If it does, congratulations, you're all done! If it doesn't work correctly turn off the power and check your wiring again.

If it's wired correctly and still not working, then it's time to call a professional for help.

Recent Comments

  • kellbot: It's likely that the lights and the GFCI are on the same circuit and something on that circuit is not … [Link]
  • Alex: We had a handyman friend install one of these in our bathroom... only to discover that, with it installed, the … [Link]
  • Colleen: I love seeing such practical fix-it advice on OBH! [Link]

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10 Jul 11:45

Pin ups, tattoos, and rock n roll: Bad-ass, yet super-comfy bedding from Sin in Linen

by Offbeat Editors

I NEED those henna sheets in my life!

Remember when I featured the striped Sin in Linen shower curtain on my vintage circus bathroom post? These are the sheets that match!
Remember when I featured the striped Sin in Linen shower curtain on my vintage circus bathroom post? These are the sheets that match! (Modeled by Stella Rose Saint Clair. Photo by Stefano Giovaninni

I can't tell you how excited I am to welcome our newest sponsor, Sin in Linen, to Offbeat Home. Oh, I can't lie to you, Homies… yes I can tell you how excited I am: mega super buttloads of excited! You might even recognize the name Sin in Linen from when we've gushed about them before, added them to our decor roundups, or when they've been featured in our very own readers' homes. Sin in Linen is based in Seattle and has been providing soft goods with hardcore style since 2004.

Now I get to officially gush about them, AND they hooked me up with some of their wares to try, and hooked YOU up with a special discount. How lucky are we!?

The Atomic Dreams sheet set -- They worked with Mid Century Modern artist, Ragnar, for this print.
The Atomic Dreams sheet set — They worked with mid-century modern-style artist, Ragnar, for this print.

Sin in Linen's founder — the kick-ass Sandy Glaze — collaborates with artists and manufacturers around the world to produce stylish home textiles on high-quality, ethically produced cotton. Their exciting designs are all inspired by retro aesthetic, pin-ups, tattoos, and rock ‘n' roll.

I mean… just watch this video and see how happy the Geisha Garden sheet set (and shower curtain OMG!) makes pin-up model Miss Kitty! That's kind of how I feel when I see my kick-ass new Sin in Linen pillows on my bed. These guys…

Henna Tattoo Sheets
Henna Tattoo Sheets

Here's how they look in my (newly redecorated) bedroom…

my sin in linen pillows

I love these pillow covers so very much, not just because they perfectly match with my boho bedroom vibe, but because they're as comfortable as they are gorgeous! (300 thread count, 100% cotton sateen!)

This model is how I picture myself when I'm lying on my Sin in Linen pillows...
Masuimi Max modeling the Geisha Moon sheets. Photo by her husband Morat.

Wanna get sexy, exciting, bad-ass, yet so so comffffyyyyy Sin in Linen goods into YOUR bedroom (or bathroom, or kitchen, or living room) and be as sexy, excited, and bad-ass as myself? Then take advantage of this discount…

Enter code SINOFFBEAT10 for 10% off of your order! This code is good forever, because Sin in Linen is the freaking bestest.

Now feel like a hot tattooed pin-up model anytime you want and sexify and comfy-fy your bedrooms!

Recent Comments

  • Aurora: I have a Sin in Linen duvet cover that I looooove. I think the pattern I have is now discontinued … [Link]
  • Sandy Glaze: Ahhhh.... :-) [Link]
  • Sandy Glaze: Hi Maryr, Glad to hear that browsing our website was an enjoyable experience. We recently updated it so that's great … [Link]
  • Sandy Glaze: Thanks Meredith! :-) [Link]
  • Allison: ooohhhh.... [Link]

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30 Jun 21:41

1000 ferris wheels

by thebloggess

I once read that about people who make and fold 1000 origami paper cranes.  Some do it for luck or longevity or luck or wishes or hope.  Some do it for love.  Some do it for peace.  I assume some do it for the same reason I make ferris wheels.

I make them over and over again, from tiny kits that arrive in small envelopes whenever things get difficult.


I turn the small metal tabs in.  I fit the speck-like tabs into the delicate, almost invisible slots.  I place 100 tiny metal pieces -like forgotten shavings- together to make each car, each strut.  It’s comforting to me when I need comfort most.  When life gets too large.  When the world is too loud.  When my skin is to raw and sensitive to be touched.  It’s then that I go into this tiny world I have perfect control over.

The work is both challenging and mindless.  I close a tiny door.  I add a hanging car.  I straighten a spindle.  I imagine myself in this little world, an invisible guest on this fragile and exquisitely imperfect wheel.  It does not spin exactly but the cars gently sway.  One car breaks loose and plummets to the floor.  I find it, a minute later, hidden in the seam of the tile and I rescue it and return it to it’s place, giving the metal tab an extra twist with my tweezers and holding my mouth just so as if I am casting a spell.

Stay put, I command in my head.  You are where you belong.  To everything there is a place.

And I line the pieces up into their places.  I make them right.  I make them fit.  I put things the way they are meant to be, even if only in a tiny world that rests in the palm of my hand.

In the morning I show my daughter the shiny metal ferris wheel.  She oohs and ahs and rocks the small cars, probably imagining real ferris wheels she will ride one day when she is grown.

I lay the tiny wheel down, my invisible anxieties and worries sitting calmly on each seat.  I say a prayer to keep each worry in its place.  To glue it there.  One for “fear of going under water.”  One for “one day she’ll leave me”.  One for “I’ve forgotten something important that I can’t remember”.  One for “paralyzed with doubts”.  One for “broken”.  And those small passengers all sit in silence, quieted at last, as I place the wheel with all the others.  And there it will stay while I take up life again.  Until, that is, the next week when I can’t think for all the worries and anxieties and angry voices screaming in my head.  And then I will place last week’s empty ferris wheel on a sidewalk  or tree branch for a small child to find, and I will open the thin envelope in my desk drawer and slip out the new metal sheets waiting to be cut and folded and pinned and pressed into life.  Into fear.  Into both.

And the wheel comes around again.

ferris bloggess

Note: I know many of you have noticed I’m not quite myself this month.  I’m fine…just crawling out of a depression that has taken more out of me than usual.  I’m coming back, but slowly.  Thank you for being patient.  Thank you for being you.


27 Jun 13:31

justice4mikebrown: On the early morning of June 27, activists...


On the early morning of June 27, activists in South Carolina gathered to take down the confederate flag flying above the Capitol before the funerals for 3 of the victims of the Charleston massacre begin. There is also supposed to be a “defend the flag” action later today.

A black woman identified as Bree climbed the flag pole and took the flag down herself. She was arrested shortly after climbing back down with the flag.

Check fergusonaction on twitter for more updates.

24 Jun 21:46

The best garden pruners for smaller hands

by Erica Ogg

Small hands unite! And play patty-cake!

Our pruners guide could have been more clear on which model to get for gardeners with small hands, so we’ve updated the piece with a link to the Felco 6, an option that is a nearly identical (but smaller) version of our main pick. [Best Garden Pruners]

24 Jun 16:46

This is my house.

by thebloggess

"But if I’m always singing everyone else’s song then there’s no room for mine. I have a song to sing."

The greatest gift in the world is to grant a kindness to another. The amazing thing though is that the aforementioned gift is one you give yourself. It may be a small thing. Leaving a flower for the tired woman at the coffee shop. Telling a stranger that they have such kind eyes. Listening happily to a story told by an elderly friend or relative who has told you the same story a million times. Nodding in solidarity even when you don’t completely understand. Letting a friend or a stranger yell hurtful things at you because you hope it will help them let go of a small part of that anger…that it will open up room in them for the greater things that they deserve.

This is the way the world goes. Small, mean acts affect the next person who in turn amplify that anger or sadness and take it out on others who suffer as well. Then small, kind acts of grace work their magic and pull the world back into balance. Those acts echo into the world. They reverberate long after we are gone. And sometimes? Sometimes they bounce back to us in unexpected ways.

I’ve been writing for years and it’s only in the last year that I’ve let myself feel bad about what I write. Well, not about what I write exactly. I write about my life. I write funny stories that I hope make people smile. I write books that I hope make others laugh loudly and inappropriately in airplanes. I write honestly about difficult things I’m haunted with, like depression or self-harm. And occasionally I veer off into strange waters where I don’t quite know if I’m the best person to say something, but I know that I’m the best person to say the things that I think. You sometimes get small glimpses of those things but in such light amounts you could be forgiven for missing them. If you look closely you probably know that I’m a feminist. That I’m a big supporter of gay rights.  That I don’t believe in church but do believe in God. That I believe racism is institutional and exists far deeper than we see. That I don’t deal well with authority. That I have eternal hope in goodness. That I am quick to anger and quicker to forgive and that I don’t believe in picking sides because the world is flexible and moving and ever changing. The only side I pick is the one with less assholes, but even that is fluid because people change. Sometimes the assholes are later the people who have come so far, and who we revere for their ability to change. Sometimes we find that our heroes were undercover assholes, hiding amongst us until they let down their guard. Sometimes the assholes are us. In fact, if you aren’t prepared to recognize that occasionally you will look back at your life and think, “Wow. That was a real dick move. What the shit, me?” then you are the most dangerous of all the assholes.

