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Monday, April 30, 2007

Public post about middle school, NPR, more

Before I post about what happened, a good friend sent me a link to Peeking In on Teens' Private Web Pages. I ended up sending the following email to the "ethicist." He quite obviously has no clue:

"I agree with Mr. Cohen that the football players in question should not have been suspended for being in photos that showed them at a party where there was a beer can showing in the background. However, I disagree with him that kids/teen Facebook, Myspace, etc profiles are "off limits" to adults. That's burying your head in the sand.

If kids and teens *publicly* post information, photos, etc of themselves online where anyone, anywhere in the world can view it, then they need to face the consequences. If they don't want everyone to see photos of them drinking alcohol underage, smoking marijuana, doing drugs,being topless, writing in their blogs obscenities and/or creating hate groups about teachers they don't like, etc, then make them private so that the rest of us can't view them.

I am a cybercrime expert and I travel the country showing kids and teens why they can't put this stuff in their profiles. It *will* affect them when the go to university or college, or getting a job. And they need to be held accountable. As was said, the days of locked diaries under the bed are long gone, but you know what? If kids/teens need to express themselves that badly, they should go back to those locked paper diaries or know that they can and will get in trouble if they post it online."

I'll be surprised if I get a coherent reply.

Now to what happened at the middle school I spoke at last week. I have calmed down enough to write a public post of it:

I was booked to speak at Greely Middle School in Cumberland, Maine, just south of Freeport (home of L.L. Bean) last Wednesday. Fine and dandy, right? I spoke with the principal, Kim, about my talks for the students, which would be 6th-8th graders. I told her my talks are basically "the Internet 'Scared Straight'" and that I find Myspace profiles of some students who post too much info, compromising photos, etc and let them know if I can see it, then anyone online anywhere in the world can see it. She was thrilled and said it would probably shock them into shaping up.


So I did my homework and made my presentation for the 7th/8th graders just as promised; for the 6th graders, I just covered the online safety aspects and didn't get into profiles with them. The older kids need to know better.

I was scheduled to speak this morning; 7th/8th graders first; 6th graders second. Then it was lunch with some faculty, then a faculty presentation/training, then a talk for parents/the public tonight at 7 pm. If you can't tell by now, I'm home and have been since lunchtime.

So, I do my 7th/8th grade presentation and show these kids the profiles I found and why they needed to change them. Then I showed a public profile (which has since been made private, gee, I wonder why). But in the screen shot of it the last line in the "about me" section was to a group created by this one kid that was a "hate" group for a teacher some of them don't like. Sixteen students were members of this group.

I showed the students I found this, which means anyone could, because it was PUBLICLY AVAILABLE. They were shocked.

Afterwards, the kid who made that original profile told me it was marked private. I said it wasn't when I saw it (which was Monday when I took the screen shot). He was embarrassed and asked the vice principal if he was going to get into trouble for it.

On the break, the principal was concerned because the teacher who is hated by 16 students, was "devastated." I asked her if the school knew about this hate group? She said no. I told her they needed to know about it to stop it before it got worse. And what teacher isn't hated by some of their students? I mean, grow some balls, man.

So I did the 6th grade presentation, which went great.

Then I was called into the principal's office.


She handed me my check and told me my two other talks had been canceled. I was flabbergasted. She told me all the students were buzzing about my talks. Isn't that what they were supposed to be doing? She said the teacher named in the hate group was really, really upset and she was afraid parents would come with "pitchforks" to skewer me later. I told her I was a big girl. She was firm in not wanting me on campus any longer.

Talk about putting your head in the sand. This school did just that today. I found something they didn't want to believe could happen at THEIR school. I was ticked off and offended. And hurt. I still am.

I calmly told her that if she wanted me to come back in the fall to do a parent talk, I'd do it because it was already paid for.

I was summarily dismissed.

I drove back to the hotel, packed my bags and drove home.

I called my friend V2 and told her what happened. The first thing she (and my mom said) was that the kid must have rich parents. That area is a wealthy area, so it wouldn't be a surprise. And the school didn't want to get "mummy and daddy" upset. Tough.

My mom asked if I had called my lawyer to cover my ass. I said, from what? Everything I showed was PUBLICLY available at the time I viewed it. The purpose of my talks was to show these kids they were not invulnerable and needed to be careful about what they posted online. Then I showed them how to be safer. Simple, huh?

Let's see how long that group stays up.

