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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Crying in the dark

I know I'm still on east coast time, but I woke up at 4:45 am PST, in my Radisson hotel room and began to cry in the dark.

The news is not good.

After my first lecture yesterday morning, I called Chris' cell phone twice and was put into his voicemail immediately. I kept hoping no news was good news.

Not yesterday.

Chris finally called me while I was outside of the building, sitting on a park bench in the shade, a nice cool breeze going by. He was crying.

The doctors began to perform surgery on his dad and basically closed him right up. The cancer is so aggressive there is nothing they can do. They give him 4-5 months at best.

Chris is devastated. So am I. I am probably one of the few daughter-in-laws that feel like a daughter instead. I have always loved both of Chris' parents, and they in return. We've done a lot of things over the years together, shared laughter and tears and they were there when Chris was not around when he was in the Marines.

I'll never forget when I was driving Chris' shitbox of a car, the Isuzu Trooper, from Maryland to their home in Dover, NH. I had it packed to the gills, with Bandit and Guin and when I hit New Jersey, it broke towed twice (it's a New Jersey legal thing - one tow company takes care of cars on the highway, then it transfers to a local tow company off the highway. Yes, it's true and a pain in the ass).

It was in late summer, hot as hell and I had to deal with it while trying not to panic. I was lucky enough to have a writing friend in nearby New York to come and rescue us, but had to deal with a local repair shop over the next couple of days to decide what to do. After consulting with Chris, who was busy getting out of the Marines and couldn't do much, and his dad, we decided to pay for a flatbed tow truck to take me and the dogs to Dover.

So I spent the next however many hours in the cab of a tow truck with a driver, who was really nice, but it was admittedly strange. Bandit and Guin were in the front seats of the Trooper, sometimes looking out the windows, down at the other cars. Every once in a while a car would honk its horn and we'd see kids pointing and waving at the dogs. It was pretty amusing.

When we got to Dover, I got out of the cab and Chris' dad came up and gave me a hug and I burst into tears. I was just so glad to be home. That's how his parents are, they always make you feel at home, even in their home.

So I talked with Chris on the phone, we cried together and I just kept hoping someone from the conference wouldn't walk by and see me crying my eyes out. Chris kept apologizing, telling me he shouldn't have told me until after my next lecture, but I would rather know than not. And I had two hours between talks. I would deal with it. Chris needed someone to talk with and that was more important to me, even if I was crying.

When we finally hung up, I just sat there, crying and slowing pulling myself together. It sucks being here in Washington state, too far away to just hop in a plane and be home right away. But I had an obligation to fulfill and I would fulfill it.

I composed myself and went inside. Allison, who had booked me, knew I was waiting for the phone call and took one look at me and asked me if I needed a hug. I burst into tears again.

How is it that complete strangers can be so compassionate and caring?

I went into the bathroom, cleaned up, fixed my makeup and got ready for my next talk. I had to be sociable, so I went into "Marine" mode and pushed everything back in my mind so that I could work for the next couple of hours.

I did my talk and faltered only twice. I don't know where I get my strength from sometimes. I finished, got some great questions, sold some books (they wouldn't let me sell the actual books, but I could take orders), then went to wait for Allison to take and another speaker back to the hotel to wait for the shuttle to the airport.

I called Chris again and kept my composure. My mom had called him (bless her) and talked with him a long time. She was the only other person I had called earlier. He sounded a bit better, but still devastated. The next few days, weeks, however long are going to be so hard.

The shuttle finally made it to the airport to drop off the other speaker, then to take me to the Radisson (literally across the street from the airport). I had already made plans to meet with a Seattle Times reporter for dinner. I'd been interviewed for articles by him before and I was starving. I really wanted to just do room service, but I made a promise and I kept it.

Dinner was quick, but pleasant and it was hard not to say anything. I'm not going to yell to the world my dad-in-law is dying.

I went up to my room and collapsed in bed, slept fitfully, then woke up in the dark and the sadness hit me. I cried.

