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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Discovery WILL Continue, Even Without Discovery

I am fascinated with the Space Shuttle Discovery. I guess knowing that it’s the last mission of the Shuttle Program has something to do with it. I suppose I took it for granted in the past.

I’ve been checking in regularly with NASA on the web. I watched the launch live on NASA TV. I've checked out the videos of the mission. I've checked out some of the NASA Blogs. . I’ve also been reading up on all of the other current missions, some I had never heard of. I've even downloaded some new NASA apps. I've learned that boiling fluid behaves differently in space than on Earth. I've learned about Robonaut. There is enough stuff at the NASA website to keep a person busy for weeks!

 Don’t worry about our Space Program.  This is the last of the Shuttle launches, and although we are not sending any humans out there for a while, there is still a lot going on out in space.  There is still a lot of science being done and a lot to be learned about our Solar System and beyond.  I don’t pretend to understand half of it, but I am fascinated, and proud of the curious and brilliant minds at NASA and JPL. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Can't Find a Date in Indio

I used to love the National Date Festival in Indio, CA, but that was when it was a celebrations of the date harvest!

We were there Monday morning when the gates opened. I looked forward to a date shake and armloads of date products to take home. I anticipated entertaining ostrich and camel races.Treklet was excited about the unlimited ride wristbands I purchased online for her and her big sister. Who knows what was going on in Katie's mind? One thing was certain: things were not as we pictured them in our heads.

The first thing that happened was that the parking lot I am familiar with, and the main entrance, was unreachable. There was a parade on the main drag, and we were detoured. We entered through the back gate, near the midway, and there were few people in attendance. Evidently they were all at the parade, which we did not know about. Sweet! No lines for the rides! *Wrong*  Most of the rides that Treklet was wanting to go on could not be operated without a minimum number of riders, for balance. Disappointment and impatience stole my happy little girl.

We decided to go to the grandstand for the camel and ostrich races. I remember them being very entertaining in years gone by. We'd go back later to the midway. We gluttonously purchased a huge block of curly fries and found a seat, which wasn't difficult since the crowds were still at the parade. A lady rode the stars and stripes out onto the track on a lovely paint horse and we stood for the Star Spangled Banner. It went downhill from there.

Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. Maybe Treklet's sweet love on all things non-human enhanced my discomfort. Maybe what we witnessed was just plain wrong. I'm not sure. The ostrich race seemed cruel. A frightened and disoriented ostrich threw his rider, and spun around in circles for several minutes as wranglers chased and tried to subdue it.

Next up a couple of oversized jockeys rode a couple of zebras around the track. Then the ostriches were hitched to chariots and made to pull the Trojan helmet-wearing wranglers Ben Hur style around the track.

They saved the worst for last. the track was quite muddy, as a major storm came through two nights before. Camel races were up next. I realize that camels have been domesticated and ridden for centuries. I'm OK with that, but this exhibition seemed to be played out by amateurs. They dressed up in turbans and robes and mounted the camels. One camel slipped soon after exiting the starting gate and headed toward the crowd. It dropped to its knees to avoid crashing into the wall that separated the track from the stands. The rider coaxed it up and urged it on. A couple of dozen yards further down the track this poor beast lost its footing in the mud again, its legs splaying every which way, the rider tumbling off of it. I gasped. I wondered if the beast was injured. It got up, and so did the rider. My video failed as a call came in on my iPhone. Too bad, as I would have loved to post it here.

The camels were walked across the track to the wall where people were allowed to pet them. The one that fell was not in a good mood. It pulled away and the man lost his grip on the lead. Poor camel.

We suffered through 3 boys from the audience chasing emus around the track and 3 smaller boys chasing chickens. Finally it was over and I was mildly surprised at my own dismay. Did I once find this entertaining?

