Monthly Archives: April 2006

Sheesh, make a normal face!


Just a quick post to let you know I'm back. I'm going to go try and get mostly caught up on my messages and see what's been going on (I literally have not been on the Internet since I left). My daughter turned three today! Although she refused to make anyhing but insane faces for the photo, ahaha.

Anyway, work begins again tomorrow but I may post a little to various sites today.

APP Internal Memos Leaked

I wasn't sure if I should leak this or not, but I've received multiple copies from multiple board members urging me to do so because the APP is in a crisis state (and given how few board members there are I'm a little disturbed that so many want it leaked). I'm not going to take a public side on it, and there are several other issues that I am deeply concerned about (to say nothing of the banning of people who dress as clowns from APP — I kid you not). If you want to know my private opinion and I know you, feel free to ask, but if you repeat it publicly I'll deny it no matter what you say.

In any case, here is the memo. I am sharing it because I'm deeply concerned that the APP is going to self-destruct, and we need it to grow in strength, not attack itself. I can not emphasize enough how important it is for the APP to grow into a full-fledged organization so we can control our world rather than having uninformed prejudiced government beurocrats doing so.

From: Christina Shull
Date: Apr 20, 2006
Subject: Important - Please Read Carefully

April 20th, 2006

To the Board of Directors,

I am writing this letter in regard to the current leadership of the APP. While it saddens me to say this, I have concerns for the stability of the organization under the current President. In the following pages, I will cite many examples of questionable leadership and abuse of authority. Please take the time to give this your full and complete attention.

Alicia has made many mistakes that are unacceptable for the president of a non-profit organization. After giving her a year to strengthen her leadership skills and shape her ability to make informed and appropriate decisions, Alicia's recent actions have proven her inability to make necessary improvements in her capacity to successfully lead an organization. As a board member dedicated to the stability and growth of the APP, it is imperative that I work with a board of directors who share that common goal. Some of Alicia's actions and decisions have been made with little consideration of the consequences and long-term effects on the board of directors, the membership, and the integrity of the organization.

The manner in which Alicia handled the tension between Phish Goldblatt and Caitlin McDiarmid, the APP Administrator, was not appropriate and directly resulted in a more volatile situation than necessary. As the President, it is Alicia's responsibility to ensure that all actions taken when resolving internal issues are in the best interest of the board of directors and are conducted in a professional manner. The current situation with Phish remaining as an active member of the Board of Directors, but suspended by Alicia from his officer position as the Outreach Coordinator, could have been avoided if Alicia had exercised effective leadership in her early attempt to diffuse the situation with Phish and Caitlin.

Alicia had a reason to be concerned about the email from Phish notifying the whole board of directors about his strong dislike for Caitlin's behavior towards his inability to complete a particular duty. Caitlin and Phish addressed each other through their frustration, giving the board of directors a reason to be concerned about the potential for a breakdown in communication. This is when it was appropriate for Alicia to intervene, requesting that Phish and Caitlin avoid communication until the situation had been resolved. It is essential to the success of the organization to have a board that can communicate efficiently and work well together and Alicia should have made an immediate effort to rectify the situation before it got worse.

Alicia's decision to call Phish about his unprofessional behavior towards Caitlin was appropriate, but when he vented to her and said things out of anger, she should have given him time to cool off before attempting to have a serious conversation. Alicia should have taken into consideration that most people vent about the things that are bothering them and often do not mean many of the things they say when acting on emotion. While Phish talked of verbally mistreating Caitlin, he did not make threats of physical violence. A strong leader would not have read too much into Phish's emotion, but would have returned to the conversation a day or two later when Phish had some time to settle down, before forming any conclusions about things that had been said out of anger.

If Alicia had waited to finish her conversation with Phish, she would have been able to accurately assess the problem between Caitlin and Phish and the seriousness of the actions he had previously mentioned. By allowing Phish some time to calm down, the conversation would have been much more productive and Phish would have been more open minded to a discussion about his inappropriate behavior. Phish's threats to verbally abuse Caitlin should have been addressed with him, as that is unacceptable and intolerable behavior for a board member, but that was not a conversation that should have taken place with someone who was acting out his anger. Talking to Phish when he was in a better frame of mind could have given Alicia the opportunity to diffuse the situation.