I called Chris and before we said hello to each, we just started crying. He sounds horrible. At least he has the dogs. He'd called his best friend Bill, who wanted to stay over last night, but Chris told him no. I stayed on the phone with him for a bit, then he said he was going to try to sleep. He didn't sleep much last night, either.

So here I sit, trying to stem the tears. I have to pack, but I have two hours to wait until I can go to the airport.

It's going to be a long, sad flight home today.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Seattle is surprisingly. . .SUNNY!!

I was wrong about my dad-in-laws operation - it's this morning, not yesterday. Yesterday Chris had to pick his sisters up at the airport.

I flew out of Manchester yesterday morning on Northwest to Detroit for my connecting flight. That was only about 1 hour 40 minutes (and no plane problems like earlier this week, ha ha).

Grabbed a sandwich and water to eat on the next flight, which would be almost five hours long. I tried to upgrade to first, but it was full. Pout.

The plane was pretty full, so there was someone in the middle seat. I had a window. Thankfully, we were all women and no one wanted to talk. My throat is sore and Chris said last night he thought I was getting a cold. I took my Airborne and a Benadryl. The latter knocked me out, so I slept most of the flight, listened to my iPod and read.

Got to Seattle and was shocked to see sunshine. You always hear how it's always raining in Seattle. Not true.

I'm here to speak for the Thurston County's prosecutor's office for their annual domestic violence/stalking conference.

I have to say this, I've checked bags in before and even with the largest airports (such as JFK, Boston, etc), it takes maybe 15 minutes to get them. Seattle took a whopping 40 minutes. That was when the luggage from my flight finally started to hit the baggage carousel.

I had to call the shuttle service to tell them I was waiting for my bags and would run over. I made it with literally three minutes to spare. I can't believe how inefficent Seattle's airport is.

There were four other people in the shuttle van. Because I didn't want to talk to save my voice, I turned on my iPod. The woman next to me was older and looked offended. Tough.

Then she wouldn't shut up. I could hear her, even over the radio podcast I was listening to. She sounded exactly like Sally Fields in the movie where she played an older woman. I don't think this woman gets out much. She kept exclaiming at how many trees there were, how green it was, how blue the sky was, the grass, the mountains. . .I was ready to scream. She threw in some "goshes," "oh mys" and other midwest phrases.

Two people were dropped of before us and the last three, including Ms. Fields, were going to the hotel I was staying at in Olympia. I was just praying she was not going to be at the conference.

Thankfully, no.

I was exhausted - traveled for over 13 hours, even though I slept a bit. I ordered room service and Chris called me a zillion times. I know he was worried about his dad, but I was just so tired and felt like crap.

I crashed at 7 pm (which would have been 10 pm back home) and slept until 5 am this morning.

Called Chris and he was waiting for his sisters to call him to let him know they were at the hospital, then he was going to head over. The operation is supposed to take about five hours.

I kept "talking to the ceiling" asking that Chris' dad get through the operation okay and be all right.

Now it's wait and see.

I grabbed some continental breakfast and am getting ready to check out at 10 am. I speak twice today, the first at 10:45 am as keynote, the other as a mini training session after lunch.

Then three of us speakers will be whisked away to the Radisson Hotel at the airport. My flight leaves pretty early in the morning, so this will be easier on me.

I do wish I could have stayed an extra day here. The hotel is two blocks from the marina and it looks like it would have been a fun day to walk around and see things. Oh well.

Cross your fingers for Chris' dad please.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Indiana, Pennsylvania

Took JetBlue to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Had to leave the house at 6:30 am to get to Logan Airport in Boston. I was pooped!

The first flight to JFK was delayed because as the plane was pulled away from the gate to the runway, the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) died. So no lights, no A/C, no nothing. So the plane had to be pulled back to the gate.

The pilot comes on the intercom and tells us that they use the APU only on the ground until the engines are started and it's "not really necessary." So they jump-started the APU and the engines (his words) at the gate and we left.

Chris freaked when I told him. He said the APU *is* necessary and they shouldn't have flown. Well, we made it to JFK, so I was happy.

