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Sunday, April 30, 2006

I was rilly in Philly

Sunday, April 16th. Easter. Had to fly to Philadelphia to speak at Drexel University the next day. Straight shot, non-stop flight to Philly. Took a cab to the Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast in West Philly. Very, very cute, and yes, it was on the corner.

Nadine, one of the owners, met me at the front door, gave me the combo to get back in (it's a weird sort of door lock with buttons to push in a certain sequence). She then took me up to the third floor to my "suite." It used to be the attic and the stairs from the 2nd to 3rd floor were very steep. I certainly won't be drinking any alcohol on this trip, LOL.

You can see what my suite looked like here. The living area was a small alcove with two armchairs, a good-sized color TV and small table. The bedroom I slept in is the one with the red comforter. Very comfy. I wish I'd taken a photo of the bathroom. The vanity area was HUGE with two sinks and plenty of counter space. Then the jacuzzi bathtub and shower stall and toilet were in a separate room. Yowza!

Since it was Easter, I had to find a restaurant where I could do takeout (I didn't feel like eating out and the jacuzzi tub was calling my name, ha ha). I found a middle eastern restaurant, walked there and ordered a lamb shiskebob pita sandwich and some stuffed grape leaves. Got some iced tea and orange juice at a 7-Eleven on the way back. Interesting walk. Most of the houses were frat houses and when I walked back to the B&B most had college students hanging out on porches and such.

One thing I learned, most of the houses in this area are two houses connected. This is because, back in Victorian times, it saved to have the houses connected for heating purposes. But it makes for weird neighbors when one will paint their half one color and yours is different. I couldn't live like that.

Got back to my suite, ate my dinner, ran a nice bubble bath, popped Moulin Rouge in my laptop and took a nice, long hot bath. Slept well.

Breakfast was oatmeal with fruit mixed in, delish and perfect for a chilly morning. Nadine was sweet and gave me a copy of a breakfast cookbook she sells (for free). We chatted, then I went back upstairs to get changed and ready for Ross Radish to pick me up (last name is just like the veggie).

He could be Clay Aiken's twin. LOL. Very nice guy, very prompt, took me to Drexel and to the room I'd be speaking in. I set my laptop up and chatted with people as they came in. I did a three-hour workshop with a break and sold all the books I brought with me, plus took some orders. I basically taught them how to handle campus-related online cases and Myspace and Facebook. Very interesting!

I had the afternoon free (hooray!) and went back to the B&B to change into jeans, top and sneakers. Took the metro to downtown Philly/Independence Hall. I'd never been there before, so I played tourist. What made it better was a walking tour I downloaded to my iPod for $9.95.

It started at the Liberty Bell, which I'd always wanted to see. Here are a couple of photos, one a close-up. Very cool.

Next was Independence Hall. The walking tour has you stop and listen to the history. It's a really well done program and I hope to do it in other cities I travel to. It's highly recommended. Here are some shots of Independence Hall. More text follows after these photos.

The only complaint about the walking tour is that I'd get to one place, stop, listen, look, then it would have me backtrack, then backtrack again. Aargh! (I did get my exercise though).

Go west, young man!
(Go ahead and tell me who you think this is - clue: This statue is behind Independence Hall)

Went to Washington Square Park where there is a beautiful memorial for the unknown soldier from the Revolutionary War, complete with an eternal flame:

Next was Society Hill, more parks and the Commodities Exchange, which was being renovated, but I loved this photo:

I also liked the facade of the First Bank:

After my exhausting walking tour, I called Doug Muth, one of my WHOA volunteers, who works in downtown Philly. He was almost ready to meet me, so I went to a souvenir store to buy some goodies, then hit an Italian gelato/cafe and had a latte with pistachio gelato mixed in with it. The tall dark Italian guy at the counter flirted with me (he was not handsome though. Hey, two out of three ain't bad, ha ha, and he made my day).

Met Doug outside his office building. He's taller than I thought and just as cute as the photos I've seen of him. We hit Starbucks, then got on the Metro to head back to the B&B. Doug's young, in his 20s, and he'd never been in a B&B before, so I took him in and up to my suite. He oohed and aahed. All I hoped was that Nadine and her husband weren't thinking I was entertaining young men.

Doug and I walked to a restaurant called Zocalo, which served what I call real Mexican food. Not Taco Bell or a chain, but the real deal. Doug twisted my arm and we had a Margarita, chatted and had a good time. The food was excellent. The waitress thought we were on a date. I about spit out my Margarita.

Doug and I hit the 7-Eleven to get dessert - some ice cream, then headed back to the B&B. He came back upstairs to watch Star Trek-The Next Generation and I called Chris. Chris was a bit miffed I had a man in my room, but honestly, Doug doesn't dig women. If you get my drift. So I knew it was fine. Besides, he's my "employee," so I wouldn't do anything anyway. And he's a baby, fer chrissake.

I kicked Doug out just before 9 pm and "24" - watched "24" and hit the sack.

Had a nice, leisurely breakfast the next day, sold Nadine two of my books and then headed to the airport. Uneventful trip home.