This is a long post but in my defense I’ve been very quiet for the last week while I sorted this out.  I do have a point and I’m coming to it.

In the time I’ve been writing I’ve had thousands of people send me emails or links or tweets asking if I would weigh in on something, or support their cause, or ask everyone I know to donate to their personal fund or charity. I’ve read other blog posts by friends who tell me if I don’t write about their personal beliefs then it means I don’t care. Then I remind myself that if someone would potentially not know where I stand if I’m not screaming it on my blog then perhaps they aren’t as good a friend as I thought. I’m asked to stand up for people being bullied. I’m asked to stand up for the other people who are being censored and being called bullies. I hear:

“How can you not go to our Gay Pride parade when you yourself are bisexual?”

“Today is International Suicide Awareness day. Why aren’t you promoting it?  Don’t you care?”

“You’ve spent time in wheelchairs and hospital beds from your autoimmune disease so why aren’t you promoting our walkathon for chronic pain awareness?”

“If you don’t publicly take a stand against racism on every platform you have then you are a racist.”

“If you don’t write about 9/11 every year the terrorist win”.

“If you don’t write a post explaining that most Muslims are peaceful and lovely then their blood will be on your hands if they are killed.”

“If you don’t write about my personal version Jesus Christ then you’re sentencing your readers to everlasting hell.”

“If you don’t promote my kickstarter about my journey to adopt 56 Chinese orphans then all orange kittens will spontaneously lose all their legs.”

These are all real things said to me in the last year, except for the last one which I suspect is probably just stuck in my spam filter.

Here’s the deal.  I just can’t. I can’t use this blog to tell you that testing makeup on animals is bad or that if we don’t reduce our carbon footprint our children will suffer the consequences. I don’t have the stamina or willpower to denounce every shitty thing in the world that I assume everyone else here already agrees with. I don’t have the strength to write about ISIS and kidnappings and poverty and children starving and bombs and other terrible things because I know I will become fixated and depressed and unable to function.  I know my limits and I know that without self-care I will fall into those dark holes of depression where I’m no help to anyone.

And I’m okay with that because I don’t have to tell you that Nazis are bad and mass murderers are fuckheads and that racism is bullshit and suicide should be avoided and rape is shitty and water is wet and cats will scratch you if given enough time. This is all common sense. If I have to say this out loud for you to get those things then you are in the wrong place. Mostly because I’m typing and so I can’t say anything out loud, but also because if you know me, you already know these things. We may disagree on the finer points. I may have a looser definition of what it means to be a feminist. I’m in the middle ground when it comes to gun control so if I ever decide I’m educated enough to have a salient point of view worth sharing out loud we may disagree. I suspect I view racism as being more of a problem than the average American (or average white Southerner at least) and occasionally I’ll say something about it and lose followers…both those who are angry that I believe racism is systemic and deep-seated, and those who agree but who are mad that I don’t say even more. And that’s okay. Sometimes they come back, later, with open minds and less fear or anger. Sometimes they are replaced by others who are here to laugh and smile at the ridiculousness that comes out of my head. Sometimes (mostly) it’s read and then forgotten. Just one tiny voice in a world that won’t shut up. In a world so busy speaking that it can’t hear.

I had a point and I’ve strayed from it a bit but this is it: I appreciate the links and suggestions and tweets and probably half the time my posts come from something one of you has sent me because you know me and you know what fuels me. I read what you’ve sent me and laugh or cry or learn. Sometimes I write about it.  Sometimes I keep it for myself.  Sometimes there isn’t a better way to say it so I’ll just retweet it, or forward it to others who I think might need it or be inspired to write more about it. But I will never tell those people that it is their responsibility to write about what I want to read. And that is the difference.

Please keep sending me links. Tweet things you think I’ll want to see. Email me your thoughts, or posts. Or share them here. But there are two things you should know: One– I almost never share fundraisers because if I do one then a million people will ask why I don’t share their equally valid fundraiser and then I’d suddenly turn from a writer to a very annoying PR person who only tweets fundraisers.  No one wants that.  And two: I will never write about something because someone else is trying to shame me into it. I have plenty of my own shame and guilt over here myself, thankyouverymuch, so I don’t need you dropping yours on me. Not only is it shitty, but it also makes me question everyone else writing about whatever that current event of the week actually thinks, and that’s not fair to anyone. Are they just writing what they think people want to hear? Are they pandering because it’s fucking easy as hell to say “I’M NOT FOR MURDERING GAY PEOPLE” and “CANCER IS NOT WHAT I LIKE”. Not only that, but if you aren’t saying something thought-worthy then you are adding to the roar that is the world and while it’s a wonderful thing to have the nation rise up as a whole against bullshit, it sometimes has the unintended action of  making it that much harder for people who DO have brilliant and amazing things to say to be heard. People have a limited attention span and if they spend their lunch hour picking through posts that say nothing new or personal because they are written solely out of fear of missing out on the topic du jour are going to miss the chance to read the people out there who have something unique and intriguing and personal and brilliant to say. Those posts that make you say, “YES. FUCKING EXACTLY. THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY BUT I COULDNT FIND THE WORDS FOR IT.” They are the posts that make you say, “Oh. Oh, shit. I get it. I get it now and I didn’t before and now everything has changed.” The posts that are so beautifully written that you immediately link to them on the Facebook disagreement you were having with your great aunt Agnes and she reads it and says, “Hmm. Well I never thought about it that way. I guess I’ll have to think about it.”

Those brilliant posts exist. I hope I’ve written a few. Probably not nearly as many as I’d like but I’m limited in my areas of expertise. I get humor because that’s how I survive. I get family because I’ve been blessed to have a dysfunctionally functional group of people who challenge me and make me laugh. I get mental illness because I survive it. I fight it as a regular demon and I haven’t a choice but to become a savvy warrior because that’s how you live. We don’t always get to choose our causes. Sometimes our causes choose us.

There is another thing I write about on the regular and that is kindness. Because we can’t live without it. Because it keeps us afloat. Because it keeps us worthy of survival as a species. Because it helps me forgive people who demand that I use my voice for their words because if I don’t it means I’m unworthy or low or their enemy. Because it helps me remember that that kind of anger comes from pain or fear or desperation that no one should have to feel. And because that same kindness is what I depend on and hope for from them when they read this.

This is my house. You are welcome here. You are wanted. You are allowed to leave links of posts or articles you think this community would say “Oh, I needed that” to. You are welcome to talk and visit and make friends and to realize that each of us is flawed and human and (in the grand scheme of things) knows nothing. Because I’ve come to know that the only thing I really know is we could all do with a little more kindness. Both in giving and getting.

Be kind to one another. And more importantly, be kind to yourself.  You deserve it.

PS. This post scares me a little to post because I know a thousand of you will think “Shit.  She’s talking about me” but I can assure you that 127 different people have asked me to share their stuff within just the last 24 hours (not an exaggeration) so I’m really not paying attention to names, and also there is a tremendous difference between suggesting that I write about something and demanding I write about something.  Still,  I feel a bit bitchy, because in a way I realize I’m sort of saying, “Stop demanding that I join you in your brave and valiant crusade, you well-meaning and good people with absolutely wonderful causes which I wholeheartedly agree with you on” and that’s not what I want to say at all, but it’s the closest thing I can say other than this:  I can’t always sing your song with you.  I listen.  I share.  I think.  But if I’m always singing everyone else’s song then there’s no room for mine.  I have a song to sing.  A terrible one about why Jesus is a zombie and the time I found a severed boobie on my lawn.  A song about horrible things and about wonderful things and mostly silly things that make the day a bit brighter for those twisted enough to appreciate it, or those offended enough to be able to use it as a terrible example to others.  A song that sometimes is out of tune and seldom rhymes and is sung loudly in the dark and in whispers when I’m not quite myself.  A song that sometimes overlaps with yours as we find ourselves unexpectedly sharing a chorus we never knew we had in common.  A song that sometimes captures minds and hearts and changes the world in good and bad ways…but most importantly, a song that is uniquely mine.  One that’s given silence to reflect and write, and information to grow, and that changes as I change.  It’s the same song you sing.  But different.  And all of those songs are beautiful…even the discordant ones of our enemies that inspire us to work harder to prove them wrong in hopes that one day they’ll find themselves accidentally humming a strange tune they’ve picked up along the way…a tune of joy and kindness and love and equality and acceptance.  Or at least something by Prince.  That man is a bad-ass.