I let Treklet ride a camel, since the rest of our family had all done it before, but I told her if there were any elephants there I would never pay for that. I am adamantly opposed to elephants being transported around in the backs of semi trucks for circuses and fairs. I have boycotted "The Greatest Show On Earth" since katie was small when I saw a magnificent bull elephant chained to a post on the hard asphalt outside the venue, rocking back and forth and obviously distraught. Elephants don't belong in the backs of trucks, on concrete, or in shows. ::stepping off soapbox::

We next visited the petting zoo. There were some exotic, yet tame, creatures there, and thankfully all were in pens so that when they tired of little (and big) hands groping them they could back away and lay down. I was thrilled to be able to feed and pet a zebra colt. I wonder if they're going to strap a saddle on that sweet thing someday soon?

I sent the girls to the midway while I went looking for dates. I looked long and hard! I finally found ONE date vendor! This is the National Date Festival in the heart of the Coachella Valley, home to many date farms! Where dozens of date farm booths once stood, selling at least a dozen varieties of dates and assorted date products, were now dozens of Mexican vendors selling sombreros, ponchos, Mexican candy and leather goods.
I bought a bag of Medjools and a bag of McGill Black dates after sampling, and a giftbox of walnut stuffed Medjools for my dogsitter. I ordered a date shake and went to join my girls. 

Along the way I caught a glimpse here and there of various shows and performances. I zipped through the vender hall and decided I'd seen it all before. then I spied the fat guy with the little capuchin monkey. The monkey had a collar around it's neck and wore a pocketed apron. The man directed the monkey, via a leash, to outstretched arms with dollar bills at the ends of them. The monkey took the dollars, one at a time, stuffed them in her pocket, shook the benefactor's hand, then moved on to the next dollar. I could only think to myself, "That fat guy is gonna take all the monkey's dollars."

When I caught up with the girls the lines for the rides were quite long. All those parade-watchers were now seeking thrills in the midway. Poor Treklet just couldn't win. After a few rides we took a lunch break and wandered through the Art and Photography exhibit and the Gem and Mineral Hall. We were too late to the Monster Truck show, and couldn't get in.
We eventually found our way back to the rides again.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

PS I Love You

I'm in Palm Springs. I used to come here often, but it's been four years since my last visit!

My girls and I drove out early this morning. A big storm hit SoCal last night and it was a cold one! At our fuel stop in Beaumont it was 38 degrees. Brrr. I was amazed at how low the snowline was--right done to the lower reaches of the foothills. It was beautiful. Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto were not only crowned with a full cap of white powder, but also dusted right down to their ankles.

Once we were through the pass the temperature rose a bit. The foothills to the east of the pass were brown and red and the snow on the eastern flank of Mt. San Jacinto was limited to elevations above about 5000 feet. The day ended up in the 60s with clear blue skies and the desert cities were lush with green palm trees lining the streets.

We had an awesome (and huge) breakfast at Elmers, a restaurant we never fail to visit when in PS. The first time I dined there was on my honeymoon, over 20 years ago! What made our visit there extra-special this time was sharing it with Clay and John who were here on a little vacation of their own from Seattle. Clay is one of my oldest and dearest Tweeps.

After a two-hour visit, filled with lively discussions about Star Trek and Harry  Potter we said our goodbyes. The guys went back to their rental home & the gals headed for Palm Desert. OOPS! I forgot to take pics! I called Clay & told Jim I was making a U-Turn and heading back!  A few snaps of the camera, a few more hugs, and we headed out again.


We only made it a few miles when the girls spotted Boomers amusement park. They opted for go karts and mini golf instead of The Living Desert zoo.

We spent almost five hours at Boomers. The girls had a blast and I even found a Galaga game to play. Squee! Katie spotted a sign with a text deal on it so we signed up and each got a text coupon for free popcorn. Way to work that Ferengi Rule #141!

As the sun disappeared behind the towering mountain we checked into our motel. Katie says it ells like "old cat lady" but I think it's OK. We've got free WiFi, a hot shower, coffee maker & comfy beds. I'm satisfied.