Alicia should not have formed a conclusion about concern for physical harm based off a single conversation with Phish when he was venting. Not only was it wrong to base this conclusion on the anger he was expressing rather than the words he was saying, but Alicia made the extremely inappropriate decision to inform Caitlin of the danger that she assumed. By denying Phish the chance to unwind and reconsider the things he said and the actions he wanted to take, Alicia ignored the opportunity for Phish to potentially work things out with Caitlin. Alicia's rash decision unnecessarily ended any hope for a functioning professional relationship between Phish and Caitlin, further complicating existing communication issues and placing unwarranted stress on the board of directors concerning the planning and execution of conference.

The decision to request Phish's resignation also could have been avoided, had Alicia effectively mediated the situation between Phish and Caitlin. While there were concerns about the duties that Phish neglected, had the situation between Phish and Caitlin been appropriately diffused, issues with Phish's workload could have been addressed without making the dramatic decision to request his resignation without notice. Alicia's panicked response to her conversation with Phish was the sole cause of concern for Caitlin's well-being around Phish at conference, leading to the conclusion that Phish should be excluded from his conference obligations. Unfortunately, the request for resignation from Phish was the direct result of Alicia's inability to effectively manage a conflict.

The way that Phish's resignation was requested without ever giving him an opportunity to rectify the situation was unjust. In reviewing meeting minutes from the previous board, it is obvious that Alicia had not completed many of her obligations, yet was not asked to resign.

The request for resignation from Phish three weeks before conference was a bad decision that would inevitably have a negative effect upon such an important event. The inappropriate way that Phish was handled and the circumstances surrounding his resignation letter showed him a lack of respect and would increase the chances that he would not conduct himself in a manner that the board preferred at conference. The idea that Phish could be treated in this manner, but might resign quietly, was not a realistic assumption to make. Sadly, the board members who were voting for the resignation request were willing to increase the potential for a confrontation on the off-chance that Phish would resign gracefully. Luis and I expressed concerns that asking Phish to resign would not be worth some of the potential consequences, and we were right in our opposition to requesting Phish's resignation. Now the focus of conference will be turned to the actions of the board of directors instead of education due to the poor decision to ask Phish to resign.

Alicia did not have the ability to cut off all APP related contact between the board and Phish. With his refusal to resign, Phish is still an active board member and is entitled to participate in board discussions and vote on decisions made by the board. While the bylaws dictate that the board of directors can remove someone from an officer position and their duties as an officer, Alicia did not have the right to remove Phish from anything related to being a board member. The bylaws should have been read thoroughly and an attorney consulted before taking a course of action, as Alicia's decision to remove Phish from all APP correspondence appears to be in direct violation of the bylaws.

Alicia's decision to remove Phish from the classes he was scheduled to teach without notifying him was extremely irresponsible and very disrespectful. Phish should have been informed of the decision to remove him from teaching before his former co-presenters had been notified that he was not teaching. Because Alicia failed to appropriately follow up on her actions, Phish was told of this decision from one of the APP members with whom he was originally scheduled to teach. Alicia's lack of professionalism affected both Phish and the APP member who was in the uncomfortable position of informing Phish instead of Alicia. I have apologized to that member for the inappropriate situation that should not have happened. It was thoroughly embarrassing to have Alicia's actions reflect so poorly upon the rest of the board.

Luis and I both voiced our opinions about the tactless way Phish was being handled and tried to prevent this from escalating to this extent. In the end, I voted against asking Phish to resign and have not supported the way Alicia handled the situation. I feel strongly about the poor decisions made by Alicia and the results they have yielded, and will not pretend to support them. While I understand why the board of directors should appear unified and supportive of one another, Alicia's inability to make good decisions is one of the main reasons the Member Meeting will be focused on the actions of the board of directors. While I understand that this may seem unreasonable, I refuse to feign support of the board's actions to allow some board members to save face when questioned about their poor decisions.

The membership has every right to question the leadership of the current board of directors, as the way that Phish was handled should raise concerns about the potential for other poor decisions and inappropriate conduct. While the membership does not yet have an understanding of the specific issues concerning the way Phish was handled, it is apparent that there are problems with this board of directors. All APP members are entitled to know the actions and behavior of the people they elected to represent them.

