The Mailbag

As the creator of a large and fairly popular web site, I get a lot of mail….this is an unavoidable fact. Most of it is kind and complimentary and polite. Much of it is even interesting. Some of it is flat-out rude and filled with personal attacks. I am prepared for this. I express opinions. This is my right. People don’t always agree. This is THEIR right.

Sometimes, people are just plain nasty. An obsession with money will do that:

Jealousy can be an evil thing…Why don’t you start thinking a little… Maybe if you had the brains or wits to be a businessman, you could have an office overlooking the city as well. But since you don’t, you’ll just have to rot away in your apartment and complain about those yuppies who have probably worked their asses off to be where they are.

Kind of cute, isn’t it, that he assumes I WANT a sterile window office where I too can shit on all the little people who worked THEIR asses off to put me there. You can read the full text of this asshole’s rantings (including his assertion that he isn’t a racist) in the Loftomania Feedback section.

For monetary obsession, though, this snail mail takes the cake. Equifax, the large and efficient credit bureau and collection agency sent me a demand for payment. Seems I have a delinquent account at a local emergency care center, which has been referred to them for collection. It is imperative that I pay immediately or face fuher action.

The amount in question? Sixteen cents.

Is it any wonder people no longer have much faith in the American health care industry? Or that I’m starting to lose faith in my fellow man?

Sometimes there are people (as oppposed to corporations like Equifax) who clearly just DON’T GET IT. Case in point:

I hate to say this but this site was the worst Ive seen for state fairs. It did not mention the two most important facts: when the fair was, the article only mentioned sometime in August maybe, or how to get there. Also the pictures were horrible. it leads someone to think that the fair is attended by only bald white males. as im sure it does not.

Im sorry to say but I will not be visiting that site again. I hope no state funds were used in making this travesty, if it were Id be ashamed to be a citizen of California. Please next time if your doing this again to do some homework on your website and make it pleasing to all who might visit it.

Now let me get this straight. This guy is worried that I might get STATE FUNDS to write Planet SOMA? I wish. Obviously, he found the State Fair boy-watching article on a search engine and couldn’t understand that I do not now — nor have I ever — maintained the official California State Fair web site.

Hehe…”state funds”…that one still cracks me up…

Once in a while I get mail complaining about my “negative attitude”. As if a negative attitude was somehow bad:

I found your site to be unnecessarily negative about the area. Why do you live here if you hate it so badly? I think it’s nice and am happy that I’ve “taken the plunge”. I don’t mean to be harsh, but am just concerned that you may give people the wrong impression of SF and the bay area. Please reconsider some of the things that you say in your site, as there’s always a nicer way to put things.

Maybe I should just put a “San Francisco: Love it or leave it” sticker on my car too. I HATE this attitude. I sometimes point out weaknesses of the Bay Area; thus I apparently don’t deserve to live here. Give me a break! I point out problems BECAUSE I love it here. Why is it that New Yorkers get to bitch about their city all the time without having their “loyalty” questioned?

Besides, I ain’t the fucking Chamber of Commerce… Nor am I Bob Damron, provider of la-de-da always positive cookie cutter reviews. Apparently, this rubbed a reader of my bar reviews the wrong way:

The sad queen who wrote this article obviously can’t get her dick sucked anywhere and is mad at the world. Bitch bitch bitch. You wasted my time with the pointless and no too clever catty remarks. Hire a journalist.

I offered “Miss Thing” (seemed appropriate given the lingo of the message) a refund for all the money “she” spent visiting the site. Said refund was never claimed…

Two Years of Planet SOMA

Who woulda thunk it? I’m (a) typing my second anniversary “editorial” and (b) so busy these past two weeks or so that I almost missed it? I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this thing. I was just going to throw up a simple couple of vanity pages with some info about the City, a few dirty pictures, an abbreviated life story, etc. I thought it might get me some interesting email and might even get me laid on occasion.

I was right on both scores (especially the email part), but Planet SOMA turned out to have a little more profound effect than planned. To start with, there are now over 300 pages here. The dirty pictures and sex club info have become the part of the site I care least about and am teetering on the verge of retiring.

And almost a quarter of a million visits to the front page. Jeez…

In the process, I’ve met many interesting people (both in person and in text format), gone some very interesting places, and seen some…ummm…very interesting things. Planet SOMA has been featured on other web sites, in print, and even on a Canadian radio station. I even took the site “on the road” last summer all around the country.

It’s been fun, and thanks to all who have offered support and criticism/commentary, as well as places to sleep and guided tours on the road, not to mention the occasional dinner and cheap sex.

Oh, and the freelance stuff which has come in as a result has been a nice side benefit too, even thought it’s kept me away a good bit lately.

(NOTE: The actual start date of Planet SOMA was 13 January 1996. 2 March was celebrated as the anniversary for the first few years because of some milestone I’ve since forgotten, maybe the addition of the hot counter.)