I did get one email from a parent. Here's what they wrote to me and my reply:

At 01:55 PM 4/25/2007, you wrote:
realname: Cheryl
email: (deleted for privacy)
comments: I want to know why you who are apparently so concerned with privacy had the audacity to parade not just one of my children but two of my children in front of their peers today at Greely Junior High School.

Mrs. (blank),

Your children were not singled out, there were others included - I merely pointed out that many kids are failing to take proper privacy precautions when online. Then I showed them how to stay safer.



Then I got this and my reply to her:

At 02:16 PM 4/25/2007, you wrote:
realname: Kara
organization: Parent
email: (deleted for privacy)
comments: Good afternoon,

My daughter is a student at Greely Middle School and has just informed me that your presentation is canceled. I would like to hear from you as to what you presented to the kids and why you think the administration canceled the presentation. Frankly, it sounds like what you showed the kids is exactly what we all need to hear about.


You will need to talk with the principal about this. If you want to get back to me after you talk with her, I'd be happy to give you my input.



I also got a call at 9 pm that night from one of the women who had helped book me for the Greely School fiasco. She wasn't there today due to personal reasons and she wanted to hear "my side" of what happened. Apparently, the principal and staff "freaked out" and called the administrator and although this woman didn't say it, made it look like I purposely used scare tactics and the hate group profile. Hello? I had talked with the principal beforehand, I told her what I do in my presentations - that I do my research and pull up any PUBLIC profiles students have to show them that if I can see it, anyone can.

The principal told this woman it was not what she wanted. If you don't want to hear the truth, the next time have McGruff come and do a "tame" presentation where the students will learning NOTHING.

Now she's backpedaling and also told this woman that I didn't fulfill the amount of lectures I was to do. I told this woman the principal handed me the check and said my services had been paid in FULL. I then made the offer to come back anytime to do the parent/public lecture talk. If there had been a problem with the amount paid to me, the principal should have said something then and negotiated a lower fee. She did not. I already cashed the check (thank goodness).

This woman is being put in the middle to see what happened. She said that the principal is going to be letting other schools in the district know about the talks and she is going to try to defuse it, because I *did* do what I said I'd do. But if this costs me speaking engagements, I may end up not only going to the media, but sue this school as well.


I was scheduled to appear on the local Fox News Morning Show on TV here in Portland, Maine before the Greely Middle School fiasco.

When I got to the studio this morning, I was talking with Ray, one of the hosts and he brought up that he wanted me to talk about Myspace. So, without naming the school, I gave him a brief account of what happened on Wednesday. He was apoplectic. He's the father of four kids - 9, 11, 12 & 16. And his high school kid had an incident happen at his school yesterday. Ray encouraged me to speak about what happened. So I did.

Ted Talbot, the cohost, was just as shocked. I did not mention the name of the school. I gave a very basic recount of what happened and that I'd found a "hate" group online that one of the students had created and had publicly posted it. Ray and Ted were both stymied as to why I'd been sent home by the principal and thought it was horrible for them to ignore an obvious warning signs of things to come.

Something great came out of it - I'm going to become a regular contributor to the show now. I wish I got paid for these appearances, but hey, I get to promote my book and my speaking engagements, so it's not bad. And it's less than an hour to drive to the studio.

I hope some of the parents saw me on TV this morning and will realize the school screwed up big time.

I also had an interesting reply posted about this - go check it out and then read my reply to it.

So the host of the morning news show here in Portland emailed, then call me later yesterday. We were on the phone for a good hour. He said they got so much feedback about what happened at Greely (even though I didn't mention the name of the school on air, mind you) and all but one was support for me.

The one?

A man who called in who said he was at my presentation and the reason I was told to go home was because the teacher who was the subject of the hate group was in the auditorium when I showed the screen shot. And?

What was I supposed to do? Say, "Mr. Teacher, you have to leave because I need to show something that has your name in it?"

I told Ray that quite honestly, this teacher needs to grow some new ones and he laughed and said, "You're my kind of girl - you say it like it is."

IMHO, I think it was the teacher who called in. I bet it was.

I am so sick of political correctness, fear the parents will sue or the ACLU will come after you (they used to be such a wonderful organization - why have they gone so wrong?). What has the world come to?

You know what? If you're a parent, be a parent. Don't be your child's friend. Don't let them get away with murder (figuratively, people, don't take me literally). Set rules and enforce them. Know what they're doing on the Internet. Use filtering and monitoring software until they leave YOUR house. You are the one paying the mortgage, the utilities and for the Internet connection. So YOU are responsible for what your children do.

