Living with extreme weather

Weather is what makes Earth inhabitable. Solar rays heat the tropics year-round. As the planet spins at 1,000 miles an hour at the equator, low pressure causes rising moist air to spread out and move north and south. Ocean currents are similar in that they transfer surface heat into the sub-tropical and temperate zones. Dense cold air sinks from the polar regions and is drawn in by pressure differentials to replace the sun churned heated air. Seasons changes through the axial tilt of the planet.

All this simply means that for most people, the places we live are where crops are grown and animals farmed. Cities became possible only when agriculture could replace hunting-gathering as a means of supporting an expanding population. Food and potable water determines the suitability of settlements: technology has made it possible to inhabit nearly every climate zone safely, if not in comfort.

Living in areas that used to be marginal—such as floodplains, ocean-sides etc—is often a choice not a necessity in the developed world. Not so for the poor, who are most often the victims of extreme weather. Lack of zoning and political oversight is often blamed, along with cheap insurance, for allowing people to build structures and live in places that are repeatedly damaged by storms. This is true; however, there is no place safe from extreme weather.

Should everyone evacuate from the coasts? From all islands? Everywhere there is a chance of a blizzard or sub-zero temps? Away from rivers and lakes that flood? What about deserts? We can’t control the weather. We can control how we plan for disasters such as Hurricane Irma.

As the aftermath has shown, Florida is largely habitable because of air conditioning and insect control. Without both, there would be a mass exodus back north into cooler climes. But I grew up in Wisconsin, summers there are even hotter than Florida. Why? Because hot air from the Gulf of Mexico flows all the way into Canada during the summer months. It’s not hot all the time like it is in the semi-tropics, but it gets really, really hot without any chance of rain.

The Midwest suffers from another problem though; tornadoes. Should people be forced to leave Texas, Oklahoma and the rest of ‘Tornado Alley’ because it costs too much to repair property year after year? Well, Europe has their share of extreme tornadoes. In fact, in England, one of the strongest tornadoes ever struck London on October 23rd, 1091. There were only about 18,000 people living in London at that time. Maybe the tens of millions of people who live there now, should all leave in case it happens again.

My point is, weather happens; extreme weather happens, and no matter how much or little you prepare, you can’t control the outcome. Yes, you need to have non-perishable food, gallons of water and maybe a generator, but no plan is perfect. We live in a just-in-time consumer society, and as Texas and Florida have shown, there is not enough fuel, batteries, water, plywood and other storm supplies in stores, when millions of people try to purchase in volumes that normally would last for months. Not to mention that evacuation routes can’t possibly handle everyone trying to leave at once.

When it comes to surviving a storm, luck matters as much as preparation. Where you live only changes what the threat may be. If not hurricanes, then wildfires. If not tornadoes, then flash floods. If not droughts, then avalanches. We have more information than ever before, but sometimes too much knowledge makes the right decision even harder.

Don’t forget the SPF69

The next frontier for adventurous—yet discerning—travelers? Vacationing in the buff. At least that’s what a growing string of nude resorts are betting on as they fancy things up to lure a well-heeled clientele. Davy Rothbart ditched his drawers to find out whether there’s actually such a thing as high-class nudity.

Thus begins an article called, Inside the Clothing-Optional Resort of Your Swinging Dreams, in the August 2017 edition of GQ Magazine. The author travels to Cancún, Mexico and checks into the Desire Pearl, a clothing optional rather than nudist resort. As he states:

The free spirits flocking to Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort, I figured, had to be a different sort. With nightly rates during high season of $700 to $1,500, this place wasn’t for hippies. So, then, who was coming? And how was it that Desire Pearl and a string of establishments like it were booked solid for months at a time?

Within a few hours, Davy makes his way to the pool area, complete with bar and cabanas. The Desire Pearl caters to those seeking more than simply getting a suntan in the buff. After meeting a first-time couple, married with three children, they quickly discover that inhibitions have been shed along with swimsuits.

In that moment, a murmur swept across the Jacuzzi. Half the folks in the water turned their attention toward one of the six cabanas that ring the oversize tub. There, a tall, young, freckled woman was giving her boyfriend a sensual blow job, her ass waving in the air behind her. Rob’s and Laura’s eyes went wide. I have to admit, no matter how much sex you’ve seen in movies or on bookmarked sites on your laptop, it feels crazy to watch real people go at it, just yards away.

Sure, I’d prepared myself to see some amorous behavior, but I’d imagined it’d be fleeting and discreet. Swinging, I had deduced before arriving, was a fact of life at Desire Pearl—and the possibility of a little public sex (perhaps with someone new) must have been a draw for some couples. I knew all that. But even when the trailhead signs warn about bears and rattlesnakes, you’re still a little surprised when you see them.

