Sunday, July 15, 2012

Confessions of a Geeky Mom moving to Wordpress!

Hi all! I've moved my blog over to WordPress. That decision wasn't done lightly, because I really like Blogger. However, having worked with WordPress for about 8 months with, I found I really like a lot of the features they have there.

All my posts got transferred over to the WordPress site very quickly, as did all your comments--this may or may not be a comfort to you, of course. Come join me over there and feel free to leave comments on the new site!

Here is the link to the new site: Confessions of a Geeky Mom.

I posted a tutorial on how to make zucchini bread, for those of you who love the veggie and have too many of them growing in your yard right now.

Thank you for following me here and leaving comments! I love hearing from all of you!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Geeky Moms Don't Drink Often. But When They Do....

Awhile back, some of us on posted in a thread started by fellow denizen of the Ahto Spaceport Cantina, Ztalker. He described the perils of getting not just drunk, but reaching the category of 'snockered into stupidity and/or oblivion'.  After a few posts on the negatives of hangovers, the thread naturally digressed to some of the more entertaining things we've done or seen while under the influence. I, of course, had to share my story of drinking with my fellow SCA shire-mates from Crescent Moon at Lilies War about 15 years back now.

A heavenly pina colada!

We here camping for the week, had no worries about driving, were at a safe campground, life was good. The only bad thing was hubby was stuck working for Uncle Sam that weekend, so he wasn't able to attend the event.

Anyway, I'd just finished working during a very warm afternoon on a field, passing out water to folks and doing first aid. I trudged back to my campsite, hot and tired. I was heading to my tent to get a Diet Pepsi (Elixir of the Goddesses) when my campmate Sherry called me over. "Jae, I have some pina colada here!" I debated, since I hadn't eaten yet, but then she said the magic words: "It's cold!"

She had me at 'cold'. I grabbed my beer-stein sized mug, which she filled to the very top with TGIF Pina colada straight from the bottle. It was ice-cold and fabulous, and rather thick for a drink, but I was too tired to pay attention to that little detail.

About 1/8th of the way thru, the buzz started. I said "Wow, this is really strong."

She looked at the instructions of the bottle for a moment and replied, "Oh, we're supposed to be mixing this with ice."

We laughed and continued drinking it without the ice. Of course, this should have been my first clue that maybe we should have gotten some ice, but I didn't care at that point. The pina colada mix was ice cold, my tired feet were propped up, and I was feeling a little too mellow to even consider extricating myself from that camp chair.

We started telling jokes. They started out semi-clean. After all, she was a 'Southern Belle' type, and I'm Christian. We both try to behave. Unless we're soused.We can get a bit off-color at those times.

Shortly thereafter, another friend, Jeff, came over, saw we were drinking and laughing hysterically, and went to get his 151 proof rum out of his tent. I promptly added the rum to the over-strong pina colada mix, because apparently 80 proof wasn't good enough. It did have the benefit of making the pina colada a little less thick, however, and that was beneficial. We started talking and degenerated to dirty jokes.  And by 'dirty jokes', I mean 'the kind that will make even an ER nurse blush'.  The conversation theme for the evening developed into "f---ing like bunnies", because yes, I do let loose the f-bomb every now and then. Every time one of us said it we all laughed loudly, clicked mugs together, and took another drink. We finished off the bottle of TGIF pina colada and switched to Rum-and-Diet Pepsi, since that's lower calorie, of course. We apparently were still sober enough to be concerned about calories.

It's natural to get the munchies when drinking. We pulled out tortilla chips, Doritoes, and Oreos--always an excellent combo with Pina coladas and Rum-and-cokes.
Sometime while we were eating, a bit of tortilla chip broke off of the chip I happened to be eating and fell smack-dab on the middle of my chest. It looked quite silly there, so I picked it up and popped it in my mouth.

Sherry exclaimed, "Jae!! You just ate a bug!!"

"I did not. It was a broken tortilla chip that fell on my shirt!"

"It was a bug. We saw it," added Jeff.

"I swear, it was a tortilla chip. Besides, it was crunchy."

"So are bugs!" said Jeff.

"Yeah, but it was salty, too!"

Jeff insisted, "And so are bugs!"

The one brain cell I had left functioning fired. I asked, "Jeff, how do you know bugs are salty?"

He didn't have a good answer for that. To this day, I maintain it was a broken tortilla chip. To this day, they still claim it was a bug.