Ran to my next flight, grabbing a sandwich on the way. As this jet is taxiing down the runway, a burst of gray smoke blasted from the right engines (on my side of the plane, of course). The pilot came on and told us it was just condensation. I would think that would be white "smoke" but what do I know?

We made it to Pittsburgh, got my car at Avis, a non-exciting Taurus and drove to Indiana, PA, the home of Jimmy Stewart. Did you know that?

It's a quaint town, very nice and Indiana University is a nice campus.

My first talk wasn't until 2pm the next day, so I got food to go from the Holiday Inn restaurant where I was staying (chicken quesadillas), checked email and relaxed.

The 2pm talk was supposed to be for advocates, school personnel and IUP campus police, because the talk took place at the police station. But not *one* campus cop was there. I was pretty disappointed, because they were the ones who need to know how to handle cyberstalking cases more than the people who did show up, although my audience thought it was great info.

A local TV station, WPXI, interviewed me and filmed part of my lecture for a November sweeps special newscast. Coolness!

I went back to my room, rested, then headed back to campus for the 6 pm talk for students. About 400 showed up and I was told it was the largest audience to date for a nighttime talk.

I love it when students (of any age) appear to be bored when I cover cyberstalking, then when I start pulling up Myspace and Facebook profiles from their school, I get their attention tenfold. It's precious (evil laugh).

Afterwards, the campus bookstore sold a bunch of books that I signed. I will also finally get a video of myself doing a presentation. One of the campus instructors filmed it and is going to do a bang-up job - he does this for a living, so I'm excited.

I left and called Chris. He was depressed. He saw The Green Mile, the part where Mr. Jingles supposedly dies and Chris was very upset.

I hope his sisters treat him with kid gloves when they come and with respect as well. He's been going through hell dealing with his emotions about his dad's cancer every day because we're so close to his parents (location as well as emotionally). I hope his sisters appreciate what Chris has been doing and give him lots of hugs and don't cause any problems.

Or there will be hell to pay (LOL)

Flying home today. Home tomorrow, then it's off to Seattle on Thursday. 6:30 am again.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quick Chippy Post

Just a quickie:

Since I'm not home to feed Chippy, Chris has been putting the food on the lounge chair on the porch for me in the morning.

But this morning he got the bright idea to put me on speaker phone on the cordless, put it on the chair with the sunflower seeds and let me call Chippy.

So I'm saying, "Chip chip chip chip, Chippy, where are you?"

It worked. I couldn't believe it. Chris is going to videotape it tomorrow morning, but until then:

WHOA Newsletter - 09/25/06

WHO@ Newsletter

September 25, 2006

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, I'll be speaking at Indiana University this evening - it's open to the public. Email me for details.

I couldn't make this up if I tried. . .What next? Plays in alien speak?

'2 b o not 2b?'
Education chiefs may turn Shakespeare into text speak so children can relate to it.

The Department of Education has issued guidelines to schools to be more creative. They are even backing the scheme to take a new approach to plays by the Bard.

Classic lines such as "To be, or not to be?" would be revamped into "2b o not 2b?".

Sean Dickinson, headteacher of Park Community School in Havant, Hants, said: "The core issue with Shakespeare is that it's become dull.

"Using technology like text messaging is one approach to fuel expression and creativity."

Colin Chuter, of Priory School, Portsmouth, said: "Children can lose their way, and this is one way of combating that."

According to The Sun Lindsey Lovett, 15, said: "I think it's a great idea. Shakespeare is well out of date."

But Mark Courtice, director of the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, said: "If you just said to young people, 'Here's Shakespeare as text', it might confuse them."

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(DISCLAIMER: The following news items were found on the web and were not written or endorsed by WHO@; they are for informational purposes only)

Couple fight back, collect $2 mil. - 09/25/06
When Fran and Casey Gaik got a barrage of harassing e-mails, found they had been put under surveillance and discovered their Oak Brook house had been entered while they were away, they couldn't exactly call the cops.

