Sunday, October 29, 2006

Condo Cowboys

When I had decided to organize a team for the local AIDS Walk, I also addressed the difficulty that some people face when asked to fundraise. I lack no skills in this task, however, many people, especially women, have a hard time asking people for money - their own or someone else's. To assist my team in collecting pledges, I wrote up some 'talking points' for them; a variety of facts about HIV/AIDS, which they could use as a source for talking to people about HIV/AIDS. To do this properly, I needed to research some statistics for myself. What I found did not really surprise me, but I knew it would surely surprise others.

Reported new cases of AIDS have increased by 33% in the age group of 50+, and that statistic represents a span of two years, not an over all percentage. This fact alone was not just a surprise to people, but also a source of amusement. Apparently the old axiom of believing that people your parents' age don't engage in sex still exists among today's more 'enlightened' young people. Given some thought, the fact that AIDS is growing among senior citizens should not be a surprise to anyone.
In Florida and Arizona, there are six widowed or single women to every man in that age group. Today, people over 50 enjoy better health and younger looks than did their parents. With the advent and availability of Erectile Dysfunction medications, any 70 year old male can be called a "Condo Cowboy" too. Yes, senior citizens not only date, but have more opportunity to do so than do 40 year old singles. However, the once freeing state of being past menopause has given many of the dating and sexually active females of this age group a sense of safety. Where educated safe sex should be practiced, denial based risky sexual behavior is resulting in new cases of AIDS exploding into the senior communities.

The current administration in the United States has duplicitously enforced a message of monogamy and abstinence as a reliable means of disease and birth control. In doing so, it has committed a disservice not just to youth, but to all segments of the population. Furthermore, this "message" is preached to the youth of America, within the confines of public education (and government funded education). If AIDS is not discussed openly among everyone, how will segments of the population no longer attending schools become aware of the risk of HIV/AIDS?

Not to flog a dead or dying horse, the recent Foley brouhaha has brought to light something that should have been obvious: the Republican party, like any group, is just as "guilty" of sexual high jinx as were the prior occupants of the White House. But here similarities end: the holier than thou attitudes which dominate Republican politics had no place in the Clinton administration.
Turn on prime time television and what you will be assaulted with is mixed messages that seem to go hand in hand with repressive sexual politics. Prime time is full of desperate housewives, men in trees, and youth oriented advertising all using sex as the sole reason to purchase products. It is a sexy world out there with zero responsibility for safe intimate congress.

Yes, the current political climate can be directly held responsible for the lack of information, or for the extent of misinformation about HIV/AIDS and STDs. It is fully responsible for our parents, or grandparents thinking that the worse thing that could happen to them while engaging in risky, unsafe sex, might be an unexpected pregnancy. It is not only time to bring the facts about HIV/AIDS into the public eye, it is more than overdue to educate every human being in this country about HIV/AIDS and the effect that AIDS could have on not just our economy, but on our health care services, health care workers, families, communities and all humanity. Hiding ones head in the sand of Florida or Arizona will not prevent AIDS. Understanding how AIDS is spread and what constitutes high risk behavior will prevent AIDS.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Great Poundcake Fiasco

My in laws left yesterday after spending a weekend with us. Note the absolute joy in my words as I inform you of this. Actually, I am not alone with my less than ecstatic attitude; Sunkist, after having to stay confined to cages for the entire time, actually bit me on the cheek when I freed him from his imprisonment. And he drew blood. You know he wasn't happy.
Husband and I have spoke of the toll having parents around can take on grown children.
When the in laws came to visit during the summer, and the yard was open and the pool inviting, there was space to get away from each other. But with the weather cold and the yard basically closed for the impending winter, the only place to go for some solitude was the bathroom. Grab a book, pull up a bench, turn on the ventilator fan so it sounds like serious business is taking place in there, and enjoy 20 minutes of peace.

