Pssst. You're using IE 8. My site is going to look like crap nuggets for you. There's a better way. You'll thank me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Celebrating One Year of Running and a Shark Deficit

Photo by hermanusbackpackers

I am a closet co-sleeper. In fact, I am co-sleeping against my will. So I am less of a closet co-sleeper and more just a prisoner of co-sleeping. A POCS. Hannah Jane will be 3 this Saturday, and the kid has been sleeping in our bed since she was 6 months old.

TWO AND A HALF YEARS OF BEING KICKED EVERY 15 MINUTES.

It started out of desperation. We needed sleep. Sleep deprivation was ruining our marriage and, frankly, robbing us of the joys of parenting. So we started letting her sleep in our bed.

She just never left.

Hannah is finally at the age where you can BEGIN to reason with her. So I am trying with all my might to reason, beg, and bribe this leech out of my bed. Unfortunately, with the ability to reason, also comes the ability to exaggerate, lie, and have irrational fears. This led to the following conversation taking place a couple of nights ago:

Me: "Why won't you sleep in your own room?"
HJ:  "There's sharks in there."
Me: "There are no sharks in there. If you sleep in there 3 nights in a row, Mommy will take you to the toy store and buy you anything you want."
HJ:  "Anything?"
Me: "Anything you want."
HJ: "...I want a shark."

Don't be fooled. This is not the false logic of a toddler. This is the thinking of an evil genius.

If she gets a shark....

she can put it in her room....

and then....

there really will be a shark in her room...

and then she can sleep with mommy and daddy.....

FOREVER.

This is how entire civilizations are conquered. It's also how I got fat.  I am the queen of buying myself sharks. We like to think that our excuses are anything but excuses. We want them to be valid reasons.

They're not.

Excuses are just sharks of our own creation that we use to terrify ourselves into not exploring the depths of our potential.

Today is my first Runniversary. One year of running. When I began this journey a year ago, I couldn't even walk for 30 minutes. Now, I can run 10 miles. I've lost 61 pounds, my blood pressure is low, my resting heart rate is in the 40s, and I feel great. I can keep up with my two crazy kids, I've made amazing new friends, and I can say with conviction that fitness is now my lifestyle, not something I see other people doing and wish I could do. What is the best thing about getting addicted to running?

Running has drained my shark tank.

It's very hard for me to cling to excuses anymore. You can't have experienced the evolution of running, and then tell yourself with a straight face that you aren't capable of something. That doesn't mean that you are unrealistic. Just as I know I can't go out and run a marathon tomorrow, I also know that I can't quit my job and start writing full time tomorrow.  It just means that if writing full time is what I want to do, I know that with time and patience and hard work, I can do it. 

Or learn a new language.
Or become a black belt.
Or demand love and respect from people in my life.
Or defriend people who are toxic.

When you've felt your muscles groaning, sweat pouring down your face, your lungs expanding to their hilt, your heart pumping as hard as it can, the thrill of a PR, and that moment when you can stop running, because you've just crossed the finish line and friends are cheering you on, you become your own super hero. A super hero that wrestles sharks.

350 Miles.
80 Hours.
Over 100 runs.

1 Year of Running.

Can't wait for the next 1,000 miles.

Let's do this.

In celebration of my Runniversary, I will be heading out to the weekly run at West Sixth Brewing Company tonight at 6pm. What better way to celebrate a year worth of running, than with 3 miles and a free pretzel? And of course beer. If you are one of the many people who have encouraged me, cheered for me, and talked badly to me when I needed it this year, please come up, and say hi, so I can thank you.  And so you can sign my Runniversary shirt! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Should You Be Arguing Against Gay Marriage: A Helpful Chart

This week the gay marriage debate has, once again, been thrust into the media forefront. Oddly, this time around, by chicken.

While I'm sure that many people expect me to write a long, well-thought-out blog post about Chick-Fil-A and their latest shenanigans, the truth is...

I just don't have the energy.

I have already written about the gay marriage debate, and my views on whether or not Christians should be pro gay marriage or against. The day I posted it was mentally exhausting. I lost my shit in my own comments section and have since been chastised for it. My only defense is that when I talk about gay marriage, it is not some philosophical discussion being held at Bible study in someone's basement filled with like-minded people, or from the safe anonymity of the local paper's online comments section.

No, when I talk about the rights of gay people to get married, it is with actual people in mind. Real names and faces. Loved ones. People I care deeply about and for whom I have tremendous respect.