PPS.  It occurs to me that I talked about those posts and stories and essays and books that make us yell “YES!  THIS EXACTLY” and that those lovely things are the things that it would be nicest to hear over the roar of kleenex advertisements and selfies, so I’m going to share a few of the ones that hit me personally because maybe you need to see them too.  And maybe in the comments you can share your own. A book, a song, a post, a quote that makes you strong or anything that makes the world a better place…anything that you keep coming back to as a reminder that you’re not alone or as an anthem to keep you going when it’s hardest.  Share your song.  Because I want to hear it.  And maybe, one day, we’ll find ourselves singing along together and you will know it’s because I am with you wholeheartedly, and not just because it’s the easiest thing to sing.

Okay, here are a few posts that stick with me:

This one is fairly recent but I used it so often recently when in discussions with people who didn’t understand why what Rachel Dolezal did is not okay and why it has nothing to do with Caitlyn Jenner ~ From Awesomely Luvvie:  About Rachel Dolezal the Undercover Sista and Performing Blackness

Someone sent me this years ago and it stays with me every day.  I even stop people in the middle of my next book to tell them to read this first:  From Christine Miserandino: The Spoon Theory

Which of you sent me this originally?  I don’t know but when I read it I screamed “YES!  YES, THIS!”  Boggle the Owl on surviving depression.  Boggle the Owl on Anxiety.

Okay.  Your turn.  Share.  Give me something you think needs to be heard.  Something that breeds kindness and makes the world a better place.  Sing your song.  We’re listening.

22 Jun 20:27

June Art Roundup: Disney Valentines, Pony Centaurs, Cute Droids, & More!

by Jen

KORRA! Pony centaurs! So much good art!

Time for this month's installment of my favorite geeky art finds!

Artist KelogsLoops (who is only 19, if you can believe it) has been doing a "Disney Valentines" series, and WOW:

AHHH- mazing. They practically glow!

See more of her work on DeviantArt - which is all stunning - and cross your fingers she'll open an online shop sometime soon.

[Correction: Aha! She *does* sell a few prints online, though sadly not these. Check out her store here.]

Meanwhile, under the sea:

Angler Fish Love, 8.5X11 print, $22

You know you love it. :D

From angler fish to a creepy cute slow loris:

Hide & Seek, 9X9 print, $23 

That's by Alice Dufeu, who makes amazing fine art animal prints.

Here's another of hers: less creepy, all cute:

First Breath, 13X9 print, $23


Speaking of cute, hold on to your socks, 'cuz Erin Hunting is about to knock them off:

C3PO & R2D2, 11X8 print, $6.50

Bert & Ernie, $6.50

Catwoman & Penguin, $6.50

There's SO much more in her Etsy shop, too. Go see!

A stunning Elizabeth from BioShock: Infinite:

Elizabeth, 13X9 print, $21

I love how Bona Kim gave it that soft, vintage oil painting feel. I already have an Elizabeth print in the steampunk room, but man, this makes me want to add another!

From Animus-Rhythm, who focuses on mostly anime fandoms:

"Legend of Korra" 11X17 poster, $11.99

Attack on Titan, 11X17 poster, $11.99

And Kaitlin Reid, aka Sunset Dragon, has this fierce Rainbow Dash inspired warrior:


Plus she turned some of the Ponies into centaurs!

Your choice of 11X14 print, (and there are more to choose from!) $15

More BioShock goodness, this time from AllCityEmporium:

Big Poppa, 12X18 print, $20

Really diggin' all these great colors:

Rocket & Groot 4  & Harley 3, 12X18, $20 each

And finally, Lettie Bug has a suuuper fun Carousel series of Disney Princesses:

Plus some dreamy art nouveau designs:

 All of her prints are just under $18 each, so go see the rest!

K, that does it for this month! Now, as always, comment below to enter to win your choice of art from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board!

And to keep the board current, I'll also be picking someone to win the oldest piece still on there: this signed 5X7 Wonder Woman print by Erica Taguchi-Newton:

So be sure to let me know in your comment if you like this one, so I can enter you in the drawing!

I'll announce my two randomly selected winners in a few days, and don't worry, internationals: I'll gladly ship anywhere!

UPDATE: The give-away has ended, and my two winners are Buncha Stuffes, who wins the Wonder Woman print, and the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life"! Congrats you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
So, the winner of the Wonder Woman print is... Buncha Stuffes!
And my wild-card winner, who gets her choice from the Pinterest give-away board, is the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life!"
- See more at:
So, the winner of the Wonder Woman print is... Buncha Stuffes!
And my wild-card winner, who gets her choice from the Pinterest give-away board, is the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life!"
Congrats, you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
- See more at:
So, the winner of the Wonder Woman print is... Buncha Stuffes!
And my wild-card winner, who gets her choice from the Pinterest give-away board, is the Jennifer with the blog "My Fur-Real Life!"
Congrats, you two, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
- See more at:
19 Jun 15:00

Aunt Acid: Advice for Supporting Creative Friends

by Aunt Acid

Spot on advice.

"When I start fixating on whether I am being a Good Enough Friend to somebody or other, it is often a sign that I am, perversely, hurt that said person is not being a very good friend to me. My mind has a tendency to take my disappointment in another person and twist it around into anxiety directed at myself, since that is an emotion with which I am both more familiar and more comfortable."

Feel free to ask Aunt Acid a variety of questions at at any time. Previous installments can be found here.

Hi Aunt Acid,

I have quite a lot of creative and artistic friends, working in various bits of fashion and art and culture and design. I don't have such a job -- I work in a mildly interesting, stable office job in a sector that is interesting and fun for me. 

Sometimes my friends are going through a bad time with their jobs -- they've changed jobs and it's not going well, or they're struggling to meet their sales targets or they didn't get the place in the exhibition they wanted. Normal things for people working those kinds of jobs I guess?

Obviously I try and be sympathetic and empathetic whenever I hear about these things but sometimes I don't know how big a deal to make of it or exactly what the right things to say are? 

My career flow is boring and stable and I don't have the same jumble of big wins and backslides that a lot of my friends do. When those friends who work similar jobs to me have issues I know the dynamics and what to say and find it a bit easier.

What's the best way of being sympathetic and supportive to people that I care about but whose work lives I don't really understand properly?


Struggling to support


You, STS, are the 20th century trying to understand the 21st. Yes, you are the not-so-recent shimmering past, when a “mildly interesting, stable office job” was something to which most white-collar workers could aspire. Have you been at the same place for more than three consecutive years? Have you risen in the ranks without undue drama or numerous horizontal jumps from one ladder to another? My God, do you have a pension to look forward to?

Please let me buy you a coffee and you can tell me how you did it.

OK, I understand that you have a problem. Or you think you do. You are somewhat mystified by and yet want to be able to empathize with today’s ruffians, we who flit from gig to gig because either we are free-spirited entrepreneurial creatives (self-starters) or self-centered, solipsistic commitment-phobes (snowflakes), depending on whom you ask.

Read more Aunt Acid: Advice for Supporting Creative Friends at The Toast.

18 Jun 14:18

It costs nothing to be kind. Probably.

by thebloggess


People always say “It costs nothing to be kind” but technically it doesn’t cost anything to be a real asshole either, so I’m not sure why we’re bringing financials into it.  It does, however, cost money to hire lawyers after you stab people you don’t like in the leg so maybe that should be the phrase everyone should remember.  Then again, if you bottle everything up and continue to be kind to people who are being real dicks you’re going to end up in some pretty heavy therapy or in a lot of bars drinking your resentment away and I can tell you that neither of those things are cheap.  Really they should just change the saying to “Life is already expensive.  There’s no need to make it worse by being a dick to people.”

It doesn’t quite sing like the first line, but it’s more accurate.

17 Jun 16:54

Mad Max: Fury Road Concept Art Shows the Origins of the Movie’s Badassery - So shiny.

by Dan Van Winkle



Not to be confused with the other source of Fury Road‘s badassery, Charlize Theron/Furiosa, but this concept art for George Miller’s hit sequel by Peter Pound gives a window into where the look of the film began. It’s all about as awesomely over-the-top as you’d expect and demonstrates what did and didn’t change in the transition from concept to masterpiece on film.

Take a look at some of the art from the movie that Pound has posted to his website and enjoy it in all of its shiny and chrome glory:

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00049 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00050



Fury-Road-pics20052015_00040 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00043

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00006 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00011 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00012-1


(via Geek Tyrant, images via Peter Pound)

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15 Jun 22:43

If Disney Made Comic Shops, It'd Look Like This

by Jen
On Saturday John and I went to check out the grand opening of Gods & Monsters here in Orlando, claimed to be the second largest comic and toy shop in the U.S.

 So you know this is gonna be gooooood.

Gods & Monster is located in what used to be the Festival Bay Mall. The mall never took off, though; it had something like 30% occupancy for years, despite it being big, pristine, and beautiful. So, last year the owners revamped it into Artegon Marketplace:

 It's kind of like an upscale Flea Market, with rows of metal-caged stalls rented out to local artisans:

Plus there are still some big department stores on the edges: a sporting goods place, some restaurants, etc.

