21 December, 2008

Blog Note: Commenting Policy, As Such 

Recent events have caused me to reflect on how I handle comments on this blog. As I recall, the only comments I've ever deleted from my blog have been spam. Today that will change.

The comment in question is was so breathtakingly racist that I'm a little embarrassed that I've left it up as long as I have.

Anyone who has read this blog for more than twenty minutes has probably figured out that I have had all of the racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of "othering" than I can stand. In case you might have missed the memo, bigotry isn't funny or edgy or clever. It's exactly the opposite of those things: It shows that the person making such jokes or comments lacks the imagination--much less empathy--to, even for a moment, consider what life is like for someone that doesn't have a place at the big Table of Privilege. Or maybe the commenter can and it is just so different to his/her experience it is just too scary, so anyone who is different must be belittled. But the purpose of this post is not to delve into the psychology of bullying, so I'll move on.

Why did I wait so long to remove the comment? I wanted to be sure I wasn't reacting to my anger and my somewhat bruised feelings (there is a little more to this story than just an exceedingly bigoted comment, the details of which shall remain private). Over the last several years I've been very conscious of wanting my actions to move me forward, toward a positive outcome, rather than my reflexive, street-brawling thowing of feet, fists and/or words, or stuffing my feelings deep down inside me and putting on a brave face for people who say deliberately hurtful things, all of which only served to fuel my anger and didn't resolve anything.

So, after reflecting on the situation I have decided to institute a commenting policy on this blog. And what that policy boils down to is this: This is MY blog and I don't actually have to put up with that shit. Therefore:

* You are free to disagree with my views on, well, whatever.

* You are even free to leave a comment saying you disagree with me, bonus points if you can explain your point of view and, you know, initiate a discussion.

* Hell, I don't much care if you resort to calling ME names: Believe me, I've heard them ALL before.

Just know this: If you leave a hateful, bigoted or sexist comment, with no discussion value whatsoever, the comment will be deleted. If these kinds of comments become commonplace around here, then I will start moderating comments, so you will lose that instant gratification of seeing your hate pop right up on the intertubes.

If it turns out that I have to moderate comments, then I may as well just turn commenting off altogether. I'd hate for it to come to that because I do like the two-way communication that a commenting system facilitates. However, I have a limited amount of energy to devote to cleaning up after people and I have even less patience.

If you want a place to spew racism, sexism, homophobia or whatever hate you're selling today, there are plenty of free blogging services out there: I suggest you try one out.

I now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.

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   ~~ victoria on 8:34 PM ~~    0 comments


31 October, 2008


I seem to have missed my own Blogiversary. I took my first, tentative steps into blogging on October 9, 2003.

Well...I've had the "vicster.net" domain for a few years now and was always planning to "do something" with it. When I was laid off of my job in 2002, I suddenly had more time on my hands to figure out exactly what I was going to do with my domain/site. I had the design planned and had the first set of articles written and...

...and then had an attack of "this will suck and everyone will laugh at me and think I'm an idiot" and I pulled the whole thing (and put up the "maintenance" page that sat there for 15 months).

There may be some who argue that I maybe should have left the maintenance page in place, LOL!

Thinking Out Loud has been going through some...I don't know, growing pains or something, lately. I've often said that moving through the world when you have a blog is a lot like always wondering if your fly is open. I know I've become a lot more self-conscious, especially in the last several months as I'm finding myself facing the age-old struggle of having a blog that people that I communicate with through my day job are finding. While I take great pains to not talk about work, except in the most general sense, there are going to be people who find things on my blog objectionable and counter to what they think my views on life should be, given my client list.

But I don't want this to be a Cat Blog, either. So, I hope you all will bear with me while I figure out what the next five years of Thinking Out Loud are going to be like.

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   ~~ victoria on 11:18 PM ~~    0 comments


Don't Be Frightened 

So the observant among you may have noticed I've changed a few things around here. I finally dialed back the red a bit and decided to clean the design up a bit (the CSS is very bare-bones at the moment).

This design (and I use that term very very loosely) is nowhere near being finished. I still need to re-do my header logo and do more tweaking to the style sheet. But for now, it's good to go. I think. I haven't tested it outside of Firefox. If it breaks in IE or Safari (or other browsers), I may not have time to fix it until around Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I think this will be a wee bit easier on the eyes. Feedback is welcome (uh, as long as it pertains to the blog design, I should add).