Criminals flock to the Internet, survey finds - 09/25/06
Criminals are increasingly trying to trick citizens into giving them their bank account details, according to a survey published on Monday which showed such "phishing" attempts almost doubled in the first six months.

Facebook changes spark criticism, controversy -09/25/06
Unless you’ve been living on the moon for the past year, you’re quite aware of the online stalking phenomenom known as Facebook. The Palo Alto, California-based Internet group, which consists of high school and college students, will be undergoing some changes.

Internet crime to hit homes hard - 09/25/06
Home computer users are now the favourite targets of hi-tech criminals, reveals research.
The report by security firm Symantec found that cyber criminals are targeting home PC owners because they are the easiest to catch out.

Dog has his day after an online death threat - 09/22/06
A student appeared to be responsible for an online threat to kill a lecturer's pug dog, a United States university says.

Did you really just press 'reply all'? Beware the perils of misdirected mail - 09/22/06
IT'S BECOME the most feared and shocking four-letter word in the modern world - SEND.
Whether it's by text, blog or email, every one of us has composed and written an electronic message in anger, confusion, or even just in error and, to our horror, watched it dispatched to the wrong person.

Man Allegedly Stalked Couple with GPS Device - 09/22/06
Stalking is illegal but it's easy, especially if someone's determined to find you.

Educator sues teens over page on MySpace - 09/21/06
Accusations that two 16-year-old students cyber ambushed their assistant principal have landed their parents in legal trouble, highlighting what has become a new battleground for student-educator animosity.

Internet theft scam warning - 09/21/06
POLICE are warning of an elaborate internet scam that has already stung three people in the Wheatbelt. It is happening all over the world, and police know a Russian syndicate is behind it.

EarthLink Wins $11.6M Judgment Against Spammer - 09/20/06
A Nevada-based company accused of sending out millions of unsolicited e-mails touting mortgage deals has been ordered to pay $11.6 million to Atlanta-based EarthLink Inc. The total came from U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr.'s Aug. 31 order awarding treble damages arising from a 2004 case filed by the Internet service provider against a company called KSTM LLC.

Fashion labels sue Ebay over sales of fakes - 09/20/06 luxury goods industry’s determination to stamp out counterfeiting has led to Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior Couture suing Ebay, the online auctioneer, for €37m ($47m, £25m).

Free anonymising browser debuts - 09/'20/06
Web users worried about privacy can now use a modified version of Firefox that lets them browse the net anonymously.

Ebay Profile: Time to Move Away from Ebay - 09/19/06
This is the story of a man who had traded stamps, first day covers and postcards on eBay since October 2000. He asked me not name him other than by his nick name, GeeBee, due to recent email abuse he’s received which will be explained later.

Computer hacking: a growing concern among college campuses - 09/19/06
A different higher level of education was recently introduced to the college curriculum, but students and faculty aren’t reaping its benefits.

Cymphonix Undoes Anonymous Activity - 09/19/06
Recently, users have been getting a raft of new tools and services that could prevent IT departments from monitoring their Internet activity. Today, however, a vendor released a tool that could let IT strike back.

Code cracking is the new pot of gold - 09/19/06
IF YOU think the password protection on your MS Word file is keeping it safe from prying eyes, chances are you're wrong. The time it takes to crack password-protected Microsoft Office files has tumbled from a 25-day average to a matter of seconds, thanks to a decades-old code-cracking technique that until recently was not viable.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Update: Quantico, Dad, Chippy, Dexter, more

Last week I flew to DC to speak at the AMC Conference at Quantico (the USMC Base).

I flew JetBlue - hooray! Got to Dulles and went to Avis to get my rental car. I've been getting their special of the week and never know what it's going to be.

That day, it was a Cadillac CTS. It looked like a pimp car. A nice pimp car. All tricked out, leather, XM satellite radio, all the bells and whistles including heated seats. I turned on the radio and rap came thumping out with the bass turned all the way up. Every station preset I touched was rap. Seriously. Even on XM. I was laughing so hard I almost peed.