Even this has been dead, though, and the times John and I've gone to browse it was a complete ghost town; too depressing to stay long. I think the shop keepers have been banking on Gods & Monsters (which kept pushing back its open date) to bring in the crowds.

From what we saw on Saturday, I think that's a good bet. 

Ready for the photo tour? 

Here we goooooo!

The front registers greet you immediately to the right as you step inside, and the "Arkham Dispensary" theming is flat-out incredible.

Barred windows, Riddler graffiti - and check out all the security cameras and spot lights pointed at you on the upper right. 

[Hit the Read More for the rest; lots of photos ahead!]

Through one of the windows you can glimpse a vault door in the back:

We worked our way down the right side of the main floor, which flows around these circular comic book displays:


Looking back towards the entrance:
Lots of great art overhead - and all hand-painted!

In the very back there are two food/drink counters with a Blade Runner theme, lots of lounge-type seating, and a game playing area complete with free board games to choose from.

Eventually they plan to serve alcohol here. (See the booth seating to the right? Very cool.)

Here's a shot of the entire food & gaming section, taken from the far left:
That's going to be a noodle bar at the far end, to fit with the Blade Runner theme. Overhead there are lots of star lights and those fun cascading bar LEDs.

(For the grand opening they had a bunch of extra tables set up for local artists - you can see one in the foreground there.)

Further down, the seating switches to more of a Skyrim/Game of Thrones vibe:

I love how they've given the booths a sense of privacy with those low walls.

More great theming: these dragon sconces have color changing light crystals:

There's a lot to look at everywhere you turn in Gods & Monsters, but I was especially drawn to all the overhead art designs. This LotR (or is that WoW?) silhouette had a shimmering light effect behind it that was just stunning:

Coming up the center of the main floor, we found a bunch of high-end shelving stocked with more collectible figures than I even knew existed:

The way they're displayed - no boxes, no clutter - it feels more like you're in a friend's badass nerd cave than an actual store:

More goodies in a lit glass case:


Those are just a few of my favorites; there were plenty more to drool over.

There are huge support columns around the store, and each one has a different theme with some fantastic props:

That's Pyramid Head's head up there, and I think those glass pendants had Edison bulbs in them.

Mad Max:

Indiana Jones & Jurassic Park:

Terrible shot, but that's Aquaman's trident under Superman's cape:

And my favorite:

Check it out: you've got the Infinity Gauntlet, Spidey's web, Thor's hammer, Hawkeyes's arrows, Cap's shied, and Gambit's playing cards. SO COOL.

(Did I tell you guys I saw Age of Ultron in the theater? 'Cuz I did. Earplugs, yes; panic, no; bragging, YES. :D)

Coming back towards the front of the store, here's possibly the prettiest overhead art section:

It even has color-changing LEDs tucked behind some of the cut-outs, making it EXTRA colorful.

Below this is a custom decal counter, where you can order any of a gillion nerdy designs in your choice of colors.

Back to the center, there are plenty of tempting toys, even for non-collectors like me:

A whole line of Doktor A's Mechtorians.

 I was THIS CLOSE to buying this vintage style Toucan Sam:

Only $20! (Maybe I should go back and get him. Hm....)

Oh, this was a fun find: Remember this art from my last roundup?

I didn't know Ant Lucia even offered decals & glasses!

And finally, coming full circle (square?) up the left side of the store, there's the art gallery:

That's right, you guys. This place has an art gallery. Woot!

Not only that, it's filled with some fantastic art:

There are even 3D pieces, from crocheted dolls to wall sculpts, like this:

All told, I'm incredibly impressed with Gods & Monsters, and I hope it becomes a staple for local geeks and tourists alike. (It's not too far from Disney, so worth the detour if you're planning a trip.)  I love that they've created big, beautiful areas encouraging folks to linger and play games, and once the store gets their Noodle Bar & liqueur license, I can see it becoming quite the hub for geeky hangouts.

I'm also looking forward to going back when it's not quite so crowded, so I can do some more shopping. :)

Best of luck to you, Gods & Monsters!

And I hope the rest of you enjoyed the tour!
12 Jun 14:45

Feel like a spellbinding witch queen with Rituel de Fille makeup

by Offbeat Editors

"Historically-inspired makeup scratches an itch I didn't know I had."

In to it! Now I need to try some!


Hi, I'm Caroline, and I'm addicted to spellbinding make-up. Let me show you my new favourite.

Rituel de Fille is a make-up brand founded by three sisters who were inspired by the magical side of natural ingredients, and the ritualistic, ceremonial power of pigment. If that evokes the image of three Macbethian witches, you are not far off: this make-up is perfect for bringing out your inner witch queen, no matter who you are.

Rituel de Fille formulates and produces all of its products in-house from the ground up in a process more like potion-making: every single ingredient is there with specific purpose, making their formulas as unique as spellwork.

Rituel de Fille makeup

Let's talk about these shade names, shall we? The Forbidden Lipstick line is moisturizing and super-pigmented, and its shade names include Hex, Shadow Self, and Written in Blood. The Enchanted Lip Sheer line includes Blackthorn and Bloodroot.

Despite how exquisitely dark these sound, the lip colours in both lines come in a range from the most delicate pinks to the brightest oranges to the darkest reds, as well as violet and even green. The coverage is superb, and the colours rich, perfect for sealing letters vowing love (or revenge). The sisters had this to say about the versatility of their shades for all their products:

Due to subtle, careful base shade balancing, the dense concentration of pigment, and the lush textures that allow for easy building up and sheering out, our colors are suitable for all complexions. Even our most distinctive, editorial hues are designed to flatter while making a powerful statement.


Speaking of complexions, Rituel de Fille has seven stellar shades of Inner Glow Cream Blush that apply smoothly and allows you to really build depth while contouring. The gorgeous gold bronzer, Spellbound, is perfect for adding mystique to your summer makeup looks.


How have I resisted talking about the packaging thus far? You'll want to keep Rituel de Fille's beauties on display because the packaging is just as beautiful as the product. I mean, look at the Ash and Ember Eye Soot collection. Decorate your eyes with infinitely versatile shades with names like Love Spell, Serpent de Mer, Seven Sisters, and Obsidian. They blend easily and can be layered from a sheer whisper to a bold, spellbinding look.

And in case you were as enamoured as I was with calling eyeshadow "eye soot," you'll probably be pleased to know that this name is a very conscious decision on Rituel de Fille's part. They draw inspiration from more ancient methods of self-adornment and cosmetics compounding used for beauty and ceremony, like "the simplicity of combining soot and oil to make kohl while still creating modern makeup that holds up to high standards of application and wear." Historically-inspired makeup scratches an itch I didn't know I had.

All Rituel de Fille products are 99% natural, and handcrafted without parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, or synthetic fragrances. They never test on animals, and only source their raw materials from companies that are also 100% cruelty free, so you can be confident that their makeup is as in-tune with the natural world as you are.


I've had a lot of fun playing with this makeup and feeling like a witch queen. Now it's your turn — scratch makeup itches you didn't even know you had, and get your spellbinding witch queen look on!

Recent Comments

  • JenGin: Just got it in the mail tonight! Already in love! [Link]
  • Rita M.: Those are some amazing names. I always fall for the way makeup can advertise and have fun with the glory … [Link]
  • Jen.M: How was the staying power of the lip sheer? I like the idea of building colour ... The bittersweet and … [Link]
  • JenGin: And purchased! I can't wait to try it out! [Link]
  • Caroline Diezyn: Right!? *emoji with hearts for eyes* [Link]

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10 Jun 11:45

Bisexual in a straight marriage

by beccaboo4407

This article makes me feel lucky that I had more dating experience and life experience before getting married.

By: Christopher Wilde – CC BY 2.0
By: Christopher WildeCC BY 2.0

I didn’t realize I was bisexual until I was about halfway through college. I called myself an ally, and gladly spent my time learning more about the community and how I could fight for justice. During my junior year, I went to an LGBTA conference, and decided to wander into a session about bisexuality. It suddenly hit me that the session was about me.

Even though I had been immersed in gay culture for that past few years, I couldn't shake my conservative upbringing. It had been so easy to assume being gay was a choice because I honestly could choose between the two. Walking out of the session, I wanted to cry at how much my old thought patterns still dictated my life.

This was also just over three years into dating the man that is now my husband. It took me a week to talk to him about my epiphany. Coming out to him was as strange as coming out to myself. I ended up speaking in so many circles that it took another conversation about two months later for him to realize that I was actually trying to come out to him. He had questions. I had questions. The biggest question was if I still wanted to be with him, or if coming out was also me realizing that I wanted more dating experience with other women.

Given my current marital status, it’s clear that I decided that I wanted to be with him. Now, almost a year into our marriage, I still don’t know how my identity fits into our life.

We have tried to figure out how to not ignore my sexuality. We make jokes about our various crushes in the movies we see. He is supportive of my lady fantasies. We donate to local LGBT organizations, specifically those involved with youth. I’ve been working to get a GSA network going at the school where I teach. We talk about our gender neutral parenting strategies practically on the daily, just to feel like we’ll be ready for it.