Dinner at Ruby's Diner was the girls' choice, and very tasty. Now we're chillin' and looking forward to a fun day at the Date Festival tomorrow. I love this desert in winter!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

RIP John Sarkesian 1932-2011

My oldest friend's dad passed away this morning. It was expected, as he was in hospice care for cancer. My own father died when I was 14, after a five-year battle with the same type of cancer. I met Michelle that same year when we started high school. In our adult life, John became my "other dad."  He was always jovial, always kind, and always proud of his three daughters.

When we were in high school, John was at every performance of every concert and play we were in with his 8mm camera, recording it all for posterity. When our show choir had something to celebrate--a birthday, a cast party, or even just Christmas caroling on a cold Midwestern evening--it was Michelle's house where we all ended up. Her parents opened their home to everyone, and they had a great finished basement for our shenanigans.

Many years later, after not seeing Michelle for about 15 years, I ran into her mom and sisters at a reunion. She  told me that Michelle was actually living in California only about an hour away from me! The next 15 years we spent lots of time together, with our daughters and her son growing up together like cousins. We would meet at the zoo, Sea World, or at one of our homes for birthdays and holidays. Every year her parents were there for a few weeks to celebrate holidays and birthdays in December & January. Going over there at Christmastime and visiting with John and Iris was a treat! We had no extended family of our own, so they became it. When Katie was little she actually called him "Grandpa John."

About 10 years ago we took a road trip to the Midwest to see family. We stayed a few days with John and Iris in their home in Buffalo Grove during that trip. We slept in Michelle's old room. They treated us like family, even welcoming our puppy that was traveling with us. John proudly showed off his P38 model collection to my husband, and Iris, Katie and I chatted happily at the kitchen table. Their hallway was lined with photos of their family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, children, grandchildren--their faces covered the walls so that one could barely make out the color of the paint beneath. These people valued family, and had wonderful family values. Their daughters, now grown up with children of their own, still had their own rooms to come home to when they visited. When you spoke with these two people, they listened, blocking out all distraction so that you were the most important person in the room at that moment.

Michelle moved away to Colorado a couple of years ago. Not only have I missed having her close-by, but I've missed seeing her family. Whenever her mom & dad or her sister and her family came to visit we drove over to see them. It was a very comfortable place to be. Michelle remains one of the best friends I've ever had, a thoughtful and generous soul, which I'm sure, is in part due to her parents' wonderful example.

My heart is heavy this morning, thinking of the big gaping hole that is left in Iris' life without John, and the great sadness that his daughters and their husbands and children must be feeling. It's comforting to know that they all were prepared for this day, that John is no longer suffering, and that they all have their faith to help them through this, but John will be sorely missed, and that hurts.

At the WAP 1997

John was a HUGE Bears fan. Here he is with "Sweetness" Walter Payton

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jen is on the Road

Just a quick update, in case you haven't heard...Jen is on the road today. She's driving 12 hours to Missouri where she has a furnished home to live in for several months, thanks to a generous offer by a friend!

She plans to return to work on Tuesday. I'm glad she has a stable place to stay and a job to go back to so she can begin rebuilding her life. Working will help her keep her mind from going to that "dark place" and and the free rent will help her save those paychecks for much needed purchases when she gets her own place.

Remember, she has not much more than her car, dog and laptop! Her packing for the move consisted of filling a Hefty bag with her newly acquired clothes! So, if you would like to donate the link is still good.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Big Five-OH!

My birthday is just around the bend...I'll be turning 50! I'm not fretting about that number, even though, as Treklet pointed out, it is half a century. Instead, I'm celebrating surviving this long!

I'm incredibly blessed with many material things. I'm also greatly blessed with amazing friends, both online and "real life." You know what I'd like my pals to get me for my birthday? Nothing! I'd rather they help me feed those less fortunate.

Our family is participating in a huge food-packing event on March 26/27. Our goal is to pack 500,000 meals! Those meals will be distributed to hungry people in Tanzania, Haiti and right here in San Diego. We are partnering with Friends and Family Community Connection in this project.