After that, the three of us decided to do a walk about camp. In the dark. We quickly discovered that the gravel road that was flat earlier that day actually had developed an incline while we were drinking, and we found ourselves holding each other up and trying not to fall down the hill. I grabbed Jeff's belt when he started to veer down the side of the road so that he wouldn't fall over. Fortunately I was in the middle of our stumbling threesome, so I did not experience the problem of kissing the gravel road.

After walking around the camp saluting our friends and gleefully sharing the "f-bombing like bunnies!" theme with everyone, nature called. We decided to make our way to the nearby portajohns. After we helped Jeff into one of them with the admonition "Don't pee on the seat!!", we ladies did our business and found our way back out safely.

The bad thing about portajohns is that they have no lights in them. It is remarkably dark in a portajohn at night, and when you're inebriated, the laws of physics are altered such that it's even darker. All three of us thought to bring our refilled mugs of rum with us on the walk (stagger) through camp, because we did have our priorities, you know. However, not one of us thought to bring a flashlight.

After some unspecified amount of time, undoubtedly too long for us even if it had been only 2.8 seconds, we gals decided Jeff had been in the john just a little too long. After banging on the walls and scaring the snot (among other things) out of him, we asked loudly, at some unknown decibel, but likely approaching eardrum-damaging loud, if the Tidy Bowl Man had come for him. Jeff informed us that we could go do something with ourselves that is anatomically impossible for females to accomplish. This made us howl even louder and bang on the portajohn a little more. We warned him not to let the Tidy Bowl Man grab anything and asked if there were any, you guessed it, copulating bunnies located inside. This elicited a couple more colorful expletives which had us ladies virtually rolling on the ground laughing. In fact, we were laughing so hard that it took us several moments to realize that Jeff was experiencing some distress. When we realized that he was not yelling because he was laughing but was yelling for help, we experienced some level of sobriety. Not much, given our condition, but every little bit helps.

"Help!" called Jeff.

"What's wrong?" I asked. Being the medical type, I had a number of scenarios passing before my eyes, including having things stuck where they shouldn't be stuck in portajohns, and who I was going to get to help, because I obviously was way too impaired to do anything more useful at that point than to encourage him that only a few hundred people would see him in a compromised state should we have to call 911.

He replied, "I can't find the door!"

Sherry and I decided to put our banging on the walls to good use and informed him that the door was the side we were banging on, and explained how to lift the handle to open the door. After a few tries, he was finally successful and expressed his great relief that he wasn't going to have to sleep on hard wet plastic that night.

At some point during our trek through camp, it occurred to us that it was getting rather late (the fact that we overheard a lot of snoring and other noises coming from tents being our clue), and that even humping bunnies need to rest sometime. We decided we'd escort Jeff to his tent, since we girls were camping next to each other and could hold each other up on the trip back, whereas Jeff was by himself and had no one to keep him from falling down the flat street-turned-steep-hill.

We approached his tent, only to find ourselves in front of one of the event officers. We girls curtsied. Jeff fell flat on his face at her feet. We girls expressed our concern by helping him back up, but only after we laughed.

The event officer commented to Jeff that she thought it was a good idea if he headed to bed since he could hardly walk.

Jeff responded, "I didn't fall! I was prostrating myself at your feet!"

We girls thought that this logic indicated that perhaps he might be sobering up and offered him a drink from our mugs, though somehow we managed enough discretion to not bring up bunnies doing the wild thing to the event officer. I didn't want the bunnies to miss out on anything.

Sherry and I got Jeff to his tent and then headed back to our tents, holding each other up, because the flat road had gotten even steeper. Happily, I remembered to drink a big glass of water and take tylenol and an antacid before bed.

In the morning when Sherry's junior-high school aged son smirked and asked me how I was feeling, I just took another bite of my cherry Pop-tart and a sip of my Diet Pepsi (and managed to keep them down without looking green), smiled sweetly, and said "I'm just fine. Why do you ask?"

Image source:
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Twitter is A Beautiful Thing

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
For quite some time, I've been a fan of Twitter. It's a cool instant messenger, I get Star Wars/The Old Republic news in real time (especially if the TOR forums are down during maintenance), and I find out all sorts of cool things like chocolate recipes, Renaissance art discussions, and breaking news. Note that these are not in any particular order of importance, except for the chocolate part, which always comes first.

