New/Sideways Directions…

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I was about to start writing about how since my first Catalyst Con experience post, I decided to look at other directions other than Public Health.

But I didn’t write much about that even! #lazyblogger

So, to summarize, I went to Catalyst West last year and had an amazing time and met some awesome people and got some ideas cooking about how I could further become involved professionally in spreading sex positivity. One area that really stuck out, thanks to an awesome talk about public health, was, well, public health. Particularly in the policy arena. I’ve always been a bit of an activist and very political person so that could be a good channel for my energies.

So I decided to mull that over when I went to Catalyst East in March. I didn’t write about that because due to some poor airport food choices, I spent most of the conference holed up in my hotel room with food poisoning! Major bummer. But I did make it to four talks. And had the first afternoon of hanging out to chat with people before the sickness hit. I got to hear more about public health and bounce more ideas off of people. I started putting together some more solid ideas of how I would go about schooling and what routes people found most helpful.

As the spring went on, I had a couple partners mention to me that I might want to consider sex therapy as a career direction. I had to do some research because while I know several sex therapists, I didn’t know what they actually *do*. I was pretty shocked because it sounded like something that would totally be up my alley. I do a lot of talking with friends and newbies about non-monogamy and their relationships and whatnot, and it sounded like this would be a way to formalize and round out that interest as a career. So for this coming Catalyst West, I’m hoping to get a better idea of how that works and if maybe that is a better direction to go in!

Oh, and speaking of Catalyst West, I’ll be speaking on a panel…check it out here: http://catalystcon.com/sessions/#handshake

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The Fetlife Meatlist Scandal from a Security Perspective

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I’m an information security professional (penetration tester) in my day job so here’s some thoughts about what has happened so far. I’m going to update as I find out more.

The bad news:
1. 100k usernames and basic info leaked.
2. This was made in response to Fetlife not implementing their top voted suggestion (allowing demographic searches like other kink sites). So it’s an idea that’s been floating out there.
3. This is easily scriptable. Anyone with some decent web development knowledge could write a script that you point at a popular group and it will go through and scrape all the data shown and throw it into a table.
4. Guys are creeps.
5. Fetlife issued a DMCA takedown but didn’t follow up with any legal action or threats so it expired and went back up.
6. Fetlife is so poorly funded they can’t get as many quality developers as they need to keep up with security and updates.

The good news:
1. This info doesn’t have names or real contact info, just things that you could find browsing someone’s profile (but obviously doesn’t negate the creepiness of all the searching being done).
2. People are noticing and upset this time.

What can be done?
1. Privacy controls such as Facebook and Google+ implement. Unfortunately this likely requires a huge re-write of the site and will take time.

2. Paid access. Fix the funding problem and lack of development by starting to charge for features or the entire site. Sucks that a lot of people will leave because of this but it’s better than turning into another collarme or not addressing the issues.
3. More transparency in the way issues are handled. A board running things at the top and not just Baku making decisions.

4. Restrictions on some back end stuff such as database exposure and search limiting.

5. If you are on the list: delete your profile and re-create. You’ll have a new userid # so the link on the list will no longer work.

Also for the love of god people, do not use the same fetlife username as you use with other services that have your public persona.

More info from knowledgeable folks is welcomed!

Breaking Out of Sickness Paralysis

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It’s been a rough month…

I had my wisdom teeth out about a month ago. All four, so I knew it was going to set me back for a couple weeks.

There were warnings that I could have a higher risk of complications due to my age, particularly nerve damage.

I didn’t get that…but I did get a hole between my mouth and sinuses that didn’t heal. And has resulted in a sinus infection that I’m still dealing with.

My ENT says that it looks like the hole has finally closed on its own just recently. But, I’ve been on antibiotics for over a month now, switched twice, and on a course of steroids. This sinus infection just isn’t going away.

It hasn’t gotten much worse since the initial round of it which left me in intense pain, weak, and feverish. Now its just some constant dull pain. And the side effects of the drugs I’m taking.

November/December is typically a tough time for me, being the darkest time of the year also with the least sunlight. My sun lamp helped a little but it’s still an anxiety inducing time, even when I am healthy. So this was a beast that has put me through some serious bouts of crippling anxiety. Worst period of all was the week of Christmas. It also coincided with my primary partner being out of town which made it even more excruciating. I was sure at times I had imminently dangerous/deadly side effects (oh yeah, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac). It was really great to be poly though and have another partner I could see a couple times during that week.

