Update: Quantico, Dad, Chippy, Dexter, more
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.
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.