And if you're a teacher, have some balls. Don't break down because a small group of students say they don't like you. For crying out loud, these kids put "We hate Mr. Teach With A Passion," not "We wish he'd die."

Not all students like their teachers. That's a fact. Before the Internet, students would whisper to each other, pass notes about teachers they didn't like, write about them on bathroom walls, and even post stupid posters of these teachers around campus. The Internet's the new bathroom wall.

If you can't deal with the fact that not all your students like you, then you need to find a new profession. Heaven knows I would not want you to be my child's teacher.

End of rant.

The great news is that Fox News here wants me to come in at least once a month to touch on various things happening online. They're going to basically give me more time so that I can take calls while on the air. Since they got so many calls from parents concerned about Myspace, that will be my first thing to tackle.

I am very excited about this. It's no pay, but I get to promote my book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors 2nd edition, and WHOA and WHOA-KTD. He gave me the choice of doing it over the phone or in the studio. It's only a 45 minute ride, and air time is air time, so I'm going to the studio.

Some good things have come from this whole thing.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Just got an offer. . .

on the motorcycle. The dealership is asking $7500; a guy offered $7000; I countered with $7250 plus a Triumph coffee cup and two Bonneville T-100 drink coasters. Cross your fingers that he takes the counteroffer!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Interpersonal Communications Survey Needs Your Input

I've been in touch with the man who put this together and it's a great survey to take part in. I hope you add your input to it:

Interpersonal Communications Survey


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I am pissed off and offended

You need to be on my friends list at LJ to read this post.

If you're not a friend already, don't try to get on my list.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The "P" Glass

Oh, you know you want to see it.

And no, the waiter wouldn't let me keep the glass.


The "P" Glass

Make sure you scroll down.

To review just what the heck this is about, see the original post

Jeep is sold! Trip to Tallahassee, more

The Jeep sold today for $6,500 - $500 less than what I was asking for it. Hooray!

So, my trip to Tallahassee. I had to meet my sister in Concord, NH to pick up my mom so that she could dogsit for me. When we met at Borders, it was raining. The nor'easter was starting. We browsed, bought books, I called my brother in law to see what books he wanted and he said there was snow covering their driveway and to tell my sister to get home. On the way back to my house, mom and I stopped at a restaurant for lunch. By now it was snowing. Hard. We ate, kept going towards home. When we hit Portsmouth, NH the snow was slush, then became rain. Not too bad.

The night was quiet until about midnight. Then the high winds woke me up. I prayed the electricity wouldn't go out. It didn't. The next morning, I got up, checked my flights and US Airways was claiming my Boston flight was leaving on time. Okey dokey. The car service picked me up and sure enough, my flight was leaving on time. Or so I thought.

The flight crew sat next to me at the gate and I heard one mention that the plane we were to take had a hydraulic problem and he was waiting for a new plane. So the flight was delayed a half hour for mechanical problems, *not* the weather. Takeoff was fine and I actually snoozed on the way to Charlotte, NC, where I'd change planes.

When we were getting ready to land, I woke up and watched as we headed for the airport and runway. I heard the wheels come down and watched as the runway came closer. Then suddenly it was like it was RIGHT THERE. The pilot pulled up hard, we all were thrown back in our seats and the plane was zooming practically straight up, then into a curve, headed towards the tall office buildings of Charlotte. You can guess what was on at least my mind. I thought we'd been hijacked or something. The plane was completely silent - no one spoke. I think everyone else had the same thought.

As we went by Charlotte, the pilot came on and said high winds made him abort the landing and he was going to try to land again. People began talking, one man behind me ran to the back and vomited and then came the smell of (pardon my french) shit. Someone literally shit their pants. Good lord. I was shaking.

When we did finally land, everyone clapped. I got off the plane, headed to my next gate and tried to call mom. The lines were busy. I called V2 on her cell and it turned out the phones were out. She was headed to my house to check on my mom. Good V2!

My connecting flight had left already, so I got booked on the next one. I then went for a scotch and water. I needed it.

My flight to Tallahassee was uneventful. I like small planes with propellers.

Leah picked me up - she's working with the lobbyist, Cyn Henderson. She drove us into town to the Governors Bar where we met Cyn and had a drink, then headed to Andrews 228 for dinner. You have to go downstairs for the dining room. I saw a waiter walk by us with a tray of food and said we'd take the tray. He pouted and asked if we didn't want him instead. We all laughed and went to our table.

