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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Diary #579

Just once, I’d like to return from a trip without having to deal with some kind of problem before I can even get settled in.  After returning from Freedom Fest on the 24th I spent a few days in Seattle, then returned home to Sunset on Wednesday.  While refilling the dogs’ water bowl, I noticed the water pressure was extremely low, so I went around to make sure nobody had left anything running.  Nobody had, and within another hour there was no water at all.  At first Grace thought the pressure switch had gone bad, but when she bypassed it to check the pump we still had no water.  Fortunately, we had already purchased a new pump when we first moved here, since there was no way to know just how old the one that came with the property might be; unfortunately…have you ever changed a well pump?  It’s not hard, but it’s strenuous and time-consuming and absolutely fucking filthy.  There was also no way to know how deep the well was, so I just had to keep pulling the hose up (with Grace guiding it out of the well casing) until we found the pump; since the water table is pretty high here I knew it wouldn’t be too deep, but that still meant I had to pull up 14 meters of water-filled irrigation pipe with a waterlogged pump at the bottom.  Then I had to dash to town to get about $30 worth of fittings while Grace switched out the pumps, and when I returned (about 5 PM) we still had to wire up the new pump and carefully lower it back down the shaft, then reconnect it to the water system.  We finished a little after 8, at which point we discovered the damned thing still wouldn’t work due to an overloaded control box.  Still, that meant we could hot-wire the pump to fill up the pressure tank so we could take showers and have water overnight, and we replaced the faulty control the next day.  As you can see, the old pump was a Sears model which (according to the serial number) was built in 1992; I’m definitely not complaining, because nearly 30 years is a pretty good operational life for any mechanical device run as hard as a well pump is.  But all the same, I’d have been happier if it had held on for just a few extra days.

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If you had relationships with any of the people on the block, you wouldn’t need [surveillance].  –  Asiaha Butler

ZZ Top had lots of songs about whores; I’ve already featured “La Grange” and “Mexican Blackbird” elsewhere, so to honor their bassist’s passing I’m featuring this one, which is at least whore-adjacent.  The links above it were provided by Genya Coulter; Mike Siegel and Scott Greenfield; Franklin Harris; Radley Balko; and Cop Crisis (x2), in that order.

From the Archives

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Bathhouse 38

This is the first shot which may give you some idea of what the roof framework will look like.  We’ve now extended the two central posts to their full height, and there will also be a post attached to the wooden upright at lower left.  These will support steel beams going across to the header beam on the house roof, and to the beam above the shop roof; the cee purlins will be welded to these to support the steel roof panels.  At every place where the bathhouse roof overlaps one of the four rooves forming the square, there will be a channel to carry away rainwater, sealed with waterproofing compound to prevent leakage between the structures.  Once the western portion is done, we’ll move on to the eastern part stretching to the guest cottage in the background of this picture; that section will feature some transparent panels to let sunlight in.  If you’re still having trouble picturing it, don’t worry; the lightbulb only fully went on for me a few weeks ago, and I’ve been living with the project for over a year now.  But I trust Grace’s design ability, even when I can’t quite see how it will fit together.  And soon, you won’t even have to use your imagination.

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The day my last diary column appeared, I was driving into Seattle; much too early the next morning I got on a plane for Rapid City, South Dakota to attend Freedom Fest, where I did some panels and speaking and such.  Both flights out were much too rough for my medicines to handle, because apparently both pilots thought they were auditioning for a remake of Top Gun or something (and let me tell you, that takes some doing when taking off from SEATAC in an Airbus A321), but I was fine by Thursday morning (except for dehydration that just wouldn’t go away despite walking around all day with a bottle) and Friday was my big day anyhow.  In the morning I was on a main-stage panel called “Feminism Needs to Stop Calling the Cops” with Avens O’Brien (of Feminists for Liberty), Brittany Hunter (of the Pacific Legal Foundation), Melissa Mann (of Reason), and well-known author Naomi Wolf, moderated by Elizabeth Nolan Brown (whom I’m sure needs no introduction on this blog).  I must admit I was really worried that such a crowded panel crammed into 30 minutes would result in all of us just kinda lining up to blurt out a few sentences, but I’m happy to say I was wrong; the synergy was amazing and we all worked well together to create an experience that audience members declared one of the best of the conference, despite its brevity.  Later in the afternoon Liz joined me on a panel (“DecriminaLIES: Exposing the Failed Global Policy to Regulate Prostitution”) with Savannah Sly and Kaytlin Bailey, moderated by the ever-awesome Alex Andrews of SWOP Behind Bars; that one was an hour, and we hurled out enough information to send any lurking prohibitionists running for the Black Hills; both that day and the next day at the airport, I ran into a number of people who told me how great the talks were, and thanked us for opening their eyes to the truth on the subject.  For years now, I’ve been one of the few sex workers willing to reach out to the libertarian ecosphere, but that time is long over, and I think we’re going to win a lot of allies this way; Alex tells me she’s already signed us up for next Freedom Fest, and it won’t be the only one.  Our days of largely preaching to the choir are over, and we’ll be withering a lot of prohibitionist disinformation with the blinding heat of our concentrated sex rays.

