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Inflatable Dinosaurs and Chocolate Proffered to Sway Judges

Simon Schwart loves this time of year.

That’s because he belongs to the Software Publishers Association (SPA), which next week will hand out its annual ”Excellence in Software” awards. And Schwartz, like the other 487 association members, gets to vote.

That means he gets free stuff — posters, mugs, inflatable dinosaurs, toys, videocassettes, CDs, tapes, chocolates, software. Each spring, all this and more comes streaming through the mail from companies lobbying for SPA votes.
”Some people are bothered by it, but there’s nothing wrong with it,” Schwartz said. ”It’s the only way to find out about some of these products.”

Game developers are the heaviest promoters. ”It’s a very serious thing for us,” said Charlotte Taylor, a spokeswoman for game developer Sega. in San Jose, Calif. ”The SPA awards are like the Oscars.”

Like the Oscar award, an SPA prize is worth money. ”If a customer sees five similar products and one says, ‘Best Product of the Year, SPA’ . . . he’s more likely to pick that one up,” Taylor said.

So companies spend thousands of dollars on promotions. ”There are so many products nominated, and there are so many SPA members, that what you’re trying to do is flag somebody’s attention,” said Les Crane, chairman of The Software Toolworks Inc., a game-software maker based in Chatsworth, Calif. Crane’s firm flagged attention by promoting Life & Death, its surgery game, with a white-chocolate brain.

Most other nominees ran similar, if less gory, campaigns. There are about 50 prizes, with five nominees for each, so judges end up swamped. ”My mailman complains,” said Jeff Tarter, editor of Soft — Letter, an industry newsletter published in Cambridge, Mass. ”But I got a lot of nifty software, particularly games.”

Game developers run the most extravagant campaigns, but business-software developers lobby, too. Even IBM sent a letter to judges seeking votes for two of its educational packages that are up for awards.

Symantec Corp., of Cupertino, Calif., with five products up for 10 awards, sent out a poster headlined ”Symantec Blows Its Own Horn.” Said company spokeswoman Loretta Wagner, ”If you really think you’re that good, then show it.”

The nominees must believe in themselves, since most nominate their own wares in the first place. Under SPA awards rules, developers pay $50 to nominate one product for one award, then $100 for each additional nomination. A preliminary round of voting whittles the ranks of nominees to five finalists per category; winners are determined in a second round.

This year’s awards will be handed out at a May 24 black-tie reception in San Diego.
Some companies, such as Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and WordPerfect Corp., don’t lobby at all. ”We think that’s sleazy,” said one company spokesman who asked not to be named. But they do brag if they win. Microsoft and Adobe tout past awards on their packaging.

Schwartz, twice a winner for business-applications software, testifies to the selling power of SPA prizes. ”I’ve used it a few times to close a sale,” he said.

Looking For Love Not Sex

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this before, but I need to get this out. I was in a relationship with a man who was very handsome and charming, but he turned out to be a nightmare and I had to get out. Now I am back in the Midwest and trying to find my path in life.

Sex doesn't make a relationship

Sex Isn’t Everything

I feel a lot of anxiety right now; I did meet someone else, but I dismissed him because he didn’t seem all that interested. I want to get out and meet people, make friends, be normal, but I can’t bring myself to go out, to leave my house.

So I meet people online, but I can’t bring myself to meet them in person. I want to get back out there, but I can’t change or compromise my position and my views on sexual relations; it’s hard to get anyone to understand that it isn’t the sex that is the problem. I just can’t bear to lie down with a man knowing that he isn’t in love with me and doesn’t love me and/or there is no future. It’s the one thing that stops me from getting too close to anyone.

What I am wondering right now is should I change my position so I can meet someone? Am I really that out of touch with the standards of today? I know I’m not the kind of person to get physical just for the hell of it, and I don’t want to be a one-night stand, so what do I do? All I do know is if I keep on doing what I’m doing, I’m going to keep on getting what I’ve gotten, so a change has to be made somewhere. I just don’t know where or what needs to change. Should I be like everyone else? Or should I stick to my guns?