Turns out he was our waiter. He was cute, blonde and young. We had martinis with dinner and gabbed. I hadn't seen Cyn for a year and she didn't know about Chris dying, so we caught up on everything. She's a great person. She also used to be a Playboy Bunny, so she's gorgeous. We're the same age, but I feel like I pale in comparison to her. And after traveling all day, I felt even more so, ha ha. So when the waiter flirted, I assumed it was directed at her.

So at the end of dinner, the waiter said he thought we all had a good sense of humor. We said we did and he looked at me and said, "Especially you." Hmmm.

We'd ordered one more martini for "dessert" and when he came to deliver them, he had another waiter with him who put Cyn and Leah's martinis down. He had a silver shaker in one hand and a blue plastic glass in the other, with a base that flashed different colored lights. I was getting a special glass.

Double hmm.

He then set the glass down on the table, his face red. We all burst out laughing. In the center of the martini glass was a, ahem, male appendage, if you get my drift. He poured my martini in the glass and said he was glad we all *did* have a good sense of humor. I'll be posting the photos soon. I promise.

I told Cyn (after he left the table) that I thought he'd been flirting with her. She told me, "No way, girl, he was definitely flirting with you." Gee-zus. He was so young. I am extremely flattered, though. And it made my night.

The next morning was meet and greet all morning long with senators and representatives. I walked so much it wasn't funny. Shook a lot of hands, tried to convince them all to vote for the bill, which would make dating web sites put a link on their main page to safer online dating tips and a disclosure as to whether or not they do background screenings of their members. Some of the people who had voted no definitely had a turnaround after talking over their concerns with me. I think I did good, ha ha.

At 2 pm we had to wait for the bill to come up. There were well over a dozen people testifying for and against the bill. Bill after bill came before us. The session would be over at 4 pm and at 4:45 ours finally came up. But the chairwoman TPd it (meaning temporarily passed) because she knew there wouldn't be enough time to hear it and all of us. So pooh on that. I did introduce myself to her and let her know I had come from Maine to testify. She asked me to submit written testimony to her office.

Another round of office visits to more politicians. Then it was dinner with Leah outside. It was nice, quiet dinner. She's a good kid (around 26 years old). I liked her a lot. I crashed hard that night.

The next morning was more meeting with representatives, then I hit the gift shop and Leah took me to the airport. The flights home were quiet, although my connecting was a bit late.

I was glad to come home. Took mom home yesterday morning, took a nap, then watched 24 and LOST. LOST rules! 24 rules!

Then I got the phone call this morning from the guy who ended up buying the Jeep. He works for the water district in town and wanted it for his son. On the one hand, I'm glad it's gone; on the other, it was hard to see it go. The guy who bought it drove it home, took the "Hitch" plates off and brought them back to me. I almost cried.

Well. Now I just have to get the motorcycle sold and begin working on all the ship books and other things I have to sell. Little by little. Day by day. I'm getting there.

Friday, April 13, 2007

ORTC; Proflowers Bats 1,000; Investing; I'm dating Alec Baldwin

That last bit caught your eye, eh? LOL.

I love the new series "30 Rock," that Baldwin co-stars in. His voice is so sexy that he could read me the phone book and I'd melt. I'd go out on a date with him in a minute - anyone want to fix us up?

Mission one has been accomplished. Chippy is now eating out of my hand again. Hooray!

Met with my CFP yesterday to go over my new investments. It's a bit overwhelming, but I'm glad I did it.

I have bought flowers from for several years and have never had a problem. In fact, I love their overnight service (which doesn't cost an arm and a leg) and their low prices and high quality flowers.

So I decided to send my sister flowers to cheer her up after her unpleasant emergency room visit. I then said to myself, "Self, why not send flowers to you as well?" So I did. I ordered us each a bouquet of 36 petite roses to arrive Wednesday at both of our homes.

Nancy got hers at around noon or so and was thrilled. I kept checking the UPS tracking online for my roses. No delivery yet. The afternoon wore on and at 6 pm, I checked again. My eyebrows rose. The flower apparently had been delivered to my front door. So I checked the front door, the porch, the bushes; the side door (where deliveries usually come in since the front door has a big potted plant on it and I don't use it as a main entrance) and even checked the garage door. No flowers. Hmmmm.