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   ~~ victoria on 10:22 PM ~~    0 comments


03 September, 2008

How I Spent My 15th Bay Area Anniversary 

I spent it with friends doing some night shooting at the Sutro Baths. If you're unfamiliar with San Francisco history, the Sutro Baths is a fascinating place. It's interesting enough during the day but has a completely different character at night. And, as my friend Patrick pointed out, different still when you see long exposure night photographs of it. This particular shot was taken from the Cliff House. The rocks are lit by these enormous lights from the Cliff House and they are white because birds hang out there and, well, you know, do what birds do.

So. Fifteen years. I remember my first few hours in San Francisco so well. My friend and her daughter (who I also consider my friend, even if she is young enough to be my daughter) made the trip from Portland with me. We rolled into San Francisco around 11:00 p.m. and I managed to get myself lost in the Mission, trying to find my new flat.

"Pull the car over here and let's just look at the map." my friend urged.

My eyes darted around, taking in the landscape, my very tired brain processing this information so I could make a decision. I looked up at the street sign. "Julianna, I am not stopping this car on a street called SHOTwell!" Julianna sighed and I kept driving. I knew I was close. In fact, I was only a couple of blocks away, but I was turned around. After another 10 minutes or so, I found my street and my flat. I thought I had found a parking space, too, so I pulled over and we unloaded my Hyundai. We were nearly done when a woman pulled up and yelled at me for blocking her driveway. I apologized, said I was new in town and closed up my car to move it. She kept yelling at me the whole time. (For MONTHS after that, every time I walked my dogs by her car I tried to get Reggie to lift his leg on her tires but he wouldn't. Proving once again that, for a dog, he was a much better person than I.)

I did find a parking spot about a block away (I would soon learn that finding parking within a block of your home in San Francisco after 11:00 p.m. is a stroke of bloody good luck), locked up the car and took the last of my stuff to the flat.

When my friends and I went to the car to drive into downtown (yeah, I'd soon learn how foolhardy THAT was, too), my car had been broken into and I had a parking ticket. Luckily my car wasn't damaged and nothing was taken because there was nothing in it. And I learned about street cleaning days.

So in my first nine hours living in San Francisco I had been yelled at over a dubious driveway, been broken into, had my first parking ticket and my first meltdown trying to drive into downtown (not knowing my way around). By the time we got home that afternoon I was in tears wondering how I ever thought I could do this and I was *this close* to packing up the car and going right back to Portland. (I knew that most of the friends and family had figured I wouldn't last six months but I don't think any of them picked 24 hours for the pool.) My friends and my new roommate were so incredibly supportive, reassuring me it was just a rough first day and I'd be all right. But if I really wanted to go back to Portland, that would be okay, too.

I decided to stick it out a while longer. :-)

And I'm glad I did. Living in the Bay Area is not easy, especially if you don't have either 1) a high paying job, 2) several roommates or 3) a support system. There are days when trying to make a living here really kicks my ass and I wonder why I'm killing myself just trying to keep a roof over my head and gas in the car. Hardly a month goes by where I don't spend a day or two wondering if I'd be happier someplace else where the cost of living was a little more reasonable and the pace a little less hectic and the air and water a little cleaner.

But I can't quit this. Or this. And I can't think of a town with an eccentric quite as interesting as Frank Chu. I'd miss my adopted home town too much, too. And the weather here is as close to perfect as I've ever found and, most of all, I now have some really amazing friends here. Also, acquiring enough valium to make any move tolerable for me and the furkids would add several hundred dollars to the cost of the journey.

So I think I'll stick it out a while longer. :-)

(edited to fix some glaring typos 'n' stuff)

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   ~~ victoria on 2:54 PM ~~    0 comments


13 April, 2008

Why Your Dog--And Cat--Should NEVER Be Allowed Access To Chocolate 

This is absolutely heartbreaking! It sounds like the pup is improving and, fates willing, she'll pull through.

With Simon, I have to be hyper-vigilant about keeping any chocolate products out of his reach. He's gotten into chocolate a few times, but has, thankfully, never suffered much more than a dickey tummy. While he hasn't burned through many of his nine lives, he has caused me to DIE from panic and worry several times.

Anyway, please, keep the chocolate far out of the reach of your furkids.

