Friday, March 31, 2006

You really need to see this video on bystanders during a child abduction

This is scary how few intervened. What would you do in this situation?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Late night hike

We wanted to take advantage of every possible second of the beautiful day, so after Randy went to work, we grabbed the dogs and off we went for a quick night hike. Only went about a mile, but it was still fun.

It was starting to chill off before we made it to the end of the trail, so I'm glad we had our sweatshirts with. It'll start staying warmer longer now, so we'll be out at all hours of the night and day soon. Can't wait for school to get out, so we can be hiking or camping all the time.

The great part of my job is I can do it from anywhere. I can do an interview and take photos here in this area, then go to wherever and write it. As long as there is internet access wherever we are, I'm all set. :)

I need to restock my bag and make sure I have all the summer stuff in there. Anyone have suggestions on "must haves" for hiking/camping/travel? Weight is an issue since my health isn't the greatest in the world anymore.

Today's Road trip

The day started out early when Susan and her little boy stopped by the house at 8 a.m. and asked if I was ready to go. I'm always ready for a road trip, so I grabbed my bag, camera and PSP and ran out the door. We jumped in her van, grabbed my dad along the way and ended about 45 minutes later up at the Kinzua Bridge. Randy is working third shift and my kids and Susan's oldest were at school, so they couldn't go with. :( Next time.

If you've never seen it, the bridge was very impressive until a F1 tornado came through on July 21, 2003 and tore it to pieces - 11 of the 20 support towers from the 2,053-foot span that had stood 301 feet high. What a mess it is! People are trying to raise money to rebuild it, but I can't even begin to imagine how expensive that will be. The 121-year old railroad viaduct was once the tallest and longest in the world and was touted as the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

Seeing the devistation made by the tornado, sure keeps a person in awe of what Mother Nature can do when she gets angry. This was done by a small tornado, I can't even imagine what a F5 (the finger of God) could do. I never want to be in a position to find out either.

It was a perfect day to travel and walk around. We were the only people there, so that made the day just how we like it. The sun was behind us, so photos came out great! Next time, we'll pack a lunch and just picnic there.

When we got back into town, we printed out a few photos and will spend tonight scrapbooking them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Some mothers

Randy and I went to help out a friend yesterday. He was learning to use a new computer software for photography that we've had for a while. He had a contract to do the photos for a cheerleading squad and wanted to make sure he had help, if things didn't go right.

After spending three hours with a room of cheerleaders (ages 10-12) and their MOTHERS, I was ready to scream. Can anyone explain why a 10-year old needs to wear more make up than a supermodel? One of the mothers was totally overboard. Her daughter had on so much eye make up you couldn't see her eyes. Then the hair and nails..... The mother was demanding and expected everyone else would just wait until she had her two daughters' photos all taken single and together. The girls didn't want to be in the same room as each other, let alone the same photo. The contract was for one single and a team photo. Did this woman care? NOPE!!!

What is wrong with a little girl looking like a little girl in photos? They're little cheerleaders, not porn stars after all.

I guess I just have a different idea of what is truly important in life. The "perfect" hair, make up, clothes or nails mean absolutely NOTHING in the long run. Who really cares? Of course, I may just be the freak.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Back to work

This week has me back to work with three meetings and a bunch of features due. It's hard to get back into the swing of things, especially when one of the stories I *should* be working on is a car accident that killed a local 22-year old girl. I just can't do it. I knew the girl and her family, plus it's too close to Michael. She was on the high school gymnastics' team and I use to cover it for the one paper. Her father is my dentist. It's a mess.

Today's meeting is North Central's executive board. If you're from this area, you've heard of them. They use to be pretty fast, but now they have these LONG executive sessions where we have to leave the room for up to two hours while they talk about private stuff. Spare me. Most of the time, they're just yapping about things that isn't really allowed in an executive session. Hopefully, they'll hire a new CEO soon and things can get back to normal.

Even though it's officially spring, we have snow on the ground and it's COLD! What's up with that?

Here's hoping everyone has a good day.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patty's Day

It's St. Patty's Day, so it's time to go drink large amounts of green beer and do green jello shots. Maybe we can get wasted enough to forget how awful life is lately?