The stability of this board was already in question when Schane resigned from her position as Treasurer only six months into her term. While the circumstances surrounding her resignation were not the fault of the board, some of Alicia's interactions with Schane after her resignation were dishonest and disrespectful.

In an appreciated act of trust, while Schane was still a board member, she used her personal credit history to obtain credit cards for some of the board members for APP purchases and expenses. Schane took on this additional responsibility to make things easier for the board members who regularly make APP purchases, and was thoughtful enough to allow us to continue the use of these credit cards even after she resigned from the board. This was an amazing amount of trust that Alicia personally violated.

When Schane resigned, she was removed from the bank account, an action that must be taken with anyone who had access to the APP bank account but is no longer a board member. In a phone call shortly after Schane had been removed from the account, Schane made the offer to Alicia allowing us to continue the use of the credit cards that were in her name, until Alicia was able to acquire new credit cards. Alicia accepted this generous offer under Schane's condition to be allowed a few blank checks to pay the credit card bills, despite the fact that Schane could no longer sign APP checks. Alicia was obligated to inform Schane that she was no longer a signer on the account, but decided not to notify Schane, resulting in Schane finding out in another way. Alicia's dishonesty with Schane unnecessarily lost the board of directors the support of one of our former board members.

Unfortunately, Schane is not the only former board member who has lost support for this board of directors as a direct result of Alicia's behavior. Another former board member, Kent Fazekas, discontinued his membership four years ago after becoming disillusioned with the APP. I have been working with him to regain his support for the organization that he once was dedicated to and renew his membership. After speaking with him for months, Kent was not only submitting the materials to renew his membership, but he was excited about the opportunity to mediate a roundtable and be involved with the APP and conference again. Much to my disappointment, Alicia's recent interactions with Kent have caused him to reconsider his involvement with the APP at this time.

After reading a bulletin that Kent posted about immigration problems, Alicia responded by calling him among many things, a Nazi, and made comments about wanting to cause physical harm to him. This interaction, while not done on behalf of the APP, still reflects upon her lack of professionalism as the APP President. It is understandable that Kent would decline from affiliating himself with an organization that is lead by a person who does not have the discipline to control her words and actions. Based on Alicia's behavior, this is probably not an isolated incident and I wonder how many potential APP members have reconsidered their involvement or how many current APP members are debating on renewing their membership due to Alicia's behavior.

The way that Alicia conducts herself is not appropriate for an APP board member, let alone the President. When accepting a board member position, a commitment is made to represent a professional organization. Alicia being a board member on the previous board should understand that a board member's actions always have the possibility of reflecting on the organization and its members. It does not matter that the APP is "different" than other forms of governing bodies. The piercing community, health inspectors, legislators, etc. still focus on the conduct, actions, and words of the APP board members. The actions that we take and the words we say in our time as board members can have a positive or negative effect on how the APP is viewed and always be kept in mind.

In the year that I have served as a board member and the two previous years that I was involved with the board, I have understood the importance of remaining professional at all times. I have always tried to conduct myself in a professional manner in all situations, without differentiation between my conduct as the APP Secretary and my personal conduct. I know that my actions and words at any point in time, whether it is through cyberspace, the piercing studio I work in, even a conversation at the bar, could potentially reflect on the APP whether I am aware of it or not. Even after serving three years previous to her current term, Alicia apparently does not understand how important this is, as her behavior has demonstrated a complete lapse in judgment.

Alicia's lack of judgment has also been apparent in some of the executive decisions she has made. Executive decisions should be reserved for necessary occasions such as the deciding factor for a split board vote or important decisions that must be made immediately. When Alicia has made an executive decision about something that the whole board and/or the membership should have officially voted on, this demonstrates her lack of concern for her board and the APP and is abuse of the power that she possesses as the President. I do not support these dictator-like actions, and have voiced my concerns to the board about some executive decisions Alicia inappropriately made, but these concerns appeared to have no effect on the board.

The first time I voiced concern over an executive decision made by Alicia was during the September board meeting when I questioned Alicia about her exclusive involvement with the Coalition of Body Modification Associations (CBMA). The CBMA was the project of Kate Campi, the director of the Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals (SPCP), as an attempt for the APP, SPCP, and the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT) to work together to prevent the Cosmetology Board to enforce piercing and tattoo regulations in some states.