Update 4/14/08. Holly has made an amazing recovery and will get to go home, hopefully Tuesday! It's a miracle, insofar as a miracle can happen with a dedicated veterinary team and lots and lots of Internet Love. Go Holly, Go!

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   ~~ victoria on 9:41 PM ~~    0 comments


05 February, 2008

SuperDooperPooperFat Tuesday 

I've been to the polling station and tossed my beads to a candidate

Up until the moment I sat down in the polling cubicle, I had not decided which of the candidates would get my vote. I momentarily considered getting a Republican ballot just to fux with them, but I took the NP Democrat one instead because this election year IS THAT IMPORTANT. My candidate, up until last week, was John Edwards: I nearly filled in the line next to his name, just on principal.

In the end, I tossed my Mardi Gras beads to Hillary Clinton. It was NOT a vote against Barack Obama: Come November, I will vote for either one of them. It came down to Clinton's experience, as a statesman and as a working woman. She has had every misogynistic epithet thrown at her, she has (as most women do) worked twice has hard--or more--to get the same recognition as her male counterparts. She has been ripped apart and her every action second-guessed and scrutinized in ways that her male counterparts could never imagine. People find reasons to hate her, no matter what she does. She's too cold. She's too emotional. Blah Blah Blahbitty-freakin' Blah. And it's not bad enough that she's faced this from the Right Wing; she's had to face it from people who call themselves Liberals for whom it's not enough to disagree with her policies, they have to disagree in the most disparaging, deeply misogynistic way. I'm deeply ashamed to admit I've participated in that myself, up until I listened to the words I was saying and didn't like what I heard. (The Left Coaster has taken on the disheartening task of listing the ways that institutionalized misogyny is alive in well, not just in the mainstream media but in much of the progressive blogosphere as well. h/t to quixote at Shakesville) Don't get me wrong, the Clinton campaign has let loose some amazingly cringe-worthy racist comments. But Barack Obama hasn't been picked apart simply for being black in the way that Hillary Clinton has simply because she's a woman. And after all of that, Hillary Clinton is still standing. John Kerry couldn't even survive the Attack of the Swift Boaters. That says a lot.

Anyway, I'm really not here to rant. The thing is, I could just as easily have voted for Barack Obama tonight and I'm very happy for my friends who did vote for him. He is an incredibly dynamic man and his candidacy, along with Clinton's, has breathed life into a Democratic Party that has largely been DOA. This is history being made, people! We have the first woman candidate for president competing with the first African American candidate for president! It's amazing and it's exciting and it's wonderful and, at last, I can look toward November with a feeling of hope instead of a feeling of dread.

edit to add: Oh, man, this sucks. LA County is huge. Too huge to not have their shit together on this so that poll workers and voters are properly informed on voting procedure. As a Decline to State voter, I had no problem at all tonight at my polling place.

'nuther edit: Yes, I know that the GOP, in their paranoid state, made it so that you must be registered GOP to vote on the Republican ballot. Honestly? The idea of getting a Republican ballot to fux with them was a fleeting gleefully evil thought. To be sure, I'd set fire to my ballot before I'd waste it voting for one of those candidates.

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   ~~ victoria on 8:27 PM ~~    1 comments


01 November, 2007

NaNoWriMo Day One: 2051 Words 

Considering that, as of 7:20 p.m., PDT, when I started this thing, all I had was a main character (two if we count her cat) and a few scribbles here and there, 2,000 words is pretty dang good. I was really scratching for a beginning to my novel, to the point where I asked one of the deck hands on the ferry if I could read the first paragraph of the novel she was reading, just to kick my imagination into gear. It helped (though my first paragraph is nothing at all like the one I read).

So I can go to bed, relieved to not be behind in the word count right from the get-go.

Anyway, the shorter of it is this: Posting here may be light-ish this month while I pound out Yet Another Crappy Novel. I will try to keep up with the Simon Sundays, though, because it's important to keep his fans happy. ;-)

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   ~~ victoria on 10:09 PM ~~    0 comments


Good Fucking Riddance to October! 

October was just a lousy, goddamned month. There were some bright, wonderful spots (i.e. any moment spent with my friends), but there has been so much stress piled on me from so many directions (including a random line of questioning from Kaiser over blood/urine tests that I took nearly a month ago where they won't tell me what the problem might be but keep calling to ask me about this and that and I'm really freaking out right about now!) that now it takes every ounce of discipline I have to get out of bed.