You know what? All that food costs money! Each rice and protein food packet contains 6 servings and costs about a quarter. That means we need about $125,000 to reach our goal.

Instead of a birthday present, I'd like you to donate towards this wonderful project. Any amount will do, and it's tax deductible. Just click this Donate link. When you are on the Preview Donation page (just before confirming your donation) you need to click on "Add special instructions to the seller." Please add FP-3/2011 as the special instruction so that your donation goes to our event.

Of course, if you'd like to join us for the actual packing, that would be fun, too! Register to volunteer in one-hour shifts beginning Feb 19 at http://www.i‐

My Tweeps love people, and I know you're heart breaks for those in need. Thanks for helping me make a difference!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not much left to do...

Jen's having a rough go of it. She's been to the house site several times, and thought she found a few items more, but once she got them washed it was clear that they were ruined. Even the video games, which we saw in her video, are wilted and scratched. The tubs we saw in the video had some winter sweaters in one and some books in the other.

She's got a few pictures, some books, the ring, Mr. Potato Head, Ken and Barbie, and 4 soggy hard drives. Not much else. A few random things, shown below. As of the time of this writing, the remains of the house are being trucked away to the dump.
Jen's baby blanket. A coal got into the bag and burned one spot in it. She will see if someone can repair it.

the box has severe water damage, but the figures seem OK
Kirk is OK, but the chair got wet and the sound effects no longer work.
Misc stuff in this box includes some Star Trek keychains.
There is not much left to do in New Mexico. Jen is making plans to leave for Missouri, hopefully by week's end. Once she's settled in there she can get back to work. I'm sure being alone in a motel is only feeding the depression she must be feeling.
Please keep Jen in your thoughts and prayers and if you can help out with a donation here's the link:

I'd also like to share a couple of links of bloggers that have been helping to spread the word about Jen's fire and just say Thanks to them.
Grim Tidings
Genius Strength Cunning
Terilynn's Trek on Airlock Alpha

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Video from the ruins

Jen uploaded an iPhone video today of the one room of her house that had any hope of salvage. I can't even figure out what to say about it. It's so personal, so tragic.

Jen has been very brave through all of this. She has not felt able to say much on Twitter, but is texting with a few of us, and I have spoken to her on the phone. Her friend, Laurie, had to leave today.  I feel just horrible that she is now all alone. Hopefully she can leave New Mexico soon and begin rebuilding her life and get back to work.

The video is here.

Please, if you haven't already, consider sending a donation to help Jen rebuild her life. Just click the "Chip In" button on the widget. Feel free to leave comments here or at the ChipIn site, and please share this link.

I'm listed

Just wanted to thank Angela over at Blog Mommas for linking my blogs in her directory. Check out some of the blogs there.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Splurged

Been needing to upgrade our TV for a long while now. I was going to do it last Christmas, and it didn't happen. I was going to do it this Christmas, and it didn't happen. Our 9 year old plasma TV has had a couple of lines in the display for at least 2 years now. There aren't enough HDMI ports to add a Blu-Ray player. We actually have Blu-ray movies that we can't watch!

I got together with a geeky friend who is very handy with the electronics and such and we went went shopping. He knows what all those abbreviations and acronyms stand for! We met at Fry's this morning. There is one word to describe walking through the big screen TV department at Fry's: overwhelming. The TVs are all lined up playing movie clips and demo reels. The problem is, a Samsung demo might be playing on an LG TV and that is confuzzling to me. The signs in front of the TVs tell you very little, mostly just the size and price and whether the TV is LCD, LED or plasma. It's impossible to compare without a sales clerk, and I don't trust them. After all, they're trying to sell me something!

One thing I was adamant about is the screen. I hate the shiny glass. I hate seeing reflections on the screen. It distracts me from the picture. My family room has a lot of windows, and the overhead kitchen lights are also directly behind us when we are watching. That helped me narrow the choices of TVs that I would consider, but then it was time to compare the features, which, like I said, we couldn't do without assistance.