Although it may be a key attraction for some, the prospect of sex with strangers isn’t explicitly advertised by Desire Pearl. There’s talk, on the resort’s website, of the “erotic,” “sensual,” “open-minded atmosphere” but almost no explicit mention of swinging. Why all this coded language? According to Daniel, one of two Americans who work at Desire Pearl selling vacation packages, the obfuscation allows for a level of discretion, even deniability. If your colleagues or acquaintances from church start Googling around about your vacation, they’re not going to learn too much.

Of course, as Daniel notes, not everybody is here for sex—you’ve got plenty of standard-issue nudists, and also people just drawn by the edgy atmosphere. “Only some are swingers,” he told me. “Others like the freedom of hanging in the pool naked.” The appeal is pretty broad, actually: It’s a tranquil destination where you can step outside of everyday life. There’s an open bar all day and night and a slew of naked people you can flirt with and maybe have sex with. Think of it as Vegas on HGH, a place to let your id off the leash. “The demand is large and growing,” one longtime Desire Pearl staffer told me. “People want ultimate freedom. We provide it.”

The article goes on to explain all the rules about nudity not being allowed in the restaurants, sex only in the cabanas or the ‘Sin Room’ and absolutely no harassment of staff or fellow guests. It paints a picture of safe hedonism far from the grubby club scene. By the end of their stay, the couple he first met winds up swinging with an experienced pair after a late night of partying.

There’s no D/s or spanking going on, or at least none mentioned, but again, the tone of the reporting is constrained and slightly skeevy. I’m actually getting quite discouraged at reading numerous magazines that focus on the ‘abnormal’ aspects of nudity, sex and kink, instead of saying: “America, get your collective heads out of your asses and start accepting the joy of sex.”

For most people though, a vacation—of any kind—is hard to afford. I guess stay-at-home nudism will have to suffice.

Transgender ban versus science

The ban on transgender individuals serving in the United States military was reinstated on August 25th, by the current President. This was not a surprise given the rhetoric during the campaign and the promises made to the winning electoral base. Given the plethora of ‘fake news’ accusations being hurled by ‘both sides’, I wanted to contrast the decision to sign the ban, with a trio of recent articles in magazines.

Before I link to the information, I wanted to state for the record that, although I do not identify as LGBTQ or any of the currently more than 50 ‘labels’ for gender’; I do understand what it’s like to exist with different genders and orientations inside. As a multiple personality who is male by birth, has an incredibly vibrant and compassionate woman as the strongest other, and who himself is several personalities removed from the original boy: I know from first-hand knowledge that gender is not genitals, but centered in the mind.

The January 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine, featured a transgender girl on the cover. The article title, How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender, leads into an exploration of how the mind and hormones determine gender. I doubt very much if the issue changed many minds, but it certainly solidified my support for transgender rights.

National Geographic, by Robin Marantz Henig: Many of us learned in high school biology that sex chromosomes determine a baby’s sex, full stop: XX means it’s a girl; XY means it’s a boy. But on occasion, XX and XY don’t tell the whole story.

Today we know that the various elements of what we consider “male” and “female” don’t always line up neatly, with all the XXs—complete with ovaries, vagina, estrogen, female gender identity, and feminine behavior—on one side and all the XYs—testes, penis, testosterone, male gender identity, and masculine behavior—on the other. It’s possible to be XX and mostly male in terms of anatomy, physiology, and psychology, just as it’s possible to be XY and mostly female.

Each embryo starts out with a pair of primitive organs, the proto-gonads, that develop into male or female gonads at about six to eight weeks. Sex differentiation is usually set in motion by a gene on the Y chromosome, the SRY gene, that makes the proto-gonads turn into testes. The testes then secrete testosterone and other male hormones (collectively called androgens), and the fetus develops a prostate, scrotum, and penis. Without the SRY gene, the proto-gonads become ovaries that secrete estrogen, and the fetus develops female anatomy (uterus, vagina, and clitoris).

But the SRY gene’s function isn’t always straightforward. The gene might be missing or dysfunctional, leading to an XY embryo that fails to develop male anatomy and is identified at birth as a girl. Or it might show up on the X chromosome, leading to an XX embryo that does develop male anatomy and is identified at birth as a boy.

