like a tap on the shoulder

30 07 2010

When I first started the change from Effexor to Savella, I bought several books – one of them being The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner.  There was also a David Baldacci book in that stack and he gets top billing EVERY time so it wasn’t until I was well into withdrawal – whoops – discontinuation syndrome that I picked up The Neighbor.

I started reading the first chapter and it scared me so badly I sat it back down.

Then, all this drama of the past few weeks happened.  Me and the meds.  LJ and the recurrence of the PTSD.  Trying my best to help with my sister’s wedding next week.  Chickpea and PTSD.  E being a 5 yo boy with too much energy and not enough people to torture.

Two days ago I had nothing to read in the bath (and I desperately needed a bath) except for the book that scared me.  I thought I could handle it and I put on my brave face.


Then I started reading and I found in Jason Jones the man I’m worried LJ will grow up to be.  Scared.  Scarred.  Able to love, but not able to connect sexually with the woman he loves.   Driven with need to pull back the privacy and pain he lost as a child.

I also found part of myself in Jason.  The hours online, needing to make things right.  The research.  Reading hand written notes from court cases.

See, this is how I found LJ.  A&E were separated from him around foster home #4 or 5 and he went to a group home (read: orphanage) and they went to an agency foster home.  Years passed.  Files were misplaced.  Siblings who remembered someone else being with them weren’t documented any longer.

A&E came to our home 3 days after we found out that the placement we were hoping for (we were adoptive parents with a foster care license) wasn’t going to work out.  They weren’t available for adoption – yet – but they’d been in care for so long that in case they did become available the agency wanted them to not have to move again.

Shaun and I said yes without meeting them and only seeing a file.  That Friday, they walked in to the agency, and their foster mom gave me the most precious gift she could have: her records from their time in care.  The file we had wasn’t correct in a lot of ways – their ages were wrong, names were missing, and it didn’t mention siblings.

Turns out there are 7 children that the state knows about.  The 3 oldest are with a biological father, then a middle child from another father, then A&E, then a baby who went to another home.  What happened to the missing middle child?  He would be about 7 years old from my estimation.

It took weeks for me to find his name handwritten on an old case file.  About a month to find out where he was.  Several months to convince our agency and DFCS that bringing him back to his siblings was a good idea.  I wrote a letter to the governor.  I testified in court.  I spelled my full name in front of the bio parents at the TPR hearing.

We found experienced therapists and got a new psychiatric evaluation done.  He had been classified as mentally handicapped, PDD-NOS, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and some other bullshit.  (His IQ is in the 120s and since he’s been with us he no longer qualifies as a delayed/disabled child at his school.  The current diagnosis is PTSD due to severe neglect and abuse and ODD with delays in social skills.)

I used every trick I knew to get information and I used it all.

It was because once I started looking I found I couldn’t stop.

I just finished The Neighbor and I like to read acknowledgement pages.

God tapped me on the shoulder.

I stared in shock.

Ms. Gardner had interviewed and thanked two people from the very county we adopted from.  The county where that group home is.  Two names I haven’t seen before.

I haven’t yet been able to bring justice to their doors for what happened to MY son but now I have a few more places to look and a few more emails to send.  If nothing else, maybe I can find some more files that will help with his therapy.

Tonight, I’ve left a comment on Lisa Gardner’s facebook page.

Tomorrow, I’ll start following the leads that dropped into my lap.

This is what I do.

Flashing, the expansion pack

2 05 2010

After reading more on the Apple vs everyone else debates, I realized that I probably need to define my usage of “flash” when griping about eBook readers.

I read very fast.  It’s just a talent.  I can’t paint my own toenails without making a huge mess and I have no athletic ability.  I don’t suck at math, but I can’t do complex stuff in my head the way my mom and sister can.  I’m just blessed in the language arts category.

By very fast, I mean around 120 to 150 pages an hour.  That means I turn a page every 20 or 30 seconds with real books.  With digital books, the pages aren’t as big, so I turn a page about every 10 seconds.

In all the eBook readers I’ve seen, when you turn a page the screen inverts the black and white text then turns completely black, then fades back in to the words on the next page.  It takes a little under a second to change screens.  Hence, my term “flash.” It has nothing to do with the program from Adobe.

As quickly as I read, I see a lot of page changes in a very short amount of time which to me is “flashing.” When I have a migraine, I can’t even read a magazine with glossy pages.  Even then, sometimes the glossy pages trigger a migraine so I’m not going to submit my brain to a “flash” every several seconds.

Until the technology gets better, I’d rather scroll down than change pages.  Even the reader on my cell phone (Samsung Moment) is better than the full sized eBook readers I’ve seen because it’s a constant, hi-def screen.

With the file sizes of eBooks being so incredibly small, there is room to improve the screen quality in the device itself.  The largest eBook file I have is 111,ooo KB with most averaging around 10,ooo to 15,ooo KB in a PDF format.  PDFs look great on the average computer screen, so why can’t the readers do the same?

