March 2019

Contractual obligations

I’m on vacation again.  But this time I’m using up my vacation days before I lose them from not using them. [Say that 5 times fast]  It’s something I go through every year around this time, due to the fact through my work I’m due 4 weeks of time off yearly.  Technically it’s 160 hours of vacation and 24 hours of personal time.  According to the union contract, (fortunately) it doesn’t have to be taken a week at a time (40 hours).  I can use it sparingly, or in larger chunks.  However, due to the nature of where I work and how short-handed we are (didn’t use to be this way), if I were to try to take off 2 weeks at a time, there would be several peeved off managerial types.  So I make every effort not to rock the boat in that aspect.

It just so happened that this week coincided with monthly inventory, so in theory this could have been a problem taking the time off.  The department manager prefers to have me present for inventory, so I make it a point to be at his beck and call and keep things on the level.  Consequently, this week I worked Sunday & Monday and took off the rest of the week for 3 vacation days and my normal 2 days off.  Next week I have 2 days of vacation and 2 days off, then back to work on April 4-7 to round out the week.  So, 9 days total.

As with all my other vacations, I have lofty plans, which usually almost never come to fruition.  If someone were to give out awards for laziness, procrastination and stubbornness in not getting things done, I’d have a basketful.  Certainly much to the chagrin of the wife, and my slave.  I’m not always spot on with keeping my promises, even if initially they’re made with good intentions.  As always, something to work on.


This morning while I was scanning through blogs I’ve started to follow, I came across one entry where the owner of the blog was railing about the necessity for contracts in BDSM.  Not just railing mind you, but making it quite clear that she believed they were essential for any BDSM relationship to be successful.  Furthermore she seemed quite convinced that the Fifty Shades model of contracts was the best one to be used.  Add in a link to a PDF she’d created with the contract in question (blank of course), and I suppose I shouldn’t have been too shocked to find there were a litany of responders to the post all pretty much agreeing with her.

Honestly, I couldn’t just let that one go.  Had to put my own take on it, though when I looked through the homepage of the blog, it hasn’t been updated since January, so it’s entirely possible my comment is falling on deaf ears.  Furthermore, since all comments to the blog are moderated, it would have to be approved in order to be seen by someone from the outside.

4 days down, 5 to go.

Sometimes there’s just not enough Motrin

This past fall I was informed by my web hosting company that they were upgrading their servers, and would eventually be moving all the accounts that they host to a new upgraded platform.  The process was going to take the better part of 6-8 months, and when the time came for my account to be moved, I’d be informed by email.  Well, that time arrived last week, and I received the rather lengthy email with a veritable mountain of information.  I have more than a few domains that I’ve purchased over the years, and many of those domains also have sub-domains (like this blog for instance).

It’s not enough that they’re going to be moving/upgrading the hosting, they’re upgrading/moving the emails associated with the accounts as well.  Since I use Mozilla’s Thunderbird program for corralling my emails, I had to do a little surgery on how the program interacts with the server to collect them.  That was the easy part.  The difficulty came when the respective domains were moved to the new server. 

On the previous server, when you set up your domain, it was pretty straightforward.  If you wanted to upload (FTP) your site, you designed your pages and uploaded them right to the main directory of your website.  Bim bam boom, easy.  With the new system, you have to use a sub-directory that they’ve installed called ‘public_html‘.  All of your files are now there.  One extra step.  For a normal everyday website that’s not a problem, because the way they set it up internally.  If one were to type in http://www.website.com, the server forwards the subdirectory’s contents to the main, and you see the website that you wanted to view.  As I discovered, it doesn’t work that way with WordPress.