Genetic variations can occur that are unrelated to the SRY gene, such as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS), in which an XY embryo’s cells respond minimally, if at all, to the signals of male hormones. Even though the proto-gonads become testes and the fetus produces androgens, male genitals don’t develop. The baby looks female, with a clitoris and vagina, and in most cases will grow up feeling herself to be a girl.

Which is this baby, then? Is she the girl she believes herself to be? Or, because of her XY chromosomes—not to mention the testes in her abdomen—is she “really” male?

Continuing the gender wars, Vogue magazine weighs into the fight with two articles in the August 2017 edition. This first tackles the fashion industry with the quote “You see boys wearing makeup, girls buying menswear—they are not afraid to be who they are. This category or that category—who cares? They want to define themselves.” The essay itself leads off linking Virginia Woolf with Tumbler.

Vogue Magazine by Maya Singer: Midway through Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando, a startling transformation takes place: Our hero, Duke Orlando, awakens from a seven-day slumber to find that he has switched genders. “Orlando had become a woman,” Woolf writes, “but in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been. The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity.”

He becomes they. The pronouns shift, but the person remains the same. Woolf’s words, written in 1928, could easily be mistaken for a manifesto posted yesterday on Tumblr, the preferred platform for the growing cohort of “fluid” young people who, like Orlando, breezily crisscross the XX/XY divide. Fashion, of course, has taken note of the movement, which is sufficiently evolved to boast its own pinups, including Jaden Smith, recently the star of a Louis Vuitton womenswear campaign, and androgynous Chinese pop star (and Riccardo Tisci muse) Chris Lee. But where, exactly, is someone neither entirely he nor she meant to shop? And how, exactly, is such a person to be defined?

This new blasé attitude toward gender codes marks a radical break.

“I have a friend who identifies as ‘all boy, all girl, all male, all female,’” says Gypsy Sport designer Rio Uribe, who is known for his party-like fashion shows cast with pals from all along the gender spectrum. “It’s like—what is that? But it doesn’t matter what it is.” Eluding the labels, constructing an identity apart—for Uribe, that’s “a clapback to a society that wants to define you.”

For a demographic so keenly attuned to being looked at, style serves as a convenient means of liberation. And so it’s always been, as Marc Jacobs points out.

“These kids—I’m not sure they’re any different from the people I saw at Danceteria or Mudd Club in the eighties,” Jacobs says. “The difference is that back then, the expression—extreme looks, cross-dressing, what have you—was hidden away in a speakeasy or a club. Today, thanks to the Internet, that culture is widely exposed.”

The second article builds upon the National Geographic story, by interviewing parents and their transgender children. How the Parents of Trans Teens Are Fighting for Their Kids’ Lives, shows how love and acceptance can be a powerful force for change when faced with an often hostile school system, medical and insurance industries in denial, and the suicide provoking pressures of a judgemental society bent on ridiculing those with differences.

Vogue Magazine by Rebecca Johnson: Almost a decade ago, Judy Caplan Peters’s four-year-old made an announcement that would shake their family’s values to its core. “Mommy,” the little one said, hand on chest as if to recite the pledge of allegiance, “I’m a boy.”

A simple enough statement except that, up until that moment, her child had been raised a girl. Sander*, as he’s known now, had been born with a girl’s anatomy, went by a girl’s name, and dressed in girls’ clothes.

His mother did not try to argue him out of it. She’d seen the signs, beginning with the phone calls from school advising that her child refused to sit with the girls when the students were divided by gender. Or saying that Sander had a headache, a stomachache, or just wasn’t feeling well and wanted to come home. She knew Sander was not happy on some fundamental level, which, for her, meant she did not have a choice in the matter. “You either love your child for who they are,” she says, “or you don’t. It’s that simple.”

Simple but not easy. “I had to go through a grieving process,” Caplan Peters admits, “because I was losing my daughter, but then you realize that your child is not dead or sick or lost, which, God forbid, some parents have to deal with. Your child is healthy. There is nothing wrong with them. This is how they were born.”

Previous generations of transgender people look at the children taking hormone-blocking drugs in awe. When the writer Andrew Solomon attended a gender conference to gather research for his groundbreaking book Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, he met trans people who openly wept when they encountered young people who would never have to go through what they had: puberty as the wrong sex. “It’s fantastic,” says novelist and trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan about hormone treatment. “I was OK with my androgynous body as a child, but when puberty hit and the girls started going one way and I had to go with the brutes, I thought, Oh, no, this is going to be bad.” Thirty years later she transitioned to female, becoming one of the movement’s earliest and most articulate voices.