So I'm driving to Quantico, trying to figure out how to reset the stations (it was a digital display and no manual in the glovebox). At a stoplight, with some rap song blasting away, I look over to my left and this black guy in a car is staring me, his eyes wide and his mouth an "oh" like "What is that white honky woman doing in that car listening to rap?"

It was a nice car and a nice ride, though. And I did manage to figure out how to listen to other radio stations.

The hotel was a Ramada Inn near the base. Outside it looked new. Inside, well, you could tell Marines stayed there. The A/C unit in the room had broken vent blades, the box spring had dried who-knows-what and the "restaurant" was either late in opening or didn't open at all.

The conference went well, I killed them all as usual (ha ha) and I spent the afternoon at Potomac Mills, a huge indoor mall.


Chris' dad is not doing well. He's trying to get used to the meds he's on and he tires easily. The doctors aren't sounding hopeful and that gets me mad. At least give him some hope. Chris is a mess. He's there just about every day, helping his parents go to appointments, working with his dad, trying to make him laugh. Then he comes home and he needs a hug. It's so hard for him being the only family here and he sometimes feels like his sisters are mad at him. The last thing he needs is for people to point fingers at us. What's needed is to get his parents through this and take everything day by day.

My next trip was to Dexter, Maine to give three lectures for the Dexter School District. The first was in the morning for middle school students in 4th-7th grades, about 300 students.

They were great. I did an interactive "IM chat" with a boy and girl who volunteered and went through cyberbullying, predators and Myspace with them.

At 12:30 it was the high school kids and even through there were over 300, they were great and really listened to me. Three local TV stations were there, as was a newspaper reporter. When I got to the Myspace segment, I made the TV crews shut off their cameras and showed the students how I found several of them with their full names in their profiles, where they worked part-time and more. I made a great impression on them and got some great questions. Afterward, one of the girls I'd profiled came up to me and thanked me for pointing out all the info she had and she was going to change it, then make it private. And she did!

That night, I did a lecture for parents. When I got to the auditorium to set up, I saw the following. Can you tell what is wrong with this picture?

The talk went well, the parents that were there (about 20) seemed very interested and overall it was good.

Chris had called me just before I had to do my talk and he sounded so depressed. I wish I could have been there to hug him. It's hard with me on the road, but with his dad so ill that he can't work, that means there isn't as much money coming in, so I have to take up the slack and book myself as much as possible. Right now, I'm gone every week until Thanksgiving - sometimes twice in a week.


Chippy news!

I used a photo of Chippy in my hand at the end of my presentations for the kids and they all ooohed and aahed and thought he was cute. He's a star now!

When I got home, he was happy to see me and promptly sat on the fence post waiting for me to feed him. The next morning we did our usual sitting on the porch and him in my hand or on my lap.

This morning I got up and went outside with my coffee and waited for him. I heard a rustle and saw a little chipmunk head poking out from under a grape leaf that was growing onto the porch. I thought it was Chippy and began talking to him. He poked his head out more and suprise! It was the other chipmunk we've seen out the window on the other side of the yard. He's a bit bigger than Chippy, redder and has big round ears. He skittered off.

Chippy was nowhere in sight, so I read a magazine and looked over towards his hole. He popped out finally and then the other chipmunk was on the porch, looking at me. Well, Chippy was having none of that! He took off and chased that chipmunk off the porch. There were nasty sounds aplenty.

Chippy came up on the chair, then onto my lap and looked at me. Hey, I wasn't feeding the other chipmunk, honest!

So what does he do? He stuffs his cheeks with seeds from my hand, then my knee, then climbs up my arm to my shoulder. I swear to God. I did not move. He tugged at my earring, sat there, looked at me, then climbed down. I thought I was going to die with excitement.

A bird that looks like a mini Bluejay with a chopped off tail came on the porch and I tossed him some seeds. He looked at me and took them. I'm becoming a frigging Doctor Doolittle.