So, yeah.

I get heated.

I post too much about the subject.

That's what you do when you are passionately defending real people, not just abstract opinions.

I have other stuff going on in my life. Personal struggles that need attending.  I am also super busy at work, which is a good problem to have.  All that said, I have had raging insomnia the last few weeks and last night was kept awake by nightmares of cows and Muppets and Dan Cathy.

So, for now at least, I do need an outlet for my anger over the issue and a way to have the arguments that need to be had, without taking time away from my work and my life.  So I've done what any obsessive compulsive person would do.

I've made a helpful chart.

For the foreseeable future, anyone who wants to debate me on or shame me over the gay marriage debate will simply be referred to "The Chart".  This includes my gay friends who think I don't talk about it enough and my fellow Christians and extended family members who think I am going to burn in hell.

If you are like me and can't believe we are actually having this debate in the year 2012 and are sick and tired of talking about it, but afraid of enabling this covert bigotry to continue by becoming cynical on the matter, feel free to also refer others to "The Chart."

I am now going to spend the remainder of my lunch break exercising my God-given right to read articles about men who dress up as goats, and stuff my face with fast food that is politics-free.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adventures in the First Amendment and Copyrights: Oatmeal Fans Dish Out One More Bowl of FU

Last night all the LLB's Delicious Oatmeal that Might Have Been money FINALLY cleared my account. The final amount donated was an astonishing $2500 by 113 funders. Squeeeeeee!!! :D


This is the part where most people who help raise money for charity get to talk about the AWESOME charities that will get the money that so many AWESOME people donated (and maybe share some of their reasons for donating).

Alas, this was no ordinary charitable fundraiser. Unlike most fundraisers, this fundraiser has a villain. And this villain's mere existence and thinly veiled threats have forced me to begin this blog with something far less moving, and, frankly, downright sinister.

I must begin this blog with math.

Now if you were to go to a charity bake sale, you might assume (or not) that some of the money you are paying for Miss Edna's scrumptious Macadamia Nut Snickermunchies would not go to Our Lady of Faith's Orphans With Acne Benefit Fund, but rather to pay for the table and chair rentals, the tent, the porta john for that lactose intolerant alter boy's ill advised consumption of Sister Gertrude's tres leches cake, and other various and sundry overhead expenses. You would assume this, because, presumably, you are not a moron.

Charles Carreon still thinks you are a moron.

So for Charles Carreon's sake, who I'm sure will take credit for the money raised (even though half of it went to the organization that squished him like a sickly water bug), let's breakdown exactly where every last red cent went.



Firstly, the money you raise on IndieGoGo comes from two separate sources: credit cards/bank transfers or PayPal.

Delicious Oatmeal raised $1280 in CC payments. The 9% IndieGoGo fee was $115.20, credit card processing was $38.40, then (because we raised more than the $1000 goal) we got a 5% rebate of $64.

So, we netted $1190.40 from CC/Bank donations.

Now PayPal.

Gross PayPal donations were $1220. IndieGoGo 9% was $109.80, PayPal processing was $36.60, and the 5% IndieGoGo rebate was $61.00.

We netted $1134.60 from PayPal donations.

Add those amounts together and $2325 of the $2500 made it to the charities. $1162.50 each. Although, for the purposes of being obnoxiously thorough, Americans for the Arts got an additional $.50, because they only accept whole dollar amounts. I'm sure Charles will nail me on that one.







(Aside: Every time more than 3 numbers are involved in an equation, an English major hurls themselves off a bridge.  I narrowly escaped this time.)

How would you like it if every time you donated money, you had to have all of that spelled out for you in order to donate? Obviously, that information should be made easily accessible by any donor, which it is on every page of IndieGoGo. But what if you had to have it shoved down your gullet before every donation?

This is what Charles Carreon claims he wants.

Worse, Charles Carreon wants you to only be allowed to donate if you are doing it for the right reasons. In his view, the right reasons cannot include bitchiness, vindictiveness, pettiness, humor, mockery, satire, publicity, or anything that doesn't make him feel warm and fuzzy inside (<---Read his real reason for suing).

Well, Mr. Carreon, the Internet has spoken. And it is a resounding "fuck off."