I came out to our immediate family and our closest friends about a year after I came out to my husband. But it’s not something that really gets brought up. I’m with a man, and we look like a very typical heterosexual couple. But despite being as out as I’ll ever be, I feel like a part of me is erased.

The hardest thing is when they forget. I make some offhand remark about how gorgeous Scarlett Johansson is, and they all give me strange looks for a second, before recalling the conversation we had years ago. I knew intellectually that coming out would be a continual process; I just didn’t realize how often I’d have to remind people.

I’ll probably always feel a little like I somehow "cheated" by marrying a man. I’ll always feel like I have no right to complain because of all the privilege my relationship grants. We will always be a work in progress.

In the meantime, I’d ask all of you a little favor for me and all my other bisexual Homies. Don’t assume that every couple that “looks” straight is. Bisexual erasure is a real thing, and until we get to a point in our culture where it doesn’t matter who you like, we’ll always be stuck proving that we belong in the QUILTBAG.

Recent Comments

  • Julia-Gulia: I'm so glad this article was posted and that there are others out there. My husband is bisexual and I'm … [Link]
  • Ruth: I am bisexual and it was a slow process for me to realize and accept it about myself throughout my … [Link]
  • Maya: I'm in a similar situation, so thank you SO MUCH for this article! My cis male straight boyfriend and I … [Link]
  • KC: My future husband is bi. Although he dated a few guys throughout college, my parents didn't meet him until we … [Link]
  • Katy: Offbeat Editors: Thank you so much for publishing this, it has been really nice to read these stories in the … [Link]

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01 May 09:00

American Weigh Digital Scale

by mark

a cheap scale

I needed a scale to weigh the powdered supplements I take (powders are cheaper than capsules). I bought the AWS 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale in January. It’s about the size of an iPhone and measures up to a limit of 100 grams in 0.01 gram increments.

I also bought a 100 gram weight ($7) to calibrate the scale.

The first thing I did was weigh some coins. A Nickel is supposed to have a mass of 5 grams (here’s a page that lists the mass of different coins). All the Nickels I weighed had slightly different masses. Same with Pennies and Half Dollars.

I also weighed Bicycle playing cards. Each card has a mass of about 1.75 grams. I weighed all 26 red cards: 45.51 grams. The black cards came in at 45.57 grams. The four Aces had a combined mass of 7 grams on the nose. Would the Tens weigh more, since they have more ink than the Aces? I measured them: 7.03 grams. I tried a different deck. Aces: 7.03 grams. Tens: 7.03 grams. (I’d love to weigh these cards on a 0.001 gram scale!)






-- Mark Frauenfelder

American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale

Available from Amazon

08 May 09:00

pStyle Female Urination Device

by mark

I might have to get one of these...the go-girl IS more complicated to use!!

I have used the pStyle female urination device for over two years. Initially you might think it is gross but I think it is fantastic and I’ll explain why. If you are a guy you have no right to judge or snicker since you don’t have to completely drop your pants to pee while out in the wilderness.The pStyle is a plastic trough that allows girls to pee standing up without dropping their pants.

I carry mine in a little mesh bag with a small squirt bottle of water for rinsing. I keep it in one of the side water bottle pouches on my backpack and one in my glove box.

  1. Before you say this is gross, remember urine is sterile (unless you have some nasty infection).
  2. Imagine not having to drop your pants to pee in the jungle, avoiding getting your butt bitten by insects in the process.
  3. You don’t have to go on a trek to find cover as far away just to pee. In many places cover doesn’t exist.
  4. They come in a rainbow of colors.
  5. You don’t need toilet paper to pee. When done you just pull it forward and out if your pants and it acts like a squeegee. Then you simply rinse with the little water bottle and put away. Your fingers never touch the pee or any nasty bits.
  6. Imagine not having to hold it for long periods for lack of privacy.
  7. You will finally really know how easy guys have it.
  8. You can now tell people “I just don’t pee, I pstyle!” Or “I’m stylin with my pstyle!”
  9. Two years ago a woman I was with on an Amazon trip fell in the river, pants down, trying to pee off the side of the boat. All could have been avoided with the pstyle.
  10. I’ve been doing field work/trips for a long time and just want to make you aware of a product I find very useful and wish I had discovered sooner.
  11. I have researched other types and styles of these devices and I think this is the best. Don’t bother with the other kinds (Go-girl, lady j, etc). They are too soft and flexible so you practically have to drop your pant to get them in place and use them anyway. For me its a p-style or nothing.

I am completely serious about how much I like the pstyle. I have given one to my sister and other field biologist friends and while skeptical at first, they love it after trying it in the field.

-- Margy Green


Available from Amazon

02 Jun 18:30

You Never Knew You Needed Custom Mickey Ears... UNTIL NOW

by Jen


I've just come up for air after binge-browsing the most amazing online Dizgeek nirvana, you guys: Recycl EARS.

Jess, the genius behind Recycl EARS, first started making custom Mickey ears for her family for Star Wars Weekends back in 2011. The response was so great, though, that she eventually started selling some online.

Fast forward 'til now, and Jess has about ten bajillion custom ears in her Facebook gallery, each more squee-worthy than the last. I'm about to inundate you with some of my favorites, and believe me when I say: this IS the short list.

Since it all started with Star Wars, let's begin with these beauties:

That tiny BB-8 is how I first found Jess; someone tweeted that pic and a link to her Facebook page, and it was love at first sight.

Jess first sketches out each design, then hand paints and cuts each little piece of felt. She also hand sculpts and crafts any 3D elements, like Darth Maul's horns up there.

Those are all her relatively traditional ear shapes, though; Jess also does crazier stuff, like THIS:

X-wing fighter Mickey ears!! And of course my heart belongs to the full-size BB-8.

But this next one, THIS is my favorite Star Wars one:


Oh, but we're just getting started. Calling all Whovians!

Jess sculpted those little shoes, you guys. SO CUTE. And the matching TARDIS ears were a custom set for a wedding! Can I get a "D'awwwwww?"

Avengers ears, assemble:

And you better believe there was much Kermit flailing when I found THIS:

The little proton pack!!! ACK. Someone come scoop me off the floor, please.

More Nerd-gasms ahead. You have been warned.


And Firefly, too?!
 So shiny, you guys. SO SHINY.

And now, my favorites scene from Frozen, in ears form:

"It's so cute! It's like a little baby unicorn!"

(See the rest of the carrot, hanging out the back? Bwahaha!)

I love how creative Jess' designs are, like this table of spaghetti for Lady and the Tramp:

In AWE. Srsly.

You'd think I was posting her entire gallery here, but in reality I've barely scratched the surface. Head over to the RecyclEARS Facebook page for so much more, and get ready to lose some serious time.

I'll leave you with my favorite of Jess' Wonderland ears - because BREAD AND BUTTER FLY:

And the upside down teacup! And Cheshire lifting his ears! And flouncy Queen of Hearts goodness!

So good. So. GOOD.

Jess' ears are all made to order, and her lead time right now is about 5 months, so order early. Most of the designs in her shop average between $69 and $94, depending on complexity. Head over to her site to order, or follow RecycEARS on Facebook or Instagram to see all of Jess' new custom work. (Trust me, it's addicting!)

And finally, thanks to Jess for allowing me to post so many of her photos here. She's a total sweetheart, so I recommend saying hi if you get the chance!
01 Jun 11:45

A slice of paradise: Our small lake-side cabin in Wisconsin

by Offbeat Editors


simple cozy wisconsin cabin

The offbeat occupant: Colleen, Weekend warrior
Other occupants: My husband Sam
Approximate square footage: 650-1000 sq. feet
How many bedrooms? 1
Lives in: Wisconsin, USA

Let's start with the neighborhood. What's it like where you live? Our cabin is on a very quiet, small lake. We have nearly four acres, so there's plenty of space between us and our neighbors.

What makes your home offbeat? We're big do-it-yourself-ers. We love the outdoors, so this cabin is our getaway.

cozy wisconsin cabin

cabin fireplace

What's the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? This place is just quite a bit of work, more so than you can see in the photos. We bought the cabin from an elderly couple who had slowly built and added onto it over many years. The craftsmanship and materials were good, but a lot of projects had been left unfinished.

re doing cabin floor

redone cabin floor

cabin bedroom

For instance, the sunroom had no flooring (only plywood). We laid a new pine floor in that room as well as the bedroom, where we had taken off some gross red-and-gold shag.

overgrown dock

The lakeshore is completely overgrown around the dock and clearing it (even just enough to fit in a rowboat) is a crazy amount of labor.

cabin property

What's your favorite feature of your home? The scenery! We have 1000 feet of lakeshore on a really quiet lake. The cabin is full of windows that capitalize on the view. It is just such a quiet, peaceful place. We've really enjoyed exploring our land as the seasons change. On Monday mornings we find ourselves wishing we were back at the cabin rather than at our desks.

cabin couch and windows

cabin windows in teh dining room

cabin kitchen

What's the most important lesson you've learned from this home? I've learned how fun and satisfying it can be to tackle big projects and learn new hands-on skills. Our cabin also reminds us to slow down, relax, and really soak in every day.

cabin sunroom

What's your grandest plan for the space? I want to tap our maple trees next spring and make my own syrup. Our other big dream is to build a deluxe outdoor shower. In the meantime, we just want to get the roof to stop leaking and the mice to go away.