A nice screen with a few buttons to turn pages and load books with a single USB port would be something I would drop a few hundred dollars on.  Until then, I’m not going to risk a migraine to have a slimmer way of reading a book.

This TV is gigantic. This title is obvious.

2 03 2010

The end of February is bonus time at work.  I use “work” in the general sense because the company Shaun works for is the company I was employed by for 8 years.  He’s getting pretty close to 10 years so most of our adult life this company has been “work.”

Normally the bonus covers taxes and insurance on the house and sometimes the cars.  This year it dropped into our account and we both said this:



Are they for real?

I think they are.

Then we finally recovered from the shock and looked at it again.  It was still there and still bigger than we’d seen before.

Time out for a second.

This is the TV that resided in our house.  It’s technically my Dad’s because his Aunt Loys helped him get it and it was his first big TV.  (Yes, we get sentimental about electronics around here.  I still have my TI-85.)  It’s a 36″ screen and big as fuck.  By big as fuck, I mean it weighs nearly 200 lbs give or take a ton. When Dad got his new plasma, he let us use the big’un.  We had to go to IKEA and buy a stand that could hold 200 lbs and was big enough to set this giant on.

OK, time back in.

Shaun has been blatantly hinting for a little over a year that he needs a flat screen.  A big one.  I agreed with the flat screen part but not so much with the big one part.  I’m thinking 42″ max.  I agreed that since he met all his goals and kicked ass in 2009, that now would be a good time to get his flat screen.  I’m actively pushing for moderation, though.  A wife’s gotta try, right?

We shop online, look at prices and settle on HH Gregg.  That’s where my dad got his and they were exceptionally nice and they have great prices.  Also, I think the salespeople work on commission so they’re looking to make the sale especially if you drop in 30 mins before closing on a Friday night.

We wanted a plasma instead of an LCD because the technology is more stable.  We plan on a TV lasting at least 10 years and I’m the kind of gal who won’t buy a brand new model of a car because they’re still working on the bugs.  Anyways, HH Gregg had like 4 plasmas on sale and we preferred Samsung and Phillips/Magnavox screens.  That took us down to 2 models.

One was 42″ and the other was 50″.  Shaun stands there staring at the 50″ like he’d never seen a TV before.  Plus, it’s a Samsung.  Plus, it’s on sale.  Plus, it has those ambient lights. Plus, it’s got lots of USB and HDMI ports and all that cool shit.  Plus, you can buy a wireless dongle and make it the monitor for your laptop.  (I know I’m quickly losing the moderation war.)

On the showroom floor, it doesn’t look that big.  You think “hey, maybe that 50″ would look nice in our living room.” The little voice in the back of your head says “you measured the stand before you left the house.  That bitch ain’t gonna fit.”  The voice looking at the TV says “we can make it work.  We make lots of stuff work.”

Then the clincher – the salesperson comes up and says “I just checked our inventory and the one you’re looking at right now is our last one.  Because it’s the display model, we’ll sell it to you for this price.”  He handed Shaun a piece of paper and we looked at it and looked at the price tag on the wall and the price tag on the 42″.

Shit. The war for moderation is over.

Now I have to figure out how to fit a big ass flat screen in the back of the Durango WITH 3 children.  It was tight, but with the 3rd row folded down and some prayer we got it into the truck.  We got it home and carried it in and set it in the floor.*

We have an unforseen problem.  This thing is as big as our loveseat and weighs about 75 lbs.

That’s not too bad, actually.  To men, bigger is better and as long as it fits in between this wall and that one, it’s not too big.

The problem is the 200 lb TV is on the stand this thing needs to set on.  It took some creative angling and one super power lift from Shaun to get the old one on the floor (on a blanket of course – I don’t need my floors scratched.)

Shaun started in on the cables which meant it was my turn to leave.  I don’t do cable management but I know just enough about how to set up an AV system to be a total bitch.  20 minutes later I hear “Cyndi, get in here!!!”

All I could do was laugh.  It overhangs the stand by an inch on either side and our very first HD moment is someone on the Olympics making the DURRR face.

After watching it for almost a week now, I  understand why movie theaters are seeing drops in ticket sales.  We’ve got surround sound and a big ass TV and some leather IKEA couches we can chill on with the cocktail of the night and a bowl of ice cream.  The kids can play in the floor* and the bathroom is just a few steps away.

We watched Robin Williams’ Weapon of Self Destruction on Sunday night and it was awesome.  Dang, even I’m excited about this monstrosity!

*You wouldn’t believe the amount of shit I catch for saying “in the floor.”  I know it’s actually ON the floor but I grew up round here and I’m writing it the way it sounds in my head.  The kids play in the floor.  Sometimes I lay down in the floor.  When acrylic resin gets easier to produce, I’m gonna make a floor with stuff “in” it so people who take me literally can STFU.