Some comments from Delicious Oatmeal:
ozzlander88 said 16 days ago
Yay free speach…. boo asshats
Will said 16 days ago
Made on behalf of Tara Carreon, for hours and hours of entertainment.
rus.sundholm said 16 days ago
Anything that is a stick in they eye of CC is alright by me.
Deborah said 17 days ago
Love to help show that I can donate money on my own behalf and to help the important work of the EFF and freedom of speech

It is none of your business why anyone donates to any charity. It is also not your job to "help" us  assess the legitimacy of charities. We are capable of doing that, without your help. I'm also waiting with bated breath for your donation of the additional $175 you find so egregious to pay for credit card processing and the use of IndieGoGo's web platform. You may send it PayPal to design at annbransom.com. Just make sure to add a little extra for good measure, because like IndieGoGo AND you AND everyone else, PayPal doesn't work for free.

But here is something you can have for free.

Some excellent advice.

If you want people to believe you don't care what they think about you, then don't post their "hate" mail in your own museum of narcissism. If you believe in the First Amendment, don't threaten to sue satirists and then act surprised when they don't sit by and eat crow. If you don't want people to think you are a poisonous douche shrub, then don't liken people criticizing you to the horror of rape. Most importantly, if you don't like people shining a light on your bad behavior, then STOP BEHAVING BADLY.

We are waiting, Sir.

Tara is still jawing on Nader Library. Oatmeal is still writing hilarious comics. Charles Carreon still thinks he's a real attorney. People continue to fight against him, even when the Internet has moved on to the next sparkly object that's caught her fickle eye. But at least in this battle against censorship, four charities got to benefit. Matthew Inman raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. We mighty Oatmeal fans raised $2500 for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Americans for the Arts.

Thank you so much to everyone who donated. Please remember to keep the spirit of charity and the war on censorship going.

Even when it's not hilarious.

Holding the receipts for EFF and AFTA Donations. Smiling the smile of the just. Hi, Tara!! :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Running 10 Miles and Other Symptoms of Mental Illness

Yes. I run in these.

This time last year, I was 2 weeks post partum, sitting at my kitchen table, bawling into a bowl of my Vietnamese mother-in-law's homemade pho. I was 206 lbs, swollen in places I didn't even know could retain fluid, and feeling vaguely like a walrus an hour after Thanksgiving dinner.

I was not a happy walrus.

As my MIL started lecturing me about crying, in Vietnamese (at least, I think that is what she was lecturing me about), I tried to pinpoint exactly what I was crying about. This is not an easy task in the throes of post partum blues and sleep deprivation that would make a Navy Seal feel sorry for you. I managed to come up with an answer, though.

My life required more energy than my body was able to give it.

Life altering decisions made in moments of utter personal strife should be the first red flag that one is embarking down a path to insanity. Fast forward to this past Sunday, when the levels of insanity I have reached since those steamy, tearful moments a year ago in my kitchen came into 20/20 focus.

I ran 10 miles. Double digits.

Several people have now asked me what it feels like to run 10 miles. I think it would be easier to describe what it doesn't feel like. Emotions run the gamut in a spectacular pendulum between a sensation of actual flight and a sensation of impending death. Most people tell me I am crazy for running at all, much less 10 miles. Crazy is probably an understatement.

I have a lot of experience with the first 8 miles.  Here's what those are like.

Mile 1 - Pantophobia
(Fear of EVERYTHING.)

The first mile is the most terrifying. Every run is different, some good, some bad, and some REALLY bad. The first mile gives me the time and creaky joints to consider just how bad it might get. Is this going to be the run I get hit by a car? Break a bone? Get sudden, explosive runner's diarrhea and poop my pants?

The first mile is the time I fear ALL THE THINGS.

Mile 2 -Clinical Depression 
(Characterized primarily by regret.)

Mile 2 is the mortal mile. My heart has reached the uncomfortable "this sucks so bad" target range, I'm far enough away from my car/house that it will be devastating to do the walk of shame back, and an overwhelming amount of regret floods my body.

Why running?
Why couldn't I have taken up darts?
Or knitting?
Why couldn't I just be happy fat?

Mile 2 is when I regret every ounce of ranch dressing I've ever eaten, and pray that the car I was afraid of hitting me during the first mile is just around the next corner.

Mile 3- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
(Check everything. Now do it again.)

Mile 3 is the moment when I know if I make it just one more mile, I'll have covered a respectable distance. The 5K. Well...3.1 miles. That extra .1 is important, because this is when ALL THE NUMBERS MATTER.

Heart rate. Miles per hour. Minutes per mile. Time. Distance. Song track.

I start checking and rechecking, because it gives me hope that if I can just finish this third mile then even if I have to quit, I could still provide quantifiable data that I didn't waste my time.