Basically, it took me the better part of 2 nights to resurrect this blog, because of the problem with the subdirectory.  Add in the fact that my hosting server is in Germany, so there’s a 5-6 hour time difference depending on when they enact Daylight Savings Time.  Too, their troubleshooters primarily speak German, not English, so everything has to go through a translator.  Finally (there’s always one more thing, right?) the database that WordPress relies on for much of the nuts and bolts of how it works was missing.  I emailed the server troubleshooters several times about it and they finally sent me a screenshot of the old server, in my account, and it wasn’t there either.  Referenced to in the WordPress admin file, but the database was just gone.  Or, at least I thought it was.  After looking a little closer at the details of all the databases, I discovered that the one I was looking for was there, but for some inexplicable reason, the identifying code had changed.  Another cup of tea, a little more angst, and some time spent working with the Vaultpress people associated with Jetpack, and I had it all humming again.  It’s still running a bit sluggish a week later, but it’s working.  And that’s what’s important.

Haggle or no haggle

As I’ve mentioned more times than I care to count, I love shopping for BDSM toys.  But I also like a good bargain when I can see one, or create a deal from someone offering something that they no longer have a use for.  About 90% of the time, I pull the trigger and manage to come away with something useable, and acceptable in price to both sides.  Today, that didn’t happen.  I’m a bit sorry it didn’t, both for me and for the seller, but sometimes you just can’t come to an agreement on price.

This all took place on Fetlife, where I tend to haunt the Kinky Items for Sale and similar groups for bargains.  This morning I happened to notice a new post from someone in NY saying that they’re in the midst of spring cleaning and want to part with some of their toy collection.  “Great!” I think to myself.  “Let’s see what they’re offering.”

It’s a small list, but at least there are references to pictures on their profile.  Anymore, people who list items forget that a picture really is worth a thousand words.  There’s so much more to see in a picture of what you’re offering than you can accurately describe in words.  I click over to their profile and look over the proffered pictures.  Already I can see there are interesting items that I might have an interest in.  A pair of heavy leather padded restraints with locking buckles, a pair of interestingly designed wooden paddles, that are described as being made from tiger maple.  Hmm, never heard of that type of wood before.  But maple is a hardwood, and anything that’s crafted from it will be hardy and sturdy.  The last item was a quirt, or what some might call a dragontail.  The seller was calling it a mini-whip, in that it only has two ‘tails’ off of the main belly of the whip.

Of all the prices that the seller was listing, about the only one that seemed out of whack was the padded cuffs.  2 wrist cuffs for $100 seemed a bit much.  The nice part about the listing was that the seller did seem interested in haggling since she put at the end of her listing in larger red type OR BEST OFFER.  That to me suggested that she wasn’t quite as firm in her preferences of price than she was listed originally.  It’s good when there’s wiggle room. 

I thought to myself about how much I should offer for all the items I was interested in.  When I mentally tallied up what she was asking, I found it to be $180.  I thought $150 might be acceptable as a counter-offer, and since I was going to be paying for the shipping, that might add in another $10-15 to the price.  I typed up a message through Fetlife’s communication system, sent it off and went about my day.  About 2 in the afternoon I checked my messages and sure enough, there was a reply.  Though not quite the reply I was expecting.  She didn’t seem to think much of my counter-offer.  She stated that all the items I was interested in were going to be $200, not $180 like she’d listed.  Eh?

I thought about the reply before writing back.  It could be that she’d added in the shipping and came to the total of $200 that way, or maybe there was some other hanky-panky going on.  In my reply, I reiterated that she’d clearly stated prices and that there was wiggle room in them when she’d stated that best offers would be accepted.  However, if she wasn’t interested in being flexible, then I wasn’t really interested in overpaying for her used items.  Popped off the message and had a reply within about 20 minutes.  She confirmed that the price she’d quoted had included the shipping.  No wiggle room, she was being firm.  Too, she informed me that she had originally paid $300 for the cuffs, so she believed she was making someone a good bargain.  Personally, at that point, I honestly believe someone had sold her some magic beans if they charged her that much for 2 locking leather restraints.  No matter what sort of leather they might be made of.  None of which I’d mentioned to her, I didn’t wish to be rude.  I made my final reply saying I was no longer interested.