I called the neighbors to see if they possibly got them by mistake. No flowers. So I called Proflowers. The guy was very nice and confused that the flowers had apparently been misdelivered or disappeared. He told me he was crediting my credit card and would send a complimentary replacement bouquet to the house on Thursday. He typed in on the note to "knock hard on the side door" and reread my address to me.

I then called UPS. They insisted the flowers were at my front door. I told them they were not there. They said they couldn't do a trace because they were flowers, but would have the Wells distribution facility call me.

Rob, the construction guy, arrived by then and I filled him in on the lost flowers. He even looked around outside. No flowers.

Wells called me and put me on hold when I explained there were no flowers. (I was beginning to think Chippy dragged them down his hole) The woman came back on and said they'd talk to the driver and call me back on Thursday. No biggie.

I talked with my sister at around 8 pm and call waiting kicked in. I have digital cable/phone/internet and the number calling appears on the TV screen (it's very cool). I didn't recognize the name, but it was a local call. I had high hopes it was someone interested in the Jeep (which still hasn't sold). So I clicked off of my sister and answered the call.

A woman told me she had my flowers. Turns out she lives at house number 191 (I'm 161). So there was a dyslexic UPS driver, LOL. She said her kids were sick and she couldn't leave. I said no problem and asked which house was hers. When she described it, it turns out that when Guin and I go for walks, we always wave to the family (they are almost always outside). What a coincidence!

I hopped in the Jeep and went to pick up the flowers and an envelope that had also been misdelivered to her. I chatted with her and told her that since I was getting replacement flowers that she could keep the flowers. She was pretty happy about that.

I got home, called UPS, told them their driver needs to get his sixes and nines straight, and had a good laugh.

Thursday morning comes and the UPS truck pulls up. It's my regular driver. He apologized all over the place and said he laid into the other driver - he had taken the day off and it was a new driver. He promised the mistake would not happen again. I had him check to see if my replacement flowers were on the truck. Not yet.

After lunch, Fedex pulls up. There are my flowers! I guess Proflowers wasn't taking a chance with my replacement roses.

I opened them up and they looked kind of skimpy. I counted 18. Half of the order. I shrugged my shoulders. Hey, I got credited the money spent, so essentially they were free. I was happy.

I woke up really early yesterday morning. Don't ask me why. I checked my email and there's an email from the Proflowers president. He was apologizing that the order for Nancy had been only half the number of flowers and replacement flowers were being sent to her that same day. Say what?

So I called Proflowers yet again. The guy who answered was totally confused. He told me the replacement flowers were being sent to *me,* not my sister. Geez, Proflowers is batting a thousand by this time.

I decided to wait and see just who got the darned flowers.

UPS shows up. There are my flowers. All 36 of them. So now I have two vases - one with 36 roses, the other with 18. It looks like a reception room or something, LOL.

At least Proflowers did good. Even though it was all screwed up.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Followup on principal suing students over forged Myspace profiles

Prank or harassment? Fake online profiles of principal continue to pop up on the web

(note: go to the link of the article, which has links within it for some of the things mentioned)

For high school principal Eric Trosch, the abuse just keeps coming. We reported earlier this week how Trosch, a Pennsylvania school administrator, became the target of fake MySpace profiles back in 2005, profiles that accused the man of everything from having sex with his students to rolling doobies in his spare time. The whole fiasco ended with one of the students suing Trosch in federal court after being placed in an alternative education program, and Trosch filing his own lawsuit this week against the students responsible. But the profiles keep on coming—a new one was recently erected in Trosch's name on LinkedIn.

Ars spoke with Jayne Hitchcock, a cybercrime expert and anti-harassment advocate who has been involved in the case since being contacted by the Trosch family last year. Hitchcock calls the fake profiles way more than a mere prank. "I consider what they did to be way over the top," she says. "Being called 'child molester' and worse is not what I call a parody."

The new profile mocks Trosch for the very lawsuits he filed to stop this sort of thing. "It is completely acceptable for the masses to mock, ridicule, humiliate and satirize my name and likeness because I choose to sue highschool students for playing a boyish prank," says the profile. "By my own actions, my reputation has been sullied. From this day forth, whenever someone searches my name on the internet, they will know that I file lawsuits against the same minors which I have been entrusted to supervise because I could not control their behavior, which as co-principal is my primary responsibility." It then goes on to describe how Trosch enjoys "brutalizing women" and "keeping a keg of beer behind my desk for the sweet sweet high school girls." Now that's humor!