Our board agreed that the APP should be involved with this project and somehow Alicia appointed herself the sole APP board member working with the CBMA. While the board supported APP involvement with this situation, Alicia did not inform the board about her work with or the progress of the CBMA. After repeated requests for information about her interactions about the CBMA, Alicia chose to withhold information about her work on this project.

Three months into our board term Alicia asked me to sit in for her in a conference call with the CBMA where it was brought to my attention that Alicia had confirmed that the APP had officially agreed to form a non-profit organization with the SPCP and APT. Alicia never mentioned this serious issue to the board, let alone motioned for a vote. This huge decision was not hers to make. The board was still learning how to work together and we were not in a position to become board members for a second non-profit organization as well. This was a big decision that should have been decided by a membership vote. Alicia had no authority to make such a large and uncertain commitment without approval from the rest of her board.

Notifying the involved parties that they had been misinformed about the extent of the APP's involvement was a highly embarrassing situation that did not reflect well upon the integrity of the APP. This project was the first time the APP has formed alliances with the SPCP and the APT, and both groups were less than impressed with the obvious lack of communication between the APP board members. In addition to the unnecessary damage to the reputation of the APP, it was clear that Alicia neglected her obligation to include her fellow board members when making important decisions.

The planning and execution of the Mexico Conference was another important decision that never had an official vote. At the September board meeting, Alicia discussed the possibility of an international outreach in Mexico. As documented in the September Meeting Minutes, all present board members were in favor of an international outreach and would vote on the specifics of the outreach during the November board meeting upon receiving information from Alicia. Before an official vote was conducted, Alicia should have provided the board a cost analysis, list of potential courses and speakers, potential venues, etc. However, at the November Board Meeting, the board was notified that Alicia and International APP Member Danny Yerna were already confirming dates and venues for a conference in Mexico City.

Concerned about Alicia's plan to organize an international conference without the approval of the board, I sent an email in conjunction with the November Meeting Minutes where I notified the board that we had not officially voted on the specifics of the Mexico Conference. Despite my presentation of the facts clearly outlined in the September and November Meeting Minutes, Alicia ensured the board that we had in fact voted yes to this conference in September and I was the only board member to disagree with Alicia's recollection of events.

A decision as important as planning a conference, especially an international conference, must have an official vote from the board. Planning a conference requires the approval of the entire board, as much time and effort is required to properly organize and execute a successful conference. By denying the board an informed vote about this conference, Alicia demonstrated her complete disregard for the opinions of her fellow board members, an apparent lack of understanding about the organization required to plan a conference, and her lack of effective leadership. Not only did Alicia override an official decision to hold a conference in Mexico, but she did most of the conference planning with the help of Danny and Luis, excluding the other four board members from participating in important decisions about the Mexico Conference.

Due to Mexico Conference planning being done mainly by Alicia instead of the entire board, mistakes were made that could have been avoided. One of the most obvious mistakes made was the timing of the Mexico Conference. This conference should not have been scheduled three months before the Vegas Conference, as Alicia's term on the last board provided her with the knowledge of the large amounts of time and effort that are necessary to have a successful conference in Vegas. Despite my direct involvement with conference planning being limited to 2005, I understood the amount of work required to properly plan for the Vegas Conference and cannot understand how Alicia failed to see that planning the two conferences so close together was an unnecessarily risky decision.

The Mexico Conference obviously affected the planning of the Vegas Conference by taking a large amount of time away from planning the single most important APP event. In February, the efforts of the board should have been focused on their duties for the Vegas Conference, yet due to a lapse in Alicia's judgment, Alicia and Luis had to focus their energy on pre- and post- Mexico Conference work, which overrode their obligations to the Vegas Conference. Alicia, as the Conference Chair, had the large responsibility of overseeing conference planning for Vegas and ensuring that everything got done on time. Luis, as the Vendor Chair, had the also large responsibility of selecting vendors for the vendor expo and creating the expo floor plan. These obligations had been confirmed in September, before the Mexico Conference had been set into motion, yet Alicia was willing to downgrade the importance of her and Luis' obligations to the success of the Vegas Conference.