Twitter does have its warts--there are the annoying pornbots, and some people have a love affair with posting meaningless tripe, like "I put butter and brown sugar in my Malt-o-Meal" or "What shirt should I wear, fuschia or chartreuse?"  My thoughts on this are a. who the heck cares, and b. 'Chicky, if you have to consult the Twitterverse for clothing color decisions, our country is in seriously bad shape, because your brain clearly missed that left turn at Albuquerque.' 

Even better, though, is the fact that my deadbeat tenant's daughter uses it ALL THE TIME. This means I get real-time updates on what her (allegedly) drug-dealing gangsta brother is up to and what they're destroying on my property this hour.

Most of it is meaningless expletive-filled tripe. In between the mind-numbingly moronic tweets, there are interesting gems, like posts about going to the Philippines twice in the last year and getting ear gauges (but they can't pay rent for May and June), her brother has 'fight club' in the back yard, the fact that she and her brother smoked weed all spring break (with a 2 year old brother in the house), her brother has drug dealing friends living at the house, and a post where the daughter noted "mom said 'I smell pot'."  No, REALLY??? I'm stunned. Truly stunned. I'm sure I'll get over it in time, however. Give me about .000002 seconds.

My favorite was when she tweeted "my brother was snorting some white powder last night with his friends o.O." Since I caught that one about nine hours after she'd posted it, I called the child protective services (to help the 2 year old) and the cops. I figured they'd love to share in the same good news I was experiencing. I also was hoping for a police report so that we could do a 5-day no-cure eviction--the kind that gives the tenant zero legal wiggle room.  Alas, no report, but within two hours of my call to a very nice detective, the cops were raiding my house, complete with drug-sniffing dogs. Not only did I get a call from a neighbor about this, the deadbeat tenant's daughter tweeted 'LOL police are here, my brother is so stupid.' 

I'm not sure about you all, but if the police raided my house while I was in it and arrested my sibling, I'm fairly certain I would not be laughing.

Since I had the real-time feed from Twitter, I was able to call my dad and say "Hey, if you read in the papers tomorrow that there was a police raid at my old house? It's not a misprint. My deadbeat tenant's (allegedly) psycho druggy son is (allegedly) dealing drugs there with gangsters, and the cops went after them all. They apparently got at least one of them. I'm sure the police dogs sniffed so much drugs at that house, they got high. Bet Alix (note: not his actual name) would give you a good deal on pot right now, though." It's always nice to warn your aging parents about things like drug raids at your house to prevent heart attacks.

Tonight, she tweeted that she was going to have a big going-away party in August. I smiled to myself as I thought, "Not in MY house, you're not, chicky."

Two days left for them to pay in full for May and June, and then we can finally get moving on getting the (alleged) druggies out.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MSNBC: Finding Even Better Ways to Lose Viewers with Chris Hayes!!

Give not one, but two golf-claps to MSNBC. They managed to do an outstanding job of calling attention to themselves by allowing yet another opinionated jackass of an anchor to speak on the air. The saying goes that there is 'no such thing as bad press'.  Well, MSNBC might have proved that wrong this weekend.

Admittedly, I don't watch MSNBC very often at all. They lean so far left that they're about to tip over, fall on their heads, and hurt themselves.  Not even Fox News, which is the most right-leaning news station, is that bad. Usually I'll watch CNN for center-left wing news, Fox for right-wing news, and between the two, I can get the actual picture, which tends to be far more moderate than either of them want to admit. Being moderate, after all, is about as exciting as watching me clean cat hair out of my keyboard.

This weekend, Chris Hayes, one of the MSNBC hosts, stepped in it. And by 'stepped in it', I mean 'built up an entire barn full of manure in which to immerse himself fully, then walked in and took a swan dive into the giant steaming pile'. 

Here's a transcript of what he said on Sunday, May 27th.

CHRIS HAYES: Thinking today and observing Memorial Day, that'll be happening tomorrow.  Just talked with Lt. Col. Steve Burke [sic, actually Beck], who was a casualty officer with the Marines and had to tell people [inaudible].  Um, I, I, ah, back sorry, um, I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word "hero"?  I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I'm wrong about that.
 "Maybe" you're wrong about that, Chris? Let's get one thing straight. You ARE wrong. Those who signed up to serve our country, and even those who got drafted and served honorably, are all heroes to me, especially those who gave their lives for us.  They even gave you the opportunity to sit in that chair on that lovely set with your perfectly coiffed hair and manicured hands to announce to us that you feel calling these people heroes is 'rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war'.  I think you forgot just who is responsible for securing your 'freedom of speech'.