But it still was brutal. Shook my confidence in my supposedly healthy body. I developed twitches and more jaw clenching than my usual TMJ. Some of which still hasn’t completely subsided.

All the while, I’m really not feeling that terrible. But, of course, that week I went off antibiotics hoping I was better and the symptoms came back. This is all a very new experience for me…extended sickness, my first surgery, first time with anesthesia…

So I’ve got a few more weeks of this bullshit until I go back to the doctor for another scan. I can already tell that it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. Which means I may have to get sinus surgery to clean it out next month.

It’s really a challenge to get myself to go out. To say, okay, you’ve got a little pain and some of the usual side effects, but you’re okay. Nothing is going to disastrously happen, you’re not going to suddenly have a turn for the worse.

I went on a first date this week and, honestly, it went pretty poorly. Maybe there wasn’t a connection. But I also felt distracted, worrying about myself.

But try I shall to get back to normal. I’ve been absent from the kink scene, twitter, hanging with friends. And I think that may be as detrimental to my state as the sickness itself.

So, tomorrow night we’re going on a date with another couple. I still can’t drink to help relax and take my mind off my worries but maybe we’ll have a fun enough time in a laid back hang out that I’ll feel like my normal self again.

And good lord I can’t wait to have this all sorted.

Cross Post: My Weekend With A HIV Scare

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I wanted to get this out there, especially at the insistence of several folks I met at Catalyst Con. When I was going through this, being the web-induced hypochondriac I am, I was googling to find out about the rate of false positives in HIV tests. The easily accessible data is scarce as many sites like to try and highlight how accurate the tests are and don’t break it down to the individual types of tests and the false positives for each. While it’s great that they’re so sensitive they can pick up relatively new infections, when you make a test more sensitive, you introduce more chance for false positives caused by natural body fluctuations.

And there were a couple of anecdotes out there, but none that really related to my situation.

So if you are in a panic after what seems like an unlikely result from a first round of testing, here is my story.

And good luck to you!

Life on the Swingset: My Weekend With An HIV Scare

A Catalyst Con Non-Review

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I had an amazing time at Catalyst. But it’s not really a story. There were some great presentations, and amazing people. I really enjoyed meeting so many folks working in different ways towards the goal of a more sex-positive world!

I even managed to hand out a handful of business cards. Which was always exciting and fun.

And the conversations were incredibly interesting! Some great insights and experiences shared.

But, to what my prior post was about: Figuring out some direction.

I’ve got really two at this point: non-professional adult education or going for a Masters in Public Health.

The former was a direction I had been considering all along. But the MPH was inspired by some fantastic talks and discussions with folks working in that field. It’s something I had never considered before. I figured oh, maybe social work or some other form of direct therapy. But, I’m a VERY political person and after seeing the talk (first one of the con, mind you) How to be a Sex Positive Warrior in Public Health, I was floored.

Shout out to Kaitlyn Scalisi, Maria Quinn, and Rick Aguilar for putting on this panel!

I really am considering going this route. While it’s the more challenging one, I feel like getting into public health to help try and turn the ship, not just arrange a cabin, could be the best use of my energy and interest. I still don’t know a ton about what’s involved in the degree, but between those fabulous presenters and some friends I know that are working on their MPH’s right now, I will be investigating further!

It’s Aliiiive…And Prepping For Catalyst.

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It’s been far too long since I last posted. What’s up with that?

Well.

Summer. It’s a busy time with a lot going on. So I’ve been enjoying it and not musing at home as much.

I did have a third play party. Which was the first one that had a lot more guys than women. Fun times still and the women certainly weren’t complaining about the ratio. :3 But then I took a little break from hosting until the end of this month…hoping for a big party and good times!

And that brings me up to September, which will be Catalyst Con. I may not have much to say leading up to it, but will likely have a lot to unpack afterwards. 

Catalyst Con is a sexuality and relationship conference being held in LA this time. My plan is to talk to as many people as I can and find out two things: 1) What does your job relating to the conference topics involve, and 2) how did you get here? I really want to break into the sex education or related therapy industry but the question is what route to take to get where I want to be. I’ve got ideas of what some people do and how they got there through podcasts, but I know I’m not getting the whole story and need to learn more!

And meet some really awesome sex-positive people!