And then, just to flip its evil middle finger one last time, a teenage girl was murdered IN MY FRONT YARD, more or less. A 15-year-old child, shot to death during a brazen robbery IN A FUCKING PLAYGROUND. I am absolutely sick about this. It's Alameda's first homicide this year, but my neighbourhood is particularly prone to rather violent, armed robberies.

Anyway, to October, I say "fuck right off!" I'm hoping intending to start fresh now that it's November.

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   ~~ victoria on 10:20 AM ~~    0 comments


24 September, 2007

Just Like That 

So about a month ago I was at a party at my friend's house and they finally cajoled me into playing along on their PlayStation karaoke. Someone beat me to Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", so I went with "Hungry Like The Wolf"* by Duran Duran. After the opening riff I was immediately transported back to junior year in high school when I listened to their first two albums about nine million times and here I am a flaming Durannie all over again! I've rediscovered how much I love the Rio album and how it absolutely drips with their Chic (one of the best R&B/Disco bands, ever) influence. I can't keep Rio off of the CD player and have had "New Religion" on repeat for two days!

(*BTW, I'll brag here and report that I tied for first place in the karaoke game. Yay me!)

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   ~~ victoria on 9:09 PM ~~    0 comments


Why I LOVE The Internets! 

Today the Internets gave me my New Favourite Word: schadendouche!

(Courtesy of a comment on BoingBoing.)

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   ~~ victoria on 8:03 PM ~~    0 comments


05 July, 2007

Why I Love the Alameda 4th of July Parade 

Alameda 4th of July Parade
Originally uploaded by Planet Vicster.

This, right here is why. It's a People's Parade. There are no fancy floats. In fact, anything that could be remotely considered a "float" is actually a trailer or back of a truck decorated for the parade. There's room for everyone--from the Small Dogs Park to the National Rifle Association-- in the parade. Being an old military town, we have a lot of Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard representation and they are cheered just as passionately as the Peace group and the Alameda Democratic Party float.

Despite my disappointment that our country has lost its way, the parade was a welcome chance to celebrate the things that do make America the place that so many people want to come to. The day was a wonderful celebration of family, friends and community and of all of the things we have in common.

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   ~~ victoria on 7:20 AM ~~    0 comments


22 May, 2007

I'd Rather Be Red 

OK so the brief experiment using a turquoise and orange palette is over and I've gone back to a red one. It was weird but without the red it just didn't feel like MY blog anymore. So, I'll be tweaking things more, but I HAD to get my colours back!

BTW, the quote "...screaming at the top of my lungs since 1965" is from Poor Born by Dead Moon. Brilliant song.

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   ~~ victoria on 8:50 PM ~~    0 comments


18 May, 2007

And That's Why I Have Pink Roses 

Fried Day (or, Why I Have Pink Roses)
Originally uploaded by Planet Vicster.

So my day started with a trip to the Subaru Dealership because a CD got jammed in the new (to me) stereo. (Subaru doesn't actually replace stereos with NEW components, but rather with refurbished units.) Having learned before that the queue starts up quite early, I left home at around 6:20 a.m. (the service dept. opens at 7). I arrived around 6:35 and was pleased to see I was the first in line. Shortly thereafter people started parking behind me. (At Downtown Subaru in Oakland we must queue up by parking on the street). Everything was going swell until about 6:50 when some geezer jumped the queue and pulled up to the gate. I was, naturally, not happy about that but decided to wait and maybe say something to him when we got inside. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy start to pull in behind the geezer! One queue-jumper was enough. I tapped my horn and waved my hand back, indicating that there was already a bunch of us in line.

He started yelling at me that he had never been there before and didn't know, etc. I wanted to say that that was cool, but there were a bunch of us lined up and, yes, it is confusing and a pain in the ass to get in here. But the guy would not stop yelling at me! I finally yelled back, "ALL RIGHT!" I regretted yelling, but he had pushed me too far, too early in the morning. Evidently, he wasn't finished yet.

"DON'T YELL AT ME, YOU FAT FU*KING BITCH!" he screamed. Now, the "old" me who was a street brawler may have jumped out of the car and throttled him, or might have screamed back and called him whatever series of nasty names immediately came to mind. But I realized that, to throw the fact that I'm fat back in my face (such an easy target--which still hurts my inner little girl just a bit), he either was irretrievably stupid or he was having a seriously shitty morning and there was a lot of pain behind that. He didn't strike me as stupid, so I chose to dial back my voice a bit and said "have a nice day!" And I really meant it.