The Year 2000 and Random Notes

As editor of the website Planet SOMA, I am tremendously worried about the phenomenon known as the “year 2000 problem”. I have been continually worried since at least the year 1990 or so. My worry is unrelated to the issues surrounding incorrect dates, etc. I’m more concerned about how we are to address the year 2000 once we hit the years 1999 or 2001.

Upto this point, we have treated the year 2000 with a certain reverence not extended to other years. After all, how often do you hear someone referring to “the year 1998” or “the year 1964” for example. I am concerned that once we hit the year 2000, we may become sloppy and start referring to it as simply “2000”. This, in my opinion, would be tragic.

Henceforth, I propose that (to be fair and consistent) all years be given their proper antecedents. No longer will the year 1998 be known as simply “1998”; we must be careful always to use the grammatically correct phrase “the year 1998”. Of course, we may still refer to past years as “the year formerly known as 1997” if we wish.

I ask for your help in this matter. The concept grammar is at stake.

Random notes du jour:

  • Chewing gum is exempt from sales tax in California as it is considered a “food”. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, is not. Clued into this tonight at Safeway.
  • It is now possible to get free beers from bartenders in California by offering them a drag off the cigarette you’re not supposed to be smoking at the bar to begin with.
  • Patty Duke playing Patty Duke in the last half hour of “The Patty Duke Story” on Lifetime is a pretty gosh-darn frightening thing. And I taped it just so I wouldn’t miss the ending. Which is even more frightening…
  • The body-piercing industry is not exempt from power-hungry shitbags. The decision this week by employees of Gauntlet to unionize is evidence of this fact. Five year “non-compete” clauses and “hole quotas” indeed…
  • Planet SOMA readers who go to the effort of meeting me face to face are damned fine people. Two instances this week have reminded me of this.
  • I really like the new comic strip “Zits”. Lately, I even like it more than “Dilbert”. This is sad.

Survey results:

The first 100 surveys are in, and these psychoSOMAtic rants are the number one “I’d like to see more of…” request. Color me honored. And color me impressed that the damn dirty pictures finished in a relatively lukewarm tie for third place, along side “Yer Humble Host and friends” and behind “SF information”. More results soon. Thanks to everyone who has already participated, especially the “you rule” voters.

Off to sleep now…

The Poll

I’ve been working on Planet SOMA for over two years now, believe it or not, even though the “official” grand opening date was 2 March 1996. One of these days, I guess it will be ready…

Actually, at the two year point, I’ve decided that things have gotten a bit cumbersome and that a bit of spring cleaning might be in order. The site now has well over 400 pages, some of which are glanced at no more than three or four times a week. I’m thinking it may be time to prune them back just a bit, since I’ve been a pretty major packrat over the past two years and have kept damn near everything available in some form.

The first 100 surveys are in. Why did it take two months for this to happen? Your guess is as good as mine, but here are the results:

Site Rating:

  • You rule: 64%
  • Pretty good: 35%
  • Average: 1%
  • You suck: 0%

Speed of Access:

  • Blistering: 39%
  • Pretty Fast: 46%
  • Adequate: 15%
  • Slow: 0%

I’d like to see more of:

  • 1. Rants (58%)
  • 2. San Francisco Information (44%)
  • 3. Yer Humble Host and Friends (43%)
  • 3. Dirty Pictures (43%)
  • 5. History-related (36%)
  • 6. Travel-related and Route SOMA (34%)

These results were pretty encouraging, although I realize that survey respondents tend to answer favorably in general, and on this site specifically they also tend to be those who spent a lot of time and looked around the site more than the average reader. The positive reaction to the rants and the relatively lukewarm reaction to the pictures were especially promising.

Thanks to all who have participated so far.

Home

I’m home again. I’m tired. I hate flying. I hate airplane food. I hate that I didn’t bring home any Cheerwine or barbecue. I hate that I have to go back to work tomorrow. I love that I got so much great mail while I was gone. I hate that it most likely won’t be answered for several days.

And I really love this article in MacWorld, only partially because it mentions me. But I’ll cease with the self-promotion and go to sleep now.

All in all. seeing Mom and Dad and the few friends I managed to hook up with was great. But (surprise) I still can’t recommend Greensboro as the happening vacation destination of the year…

Still plugging along working part time as an Administrative Assistant. It pays the rent while the freelance stuff begins to trickle in and while I continue trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

Planet SOMA US Tour 1997

8800 miles. 29 states. 2 countries. 5 weeks. This was some trip!

On 2 September 1997, yer humble host leaves on a very long journey around the country. The object is to see the USA, via the old roads as much as possible, and to meet interesting people. Accommodations will be provided in large part by Planet SOMA readers and other friends. Updates will be transmitted from the road.  You’re invited along for the ride, but be forewarned: I break for drive-ins, sleazy motels, cute boys, etc…

So what the hell am I thinking? With minimal cash on hand, I’m embarking on a 7500-mile trip around the country alone. I’ll be gone for five weeks. I’ll be spending a good third of the trip staying in the homes of people I’ve never met face to face. For at least six or seven nights I’ll be lurking about completely alone in cheap motels hundreds, even thousands of miles from home.