8 12 2009

Yes, this is another post about my damn external hard drives.

One in particular – the one that has only 26G of info on it but is going to take me a lifetime to clean up the file structure.  This is what happens when you use a portable hard drive to bail you out in situations of inevitable computer fuckwaddery.  In business terms this is called a “clusterfuck.”  It’s not a good place because someone always ends up with a big toe up their butt.

When you know a computer is about to die – say it sounds like a Toyota with a bad belt (which sounds a lot like a sewing machine) – you should absolutely get all your valuable info onto a backup drive as quickly as possible.

You should however, not name it “shit to file” and then forget about it.  Because… then… years down the road you will have something that looks like:

shit to file 1

shit to file 2

mobile uploads

photos off the old computer 1

photos off the old computer 2

image backup from 2006

Q3 2007 Projects

aa – wallpapers

aa – anime

aa – anime 2

(Yes, I know it’s not alphabetical.  I don’t organize by file name in my head unless you tell me to.)

Here is the part where I whine about naming conventions and how if you don’t use them you end up with duplicate files and lost files.  This new keyboard squeaks though, so every time I hit the space bar it chirps.  So you just fill in the whining.  Deal?

This is the part where I say “if you follow my Flickr page, you’re going to see a ton of old and/or odd shit pop up while I work this drive out.”  Because, yes, it is my photo drive.  If it were my music drive you so totally wouldn’t get to benefit from that.

Music drives are EASY to form a file structure.  It goes BAND -> ALBUM -> TRACKS where ALBUM = Title of the CD [year].  I even have a music drive bibliography in Circa format that references where the CD is stored and which albums I don’t have yet.  (Shaun and I have an extensive collection of underground/independent Christian rock and metal.)  I also have notations of which ones still need to be converted to MP3s and backed up.

So, photo drive, why aren’t you cool like that?  Why do you have no obvious file structure?

is it plugged in?

8 12 2009

The first rule of tech support:  is it plugged in?  Start at the wall and work your way out.

(Shouldn’t the first rule of tech support be not to talk about tech support?)

I should have remembered this.  It’s been forever since one of us makes this hair-brained move but it does happen.  See, it doesn’t matter how l33t you are, you’re going to eventually leave something unplugged.

This time, I was mad at the MyBooks for days because they wouldn’t connect to the old computer.  (The new one had a female adapter problem – none of the firewire or USB ports would work so we traded it for another new one that’s not set up yet.)  They always connected to the old one before!  They worked perfectly!  WTF?

Today I got out my favorite little LED flashlight and started at the wall, muttering about the first rule of tech support.

The power strip is plugged in to the wall.  Check.

The power cable is plugged in to both the power strip and the computer.  Check.

The switch on the back is turned on (our gamer system has a separate on/off switch on the back that overrides the front power button.)  Check.

The firewire is plugged into the MyBook. Check.

The firewire is plugged into the computer.  Check.  Wait – why is it wiggling?  The entire port is wiggling.

I took off the side and realized the problem.

The firewire card was not plugged in… at all.  It was in its little space just hanging around with no screw to anchor it, not even touching the slot its supposed to plug into.

Word for the wise:  If you’re going to take the side off your computer while it’s turned on AND it has a fan in the side panel, keep your hair out of the way.  Not only did I get my hair sucked into the fan while it was running, but it hit my thumb and THAT FUCKING HURT!  It’s just a bit of plastic running at a moderate RPM but it bruised the crap out of my thumb.

So everything is plugged back in and working now.  I can’t find the screw that’s supposed to anchor it, so it’s still a little floppy but at least it’s making contact.

Contact is good.  Now, I just need to find a screw!

technology fail

22 07 2009

I canceled my OBGYN appt today because I think I may be starting a week early.  Apparently, periods make you stupid because I cannot – CANNOT – get anything technology related to work today.

Well, I did update firefox, but a blind monkey could do that.  Blah.

I need to get my ass up and prove my worth by cleaning this house.  Then maybe make some sammiches or something.

I did finish a necklace I’ve been working on for a while last night.  It’s a gold chainmail choker with sun and moon pendants.  It’s gorgeous.  I just need to find an extender chain that matches it because it fits snuggly against the base of my neck and it would be nice to be able to adjust it.  I’ll put pictures up as soon as technology makes sense again.


In other news, I had an epic battle with the largest spider on the planet.  Think Princess Bride and the fight with the ROUS.  Halfway through the battle (I was armed with a flip flop) the spider was wounded and left a trail of yellow goo in its wake as he retreated to make his last stand.  It was his bad for getting out in the open and raring up on his hind legs – after that it was a simple THWACK! of the shoe and he was done for.

I hate spiders!

