Can't Donate Blood!

Gracie and I have been a little short in the pocketbook lately. Two freelance writers, on the verge of the poorhouse? Who knew!

Anyway, First we look into pharmaceutical testing. Me, I'm underweight -- too skinny for their criteria. Gracie smokes: red check for her. Oh -- wait -- the pharmaceutical tester had an upcoming study on a anti-smoking gum, and the testees had to be smokers. That hope was dashed quickly, based on the fact that Gracie had four molars removed along with her wisdom teeth. Yes, part of their screening was to ask if you've got all your natural teeth. Not enough molars, no chewing-gum test. Every time I've had a blood test for anything, the doctor raises an eyebrow at my cholesterol level, which is unnecesarily high regardless of the food I eat. At this point, we're a little disapointed at how little our bodies are worth. We can't even sell them to test the latest anti-anxiety medication or see if our skin gets blotchy from the newest medical creams and salves.

One night while watching TV we caught a little note, a voiceover during the public service announcements, about making money donating plasma at Biolife. They say we could make $200 a month -- each! -- by coming in twice a week for an hour or two. Take a part-time job, 20 hours a week at minimum wage, that's $140, plus they take taxes out. At Biolife, Gracie and I can spend four hours a week, cooperatively reading, and we can make $100. The numbers speak for themselves: for far less work, doing something we do already (sitting and reading) we can pay our rent.

I went through their website, checking the obvious things. I was worried about being disqualified for herpes, but they didn't say anything against that. Same for nicotine use. No alcohol for 24 hours before donating is doable. We've both been tested and cleared for the nastiest of STDs, neither of us have had intimate contact with anybody else since those tests, so we were satisfied we were clean.

I called up and made appointments, and was told we'd have to come in for initial testing and a physical before we could donate. Not a problem; the paranoid part of me liked the idea of having blood tests done for free (see how that cholesterol is doing). New instructions were added to the other restrictions: eat a protien-filled meal and drink 20oz water before coming in, and no caffiene, either. No Tylenol for 24 hours. We could do those things, no problem.

We arrived at Biolife, got ourselves settled, and I was called first. I went through the general stuff: signing papers, taking a picture for my file, verifying things are truthful and accurate, etc. I was taken back to the 'milking floor' and a technician checked my veins to make sure I was physically able to donate; both arms checked out fine.

Back at the counter, I was given a binder. I was to read every page carefully while waiting for the nurse to do my full physical. I was to pay close attention to the "MUST NOT DONATE" page, because I'd be quizzed.

The "MUST NOT DONATE" page probably had another title, but those three words were in huge bold letters at the top of the page, to make sure that nobody misunderstood the purpose of the words therein.

The page asked: have I partaken of intravenous drugs since 1977, or had sex in the last year with someone who has partaken of intravenous drugs since 1977? Nope, checked that one off.

Next: Have I had sex with another man since 1977, or had sex in the past 12 months with a man who has had sex with another man since 1977? Nope, another good one.

Have I had sex for money since 1977, or have I had sex with someone in the past 12 months who has had sex for money since 1977?

The wording, in short, means to weed out prostitutes, or men who've been to a prostitute in the past year. However, there's a deeper problem in the wording.

See, Gracie, as you may know from her website, was an escort in her youth. No apologies, I have never had a problem with it, and it really doesn't affect our lives. Well, until now.

Gracie, according to their definition, has had sex for money since 1977.

And, in the past 12 months, I've had sex with her.

Hell, I really hope that in upcoming periods of 12 months I'll get to have sex with her many, many more times. While we haven't tossed around the "M" word much, I'm expecting it to happen eventually, even as I'm expecting to get a talking to for mentioning marriage in my blog.

Anyways, I stared at the money-for-sex for quite a while, reading it for deeper meaning; could there be an exception? Am I missing something? After what seemed like ten minutes, I took the binder over to Gracie.

"We've got a problem; look."

I show it to her, and we go up to the counter together.

"Excuse me..." I say, calling over the paramed who originally helped me with my paperwork. "We have a problem; both of us fit into " (gesturing at the page of Non-Donation) "something on this page."

"Really? Which one?"

I blush, Gracie tenses. "This one here." I point, she pauses a second, apparently thinking I'm the prostitute, and says she'll get a nurse.

The nurse, a genial mature lady with a smile, calls me into her office and asks me to explain.

"My girlfriend, in her youth was an escort, and I've, well, been with her in the last year, so I think we're disqualified...unless there's an exception of some sort, but we understand...."

"Oh, no," she says, "there's no exceptions. But I want to make sure we're reading this right."

She places a finger on the page, and reads along, saying each word carefully and with great analysis.

