Fly Commando!

TSA Checkpoint A couple days ago, disgusted (as everyone should be) with the TSA’s current policy of sexual abuse at the screening stations (your choice: nude photos or sexual assault), I tweeted this:

After this and similar, I’m almost disappointed I’m not flying soon. I’d wear my kilt. Commando. Grope away, sucker!

It seems I’m not the only one who’s had this idea….

From TSA Opt-Out Day, Now with a Superfantastic New Twist! – Jeffrey Goldberg – National – The Atlantic:

It’s a one-word idea: Kilts. Think about it — if you’re a male, and you want to bollix-up the nonsensical airport security-industrial complex, one way to do so would be to wear a kilt. If nothing else, this will cause TSA employees to throw up their hands in disgust. If you want to go the extra extra mile, I suggest commando-style kilt-wearing. While it is probably illegal to fly without pants, I can’t imagine that it’s illegal to fly without underpants.  I If you are Scottish, or part Scottish, or know someone who is Scottish, or eat Scottish salmon, or enjoy Scotch, or have a vestigial affection for “Braveheart” despite Mel Gibson, you can plausibly claim some sort of multicultural diversity privilege — the term “True Scotsman” refers to soldiers who honor their tradition and heritage by wearing kilts without drawers underneath.

For the record, I always fly wearing a Utilikilt, and as with any time I wear a kilt, unless there’s some situation that demands otherwise, I generally do go commando. Hey, it’s comfortable, and under normal circumstances, there’s little to no likelihood that anyone’s going to be seeing anything they don’t want to. It’s never been a problem — quite the opposite, in fact, I usually just breeze through the metal detectors.

This past summer, though, as I was flying up to Anchorage from Seattle, I was pulled aside after going through the metal detector for a patdown. I was surprised, especially when the TSA screener told be that I was pulled aside specifically because I wore the kilt. My best guess is that because they can’t eyeball the shape of your upper legs as easily as when wearing pants, it’s marginally more likely that I could have something dangerous but non-metallic strapped to my upper/inner thigh. If that was the reasoning (they didn’t say), it does make me wonder if they regularly pull women wearing skirts aside for the extra pat-down, or if they reserve that treatment for men in skirts. Obviously, weirdos like us are far more likely to be dangerous.

The pat-down itself was about what I’d expect of a normal pat-down — thorough enough, with a quick run of the hands up my legs and under the kilt, but not so thorough that the screener knew whether or not I was commando. No fondling was involved, though there was a cursory brush-down of the front of the kilt that jostled things around a bit. A bit surprising, but at the time, I just shrugged it off.

No more of that, though. While I’m not flying anytime soon, if all of this ridiculousness is still going on when I do have to fly somewhere, I’m definitely opting out, and they just better do their jobs. If they’re determined to sexually assault me, then I’m at least going to get my money’s worth!

(via @jackwilliambell‘s retweet of @furf; image via BoingBoing via Oleg Volk)

In Which I Write Some Clever Poetry

This morning, the Utilikilts fan page on Facebook started a limerick thread, with only one rule: no mention of blue ribbons. When I started reading what other people had submitted, I was amused by the rather loose interpretation of the limerick form many were using. Though usually close, many were straying from the strict A/A/B/B/A 8/8/5/5/8 meter, and one person even used a haiku form instead.

So, I decided to have a little fun with my submission….

Utilikits started a thread
of clever limericks to be read.
The meter’s confusing
so many were using
a hodgepodge of styles instead!

I’m rather proud of that, and so far, I’ve received nine ‘likes’ and one limerick(-ish) response praising my snark. Not bad!

Geek Appreciation

Things I love about the geek community: within the first half hour of Saturday’s Norwescon planning meeting, I was complimented on my shoes (black converse with a white “hawaiian monkey skull” design that looks vaguely Grateful Dead-ish), my belt (the Utilikilts airplane belt), and my shirt (Frakkin’ Toasters). The utilikilt, however, was too everyday and normal for this crowd to be worthy of mention. This greatly amused me.

(I actually did get a compliment on the Utilikilt as well, toward the end of the meeting. This left only my socks and undershirt as uncomplimented wardrobe items by the time I left. I may not be a conventional dresser, but apparently I’m a pretty snappy dresser…at least by geek standards!)

Also: regular slips when mentioning URLs and e-mail addresses due to the recent change from a .net to a .org address, with accompanying cries of “ORG…(asm)…!” from the peanut gallery. The only meeting I’ve ever been to with that many public (dot)org(asmic) cries. Hilarious.