All in all, I think I made the right decision.  Don’t get me wrong, I really would have liked to have everything I originally mentioned, but the prices were just too out of range for what I would feel comfortable paying.  Yes, there have been times when I’ve overpaid for items, but as I recall, it was because of who had made the items in question, they were established artisans so the prices might have been considered a little excessive by some, but as with things like a painting by Picasso, you don’t get it for a song, you get it for what the market will bear.  Even if the finished product is basically canvas and ink.

Better luck next time!

Almost forgot.  I did a little research on tiger maple and discovered it’s not anything really special, it’s a by-product of red maple, just sometimes how the striations are in the wood when it’s cut.  It’s also called ‘flame maple’ because of the stripes.  So in theory, I could make my own paddle with the woodworking tools that my father left me.  Something to be aware of.  Interesting factoid.

Collar 2.0, revisited

Last year I made a foray into collaring my slave.  Given that we’re separated by 3 states here in the US, and she has a job where she interacts with the public a great deal, initially we had decided on something that was, or could be ‘mistaken’ for something less than it actually was.  Unlike fiction, anything can be considered a ‘collar’, per se.  With a previous submissive, we settled on an ‘Eternity’ cuff, a steel circlet that could be made semi-permanent by the fact that it was secured with a screw.  If I had kept the allen wrench that controlled the screw, then (at least in theory), I could control when it was on and when it was off.  If my submissive were creative, and wishing to be ‘bad’, she could get an allen wrench on her own and remove it if she wished.  But we didn’t have that sort of relationship, she honored the cuff as well as the symbolism which it engendered, and I allowed her to have a wrench in case it needed to come off for some reason, unforseen by either of us.  And it worked, for as long as the relationship lasted.  I still have the cuff, she returned it to me about 6 months after we parted ways.

For my current charge, after searching high and low for the ‘right’ collar, I found an artisan on Etsy that crafted jewelry that was both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.  Granted the artisan in question lives/works in Russia, so getting something from her was going to take some time.  Too, since my slave informed me that she doesn’t so much like a necklace/collar that rides too high on her throat, I had to have a longer than normal version of the collar crafted to accommodate her needs.  All in all it took a little less than a month from the time that I initially contacted the artisan, to the time when the collar arrived in my mailbox.  Fortunately, it coincided with my trip to visit with my girl in Pennsylvania last year and during a little ceremony in our hotel room, I presented her with it and she began wearing it as close to 24/7 as she could.

But then tragedy struck.  The collar was lost during a trip she had made to a local (for her) beach.  To her credit, once it was discovered as missing she immediately went back to the place where she had been (it was close to the middle of the night) to search for it, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be found.  Needless to say, I was less than pleased.  I paid a good amount of money for it, and in the space of a couple of months, it was gone.  Just like that.  I have to admit, it was the first anything of that nature that a submissive of mine lost.  Considering that it was only in her possession for a little over a month, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get something else in the same vein.

It’s now been seven months since the last collar escaped.  In that time we’ve had several conversations about ‘when is she going to get a new collar‘.  As before, it’s not an easy answer because it’s not an insignificant investment.  Especially since we now can confirm something that can be removed can easily be lost.  So in spite of the fact that she has a preference for something that’s loose around her throat, I’m thinking that it’s going to be my preference this time, that it be something that’s difficult to remove.  Not impossible, since we’re separated by mileage and hours, but something that requires invested effort to remove.

So, the main purveyors in this genre are Eternity and ROS (Ring Of Steel).  (There’s also Damax on the continent, but due to shipping issues and overseas exchange rates I’m mainly concentrating on domestic suppliers) ROS has a version that’s they refer to as a ‘Stealth’ collar, in that it’s only 1/4″ diameter steel tubing.  Consequently, it tends to be less noticeable, or allows it to fade into the background, as it were.  Of course, as I’ve noticed over the years, it’s usually the person themselves that either call attention to something or not, depending on how they wear it.  If the wearer treats the item as an extension of themselves, then others don’t necessarily look at the item as something unusual. If it’s the reverse, and they’re uncomfortable with it, then it tends to get noticed more often.

