Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2017.05.24
Someday some bright boy will figure out how to record this broadcast, then some
smart boy will see commercial angles - and not long after that it will be
regulated and taxed.

		Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love"

2007.06.06

Cherubim Foundation Update V

The 2005 990 filed by the Cherubim Foundation Board has the numbers behind the organization’s last year in business. The document is public and is available from sites like GuideStar. For 2004, Cherubim Foundation showed $72,000 raised for the entire year. The Unfounding Board of Directors had $86,000 to work with, most of that on hand around May 2005, and yet they managed to fly the organization into the ground by year’s end.

The numbers don’t look right to me. They claim $57,000 “provided as aid and education to 56 participants” ($1,018/participant). Yet the 990 for 2004 claims $35,000 “provided aid and education to 42 patients” ($833/participant). 14 more participants consumed $22,000? Their own Board meeting notes indicate they moved to cut participant benefits. And I don’t know what happened to all of Cherubim Foundation’s material assets (office equipment, furniture, sound equipment, etc.).

What the Board didn’t know is someone on the Board, or close to it, was dropping notes at my door. I don’t know who and would rather they hadn’t. I prefer whistle blowers who actually blow the whistle. Regardless, the Note Elf(s) seemed pretty accurate and corroborating the important stuff was easy enough. A good look at the books would have been most enlightening, but would have served little more than to confirm what I’ve been saying all along. The Board members listed in the 2005 990 lacked the skill and the steel to do a decent job. They and they alone own Cherubim Foundation’s failure. It’s success belongs to the rest of us.

2006.04.02

Spilling The Beans – Cherubim Foundation Update IV

“It is…due to circumstance beyond our control that Cherubim Foundation is closing it’s doors,” begins a letter to donors from the Unfounding Board of Directors for Cherubim Foundation. I haven’t received this letter. It was sent forward by a friend who did. So far no one in my family or Janet’s family received the letter. Apparently what we did wasn’t worth recognizing and thousands of dollars donated over the years doesn’t count. Whatever.

The polytope that is Cherubim Foundation’s demise is difficult to hold in one space and grok the gestalt. Probably not worth the effort, actually. A few of the facets, however, are particularly shinny and merit a closer look by anyone considering starting or participating in a nonprofit organization. Likewise, there is much that can be learned from this experience which may help other organizations facing similar challenges. The veils of diplomacy and secrecy are no longer needed in this story so lets just tip over the bean jar and have a look at the circumstances they couldn’t control. (more…)

2006.02.22

Cherubim Foundation Update III

I knew the Board had handed Judy Holland unprecedented powers as part of their feeble efforts to find an Executive Director, but this is unbelievable. Ms. Holland is listed as Cherubim Foundation’s Founder on the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s web site (original screen capture here), presumably for the past 8 months. I noted previously they seemed to loose track of when Janet actually passed away. But to loose track of who actually founded the organization? A lot of people are owed an apology. Wow.

Colorado Nonprofit Association Listing for Cherubim Foundation

2005.12.15

Cherubim Foundation Update II

I have begun work to codify the business model which had proven successful for the first six years of Cherubim Foundation’s existence but elusive to new members of the organization. This will include components that worked, triage of those that didn’t and possible remedies to those weaknesses. Clearly, Cherubim Foundation’s transformation since Janet’s passing has exposed many of these weaknesses and as such will provide valuable insight into strengthening the business model. This will likely take a while as there is considerable material to work through. With plans to release under a Creative Commons license, I anticipate having a first draft ready for public review late in 2006. It is likely that at about the same time I’ll make a determination on whether or not to start a new organization in line with the vision Janet and I held for Cherubim Foundation.

Meanwhile, it seems the Board of Directors for Cherubim Foundation isn’t interested in taking responsibility for their decisions or answering questions. They wouldn’t do it privately and they’re not going to do it publicly. They’re quitting. Funny, the Board builds a wall while I press for answers until I’m spent. Tape a weblog note on the window to the world and the whole thing collapses. When it was eight fending off one lone voice of concern it was no doubt easy to wrap themselves in patronizing platitudes. How things change when it becomes eight against hundreds. Thank you all for your support.