Recent Comments

  • hannah1cestmoi: What an amazing place to escape to in the weekends! You are lucky! I am wondering how far it is … [Link]
  • Colleen: Thank you! [Link]
  • Colleen: Yes, we get snow and ice! This winter was quite dry in terms of snow, but we still had some. [Link]
  • Aurora: What a gorgeous cabin! Thanks for giving us a peek into your living space =) [Link]
  • Christina: I'm not the OP, but as someone who has spent enough time in Wisconsin, I can guarantee that yes, it … [Link]

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29 May 11:45

I (started to) defeat my body image issues with a sword

by Emily K. Stamm


Like a lot of people, I have a complicated relationship with my body. For as long as I can remember I’ve worried about being too "fat," too "ugly," too "not normal." As I’ve gotten older I’ve bounced between self-acceptance and self-hate, with plenty of yo-yo dieting in the middle.

After getting engaged I started getting even more bombarded with messages about hating my body, losing weight, shaving everywhere, getting my nails done, getting my makeup done, styling my hair… Even more so than before, I felt the extreme pressure to conform to our society’s harsh beauty standards. I quickly realized that I wanted to love myself, not just on my wedding day, but every day.

Lucky for me, I was already part of the wonderful community here at the Offbeat Empire, so I knew that loving my body didn’t have to mean losing a ton of weight or spending a ton of money on beauty routines that bored me.

Once I realized what I didn’t want, I had to think about what I did want. It was clear to me that I had to change something in order to be happier with myself. If I wasn’t going to focus on calorie counting and the number on the scale, what would I do?

I knew I wanted two things: to feel physically and mentally good about my body. How could I do that? I broke it into smaller goals. I decided to do the Couch to 5K program. I decided to start eating more fruits and vegetables, and less chocolate and fried food. I decided to focus on media that presented positive images and descriptions of people of all shapes and sizes. And I decided that I would learn to use a sword.

I have never been an athlete. I’ve always considered myself too fat and slow for any sports, so I never put the time and effort in to learn them. Learning to run was the first time I ever realized that yes, this was a thing my body could do. It doesn’t always feel good, and it certainly isn’t easy, but running has shown me that my body is more capable than I thought. After just a few months of eating slightly better, stretching, and gradually kicking up my running times, I was able to run more than twenty minutes in a row, over a mile and a half! I’m not fast, and I’ll probably never win any races, but running has given me the gift of being proud of my body.

A few months after starting to run regularly, my fiance found a local sword fighting class. Even a year earlier I might have hesitated (“swords aren’t for people like me”) but thanks to my new-found confidence, I was ready to dive in.

We started taking classes with our local chapter of the Medieval European Martial Arts Guild in German Longsword technique. Almost every Saturday morning we practice the difference cuts, sometimes with a blunted practice sword, sometimes with a sharp sword. I pretend to be my favorite sword fighting heroes, like Alanna of Trebond from Tamora Pierce’s books. The sweat soaks my shirt, and I’m often sore for days afterward, but I feel like a million bucks. I’m not very good yet, but every week I can feel that my cuts get better, and feel more natural. Soon I’ll be sparring with the instructor, slicing reeds, and maybe one day I’ll even compete.

My fiancé and me feeling victorious after our first time running 20 minutes in a row.
My fiancé and me feeling victorious after our first time running 20 minutes in a row.

I’ve spent the last six months focusing on thinking of my body in new, positive ways. I focus on what I can do instead of my perceived flaws. I don’t wake up every morning feeling like the most beautiful woman on the planet, but I also don’t usually wake up in a cloud of self-hate.

Sometimes I still worry that various body parts aren’t good enough. I’m sure I’ll spend years, if not the rest of my life, working on loving myself and finding new ways to enjoy my body. For now I’ll continue to slay my body-image demons with my sword.

Recent Comments

  • Lplank: Roller derby has done wonders for my self esteem and body issues. It's a great sport for all body types, … [Link]
  • Amber: First, LOVE the Alanna reference. It made my day. Second, I need to seriously check this out. I'm a rennie … [Link]
  • Beth W: YES! As a female archer (who uses archery as a mental focus) I lovelovelove that you're doing sword fighting. Not … [Link]
  • Englyn: Also the Society for Creative Anachronism! We do a couple of different kinds of combat, I do rapier fighting, it's … [Link]
  • may: ♥♥♥♥♥ ... aaaand: ♥! [Link]

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29 May 13:31

Wouldn’t it be awesome to just have to be aware of mental health one month a year?

by thebloggess

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month so some people expect me to write about mental health, except that if you read here you’re already perfectly aware that I’m mentally ill so this feels a bit pointless.  But what if we change the game a little?

Share with me.  In the comments, or on your own platform, or both.  Almost everyone will battle mental illness or will be impacted in the struggle to help a loved one with their mental illness, so “awareness” isn’t really the issue for me.  Cures, support, feedback, tools that work...those are the things we reach for in the dark.  So let’s share…

How has mental illness affected you personally?  What did you learn from it that might help others?

I’ll start.

How has mental illness affected me personally:  I have a host of issues but I’m most affected by Avoidant Personality Disorder which is like anxiety disorder on speed.  It’s scary to talk about.  When I tell people I have a personality disorder they try to convince me that I don’t.  This is not helpful.  It’s perfectly well-meaning but it’s like saying “You couldn’t possibly have anything so terrible as that” when in fact, I do.  And lots of other people do too but they don’t say it out loud because they’re afraid of how they’ll be perceived.  Then it becomes even harder to say it because everyone else is too afraid to say it (with just cause) and I can’t even blame them because being afraid to admit you have a personality disorder whose main symptom is crippling fear is a catch-22 and pretty fucked up.  It’s like having to raise your hand to ask for help in attaching your prosthetic arms.

What did I learn from it that might help others:  I’ve learned I’m not alone even when I feel completely isolated and like a failure.  I’ve learned that depression lies.  I’ve learned that when I’m not affected by my fucked-up brain chemistry I can see that my brain is not to be trusted so I write notes to myself when I’m out of the hole to remind myself that I’ll be okay again soon.  I get sun.  I take meds and therapy.  I laugh loudly and often when I’m out of the hole because I know the importance of appreciating the good and the joy when it comes.  I let myself be sad when I need to be.  I watch ridiculous tv and listen to happy songs.  I practice creating an invisible mental barrier around my body when I feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy.  I call the suicide hotline if things get bad.  I donate to suicide hotlines when I can.  I allow myself to say no.  I reach out on the internet because I can find friends to talk to or to inspire me who understand when I’m too afraid to even pick up a phone.  I find a family member to help me when I think I need extra supervision.  I thank people who help save me.  I try to save them back.  I hide in blanket forts with my cats and a collection of funny books or kick-ass comics.  I share what helps.  I learn from others.

I apply kittens directly to problem areas.

Your turn.

PS.  This is my playlist that keeps me upright when my head is full of marbles.  Feel free to share your own.

27 May 11:45

How to respond to religious LGBT condemnation

by Snazzy

While I have never had to write the response to one of these emails, I still lived it as a teenager. These are some good responses demonstrating clear boundaries. Although I would say that for my own personal health, I might not even need to send these emails, I would simply cut that person out of my life, but I think it is important to see different responses from different people around this subject.

How to respond to religious LGBT condemnation
By: lgbtqportraitsCC BY 2.0

Ever since we announced our engagement, we've been dealing with some pretty intense levels of religious condemnation from my fiancee's family. We have received many emails, phone calls, and letters asking us to give up our "sinful ways." It hurts like hell, and I don't know for sure the best way to deal with it. We have done our best to remain open, to be loving at all times, and to set clear boundaries for our own well-being.

In the hope that it may help others find words, I thought I would share our responses here.

In response to an email using the Bible to tell us that we are sinners, that the pleasures of sin fade, that we have holes in our hearts where Jesus should be, and that our sin is going to kill us:

I love you too, more than I can say. And I can accept that this is how you feel. I have heard you, and I am not asking you to compromise your beliefs. You are right that as children, we were taught that homosexuality is a sin. I have struggled since childhood to reconcile my sexual orientation with those religious beliefs, which resulted in [shame, self-abuse, etc.]. Though you may not understand what I have gone through, please accept that for me, the choice was not between being straight or gay, but between being dead or alive.