Also nice: a meeting that not only progresses on schedule, but ends a full hour earlier than planned. Impressive organization, and a nice job of keeping the meeting on track even with fairly regular outbreaks of geeky silliness and rabble rousing.

This is my first year getting involved with Norwescon beyond showing up and snapping pictures, and I think it’s going to be a fun experience.

Hello Fellow Utilikiltarians!

The sketch that Shari did of me in one of my Utilikilts was just featured in this month’s anti-catalogue newsletter!

Here’s the relevant excerpt, off of page four, which also shows off some sketches done of fellow kilted photographer Joe Hunt, a.k.a. Photognome:

Next up, we have a certain Mr. Michael Hanscom, a ponytailed (but maybe not for long!) Seattle resident with a penchant for Star Trek. Michael’s most recent contact with us included an idea for a custom Utilikilt* (one which unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, didn’t get off the ground). After chatting for a bit back and forth, he shared the following sketch that he commissioned of himself (Artwork by Shari Chankhamma.)

(Sketch redacted because, well, it is plastered all over this website…)

His only requirement for the sketch was that he be wearing his Utilikilt*. What a fabulous piece of art!

Michael was in attendance at the recent Norwescon here in Seattle, and you can see his pictures and read more about his adventures here.

Nice! I’d originally dropped Jenneviere a line via Facebook to let her know about the sketch, and we ended up having a nice little chat. Apparently she’s been keeping tabs on me since then, as evidenced by the mentions of Norwescon (of which I’m still processing photographs from, but you can see what’s up so far in a few sets in my Cons and Conventions collection) and the soon-to-be-disappearing ponytail. ;)

If there’s anyone stopping by thanks to the mention in the Anti-Catalogue…howdy! Some of you local to the Seattle area may have seen me around from time to time, and if you’re hosting photographs on Flickr, you may have had me bug you to contribute photos to the Utilikilts fans Flickr group, which I’ve been moderating for a couple years now.

Good to (virtually) “meet” all of you, and thanks to Jenneviere and the rest of the crew at Utilikilts for the kind mention and the awesome clothing!

The Norwescon Outfit I Didn’t Make

…because I have been short on time, money, initiative, know-how, or various combinations of all of the above.

What I wanted to do: prove that Starfleet’s more advanced mindset extended to sexual discrimination and choices in clothing. Just because all we’ve seen so far is slacks for men and women and (mini)skirts on women, I’m sure that doesn’t mean that that’s all there is.

(Note: actually, in first season TNG, there were a few men in unbifurcated uniforms, as evidenced by this Wikipedia mention and this slightly confused fan. However, these ‘skant‘ uniforms pretty much disappeared by the second season.)

The USS Utilikilt
The USS Utilikilt
The plan: customize a TOS Starfleet tunic and an Original Utilikilt (or even Workman’s or Survival, but those were even further out of my theoretical budget) with the logo you see to the right.

In order to find a way to work in the Utilikilts logo, I figured the uniform would have to be TOS style, when the insignia within the delta shield changed depending on the ship the crewmember was assigned to and before the standardization on the Enterprise’s ‘starburst’ central insignia. I wanted to use this design to create a custom patch in color (with the traditional gold background) for the tunic, plus one in black and white to go on the rear pocket of the Utilikilt.

Unfortunately, a number of things got in the way of completing (or even starting on) this project, from simply not having the money to drop on the tunic, a new Utilikilt, or having the custom patches made (and this was before I got laid off), to the Utilikilts people being swamped with work and unable to work on a custom kilt request at that time.

Still, this is what I wanted to do for this year’s Norwescon…and, to be honest, I still think it’d be fun to do it at some point in the future. I don’t know (and, to be honest, kind of doubt) if I’ll ever get around to it, but it’s fun to have it rattling around in my head.

Dear Abby and Utilikilts

Last December, Dear Abby heard from a gent who’s found he’s far more comfortable in skirts than pants, and was looking for advice on how to deal with his unsupportive family. In yesterday’s column, she passes on lots of words of encouragement from others who’ve escaped the tyranny of trousers, and specifically mentions a certain local menswear company

I heard from men and women across the United States and beyond who wrote supporting Joe in his decision to wear skirts. Many of them suggested he contact Utilikilts, a company based in Seattle, which manufactures a line of kilts for the modern man. Read on…

It should come as no surprise that I wholeheartedly support her in this.