I’m asking for help here because I keep getting the same thing from different men. So many of them won’t give me a pass because their greatest fear is ending up in a sexless relationship/marriage, even though that wouldn’t be the case. I just don’t want to end up being used. I want to be loved and I don’t think these men understand or realize that sex and love aren’t the same thing because you can have one without the other and just because he’s having sex with me doesn’t mean he loves me or wants a future with me and I cannot settle for anything less than what I want. Is that being selfish on my part?

Marriage Just Another Piece Of Paper

This may blow your mind but my views have changed regarding many things in life. Marriage was never meant to be institutionalized – confirmed by the state government. It is a covenant, an agreement between two people, devoting their lives to one another. I will never be married with a piece of paper again. I’ve been divorced once and though all 18 years were not bad I also know I felt trapped in many ways. My view is probably tainted through my personal experiences. Though I am not saying to every American that marriage by the state is not for them. Each person must decide for themselves. I have friends that had a commitment ceremony, to them they are married, though many of our other friends think they are not. I think marriage is defined by the two people and their commitment is what they make it.

Is Marriage Just A Piece Of Paper

What Is Marriage Worth?

Times are changing. I always intended to marry him, until I found out how the social security system works. If you were a homemaker and you divorce, you are entitled to half of what your former spouse will get. But only as long as you stay single. The working partner is free to remarry, it doesn’t affect his benefits, but if a divorced woman remarries, she loses everything. It’s as if her life’s contribution is just wiped out. You can draw on the new spouses social security-but not until you have been married for ten years. This might work fine for a young woman, but not for a retired person like me.

If I ever know I’m dying…I mean for SURE, and the monthly income won’t be coming in any longer regardless, I plan to marry him on my deathbed. But if, as you said, marriage is a covenant between two people, then we’ve been married in our hearts ever since one of us first signed a love letter, “Yours, until God’s bones are dust.”

I worry deep down that people are not naturally meant to spend a life time with one person and that inevitably people grow/change and often do not grow in the same direction.

I’ve wondered this too. I think that depends on the person/couple. By no means should you feel that one man forever has to be your lifestyle choice.

I think it helps to put this into historical perspective. Back when the laws about marriage were first created, people just didn’t live as long. Till death do you part meant, at best, just long enough to raise your children to maturity. So it made sense to promise “forever.” And it as important to know whose children you were raising, which is why so much emphasis was placed on female fidelity.

But now we have DNA testing for that, and people can live into their nineties. You can raise a family and have half your life left in front of you. And it might not be appropriate to spend it with the partner of your youth.

I don’t see divorce as failure, and I don’t see couples who slog along in misery until they die, rather than divorce, as virtuous. It just isn’t amoral issue to me. If a couple finds lasting love, that’s still wonderful…but if they don’t, why can’t they each take the lessons learned and go create a new love with somebody else? Having tried it myself, I recommend it highly. :-)

As you grow and change your ideals could change to. Yes, there is a man that could survive a journey with you like that because he will be growing and changing also. Two people blend their separate lives into one and while remaining individuals they sacrifice some freedom for the responsibility of the relationship.

The best way I ever heard anybody put it—life is like a road you walk together, hand in hand. Sometimes you come to a fork in the road. If you both need to go in the same direction, you keep right on that path. But if one of you needs to go one way, and the other needs to go the other way, you either come to a standstill, or one of you drags the other in a way they should not go, or–you have to let go of each other’s hands. And I think this is the loveliest, and gentlest analogy for a parting of the ways that I have ever heard.

What do you condsider “normal” love? Tell me, what makes you think your own love relationship has to look like someone else’s? Choices and expectations are created/defined by each person for each other. Your relationship is unique, in and of itself. I also believe love should be inspiring, encouraging, liberating-it should naturally flow into place. YOU are capable of great love and that love can enhance your life and his-don’t limit yourself or feel your relationship has to look like the status quo-you can create what it would look like and as you grow/change your relationship can too.