More importantly, how in the world do you even begin to justify this utterly ridiculous argument? Please explain to me how calling our war dead heroes is in any way related to any justification, 'rhetorically proximate' or otherwise, for war? My great uncle, who was killed in action in World War II, was hardly in a 'rhetorically proximate' position to justify our goal of stopping Hitler from taking over Europe. Dead people don't get the opportunity to determine any justifications for war. Their families certainly don't get the opportunity. The justification for war, at least in the US, is determined by Congress and the President, who order those soldiers and sailors into battle. Your argument is such a non sequitur, it's stunning. Do you really think that people run around saying "Ooooh!  We call our fallen soldiers and sailors heroes, therefore we can now go to war!!!" If I said that to someone, they'd wonder if my head was rhetorically proximate to my anal sphincter.  The less polite ones would tell me I had my head up my arse.

Hayes issued a written apology later. He didn't bother to say it publicly, however. For all we know, someone in the public relations department wrote it for him. 

To MSNBC: I'm never watching your network again, but not because Hayes expressed his opinion. I'm never watching your network again because you hired an idiot, put him on the air, and allowed him to talk to people like he knows things.

First, Hayes insulted veterans and war heroes on Memorial Day weekend. That's just dumb with a capital 'DUH'.  I'm sure the public relations people are having a collective heart attack right now over his tacky statements.  Does he have the right to say those things? Sure. Our heroes fought and died to give him that right. Did he exercise good judgment in saying those on a weekend where we remember our fallen heroes? Just in case you want an actual answer, here it is: NO.

Second, if he makes mindless and foolish statements, passing that off as 'journalism' in order to drive ratings, I'm not going to support that. Give me someone who can actually put together an insightful and well-constructed argument. Hayes clearly can't, and I'm not going to waste my time listening to someone whose brain is rhetorically proximate to that of a dodo bird.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Any Geeks Need to Rent a House?

Have you wondered what it's like to have a tenant in your old house 850 miles away from your new home? Probably not, because you would be sane and sell your home before moving 850 miles away from it.

However, when we looked at selling our house last year, we discovered that the market had bottomed out. Our home had lost 25k or so on paper, thanks to the lovely recession. I don't care if Bush or Obama is responsible at this point for the economic disaster. The economy still sucks, I still can't sell my house without taking a loss, and the two political parties piss on each other's Post Toasties in D.C. instead of getting anything remotely useful done to drive a meaningful recovery.  But I digress.

We decided to rent our home out for a couple years until the market improved enough where we would not be bleeding dollar signs at closing.

Being the nominee for this year's Nobel Prize in Anxiety, I worried about things like not being able to find a tenant for 482 months, tenants paying rent with checks that bounce, drug dealers moving in and taking over the neighborhood, the garage burning down, and/or the house exploding from a gas leak. The exploding house thing actually happened in that town only 7 months earlier, after all. These little things keep me up at night.

After talking with family and friends, we decided the best route to go would be to hire a property management company. We found a company with a very nice lady co-owner who assured us that they already had a tenant, she was an upstanding renter, paid bills on time, etc., etc., etc. With the management company finding a tenant so quickly, I breathed a small sigh of relief and thought maybe all these other awful things might not happen.

They didn't tell us about her bone cancer. Mom is planning to go back to her home country to die.

The also didn't tell us about her (allegedly) drug-dealing gang-banger teenage son. Now, I could be charitable and say that's probably because he's a juvenile and hasn't shown up in their background check system.

So, things went fine for about seven months. Bills got paid on time. We got paid, though not as much as we wanted. The property management group has been fond of finding things for their maintenance and landscape buddies to fix. I put a stop to that after asking them why we'd been charged 3 hours of work for a landscaper to shape two rose bushes, sending them pictures that a friend had kindly sent us.  I'm a big fan of Reagan's saying "Trust, but verify." It keeps everyone (semi-)honest.