I have chosen a life that fulfills me and makes me a better person. I have found a new relationship with God, who loves and accepts all of his children. For the first time in my life, I am deeply happy. Please understand that I will not be coming home because I can't do so without compromising my own beliefs or disrespecting my wife. I would never expect my partner to be able to fill my every need, but I am devoted to caring for her and loving her. That's not something I feel I can do at Mom's house. If that ever changes in the future, I would be really happy to be able to go home again. I miss you all.

In response to an email citing scripture to prove that God does not love us or accept our choice to be homosexuals:

We will just have to agree to disagree. You believe that being gay is a sinful choice I am making in defiance of the Lord. I know that I will not change your mind on that. I also know that I had no choice in my sexual orientation. This is the way I was created. You will not change my mind on that.

You do not understand the harm you are doing to me or to your relationship with me, so I am telling you now that any future attempts to condemn me or my actions will result in severely limited contact between us.

If you are sincerely interested in the biblical support for gay marriage, please reference:

If you are more interested in a secular reflection of the experiences of gay people, I would recommend:

Let's get an even bigger list going… What are YOUR go-to responses to religious condemnation?

Recent Comments

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  • Shelly G: I have to applaud your ability to remain cool-headed in your correspondence. In my case, a heterosexual wedding that took … [Link]
  • Shelly G: I have also found scripture to be ineffective. I tried to go with the "judge not" route and ultimately got … [Link]
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20 May 14:00

#Occupotty 2: Return of Occupotty, The Debate That Never Ends - #Occupotty 2: Return of Occupotty

by Marcy Cook


This serves as a follow-up to Marcy Cook’s earlier piece on #Occupotty.

The bathroom debate won’t go away. I’m scrolling though Twitter, tea in one hand, warm cat on my lap, and I read another piece describing awful transphobia toward a seven-year-old girl in Canada. Cisgender people somehow think that trans people are a danger to them in bathrooms; it’s an idea that drives past ignorance and into the desert of bigotry, but it’s an idea uninformed politicians don’t want to shake.

It is trans women that are often seen as the big danger in bathrooms because we’re in “a women-only space?” Thanks for pointing that out, buddy; you think we don’t know that? I panic every time I use the women’s bathroom. Every time. If I can, I just wait until I go home – but that’s not always an option.

“But men like you shouldn’t be in a women’s bathroom, you’re a-” Hey armchair pundits, trans women are women, all medical science acknowledges that; and while I appreciate your bigoted privileged point of view as a medically untrained non-expert on… oh no, wait, I don’t appreciate your point of view on this subject at all.

Let me quickly explain how wrong and how dangerous bathroom policing is from my perspective as a trans woman:

Trans people are massively outnumbered by cis people. We commit such a tiny amount of crime that it’s preposterous how attacked we are by lawmakers all over the world. It’s based in bigotry, not in fact. If we were to legislate based off fact, pure statistical data, the laws would be designed to control cisgender men.

Trans women go to the bathroom to pee. We’re not there to macramé, play with LEGO, or even to sexually assault other women. We just want to use the facilities and get out. Ideally without getting yelled at, spat at, or beaten.

Trans women on HRT (which is not all trans women, but the majority, from my understanding) do not have the sexual drive, or – for the most part – physical functionality to sexually assault anyone! Some prisons use testosterone blockers in their water supplies to keep prisoners calmer. Imagine that at a higher dose, with added estrogen, too. Trans women don’t think like men; and when on HRT, even if they have the right physical configuration for penetration, they can’t always function like men, either. It takes time and emotional connection to warm up the engine, if it turns over at all. There is a reason transgender porn stars usually come off hormone treatment a while before a shoot; it allows their engine to purr. So anyone thinking that a trans woman is a danger to other women is incorrectly prescribing male thoughts, male sexual drive, and male sexual abilities onto trans women.

The whole idea is a false syllogism. “Trans women were once men, therefore they will think like men, and as such they will act like men.” Nope, it doesn’t work that way; a trans woman has, from the moment of her creation, the brain of a woman. So no, we don’t think like men.

Trans men are in a whole other situation; if they don’t pass, using a male bathroom can be very dangerous, because they are surrounded by men who could physically or sexually assault them. Remember, the men making these bathroom laws don’t think men have any self-control. Don’t think it’s easier for trans guys, because it’s really not; but I’m talking from my experience and knowledge here.

Kids need to pee too, and this also includes trans kids. Young trans kids don’t get what the big deal is, they don’t understand the bigotry and unreasoned hatred of adults; all trans kids know is they are stuck in a world that singles them out and seems to distrust them. Read this story of a 7-year-old girl in Edmonton, Canada. Her classmates are happy, other parents are happy; the only conflict is with the school, which is refusing to allow her to use the girls’ restroom. I read this line and nearly dropped my cup of tea on my cat: “The student, confused by the debate surrounding her gender identity, has told her mom she wants to die.”

She’s in the second grade, and she doesn’t know why she can’t use the same bathroom as her friends. “Wait,” I hear the our armchair buddies saying, “they already created a bathroom for her, so what’s the big deal, you SJWs are never -” Sigh. Yes, the school re-assigned a single stall bathroom as gender neutral, but was that good enough? Is it right to force a single kid in an entire school to go and use a specific bathroom for them? What do you think separating out a kid like that does to them in a school? Well you have the answer to that: she wants to die. Trans kids are labelled as “other,” as untrustworthy and as dangerous. Welcome to the perpetuation of high unemployment, suicide, and murder. This is in Canada, too; aren’t we supposed to be the progressive country in North America?

Not only is the bathroom debate based on incorrect crime statistics, with no factual basis, on a false syllogism, it’s outright bigotry that is bad enough to literally make a seven-year-old want to die. When will we move past this?

Marcy (@marcyjcook) is an immigrant trans woman and writer. This includes, a website dedicated to informing and helping trans Canadians. She also has a nerd job, too many cats, is a part time volunteer sex educator and has an ongoing sordid love affair with Lego. Those last two are not related… probably.

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19 May 15:39

New York Meetup May 23, with special guest Kate-from-London

by JenniferP

I wish ALL social events were planned in this way! Special shout out to the "safety" notes, pronoun default, and introverts/shy folk note at the bottom.

New Yorkers, Rose Fox has planned a meetup in Manhattan on May 23. It’s an amazingly comprehensive event description and plan, so check it out below the cut and join them if you can.

Yours in envy,


NYC Awkwardeer Meetup, Saturday May 23

SPECIAL GUEST: London Awkwardeer Kate!

Coordinator: Rose Fox (they/them), rose sploosh tocotox splat net (replace onomatopoeia with @ and . to turn this into an email address).


2 p.m.: Meet at Washington Square Park on the lawn between Holley Plaza and the Arch, at the spot marked by a blue picnic blanket in this map:
And more or less behind the orange construction vehicles in this nifty photosphere (click and drag it to look around):

Nearest transit and directions: A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West 4th Street, north (uptown) end of train, exit onto 6th Avenue and Waverly Place, walk one block east on Waverly to Washington Square; N/R to 8th Street, north (uptown) end of train, exit onto Broadway and 8th Street, walk one block south on Broadway to Waverly and three blocks east on Waverly to Washington Square. Enter the square through the giant white marble arch and walk toward the fountain; we’ll be in the patch of lawn to your right, behind the benches (and probably back under the trees a bit for some shade).

Access: The park is wheelchair-accessible. There are wooden park benches nearby for those who prefer not to sit on or roll onto the grass.

~4 p.m.: Decamp to Argo Tea Café, 75 University Place at East 11th Street.

Nearest transit and directions: L/N/R/Q/4/5/6 to Union Square. There are a million exits from that station and the layout’s confusing, so it’s hard to specify one, but aim for exits that say 14th Street or Union Square South, or take any exit because it’s easier to find your way around aboveground. Once outside, get to the southeast corner of 14th Street and University Place (where Strawberry is, next to Forever 21 and Whole Foods) and walk three blocks down University Place.

Access: Argo is wheelchair-accessible and has a wheelchair-accessible unisex bathroom.

~7:30 p.m.: Dinner at a nearby restaurant to be determined, depending on the size and dietary restrictions of the group.


Safety: Don’t touch anyone or their stuff without their permission. Don’t harass anyone. Don’t block anyone’s exit. If someone states a boundary, respect it. Don’t use slurs or start arguments for the sake of arguing. If you repeatedly or aggressively act like a jerk, we can and will ask you to go elsewhere. If someone is a jerk to you or near you and you need backup, let Rose know and they will help you out.

Respect: Actively practice courtesy, kindness, respect, and empathy. Please default to using “they” for anyone who doesn’t state or display their pronouns. At least one attending person has a pretty severe scent allergy, so please refrain from wearing sprayed-on or dabbed-on perfume, cologne, or floral essences. If you see someone who appears to be in distress, quietly ask “Are you okay?”–and if they say yes, respect that and leave them be.

Rain plan: Meet at Argo at 2 p.m. and stay there forever.