We in the BDSM community attract unwelcome attention and scorn for our chosen lifestyle, even though D/s and spanking is more mainstream than ever before. But being more visible doesn’t translate to being accepted. I grew up in a liberal/progressive big city, but even there, hetero marriage with a white picket fence was the ideal. I don’t ever recall a conversation or dialogue about sex outside the norm of male enters female and reproduces, and fluid gender was about as remote as watching live events on a mobile phone.

To give you a reference point, when I was a senior in high school, Bruce Jenner came for an assembly that was held at the track field. There was no way anybody in the audience of thousands, could have ever envisioned a day when he, would transition to she, and be known as Caitlyn. I was four years old when biracial marriage was declared legal in the United States, and six years old when the Stonewall riots happened in Greenwich Village.

I watched Star Wars seventeen times in the theater when I was thirteen, and ESPN launched just before I turned sixteen. When CNN started broadcasting the following year, I watched the first 24-hours without a break; enthralled that the world was now only a satellite linkup away. I don’t remember what year I got my first email account and scrolled through the World Wide Web via a dial-up modem, but back then, LGBTQ and BDSM information was very hard to find.

Every generation lays claim to the title of ‘Most Changes’, but for Baby Boomers such as myself, the sheer speed of social change playing out in live streaming color, belies the fact that—as Virginia Woolf wrote—fluid gender has always been a part of human existence. The acceptance of others who are different than us, is up to each individual. Who would have guessed that starting a blog eleven years ago would have led to discovering my true identity? But here I am, a straight Dom male, with a bi switch female always hovering around peering over my shoulder. I accept who we are.

So does she.

Attention!

I finished a book last week—I read at least a dozen books a week—called, Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs Of Legendary Ace Robin Olds. If you’re interested in the history of fighter pilots in WWII or Vietnam from an American perspective, then I can recommend this non-fiction book. This essay however, is not about any of the details of war, nor about Robin’s lifelong battle against the military hierarchy and political stupidity he blamed for losing Vietnam and costing countless lives, but about discipline.

From December 1967, to January 1971, he served as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy. On page 358 [the softback edition] is the following paragraph:

Some people saw a paradox in the notion of a maverick fighter pilot instilling discipline in the Corp of Cadets. Many thought fighter pilots were probably the most unruly, undisciplined bunch of people in the military. Complete nonsense, of course. Every aspect of a fighter pilot’s life demands strict discipline. Flying itself takes discipline. It is, in fact, both the end result of highly disciplined training and the constant application, through self-discipline, of the lessons of that training. I have a pet definition of discipline: It’s what makes a person do the right and proper thing under many different circumstances. That doesn’t mean by sheer instinct or innate ability, it means through knowledge gained by life experience, training and learned judgement. If discipline were instinctive, I wouldn’t be needed as commandant. To do the right thing moment to moment, a person needs to analyze and judge a situation correctly, make the right decision for the proper course of action, and then take that action. All these steps require discipline and training.

Now obviously Robin wasn’t taking about D/s, but his definition works quite well in terms of BDSM and all the various ways we interact in relationships. Doms and subs have to learn discipline, together and separate, so that each time life seems to throw the D/s off-course, there is a base of ever expanding knowledge to draw upon.
Many different posts from many different Doms and subs I’ve read recently, have a common theme of feeling lost, or overwhelmed by forces outside of their control. Not to be trite or make light of reality, but life sucks some of the time for everyone. I don’t claim to have any answers to any metaphysical questions D/s may raise, but I do know this: Love and respect go a long way when discipline becomes a matter of personal intimacy.

Justify my shame

We all have addictive personalities to some extent. It used to be thought that addiction was a moral failing found most often in the lower classes. Abuse of alcohol and drugs were the reasons that the poor stayed poor and uneducated due to bad blood. Studies have found though that addiction is 50% genetic and 50% poor coping skills. Because of the social stigma attached to addiction, most people don’t seek help until it’s too late. Even if assistance is available, the shame that is drilled into us by parents, teachers and religious institutions, make the guilt so overwhelming that most addicts believe they deserve to suffer.

Addiction vulnerability is the genetic, physiological, or psychological predisposition to engage in addictive behaviors. Source: Wikipedia

For a long time, too long, I considered my need for D/s and spanking to be an addiction; thus shameful and the ultimate source of my guilt. I justified that need by saying to myself, I could stop at any time, it was only words and pictures. It wasn’t like I was actually hurting anyone.

That all started to change twelve years ago when I crawled up out of my self-imposed and self-created oubliette. When I began blogging—for non-D/s reasons—I gradually connected with many others who enjoyed spanking and BDSM and weren’t shy about stating their interest.