Mile 4 -Bipolar Disorder 
(Specifically huge mood swings & racing thoughts.)

Mile 4 is the distance decider. By the end of mile 4, I'm either going be convinced that I am totally done and will probably never run again, or I am convinced I could run another 20 miles. Additionally, I am either completely depressed over my lack of stamina, or over the moon with how far I've come physically and how epically life changing this run is going to be.  In order to stay in the game, I have to try and clear my mind.  This becomes difficult, when my mind goes something like this:

"Holy crap, my heart is going to explode.  I wonder what my heart looks like right now.  OMG, that is disgusting.  Why do I think things like that?  Jeffrey Dahmer thought things like that.  I wish they'd replay that special with Jeffrey Dahmer on MSNBC.  Is NBC a conservative station or a liberal channel?  I can't remember.  Speaking of liberal, I wish I would have applied that anti-chafing cream a little more liberally.  Chafe is a funny word.  I wonder what fingers I use to type the word chafe..."

Mile 5 - Depersonal Disorder 
(Who is that chubby girl running way down there?)

Mile 5 is when whatever fluid is cushioning my brain gets siphoned off to be used in some other shrieking organ, and my muscles start to tear away from my soul.  This is when I am no longer actually in my body, but hovering above myself somewhere thinking what a moron that girl is for running this long, but also kind of enjoying whatever song she happens to be listening to.  I am vaguely aware that she started running for a reason, but at this point I am not sure if the girl I am seeing is running from a psychopath or if SHE is indeed the psychopath who believes she is possessed by a Wendigo and has to run until her feet are no longer on fire.  Either way, it's of little consequence, because there is nothing I can do to stop her.

Mile 6 -Psychosis
(Why else would you run longer than an hour?)

For most runners, six miles is generally what we can run in an hour.  So if I'm on mile 6, it means that I have or intend to run MORE than an hour. 

Imagine your favorite kind of cake (or pie, if you prefer, but if you do, know that many of these mental illnesses apply to you and you should seek help).  Now imagine that you are laying in a pile of marshmallows with nothing but a plate and fork and a gigantic piece of that cake.  Now imagine that you taste that first sweet, sticky bite and it is more than you could have even hoped for in terms of taste and texture and satisfaction.

Now imagine the total opposite of that feeling.

That is what running more than an hour actually feels like.

Our brain, believing that we are being run down by, assumably, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex, convinces us that we are instead eating that cake, just to give us the will to keep going. There is absolutely no other way to explain why an otherwise fairly rational person would run more than 60 minutes.

Mile 7 - Delusional disorder 
(Yeah, I could totally run an Ironman. I'm kind of a big deal.)

Once I reach mile 7, I know I am more than halfway to half marathon distance.  This is about the time when delusional disorder sets in, and I become completely intolerable to be around.  This can be summed up in a variety of behaviors I may begin engaging in, including, but not limited to:

  1. Singing loudly (because I start believing I am a better singer than Bette Midler)
  2. Smiling idiotically (because I am practicing my finish line face for the Ironman I will no doubt be winning next week)
  3. Telling terrible jokes (because I am now funnier than Russell Brand)
  4. Yelling "Love you!" at anyone I pass (because I am too awesome for this to result in a restraining order)

Mile 8 -Grief 
(Over the death of reason.)

The eighth mile is when negotiation starts, being one of several stages of grief.

If I can just make it to that tree, please let me stop running.

I will never eat white bread again, if I can just stop running.

I will not sleep in this Sunday, if please, God, you will just strike me dead right now so I can stop running.