In preparation for the visit, husband was talked into baking a pumpkin poundcake by myself. This suggestion was not without personal agenda as I love pumpkin and was anticipating my first pumpkin confection of the season. Saturday morning, before the arrival of the visiting parents, husband was in the kitchen baking a cake. The house smelled fabulous! Pumpkin-y and spice and warm ... very nice on a cold day.
When it came to be time to take the anxiously awaited poundcake from the oven, it seemed to look a bit flat to me. As minutes passed, the poundcake began to settle and oddly, the butter seemed to be separating from the cake. I commented how the cake reminded me of a fallen souffle, or that perhaps it needed more flour. Husband thought that the pumpkin might not have been good. Bravely, we all stood around the center kitchen island and tasted the crunchier bits of the cake and it was sweet, but tasty. However, it soon became apparent that it was much too heavy to eat.
That evening while exploring our local Wild Oats market, husband was convinced to try another poundcake. We bought the cream cheese, more eggs, flour, pecans, and vanilla. Sunday morning husband started to bake cake number two.

Praline Pecan poundcake is amazingly sweet - normally. And everyone was looking forward to an awesome dessert after dinner. While the cake was in the oven, I began to prepare the evening meal which included egg dumplings. Now this is my recipe and I've not shared it with husband before. Since he was kind of hanging around watching the progress of cake #2, I asked him if he wanted to learn to make dumplings. He eagerly said yes.
Going to the pantry cabinet with a large bowl and a measuring cup, I began to measure out the flour for the dumplings. It was at this point that husband said, "Is that the flour? Then what is in the cabinet?" I turned to look at him and said "which cabinet?" He pointed to the spice and sugar cabinet. It was then that I understood his cake failure ....

In his eager ness to escape the immediate presence of his parents, husband invaded the kitchen with one thought in mind; to make a good cake. He didn't think about the ingredients, if he had he might have remembered that the flour is where the flour has always been and the sugar is with all of the other sugar products.

Two poundcakes and not one good enough to really eat. In fact, after tasting the crumbly bits again, I began to have a stomach ache from all of the sugar.

Of course, the poundcakes were flourless. Sans flour. Instead of flour, husband measured out two cups of powdered sugar. No wonder those fallen cakes were so sweet.
And no wonder that he thought we had run out of 'flour'.

It would have been hysterically funny except that poundcakes cost about $15 a piece to make. Well, it was funny - after I found something else to eat.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sayonara Sushi-ga

My pet fish, Sushi, committed betta-cide by jumping out of his habitat and landing on the hardwood floor.
Taken just as this sentence, it sounds pretty funny. There is a PBS commercial that airs quite often of a gold fish doing just this; jumping out of its bowl. But the goldfish has much better luck than Sushi had. It jumps from its bowl into a large water container, a puddle on the street, off a canopy and into some other wet environment, eventually to find its way to a body of freshwater. Sushi, on the other hand, landed on a dry floor and his little fancy fans stuck to the floor.
Now the really funny part of this story is still to come; Sunkist who was in his cage while this happened and who was in full view of the fish bowl, actually saw the whole thing happen.
I was on the computer (ahem) and Sunkist really said "Fish". But I ignored him. Sunkist is always saying something and generally it isn't as benign as "fish". And unless he says something really funny, or I am interacting with him, I do ignore much of it. Why I didn't key on him saying fish which he never says unless we are visiting Sushi, I do not know.
I left the studio to check on the visiting cat who was eating in the garage and when I returned I saw something on the floor that looked rather unsavory. Actually, it looked somewhat like a piece of poo.
Not knowing where random poo would come from, I got a piece of paper to pick it up when I looked to my left and realized that the fish was not in his bowl.
I looked at the poo like object and began to discern dry eyes and even a bit of movement. I picked poor Sushi up and put him back in his bowl ... he was still alive.
It was pretty awful because he was so messed up I knew he would not survive. How does one kill a fish that is/was a pet? All I could do is flush him down the toilet like ... well, a piece of poo.
It is sad.
Sushi taught me that the sport of fishing is not as cool as I once thought it was. he also taught me that fish actually crave attention even though they are in a different environment than we are.
Poor Sushi.
I won't be getting another betta for awhile.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Think twice before hiring Aaron Payne, Inc.