Chris came out, I told him about Chippy and he sat still. Chippy came up and put seeds on my shoulder and sure enough, he's up there, happily stuffing his little face.

Chris couldn't believe it either.

He's going to try to get photos and video tomorrow morning before I take off for Pittsburgh on Sunday.


Monday, September 18, 2006

WHOA Newsletter - September 18, 2006

WHO@ Newsletter

September 18, 2006

Tomorrow is speak like a pirate day (really)!


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(DISCLAIMER: The following news items were found on the web and were not written or endorsed by WHO@; they are for informational purposes only)

HP case illustrates thorny issues of work privacy - 09/18/06
If you have a job, you have no privacy when it comes to using the office computer.

Judge rules bitter blogs are online stalking - 09/18/06
If you think your ex-husband is a lying, cheating, scamming, con artist with no conscience and no soul, you're entitled to your opinion.

Cyberfraudsters detained in Spain - 09/18/06
A large group involved in cybercrime and online fraud has been dismantled in Spain by the National Police last week. The authorities detained a total of 23 people all across the country, particularly in coastal regions of Catalonia, Valencia and Andalusia. According to the Spanish police, those detained were of seven different nationalities, including Spaniards, Italians, a Latvian, a Russian, a Ukrainian, a Panamanian and an Uruguayan citizen. The group used a Trojan to steal personal banking data from unsuspecting users in Spain and then to move the money outside the country to Eastern Europe.

Internet vigilantism sweeps China - 09/17/06
It all began with a Shanghai psychologist outraged at the Internet postings of a foreign English teacher boasting of his sexual conquests of Chinese women.

Zahir's Wife Received UK Police Caution - 09/16/06
Husna Latheef, the wife of Adam Zahir, received a caution from British police over the death threat email sent to Ahmed Moosa (Sappe) last year.

Officials urging website vigilance - 09/15/06
Users of controversial websites who fail to report online threats to police are partially responsible if the violent crimes materialize, says a local Internet expert.

Chat rooms are identity thieves' street corners - 09/15/06
On a weekday afternoon in a chat room, hackers are busy exchanging credit-card numbers, cash, hacked servers, information and stolen identities.

Facebook raises Internet privacy concerns - 09/14/06
At 4:03 a.m. on Sept. 5, unveiled a controversial new feature that tracks minute-by-minute changes to user profiles. Ruchi Sanghvi, the product manager responsibe for implementing News Feed, explained the feature on Facebook’s blog. “It updates a personalized list of news stories throughout the day, so you’ll know when Mark adds Britney Spears to his Favorites or when your crush is single again. Now, whenever you log in, you’ll get the latest headlines generated by the activity of your friends and social groups,” Sanghvi wrote.

Rage over MySpace photo leads to arrest - 09/14/06
A 22-year-old woman was arrested after authorities say she tried to hire someone to kill another woman whose photo appeared on her boyfriend's Web page.

Internet sex performance lands woman in jail - 09/14/06
A 39-year-old Dunedin woman is in jail, accused of trying to cash counterfeit checks which she says were payment for a web cam sex performance.

Warnings over social site 'abuse' - 09/14/06
Social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace must do more to police what users do, warns Computing Which?

Man may have sent two billion Viagra spam e-mails - 09/13/06
An Australian man under investigation for illegal spamming sent more than 2 billion e-mails promoting Viagra in a year, an official said Wednesday.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Went to the hospital

Dad is doing okay - he was in good humor. We brought Chris' mom with us and she was okay as well as can be expected. She's worried, of course, as we all are, but we're all taking it one step at a time.

Dad will know more tomorrow when he has more tests and whatever to decide what the next step(s) should be. It's driving us nuts with the waiting, but better to wait than to borrow trouble.

Dad did tell us a funny story, though. He'd been moved to a new room and we asked why. Turns out his roommate in the old room couldn't hold his bowels and kept going all over his bed. Dad said it began to smell so bad, he pulled his sheet up over his nose to get clean air. When the nurse came in, she kept apologizing and moved Dad to his new room and a non-crappy roommate (ha ha).