After she finishes the sentence, she laid down her decision. "Sorry, it really does disqualify you. I guess your youth catches up with you, huh?"

"Well," I said, with an amused smile, "1977 was a long time ago, you know."

I returned to the lobby and summoned Gracie, explaining our disqualification. She gathered up her papers (she'd brought along work for Tit-Elation to occupy herself) and we headed towards the door.

As I was almost outside, the nurse called me back, started to talk, then decided we better do it in the privacy of her office.

Back in her office, she had a well-meaning smile when she said, "you know, if you and her break up, after a year you can come back to donate."

"Thanks," I said, smiling back, and headed back towards the door. Gracie and I laughed about it all the way to our van.

I must say, BioLife was very nice through everything (even though I had a lot of trouble making that first appointment), but I wonder just how many people don't answer truthfully. Let's say I had a gay fling in high school (I didn't) -- Gracie would be disqualified, even if I had been embarrased and never told anyone. How many people have tried heroin once, hated it, and never did it again? I know more than one person in that boat; they, too, would be disqualified, along with their current spouses and partners. Even those college students who filled the lobby at Biolife: how do they know, for certain, that the gal they dated last spring hadn't been turning tricks to pay for books her freshman year? And that 'they pay me for my time, not the sex' is a legal exception, not a moral one; escorts know what their being paid for, ultimately.

Many people believe that their transgressions of youth disappear once they become responsible members of society; politicians are great examples of writing off youthful frivilousness as inconsequential. The self-filtering of right-v-wrong would lead a lot of people to overlook their past transgressions and provide technical-untruths to the nurse. Little do they realize, there's no 'technically' exceptions. The reason they screen this way is because grey areas are intolerable. At first, Gracie seemed ready to overlook it and answer 'no,' but I'm often told I'm "the good one," and I felt honesty was necessary here. We couldn't donate.

So, we haven't found any part of our bodies that's worth anything to anybody. It's a bit ironic, because the value of Gracie's body during her escort days, $200 an hour, is our undoing. Imperfect specimens we are, not worth a dime, like a horse destined for the glue factory. We'll keep looking, I suppose; we've got to be worth something to somebody.

Bits 'n' Pieces!

Why are bony, emaciated women seen as sexy? The UK Guardian, of course, comes to the rescue with this entertaining article. Little skinny women look too much like teenage boys for my liking...what does that say about most men? I like curvy women, if only because they don't look like I'll accidentally snap them in half.

In case you're unfamiliar with her, Kari is the hot redhead from Mythbusters. She had a photoshoot for FHM (which IMHO sucked), but she's much hotter in this video from the photoshoot. Her geekiness is what makes her hot, and airbrush-plus-caked-on-makeup don't do it for me. I guess I'm more of a Scottie kind of guy -- tattoos, braid pigtails, and sexy welding skillz.

"I'd recommend to anybody working on their relationship that they should try embarking on a 16-year elaborate pornography together. I think they'll find it works wonders." Alan Moore, co-author of Lost Girls (and what seems to be every comic-based movie's source lately) talks to The Onion about pornography, sexuality in our society, and his collaborator / soon-to-be wife. He definitely seems to have his head on straight; its too bad he'll probably be made an example of by the Powers That Be due to the high-profileness of his new book.

Perversion For Profit: a 1965 anti-pornography film that covers pretty much everything that was wrong with Cold War conservatism: Homosexuality is a learned perversion; BDSM is the worst of 'em; Communism is behind it all; Murder and mayhem are caused by exposure to pornography. What the film fails to even note is that their statistics don't jibe: it was a multibillion dollar industry in the 1960s? Let's look at who's buying it. 75%-90% of all porn ends up in the hands of minors? Who gives the kids that porn, when red-blooded Americans with families supposedly aren't the porn-buyers? Alas, then as today, conservative opinions are that you can do whatever you want in your own home (inlcuding buying the nastiest of porn and making it accessible to your children), but morals should be applied to the "free market" because the government can control that. The most amusing thing, however: of the magazines they show as examples, I actually own a few. I must be on the verge of murdering local children (after giving them all my porn, of course) and joining a Communist homosexual leather fetish cult.

First mono was considered the 'kissing disease,' but a recent study shows it's now also a fucking disease. Chances of contracting mononucleosis appear higher during sexual intercourse, pushing it closer to being considered an STD.

Who are the hottest rich chicks? Pretty much every one has a recognizeable last name, most have appeared in the media regularly, so it might be an excuse for Forbes to do a Hot Unattainable Chick montage like the rumor-rag tabloids. Doesn't stop them from being hot, though. Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes the list worthwhile.

