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Monday, April 07, 2008

Pittsburg, California, eBay, memorial, more

I flew to Pittsburgh on March 26th to speak at California University of Pennsylvania (not *the* California - fooled you, huh?). Before going, I'd made friends with a woman named Karen from the DA's office of Allegany County. She's writing a thesis on cyberstalking for her degree and had asked me to help her out with info and statistics and such. When she found out I was headed her way, she insisted on picking me up and taking me out to dinner while I was there. Who am I to refuse a free dinner, LOL?

Both of my flights (connecting through Detroit, where I was carded for ordering a margarita with lunch - talk about making my day, ha ha) were on time or early, so I was happy. I took the airport shuttle to my hotel, Hyatt Place near the airport. It was in a really weird location, behind a shopping center, but WOW! What a nice hotel. Turns out Hyatt had bought an older hotel chain and transformed them into Hyatt Places. It's very modern and I wish I stayed more than just one night. I had a 42-inch plasma HDTV in my room, which was spanking new and wonderful.

I only had about an hour to enjoy it before meeting Karen, her mentor at school, Dave, and fellow student, Dan in the lobby. They took me to dinner at a wonderful country club that Dave belongs to. Not too frou-frou and the food was excellent.

Karen peppered me with questions the whole time, LOL. It was interesting talking with her. She said she'd been talking with attorneys in her office at the DA and others and no one had any clue how bad cyberstalking could be or how to really handle a case well.

She also told me she'd contacted another "expert" before contacting me and was rudely told by this person that she had no time for Karen's questions. So Karen said she'd been hesitant to contact me and was so surprised at how nice I turned out to be.

I've had run-ins with this "expert" before and have heard similar stories about her. She's too worried about gettings high-profile cases she can flaunt in the media or just talks with the bigger media outlets and rudely brushes off students, smaller media outlets and others. My motto is "Whoever wants to talk with me, talk with me - the more I can get word out about cyberstalking, the more the public and professionals can be educated." So there.

We got to CUP, as the university is fondly called and were met by the dean, Bill Edmonds. He was just effusive about me being there. I felt like a celebrity, LOL.

I got my laptop set up, talked with some of the students and others as they came in, then did my thing with my presentation. I got some great questions and sold some books and overall felt it was well worth the trip.

Karen, Dave and Dan took me back towards my hotel, but we ended up going to a TGIFs for drinks and to talk more. It was a nice relaxing time. At the hotel, Karen handed me a huge bag of goodies as a thank you for helping her with her thesis. I was so surprised and touched. When I got back to my room, I called Chris and talked for a bit and told him what was in the bag - lots of locally made chocolates (no, not from Hershey), a teddy bear with an Allegany DA t-shirt, a DA keychain and magnifying glass, and a Pittsburgh coffee mug. I love presents, but I was also totally exhausted. Thank goodness I didn't have to leave until 9 the next morning for the airport.

The bed was heavenly and I actually slept pretty well. The next morning I got up, went downstairs to grab some of the free continental breakfast, checked my email, then went to the airport and on my way home. Again, both flights were on time or early - yay! US Airways rocks!

Called Chris when I got to Manchester and drove home like a speed demon (not really, but as fast as I could legally go, LOL). He met me downstairs in the garage and it felt like I'd been gone for weeks. It was nice to be home. Took a nice hot bath, he made dinner and we just relaxed.

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I've been putting things up on eBay finally. Some are my late husband's things, others are things Chris and I got from those storage units we dug through. It's amazing what people will bid on on eBay. Some things we had almost thrown out, but I put up anyway and people bought them! I want to get enough out of the new office downstairs so that I can move in. I'm almost there!

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One of my mom's best friends, Priscilla, died a week ago Saturday. My mom knew her for well over 60 years and I knew her from when I was a baby, literally. I played with her two daughters (one whom I got along with better than the other) and she was a wonderful lady. So my sister and her hubby brought my mom to the memorial service this past Saturday and I met them there. Priscilla had already been cremated, so this was more of a celebration of her life. She was 81 when she died and had been in a nursing home for many years due to a stroke. My mom last saw her two years ago when I brought her to Rhode Island with me for one of my gigs. I took her to the nursing home to visit with Priscilla. I think she's glad she went then, when it seemed Priscilla still recognized her.

There were a lot of people at the service, well over 100, which was touching. There was a slide show and two of them showed Priscilla and my mom on the beach in Maine back in the 1950s, then a more recent one. My mom bawled her eyes out. Afterwards, there was food and refreshments and a chance to just talk to whoever. My mom flitted around, touching base with people she hadn't seen in years.

It was nice seeing Priscilla's daughters - the one I get along with promised to come visit when she and her family stay in York Beach this summer. That will be fun to see her - I remember the times I drove down to the Cape, where Priscilla had rented a cottage for a week. I would run around with Jan, the daughter I hung out with, and we'd laugh and have a great time.

It was four hours total driving time to and from the service, but it was worth it to say goodbye to a wonderful woman.

It made my mom melancholy and I hope it makes her realize that life is short for some folks and for those who are older like her, might not be much longer. There are some issues she needs to deal with and I hope she realizes how petty they really are.

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The Jeep is coming alone - a complete stranger who lives down the road from us showed up last night and told Chris he has a Jeep hardtop, softop with doors, bikini top and some other things from his old Jeep he wants to give us. He's seen our Jeep in the driveway and thought we could use them. Yes, for free. So we're excited about that - the softop with doors is well over $300 new! Now all we'll need is new tires and it's ready to go mudding, to the beach and just for some nice rides on the weekend.

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I'll post more soon.

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