We could just picture him holding the sheet up over his mouth trying to watch the baseball game on TV.

Tee hee!


Chris is still on a wicked pirates kick. He got The Idiot's Guide to Pirates book today, with some others and a Pirates magazine, plus a magazine for his dad; I picked up a magazine about the P-51 Mustang - my favorite WWII plane. Seriously. Most people are amazed when they find out I'm a big WWII buff, especially the Pacific battles. I also picked up some audiobooks on cassette for Dad to listen to while in the hospital.

Chippy was jumpy this morning. Most likely because it was windy. He came up only twice to eat out of my hand. I have him eating sunflower seeds off my arm and my goal is to have him eat off my shoulder next. Then maybe some somersaults.

Just kidding.

But you didn't blink, did you? Ha ha!


I'm getting ready for my trip to Quantico on Wednesday. Then it's a rollercoaster of speaking engagements and book signings through mid-November. I'll be gone every week, sometimes with only a day in between gigs.

At least I get to rent a car on this trip so that I can go to Manassas or see if there's a ghost tour or something nearby. I won't have time to visit all the friends I'd like. I already committed to one set of friends and will just have to make time for others the next time I'm in the D.C. area.


Guin has an ear problem again. I swear she has a crush on our vet! Took her in, he flushed her ear out, but it seems like the pressure is really hurting her. If she sleeps on that side of her head, then moves it, she squeals in pain. There's not much we can do except keep putting ear drops in 2-3 times a day. Other than that, she's eating fine, bouncing around the house and when we go on our walks and poops and pees just fine.

What we've found on our walks lately: A York High School pen; mechanical pencil that wasn't broken (Chris uses it for his crosswords now) and I almost picked up what looked like a plastic doll dress, but left it. You just never know what you'll find on the sidewalk!

Three people stopped us to ask for directions to the high school - two of them had driven right by the huge driveway entrance with the gigantic high school sign. Doh.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Do you want to be on TV? And something I forgot to mention

The things I forgot to mention: Weird happenings in the house the last couple of days. Every once in a while, something out of the ordinary happens at home.

Two nights ago, we had dinner, then sat to watch Long Way Round (Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman). Chris sniffed the air and said he smelled something weird, electrical-like. We paused the DVD, went into the kitchen and the microwave was merrily microwaving nothing. Mind you, we'd been in there not 10 minutes before cleaning up dinner dishes and nothing was wrong then. We unplugged it.

The next morning I turned on the stereo and TV, as usual, to Fox News. I watched a few minutes of the news, then went into the kitchen to get the dog's cheese (for their pills) and my OJ, went back in the living room and the cable box had turned itself off. There is no way to do this without pressing a button on the remote or on the cable unit itself.

Very weird.

I turned the cable box back on and the microwave works fine.


Now to "Do you want to be on TV?"


A new show called The Dr. Keith Ablow Show is looking for guests for an upcoming show about victims of online stalking or scams who are still having trouble dealing with it or their situation affected their lives so much it has caused problems in the relationships, at work, etc.

If you or someone you know are interested in possibly being a guest, the show pays for all expenses to NYC, including airfare, hotel and meals and they told me they will also pay for lost income for coming to the show (honestly, that's the first time any show has offered that).

Email me at WHOA with your story (keep it short, about 2-3 paragraphs) and contact info including full name, age, phone number and city/state you live in.

You must be in the USA to be a guest.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just some updates

So, it wasn't the beginning of chemotherapy for my dad-in-law the other day. It was just an appointment with the chemo doctor, then another doctor and more tests. Then this morning, they found out (after two messages on their answering machine - mom and dad were out to breakfast) that he has a blood clot in his lung. So he had to go to emergency, was admitted and put on a blood thinner. They have to check all of him out now to make sure there are no more blood clots before even thinking of doing anything else.

Chris is doing okay - he's upset, but glad he can help his parents out by taking them to and from the doctors, hospital, etc. His mom is holding up well. She's always been a lady and I gave her a big hug when I saw her today.