How to find us: Look for a Rainbow Dash stuffed toy waving a rainbow flag; there may also be a sign that says “DON’T FORGET TO BE AWKWARD”. For the park and Argo, just show up! If you want to join us for dinner, please be at Argo by 7 p.m. If it’s 4ish and you’re not sure whether to go to the park or Argo, or if you get to either place and can’t find us, email Rose, who will check regularly for messages. (FOCA members, PM Rose Fox in advance to get their phone number.)

Things you may want to bring: your own homemade name/pronoun buttons or tags, sun protection, drinks and snacks for the park, a blanket and/or cushiony thing to sit on at the park, a craft project to fidget with, a board or card game (preferably more cooperative and/or silly than competitive), cash (preferably not just twenties) for buying snacks from vendors in the park and splitting the check at dinner.

Coordinators will supply: name/pronoun tags and markers, unscented sunscreen.

Expected costs: The park is free! We’ll probably be a big enough group at Argo that you won’t need to buy anything in order to hang out with us, but if you’re able to get a tea or a muffin and support the venue, please do. At dinner you pay for what you order; if we can’t get separate checks, this will be calculated as base price * 1.33 (to cover ~9% NYC tax + ~24% tip). The name/pronoun stickers cost about $2 each to provide, so if you feel like donating to cover the cost of your sticker or someone else’s, that’d be awesome.

Expected attendance: at least four or five people, and the group may get large and/or merrily noisy. Introverts, please feel totally free to drift into and out of the meetup, listen more than you talk, sit nearby and read a book, or whatever else helps you manage your interaction points. Shy folks, if you’d like to strike up a conversation with someone and aren’t sure where to start, a great icebreaker question is “What’s made you happy lately?”.


18 May 14:45

Why I'm totally ok being the 40-year-old at the music festival

by Ariel Meadow Stallings

The photos on this post are wonderful. concerts aren't my jam, but this does make me want to look for D'oah fest...

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
My goal is to be this amazing guy in a couple decades! All photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

I went to my first large outdoor electronic music festival in 1996 when I was 21. The event was called "FutureSoul Festival" and I spent a significant portion of the weekend rolling around in a sleeping bag on the grass, trying to keep my brain from exploding from what's known as "candyflipping." By the time I was finally in stable enough condition to dance, I got in about an hour of flailing before the cops showed up and shut the event down for lack of appropriate permitting.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

In the decades since, I've attended dozens of music festivals in various states of inebriation and ridiculousness, not just in the US but abroad… the Glastonbury in the UK, Love Parade in Berlin, Roskilde in Denmark. One of my all-time favorites that I attended for years was Shambhala in British Columbia. Man, those were some good festivals. Dancing your ass off surrounded by a sea of sweating people in the open air? Camping with friends and stumbling in and out of tents that shivered with bass being blasted a half mile away? Good times in my 20s, and good times in my 30s.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Miraculously, here I am, almost 20 summers after my first big music festival… building my summer yet again around a festival, this time, Oregon's Beloved Festival. This time, I'm 40 years old. 40, you guys. It's time to confront that I may be the equivalent of the old guy at the club, and why I'm totally ok with that. Here's why.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Dancing outdoors is still the best

Yes ok fine: in my early 20s music festivals were as much about getting fucked up as they were about dancing. The reality of my life is this, though: I LOVE DANCING, and I love dancing outdoors best of all. While there be some aspects of any music scene that are best enjoyed in your youth, I would argue that "moving your body to music" should never EVER be considered one of them. For those who truly love dance (and I love it so much that I used to capitalize the word Dance, because it was Very Sacred and deserved Special Emphasis), there's no age limit on that. Some cultures are better at recognizing this than others, and mainstream American culture is still working on it.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Depending on the festival, I'm in great company

Certainly this is where picking the RIGHT festival starts to be the most important factor. Shambhala was my jam for years, and then suddenly it was some combination of it being too coked up and me being too old. Picking the right festival is extra complicated because of course festivals shift year to year, but when a friend in her 40s told me a few years ago about Beloved in Oregon, I was hopeful. I looked at pictures of previous years and could see that the attendees came in a range of ages. Sure, the bulk were 20s and 30s, but children and The Olds were also well represented.

Photo by Ziporah Lomax
Photo by Ziporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Having attended now for three years, I can say that I don't even feel old at Beloved — culturally, the event does a great job of having day music and workshops for folks who want that (who often skew a bit older) and then late night music for those who want that (who usually skew younger). Last year, I found myself getting down on the outdoor dance floor with a guy who's dance style reminded me of something — turns out he'd been raving in London in the late '80s (old school!) and had lived in SF in the mid-90s (like me) and his dancing was totally that SF style I remember so well. Plus, he was even older than I was.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Not high? Doesn't matter

At 40, I am no longer that person gurning half-naked on the dance floor, stumbling around with dilated pupils. Now I'm the person who offers that person a sip of water helps them find their friends on a blanket. During my gurning years, I had hundreds of high encounters with kind strangers who kept me hydrated, made sure I was safe, and helped me out. As the older, less high person at the music festival, it's my turn to pay back the kindnesses paid to me back in the day.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

The people-watching OMG

Yes, dance (with a capital D or not) is still very important to me, but without a doubt my second-favorite thing to do at music festivals is watching people. I live in a dense urban Seattle neighborhood known for its hipsters and gays, so I get some decent people-watching in my daily life… but there's no denying that people are decked out and in rare form at music festivals, and the people-watching gets elevated to some next-level shit. Eavesdropping, too!

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Be a living example that life doesn't end at 29

If I worry that mainstream American culture doesn't have much to offer when it comes to examples of older folks having fun dancing, then isn't it my responsibility to be the change I wish to see? Look, young friends: you can be 40-years-old, reasonably successful and competent, have a family and run a business… and still manage to get out on the dance floor every once in a while!

At 40, I celebrate different things on the dance floor than I did when I was 21… but it still feels important to celebrate. I don't go to music festivals to regress or pretend I'm younger than I am (I looooove sleeping at music festivals omg I'm like the best rested day-dancer everrrr), but it feels important to be both very adult, and very committed to getting down and celebrating. At music festivals now, I'm responsible about eating well, sleeping well, taking care of myself, AND enjoying myself. I was still learning those skills in my early 20s, but now I know how to do all these things! Isn't adulthood awesome?!

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

My kid gets to learn stuff

I've written about how much I love bringing my son to Beloved, but as he gets older, going to music festivals with him is getting even more awesome. Sure, dancing with him is great, but I also love people-watching with him, and music festivals give us an amazing opportunity to have very natural, early conversations about substance use and abuse. I'm a firm believer in harm reduction, and while my kid's only 5 and likely won't encounter friends using substances for another 5-10 years, I love that we can have conversations NOW about why that bug-eyed girl is rolling around in the dirt, and if that sweaty and crying guy in the ripped pants looks like he's having fun.

My grubby son rocking his noise-cancelling headphones
My grubby son rocking his noise-cancelling headphones at Beloved in 2012. Photo by Stephanie Kaloi.

This is also where picking the RIGHT festival to go to is critical. I wouldn't take my kid to a festival where everyone's top priority was getting fucked up. In part because it wouldn't be much fun for him, but also because it's disrespectful to the other attendees. Beloved Festival makes it clear that children are welcome, while also having a late-night dance floor that's clearly intended for adults.

CC White at Beloved by Zipporah Lomax
CC White at Beloved by Zipporah Lomax

And yeah, ok: the music is awesome

I can't believe I'm saving this for last because of course it's most important: music is fucking awesome, and hearing new music at festivals is the best. A few years ago, after hearing her sing at Beloved, my son became obsessed with C.C. White, a singer who rocks a niche known as "Soul Kirtan." Toddlers love repetitive music, and devotional soul music (it's a thing!) hit a sweet spot for him that I never would have thought to introduce him to. Last summer, I danced my ass off to Odezsa, who I'd never heard of (despite their being from Seattle). Why? Because I don't go out as much as I used to, duh! (Too busy sleeping!) Dancing myself into a sweaty pump to Odezsa for two hours was a high point of my summer, and their music carried me through a dreary fall.

Look, I totally get that music festivals aren't everybody's jam, and that for some of us they stop being fun. Hell, I wrote a post called I left the music festival because it was too loud! But for those of us who are able to find music festivals, at the right time, that fit and feel good? Age ain't got no limit on celebrating that.

Tickets are on sale now for the Beloved Festival, August 7-10 2015. Maybe I'll see you there this summer?

Recent Comments

  • ForeverGrateful: Go too Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival, or any Terrapi music festival. You won't regret it. Located in Harrodsburg, KY. Impossible … [Link]
  • Lydia: Of course, nothing says journalistic integrity like leaving snarky comments anonymously. [Link]
  • Teresa: you seem fun. [Link]
  • Antandra Music: Haha! This article is spot on. I'll be 30 in July, and I feel like I'm just getting started even … [Link]
  • Bradley: This is absolutely awesome and on the mark. As veteran and one of the elder statesmen of the past two … [Link]

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