I also experience the other stages of grief in rapid succession: pain (obviously), denial that I have actually run this far and certainty that I am about to wake up and be disappointed, anger that someone who loves me didn't stop me from pursuing this insane hobby, and, finally, acceptance that I will probably, thank God, be dead in the next 10 minutes.

~~~

This brings me to the two new miles.  The last miles I had to conquer Sunday to achieve the coveted double digit runner status.

Mile 9 -Disassociative Identity Disorder 
(All of my personalities running in tandem and losing track of time.)

I'm not sure what happened during mile 9, because I completely blacked out when I did so.  Krissie was with me, so maybe she can shed some light on what happened during mile 9, but until then I am left to assume that my personality traits fragmented into several individuals who, as a group, were able to relay through this segment of psychotic distance together.

Mile 10 - Euphoric Mania
(I'm the queen of the worrrrrrrrrld!)

Mile 10 is when I fully appreciated and enjoyed the hilariousness of my jello legs, the sweat pouring down my cleavage, the heat embedded in the apples of my cheeks, and the laughter of my fellow runner.  I could recognize the worth in all those things for one reason.

IT WAS ALMOST OVER.

Me after 10 miles of running.  Like a crazy person.

Mile 11+  - The Phantom Miles 
(The miles you run after you stop running, otherwise known as mental stability.)

Naturally, if the above was not hyperbole, no one would run 10 miles more than once.  Furthermore, no one would go on to run half marathons, full marathons, ultra marathons, Ironmen, etc.

So why do people do this running thing? Why do we keep running through shin splints, sore knees, upset digestive tracks, burning lungs, and side cramps?

We do it for the phantom miles. The miles you run after you stop running.

That's me running 10 miles of the Run The Bluegrass course on the far left.
Photo stolen from Krissie Bentley. Check out her blog. You'll thank me.


When you are running through the pain and the exhilaration and all the endorphins coursing through your veins, you are truly alive. More alive than you are at rest. So when you consider all the things that happen when you are not running, they become so much more precious and vibrant.  That euphoria carries over, not just in the car ride home from the trail (although, I did spend much of that twenty minutes screaming "WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!" at the tops of my burning lungs).

You carry it with you everywhere.  You start to see everything through those hypersensitive lenses that 175 beats per minute give you.

Today, 48 hours later, my body feels like I have been wrecked by a train.

But you know what?

I can't wait to run another 10.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Blind Scribblings and Incoherent Grunts: Make Me A Day Vacation Spot


I am now writing periodically for a new site called Blind Scribblings and Incoherent Grunts.  BSIG is a collection of some really cool writers, "scribbling" about gaming, comics, pop culture, music, and other various and sundry topics.  God only knows what topics I will post about there.  So you have to read it to find out!

My first post on Blind Scribblings is speculation on what happened to Funny Junk after Charles Carreon dropped them (maybe?) as a client. It explores the possible reasons behind their complete silence in the wake of BearLoveGate, and what their future looks like.

Don't worry, I'm still blogging here too.  In fact, I have an epic blog post in the works for when I get to donate all the money we raised for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Americans for the Arts.

So stay tuned, and check out BSIG while you wait!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Emma Lynn: The Gift I Got Twice

Fist pump. Power to the little people.

I joked with the ultrasound tech about how disappointed your dad was going to be. My regular OB told us she thought you were a boy.  Alas, at the 20 week anomaly scan at the high risk doctor, the tech confirmed that your dad was having his third and, I, my second G-I-R-L. Girl.

"Well, at least we don't have to buy new clothes!" GJ offered excitedly. 

She was there to keep me company.

"Well everything looks fine to me," the ultrasound tech said happily. "I'll just go get Dr. Campbell so he can review everything."

I couldn't have cared less if you were a boy or a girl, as long as you were healthy.  After going through your sister's hemangioma, I said one of about a million silent prayers that you would just be born perfect, with no obstacles.  No medical bills.

I also said a silent prayer that the hydronephrosis wouldn't happen again this pregnancy.  God, I hated being pregnant.  No reflection on you, of course.  My body just doesn't like being pregnant. You were quite the surprise, anyway, defying probability and presumably thousands of hours of research that went into Yaz.

That was ok.  I was excited that your sister would have a little buddy, just like my sister did.

Dr. Campbell walked in, his usual jovial self. He congratulated GJ and me and began busying himself with all the scans and computer recordings.  Even though I wasn't technically high risk this time around, I was glad Dr. Campbell would be delivering you. Your sister was born 5 weeks early, and Dr. Campbell made sure she got here safe and sound.

As GJ and the tech gossiped, I became acutely aware of an almost imperceptible change in Dr. Campbell.  A quiet...no...a seriousness had overcome him.