Alicia's decision to have the pre-Vegas board meeting in Mexico City in the three days prior to the Mexico Conference also showed her inability to prioritize the time of her board members. As a previous board member, Alicia is aware of the significance of the last board meeting before Vegas. This board meeting has proven in past years to be invaluable, allowing the board the time to make many important decisions as a group. By scheduling this essential board meeting in another country, Alicia also took an unnecessary risk of adding obstacles for board members to face when traveling. This proved to be a bad decision when two board members were not able to travel out of the country, leaving the board meeting without the Outreach Coordinator and the Secretary.

Alicia's inability to understand that a board meeting held in conjunction with an international conference would distract from the focus of the pre-Vegas board meeting also shows a lack of judgment. Because I was not able to attend this board meeting, I can only speculate why this board meeting was not as productive as it needed to be, but it was obvious in the short length and brief content of the meeting minutes taken by Alicia that the Mexico board meeting was not as productive as it should have been.

Not only did the timing and location of the February board meeting have a detrimental effect on the planning of the Vegas Conference, but Alicia's attempt to plan the Mexico Conference in three months lead to rushed planning and execution and many mistakes were made that could have been avoided. A huge mistake was made when the membership was never informed of this international conference. By taking the time to appropriately plan the Mexico Conference, more Mexican and US piercers could have pre-registered, leading to a higher profit and more significant attendance.

The obviously rushed planning has lead to questions about the organization of the Mexico Conference and the manner in which it was conducted. Some APP Members and Corporate members have expressed frustration because they did not know about the Mexico Conference until it was too late to attend. Questions have also been raised about non-APP members teaching classes. APP classes have always been taught by APP Members with the exception of non-industry professionals such as doctors or accountants, as is important that the organization is represented by APP members. The decision to ask non-members to teach should have been made by the whole board.

Another decision that Alicia made without board approval was a special request she made of an applicant before he could become a member. When Steve Truitt applied for membership, there was some concern about performing implant procedures in violation of a city ordinance in his area prohibiting implant procedures. While there was concern about Steve performing illegal procedures, which is a violation of the Health and Safety Agreement required of APP members, this concern was dismissed due to the procedures in question being unrelated to body piercing. Despite this, Alicia made an executive decision to require Steve to sign a special "Conduct Agreement" she would draft that outlined the procedures he should not perform and the possibility of revoking his membership if he was found performing these procedures. The official APP stance has always been "we do not have a stance on non-piercing procedures". Alicia has no right to impose restrictions on non-piercing procedures, especially when Steve is not the only APP member who performs non-piercing procedures.

Besides the "Conduct Agreement", the way Alicia neglected Steve's application has been very unprofessional and reflects poorly upon the entire board. Last May, Alicia was responsible for processing his application, as I cannot process applications from piercers in my state to avoid a potential conflict of interest. In September I was able to view Steve's application with Alicia and confirmed that he met all of the criteria for membership and would become accepted. It is now April and Steve's application has not been completed by Alicia in the 11 months it has been in her possession. After asking Alicia repeatedly to send me his application, I finally finished processing his membership, despite never receiving his materials from Alicia. While the way that Alicia has treated Steve is embarrassing, I am very fortunate that he still wants to become a member despite Alicia's actions.

Sadly, Steve and Kent are not the only APP members that Alicia has been disrespectful to. One of the new 2005 APP members, Didier Suarez, was personally encouraged to apply for membership by Alicia for many reasons, one of them being the offer for him to teach with Alicia at the Vegas Conference. Shortly after he became an APP member, Alicia changed her mind about having him co-present with her and offered the opportunity to one of Didier's employees. The way that Alicia conducted herself in this situation was inconsiderate to Didier and showed an absolute lack of integrity.

Alicia has not only been disrespectful to current and potential members, but also to those on her board on many occasions, one being the correspondence to Phish and I from the board meeting in Mexico. Regardless of how the board felt about our lack of foresight preventing us from traveling internationally, obviously neither of us intentionally missed the board meeting. There was no reason to further complicate an already stressful situation by sending us an email titled "To Beavis and Butthead". While this correspondence was signed with the names of all present board members, it was Alicia's responsibility to ensure that the board communicated effectively and diplomatically. Her lack of discipline lead to unnecessarily high tensions and further complicated the Mexico board meeting by discouraging vital communication between the board members at the meeting and the two board members still in the US.