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A lot gets said these days about “representation” in popular media, by which people mean that it’s a good thing for children or adolescents to see people like themselves among their heroes in TV or movies.  Usually, this is used to mean obvious characteristics like gender, skin color, or disability, and sometimes less-obvious traits like queerness.  But for me, none of those traits meant anything if the characters displaying them were law-obeying, apartment-dwelling, boring-job-having authoritarian squares of the type television has always been infested with, and whose lives mine was never, ever going to resemble even if the character could’ve been my doppelganger in every superficial “representative” way.  By 1980 I couldn’t find a single network TV program which interested me in any way, and even before that the characters who interested me most were always outsiders, weirdos, and outlaws such as vigilantes, monster-hunters, and fugitives, or else characters who had figured out how to fit in while still doing things in their own idiosyncratic fashion.  Anyone more perceptive than I was at the time could probably have figured out that I was going to end up living outside of the law and at odds with the Establishment, so it’s no surprise that one of my favorite shows since my mid-teens has followed the adventures of an eccentric, anti-authoritarian outlaw who stole a spacetime ship from his people and proceeded to wander about the universe, following his conscience rather than some set of arbitrary rules, and teaming up with a long succession of other misfits to ruin the schemes of tyrants, bureaucrats, psychopaths and other violent busybodies while freely associating with weirdos and freethinkers who rarely get along with their local “authorities”.  Yes, representation is important, and never more so than when the type being represented is those who refuse to allow themselves to be sorted into herds and driven to build up power for those who would rule others.

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I’m going to fuck you up.  –  unidentified terrorist

I’m not really fond of westerns, but I am fond of Henry Mancini; I discovered this one on a 1970s tape marketing a quadrophonic sound system, and it popped into my head again recently.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Jesse Walker, Scott Greenfield, Walter Olson, and Cop Crisis (x3), in that order.

From the Archives

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Bathhouse 37

One of the reasons we’ve been going so much more slowly this year is that the roof project requires more hands-on work from Grace, but she’s not physically able to exert herself much or even stand for very long.  Last year, she was able to plan, direct, and advise while Chekhov and I did most of the work, but steel isn’t wood and it takes more specialized skills to deal with it.  So I recently suggested to her that if she could teach me basic welding technique, I will be able to get up on the roof to weld the trusses together while she directs from the ground.  Now, normally welding takes a while to learn, but I don’t need to understand theory, how to set up the machine, or anything other than basic MIG technique; she can set everything up, and all I need to do is climb up with the stinger and do the actual spark-throwing.  So here’s the result of my first lesson; I’ll get a bit more practice after I get back from my conference next week, then once Grace thinks I’m ready I can start putting the framework together, taking pictures periodically so she can inspect my work to ensure I don’t screw up too badly.  And yeah, there will be pictures, though I’ll make sure they aren’t unflattering.

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Diary #577

Since I’ve been less preocupied with construction this year, my summer anxiety is back to its typical levels; I find it difficult to focus and find myself worrying about things that there’s little if any cause to worry about.  Today I’ll be headed back to Seattle, and early tomorrow morning I’ll be flying to South Dakota for Freedom Fest, and I’ve been stressing about it for weeks.  Not about the actual speaking and all that, because that stuff comes naturally to me and never makes me nervous.  No, it’s all the stuff around the trip, such as the actual flying (which regular readers know always stresses me out), making sure my books arrive on time for the conference, getting back in time for my appointment in Seattle on Sunday evening, worrying about how Grace will get along while I’m gone, and probably a dozen other things I can’t even enumerate.  Fortunately, over the weekend I seem to have mostly come out of it, and by a week from today I should be finishing up in Seattle and getting ready to return home to my roses, my animals, my friends, my projects, and the routine which will help me make it through the Dog Days to the time of year when the sun sets at a more reasonable hour and stops getting in the way of my ability to think clearly.

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You’re about to die, my friend.  –  Tyler Longman

Here’s another Doctor Who novelty song, recorded as a publicity tie-in for the 1965 Doctor Who and the Daleks movie starring Peter Cushing; the singer, Roberta Tovey, played Susan in the film.  The links above it were provided by Mike Siegel, Cop Crisis (x3), Walter Olson, and Mistress Matisse, in that order.

From the Archives

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Bathhouse 36

When Grace told me she wanted to fabricate the steel header to support the west side of the roof all in one piece and then lift it into place, I can’t say I was sanguine about it; it was a labor to carry a single 3-meter length of tubing at waist level, and here she was telling me that we were going to lift a single 8-meter length into place on the roof.  But she welded it up on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Chekhov and I lifted it into place.  It was a lot easier than I expected; we used jackstands, heavy-duty saw horses, and the wooden railings beside the hot tub to maneuver the beam back and forth, taking advantage of leverage to raise it to the top of two ladders.  The last move, from laddertops to rooftop, was actually the hardest because there wasn’t a good enough fulcrum to make the lift easier; however, it was also a fairly short distance, and once it was in place it wasn’t difficult to get it centered and placed behind the brackets.  The tubing lying along the hot tub is going to be an upright; you can just see the bottom of another one leaning roughly in place near the mat.  In the next couple of days those uprights will be installed, and we plan to make the first connection between the roof structure and shop; there will also be some uprights along the north edge of the deck.  It’s going more slowly than I like, but it’s going; pretty soon I’ll need to be up on the damned roof again, and I sincerely hope after this one there won’t be any further roof-building in my future.

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