That assistance came in the form of a 400 pound schmoozy clerk that simply rubbed me the wrong way. He even tried talking Trek Theme Songs with me when he heard my ringtone when my phone rang. Ugh. Then when I asked a few questions about processor speed and features I got some lame analogy about Mustang V-6 vs. V-8. I wanted to kick him.

I was looking at 2 TVs, side-by-side, one $500 more than the other. I asked him what $500 got me on one that the other didn't have. The answer was, "The sign in front of that TV is wrong. That's not the real price." WTH? "Well, what is the price? What does this TV have?" I inquired.  Turns out, this was THE TV for me! Then Mr. Salesman tells me I can't have it! "We don't have that one in stock." Obvious reply, "Can you get one?" was followed by the inevitable, "No, the only store that has one is in Arizona." "Can they ship it to me?" "No it's too far to ship it." "Can you sell me this one?" "No, I don't have authorization for that. We might get more from the manufacturer, but we don't know that yet.""Can you find me a similar TV?" "There isn't any." I'm now tiring of this volley, so my final response turned out to be, "I'm going to Costco."  One hour wasted.

Our beloved Costco is closed. They are tearing the whole thing down and rebuilding it, bigger and better and with a gas station. For the next year we have to suffer shopping in an unfamiliar Costco. There's another story there...the kosher pickle story...but we'll skip it for now. We trekked to a Costco that I had been to only once before. It's far from my house, and everything is in a different place, and I don't recognize the cashiers, and it's like shopping in a foreign country!! (Breathe, mom) OK...I breathed... I'm OK, now....

There are few choices compared to Fry's but one HUGE difference. There are boxes of TVs just under the displayed ones. One the boxes you can see everything you need to know to compare one TV to the next: dimensions, screen size, processor speed, special features, etc. We spent another hour trying to find MY TV.  Evidently, it really doesn't exist. I finally conceded on the shiny screen part. I asked my pal, "Do I just need to get over it?" and he said, "I think you do."  First compromise made. I'm obviously getting tired of shopping for something I know nothing about. I may as well be buying a helicopter.

Long story, made only slightly shorter, I got a humongous TV with a speedy processor, WiFi, Bluetooth, HD internet apps...yada yada...and a frakking shiny screen. It's not LED, which is what I thought I wanted, it's fully array LCD HDTV, whatever that is. All I know is the picture quality was gorgeous in the store. One more's has 3D. I know, I know, that's so lame. I really was not going to buy this TV because I did not want to pay for a feature that I thought was stupid and I really didn't want, but you know what? You don't have to use the feature, and almost all the TVs there had 3D! The ones that didn't were missing other features I really did want.

I was sick of shopping for this crazy electronic tech, so I pretty much just rolled over and let Costco win. I told my pal to load it up, find me Blu-ray and get me out of there.

If you know me, you know I shop by Ferengi Rule of Acquision #141 (Only fools pay retail). Even though this TV is a bit of overkill, and pretty pricey, I still managed to come out OK. Here's how: 
1st: The Blu-ray player I chose had a $90 instant rebate which gave me more bang for my buck than a cheaper player with less features.
2nd: By buying at Costco, my warranty is automatically doubled and I get free technical support if needed, and I have 90 days to return it if I decide this isn't the TV for me. (I also had no annoying sales person pressuring me)
3rd: I earn 1% rebate on my Costco membership and 1% on my Costco American Express card.
4th: This one is big: I just received my Costco American Express rebate voucher in the mail last week. It was HUGE--$615!! I mulled over in my mind at least 6 ways I could spend that money, including putting it in my convention fund and  buying an iPad (decided to wait for the next generation). I turned it over to the cashier and saw $615 come off my TV. I think that made it a damn good deal.