25 Random Things Meme

Oh, alright already. Naysayers be damned, here’s my entry into the ‘twenty-five random things about you’ meme that’s currently flying around Facebook (and, to a limited extent, creeping out into the rest of the blog world). Some of these, people will know. Others…perhaps not.

Though I’ve been ‘tagged’ to do this by a few people on Facebook, I will not be ‘tagging’ anyone else. As with all memes, if you want to do this, do it. If you don’t, don’t. I won’t be bugging you about it either way.

  1. I knew a serial killer. When I was a kid, Robert Hansen, a.k.a. the “Butcher, Baker” serial killer, lived on the same street as our church’s priest. My brother and I and Father Schmidt’s kids would go over to play with Hansen’s son. I don’t really remember this, and only found out because, while idly leafing through mom’s copy of Butcher, Baker, I saw a photo of the basement where Hansen did some of his killing and mentioned that it was a creepy looking room. Mom then glanced up at me and said quite calmly, “Yes, you never did like it down there.”

  2. I spent a number of years — nearly a decade, if I remember correctly — singing in the Alaska Children’s Choir. Actually, when I started, it was two separate organizations: the Anchorage Girls Choir, which had been in existence for a few years, and the Anchorage Boys Choir, of which I was one of the first members. A few years later the two merged into the Anchorage Girls and Boys Choir, then became the Anchorage Children’s Choir, and finally settled as the Alaska Children’s Choir.

  3. I played the violin (never terribly well, as practicing was never high on my list of things to do) from Elementary through High School. I’ve often wished that I’d gone for the cello rather than the violin, as I much prefer its tone, and might have stuck with it longer and more conscientiously.

  4. I’m starting to regret starting this post, as I’m only on item number four, and I’ve likely already typed more than most people do for their entire 25 things list.

  5. My online pseudonym, “djwudi,” is a somewhat bastardized onlineification (yes, that is a word) of “DJ Wüdi,” which for a number of years was my offline pseudonym.

  6. I was given the nickname of “Woody” as a child by Royce‘s father, who declared that I looked “like a young Woody Allen.” I started using it regularly around the end of my High School years, when I got tired of there being multiple Michaels in nearly every classroom. I didn’t return to going by Michael on a regular basis until I moved down to Seattle in 2001.

  7. As may be guessed from the “DJ” part of my pseudonym, I was once a DJ. I spent close to a decade playing for various clubs in Anchorage, the most well-known being The Lost Abbey and Gig’s Music Theatre. Both were all-ages, non-alcoholic dance clubs that catered primarily to the punklings, gothlings, ravers, and street kids running around Anchorage.

  8. “Wüdi” comes from Royce and I horsing around and creating a bastardized pseudo-Germanic form for my nickname.

  9. In my teen years, I went through a brief period of light shoplifting. The items my itchy little fingers went after? Books. The ones I can remember now were a leatherbound, gilt edged edition of a Batman graphic novel, and a selection of paperbacks from the Erotica section that onetime Alaskan bookseller The Book Cache used to have conveniently close to the door. Most were by the surprisingly busy author Anonymous, though I did at one point end up with a copy of John Cleland’s Fanny Hill. All of these ill-gotten goods are either lost, stolen, or somewhere at my parents’ house, as they’re not on my current bookshelves.

  10. I spent something over a decade more or less avoiding television. I would probably still be a snobby “Kill your TV” evangelist were it not for Prairie, who has managed convince me that while yes, the commercials do have an unfortunate tendency to make you want to claw your eyes out, some of the shows are actually quite enjoyable to watch.

  11. If I could ditch all of my pants and stick completely with a selection of Utilikilts, I would. Unfortunately, neither my job nor the lack of insulation on my skinny bod will allow me to do so, so while at work and during chilly months, I put up with wearing pants.

  12. I’m running out of time to get this finished before Prairie gets home.

  13. I’m a person of habit, at times very likely bordering on slight OCD. I had not noticed this until Prairie started pointing out all the things I do just so every time, from how I make my lunches in the morning to how I lace and tie my boots. Now it’s a combination of amusing and annoying when I catch myself.

  14. One of the areas where my anal retentiveness is most evident is my iTunes library. At the moment, my library is about as organized as I can realistically manage it. There are areas where I’d like it to be more organized — the ‘Composer’ metadata field, for instance, is in absolutely horrid shape, generally speaking — but I can control the impulse to keep tweaking. Maybe.