Now I've spent the week catching up. More to follow.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Watch CNN - Video Is On Their Web Site

I was interviewed for a story about cyberstalking and you can view it online:

Go to, look at "WATCH FREE VIDEO" and click on More Most Watched Video, a new window pops up and it should be on page 3 or 4 - it's called Cyberstalked: Could You Be Next?

I hope you can watch it!


Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm not in Kansas anymore

(bad pun, I know)

Flew to Topeka, Kansas via US Airways on April 3rd. On my connecting flight in exciting Cleveland (sarcasm), the guy in the seat next to me was mad at something or someone. He was dressed in jeans and t-shirt with a baseball cap. Real classy. I was by the window and had the air going on my face. He turned to me and snapped, "Are you going to leave the air on like that the whole flight?"

I looked at him with wide, innocent eyes. "I can move it a bit for you," I said and turned the air more towards the window, but did not turn it so the air flow was reduced. Jerk. He spent the rest of the flight hogging the armrest, flexing and unflexing his fists and generally being mad at the world. I curled up as close to the window as I could and listened to my book on tape.

Landed in Kansas City, Missouri early. Small airport! So small, the gates are smack dab right there and when you exit, you're in baggage claim. No going down stairs.

I got my bags (to date, US Airways has been superb in not losing my bags and their service is always wonderful) and tried to figure out which of the waiting people was the KBI agent coming to escort me to my hotel. I was expecting a guy, but this woman about my height came up to me. She looked like a dark-haired Scully (X-Files, for those of you who are going, Huh?). She grabbed one of my bags and we went to her car, standard issue Impala. For the life of me, I can't remember her name (bad Jayne), but she was hysterical. We swapped "war" stories and before I knew it, the hour trip to the hotel flew by. I also talked to agent Ezell Monts aka EZ Monts. He said he was going to be driving me back to the airport on Thursday. He sounded like a funny guy. Hey, when your nickname is EZ. . .

The Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka is nifty. My room was on the sixth floor and there was a goody bag waiting for me. It was filled with a bottle of water, snacks from the local Frito-Lay plant, a candle and some brochures. I love when I get these - much better than getting the usual convention bag which I always end up giving away.

I went downstairs to register and meet Cassie Douglas, who had booked me for the 2006 Annual Crime Victim's Right Conference. We hugged and I got a bag (groan).

I ate dinner in the hotel restaurant and I swear to God it took two hours. When I asked the waitress for a dessert menu, she looked at me like I was crazy and told me hardly anyone ever ordered dessert. I almost paid up right then and there, but decided to try the lemon cake, which was good (and not stale, as I'd feared). Weird.

The next morning I waited to meet Governor Kathleen Sebelius and give her a copy of my book. She was very gracious (and very pretty) and we chatted for a bit. I stayed through her keynote, then headed to a workshop I was interested in attending, Forensic Homicide Autopsy, given by the Chief Medical Examiner, Mary H. Dudley. I have always been curious to know whether TV shows like CSI and Bones are accurate.

Guess what? They're not. The first thing she told us was that all the gizmos, like the PDA that one show ME uses to take photos with and to find bodies with infrared don't even exist.

She took us step by step through the procedures she goes through from the crime scene to testifying in the court case. The case she used as an example was one involving the murderers the Carr brothers. I encourage you to go to the link to read about this horrific crime and how the only living witness survived.

The presentation was very clinical and not gory whatsoever. Some of the photos of the bodies were disturbing, but it was all done in a very professional way. Honestly, the photo that almost made me cry was the one of the scotty dog that was killed by one of the brothers when they went back to the house to ransack and steal things. They shot the dog in the head, like their other victims. As a dog owner, this photo really bothered me.

Had lunch at the conference and met some of other speakers, then I played hooky the rest of the day. I changed my clothes and took the hotel courtesy van to Forbes Field to the Combat Air Museum. The first thing I asked the retired vet at the counter was if they had any P-51 Mustangs, my favorite WWII aircraft. He was surprised, but said they did not. He gave me a brochure and floor plan for the two hangars and I was off.

The displays were interesting, although some things were hard to read because of age (I really hope they update some of the paper signs). The aircraft were amazing. There were some from WWII, Korean and Vietnam wars and Desert Storm, as well as some that had appeared in movies, including The Misfits starring Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. The propeller was beautiful.

I discovered I had a little tour guide towards the end, an orange tabby who had the loudest purr of any cat I've known. He followed me and let me rub his tummy and head and into the gift shop. Turns out he'd been there since he was a kitten when he showed up and never left. He's 12 years old now. I called Chris because there were some books I thought he'd want, so I got the titles he needed and then picked up a t-shirt for me.

A woman came in, who was on the staff and she asked if she could ask me something. Sure! "What is a lone woman doing in a combat air museum?"

I laughed and said I was into WWII aircraft. The retired vet told her how I'd asked about the P-51 first thing. She said she was glad to see another female, usually it was men who came to the museum.

I got my ride back to the hotel, had another leisurely (long) dinner, then crashed.