Though we faulted Trosch for his official response to the original profiles (computer classes and student research projects at the high school were disrupted while he attempted to shut down access to MySpace), poor handling of the situation in no way makes these kinds of posts less reprehensible. The fact that such profiles continue to appear more 15 months after the original incident also shows a certain viciousness of spirit among those responsible. Hitchcock, who also runs an organization designed to halt online abuse, believes that the failure lays with the parents of the kids responsible.

"Most parents are not being parents anymore and basically let their kids run amok and do not know what their children are doing online," she tells Ars. "Parents have to put their foot down, make rules and enforce them and show their children that they will be punished for any wrongs they commit."

According to data gathered by her organization in 2006 (PDF), the most likely targets of online harassment are white single women between the ages of 18-30, and the harasser is often an ex-lover (47 percent) or online acquaintance (25 percent). This makes Trosch's own case something of an outlier. Hitchcock urged Trosch to fight the harassment and not simply to let it drop, arguing that harassers need to be shown that their actions won't go unpunished or simply be dismissed as a "prank."

"Students need to be punished for doing things like this before it gets worse," Hitchcock says. "In the UK, a teacher's pants were pulled down while being videotaped and that was posted on YouTube. This is getting ridiculous and the more students get away with it, the worse they'll do. I wouldn't be surprised to hear or read that a teacher or principal was raped, stabbed or shot on video and that is posted. It's only a matter of time."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Principal sues youths over MySpace fakes

I've been involved from this from almost the beginning. The principal suing the students came to me for help when he wasn't getting any from local police or the DAs office. I even talked with the DA, Ristvey, myself a couple of times. And the bastard lied to me both times. I noted this in my blog when this happened and the followup.

Someone posted a comment basically claiming I would be sued if I didn't stop posting "lies" about DAs. I am not easily amused or scared off. I've already told the principal that I am more than willing to testify in his case as an expert and witness. He and his wife have been giving the media my contact info, but heck if they're contacting me.

I hope the principal wins. There is another false profile currently up that was recently placed on the web on the LinkedIn web site. This is not cute or funny. These kids need to be punished or they will continue to harass, bully and stalk others online, or worse.

Oh well.

Here's the story:

Principal sues ex-students over MySpace profiles

A Pennsylvania school principal has filed a lawsuit against four former students, claiming they falsely portrayed him as a pot smoker, beer guzzler and pornography lover and sullied his reputation through mock MySpace profiles.

Eric Trosch was principal of Hickory High School in Hermitage, Penn., at the time the short-lived profiles went up on the popular social-networking site. He claims that the students committed defamation by posting three separate profiles bearing his name, official school portrait and a host of "unsubstantiated allegations, derogatory comments and false statements" about him, according to a complaint filed last month in Mercer County, Penn., civil court.

Each of the disputed sites, which went online during the course of one week in December 2005, was removed within days of its appearance after school officials contacted Trosch has since become principal of Hermitage Middle School.

One profile, which the complaint claims was created by a student named Thomas Cooper, listed an unnamed pornographic flick as Trosch's favorite movie, according to the complaint. Another profile, allegedly posted by students Christopher and Brendan Gebhart, claimed he "liked to have sex with students and brutalize women." A third profile said he "kept a keg of beer behind his desk at school, was on steroids, and smoked marijuana," the court filing said.

The latter posting, which the complaint attributes to Justin Layshock, is already the subject of a federal lawsuit that has been wending its way through court since early last year.

Layshock--then a 17-year-old Hickory High School senior with a 3.3 GPA--and his parents sued Trosch and the Hermitage school district over the school's response to the incident. Its response included suspending him from school and placing him in an alternative education program that allegedly prevented him from progressing with his normal coursework. That complaint argues the school's actions were excessive, violated Layshock's First Amendment free-speech rights, and interfered with his parents' freedom to judge how best to raise and educate their son.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Operation RTC, sisters, CFP, Easter

is in full swing. Chippy has been watching me from afar, mainly because he's been in hiding because of this crazy cold weather and snow. He did pop his head out of his hole today to watch me put sunflower seeds on the deck. More work is needed to make him mine again (insert evil laugh).

My mom called - my sister had to go to the emergency room last night. She's home and fine now, but I wish someone had called me last night. I would've been there fast. I told my mom to tell Nancy that she can't be sick like this - I just made her beneficiary for everything of mine! (that should make her laugh, I hope)

I hired a Certified Financial Planner. Actually, he's part of my bank's parent company and I showed him the financial plan my friend Steve had put together for me. He was very impressed and said it was a great plan. I'd already opened two accounts with Janus, which this CFP heartily approved of.