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

It's not getting easier

Yesterday was another bad day. I couldn't stop crying. I just miss my boy so much, the pain is eating away my life.

I had to be at Trevor's play last night. I only cried a little there, but it was pretty obvious I was in a bad place. People kept looking at me funny. I don't care what people say or think about me, but I try to keep it from Trevor. He's too little to have to deal with any more than he already has. We get home and I call Michael's mom and we just sit on the phone crying together. I'll go see her tomorrow night. She took her 10-year old daughter to the grave for the first time yesterday and she isn't handling anything well. She refuses to talk at all. Kids are starting to bring things up to leave at his grave. I know it'll become a shrine before too long. Everyone loved him so much.

My eyes are all red and puffy today and I have yet another lovely headache brewing. They've been pretty much non-stop since we got the news on March 3. Nothing will help them go away and not sleeping makes them worse. I can't sleep because my head hurts and my head hurts because I can't sleep. It's such a vicious cycle.

Hubby is working 12-hours shifts, so I'm alone a lot. I know it isn't good for me, but I can't stand to be around people either. Hearing that "things will get easier" doesn't help. They won't get better or easier. I may find a way to deal with the pain, but it'll never be easy. I suppose it's just something people say when they don't know what else to say, but it doesn't help. It just makes me cry again.

I try to be positive and know that I need to get moving on healing, but everywhere I turn, something reminds me of him. Of course, I have photos, songs, the smell of his body spray (Trevor wears Axe, too). I can't even pick up a book because we had the same taste and he was always borrowing my fantasy novels. I close my eyes and see his smile. I think I'll go where the accident happened and he died this weekend. Maybe I'll be able to say good bye there? I have to do something before I fall completely apart and can't get back.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pa. seizes paper's computer hard disks

This is truly chilling for all reporters out there (yours truly included)


Pa. seizes paper's computer hard disksThe Attorney General's Office says they may show evidence of a felony: unauthorized use of a restricted Web site.By John ShiffmanInquirer Staff WriterIn an unusual and little-known case, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has seized four computer hard drives from a Lancaster newspaper as part of a statewide grand-jury investigation into leaks to reporters.
The dispute pits the government's desire to solve an alleged felony - computer hacking - against the news media's fear that taking the computers circumvents the First Amendment and the state Shield Law.
The state Supreme Court declined last week to take the case, allowing agents to begin analyzing the data.
"This is horrifying, an editor's worst nightmare," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington. "For the government to actually physically have those hard drives from a newsroom is amazing. I'm just flabbergasted to hear of this."
The grand jury is investigating whether the Lancaster County coroner gave reporters for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal his password to a restricted law enforcement Web site. The site contained nonpublic details of local crimes. The newspaper allegedly used some of those details in articles.
If the reporters used the Web site without authorization, officials say, they may have committed a crime.
In interviews yesterday, the reporters' lawyer, William DeStefano, and the coroner, Gary Kirchner, disagreed over whether Kirchner had given them permission to access the site.
DeStefano said that although he didn't know whether any of the reporters used the Web site, "evidence has been presented to the attorney general which makes it clear that the county coroner, an elected official, invited and authorized the paper or reporters access to the restricted portion of the Web site... . If somebody is authorized to give me a password and does, it's not hacking."
The coroner said yesterday that he had not "to my knowledge" provided the password or permission to the reporters.
"Why would I do that?" Kirchner said yesterday. "I'm not sure how I got drawn into something as goofy as this."
State agents raided Kirchner's home outside Lancaster last month and took computers, he said. He said he had had no other contact with authorities since.
The morning Intelligencer Journal is owned by Lancaster Newspapers Inc., which also publishes the afternoon Lancaster New Era and the Sunday News.
The Intelligencer Journal's editor, Raymond Shaw, was compelled last month to testify before the grand jury, which is based in Harrisburg. Yesterday, he declined to comment on the case.
Grand-jury investigations are secret. But some details trickled out when a lower-court judge in Harrisburg, Barry Feudale, held hearings last month to consider the newspaper's motion to stop the state from enforcing its subpoena for the hard drives.
Officials said the Internet histories and cached Web-page content retained on the newspaper's computer hard drives could contain evidence of a crime - unauthorized use of a computer. To properly search the computers, state lawyers argued, they needed to haul them to a government lab in Harrisburg.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach argued that this was not a case of a journalist's right to protect a source but an attempt to use the First Amendment to shield a crime.
"We know the source," she said. It is a password-protected Web site, she said, essentially "a bulletin board in a locked room, and it is getting into that locked room and seeing the bulletin board that makes this a crime."
At the hearing, another lawyer for the newspaper, Jayson Wolfgang, said the search was illegal, and troubling.
"The government simply doesn't have the ability or the right, nor should it, in a free democracy, to seize the work-product materials, source information, computer hard drives, folders with paper, cabinet drawers of a newspaper," he argued.
Feudale ruled Feb. 23 that the state could seize the computers but view only Internet data relevant to the case. The judge also ordered the agent who withdraws the data to show them to him first - before passing them to prosecutors - to ensure that the journalists' other confidential files are not compromised. The ruling was stayed pending appeal to the State Supreme Court.
In the newspaper's appeal, DeStefano argued that the ramifications of allowing government officials to have control over a newspaper's computers, no matter the restrictions imposed, are frightening.
"Permitting the attorney general to seize and search unfettered the workstations will result in the very chilling of information," DeStefano wrote. "Confidential tips, leads, and other forms of information will undoubtedly dry up once sources and potential sources learn that Lancaster Newspapers' workstations were taken out of its possession and turned over to investigations."
In response, the state argued that "the newspaper has not produced one shred of evidence that the computer hard drives contain information protected from disclosure."
In a one-page order dated Wednesday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case on procedural grounds, freeing the state to examine the hard drives.