This trip is something I’ve been contemplating for a long time. I was pretty damned amazed that a lot of Planet SOMA readers liked the idea well enough to offer couch space and bathroom privileges, as well as guided tours and more.

Why are you doing this?

Well, I guess it’s just because that’s what I do. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that the times I’m happiest are when I’m completely alone, driving down a highway I’ve never traveled before, en route to a relatively unfamiliar destination. It’s such a great sensation, seeing things I’ve never seen before, as well as new versions of things I’ve seen a million times before. The completely banal becomes exciting.

Aren’t you apprehensive about your living quarters?

I’m not worried about the prospect of staying with strangers, and I hope they’re not worried about the prospect of me in their homes. In fact, calling many of my hosts “strangers” is pretty inaccurate anyway. Thanks to e-mail, I’ve formed alliances with people all over the country — and the world. Surely there’s a considerably stronger bond here than with someone I might invite into my home after meeting up in a bar on Folsom Street.

Will you be giving updates on Planet SOMA?

I sure hope so. The level of detail will depend on my computer access as I travel, as well as on how much time I have. At a minimum I plan to put up simple text updates as often as I can. The pictures may have to wait until I get back because (a) I don’t want to spend the whole trip editing them and (b) not everyone can accomplish video captures easily.

That said, the simple answer is “yes…there will be updates from the road”.

Can I still join the fun?

No. I don’t want to meet anyone else.

OK…I’m kidding. I’m still itching to meet more people around the country. Take this as a hint, if you will, but Detroit and Oklahoma City are the two big spots where a friendly face would be appreciated. But there’s still time to meet up if you live somewhere else too. Mail me (before Labor Day would be nice). We’ll talk.

Thanks again to everyone who has expressed support and interest in the trip. It’s gonna be fun.

One Year of Planet SOMA

Damn! A whole year online. Actually a little more, since the experimental Planet SOMA went up in early February 1996. I never thought that (a) I’d still be doing this so obsessively a year later or (b) that I’d be approaching my 100,000th visitor by now. All I can say is a very big “thanks” to everyone who has stopped by, written words of support, offered suggestions, wished me well when I was sick and when my car became charcoal, or even told me I was dead wrong about something. Special thanks to all those who have linked me to your own sites or otherwise pointed people in my direction. It’s been tons of fun.

(NOTE: The actual start date of Planet SOMA was 13 January 1996. 2 March was celebrated as the anniversary for the first few years because of some milestone I’ve since forgotten, maybe the addition of the hot counter.)

Maybe Some Day They’ll Call It a Blog

New feature…an online update if you will. It may last or it may not…ya just never know.

It’s been a marginally uneventful week. The Folsom Street Fair is Sunday, so this could be a really exciting — or really annoying — weekend, depending on how geeky the tourists are. At some point over the weekend, I’ll be meeting my cyber-pals Deon and David for the first time.

No news yet on the crispy crunchy car situation; my insurance agent and I have yet to stop playing phone tag. I’m getting used to SF transit, even though I’m still reeling from an incident a few weeks ago where I was “kidnapped” by a Muni driver who refused to let me off the bus at my stop and proceded to get on the freeway, dumping me five miles from home..When I complained on the way out, he flipped me off. So much for customer service.

Work has been pretty exhausting, and my weekend started with an eleven hour sleep marathon last night. Serving the corporate clones is starting to drive me insane; one more run-in with a condescending stockbroker or lawyer is going to send me over the edge and it’ll be yuppie-kebobs for lunch. This week a customer threatened to sue us because he had to wait more than two minutes to pay. Another sleazoid got pissed because we wouldn’t spend fifteen bucks to messenger her ten dollar order to her. It’s a truly frightening thing that these stressed-out corporate stooges are pretty much in control of the country. Fortunately, I’m starting to have some nibbles on the new job search.

A nameless friend with a growing speed problem is now apparently without a home. It’s becoming very difficult to watch an otherwise severely intelligent person destroy himself so efficiently. The job went first, then the flat, but he’s dealing and getting laid a lot. I guess that means he’s doing OK, right? One of my closest friends is becoming a stranger to me; I don’t even like being around him. But I’m sure he’s well-recieved at the EndUp.

All in all, I need a vacation, so on Friday, I’ll be leaving Planet SOMA to visit exciting Minnesota. Why Minnesota, you may ask? Well, there’s this boy… Actually, there are these two boys, Bil’s an “ex”, and Christopher’s a current obsession. Their band, Lucifag, will be doing its first show ever while I’m there. I’ve never been to Minnesota before; my almanac tells me the population is 94.4 per cent white. Should look just like the Financial District at lunchtime. I’ve only managed to find one all-purpose queer website there. Details as they occur; if I can find sufficient resources, I’ll be taking the Zip drive and Casio camera on the road with me for “on the spot” updates.

Off to Folsom Street now. See ya there…