  15. I was once told by a group of girls at one of the clubs I was DJing at that I “did good things for the Macarena” when I came out to dance to it. During the height of the songs popularity I’d put it on (hey, I was getting requests…and besides, I have a weakness for “bubblegum” pop, no matter what the era), hop out of the DJ booth, and do the dance. Of course, the dance itself is really simple, so to really have fun with it, you need a few improvisations and embellishments, a bit more sway in the hips…. Apparently whatever I did was worth doing, because this group would stop dancing and gather to watch every time. Good for the ego, no matter how silly it was.

  16. As expected, I ran out of time midway through the preceding paragraph. It’s now twelve hours later, and we’ll see if I can finish this before I have to head off to work.

  17. I am constitutionally incapable of saying something in five words when it can be said in fifty…or fifty, when it can be said in five hundred. It’s a trait that I share with Dad. Before I settled on naming my blog ‘Eclecticism,’ it spent about a year or so titled ‘The Long Letter’, after a quote attributed to Pascal: “Please excuse such a long letter — I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

  18. While I tend to identify as (a somewhat lazy) Episcopalian and liberal Democrat, my socio-political-religious views can in many ways be summed up by the Wiccan credo that has always stuck in my mind as, “An’ it harm none, do as ye will.” Do what you want with whom you want for however many twinkies you want…as long as you’re not bugging anyone else in the process. If everyone involved is all cool and copacetic, great! More power to you. But the moment you’re involving someone against their will (and this is a pretty broad category, from secondhand smoke or overly loud music all the way to emotional or physical assault), that’s not cool.

  19. I haven’t even quite made it to number twenty, and I’m running out of interesting stuff to put in here.

  20. No matter how silly I know it is, I’ve always been a little bummed that I was never able to parlay my 15 minutes of fame into some form of job running around as one of the Seattle technorati. I’m not even sure what kind of job that would be or how I could have done it, but it would’ve been nice if my notoriety had actually led to something better, instead of just being an extended blip of insanity and then fading back into obscurity.

  21. Wall calendars are useless to me. The calendar currently on the wall of my office is currently displaying October of 2008, and the only reason it even got changed to that month (back when that was the month) was because Prairie did it for me.

  22. Somewhat related to the last point, I’m often incredibly absent minded. I tend to find it obnoxious and occasionally slightly depressing; Prairie, while not immune to being sometimes inconvenienced and annoyed by it, overall (rather amazingly) manages to find it amusing and a little charming — kind of an “absent minded professor” thing. I just consider myself lucky that she sees it that way.

  23. I find that getting out and “going bouncing” — socializing and dancing at one of the local goth/industrial clubs — is just as important to me as quiet alone time is for recharging and keeping me on an even keel. As nice as quiet nights at home are, I need to get out and go bounce around for a while every so often or I get a little stir crazy. Mom once told me about an alternative description of ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ that believe comes into play here: while I’m in many ways the classic introvert, this tendency to use social occasions to ‘recharge’ gives me some definite extrovert tendencies.

  24. Again, somewhat related to the last point: while I was too shy to express it much during my high school years, once I came out of my shell in my very late teens and early twenties, it became obvious that I was a shameless and incorrigible flirt. This has shown no signs of letting up to this day.

  25. In a way, I have Royce to thank for my meeting Prairie. Many years ago, he and Jana Herd combined every abnormal fetish, -philia, and -phobia they could come up with into one single phobia: “Pseudocoitoxenohematomysonecropyrobestio-acroclaustro-ochlohydrophobia: The fear of being forced to pretend to have sex with the unfamiliar bloody infected corpse of a flaming animal at 15,000 feet in a small crowded wading pool.” This has provided entertainment for me for years.

    During late ’90’s and early 2000’s, I spent a lot of time in the Yahoo! chat rooms, and one of the chat names I used was a version of the above phobia, edited down to fit the Yahoo! profile name length limitations: pyropedonecrobestiality. One day in 2001 after moving to Seattle, while I was hanging out in the Seattle chat rooms under that name, Prairie saw me, and decided that anyone who’d come up with a name like that had to have a sense of humor and at least two brain cells to rub together, and she said hello. A friendship was formed, and things progressed from there.

    So: I owe my relationship to publicly professing an urge to copulate with the dead, flaming corpses of young animals (and I bet that that’s a phrase you never expected to read) — which itself traces back to Royce.

Okay. I’m done. Uff-da.