The next morning, I was doing two talks - the first was a keynote about how I'd been stalked online. The room was filled with over 400 folks and I sold all the books I'd brought and took orders for more. I headed over to my workshop room where I'd speak for an hour and a half about cyberstalking, kids and teen safety and more. It turned out that not only were the seats filled, but there were people standing and sitting in the back. I got a lot of great questions, did a TV interview, ate a quick lunch, then changed my clothes and played hooky again.

This time, I walked to the local Harley Davidson dealership. Why? They have a museum in the basement, which is free! I was totally fascinated - they had a HD motorcycle from 1930 that was in wonderful condition. It was a small museum, but well laid out with loads of vintage "hogs," clothing, souvenirs, and more. Very interesting.

Special Agent EZ called me and told me, "Why am I not surprised you're at the Harley Davidson museum?" Ohhhh, cheeky. He said he'd be over in 10 minutes to meet me and give me the 25 cent tour of Topeka. Cool!

I wandered back upstairs and saw a tall black man in a suit. I said, "Are you EZ?" He burst out laughing. I told him I kept going up to men at the conference asking, "I'm looking for a man who's EZ" and kept getting room keys. He laughed harder. We got along fine.

His issued car was not comfy in the front seat, what with the radios and stuff. Hmph. But he did drive me through Topeka, from the old downtown to the new part where the shopping malls are. He dropped me back off at the hotel and I headed upstairs to catch up on emails and get ready for dinner. Bones and Lost were on and I wanted to eat early.

I ordered half a bottle of wine and only had one glass with dinner, so took the rest with me to my room. As I got to the elevator, a half dozen National Guard guys in uniform were getting on. They ushered me in and saw my bottle and glass. I completely forgot what t-shirt I was wearing. It was a DOJ seal on the front and on the back is written "DOD Cyber Crime Response Team."

I eyed them all as I got on and said firmly, "Don't even think about it."

They laughed and got quiet as I turned my back to them. I heard one whisper to the other, "We'd better watch out, she may go all Jackie Chan on us."

Ha! It was fun.

The next morning, while I was checking out, one of the hotel staff ran up to me and told me she'd seen me on TV and that her grandmother had been in my talk and loved it. A fan!

EZ picked me up and we had a neat time driving to the airport. He told me about cases he'd worked on, including the BTK serial killer and some others. When we got to the airport, he put on his flashing lights and helped me get my bags out, then gave me a huge hug. I hope I get back there again!

The flights home were delayed a total of a half hour, which wasn't bad. I was tired, but happy to be home.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Augusta, Maine - Assistant Principal's Conference

First real drive with Jurgen – to Augusta, Maine, a good two-hour drive from home. Smooth sailing, er driving, the whole way. Listened to a good book – The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connolly. Got to Augusta and found the Maine Principal’s Association offices fine. Went in, found Jeff Sturgis, who had booked me and found that the current talk was almost done.

I set about folding brochures I’d printed before I’d left home, then as people filed out of the room, followed Jeff in to set up my laptop and get ready for my talk, which would happen after lunch.

The room was full, over 80 assistant principals from throughout Maine, and a few law enforcement officers. I talked mainly about cyberbullying, predators and social networking sites like

I had done a search on Myspace for York High School, as I couldn’t find an Augusta High School, and did screenshots from the results I’d found, choosing a boy and girl who had put too much info in their profiles, showing how anyone can access profiles not marked private.

Afterwards, got some good questions and a Lewiston cop asked if one type of teen had Myspace accounts. It was pretty funny, several people in the audience loudly said no. I told him that if he meant kids who were depressed or caused problems, no. I saw all kinds of kids – popular ones, loners, goth, dorks, - every kind of teen you can imagine.

I also was asked by one man if I felt an ethical duty to contact the parents of the two students I’d profiled that their children had too much information in their profiles. I told him no, because if I spent my time going through *every* high school student’s profiles to find out who had too much information and contact their parents, then I wouldn’t be doing anything else. I told him my purpose was to educate them, the audience, on how to look for this info and take it from there. If they felt they had to contact a parent, fine, but I advised them to talk to the student first and explain why too much information was not a good thing.

Hey, if someone wants to pay me to “police”, please contact me. But until then, it’s not my job, ethically or not. My job is to educate and spread and the word. I love it when people get all high and mighty and try to turn my good work into something bad. Pfft.

I sold all the books I had with me, got a lot of requests about speaking at their school and left loads of business cards with people.

I packed up my things and headed home. Smooth driving again.

Chris had to deal with the sewer guys all day. That will have to be another post. And probably a long one.

I had to get ready for my next trip to Topeka, Kansas. I was going to be keynote speaker as well as giving a 1.5 hour workshop. I was leaving early Monday for that, so I was rushing around, buying last minute clothes, underwear, girl stuff. Did some laundry. Rented King Kong (Peter Jackson’s version). What a disappointment. After LOTR, my expectations had been enormously high. The movie was long, too long, and didn’t get exciting until the island where Kong was from and NYC. Even then, it wasn’t as good as all the hype.

More soon about the wonderful sewer district and my trip to Topeka.