Alicia has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of discipline through her interactions with fellow board members, which has lead to concerns about her ability to effectively lead the board in a positive direction. In email communication, Alicia has not hesitated to share her emotional and chaotic responses to stressful situations through comments like "FUCK.. President Freaking Out". The board needs a leader who can demonstrate professional and appropriate conduct through stressful situations and maintain a positive and rational approach to handling difficult decisions. Being in a leadership position, Alicia's behavior is not acceptable. As the president, she is obligated to lead by example.

Board meetings are one of the most important times for Alicia to lead by example, yet her behavior during board meetings has not shown respect for her board and has demonstrated her lack of concern for prioritizing her time. By answering email, writing articles, and spending time on her personal Myspace and BME accounts while board meetings are in session, Alicia has downplayed the importance of conducting a productive meeting. Her actions also indicate an inability to understand the serious nature of the topics discussed and demonstrates Alicia's failure to lead by example. Alicia's behavior has not been appropriate for someone in her position and has depleted any hope I had for her as the APP president.

Alicia has not displayed the capability to lead this board effectively; one of the strongest indications is her failure to oversee the Vegas Conference planning. Her position as the Conference Chair obligates her to ensure that all the necessary pre-conference tasks were completed, doing everything necessary to complete all tasks, through assigning them to another board member or handling them herself. Alicia was not able to fulfill this obligation and some board members have ended up attempting to do this for her.

I have personally felt obligated to pick up some of Alicia's slack, adding to an already long list of pre-conference tasks. Due to the overwhelming responsibility of The Point, Jim could not complete his duties as the Curriculum Chair, and despite the fact that Jim had not confirmed speakers by February, Alicia did not intervene to offer help. I understood the importance of confirming the speakers and notification of what was required of them immediately. Without confirmed speakers, other pressing pre-conference projects could not be completed. Alicia's inability to see this concern shows a lack of focus and is unacceptable for a person with her responsibilities.

The inability for Alicia to complete the minimal duties she was entrusted to do should be of great concern to the whole board. For weeks, Alicia told us that she was working on the class schedule, but did not produce any results. Her inability to deliver a schedule was holding up registration and the Attendee Brochure. Frustrated, I drafted a tentative schedule immediately, covering all necessary considerations and sent this schedule to the board for approval. Within three days of sending my proposed schedule, Alicia finally produced a schedule that was strikingly similar to mine, leading me to assume that she neglected this task until it was apparent that somebody else was completing her duties.

Alicia also neglected the Attendee Brochure, which is a crucial portion of conference pre-registration being the direct source of pre-registration for many attendees. Not only did Alicia neglect to get this done in a timely manner, but she made no attempt to ensure that it was completed as quickly as possible. In conversation, Alicia mentioned she submitted the brochure to the printer weeks before and did not know why the brochure had not been completed. Concerned, I called the printer and within five minutes we resolved an apparent misunderstanding and the attendee brochure was being formatted immediately. I question how Alicia could understand the urgency of finishing the brochure, yet not feel the need to confirm the status of the printing. Had she made one simple phone call when she noticed that something was not right, the brochure could have been completed much sooner.

Alicia's inability to complete her pre-conference projects is not the only indication of her non-existent oversight of conference planning. She does not understand potential negative consequences of decisions made or understands these potential consequences, yet does not act on her concerns. When notified of April's decision to close online registration for the two weeks previous to conference, decreasing the opportunities for attendees to pre-register, Alicia's past board experience should have indicated that this should have been prevented. It is frustrating to hear that Alicia felt this was a bad decision, but neglected her obligation to oversee conference planning because she worried what other board members would say. A decision with the potential for many negative effects should have been discussed, regardless of Alicia's concern about the personal opinions of her board.

Alicia needs to speak up on important issues, as there have been situations where my duties have been affected by the lack of feedback from the board. The re-evaluation of the Corporate Membership category is just one project that I have not been able to accomplish because my suggestions have been rejected with little to no feedback or my email has never been read. The Corporate Membership project is a larger priority than Alicia understands. While this project requires a lot of time before conference, all I asked of the board was to agree or disagree with my ideas and offer suggestions. The bulk of the work was my project, yet Alicia did not encourage the board to participate in this project. The lack of support for this project resulted in a hold being placed on Corporate Membership applications for four months. Alicia's inability to assess the importance of this project has lead to some jewelry manufacturers waiting longer than they were originally informed to submit an application, which is unprofessional and has placed me in an uncomfortable position being the contact person for these companies.