Rather than do the work to move Cherubim Foundation toward a successful future, a process made significantly more difficult by their failure to correct bad decisions rather than having made bad decisions, they’re quitting. The latest missive follows with my comments included in-line. (more…)

2005.11.04

Cherubim Foundation Update I

Someone sent along a copy of the new brochure for Cherubim Foundation. Is anyone in the office proofreading? Are they paying attention to any details? Janet died in April, folks.

It also incorrectly lists Fresh Squeezed Books as supporting the organization. Fresh Squeezed Books does not support Cherubim Foundation.

[Edit History]

2006.02.22 – A printing of this brochure from a month earlier actually had the correct date for Janet’s passing. The incorrect date was an intentionally modification. The first printing had its own problems, however, including trademarked material belonging to another organization used without permission. Hence the second printing.

2005.10.14

Once more unto the breach, dear friends – Cherubim Foundation’s Future

I’d like to start with a brief measure of your moral and ethical fortitude. Imagine you are coming out of a store and you see a car pull out of a parking space and smash into another car. You watch as the car drives away, making note of the offending driver’s easy to remember vanity license plate. As far as you know, you are the only one to have witnessed this accident. How would you respond? Would you call the police? Leave a note on the damaged car? Or would you just get on with your life and not get involved? Image the same story, except you recognize the damaged car as belonging to a friend you had met while shopping. Now what would you do? Your response to these scenarios will help put what follows in context.

This past August I was on an island in the South Pacific, relaxing into a little space to clear my mind and find some peace since Janet’s death in April. The month after her death had required my full attention as I worked to provide a memorial for family, Janet’s extended and impressive network of friends and any members of the public who wished to show their respect. Concurrent with and following this event has been a depressing solitary process of disassembling what remained of Janet’s life – her cremation, her psychotherapy practice, her business interests, her bank accounts, her medications, her clothes and uncounted smaller changes that if nothing else reminded me she was gone. Sorting through many, many thoughts and memories on Kaua`i, what emerged were five or six key areas I wanted to focus on in hopes of rebuilding a foundation for the future. (more…)

2008.09.17

The Last Post

Colorado Sunset
(Click on image for larger version.)

This is likely my last post to Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud.

I’m not capping the inkwell for good, blogging is just too intoxicating for that to happen. But it is time to take a bit of a break from blogging and ponder the move to other interests -  written and otherwise. It has served the purpose I intended, namely to help me hone my thinking and writing, experiment with ideas, sort out interests and find my voice.

The genesis of this blog goes back to a time before things called blogs even existed. Starting with the “Friday Humor Break” in the late ’90, these were once a week snippets sent out by email meant to put a smile on a small circle of friends and family. As the distribution list grew, it became unwieldy and posts to web pages became the logical extension. Then, a more efficient way to post became necessary. By that time, blogs were happening and a number of content management systems tailored to blogging were available. And so here we are, Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud on WordPress.

For the most part, this has been a lot of fun. I’m certain a few visitors have benefited from the posts here at JZ:TOL, particularly in regard to the posts related to my late wife, Janet. But I must say, I have been the principle beneficiary. I have learned more than I thought I would and gained unexpected insights in more ways than can be counted. Perhaps most important among these are that blogs are indeed powerful platforms from which to speak and, because of that power, demand a great deal of responsibility from the authors.

By the posts here on JZ:TOL, I was able to shine light on the incompetent dealings of Cherubim Foundation’s board of directors and recoup $2,000 from a sloppy businessman that otherwise would have been permanently lost. While crafting each of the posts related to these and other issues, I was challenged to think clearly and carefully, for what I wrote could, and did, effect the lives of quite a few other people.

I’ve always considered myself to be honest and truthful. Even so, deciding to do battle on the web where it’s easy to acquire a false sense of righteousness, anonymity and immunity, such ideals are put to the test. It is tempting to throw mud and, on occasion, I’ve thrown such mud in unpublished posts. Patience and the ability to cool down have been two more lessons from my experience with this blog.