I discovered healthier ways of coping with my needs and today, I can finally state with conviction, that my need to spank and dominate is not shameful or weak or perverted. I am not addicted to D/s: D/s makes me a better person by holding myself accountable for my actions towards others.

I can give respect to all my readers and friends, because I can now be respectful towards my own desires. I want to spank. I want to be a Dom. There is no longer any reason to justify my shame.

Don’t forget to laugh

If there is one 52-second video that sums up what Lurv Spanking is all about, it’s this one.

This week’s essay is inspired by this article: 4 Signs That You Are Your Own Worst Enemy, in the August, 2017 issue of Oprah Magazine. I wanted to pull two paragraphs from Martha Beck’s essay that summed up the focus for me.

“Take the spotlight off yourself by learning the 20-40-60 rule. It’s a bit of folk wisdom that goes like this: At age 20, you’re sure everyone’s thinking about you. By the time you’re 40, you’re starting to care less that people are thinking about you. And when you hit 60, you realize the truth: No one was ever thinking about you. People are generally so busy being their own worst enemy that they don’t even notice your flaws.”

“A war against yourself can never be won; the only true victory happens when you lay down your arms and befriend the enemy. And if you can make peace with yourself, you’ll find the whole world becomes a kinder, gentler place.”

This a continuation of sorts from my previous essay “Breaking the martyr inside”, where I talked about the ways we harm ourselves with the best of intentions. Martha writes about how we are constantly warring with all those flaws—external and internal—that most people never even notice. It quickly becomes both a habit and self-filling prophecy to beat up ourselves for all our perceived shortcomings.

There is a difference of course, between those things we despise because we don’t have a perfect ass being bounced upon by a cute kitty, and genuinely harmful behaviors we should change or outgrow. Having a caring Dom can go a long way towards disarming the verbal hand grenades we lob at inopportune times, but unlike in real life, our ammunition called self-loathing, never runs out.

So laugh my friends. None of us are perfect. No matter how obedient and docile we appear on the outside, no amount of spanking and discipline can erase decades of mistakes; unless, and until, you open up that storage container and make love to your inner humanity.

Practicing a D/s diet

Hi y’all, it’s getting toward the end of the summer, and back-to-school adverts have already started. After working so hard to create a swimsuit body—cough-cough, yeah, right—it would be shame to gorge on carbs as the nights grow shorter. In the June, 2017 issue of GQ, there is an article called How to Fast: A guide for the Hungry Man. The author lays out two types of fasts. The 16:8 diet and the 5:2.

How It Works: the 16:8 plan. For an eight hour window a day, you eat however you normally do. For the other 16, fast. You can drink water, black coffee, and herbal tea. That’s it. You’re giving your body time to digest.

How It Works: the 5:2 plan. For five days a week, eat normally. For the other two, “fast” by limiting yourself to 600 calories a day. (And yes, booze counts.) A typical breakfast: a slice of ham and two scrambled eggs. Dinner is a protein-packed chicken salad.

By Jeff Vrabel: If you somehow stick with it, you’ll join a lineage of fasters dating back to Aristotle and Plato, who proved that even humanity’s deepest philosophers sweat their beach bodies. Fasting may actually put us closer to our natural state; some experts think humans aren’t designed for three squares a day and that we mistakenly regard mild hunger as an emergency. Which is why, although our loinclothed ancestors only ate when they brought down a mastodon, we invented Doritos Locos Tacos.

Naturally, this got me wondering, what if D/s wasn’t 24/7, but restricted to either one of these fasts? As a Dom, you could only be in charge for eight hours a day. If you decide that sleep is not part of the hours, then that would leave you roughly eight out of sixteen awake hours to dominate your submissive. It could be breakfast to mid-afternoon; mid-morning to dinner; or mid-afternoon to bedtime. With only eight consecutive hours of D/s a day, how would you work around work? Use text and calls and pass on the physical for a day? It’s not so farfetched when you consider that if you take away sleep and work time, most people only have a 4 to 6 hour window in any case. Toss in a family, and that time slivers to minutes. Would a scheduled time work better?

The other plan, 5:2, is what I think most D/s couples+ would likely choose. Work is no longer M-F 9-to-5, but skipping all D/s twice a week, doesn’t sound all that bad when you consider that some days nothing happens anyway. This would take the pressure off in terms of feeling let down that there was no play time or spanking. The downside is deciding whether to take a two-day break, with five on, or some pattern where the breaks are further apart. Constantly starting and stopping may seem a hardship at first, but it may also ratchet up the intensity knowing that if time is wasted, then the wait will make the next on day feel more precious. So, any takers for a D/s diet?