On Mother's day, I got a frantic call from our friend. Her son had been offered drugs by the son of our tenant, who I'll call Alix to protect his identity.  A former neighbor had called the cops for a party where 100 teens were in the backyard drinking and smoking who-knows-what.  Now, our yard is really, really small. I'm not sure how they even managed to fit 100 people in there, much less do anything fun besides stand squashed up against each other like they were in the middle of a giant mosh pit, minus the band throwing guitar picks at them from the stage. Mom apparently was at work while the teens partied, but got stuck with a nasty fine for their under-age drinking and general misbehaving.

Then we found out from a call to our former neighbor that our buddy Alix allegedly had let 3 other gang members move in, they'd set up a drug drop box on our front porch, cut out some holes in our garage to use those for peepholes to make sure no one saw their drug dealing, sprayed graffiti all over the inside of our garage, tore down some garage interior walls, and assorted other unsavory activities.

Even better? There's a 2 year old toddler living there, too, and there were reports of probable abuse. This should be already obvious when one considers Alix has allegedly tried to sell drugs and has been allegedly seen drinking vodka in the house, all while he's supposed to be taking care of the rest of the family while mom works her butt off to take care of his sorry butt.

Now, this wasn't my definition of a good tenant. So the next morning, after a sleepless night filled with visions of houses exploding and garages burning down from meth labs cooking God-only-knows-what inside, I called the police, child protective services, and the property manager, in that order.

Two days later, the property manager was inspecting the inside of the house with a police officer, and confirming nearly all of what I'd heard from neighbors-except the drug part. Alix had had 24 hours' notice, and, in a fit of sudden intelligence, had cleared out the drop box and other obvious signs of drug use. I think the cops should have brought along a drug-sniffing dog, although the dog likely would have rolled his doggy eyes and pointed a paw straight at Alix in a 'Well, DUH' move. The police officer, of course, was not fooled by the lack of obvious evidence. He's seen Alix's type too many times, not to mention the drug-related graffiti all over the inside of our garage was a dead giveaway.

People in the neighborhood have started calling the police any time they see something suspicious, which means 'pretty much every 1.2 hours when Alix is home'.  The cops went out to our house four times on one day alone.  Our tenants are now becoming a regular part of the news cycle in town.

Even better, the mom's rent check for last month bounced, thanks to the $1300 fine she got for Alix's giant under-age drunk-fest. The property manager says this is actually a good thing, because now we can evict them before the lease is up. I asked if my appliances were still going to be there or if Alix would sell them for more drugs. The manager assures me they would do their best to prevent that. I'm feeling just a teeny bit jaded after being assured these were good tenants in the first place.

Image source: "Home Alone" movie by 20th Century Fox
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Consular weekly for May 10th is now posted!

I've been writing the Consular Weekly for since last December, and I'm having a blast with it.  This week, I focused on gearing up our companions at level 50, and you can read about it here.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Helping Suicidal Gamers

For those of you who follow my articles on, you've probably seen this. However, after reading all the articles on a gamer this week who allegedly encouraged people attending an Eve Online fan convention to troll a suicidal player until he actually did kill himself, I knew I needed to write about it and share it as widely as I could. Here is a reprint of what I wrote on Thursday morning.

Today, I read an Escapist article that both terrified and horrified me. The article started with this statement: "CCP [the developer of Eve Online] is investigating an Eve Online FanFest panel for sharing a severely depressed player's contact info, then encouraging others to harass him until he killed himself."

It went on to describe how the presenter, who is part of the CSM council that officially represents player interests to CCP, allegedly showed copies of the suicidal player's depressed comments from in game and gave out in-game contact information in the presentation. He then apparently suggested fellow gamers harass this player until he did go forward to commit suicide.

What did members of the audience do? They laughed. Not one person had the courage to stand up in that convention room and call out this presenter on his shocking, despicable comments.


The Hard Reality of Suicide

 According to the World Health Organization, approximately one million people take their own lives every year. Another 20 million attempt suicide and are thankfully not successful. It is more common in those with depression and those who have problems with alcohol. The chances are good that you actually have met someone who is or has been suicidal at some point in their lives.

If you are a guild officer or guild leader, you may very well have to deal with one of your guild mates confiding in you that they are thinking of taking their own lives. Do NOT take this lightly. You may be their lifeline. I have had a couple of online friends who became suicidal. It was an extraordinarily emotional and difficult experience for all of us, and I'm going to share one of my experiences with you. I hope it will help you if you ever encounter a similar situation.