"He's just being thorough," I thought to myself.

So I cracked some stupid joke and he laughed.  That's what your mom does when she's nervous or scared.

She tries to be funny.

"Can you come look at this?" he said to the tech, and they adopted a medical language between themselves that left mom and I suddenly deaf and blind.  Mere furniture in a room residing on some other planet, with some foreign race of people chattering away like we weren't even there.

"What's wrong?" I said with an edge.

Once your mom decides the jokes are over, she's all business, and nothing pisses her off more than people talking over her head.

"Do you see how this area is brighter than this area of the baby's chest?"

Yes.

"And do you see these dark spots here?"

Yes.

"I think what we are seeing here is CCAM Type II."

Dr. Campbell launched into an explanation about CCAM, or CPAM. Evidentially an entire lobe of your right lung was composed of cystic, abnormal tissue.  This abnormal lobe would continue to swell and grow the longer you were inside me, pressing on your heart, and potentially causing hydrops (heart failure).  Medical terminology and diagrams on prescription pads swirled around me.  Comforting hands rested on my back and knees. I wasn't crying yet, but I was rapt with attention making sure I understood every word the doctor was telling me.  Mostly, though, I was waiting.  Waiting for him to say the words that doctors always say:

"But it's ok..."

"There is a cure..."

"Don't worry, your baby is going to be just fine."

I waited for those words.

But they never came.

Because it was not ok.  There was no cure. And you weren't going to be fine.

Best case scenario, you would be born without breathing problems and have to have the offending lobe resected at two months old.  In another scenario, you would have to have surgery while you were still in my belly, with me acting as a life support machine.

Worst case scenario...

Well, the worst case scenario was too much for your mother to bear.

The tech left the room in tears.  Mommy fell apart in GJ's arms. 

"Everything will be alright," GJ choked out in a quiet, broken voice.

That's what mother's say when the world is falling apart, because that's our job.

Suddenly, the baby I didn't even know I wanted until I got it, was the baby I may never get to see grow up.

Mommy had to go to the doctor once sometimes twice a week for ultrasounds that saw your CCAM growing as predicted.  I had to drive to Cincinnati for a day of special tests and talks with surgeons who would be operating on you.  I had to fight with insurance companies who didn't want to pay for any of it.  We also found out in addition to the CCAM, you also had a hole in your heart.  I cursed and begged and negotiated and pleaded with God.

"Please don't let me fall in love with this baby and then take her away.  Just don't let her be born if she's going to suffer or you're going to take her away shortly after....

I won't live through it."

"Baby Emma Lynn is here after 4 good pushes! Lots of hair & looks just like Daddy. Mommy is enjoying not being able to feel her legs. 6lbs6oz" - Mommy's Facebook update 7/6/2011 9:24am

You came screaming into the world exactly a year ago today.  Four good pushes and boom! Here you were.  I'm not going to lie, kid, you were an uggggggly baby when you came out.  They thought maybe you were having trouble breathing, because your lips were blue, but turned out you were just beat up from coming into the world like a rugby player barreling through a wall of monster tires.

My little, surprise angel.  Safe and sound in my arms.

Don't worry. You cuted up a few days later. ;)

Post-op Thoracotomy and Lung Resection.
The first year of your sister's life whirred by a million miles an hour.  Not so with you.  So many doctors, so many tests.  Three months of colic.  Fighting with insurance companies. Having half of your right lung removed.  An extra long hospital stay.  Sleepless nights.  Levels of fear I didn't know my body could achieve. Bankruptcy.

But so much love.

So much love it takes my breath away.

Like most second children, you suffer from a serious lack of documentation.  I don't take nearly as many pictures and video of you.  We aren't doing a big party for you like we did for your sister.  Part of that is the strain on money and the strain of having two kiddos to chase instead of one.

But part of it isn't.

Part of it is that mommy guards you with her very life, and I am very reluctant to share you. You and your sister are both such gifts to this world and to me.

But I got to get the gift of you twice.

Not only did God deliver you into my arms on July 6th, 2011, but he delivered you into my arms again after your surgery.  I was so terrified.  Terrified of having a decorated nursery that would never be slept in again.  Terrified of having a phone full of pictures of a baby that was gone.  Terrified of having to tell your sister you were in heaven, and not coming home.

I was terrified to love you.

"Don't worry, Mommy. I'm ok."


But hopeless to do anything about it.

It's not possible not to fall head over heels for you.  I am so glad you are here for so many reasons, and I have so much to share with you and teach you.  Above all else, though, I want to teach you this:

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle" is a lie.

In fact, it's not even a verse in the Bible.

It implies that God gives us bad things, just not more of them than we can handle.  He doesn't.  God didn't give you a bad lung, or punch a hole in your heart.  That was something else's doing.