i get to look at this ridiculously huge box for a week
My geek pal is going to come over next Saturday and install this monster. I'll be happy when it's all over. I love my Treknology, but I just want it to materialize and WORK. I don't like researching, self-educating, shopping and installing it. I'm hoping the shiny screen won't bother me as much as I think it will, but if it does, I know I can return it for the full amount, including my rebate money. I'll probably just make myself love it though, because the thought of TV shopping again gives me a rash.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Widget is Working...Debris Clearing is Not

Jen texted me this morning. The bad news was that the workers were not going to be clearing debris at the house to day, so she wasn't going anywhere. The good news was that she wasn't going anywhere, so she got to catch up on sleep today. Yay!

I know she was looking forward to having the large pieces moved with machinery so she could search for buried treasure, but I think she really needed the sleep.

I think the widget is finally working accurately. If it doesn't show at least $2576 you need to clear your cache and reload the page.
Please click the Chip In button to donate.

Also, if you haven't already, vote for my picture in the Hipstamic Contest by clicking HERE. If i get first place the winnings go to Jen. You can vote once on Twitter and also on Facebook. If you already voted, please spread the word! I'm only at #16! Voting ends Sunday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wanna See Where Your Money Is Going?

Jen sent me a few pics tonight. She used some of the money we have collected here at Walmart. Thank you for your donations! THIS is where your money is going.

 Jen’s first official hotel drawer of socks, undies, tees & sports bras.(Wow I have a whole drawer for each of these categories. Now I feel spoiled)

She got these three hooded sweatshirts for $5 each. Do you think maybe she's been reading my frugal blog? ;-)  

She said she was ready for a visit to the laundromat...she has only THREE complete outfits right now. Still, that's 2 more than she had on Tuesday!

The Red Cross provided this care package. It's a few basic essential items designed to get one through the first few days.

Once again, click this link to donate.

Nothing But Ashes in the Ashes

Jen went to the house today, or to what used to be the house. She spent most of the day there, but nothing was recovered. Tomorrow workers will begin clearing the rubble and she is hopeful that some items will be found as the large parts are removed.

Her local AT&T office replaced her Micro Cell Tower for free today, so she has better 3G coverage now. 

Donated Socks & Legwarmers

She received donations of new shoes, sweat shirts, pants, socks, and legwarmers today. She'll be styling for a few days, at least! A local diner has agreed to feed her two hot meals per day as long as she needs it.

The local comic store that she has frequented three times a week (wait--that's more than Sheldon goes!) found out about her fire and gave her Death Dealer and Witchblade comics.

When the remains of the house are gone, Jen will begin making plans to leave the area. She will probably take the offer of the summer home in Missouri, but hasn't made a commitment yet.

I spoke with her on the phone tonight while she was at Walmart. I'm hoping to get that granny-pants video.

It's heartening to hear of material goods being donated by the local community, but Jen still needs a lot of help. Her friend, Laurie, will be with her a few more days, and then she'll be on her own. She has gotten rest, but emotions well up at random times. Just having to replace the face wash that she just bought last week brought tears today. It's going to be a hard recovery, and your support will go a long way to ease this difficult transition. Thank you for all your kind comments, tweets, and donations.

To donate click here.
To vote for my photo (if I win Jen gets the prize) click here.

Finally, for those of you going to the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention (The Khan)  in August, we are going to have a Star Trek Shower for Jen! She had a nice collection of geeky stuff, including plenty of Trek toys. If you will be at the Khan plan on bringing a Trek collectible, toy, prop, or memorabilia for Jen. If you're not going to the Khan we can make other arrangements to deliver. I'm starting a list of items so that we don't get too many duplicates, so be in touch if you have something in mind.

I Know, It's Nuts...

I've uploaded one of my Space Cow Episode pics in a Hipstamatic contest. If I get 1st place I'm giving the prize to TrekJen. I got up to #9 the last time, but I've gained a pile of followers since then, so we can do it!