So what is next? The plan is to create a new blog location and focus on essays and longer posts which develop ideas. I don’t follow the news close enough to be successful at hit-and-get posting. There are many other blogs which excel with that approach. My writing is more suited to deeper analysis than it is to responding to current events. Too many times, something exciting would be happening, my mind would be fully engaged in joining the fray and by the time I actually had time to post, the event was old news. And I’m talking here about days, not months. Such is the way of the Internet. Things change fast and the focus of interest shifts.

When I’ve figured out where I’ve landed, I’ll add an update to this post. Well, that’s enough for now. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Be Well and C’ya,

Gregory Engel

2008.02.11

Non-Profit Transparency

Too late for Cherubim Foundation, but nonetheless good to see: Stricter IRS Form 990 to be more revealing, costly.

Among other things, the IRS wants to know more about the nonprofit’s business transactions and joint ventures, and its relationships with the directors on its board, as well as directors’ relationships with each other. Nonprofits will have to disclose more information about their officers’ compensation, political campaigning and lobbying activities; whether the organization has written policies covering conflicts of interest, whistleblowers and document destruction; and describe how it enforces some of those policies.

Funny-sad that a software engineer had a better sense of what the future had in store for how non-profits would be held accountable than a board of purported business leaders. I believe a lot of what they did, or rather didn’t do, was the result of weak accountability. When people know they will be held accountable, in some meaningful way, they tend to pay better attention to the consequence of their actions – particularly when the risks they take are done with other people’s money.

2006.11.27

Ripped Off By Eric Jensen And Jensen Musical Instruments

I’ve been fighting a number of battles over the past 6 months or more. I’ve also let a few dings go unanswered. Like the General says, you have to pick your battles. It looks to be time for releasing some of these into the wild. As I found with Cherubim Foundation, some folks just don’t respond to common sense, fairness and decency until they realize the rock they’ve slithered under has been turned over, exposing them to the light of day and the view of the world.

Today, the rock I’m flipping over is the one under which Eric Jensen and his business, Jensen Musical Instruments, are hiding. This leech, Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments, robbed me of $2,000.

Last February, I signed a contract for a custom built electric cello and put down better than half the money. I had done my home work and researched a number of potential vendors over the course of 3 months before deciding on Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I consider myself a pretty sharp Internet buyer and have never lost so much as a dime due to a fraudulent transaction conducted over the Internet. I’ve been shopping on-line for over 8 years. The BBB said Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was good, a number of professional musicians credit Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on their CD’s and I had a good conversation with Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on the phone where we discussed instrument options and such.

Even so, just how many crooks bank on getting rich by flipping phony electric stringed instruments? The electric cello niche has to be pretty damn small. It’s a small market and if you run a bad deal your reputation will suffer. Or at least it should. That’s the purpose behind this post. I doubt I’ll ever seem my $2,000 again, but I sure don’t want Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments sucking on anyone else.

But the Internet wasn’t the problem. Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments could have ripped me off just as easily if he had a shop here in Denver. But he is in Seattle which complicates the idea of making a visit. The leech no doubt had this in mind as he negotiated the theft of my $2,000.

Follow the links to learn the details about Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I have an attorney working on this to explore the consequences of the leech having conducted such a transaction over the Internet, across state lines and such. I’d like to shut down his web site (which I won’t link to) but until I get some kind of judgment this doesn’t look to be possible. Does anyone know anything different about shutting down a web site?

So you know, I have since acquired an electric cello. It’s a beautiful 6 string instrument from Ned Steinberger. The Steinberger was my second choice only because the vapor-instrument from Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was pitched as having a few bells and whistles which I liked a little better. In addition, the non-existent Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments vapor-instrument was alleged to be slightly smaller and thus easier to travel with (a major purpose for acquiring an electric cello in the first place.)