Recognizing Suicidal Thinking

 The first step for you as a guild member is to recognize the signs of suicidal thinking. People who commit suicide don't typically do so in a vacuum. Often they talk about death, a particularly painful event they're experiencing, or have a tremendous feeling of hopelessness. Here is a helpful list of some signs.

Talking about suicide Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again...," and "I'd be better off dead."
Seeking out lethal means Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Self-loathing, self-hatred Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").
Getting affairs in order Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Saying goodbye Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again.
Withdrawing from others Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Self-destructive behavior Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."
Sudden sense of calm A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.

A Call for Help

A few years back, one of my online friends, who I'll call 'Mark' to protect his privacy, broke up with his fiancee. He adored her, and the breakup crushed him. I saw the warning signs when Mark said things in our group chat like "I don't think anyone would attend my funeral" and "I can't live without her." All of us in that group tried to be encouraging and offered what help we could.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, he came online to our group chat and said one word. "Goodbye."

My heart hit the pit of my stomach. I KNEW something was very, very wrong. The three of us who were online then tried to reach him in chat to see if he was OK. One person mentioned having Mark's cell phone number. I asked him to send a text message. He was scared, and wasn't sure what to do. Being scared, by the way, is entirely normal. He gave me Mark's phone number.

I sent a text asking him if he was OK. I got a chilling reply. "The gun jammed, so I took all my pills."

While gulping deep breaths to try to slow down my racing heart, I immediately dialed 911, and said "You're going to think this is really strange, because I live about 800 miles away from my friend, but he just told me he's trying to kill himself." The dispatcher was extremely professional and took the information that I had--Mark's cell phone number, the text message which I forwarded to them, and what had been going on the last couple of weeks with him.

In the meantime, I typed to my friends in chat what was happening, hands trembling. We scrambled to get all the information we could find to help the police locate him--his facebook profile, his IP and ISP information from our forum, every little tidbit we could think of. Mark's life was literally in the hands of three online friends and the police department. I was 800 miles away, and I felt utterly powerless.

About half an hour later, a police sergeant called me to let me know they had found Mark's house. The information we had given the police had helped them quickly narrow down his real name and address. Within minutes, they had sent several squad cars out. About 20 minutes after that, he called me again to let me know the paramedics had gotten to him in time, they were taking him to the hospital, and they thought he was going to be OK. I let our chat group know Mark was going to make it. Then, I sobbed on my husband's shoulder in sheer relief.

Mark had to spend several days in the hospital and is now doing better. I emailed the police department commending them for finding my friend so quickly and working so professionally with me.  

What To Do If You Think Someone May Be Suicidal

If any of your guild members shows the signs of suicide, please don't be passive about it. Talk to that person. Respect their feelings, but don't ignore the signs. What they are feeling is very real to them, even if it does not always make sense to the rest of us. If you recognize some of the suicide signs listed above in either yourself or a friend, please know there is help for you. In the US, you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website (click here).

In the United Kingdom, you can find help at (click here). The hotline in the UK is 08457 90 90 90, and in the Republic of Ireland it is 1850 60 90 90. For those outside the US or UK, the website (click here) has a list of suicide lifeline phone numbers for many countries.

 Sometimes, people will say things in the in-game general chat that may trigger your alarm bells to go off about that person having possible suicidal tendencies. Please bring that to BioWare's attention immediately so that they can take steps to get that person help. To do that, click the big question mark at the top of your screen. A window will pop up. At the bottom right of that window is a button that says 'create ticket'. Click that.

Another window will pop up. Select 'general/other' from the drop down list. In the description, put "Emergency: Possible suicide attempt". Put the person's in game name, the server, the time, and as much detail as you can about what was said. BioWare has account information, so they can get help to that person very quickly.

Don't be afraid about 'bothering' BioWare with this. They are there to help. They would much rather have you contact them and determine nothing was wrong than have everyone ignore the signs and discover later that someone died as a result. You will never be 'bothering' anyone by reporting it. Don't leave it to someone else, either. It's better for BioWare to get multiple reports on this than none at all.

If you help someone who has made a suicide attempt, recognize that is an extremely stressful and difficult event for you, too. This is especially true if that person dies. Don't be afraid to get help for yourself to be able to handle it effectively. Whatever you choose to do to help, do something. If it's a false alarm, great! That person won't die! You also gave that person information he or she might need in the future. If it really is a serious attempt, you may very well be the difference in that person living and dying.