I hate hawking for votes, but hey it's only for 5 days. Please go to the link, vote for the pic on Twitter and Facebook and lets get this pic to #1 in the  contest called "Hearts and Unicorns." I think it's perfect, since the theme is "Irregular Affection."

Ready? Here's the link. Voting ends on Sunday. Please spread the word!

Here's the donation link for Jen, too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TrekJen Update 2/9/11--Lots of Good News!

Wow! Where to begin. Jen had a full day!

First of all, thanks to all who have donated! If you haven't yet had the chance, here is the link. Any amount is helpful! We have collected around $2500 already! Almost 30 people have contributed. I know it sounds like a lot of money, but Jen has NOTHING. She needs clothes, furnishings, towels, dishes, toothpaste, appliances, dog name it! Please give as you are able, and share this link. 

This morning Jen received a generous grocery gift card from a local church. Other churches are donating food and clothing from banks they have.  A donation pool from her work was set up to pay her first months rent! How awesome is that?

The Red Cross really pulled through for her! They gave her a month's worth of microwave dinners and water, a Mastercard, and replaced her asthma medicine and nebulizer! They set her up with an optometrist who donated his basic services. She is using some of the money we've collected here to pay for the lenses. Poor Jen can't drive without her glasses and they were lost in the fire!
Isn't this the most depressing picture you've seen all day?

Jen's friend Laurie and the Fire Chief drove her to the house site today. There were some hidden treasures in the rubble.  Star Trek Ken and Barbie survived the fire!! Their box was fried, but they were in perfect condition inside. She sent me this picture of them celebrating. (I think their celebration was for finally being out of the box!) 

Yay! We survived a fire!

Jen's water heater seems to be in good condition, and her Duet washer and dry need a new power cable and a good cleaning, but otherwise appear to be OK. She found a family photo, which needs a new frame, one of her four sealed copies of Fantastic Four, and a metal file cabinet full of paperwork. She was unable to open the file cabinet, but hopeful that it wasn't too waterlogged inside.Various sealed metal containers were found full of water, but some of the contents may be saved.

She found 4 of her 5 hard drives! They did not burn, but she did pour water out of them. For now they are in rice. Tomorrow she will try to find some silica powder. I told her a craft store may have some for flower drying.

Great advice and support has been coming in via Twitter. @NebraskaDave reminded her to get copies of her W2 and other important forms for taxes ASAP. A computer expert, @CamaroSS was referred to us by @cbryanjones. He has some instructions for (hopefully) saving the data on the hard drives that were recovered today.  @RJM1138 has been tweeting pleas for assistance for 2 straight days. He has offered up some of his amazing Star Trek collection to help Jen redecorate once she's settled. @grimagination offered to transfer all of his Starbucks card balances to her. @tishalulle1 has clothing in Jen's size she is willing to send. The response has been wonderful.

Just this evening I got a very excited text from Jen. Someone has offered her 6-9 months RENT FREE in their FURNISHED summer home in Missouri. This is a great opportunity for her to get her life back! Her job takes her to MO, TX, OK and back to NM. She can travel for her job, keep her home base in MO, save money on rent and utilities, and rebuild her life and her belongings! It's wonderful news about a very generous offer!

Wednesday Morning Update on TrekJen

Jen was able to get 6 hours of sleep. The fire chief and her pal are driving her out to the house site this morning  for a closer look. It snowed last night, but I'm not sure how much. Last night someone found one of her longboards in the ash and she forwarded the picture to me.

Tweeps have been generous in their donations and their spreading of the news! Jennifer is very grateful!!
Thanks to donations, and free general services from the eye doctor, she is going to get her glasses replaced today! YES! This is what I'm talking about people--Immediate Needs!! Thank you!

Also on the agenda today is finding a place to live.

I care barely imagine how tough seeing her burned up belongings is going to be for Jen. Please keep her in your thoughts today, and continue to share the donation link.