Contact staff writer John Shiffman at 215-854-2658 or


The kids did ok in school yesterday. My daughter cried a bit because everyone was asking about Michael. He use to go to her school, so lots of people knew him. My son was fine. I know he doesn't really understand what forever means. He actually said he missed school. Can you believe it? He sure doesn't get that from me. He's above-average intelligence and in all the enrichment classes for fifth grade.

Thanks everyone for all your kind thoughts while we're reeling from Michael's death. I'll be leaning on your shoulders again soon. Got a call that my uncle Paulie is at the end stage of lung cancer. I took Dad over to see him this morning. The docs don't think he'll make it til the end of the month, so we'll have another funeral to go to. :(

Tonight is my son's fifth grade play. He has a speaking part in Oliver Twist. I'll take a picture for the paper and send it up when we get home. That's my work for the day.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Graphic help

Would someone be able to make a user image with a photo of my Michael and "I'll love you forever and a day" on it for me? I have no talent in that and would really like one to add to the entries about him.

Going to the cemetery with his mom was horrible. I can't describe the gut wrenching screams for her boy. It tore my heart out all over. We've finally convinced her to eat a little, but she will have a long road ahead of her.

Thanks all. I would like to have this as a memorial to him.


We're taking the kids up to the cemetery this morning to see where Michael is buried. I hope this will start the healing process for everyone. My son Trevor is only 11 and too young to understand what is going on. We couldn't have an open casket, so that makes it even harder for him to realize that Michael is really gone. Not just for him, but for all of us. Trevor and Michael were the best of buddies. It was them and eight girls in our family, so they needed to stick together against the evil tyranny of the females. At every family gathering, I have pictures of the two of them playing their video games or just sitting together.

We have to pick out a headstone, too. That will be awful. We're all going to help pay for it because he was our boy, too. In my family, we're all very close. His mother and I were raised like sisters and he always told everyone I was his aunt, not "just a cousin" as one insensitive old bitty commented at the funeral home.

It's times like these you realize just who your true friends are and who matters most.

I thank all of my friends who have left words of support. It means a lot to me.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The funeral

We're home from the funeral. It was incredibly hard, but we made it through somehow. I brought his mother and sisters each an amethyst stone to help them make it through. One of the properties of amethyst is to help with acceptance of death. I wear one around my neck all the time. They don't have the same beliefs as I do, but they held on tight to those stones.

There were so many people there, there was standing room only. The kids kept coming up to the casket to touch it and say good bye. They all loved him. It was so surreal to see the football players crying with the skaters and cheerleaders with the goth girls. That was the kind of kid he was. Friends of all groups. He didn't care a bit what people looked like.