Photo source: (1) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Done Geek Style

So, where the heck has Jae been?

I've been doing several things the last few months. First, I found a job. It pays quite a bit better than my old job (no surprise there), and so I only have to work one day a week. This is A Good Thing--I still get to spend most of my week being 'Mom' and taking care of a teen and an school-ager with ADHD and food allergies. Either of those alone is a challenge. Working full-time while doing both would be more 'adventure' than I need.

I also joined the local symphony choir. We're doing Carmina Burana this spring, and the director is outstanding. It is a very challenging piece musically. Orff not only had a love affair with lots of dynamics, sixteenth notes, and bizarre chords, but he also adored changing languages from Semi-Classical Latin to Genitival Early New High German (with cases) and back again, sometimes even in the same song. I am convinced he was secretly a music sadist.

In order to convince my daughter to sit through an entire concert of classical music, I'm going to tell her how many cellos are playing (she loves cello), and possibly resort to abject bribery with chocolate. To convince my son, who now is growing some substantial fuzz on his upper lip, to attend, I'm going to secretly slip him a translation of "Si Puer Cum Puella." Never let it be said that I won't appeal to baser desires to encourage intellectual development in a teenager.

In addition, I became a staff writer for, writing about aspects of the game Star Wars: The Old Republic. I started writing the Jedi Consular Weekly. Apparently one of the editors got beamed some messages from a mother ship in a galaxy far, far away, because it's the only explanation I can think of for them asking me to take on the Galactic Gallery weekly column, too. It's a blast to write with this team, though I haven't quite figured out how they put up with my insanity. It must be fellow Geek Points or something.

In the course of writing about TOR, not only do I play the game quite extensively, I also follow several gaming sites, blogs, and of course, Twitter. The other day I tweeted that I was making white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, because with wars, famine, and destruction, The World Must Know These Things. I am not immune to such geeky inanities. This, naturally, elicited some 'OM NOM NOMs' and "OMG you're EVIL for posting that" followed by requests for the recipe.

This is where the 'Geek Style' comes in. I had found a recipe, from, you guessed it, a tweet about a blog post about making a clone of Eli's White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.  I don't know how close it is,  because I always get their 'So Chocolate, It'll Cause a Coma and Quite Possibly an Overdose' Cheesecake. I haven't died yet, so it may need a little more chocolate in it. Not much, though.

My hubby gets horrendous migraines from any chocolate that looks like it might be remotely brown, so I had to replace the chocolate Oreos with golden Oreos. The crust was soggy in the center, so I'm going to bake it for about 10 or 15 minutes next time before adding the cheesecake batter.  Nonetheless, it was declared to be 'extremely yummy' by the family except for my son, who for some strange reason doesn't like the raspberry part. He also doesn't like most chocolate. I think he was switched at birth.

Here is my version.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Crumb crust
·       2 c. Oreo crumbs (About 2 rows. Save the rest for your dunking-and-eating pleasure. Process in a food processor with cookie and cream both)
·       1 T sugar
·       1/4 c. butter

·       2-4 cups white chocolate chips (lower amount if you like it less sweet, higher amount if you want more chocolate flavor. I split the difference and used 3 cups)
·       1/2 cup half-and-half cream
·       3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
·       1/2 cup white sugar
·       3 eggs
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Approximately 6 T seedless raspberry jam (don't overdo or it'll be too sweet)

  1.  Allow the cream cheese and eggs to come to room temperature while you work on the other stuff.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
  4. Bake the crust about 10 minutes (watch to make sure it doesn't over-brown).
  5. In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth. I cheated and did this in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time to prevent scorching, and it worked fine.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust.
  7. Heat raspberry jam in microwave about 10-15 seconds to soften.
  8. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect. 
  9. Place the pan on a cookie sheet in case your springform pan likes to leak melted butter like mine does. 
  10. You can try the waterbath method for baking the cheesecake, but my springform pan likes to leak, so I just put a 9x13 pan filled with water in the oven on the shelf below the cheesecake.
  11. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set.  Turn oven off, leave oven door ajar, let cheesecake cool another hour. This supposedly prevents cracks. It did work, although I think cracks are a fine excuse for putting extra white chocolate or raspberries on top.
  12. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan.
  13. Garnish with white chocolate curls, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries for extra decadence.
  14. Tweet about your cheesecake success after eating too much of it.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @JaeOnasi!
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