In order to do this right of course, I need an accurate measurement (again).  We have a visit planned for the end of April or the beginning of May, so I can get her neck measured and if I’m completely certain, I can send off the order to whichever business I determine is going to give me the best bang for my buck, as well as can have it completed in a fair amount of time.  Small time artisans don’t work on an assembly line, they’re not putting out wares for the masses, at least you hope they’re not.  As the old saw goes; Quality vs. Quantity.

There will be updates.  This isn’t the final decision.

Hit and Miss

Even though it’s been a good 8 months since I last played actively in BDSM, I’m still shopping for good bargains on toys.  Fetlife, Craigslist, Facebook (occasionally) and eBay remain good places to find items that others no longer need/want, new items from (online) storefronts at discounted prices, and items that can be repurposed if possible into additions for my toy collection.

Of course, when you do your shopping online, you run into occasional problems in descriptions, some are vague, others claim to be bigger or smaller than they actually are, so you have to be careful in what you’re offering, or agreeing to pay when the seller asks a certain price.

This week I purchased two steel restraints from two different sellers on eBay.  One is an established company down in Texas; Cuffstore.  They sell BDSM items mainly that are imported from Pakistan.  The steel restraints are generally stamped with the acronym KUB, which stands for ‘KUBind Industries‘ and they’ve been around for many years.  Fortunately, there are several US-based companies that do the importing from them, so one doesn’t necessarily have to deal with customs or items that are either lost in shipping or detained at the border.  Shipping internationally isn’t as easy as it used to be, due to changing political climates and so on.

The other restraint actually came from someone that I knew in passing from the old days on Compuserve.  (Small World) He has a fledgling business where he builds extremely pricey spanking benches.  He calls them ‘The Spankmeister‘.  I only managed to recognize who he was from the name that he used on eBay, it was unique and it caused me to remember him. Now I purchased a one-off spanking bench from someone in Oklahoma on eBay about 20 years ago.  As I recall I paid something like $65 for it, and another (don’t quote me) $40 in shipping as it came by bus.  Yes, it was placed on a bus in the luggage/storage bay and I picked it up at the local bus depot.  This fellow prices his bench at a staggering $1500 (USD) and claims that it’s worth every penny.  I have friends that received a prototype of his original design, they painted it purple (her favorite color) and it’s probably still sitting in their house in NH unless someone else is living there now.

Getting back to the topic, both of the restraints were delivered in the mail yesterday while I was at work. Upon coming home, I opened them, looked them over, did a little marveling at how they were constructed and so on, then tried them out. On me. Since I don’t have a model available to try things out on, and my girl is 3 states away, I tend to do my testing out with myself as the model. I figure the circumference of my wrist and/or ankle (depending) is in the same neighborhood as my girl, so if it doesn’t fit me, it’s unlikely to fit her. The KUB restraint is constructed a little differently than the black one, it has an oval shape that better accommodates the wrist, so it fits me ok. When I went to secure the black restraint, I discovered it’s about a 1/2 inch too small. Won’t come together without pinching my skin. Too, it doesn’t have the oval shape of the other, it’s merely a circle. As I’ve mentioned to my girl on multiple occasions, if something is too large, there are workarounds to pad her limbs to make it snugger. With steel, if it’s too small, that’s it…it’s too small. Of course, it can be repurposed into something else, like a spreader bar, or hung on the wall of the playspace for decoration, so it’s not as if I’m going to sell it. (Sorry nijntje)

Either way, I figure they’re both a good investment. I didn’t pay over and above what one would for similar products, and it should give me the sufficient happiness factor that I was aiming for when I initially made plans to buy them. Of course, the proof in the end is how well they work on my girl, since that’s who’s going to be wearing them for the majority of the time. So yes, there will be revisitation on this issue.