The service gates opened and we got inside. The geezer who jumped the queue (and he KNEW the whole time he had, too, the bastard!) was tying up the guy I had an appointment with. So, while I waited, I saw the other guy come in. I wondered if I should just shut my yap and let it go, but I couldn't leave it the way it was. It was just no way to start the day. So I went over to him.

"Look," I said, "I really didn't mean to ruin your morning. It's just that the guy in the silver Legacy had already cut in front of all of us and I wanted to be sure you saw us."

He began apologizing profusely. The words seemed to free-fall from him, how it was so early and he probably zoned out and didn't see us and got startled but how horrible he felt and he was so sorry and he shouldn't have acted the way he did. I also apologized for shouting and said it was too early in the day to be anything other than pre-verbal (especially without the aid of caffeine!). He apologized some more and I assured him that we were good and we should just take a deep breath and Begin Again.

Fast forward to late morning and I'm at work. The guy at the dealership phones and tells me that they got the CD out but he's ordering another replacement stereo (that's when he told me they weren't new but refurbs). He then said, "Evidently, you had a problem with one of our other customers this morning..."

"Oh yeah, but it's okay. We sorted it out." I said.

"Well, he said he felt really horrible about it and he brought flowers and a card. So when you pick up your car, the flowers are from him."

When I picked Luna up (the service dept. had given her a bath, too...yay!), these lovely pink-white roses and a cute card were waiting on the front seat for me (he signed the card, but I won't disclose his name here). It is a very lovely gesture on his part (though really not necessary). It's worth noting that pink is a healing colour. I truly hope his day improved significantly.

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   ~~ victoria on 10:28 PM ~~    0 comments


15 May, 2007

Why I deleted my JPG Magazine Account 

I had heard some buzz over the weekend that Heather Champ and Derek Powazek had left JPG Magazine, which seemed really quite bizarre because they founded it and, from everything I've ever seen and heard, this was their "baby". I read Heather's brief post about leaving and was quite upset to see that. Usually, I get up a good head of righteous indignation and will click right over and delete my account, but I decided to wait and see what "the other side" had to say.

The Other Side (a.k.a. Paul Cloutier, the CEO at 8020 Publishing) had removed any reference to Heather and Derek's role in creating JPG Magazine (though I see it has now been reinstated on the "About" page) and they removed the first six issues from the site. I was not exactly impressed by that sort of statement. Then, after I read Derek's story this morning, I immediately deleted my account.

So let's back up a moment. Why did I JOIN JPG Magazine? Put simply, because of Heather and Derek. They share a love of photography and of documenting the ordinary in extraordinary ways that really resonates with me. They are friendly, forthright, professional people, both online and in person. It was the feeling of community and the respect they gave to the members of their community that made JPG Magazine a success. And, when they couldn't make the relationship work with the Corporate Leadership at 8020 anymore, they had enough integrity and respect to say they had left and why without resorting to cheap shots and character attacks.

That's why I joined and why, despite never having any of my photos appear in the pages of the magazine, :-( I stayed.

Thus far, Paul Cloutier has demonstrated contempt for the JPG Mag community, first by attempting to revise the history of the publication (removing Heather and Derek from the frame and removing the first six issues from the site), then with the old Corporate chestnut about Derek (no mention of Heather!) leaving to "pursue other projects," and then this rather limp protestation from him in the Unofficial JPG Magazine group on Flickr that they (he) never intended to rewrite the history of JPG Magazine (so, what, deleting Heather and Derek and the first six issues--basically, erasing the efforts of all the people who made the magazine and the community into the success that YOU are now enjoying was an accident? That someone just happened to open up these html documents, delete specific information, save the files and upload them and then republish and clear the caches? That was all One Big Oopsie? Riiiiight...).

So, the reason I deleted my JPG Magazine account is because I believe in Derek and Heather and I have no faith in the current leadership at 8020 Publishing, therefore I choose to not associate myself (or my photography) with them (despite the fact that Derek remains a shareholder in 8020).

I grieve the loss of the JPG Magazine I came to love, but I cannot wait to see what wonderful new thing the Powazek/Champs dream up next! I just hope that, whatever it is, I'll get to be a part of it!


   ~~ victoria on 9:56 PM ~~    0 comments


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