Lots of work to do, no money to be found

19 07 2009

I know that on Sundays you aren’t supposed to worry about work.  Let it all wait until Monday and just take some time to relax.  Right…

I’d been joking for a few months about going to work at Hooters to get a little extra cash flow.  When the adoption went through, we lost about $1k a month in income because we didn’t want to wait for the special needs waiver to go through on A.  It would have put the adoption off for another 8 months or so and from experience we’ve learned that a lot can go wrong in 8 months.  LJ’s had gotten approved two days before we signed intent to adopt but being A is younger, we didn’t have enough documentation to get the rubber stamp.  It was better to just get the adoption finalized even without getting the special needs care she qualifies for.  We did, however, get federal Medicaid on all the kids until they’re 19 or out of high school.  It covers mental health treatments and that’s what we needed to ensure.

Note to potential adoptive parents:  make sure you get the adoption assistance.  It’s wounding to the pride, but you’re gonna need it and use it.

Back to Hooters.  I found out today that I can’t work there because I don’t meet protocol – tattoos are out of dress code.  Damn, that means I may have to find work where I use my IQ instead of my T&A.

Unless I find somewhere I can flex-work or work part time, work just isn’t a viable option yet.  I say yet, but the truth of it is that I’ll probably never be “cured.”  Shaun has intermittent FMLA leave enacted in his job because the next migraine could literally kill me.  Reading that on paper scared the crap out of me, even though I knew it.  The MVP puts me at a higher risk of stroke, syncope, and fatal arrythmias.  Being the migraines are severe enough to take out my vision and I often can’t keep anything down, dehydration is a major risk.  Not enough blood running through the heart equals regurgitation and syncope.

I want to just scream that it’s not fair.  I’m 28!  I’m one of the smartest, most talented people in the workforce (mathmatically speaking,) I have the will and want to work – but I can’t.  I can’t even lift my head some days.  When I feel like that though, I verbally tell myself to shut up.  One of the kids I went to school with just died from cancer this past week.  He wasn’t one of my friends, but we ran with the same crowd.  Well, as much as a socially-impared art geek can run with a crowd. I’m blessed beyond belief.

I think I’m just feeling older than my age.  Wednesday, I have an appt with the OBGYN to start talking about a hysterectomy.  Friday is Shaun’s and my 10 year anniversary.  September is the 10 year high-school reunion.  I have three kids, ages 9, 5, and 4.  Two of them have PTSD and the laundry list of abuse related and drug-exposure related mental illnesses.  The last one is trying his hand at tantrums, but doesn’t have the stamina to keep up the 4 hour fits his sister is capable of.

The kids keep bringing up in therapy that they’re scared because I’m sick and they don’t want to lose another mom.  I can tell them again and again that it’s just a headache, but they know.  Kids are really good at not accepting bullshit and I’m really terrible at lying.  I don’t believe I’m going to die but I do believe that I’ll probably battle this well into my 90s. I grew up taking care of my mom through the same thing and I’m a productive member of society.

Some days are great and I feel like I did before I got sick… or until the sickness that I was born with caught up with me enough to take me down.  I have energy.  I laugh and smile.  My grammar doesn’t suck.  I have patience and want to conquer the world. I think about another child.

Yesterday was one of those days.  We went out with the kids to thrift stores and antique stores.  We picked up some pipes for Shaun to restore.  I got some $3 keyboards at Goodwill to modify and some clock parts.  We spent the kids’ Toys’r’Us gift card and their McDonalds gift card.  It was beautiful and sunny and great.

This morning was the same way, but a bad night’s sleep and too much caffeine caught up with me around 4 pm.  I got out and cleaned the wheels and chrome on my Durango now that the local road work is done.  I started teaching A how to work the shower since she’s going to start school in 3 weeks.  I took apart one of the keyboards and started cleaning it and sanitizing it.  We had pizza with the big family at Mom’s and the cousins all got to play and we made hand puppets out of paper bags.  I finally gave the digital picture frames back to my dad (one we couldn’t set up without an SD card port… blah) and set up the one for my mom.  I sorted through jewelry with my sister and stole some of her stuff.  The stupid gate at the family’s place was deactivated so we didn’t have to wait to be buzzed in.

Around the time Mom went to church with Grandma, I was a snippy bitch.  I even snapped at my mom.  I snapped at the kids for singing Spongebob’s “idiot friends” song.  I came home and took a bath, finished a stupid book, and tried to steady myself with working on fixing a flatbed scanner.  What I should have done is taken a shot of Zomig.

Now I’m going to attempt to sleep it off after I get Cali cleaned up.  Nola got pissy and and started a fight.  It looks like Cali lost a toenail.  Shaun’s putting the kids in bed and I’ve got the cameras charging so I can download the photos in the morning.

I don’t know who is harder to raise: children or German Shepherds.  They’re all too damn smart for their own good.