I'm firing my accountant after the 2006 taxes are done. He made a remark that I may need to sell the house to pay the mortgage. What?! It's none of his business how I pay my bills each month. Maybe I have a sugar daddy. Maybe one of my relatives or friends is helping me. Or maybe, just maybe, I've been smart and have money saved up. I hate being second-guessed and I don't feel comfortable being questioned like that. So he's so fired it's not funny.

Easter was good - had lunch with my friends V2 and Bob at my neighbor's restaurant, The Lobster Cove on Long Sands Beach. It was nice eating while looking out at the ocean. Afterwards, V2 and I went to Kittery Trading Post to do some shopping. I have mega credit there from the guns and accessories I traded in. I had gone through my closet the day before and got rid of all my large shirts. So I got new mediums and had a ball. I bought V2 a shirt just because. She's a great friend and I couldn't have gone through everything I have without her.

Yesterday I got industrious and started some veggies in a Burpee growing system. Mainly tomatoes and sunflowers. The rest I can plant direct into the ground if it ever warms up here. We're supposed to get another whopper of a snowstorm on Thursday, but I hope that's not true.

I'm getting new life insurance (boy, I'm busy, huh?). A death in the family will do that to you, make you realize how short life is and to prepare for death because you never know when it will happen. With all the traveling I do, I worry what would happen if my plane crashes or something else happens to me. So my sister gets everything and my will specifies that her kids get money for their college education as well. I'm going to let her decide who should get what, if anything.

Gads, I'm depressing. I shouldn't be. I'm in a good mood today. I went back to KTP to trade in some of Chris' knives and more gun accessories I found and took cash instead of credit. So I'm all set for the rest of the month.

I may be flying to Tallahassee next week to testify for online dating legislation again. I'm waiting to hear back if it's a go or not.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Have Walls!

Wednesday afternoon, Rob, the construction guy, came over. Not five minutes before, the power had gone out and for me that meant the electricity, cable and Internet (I have one of the all-in-one packages). So he couldn't do any work downstairs. He'd brought some beer with him, so I drank Vitamin Water, he drank beer and we talked in the dining room for two hours, trading stories about various things. It was actually fun.

He left around 6:30, once the power had come back on the snow had started falling pretty heavily.

LOST was back to true form that night. Thank god.

The next morning, the plow guy came by around 6:30, so I was out to move the Jeep and shovel the front walk. Rob came by at around 11 am, and went downstairs to work. I'd already taken photos of the downstairs with the framing up, so I was anxious to see what he'd do. I'll end up posting the before/after photos when it's all done.

Got a letter from my lawyer, then called him. The defense decided not to make me pay court costs (well, duh, the car insurance company is paying for it on her side, not the woman who hit my car). So my lawyer is going to file a motion to reserve the right to appeal, then a motion to reverse the decision. He doubts the judge will do that, but hey, it's worth a shot. If that doesn't go through, then he'll contact my car insurance company and let them know the court found the woman we thought had hit my car hadn't and want to file a claim under my uninsured motorist coverage, since now it would be considered a hit and run. So we'll see what happens. I still have around $6K in hospital bills to pay off, plus another $3K for my doctor's depositions and court costs. Yikes.

At 6 pm, I went downstairs and discovered


It's actually looking like an office now.

I am so excited!!

Today he came by at 9 am. I was still in my jammies and had been going through all my clothes, piling up the things that were too big for me since I lost weight and things I just didn't want anymore. I hadn't even brushed my teeth. He called and said his work got canceled due to a bunch of people being sick and could he come in. I warned him - I'm not pretty in the morning. At least he didn't scream when he saw me, ha ha.

I showered, finished going through things in my room and am now relaxing before heading out to do some grocery and other shopping and errands.

I'm already beat.

But I am upbeat.



Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Webkins, April Fools, northern Maine

So on Saturday I'm talking to a cop friend and catching up on things. My sister called twice (I have call waiting), but I figured I'd call her when I was done. The third time her number came up, I told my friend I'd talk to him later and asked her what was up.

She says, "Webkins Emergency!"

I was like, "What?!!"

She's been looking for five Webkins for my niece's birthday and had called everywhere. Turns out they were available at a gift shop here in town. The deal is you buy the little stuffed animal, which had a code you input at the Webkins web site. This brings up the avatar of your stuffed animal and you can interact with other Webkins creatures, play games to get points to get things, etc. It's very kid safe and fun.