Chris' parents are like a second set of parents to me. I know most spouses don't get along with their in-laws, but I've always loved them. . .from day one. I'll do what I can to keep them smiling through this all and giving them encouragement and hugs when needed.

I wish I could say the same for others. If you belong to LiveJournal, you can read my friends only rant there.


Chippy is now climbing along my arm and getting friendlier. Chris comes out every morning on the porch with me. We drink coffee, talk to Chippy and laugh at his antics. He's a little showoff. This morning, some chickadees came close to the porch and Chippy jumped off the lounge chair, hit a fence post and chittered at them. He made his point, then came back to the lounge chair and my lap. He's a feisty little guy. His nickname is Chippy Vinnie Chipmunk now. Ha!


I'm going to be on the road for my birthday for the third year in a row. But we need the money to pay Chris' hospital bills and to put away just in case. Plus, I'd like something nice for Christmas - maybe a hot tub?


Actually caught up with a bunch of stuff today. I forgot to mention (or did I?) that I bought the second season of LOST on DVD when it came out on Tuesday. I am so psyched to watch the new season and this is just priming me for it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pirates ahoy!

Last week, Chris had to get his dad around to the hospital several times for tests and a diagnosis that no one ever wants to hear - cancer. In this case, it's stomach cancer. Chris' birthday was last Thursday and I didn't know how he would be feeling after taking his dad to the doctor to figure out what would be the next step. I knew I wanted to cheer him up.

Since we'd watched Pirates of the Caribbean 1 on DVD the Friday before, then saw POTC2 at the theater on Saturday, I wanted to do some sort of pirates theme. I went to the local iParty story and loaded up pirate gear, then discovered they had a Madagascar (movie) section. That is Chris' favorite movie of all time. He can do the entire movie, all the voices and gestures on his own. It's pretty funny.

So I grabbed some Madagascar things as well, went home and decorated like crazy. I bought Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, which Johnny Depp and POTCs Gore Verbinski produced, and had that playing on the stereo.

When Chris came home, he had to "encounter" several pirates before coming into the house. He was grinning when he came in and I jumped out with a loud "Arrrrrr!", a pirate hat and eyepatch on.

The good news - no surgery for his dad. They are going to start him on chemotherapy tomorrow to see if that will take care of the cancer (we're praying it will). So we sat down for a lobster dinner and pirate silliness, Bandit and Guin included.

Here are the much-awaited photos

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I was right!

The game I wanted to get an M rating has finally been played by someone in the gaming community and you know what? I was right about the game. What kills me is that the number of rants emailed to me has gone down to practically nil since this was published yesterday.

The following just reinforces my statements in the press release we sent out. I particularly love the last sentence. How can you use a baseball or cricket bat or slingshot without any blood?

This game is going to cause problems. How long do you think it will be before the first media story appears in relation to this game and a bad thing?

"Early on in the game, Jimmy, the 15 year-old protagonist, can
only perform a shallow selection of moves -- your standard punches, a
grapple (Circle), Block (R1), kicks when an opponent is down (Square
again)... things of that nature -- but as our hero continues to work
his way up the ladder, a number of new maneuvers will open up (the
majority of which will be taught to you by attending gym class or from
a hobo who's also a fighting expert). When powered all the way up,
even the Karate Kid's nemesis Johnny Lawrence will fear you.

Perhaps the most inviting thing about Bully's combat system, though,
is that it isn't just limited to combo moves and a series of
repetitive attacks. Even in the early version we sampled, Jimmy can
already pull off humiliation moves from the start (press circle when
prompted after you've done enough damage). These humiliations put an
automatic end to the fight and add a bit of visual "oomph" to the
action. Our personal favorite is the classic "Why are you hitting
yourself?" technique that allows you to punch an enemy in the face
with his own fists. Players can also expect to use a variety of
different weapons with things like Cricket and baseball bats, eggs,
and slingshots. But if you're worried about over-excessive violence,
don't worry: there won't be any blood, disfigurement, or death."