We went back to his mom's house after the funeral, but I couldn't sit there knowing he was being buried, so I snuck out the door while the pastor was saying a prayer and went up to the cemetery. My hubby and brother were already there waiting. There were about a dozen kids up there watching. I know his grave will become a shrine. The rest of the family couldn't be there, it was too much. I couldn't not be there. I needed that closure. Knowing he's safe and noone can ever hurt him again.

Tomorrow, we'll all go pick out a headstone for him and go with his mom to see his grave.

I love you, Michael. Until we meet again, I'll hold you in my heart.

The viewing

Michael's viewing was last night. It's incredible how many lives he touched in his 17 short years. There were dozens and dozens of teenagers there as well as adults. All of them said how much Michael meant to them. They came from all walks of live. He lived in three different towns and kids from every school were there. There were the skaters, party kids, football team and everyone in between. How many people can have friends in every group? Michael somehow managed it. He was that special of a kid.

We couldn't have an open casket, so my photos of him were placed all around the room. Him playing the guitar, hanging out with his family, playing video games with my son, dancing at his aunt's wedding, etc... I took his first photo and his last. I'm not sure if it was easier to not be able to see him, but we didn't have a choice. He'll be buried with his guitar, skateboard, combat boots, pack of Camels and a bottle of beer as well as letters from all of us and photos.

We had his favorite punk and metal music playing all night. Seasons in the Sun (the remake) and My Blue Eyed Son were hard to listen to. Then a CD of Michael singing and playing his guitar came on. I couldn't stop crying then.

The kids started leaving things for Michael around and on his coffin. We had a memory book for them to write in. The line to get out were as long as the one to get in. Everyone wanted to share a special memory. The kids sat on the floor and cried and held each other. They didn't want to leave his side. One boy told how Michael saved his life. He wanted to commit suicide, but Michael talked him out of it. Kids talked about how Michael was always himself. He didn't care what people thought. He wouldn't change for anyone.

Today is his funeral, I'm not sure how I'll make it through this one. How can I say good bye to him? I was with his mom when she picked out where he'll go in the cemetery and it was almost more than she could bear. The thought of such a beautiful boy being lowered into the cold ground makes me so furious! Why Michael? There were two other kids in that car and they both walked away without a scratch. I'll never understand why our boy had to be taken. He was truly a good kid, polite, sweet and loving. No, he wasn't perfect and liked his beer a bit much, but what kid doesn't? All he was doing was driving to school. Now he's gone forever.

Oh, Michael, I miss you.

Friday, March 03, 2006

My heart is broken

This is the worst thing I've had to write.

Our beautiful Michael was killed this morning in a car accident on his way to school. He was only 17 years old. He was my godson, my cousin and my buddy. My heart has been ripped out and I don't have words to explain what we're going through right now.

Please, hug your kids and remember we aren't guaranteed another day or even an hour. If only we had one more day or even one more hour. I won't get to say a proper good bye because we can't have an open casket. They won't even let us see him. I just can't accept that my boy is gone and I'll never hug or kiss him ever again. I'll never hear his voice or listen to him play guitar. I'll never be able to push the hair out of his eyes or give him shit for wearing that stupid Misfits tee shirt.

I love you, Michael, and will miss you forever.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Free KFC Sandwich

OK, so I'm watching CNN and they are showing this new KFC ad that uses a hidden message. They are giving away free sandwiches if you go to their website:

You need to enter the secret code to get this. The code is "Buffalo"

Good luck!

Icy day

Woke up to everything covered in a sheet of ice. Not a fun way to start off the morning. The dogs went slipping on their first walk of the day. Hopefully, it'll warm up soon and melt all that.

Have to try and unclog the pipes before doing any laundry this morning. Stupid things. I am not a plumber and have no desire to play on on the net either, but I can't afford to hire one to do this for me. Maybe I'll just wait til hubby gets home from work? That sounds better and better. :)

This afternoon, I get to spend an hour at my son's elementary school. It's their Dr. Seuss day, so they'll be reading books, eating green eggs and ham, etc... The paper pays me to take a photo. Can you imagine a better job? Getting paid to hang out with my little boy!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A funny to get you started on the day