In the spirit of ratting on bad business practices, as well as bad business policy, I want to share a bit of information about a guy who is a programmer in Indianapolis, Indiana: Aaron Payne.
Earlier this year, Mr. Payne expressed interest and enthusiasm about working with me on the eZine ScribeSpirit. I had recently moved to Indiana and had not set up a network of people. In fact, I still have not set up much of a network.
Mr. Payne agreed to develop a web site for ScribeSpirit at a much reduced rate.
In fact, the fee that Mr. Payne charged for the work he did do was about 10% of the cost he would normally charge to a company.
Scribe Spirit is a not for profit project started in 2005 by myself and 6 other people from around the globe. In January of 2006, after a failed attempt to create a site that allowed literary and visual art work to be published bi-lingually, I disbanded the project and looked around for alternative means of keeping it alive.
After Mr. Payne generously and excitedly agreed to work in collaboration with me on a new site, I agreed and committed to investing my money in same. We began to work together to plan the site.
An IT person, or programmer is just that. A person who develops websites and maintains them. At no time did I ever agree that Mr. Payne would have access to the content manager of the website. The website is devoted to literary and visual arts; I am, and have been the sole editor. As editor, one of my jobs is to make sure that all work presented on the website is correct. Additionally, that all work has been approved, or released for electronic publication by the submitting authors and artists through legal contract. As editor I do not tell the programmer how to do his job, and as expected, the programmer does not tell the editor how to do her job.

From the beginning I might have suspected Mr. Payne's motives as he would always remind me that in the past he has submitted work to ScribeSpirit which I, as editor, had rejected. When asked about the nature of the rejection, Mr. Payne agreed that the rejection was done compassionately. He also indicated to me at the time, that his reminders of the rejection were all in good fun.
Mr. Payne may be a programmer, but he is certainly not a writer. Mr. Payne may have some talent in the art of painting, but he is no Picasso.
These facts have little to do with him accepting a job, being paid for that job and ultimately refusing to fulfill his obligations as web developer.

Mr. Payne and I began our business relationship in February of 2006. Mr. Payne refused to do any more work for ScribeSpirit in August of 2006. This makes Mr. Payne liable for fraudulent representation. It also hints at out right theft.
In addition to accepting the job of web developer, Mr. Payne was offered and accepted the position of Vice President of Unity Illuminata, Inc., the parent company (also not for profit) of ScribeSpirit. This position was not forced on him. Misrepresentation of the position never occurred. Mr. Payne was informed from the onset of his acceptance of the position of Vice President that the position was non-paying. He was also informed that the position carried with it specific duties outlined in the legal by laws of the incorporation papers.
Mr. Payne, after accepting this position for less than 30 days, has neither submitted his legal resignation, nor has he fulfilled the obligations that the position carried with it.

Aaron Payne has dishonored a trust, broken a verbal contract, and technically has undermined an international project that enjoyed a readership of upwards of 10 thousand readers per month. Mr. Payne has proved that greed and unsportsman behavior is more important than human unity and collaborative efforts.

Aaron Payne has also shown his true colors on a personal level. When presented with the legal facts of the situation, Mr. Payne could only accuse me of "getting my legal pen out", and his comments about that were "Unbelievable". Mr. Payne has been in abject denial about his role in the situation which has developed since he refused to work on the website, and since his refusal to comply with the responsibilities of the position of Vice President of Unity Illuminata, Inc. Instead of using logic to work through conflict, Mr. Payne has resorted to name calling and has refused to acknowledge his part in the inevitable dissolution of the project known as ScribeSpirit and the fledgling corporation, Unity Illuminata.

It is the purpose of this entry to advise anyone considering using the services of Aaron Payne, to consider carefully what you are entering into and with whom. It is the advise of this person to anyone considering Mr. Payne as a web developer, to make sure you have a legal contract with him before paying him for any services. Also, anyone considering working with Mr. Payne, should be sure to have said contracts witnessed by either an attorney or a public notary.