No, what God gave us was strength and comfort in the face of tremendous fear and pain.  He gave us perspective when it seemed like the world was coming apart at the seams.  He gave the physicians who healed you guidance and wisdom.

He gave us you.


 Twice.



Happy Birthday, Emma Lynn.  Mommy hopes she can give you a life that is worthy of the gift you are to us. 


Monday, July 2, 2012

Charles Carreon Gets Schooled by IndieGoGo and EFF

“Smart people stop while they’re ahead. Really smart people stop while they’re behind.” – MawMaw Bransom


When my friends and family see me posting about this Charles Carreon debacle they have generally had two questions.

“Someone can really sue you for writing a blog post?”

Immediately followed by…

“Doesn’t that scare you?”

The answer to the first question is, of course, yes.  People can sue each other for anything.  That doesn’t mean they’ll win, but it does mean that the answer to the second question is yes, as well. 

Of course that scares me.

It should scare you too.

I have been struggling to come up with a suitable anecdote to which to liken this mockery of our legal system, in terms of the dangers of awarding tremendous power to someone and then having them abuse that power along with our tax dollars.  It’s difficult to pinpoint one that captures the magic of the insanity, without overstating the lack of integrity signified.

Penn State v. All the decency in the world - Too heavy handed
Rakofsky v. Internet  - Eh….but no. Too obvious.
Pearson v. Chung – Points for being known as the “pants lawsuit”, but too Austin Powers in $$$
The city of Versailles, KY – Exaaaaaaactly.

It is not important to the story, but you should know that Versailles is pronounced “Ver” + “Sales” around here.  You should know it, because if we were ever to meet in person, and you were to pronounce it like the city in France, I would have to correct you, and then you would give me a look, and then I would have to hang my head in shame.

Also, you should know that there’s a castle in Versailles, KY.

Photo by unfrenziedspace.

Again, it’s not important to the story; it’s just weird.

But I digress.

When I was in college, I interned at a company in Versailles, KY.  Having grown up in Lexington, KY, which is a mid-sized city, I was not acquainted with how it “works” in small towns.  My first taste of the small town legal system was when I had to go to court to pay a speeding ticket for going 35 in a 25. I walked down to the court house at lunch one day (yes, naturally the courthouse was within walking distance).  I was directed to the basement where I was confronted with an entire wall of perhaps 10 windows, each bearing a sign over it for the various things for which one might find herself in the courthouse: taxes, license renewal, traffic tickets, etc.

There was but one woman sitting behind one of the windows labeled “Taxes”.

I approached the harassed looking woman who asked aggressively, “May I help you?”

I politely stated that I was there to pay a speeding ticket.

“Honey, this is the tax window. You need to go down to Window 7 for speeding tickets,” she said, completely irritated by my obvious inability to read basic English on the sign above her head.

“Oh, sorry,” I said, and then walked the ten or so feet down to the seventh window.

The woman then got up from her stool, walked down to the seventh window, sat down, and looking me straight in the face asked, “May I help you?”

…..

Another time during my tenure in Versailles, I was working on a Saturday when my parked Camry was struck by a man in a van who then fled the scene.  I was startled by a woman banging on the office door, who then regretfully informed me that she had witnessed the incident, but thankfully had gotten the guy’s license plate number.  We called the police who didn’t even have to look up the perp’s information.

“Oh, yeah, that’s Jimmy.  Don’t surprise me none.”

It seemed like at least this would be cut and dry.  We had an eye witness who got the man’s license number, his van had left paint on my vehicle, and the police officer was already aware of his record of traffic incidents without even the aid of a computer.

So imagine my surprise when the following Monday, police blocked off the street my office was on, so that they and Jimmy could recreate the scene of the crime with traffic cones, at Jimmy’s request.

I share these anecdotes, because people following this story online and personally in my own life have expressed surprise and outrage that the actions of Charles Carreon would be tolerated even this far by our legal system.

When thinking of this case, you have to accept that the brain of a Carreon is Versailles, KY.  Otherwise, you will not even begin to understand the many layers of disorganized thinking and word salad, lurking below the iceberg of his legal practice and home life.  With that in mind, let’s look at what has happened over the weekend.

It’s been a busy weekend for those caught up in the swirling vortex of butthurt, known as Carreon versus Inman.  If you are new to the case, you can catch up over at Popehat for the legal commentary, here and here and here for my lulz, and the Nader Library for the truth about how this is really just a campaign on the behalf of the Illuminati to allow Matthew Inman to commit murder.