When you as your lover for sex and he rebuffs you, what do you do? Call the police, apparently. While the headline leads you to believe she did it without provocation, the horny wife didn't call until the fight with her husband reached intolerable levels. The police, however, were unable to force compliance in the husband, and left the situation as-is. I wouldn't doubt there's dom/sub relationships looking at this situation as well as porn producers looking for new storylines. "Sex Cop -- not getting any? Call the Sex Cops, who rescue fair citizens oppressed by illegal refusal of sexual advances by their spouses."

These days, it seems the only place for sex in film is porn -- or, rather, our summer blockbusters are suspiciously tame when it comes to sex, according to Film morality police have been demanding less sex and violence in their films, and I suspect that the movie industry, looking for the broadest audience possible, has been giving in. Indie film, however, is still a nice place to go for R-rated sexual entertainment, as my recent viewing of The Libertine shows.

Gizmodo has the greatest bathroom fixture EVAR. Breast-shaped soap dispensers. Man, they look like fun. I can't help but feel that the ladies should have their own, a 7" member to dispense creamy blasts of conditioner. The boobs, at least, appeal to a part of society with money: the guy who can't find a gal. Women who want a penis to squeeze in the shower don't have to try very hard.

The old wives' tale says that pornography is instrumental in all technological advances, from the VHS to web TV -- but little do you know that it's been happening from the start. The first -- and now unofficially 'standard' -- test image for digital image compression and transmission (or, in layman's terms, the way web porn gets displayed on your screen) was the 1972 Playboy centerfold -- Lenna.

Science, again behind the obvious but happily proving what we all know, has shown that womens' brains react faster and more energetic to pornography than anything else - sometimes reacting before the consiousness really gets what's going on. They initially figured women would show less, because everyone knows men watch porn more, but their assumption proved wrong.

I'm not sure if this is creepy or not....Svedka vodka is anticipating the construction of a sexy robot, a'la "I Robot", who parties like there's no tomorrow during the days of the Repornification Act. Their "flag" is equally odd -- an eagle with nude breasts? Maybe I'm not drinking enough vodka.

Kuro5hin has a how-to, crossed with a simple personal anecdote: How To Host An Orgy. Not that we'll be hosting any anytime soon, but's something worth knowing about, because knowing is half the battle.

"I'd hit that" is a euphamism for having sex with someone - and for some reason it's used in advertising to show how 'hip' the subject is without any real reason to talk about having intercourse. A while back, early in the life of "I'd hit that," it was used to great amusement in a McDonald's ad, completely missing the point, but Sony seems to know exactly what it means. Tell me, why would someone be more likely to buy Daxter because two animated squirrels talk about how much they'd like to fuck Daxter's sister? They say "I'd hit that" about the video game character's sibling nine times near the end of the commercial. Note to self: squirrel-interspecies-casual-sex sells video games.

The The Vagina Institute is a scholarly work devoted to one of man's favorite places -- I suspect that the Vagina Institute exceeds Musclecar Institute, Television Institute, and even Sleeping Institute on most guys' scales. However, they charge for subscriptions, which means they're competing with all those other websites devoted to vaginas but lack the educational slant, and education rarely 'beats out' masturbation.

An Australian has been jailed for pornographic stories involving children -- bringing up a sticky situation which, no doubt, will become more common in the antiobscenity climate that's spreading through western culture. While I'm offended by child pornography in any sense, a story (without visuals, which involve real people) is little more than a thought recorded in text. Australia isn't too different from the US in political climate, and the idea that imagining something can result in being arrested is a very disconcerting possibility.

Pornography: reaching epidemic proportions? It's another fear-based reaction to online pornography, the kind of article most publications run once in a while, but it does have some redeeming factors. Jungian psychoanalyst Jane Haynes has a rather matter-of-fact opinion, neither for or against porn, but notes that it fulfills men's roaming hormones without actually cheating, and it's often more hobbylike than obsessive/compulsive - but can be destructive when it crosses that line. The opposite arguments are more compelling than the general moral arguments, but for the most part reflect emotional problems in the viewer than anything inherently wrong with pornography itself -- harkening back to "Guns don't kill people - people do" sentiments that are lost on the opponents of pornography. Porn doesn't mess up people emotionally -- emotionally messed-up people get worse when they rely on porn instead of genuine romantic fulfillment.

German prostitutes are changing careers -- not because of moral or religious reasons (although they're being helped by a church), but more due to market fluctuation, low prices due to high supply and low demand, and asset depreciation as they reach their thirties. Prostitution is such a capitalistic venture, one wonders how America can continue to ban it without violating its personal values.