The catch was that the store was closing in 20 minutes. So I told her to call and have them hold the Webkins. I told Rob (the guy putting my new office together) that I had to run out, drove to this gift shop and the Webkins had already been bagged. I had to pay - the owner said he no longer ships outside of York because he was getting orders from all over the country and Europe and now limits it to people who walk in and then limits it to four animals of each type. Mainly because of eBay, methinks.

I got in my car, called my sister and told her the Webkins emergency had been resolved. She was excited.

Got home and told Rob the story. He laughed. He's a nice guy.

Sunday Rob came back and was busy as a bee downstairs. I finally finished putting my taxes together. I had put that off because everytime I pulled all the receipts and paperwork out, Chris' name jumped out at me. It was depressing. But I knew I had to get it done and finished it, put the paperwork in an envelope addressed to my accountant and breathed a sigh of relief.

My sister called in the midst of this. She was frantic. She told me there was another Webkins she found in Portsmouth, which is a 15 minute drive. I sighed and told her I'd go. Then she cheerily announced, "April Fool's!"

Sometimes I could kick my sister. LOL. She's a nut and I love her to death. The nut.

On a serious note, she mentioned she'd had nightmares for two nights about someone we know dying and then Sunday morning woke up sad and weepy. What's weird is that *I* woke up weepy and sad. Not about Chris or his dad, but for no reason. I actually cried for a bit. My sister and I have always had a strong connection to things like this and we can't figure out who it is that died or maybe is very ill that is close to us. We checked on our mom and dad, but it isn't them. Weird.

Rob's girlfriend, Tara, came over. She works for the Prosecutor's office in Rockingham County and we got to talking about my car accident case. Turns out the judge I had was the worst one to get. He'd been at the courthouse almost 10 years before and there were so many complaints about him he was transferred to another county. He's been back for under a year and the complaints have started up again. I know now, for a fact, I did not get a fair trial. I'm letting my lawyer know all this. She even said it should have been a slam dunk to win the case, based on the evidence alone. She was stymied.

They left and I headed over to V2's for a BBQ in her new place. She fixed it up real nice! It looks great and she looks so happy. Ended up being five of us girls eating, talking, drinking some wine and having a great time.

Monday morning went to the car dealer to have Jurgen checked out for my road trip. The manager said he'd sell the Jeep on consignment and to call him when I get back from my trip. Hooray! I had absolutely no calls on the ad I placed, which ran for a month and the Jeep sits in the driveway.

Had lunch with my dad and Joan. It was good seeing her. I hadn't seen her since Chris died and we hugged. She's a wonderful woman. My dad is so lucky to have her.

Sent off the taxes (I waved goodbye to them) and did things around the house and caught up on emails and things. Yesterday the electrician came by to do the wiring for my new office and to move the dryer into the new laundry room. I am so excited about this. It's going to look great when it's done.

Put some finishing touches on my presentations for this week. Scratch that. Just got a call. Due to the snowstorm, it's been rescheduled. Oh well. I was looking forward to getting away for a few days. Maybe I'll be a bum today and watch movies, ha ha.

Rob stopped by to check out the electrical work and hopes it's bad enough today that his regular construction job lets him off for the day. He's anxious to put the walls up and get going.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Couch and Operation RTC

Well, the couch came, but the recliner did not. It's coming in two weeks. But the couch is gorgeous:

It's a microfiber that is faux leather and looks old, but is sooooo comfortable. In fact, the first night when Guin got up on it, she promptly sat in my spot, curled up and went to sleep. She didn't move the rest of the night until we went to bed. So the couch gets the official Guin:

Chippy came on the deck this morning. I think he's confused because my little screen house isn't up yet. So I sat cross-legged on the deck and laid out sunflower seeds in front of me and talked to him. He finally came up and slowly got closer, stuffing those cheeks. He went back to his home and back to the deck a few times and came very close to my leg, but didn't come up on my knee or eat out of my hand. So, I have a mission I'm calling Operation RTC

Rob, my contractor, got a kick out of this and was excited to see Chippy in the bird feeder in the backyard when he came over. I was able to get the first photos of Chippy on the deck (from inside the house). Julian and Sweetie were too busy chasing each other on the stone wall in the backyard to come up, so here are the Chippy Spring 2007 photos - enjoy!