After seeing how Alicia's actions have reflected poorly upon the board, the membership, and myself, I am no longer comfortable serving under a president whose actions do not represent the best interest of the organization. I have invested too much time and energy to see the organization being run in such an ineffective manner.

This letter is to serve as a no confidence vote in the President of the Association of Professional Piercers and if after an inquiry into these allegations by the board and the membership is made without resolution, I will be forced to resign from my position as the APP Secretary, effective June 20th, 2006. This in no way will compromise my responsibilities pertaining to the Las Vegas Conference, April 30th-May 5th, as I intend to uphold my obligations to the organization and its membership.

Christina Shull

I'm sorry if some of you hate me for posting this, but outside of my personal feelings I have been asked by enough board members that I think it's the right thing to do. I strongly believe in the APP, and I had very high hopes for this current board. Please you guys, pull it together. We as a community need you to step up and represent us with power and professionalism.

Again, I'm sorry for the people who have been hurt in this post. Everyone mentioned above is someone who I care deeply about and respect in some way. Please, please, please — you need to solve this and this community (or me at least) is rooting for you. But stop pulling this high school shit.

poznai sebia!

OK, about Systema, I've just got to say wow. It was incredibly fun, and the most brutal and effective martial art I've ever seen. We got lucky, while we were an hour late, we came the night of a seminar by Vladimir Vasiliev's school, Russian Martial Art (which teaches Ryabko's Systema), and got to take part. I think we may actually go up to the Thornhill school rather than staying downtown because the seminar was so good. Seriously though, the sheer effectiveness and science and versitility is wild.

I wanted to emphasize that there are people of all ages, all fitness levels, all genders, and all experience levels that come there. Anyone can go. Again, I would argue that there is no more all-purpose effective martial art. So please, don't be afraid to give it a go — drop me a message and come with us.

Fighting and Building

So tonight Jon (AKA of fishing website FISHING FURY), Angela, and I start Systema. If you don't know what that is, check out this Google video showing a series of strikes and takedowns.

With my brain on its way to working better (still a long way to go), I'm also going to yoga with Saira (and maybe German longsword with her and Amanda), as well as weight training with Jon. There's some other people who have said they're interested in various ones of these, so the true list of people is probably a little bigger. If you're in Toronto and want to join us, drop me a line.

Other than that, the 2TB NAS for IAM should be installed quite shortly (tonight, tomorrow). I think I can move over to it (and significantly improve speed and allow for more users) without having to take the site down, but I will have to turn off image uploading. You'll still be able to post entries, but without pictures. I'll post about though in detail when I can tell you something more solid. We're doing our best to get it down before I leave for Chicago, but there is a small chance it gets stalled until Tuesday. Actually now that I think about it, Tuesday is better — what if there's a problem when I'm unreachable for a few days… So… let's make it official.

IAM may be briefly offline on Tuesday (April 25th), and picture editing functions will be offline for an extended period (because I'd rather turn off posting pictures for 36 hours than turn the box off completely for 12 hours).

Time for a shower, then some food

I'm just about to get cleaned up to go out to Fressen (a great vegan place here where Sarah is the chef — new menu today, woo woo) with Jon, Phil, Amanda, and Blair… Then back here to work more on the various new projects but hopefully be in bed by midnight because I'm starting to feel soooo tired!

I'll be in Chicago this weekend for Nefarious's birthday party (just for a couple days though so I don't have any time to see anyone, I'm sorry), then I'm back here. I'm skipping APP this year but both Rachel and Tom will be down there representing BME. Then at the start of May (5th or 6th to 9th or 10th) I'm going to pop down to NY (while Blair is there too, although he's there earlier) for some important meetings.

Oh, by the way, those statistics are for pierced people. If you include all people in the world in it, of course piercing death risk drops to so low that it's meaningless.

Anyway, I'll be back later with more, but as you know (entry below) I have been working on archiving all of the old BME shirt designs. I've considered adding a “rejected shirts” category… This is one of the backs from one that I quite liked (I think I've posted it before).