The Steinberger cello is a beautiful instrument and the customer service from both NS Design and their recommended vendor was outstanding. The Steinberger cello deserves its own post in the near future.

By the way, did I mention that the leech which stole $2,000 from me was Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments? What the leech doesn’t know and certainly doesn’t care about is that this is money from Janet’s life insurance policy. Money I set aside exclusively to bring music back into my life. The fucker stole blood money and may his wretched business life suffer the curse of psychotic customers until he returns my money and re-reimburses me for my expenses. I tried to do business on your terms, leech, but you failed. So now you are doing battle on my terms. Cash only, leech.

[Edit History]

2007.03.07

See update post:

The Paper It’s Printed On

2005.07.25

Janet’s Day of Days

I wanted to write about Janet’s last few days before the memories fade like delicate colors in the sun or the edges of objects in waining daylight. This post has been in draft mode for several months, undergone numerous revisions and will likely be revised again as I remember various points.

During the week Janet was in hospice, she said on three separate occasions “I want to go.” What an incredible forward looking statement. It wasn’t “I want to die.” or “I’m ready to die.” It was “I want to go.” The day before she died, she said “I want to go before they get here.”, referring to the impending visit by some of her family and out-of-town friends.

We had made it as clear as possible last Fall that Janet was facing a battle with the grimmest odds yet. No one we had known, met or read about had survived the predicament Janet was in. A month later, our good friend Linda would die from the very same complications Janet was dealing with. Getting the idea across to family was difficult because Janet had pulled this trigger several times in the past and ended up pulling through. Almost like crying “wolf”, but not quite. My sense was the family wasn’t completely sold on the idea this was going to be a problem. Can’t say I fault them for thinking this. I certainly knew that if anyone was going to fight in face of such odds, it was going to be Janet. And she did. Nonetheless, we made the call to family that if they wanted to see Janet while she was reasonably comfortable and available, now was the time. The family answered the call and each of her brothers, some of their family and her parents made the trip to Denver. (more…)

2005.05.17

Eulogy For Janet

[What follows is the text of the eulogy I delivered for Janet at her Celebration of Life event on 5/16/2005. The celebration was held at Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Colorado. – Greg]

Hello and thank you for being here.

Here we are, gathered together to celebrate a life over 51 years in the making. Like a fine quilt, its a life woven by a master’s hand from many threads that together tell a rich story. Each of us represents one of those threads. Some long, some short, each a different color and part of a different story. Ask anyone here about how they know Janet and you shall hear those stories.

My thread began a bunch of years ago, when an amazingly beautiful woman introduced herself, shook my hand and took my breath away. From that moment, life has been one long pursuit to catch my breath. And just when I though I had it, that amazing woman would touch my heart and once again take my breath away. It happened in the midst of stunning beauty on Kalalau, on the trails of the Colorado rockies, in crowded public places and silent private moments. It happened in the light of her laughter and smile as she told a story or sang a song. It happened while listening to her breathe as she slept. (more…)

2004.05.07

Two New White Papers Published

I’ve published two new white papers today, “Making Decisions While Facing Major Illness” and “Two Dimensional Information in a Four Dimensional World”. These papers were written for the Cherubim Foundation White Paper Series. They may be downloaded from the Geckopad Solutions website. Go to the Resources > Documents section. Eventually they will also be available from the Cherubim Foundation web site.

2000.04.11

An open letter to KUSA TV in Denver and the Board of Directors for the Komen Foundation.

This letter was originally written last fall. My wife’s health over the holidays prevented me from tracking down all the contacts to whom I wished to send this letter. Her health is much improved at the moment. She is off oxygen although her energy level is considerably diminished. I apologize for the delay and hope that my comments may still be of value.

November 22, 1999

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am writing this letter in the hope of initiating a positive change in the way breast cancer survivors are treated during Denver’s Race for the Cure event. I have shared this letter with organizations and people not directly involved with the Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure in the hope that my experiences will assist them in avoiding some of the unfortunate trends I’ve observed with the Race for the Cure event in Denver. (more…)


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