As of 9:20 a.m. PST on Wednesday 2/9 the donations are $2400. It sounds like a lot, but remember, Jen needs to replace EVERYTHING: clothes, toiletries, dishes, towels, a bed, furnishings, etc. Got $20? That could buy a pair of jeans. Got only $10? That could buy a couple of towels. Got only $5? That could buy some socks. Thanks for anything you can do!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Widget is Inaccurate. Jen is getting your donations!

Jen had some PayPal issues earlier and had to change the email address on her account. The widget started working after the change, but all the donations before the switch are not showing up on it. Rest assured, your donations have been received and they will be available to her. She has PayPal verification of that. Thanks to everyone who has donated and/or helped spread the word!

Jen is exhausted, physically and emotionally. Hopefully sleep has finally won out late this afternoon. Her friend should be arriving early this evening. I thank God for so much in this time of tragedy: for many generous souls online, for a dear friend who is suspending her own life to travel a great distance to support and assist Jen this week, for the donation of shelter, for the marvelous Treknology that allows us instant communication, support and transfer of funds.  I am also grateful that Jen & her dog had left the house to sleep someplace warm. If she would have been asleep in the house with a smoldering attic, it could have been the end of Jen.

I spoke with Jen this afternoon. She is overwhelmed by the speedy mobilization of aid from her Twitter friends. She has a tough road ahead, but has come through hard times before. She is strong, smart and resilient. She is very grateful to all of you. Thank you very much!

TrekJen Donation Site Is Now Live

Tragedy Strikes When We Least Expect It

Last night someone dear to me lost her home. It was sudden. It was violent. It was unexpected.

@TrekJen was cold. Her power went out. She fiddled with the breakers, but couldn't get electricity. Since she had a long shift at work the next day, she decided to turn off the main breaker and go sleep at work where it was warm. While she was gone her house burned.

Jen got a call from a neighbor. She hurried back to her house only to see it engulfed in flames, firefighters hard at work. A picture of extremes, bright, hot flames illuminating the dark frigid night. How helpless and alone must she have felt? Jen posted on twitter from her phone: "And my house burned down."

I direct messaged her: "Please tell me that you were kidding!"  She was not. We kept in touch via text message, and I tried my best to update for her on Twitter. There was one room, in a back corner of the house that hadn't burned. Could some things be saved? Then the roof fell in, as she watched.

When the flames were out the firefighters showed Jen the electrical cord in the attic that was to blame for this disaster. It was probably smoldering up there when she left. The cabin was her dad's winter home. They went there every year for 20 years. . A painful sentimental loss.

Currently my Tweetdeck Mentions and Direct Messages columns are bursting with inquiries as to how to help Jen. I see a lot of outpouring of love, well-wishes, and virtual hugs for her.

I spoke with Jen early this morning. She has a place to stay for a week. A local motel room has been donated to her. Her dog is safe at a friend's house. A trusted friend is on her way via airplane to her to help sift through the rubble and ash later today. Snow is expected tomorrow, so this must be done soon if anything of value is going to be salvaged. Jen has been in contact with her insurance company, and has been granted some time off from work.

Jen's insurance covers her house only, not any of her personal belongings. The loss of her longboards and Star Trek collectibles stings, but in time those items can be replaced. Even worse are the five hard drives full of digital photos that are gone. The firefighters were able to throw a single plastic tub full of irreplaceable photos out the window. Other than that box of pictures, all she has is her laptop, phone, clothes she was wearing, her dog and her trucks.

My biggest concern was that she was all alone. That first need has been answered by her longtime friend who is flying to her today. Thank you, Laurie! Next, she needs some sleep! Physical and mental exhaustion hinders good decision-making, and makes everything look worse. Hopefully she will get some sleep this morning.
Thirdly, Jen needs the basics: clothes, toiletries, food, and housing. This is where we can help!

Once Jen is rested I expect a call from her. I am working with her to set up a PayPal account for donations to help her get basic needs. As soon as a donation site is available I will post a link on this blog and on Twitter. Meanwhile, pray for Jen and count your blessings!