In addition to filing a lawsuit against Inman, IndieGoGo, the National Wildlife Federation, the American Cancer Society and Does 1-Infinity, Carreon filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the IndieGoGo funds from ever making it to Matthew Inman.  While packaged as an attempt to ensure that the funds make it to the intended charities, the restraining order request is really just Charles Carreon trying to thwart Matthew Inman from getting the money and taking a picture of himself with it, as he had originally promised to do.

Those of us who have been following this case closely, and enduring the wrath of the Carreon family in the process, have been on pins and needles waiting for the various defendants to respond.  This weekend we FINALLY saw the responses from both IndieGoGo and Inman’s attorneys….

And they were epic.

Essentially, the defendants outline in the most stunning symphony of lawyerly snark this blogger has ever read what everyone in the world except Charles Carreon knew, including, but not limited to:

1.    Charles Carreon’s timeline in filing for the restraining order is glaring proof that he did so, not out of concern for the tax issues surrounding the donations or out of concern that Matthew Inman might use the money for his own selfish ends, but so that he could try and silence a critic through brute force and achieve a flaccid participation medal in the Internet’s most ridiculous lawsuit to date.
2.    Neither Inman nor IndieGoGo constitute commercial fundraisers and are therefore not required to register under the law that Carreon cites.
3.    The fact that Charles Carreon only donated $10, but was willing to spend $350 filing for the TRO is further proof of his dubious motives in filing.
4.    All of the information that Carreon points to as misleading is fully outlined on IndieGoGo’s website and FAQs, which are easily accessible from any page on their website.
5.    Charles Carreon was maliciously and purposefully trying to manufacture an emergency, in an effort to get a ruling in his favor.

The last is probably the most nefarious of the lengths Carreon was willing to go to try and stall the charities receiving their money.  IndieGoGo summarizes Chuck’s shenanigans in their response:

“Carreon’s application is gamesmanship. When Carreon filed his original complaint on June 15, he knew that funds would be disbursed within five business days of the close of the fundraising campaign, which was set for June 25. Indeed, on June 26, in conversation with IndieGoGo’s counsel, he admitted that he was aware that the funds could be disbursed at any time between the time of that conversation and Monday July 2. (Tangri Decl., ¶ 4.) Yet Carreon waited nearly two weeks after filing his complaint to present the court with his TRO request at the eleventh hour. Had there been any threat of real harm, Carreon would have made this application with more than hours to spare.”

According to law graduate Adam Steinbaugh a hearing on the TRO will likely happen this week, and we will have the first judgment on a Charles Carreon motion in this case on the record.  I’m not a lawyer, but I would say the judgment will likely set the tone for how his lawsuit against the defendants will be ruled upon, as well.  In the meantime, it would appear that at least one other person has had enough of Charles Carreon’s thuggish “gamesmanship.”  More on that to come.

Charles Carreon is an asshat.  As I previously stated he is a leader among asshats.  He is also human, and sometimes we can get so swept up in our own over-developed sense of justice that we fail to see the larger picture, and this is compounded by how easy it is to file legal paperwork in this country.

When I was working in Versailles, I did what any computer information systems major with a pirated copy of Adobe Suite would do.  I started hocking my graphic design services to any bum that sauntered through the computer repair shop door that was adjacent to my office building.  Logos, business cards, and tri-fold brochures were streaming out of that office for bargain barrel prices.

Then one day a local roofing company wrote me a bad check for $50.

My boss told me all I had to do was take the check down to the Sheriff at the courthouse, and the sheriff would go try to collect my money.

And then it was on like Donkey Kong.

Every week for close to a year, I would use a lunch break to go down to the Sheriff’s office and check on the status of my $50.  Some week’s he would have picked up a scent and I would get excited, thinking I was going to get my money.  Other week’s he lamented that the dirty varmint had slipped through his fingers again.  Blinded by the drama of my very own ongoing episode of Law & Order, I failed to see the obvious.

My time was worth money.

And with every trip to the courthouse, I was going deeper in the red.

Charles.  Dear heart.  You are chasing $50 that you were never owed, with the help of a Sheriff that is clinically insane.   The world, as you know it, is not what it seems. 

The time has come to stop while you’re behind.

Remember, you have until Friday to donate to LLB’s Delicious Oatmeal that Might Have Been.  At the time of this writing, we are just shy of $2,000.  I cannot imagine the number of hours that EFF had to put into responding to Carreon’s suit and TRO motion, nor can I imagine the amount of beer necessary to drink afterwards.  Half the money from the campaign will go towards defraying EFF’s cost to defend Inman, IndieGoGo, and the two charities that have been named in the suit.  The other half will go to Americans for the Arts, so that hopefully we can secure a better ratio of Matthew Inmans to Charles Carreons for the future.